Friday, August 26, 2016

Chef's Consortium Host Farm to Table Dinner on Bannerman Island

Bannerman's Island, you know  that eye sore in the Hudson River when traveling by train into New York City just after Cold Spring.  It's really no eye sore when you find out the history behind it.

Frank Bannerman built this fortress in the old style of Scottish castles.  This island was primarily used for storing war weapons and explosives. It had a massive fire in the 1960's that destroyed it. Today it is open on selected dates for tours.  

This year The Chef's Consortium will be hosting a five course farm to table dinner in the Helen Bannerman garden on the island September 10.  This is the annual fundraiser created by Hudson Valley Chef Noah Sheetz showcasing 5 amazing Hudson Valley Chefs that design and prepare a specific dish..  There will be two seatings 3pm and 4:15. 

The star chef this year is Tahish a Solages and she will be preparing a roasted pear salad with local blue cheese, walnuts, local field greens topped with a spiced red onion balsamic vinaigrette with a buttery French crostini.

We all love local cheese and the chef on that course will be featuring Four Fat Foul St. Stephen triple cream and an Italian style hard cheese called Toma Celena from Cooperstown Cheese Company served with Consortium pepper jelly preserves, balsamic reduction and a local cracker.

As of this time the rest of the chefs are still sourcing their ingredients and coming up with their dishes. But you know they will be outstanding!

Tickets for the event are $135 per person and include a 30 minute boat ride over to Bannerman Island where you will learn all about the history of the island.  A self guided tour of the island, live music performed by The Kings Highlander Bag Pipe Band.

To purchase tickets go to 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wine Word Wednesday: Pinot Meunier

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rose Wine, Cigars and Pizza

This is the summer of Rose for me.  I have tasted and drank more Rose than I have in all the years I've been drinking wine.  The one thing about this summer is I've learned to appreciate Rose. I've been pairing the wine with many different dishes.

Masi Agricola 2015 Rosa dei Masi is no exception. I first got introduced to the Masi wines at a Amarone tasting at the New York City Public Library a few years ago. The "head" of the Masi family could double as my father-in-law, and yes he is Italian.This is the first Rose I've tasted from the family.

What is unique to Masi's Rose is that they use the appassimeto method to concentrate the aromas and flavors in the wine.  This Rose was made with 100% Refosco which is a dark skinned grape native to the Venetian region.

The first pairing with this wine was Paul and his cigar.  I am not a cigar woman so I leave that to him. He said his cigar went nicely with the Rose.

The 2015 Rose dei Masi was an exquisite rich pink color. It displayed itself and its personality well in the glass.  Fruity aromas filled the glass expressing strawberry and red berry fruit. Flavors of fresh strawberry, raspberries and cherries filled my mouth with a slight lemon lime on the finish.  The wine was nicely balanced with a long finish.

I went out of the box and paired this with a homemade grilled margarita pizza. Honestly the Rose held up to it.  The pizza wasn't overpowering the wine. This is a very nice Rose and reasonably priced at $14.99

Friday, August 19, 2016

Understanding Harvest with Glorie Farm Winery's Doug Glorie

Continuing with my interviews about harvest in the Hudson Valley I asked Doug Glorie of Glorie Farm Winery what harvest means to him.

1. What does harvest mean to you?

There are two perspectives for answering this question. There is the big picture, long term perspective: You see a need in your wine portfolio, or you discover a new grape that intrigues you. You thoroughly research the grape, and then if you embrace the variety, you order vines, prepare a field location, plant it and see it through three to four years of care to pick your first harvest. We went through this process recently, adding a new wine to our portfolio this year; but the process actually began two years ago when we discovered a new grape.

Then there's the annual, short term perspective: The vineyard work begins in February with trimming the vines. Then it progresses through tying the vines, weeding, irrigating, applying crop protectants, thinning, exposing the crop to light, keeping the vineyards mowed - all done in hopes of bringing the crop to harvest. These are all of the things you can do; then there are the things you can't do anything about. You have to hope for enough sunny days, enough warmth, not too much rain, and perhaps most importantly, no hail. Then you have the opportunity to pick something. At that point, when harvest is actually upon us, it's extremely satisfying to have gotten that far. You hope you have ripe grapes that will express all the flavors you expect for each variety. The biggest reward is to drive onto the crush pad and see large loads of beautiful fruit, ready to process. You know you've done everything you can do, and now you can realize the potential of the fruit. You did it! You accomplished it! You pulled it off! Harvest is the crescendo of farming.

