Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tim A. Jobe a Rising Star of Pennsylvania Wine


Tim A. Jobe is normally not to be found in a jacket and tie, he readily admits. And the joke when we came to visit, and when we photographed him, was that we'd need to send a copy of it to his mother, will attest to his love of vineyard work and winemaking. Like some accomplished athletes are referred to as gym-rats, hard workers, who constantly tinker and practice, honing their skills, Jobe is a cellar-rat in the same way.

Dominique and I were on our recent tour of Brandywine wineries, when we stumbled upon Tim, and his very friendly, gracious wife Melissa, and their children. We were almost immediately entranced. In that way that some southerners do, he was sometimes gruff, but charming and self-deprecating to a fault. He was witty, grumbling, and shuffling, but in a charming way that let you know you were welcomed to grumble and shuffle along with him. And all done with a soft southern lilt in his voice that is not cloying, but easy on the ear. One may look at him as the Shelby Foote of eastcoast wine, for he is a reconteur as well.

A Southerner by birth, Tim knocked around a number of east coast and southern wineries. He initially did a short stint at Twin Brooks many years ago, before moving back to his Southern roots. Tim served as winemaker at Feliciana Cellars Winery, in East Feliciana Parrish, in Jackson, Louisiana from 1994-2003 before moving to Twin Brook Winery in Gap, Pa. where he is the winery manager and winemaker. And he is doing some magical things out in the fields and down in the cellar.

His naked Chardonnay was wonderful, clean, and crisp. His Chancellor (an old eastcoast standby) was deep and wonderful - one of the better Chancellor's we've had, as well as a very nice, smooth, and well balanced Cabernet Franc.

But is was what was downstairs that convinced Dominique and myself, that we had discovered an heretofore unknown force to be reckoned with. Tim A . Jobe, of Twin Brooks Winery has got game - serious game - or should we say wine? He knows all the jargon, but does not use it to separate himself from you. Rather he lets you in on it. He will tell you what is wrong with his wine, but like a child he loves, he will brag on it as well. And he's got plenty to brag on.

A barrel tasting of his 2005 Cabernet Franc Reserve was delicious. Very cherry and vanilla up front. Clear, medium red color. He will tell you it's not dark enough. But the taste is big and there. It is smooth with a nice, dry pucker at the end.

And his 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium bodied red, delicious, dry and wonderful. It's got toasty aromas, with bright cherry flavors. A peppery touch. A tremendous medium bodied wine. Fantastic.

Tim said he would have liked to see his wines a little darker, but the seasons in Pennsylvania won't allow it. But the taste, balance, and flavors all more than made up for his medium ruby colored wines.

When I asked Tim what does he aim for with his wines, a benchmark that might aim for, he answers Bordeaux. Tim's feeling is that the growing seasons on the eastcoast are much more akin to France than to California, where the seasons are longer, dryer, hotter. Bordeaux has a much more similar season, and therefore provides the best possible benchmark.

He is a rising star to be reckoned with in Pennsylvania, and on the eastcoast. Everyone better watch out for the unassuming Southern gentleman, with the slight shuffle and a sarcastic aside. He may not be big on flash, but he's got game, and he will be bringing it to your court sometime soon.

p.s. Sorry, Tim, we tried a couple dozen times to load your photo...problem with the blog. When we can load photos again we'll put your picture up.

The Best Tasting Room Experience We Have Ever Had



Now, again, I am not trying to brag. I am simply pointing out, aside from a lunch at Domain Chandon in Napa Valley, which is not really a tastingroom experince, Dominique and I have been to California (all over), Chile, France, eastcoast, Spain, and many other places, and what we experienced together in Avondale, PA mid- December 2006, was, without question, one of the best wine tastingroom experiences ever.



Va La is a small farm in Avondale, Chester County, consisting of a hillside cellar, seven acres of vines, and one family devoted to the creation of wine. Their passion is for creating wines made from rare varieties and unusual blends, from grapes grown entirely in Chester County. Their focus is on small-batch productions, of fruity and rustico style wines specifically designed to pair with foods.

The winemaker at Va La is Anthony Vietri (who owns it with his wife, Karen). Anthony told the September 2006 Sommelier magazine, “Terroir is sim-ple, and yet overwhelmingly limit-less as a concept,” he says. “For me, terroir is all the things that make up the environment in which a vine is grown,” and he lists many of the things that can go right or wrong in the vineyard. “I see all of these as separate,” he says, “and yet, all are intrinsically tied to each other. Tug on one, and they all tend to react.”

