Spain’s Great Match: Castilla Y Leon

Every year I look forward to “Spain’s Great Match,” the day-long tasting, seminar and tradeshow in NYC meant to educate tradespeople on the great wines of Iberia, from Sherry to Bierzo to Cava. I don’t make it to the party every year, but thrilled that I could this year.  It was a beautiful day in Manhattan, and although I couldn’t get into my friend Ana Fabiano’s Rioja class, I was able to sit in for two seminars – one on the Castilla Y Leon region, as well as one on Cava, Spain’s answer to the delicious wonders of Champagne. Each was hosted by Marnie Old, who packs an astonishing amount of information into an hour, and who talks fast enough…

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The Organic Contessa

It's always great fun to meet with a winemaker.  And it's especially fun when the winemaker is a woman—in a somewhat-still male dominated field—and when she's also an owner of an estate that goes back well more than a thousand years.  And she's a Contessa! So I was very much looking forward to a wine-soaked lunch earlier this week with Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini, whose family and estate have been around since the 1200s!  I spent three hours with her at Manhattan's Quartino Bottega Organica, an especially fitting place because Ginevra transformed this ancient business into an organic and biodynamic farm and winery more than ten years ago. The winery uses no herbicides, chemical fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, and uses naturally-occurring indigenous yeasts for fermentation. Even the corks are…

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Iberian Wine for 2015!

I recently had the pleasure of tasting a bunch of Spanish wines, courtesy of Wines from Spain USA. More Americans are drinking Spanish wine these days as far as I can tell just from what I’m served in friends’ houses, what I see on wine store shelves, and what people who talk about wine are, well, talking about. That’s good for Spain (and for consumers) because not too long ago, the only Spanish wine that American really knew was Vino de Jerez—Sherry—and a lot of that was cheap cooking wine you bought at the A&P. That itself was a shame, because Sherry is a delicious and frankly unique type of wine, produced through the Solera system in which some new…

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Wine Tasting: You’re as Good as an Expert

I built this website to help you de-mystify the world of wine, so that you can try new stuff at your local retailer, or order confidently in a restaurant. And this little article should also give you some gumption when you attend your first, or 20th, wine tasting. So - you're invited to a formal wine tasting...and you want to go. After all, it's for a worthy charity that you know, and they've got some wonderful cult California reds and brilliant French white Burgundies. Yum. So you register, and pay your $75, and you show up with anticipation. You're new to the world of wine, and the only "tastings" you've ever attended are at a friend's house. And we all…

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A Trip to Chile…in Manhattan

At a lunch last week hosted by Cooking by the Book , I was reminded why I like Chilean wine so much.  Or at least I was reminded that I like Chilean wine so much.  And I was also reminded that wine and food "matching"  (as wine writer Randy Caparoso likes to say instead of "pairing") really can make a fun meal even more fun, interesting and delicious with just a little thought and effort. Our host at at "Cooking's" loft space in Lower Manhattan was  Ruth Van Waerebeek, born in the medieval city of Ghent and originally known for her cookbook "Everybody Eats Well in Belgium."  Maybe, but Ruth has made her reputation with wine people in another place, 73oo miles to the…

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Hollywood & Wine: Wine Movies!

Movies about wine are relatively few, and good ones are as rare as a 1961 Hermitage La Chapelle. Here's an overview of a couple worth seeing, and some educational ones, too. Bottle Shock Bottle Shock, which was independently released in the United States in August of '08, is available on video. The movie is supposed to tell at least part of the story of "The Judgment of Paris," that game-changing event in 1976 when a Chardonnay from Napa's Chateau Montelena and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars beat some of the top French wines. In a blind taste test. In Paris. With some of France's top wine experts as judges. Mon Dieu! Problem is, lots of stuff shown…

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Wild, Wonderful Wines of Santorini

When you think of Greece these days, you sadly might think of financial crises, bailouts, maybe even riots in the streets.  Don’t think of those things.  Don’t even think of Greece at all. Instead think of the Greek island of Santorini, a beautiful if slightly forbidding sun- and wind-swept island about halfway between Crete and the Greek mainland. The site of a massive explosion about 1600 BC, the middle of the island sank into the ocean, leaving Santorini a crescent-shaped, rugged, steeply-terraced landscape based on deep layers of volcanic ash and schist, metamorphic rocks that are high in minerals and whose name, coincidentally, derives from a Greek work that means “to split,” referring to the way the rocks fracture along…

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An Evening with Christian Moueix and Dominus

  On April 25 I was privileged to enjoy an evening with Christian Moueix ("Moo-ecks") of Petrus and Dominus fame, as a guest of Sherry-Lehman CEO Chris Adams.  Monsieur Moueix hosted a tasting of his Dominus and Napanook wines, with paired cuisine from Manhattan's Hotel Plaza Athenee.  I've been drinking his wines all my adult life and so I felt like I'd known Christian ever since I'd read Napa: The Story of an American Eden. In that book, one of my five favorite wine books, we hear about how Christian, who'd studied winemaking and viticulture at UC Davis, was first approached by Robert Mondavi who was in Bordeaux for the 1981 harvest, and had met with Christian and suggested that…

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A Chat With Concha y Toro’s Marcelo Papa

  It’s not only a lot of fun but also a great learning experience when you get to sit down and talk with a winemaker (without his boss around).  I had the pleasure of doing just that at a small, private tasting sponsored by Snooth, an online wine database and portal for consumers to find and purchase wine online. The winemaker, Concha Y Toro’s Marcelo Papa, joined the company about 12 years ago with degrees in agriculture and winemaking, and a ton of experience at Viñedos Emiliana, a pioneer in organic winemaking in Chile (see my post here) and five years with that behemoth of the US wine industry Kendall-Jackson. He worked two harvests each year, one in California and…

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