2. What are factors in knowing when is the right time to pick the grapes?

Without getting too technical, it first involves evaluating PH, Brix, and seed ripeness. Then we look at labor availability, weather, and predator pressure (birds, deer, turkeys). Everything has to come together timing wise.

Winemaker Kristop Brown
3. Once the grapes are picked, what is the process of getting it from vine to bottle?

Once the grapes are brought in from the vineyards, we de-stem, crush, ferment, wait, press, wait, rack, wait, taste, wait, blend, filter, bottle. There's a lot of waiting involved. You have to be patient, but we farmers get a lot of practice being patient.

4. Do you have any activities that allow the public to participate in harvest?

 No special activities for the public to participate. 

5. What events do you have for the public if any to celebrate the Harvest? (ie. Harvest party,) 
No events to celebrate; we're too tired. ;-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Discovering White Pinot Noir

Red and Rose wine get their color when the juice sits on the skins and the color is extracted into the wine.  Rose wines sit for very short periods of time like the drive from the field to the winery or up to 24 hours on the skins to get the pink color.  Red wines can sit on the skins for 7 days or more.  Not only are they extracting color but flavor and tannins as well.

So what's the deal with a White Pinot Noir? The Pinot Noir grapes are brought to the winery and pressed immediately and made into a wine before they have time to sit on the skins and extract any color.  Now you have a White Pinot Noir. An the taste, well let's explore.

I tasted Left Coast Cellars 2015 White Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. My first White Pinot Noir experience. It's always good being the first because I had no expectations. The grapes were fermented in stainless steel and sur lie aged in stainless steel for 5 months.

The wine was almost crystal clear and very acidic, It looked like a glass of water. Aromas of stone fruit filled the glass with hints of lemon and spiced pear.  Citrus flavors with a touch of honey filled my palate. There was hints of minerality throughout the experience.  

Try something different.  The SRP is $25

Friday, August 12, 2016

Understanding Harvest with Hudson-Chatham Winery's Carlo DeVito

As we enter August things begin to change in the vineyard. Throughout the upcoming months veraison sets in, the grapes begin to ripen and with the luck of the weather we hope to have a fantastic harvest.

This interview with Carlo Devito of Hudson-Chatham Winery is the first in a series of interviews I had with the winemakers or owners of some of the wineries in the Hudson Valley and what harvest means to them.

1. What does Harvest mean to you?

 Hard work! There is nothing so romantic as the first day of harvest, sometime around Labor Day. And by the time the last racking is done in November, you've pretty much decided that the cushy desk job you gave up doesn't seem so bad now. Of course, I'm into corporal punishment, because I keep going back for more. LOL But seriously, its harrowing and nerve wracking. Hoping you're getting it done all correctly.The smallest misstep might result in a catastrophic disaster. In the end, it all seems to always come out. Still, some days start at 5am and don;t end until 11 or midnight. We use our farm trucks more this time of year and the rest of the year put together. Its a zoo coordinating help, equipment, floor space, and clean barrels or fermenters

2. What are factors in knowing when is the right time to pick the grapes?

 Nature is the first to tell you.The birds and the deer will let you know your grapes are ready. Competing factors are the weather and the grapes themselves. Some grapes have thick skins and can hang a little longer than others. Grapes like Pinot Noir and Baco Noir however, can be finicky during harvest, especially if you are pushing your fruit to the very limit in order to chase sugar.  The other argument is that as you wait for sugars to rise, you might be losing something else, usually acidity. In reds,it's not such a big factor, but in whites it's a HUGE factor.

With some vineyard blocks, we will make two or three passes through those blocks as all the grapes do not ripen at the same time. We only pick the rpe fruit, and leave the others on until they mature. it's a pain on the winemaking deck to keep three separate runs of the same group clear inside your own head, but it's the only way to make good wine some years

3. Once the grapes are picked, what is the process of getting it from vine to bottle?

 Whites are relatively simple. They are pressed and go into fermentors. They wil stay there for about five to six weeks before they are racked, and finally put to bed. Red wines linger much longer. The last are finally pressed in November. And all through the season, the longer masceration times require more and more punch downs. I remember one time Steve Casscles the winemaker was racking in a foot of snow at the end of October one year. He was not a happy boy.

4.  Do you have any activities that allow the public to participate in harvest (ie. grape picking, cellar rat for a day?)
 NO...we do allow people to come visit the crush pad and watch at a distance.

5. What events do you have for the public if any to celebrate the Harvest? (ie. Harvest party, grape stomping etc.)