Va La Faimily Farmed Wines paired each taste of wine with spiced olive oils paired with fresh, rustica breads, and locally farmed artisan cheeses. We tried their white wine, La Prima Donna, with some extra virgin olive oil infused with rosemary and other spices. Another we tried with a fresh goat cheese dripping with honey. A red we tried was paired with a Spanish/Italian styled sharp cheese, which had a touch of crystalized sugar like a Red Cow Parmigiano. Each wine flourished, when paired with a food and made the tasting experince something absolutely incredible. I wanted to spend lots of money - on wine and cheese - and we did. Even Dominique wa moved to spend money - so you know it was worth while.



Some wine aficonados might blanch. Pairing any wine with food might enhance or detract from a person's ability to taste the wine itself. But I ould say, as an ameteur, that wine goes with food. And this expereince, taking the time to explain each wine, and parceling out morsels of cheese and bread, enhanced the overall experience ten fold.

I say to all the eastcoast wineries especially, as well as any other around the world, this is the new westcoast offense, the new black, the new it, when it comes to tastingroom expereince. Make sure you try it. You will not be sorry you did.

p.s. It also doesn't hurt that their wines, with or without food, are some of the best on the eastcoast. Long Island, Finger Lakes, Virginia, are you listening?

VA LA VINEYARDS
8820 Gap Newport Pike (RT 41)
Avondale, PA 19311
610.268.2702

(photos of interiors and Karen's father courtesy us - sorry for poor quality)

Making Sense of Italian Wine and A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine Are My Two Favorite New Wine Books

This year there were two books I could not wait to get my hands on. Making Sense of Italian Wine by Matt Kramer and A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine by Jay McInerney were my two favorite new wine books of the year 2006. I gotta be honest, I never thought I'd ever include Jay McInerney's and Matt Kramer's names in the same sentence, but I think, introspect, it works like this: Both are wonderful essayists. Matt is skilled and knowledgeable and Jay is an admitted expert amateur (like myself - although I don't place myself in his category) and both are fun reading. Including them in the same article, I think, makes Matt a little sexier....and Jay a little smarter...if you know what I mean. And I mean it as a compliment of the highest rank to both.

The first was Matt Kramer's Making Sense of Italian Wine. Again, I must admit, I had something to do early on with this book. I bought it for Running Press before I left at the end of 2004. That said, it's everything I have ever wanted to know about Italian wine. I like Italian wine, and I know few things, but I am never really comfortable on the subject. And while there are numerous giant volumes out on Italian wine, the field still mystifies me. Matt's book shows you how to make good buys, breaks down the complicated regions and grape names, and all with Matt''s incredible wit and flair. He is the Fred Astaire of wine writers, experienced, dazzling, dapper, and accessible. If you want to know about Italian wine, this book is both for the beginner and moderate.

Now, I have to tell you, one of the biggest surprises to me was reading Jay's first book, Bacchus and Me: Adventures in the Wine Cellar, which was originally published by my good friends over at The Lyons Press. I was instantly mezmorized by Jay's writings. Although I had read some of the columns as they had originally appeared, reading them in succession opened my eyes to truly how wonderfully Jay translated the wine drinking experience in a way that I could appreciate, drawing comparisons by popular culture rather than floral associations. Now back with Knopf (With Gary Fisketjon one presumes?)A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine is another, more erudite collection of wine pieces. One can see Mr. McInerney's growth as a wine guru. And his stories, filled with wine celebs and gliterati, are always charming and informative, and give wine a sex appeal it hasn't had since Hemingway and Fitzgerald drove through the countryside swilling Macon Village like it was coke-a-cola. I must admit I am a fan of Mr. McInerney's work for many years...since I was an aspiring editor, when the world seemed young, and his first books were published at Vintage, and have been a fan ever since.

These are two wonderful books. A maestro and an impresario. One might be Toscanini, the other more Fellini...both masters, both incredibly memorable.

(p.s. sorry, I could not get either image to load...will attempt again later)

2005 and 2006 Will Be Top Red Vintages for Eastcoast


I have now tatsed some reds from barrels from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Long Island, and upstate New York, and from what I've been reading and hearing, 2005 and 2006 reds will be two of the best vintage years in east coast history.

