New Jersey Wineries: Working Dog Winery in Robbinsville

Looking for another New Jersey winery to visit last weekend presented me with a lot of choices, but I narrowed it down to one the moment I saw the name: Working Dog Winery, in Robbinsville. As someone who volunteers at the Sammy’s Hope Animal Shelter in Sayreville on weekends, the winery’s name and logo were already enough to get me there. A couple days before, I’d emailed to ask if I could meet the winemaker and perhaps get a tour. Lo and behold, a very genial guy named Mark Carduner called me, said he was the winemaker and would be glad to host me. And when I walked in, he was the first person I saw, at the front of…

Read More

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…

Read More

Wine Term(s) of the Week: Spain

The Spanish take their wine aging very seriously--they are truly concerned with not releasing a wine "before its time."  So much so that they've written it into their wine laws: A Spanish quality wine labeled Crianza (red wine) must be aged a minimum of 2 years, with at least six months in barrel (barrica de vino). In Navarra, Rioja, and Ribera Del Duero, the minimum time in barrel is a year. White wines must be a year old, with at least six months in barrel. Reserva wines (red) must be aged at least three years, with one year in barrel. Whites must be two years old, with at least six months in barrel. Gran Reserva wines (red) must be aged…

Read More

Cava…is Cool

Sparkling wine is viewed all too often as a luxury, a “wedding wine,” or something to be saved for a special occasion.  What’s wrong with Friday night?  Or after work on Tuesday?  After all, sparkling wine, including Champagne, is just "still" wine, (literally) that has just been fermented twice. And while my friends in the wine business tell me that New Yorkers have really jumped into sparkling wines and Champagnes and drink them all the time these days, even if that's true I don't think it's the case for the rest of the country.  There's a mystique about these wines that's both good and bad for the people who work hard to produce them from around the world—Champagne and Crémant…

Read More

A Little Bit About Burgundy: Great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

France, and specifically Bourgogne, what we in the great USA call Burgundy, is where the world's best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are grown. And I say "grown" because Burgundy is all about the vineyard rather than the chateau or winery. Not to say that there aren't some excellent Pinots and Chardonnays from other places - old world and new, oaked and unoaked, cool climate and hot climate, austere and crisp.  Of course, there are also sweet, caramel-y, and in my view pretty much undrinkable wines from those places, too. Think Yellowtail, or, actually, don't. I've tasted Pinots from New Zealand and Oregon that rival the best from Burgundy, and recently I had a Chardonnay from Italy that I might have…

Read More

Champagne Dreams With Chantal Bregeon-Gonet

As I write this I’m sipping a glass of Pine Ridge’s 2009 Chenin Blanc/Viognier.  But make no mistake, this piece is about Champagne. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Chantal Bregeon-Gonet, who with her brother Pierre Gonet run the Champagne House Philippe Gonet. This house specializes in Blanc de Blancs made entirely from Chardonnay, and their annual production is only about 200,000 bottles or about 17,000 cases. That may sound like a lot of wine, but to give you a reference point, one of the “Grand Marques” – Moet et Chandon – produces about 26 million bottles, or 2.2 million cases each year. You probably already know and have tasted wines from one of these big producers –…

Read More

Bubbles For Summer

Champagne isn't only for New Year's Eve, weddings of people you love and funerals of people you didn't.  Here's a quote from Lily Bollinger of the famous producer family of the same name, which perfectly captures all the reasons you should drink it: "I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty." You probably already know or at least have heard of the big "marques" -  Champagnes made in the millions of bottles annually, such as Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon…

Read More

Joel Peterson of Ravenswood: No Wimpy Winemaker

Last Monday I got the opportunity to sit down with famed Zinfandel winemaker Joel Peterson of Ravenswood at The Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Obviously I jumped at the chance.  At 65, he’s still running and gunning, and while he’s certainly an obvious and effective ambassador for the brand he co-founded and built, he’s still—amazingly—the winemaker-in-chief and also the scout and overseer of dozens of vineyards where Ravenswood sources its grapes. Peterson founded Ravenswood in 1976 with a guy named Reed Foster, whom he met at an East Bay (San Francisco) wine tasting group. They had 4,000 bucks; there was no physical winery, and there were no dedicated vineyards; really there was just an idea of…

Read More

Great Wine From “The Mondavis Of Chile”

I had the pleasure of having lunch - and more importantly, tasting wines - last week with the winemaker of Chile's Vinedos Emiliana along with the estate's owner, Jose Guilisasti. I was prepared to be underwhelmed, but I was pleasantly, even astonishingly, surprised at how good the wines are.  I say this because in my salad days, in college after six years in the Marine Corps, I was only able to afford a meager three or four dollars for what was often a bottle of very, well, "rustic" red from Chile with a label that looked like a kindergarten coloring project.  What I tasted last week as a guest of Banfi Vintners at midtown NYC's Il Tinello restaurant was something…

Read More
  • 1
  • 2