Firstly, most wine growers agree, 2005 and 2006 were solid growing years. Long seasons. Plenty of sun, and sometimes too much humidity and rain in given areas. But the overall concensus is that these were very soliding growing years.

Also, eastcoast reds have come a long, long way. The winemakers have started to hone their skills in ways most eastcoast dinkers have not had a chance to taste before. Sure places like Hargraves, then Bedell and Raphael, Dr. Konstantin Frank's, and some of the Virginia and Maryland wineries had led the way to better reds. But those places have gotten better, and a lot more people are catching up. The red wine dinking experince is going to grow exponentially for in the next few years, an the benficieries are us!!!!

To be sure, the eastcost will not be making any Parker-like fruit bombs, like Plumpjack, Turley, or those caliber wines. The season and the region are not long enough nor hot and dry enough, to bring berries in like that. But to be sure, the reds will be deeper, have more balance and less acidity than in previous years.

So run, walk, crawl, and do whatever you have to, but there will be plenty of good red wine to lie down and plenty more to drink.

And enjoy!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pennsylvania Is the "New It" Wine State!!!!

New York, with everything going on, nor Virginia, nor Maryland, nor New Jersey can rest on any laurels (which have been hard earned and well won) because the Keystone state has woken up.

This is great news for wine drinkers.

Pennsylvania has long been thought of as one of the sleepy backwaters of east coast wine, long dominated by its more publicized brethren. But there is magic happening in them there hills.

It was my birthday recently, and as my present, Dominique reserved a room at the beautiful Faunbrook Bed and Breakfast in West Chester, Pennsylvnia, in the heart of the Brandywine Valley. What a magical weekend. Oh, and the wine was nice too.

Faunhall was absolutely gorgeous. With fourteen foot ceilings, this old Victorian mansion turned luxurious B&B was festooned with three richly decorated Christmas trees, and the house was chockablock with holiday greens.

But the real news for this blog was the richness of the wines. The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail is rich with wonderful wine, dotted with some of the best wines I've tasted in a while, and wines that challenge their more touted states for red and whites, as well as dessert wines.

My next several posts will celebrate the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail.

Prettiest Tasting Room - Tie! Va La Family Farmed Wines and Crossings Vineyards. Twin Brook was also nice.

Best Tasting Experience - Va La Family Farmed Wines

Family Feel - Twin Brook Winery and Va La Family Farmed Wines

Best Tasting Bar/Counter - Crossings Vineyards and Twin Brook


Brandywine Reds

Twin Brooks Cabernet Franc - Vanilla, cherry and toasty oak all come through. Smooth and easy drinking. A very nice wine.

Twin Oaks Chancellor - Black cherry, coffee all come through. A dry, medium-bodied red, with a nice black sour cherry finish. Excellent!

Kreutz Creek Le Nouveau - A blend of Chancellor and Chambourcin, Nouveau-style light red. Excellent.

Va La Cristallo - Featuring Sangiovese grape, this deep, excellent red is also incredible. Excellent!!!

Va La Chiaretto - A deep purple red wine that’s nose is a mixture of green peppers and black pepper. This mixture of Cabernet Sauvingnon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot is not a good wine - it is an awesome one!

Va La Rustico - A dry Carmine red blend. A spicy-peppery Syrah-like red wine. A wonderful, nice bite to finish it off. Excellent!!!

Va La Barbera - A dark, chocolatey, spicy, Barbera. Plums and dark berries come through. Another Excellent wine from Va La Family Farmed wines.

PDX Fruit 52 Merge 2004 - An estate grown blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Aged in American oak, the nose of this wine gives off a big whiff of peppers, cherry and vanilla. And a wonderful mouthfeel. Fabulous!

PDX Leverage 2004 - An estate grown blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot aged in American and French oak. Black cherry and raspberry come through. Very nice.

Chaddsford Merican 2002 - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdor blend. Cedar and dark fruits come through. A big, deep wine from the Miller brothers.

Chaddsford Chambourcin, Miller Estate 2004
One of the best Chambourcins on the east coast. A big, exceptional wine, like a California Zinfandel. Chewy, plumy, and jammy, with a dry finish. Excellent.

Crossings Vineyards Nouveau - A Chambourcin success. Smoky, with overtones of cherry. A light bodied red. Very fruity. A very nice light red. Wonderful.

Crossings Vineyards Cabernet Franc - Deep, purple-y red wine. Jammy, with oak and vanilla. And a tart finish.

Brandywine Whites and Lights

Twin Brooks Chardonnay 2005 Their naked chardonnay is unoaked, clean, crisp, dry and light. And it finishes with a touch of lemon. Very nice!

Twin Brooks Mount Vernon Chardonnay - There’s oak on the nose here. Nice toasty oak and butterscotch flavors. Smooth finish. A lovely chardonnay.

Kreutz Creek Chardonnay - Vanilla, oak, and citrus all come through. Finishes slightly buttery. Wonderful!

Kreutz Creek Stuben - A spicy, strawberry scented confection. Fruity but only off dry. A wonderful accomplishment. Nice acidity. Drinks like a aromatic rose‘ and with a hint of pink.

Va La La Prima Donna - an excellent, refreshing dry white. Incredible!!!!

PDX Pinot Grigio 2005 - Wonderfully fragrant wine. Made in stainless steel, it’s full of tropical fruits. Light, clean, dry, with an excellent finish.

PDX Chardonnay 2004 - A slight touch of oak and vanilla come across the nose of this chardonnay that’s 1/3 stainless steel and 2/3 aged in French oak. Apricots and roses come through. Nice dry finish. Excellent.

PDX Viognier 2005 - A wonderful, aromatic light white. Wonderful!

Chaddsford Chardonnay, Miller Estate 2004 - Creamy big Chardonnay. Touch of lemon and apple come through. Nice.

Folly Hill Chardonnay 2005 - Un-oaked, stainless steel chardonnay. Pineapple and melon come through big. Very nice!

Crossings Vineyards Viogner - Stainless steel light white with incredibly aromatic nose. Light, and delicious!

Dessert Wines

Kreutz Creek Ruby “K” Port - A deep purple dark grape experience. Again, not cloyingly sweet. Very nice acidity.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Boston Magazine Picks Best New England Wineries

Of Local Vintages
New England isn’t a wine destination yet, but superior sips do exist.
By Christie Matheson

In terms of charm and pastoral beauty, the handful of wineries that dot southeastern New England stand up to the country’s best. A few even make decent, sometimes excellent, wines. We found three on the Coastal Wine Trail, which recently launched a passport program: Visit all the vineyards, get the passport stamped, and win fabulous prizes (coastalwinetrail.com).

Tasting sparkling wines at Massachusetts’ Westport Rivers (417 Hixbridge Rd., Westport, 800-993-9695, westportrivers.com) in the midst of rolling vineyards gives us a greater appreciation for the care that goes into growing chardonnay and pinot noir grapes close to home.

The last few miles of the drive to Sakonnet Vineyards (162 W. Main Rd., Little Compton, RI, 800-919-4637, sakonnetwine.com) through the farmland of Tiverton and Little Compton, Rhode Island, are pleasant enough to make us forget we’re only about an hour outside Boston. An airy tasting room and 50 acres of vineyard await. Try the vidal blanc, gewürztraminer, and rightly acclaimed dessert wines.

The smallest of our favorite New England wineries, Portsmouth’s Greenvale Vineyards (582 Wapping Rd., Portsmouth, RI, 401-847-3777, greenvale.com), is still working to improve the quality of its wines. The location, though, is irresistible. During a rainy weekend, we make our way up Greenvale’s long driveway, and the afternoon sun breaks through with a huge rainbow arching over the 150-year-old farm: a sight and setting we won’t soon forget.


Originally published in Boston Magazine, September 2006.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Crossing Captures Top Gold


On November 29, 2006 Crossing Vineyards’ ’05 Chardonnay recently won top honors in the Starwine International Wine Competition, 2006, earning the coveted distinction “Top Gold & Best of Class.”

Crossing Vineyards and Winery is located on a two hundred year old estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, less than a mile from the place where George Washington crossed the Delaware River in 1776. Crossing Vineyards and Winery is a family owned business and is deeply committed to producing wines of quality from the finest Pennsylvania fruit. The ownership is dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture methods which preserve the balance of nature and protect the environment

This prestigious international competition included wine submissions from 15 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. Out of the over 1200 wines entered, only 16 (or 1.4%) received the distinction “Best of Class.”

A wine capturing “Top Gold & Best of Class” in this competition is defined as “…deserving of exceptional recognition. A ‘Best of Class’ wine has earned a gold award, but displays attributes which surpass any other gold medal winner in its category. A ‘Best of Class’ is granted only if a wine represents the highest level of achievement within its type when evaluated by international standards, and not by criteria specific to any one region.”

The competing wines were evaluated by 45 Sommelier/Judges from 10 different countries: Austria, Canada, China, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden, The Netherlands and the U.S.

11 judges are members of the distinguished Court of Master Sommeliers (MS), and 7 have attained their Master of Wine (MW) from the renowned Institute of Masters of Wine. The other judges were selected based on their outstanding reputations and strong experience within the wine industry as sommeliers at some of the world’s top restaurants.

A 2002 1st Cru Puligny-Montrachet from Domaine Jacques Prieur, Les Combettes parcel in Burgundy, captured the Top Gold, Best of Class award for Chardonnay in Starwine’s 2005 competition.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Maryland wineries report more than $10M in sales


December 5, 2006
Washington Business Journal
by Julekha Dash, Contributing Writer

The wine business in Maryland is booming, with nearly 1 million bottles sold in the most recent fiscal year.

Sales of Maryland wine grew nearly 19 percent in fiscal 2006, compared with the previous year, according to figures from the state.

Maryland wineries generated more than $10.5 million in sales.

Winery owners attribute the uptick to more festivals and stronger retail sales.

"This shows the amazing strength of the Maryland wine industry and its benefits to the rural economy," says Carol Wilson, president of the Maryland Wineries Association and proprietor of Elk Run Vineyards in Mount Airy, in a statement. "We're seeing more customers at our wineries and festivals, and that is helping to drive sales in retail stores."

Approximately 968,333 bottles were sold in fiscal 2006, at an average price of $11.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Eastcoast Wines Make Big Splash at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain

Last month I had a fabulous dinner at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. We had a series of wonderful plates. Each platter was more exceptional than the one before it. And with it we tasted some great wines. One of the most exceptional was the Strawberry Hill Chardonnay from Connecticut. But more than anything else I was shocked by the number of New York state wines on the wine list. I spoke with Laurence Kretchmer, Mr. Flay's partner, and Bar Americain Sommelier, Adam Rieger. Kretchmer and Rieger we adamant that they could not put together a comprehensive American wine list for an American Bistro without including some east coast wines. Both Reiger and Kretchmer extolled the virtues of the Connecticut wine, the first true cult wine of the eastcoast.

"I simply have the task of picking wines for the list that make sense with the theme of the restaurant (American Brasserie - i.e. US and French wine focused) a long with wines that work with Bobby's food. Aside from the flavor profiles of the menu, it also offers a medley of dishes from all the geographic/cultural areas of the US. With this in mind it is important for us to represent good wines from as many geographic areas in the US as possible," said Reiger.

Bobby fell into cooking at the age of 17 when he took a job at New York's Joe Allen restaurant. Eventually, he so impressed the management that Joe Allen paid his tuition to the prestigious French Culinary Institute. But French cuisine was not to be Bobby's destiny. After restaurateur Jonathan Waxman introduced him to southwestern ingredients, Bobby — instantly drawn to indigenous American foods such as black and white beans, chiles and avocados — was determined to explore the possibilities of southwestern cuisine as an important and distinct culinary style for America. From 1988 to 1990, Bobby experimented with his new culinary passion at New York's Miracle Grill, where his colorful southwestern creations earned him something of a cult following. When Bobby's own Mesa Grill opened its doors in 1991, his reputation as a major New York chef was sealed. He continued to soar with Bolo, his second New York restaurant, which Bobby (Bo) and partner Laurence Kretchmer (Lo) opened in November 1993. Dedicated to exploring Spanish cuisine, Bobby's innovative menu at Bolo dazzles adventurous palates daily. In 2004, Bobby opened the Mesa Grill Las Vegas in Caesar's Palace. His newest American Brasserie, Bar Americain, opened in New York in the spring of 2005, and his new steak restaurant opened in the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City this year. Bar Americain is an American Bistro that features a taste sensation filled menu, with zest and imagination. And their wine list matches Flay's bold flavors.

This is yet another sign that New York state wines have arrived. They appeared alongside their more well known California cousins. Obviously California wines were well represented. "While California still dominates the US market, I feel that our local culture and local products are important. For this reason, I want to support and highlight some great wines from New York State as our focus for the east coast," added Reiger.

According to the restaurant's website, "Bar Americain, Bobby Flay’s ode to regional American cooking, comes to life in a bright, lively brasserie setting in mid-town Manhattan. Guests can enjoy a rack of pork with peach-ginger chutney, or visit the Northwest for wild salmon with a pinot noir reduction. The raw bar features fish and shellfish from both coasts, paired with flavors like tomatillo, coconut and habanero. Weekend brunch offerings include artisanal ham with biscuits and cream gravy or steel-cut oatmeal with stone fruits. With its soaring ceilings, marble floors and warm lights, David Rockwell’s design creates the perfect backdrop for a wedding reception, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs or lunch meetings."

Bar Americain is one of Manhattanites' favorite food destinations, and is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the city and is the brain child of one of the most famous culinary lights of the food world. Mr. Flay and Mr. Kretchmer and Mr. Reiger have obviously made a statement wiht this wine list, and it is a great nod to both the wine makers of the eastcoast as well as creating an extreme food and wine taste sensation possible for patrons of this wonderful and excting restaurant.

Hats off the the management team at this exciting Restaurant and Adam Reiger.

SPARKLING WINE
WIEMER BRUT CUVEE NV Finger Lakes

RIESLING
PAUMANOK RIESLING 2005 North Fork of Long Island, NY
HERMANN J. WIEMER RESERVE DRY 2003 Finger Lakes, NY

CHARDONNAY
PELLEGRINI VINEYARDS 2004 North Fork of Long Island, NY
PECONIC BAY WINERY "LA BARRIQUE" 2002 North Fork of Long Island, NY (375ml)

MERLOT
PELLEGRINI VINEYARDS 2004 North Fork of Long Island, NY
PECONIC BAY WINERY 2001 North Fork of Long Island, NY

CABERNET FRANC
MILLBROOK 2005 New York State

DESSERT WINE
LATE HARVEST CHARDONNAY, WOLFER 2003 (375ml) The Hamptons, Long Island

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Uncle Robin's Favorite Sticky

Each Thanksgiving my brother-in-law Robin Hoover, a FCI grad, who's worked a numerous name restuarants in Manhattan, and who now resides in Vermont, attends the annual family feast. On several occassions he has saved it from falling into utter collapse. Burnt or underdone turkies, forgotten vegatables, another hand in the kitchen, he is a savoir each and every year.

Robin's favorites are Reisling, Gerwurtz, and Late Harvest sweet wines he calls "Stickies." My father-in-law, Robin's father, is also a fan of such wines, as are many others in our family.

Due to Robin's omnipresent saves, I always make sure to have several wines to his liking as a thanks for his giving. And this year was no different. I served several bottles of Late Harvest wines.

I served a bottle of Turdo Muscato from Cape May New Jersey, which was exceptional.

Another clear favorite (every one at the table asked if I was hiding more) was Bedell Celllars Red Raspberry Dessert Wine and their Late Harvest dessert wine as well.

All the wines were both tart and rich, but not overly sweet, and had nice acid. Robin and my father-in-law were very pleased. And that makes my wife, Dominique, happy, and when Dominique is happy, I can relax a lot more in front of the football games without getting hollered at after all that turkey.

Thank you Turdo Winery and Bedell Cellars....and Happy Holidays!

Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars Raspberry Sparkle

Maybe this doesn't sound like you. But for the holidays, we usually serve Champagne or a domestic sparkling white. On early occasions, we serve Mimosas. Some times a kir royale in the afternoons, but more often than not, we like it yeasty and brut....extra brut.

But this holiday season we served something a little different. We served the Raspberry Sparkle from Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars with some cheese after the main course recently. Much like an Italian Bracchetto, it's tart, sweet raspberry flavors offered a a wonderful and differnt flavor to juxtapose to the savories we offered with crackers and assorted breads.

It's fun and different. If you're anywhere near the Union Square Farmer's Market, take a look. If Chateau Renaissance Wine Cellars is there, take a shot, and try something different.

Enjoy!