Sunday, December 18, 2005

Turdo Vineyards - One of My Favorite New Wineries

Dominique and I have been going to wineries all over the world. I've dragged the indefatiguable woman everywhere. The other day was one of those moments where we looked at each other, and remembered why we have such fun doing this.

We went to a small little winery named Turdo Vineyards. There we met Sal Turdo, his elegant wife Sara, and their lovavble dogs Bella and Bianca. They are a small little place outside Cape May. 5 acres, 6,000 vines, a nice house and a small barn. But there are nothing small about their wines. Some of their wines are only in their second vintage. Oh, my!!!

Where do we begin? The Chardonnay (we bought two bottles) and the Pinot Grigio were both excellent. We really loved the Pinor Grigio. They would be stellar anywhere else. But in this list, their memory easilly fades with the other wines to taste.

In one tasting, I can tell you one thing, Turis wines (the label you see when you buy the wines), easilly become one of the premiere red winemakers in the state.

The Nostrano, a red blend, is fantastic. Bright cherries up front. Darker fruit come through in waves. It's incredible! Easilly a top two or three red in the state. Maybe number 1.

The Syrah and the Merlot were also excellent!!! And the Cabernet Suavignon was outstanding. We bought two syrah, two merlot, and two Nostrano.

But here's the real surprise. Sal and Sara don't have any semi-dry or semi-sweet wines in their line. Everythign is dry and one.

Turis Moscato immediately becomes one of the two or three best dessert wines in the state. An elegant, deep honey colored white dessert wine, Moscato is honey, apricots, orangeblossoms, and fabulous acidity.

Sal pressures his grapes, culling bad bunches, constantly fussing with his vines, and planting them as closely s possible. He would rather do small volumes of wine and make good wine, than increase his numbers by volume.

Dominique and I went to the Christmas Candlelight Tour of Cape May, New Jersey. We then went to Freda's where Dominique had mouthwatering ribs and I had filet mignon au poivre. Each sip of the Nostrano was like a charm. The more we let it beathe, the better is got. After touring the many large, elegant, Victorian manisons on the holiday house tour o a cold, December night, it was incredible to snuggle into a small table with my wife, and sip these elegant wines.

Go, see Sara, Sal and the dogs. You will be thrilled. Dominique and I promise.

And say hello to Bella and Bianca.

Cape May Winery Has Great New Facilities and Wines

Recently, my wife and I went to Cape May. For years, the elusive Cape May Winery was only available at a small number of restaurants. The winemaker and his family were not inetrested in selling their wines themselves, because the wines sold out through local eateries before they could figure out how to sell them from a barn or tastingroom.

Times have changed. They now do more than 4,500 cases per year and they have a new tastinging room and winemaking facility. It's an awe inspiring story of how a small, backyard winemaker became one of the biggest attractions of the region.

Of course, their most famous wine is their blush, which is very popular with the tourists who want a nice summer sipper during their visit to this very attractive region, and it also mkes a great souvenier to take home with you.

However, a funnything happened on the way to the beach. Cape May Winery started making some relly nice wines.

We really liked their Chardonnay Reserve. While many reserved oaks reek of too much oak and are relatively sweet. Cape May Chardonnay Reserve is a light chardonnay, with just a nice touch of oak, a light creamy mouthfeel, and a nice clean finish. One of the nicest reserve chards you'll find. We bought two bottles.

We then tasted the Merlot 2003 was easilly the wine I liked best. Bright cherry, with a slight hint of vanilla, and some small amount of pepper at the end. A nice dry finish. Excellent.

They are now making port, and their newest edition of their port is easilly one of the best ports in the state. The other would be the one from Unionville.

Now here's the fun part. For those of you who don't know, the same winemaker made both ports. Darren Hesington left the wonderful, warm environs of Unionville, and has banded together with Toby Craig, of Washington Inn fame, and the two are pushing Cape May to a whole new level. The new tasting room is fabulous and the wines are getting better and better.

If you are going down to Cape May, the Cape May Winery's offerings are served in most of the local area restaurants. And now, with the advent of the new facilities, you can have a lot of fun at th winery itself. It's beautiful, and a great spot for parties, bridal showers, and/or weddings.

Stop on down.

ir best wine

20th Anniversary Edition of Windows On the World

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Kevin Zraly's Windows On The World Complete Wine Course is an excellent book. It's been an excellent book for 20 years, and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

But what you should know, if you haven't seen it, is that his newest revision of his classic book, has been completely revamped. It's awesome!!!

It's completely re-done. New format, new photography, newly revised. It's an exceptional book, with incredible insights into understanding wine.

Even if you already own one of he older editions, go and get this new edition, and let Kevin Zraly lead you back into the world of wine, with all new information. It's an excellent wine adventure, and one well worth undertaking again.

Standing Stone Scores 90 Points From Wine Spectator

James Molesworth wrote about Standing Stone's Vidal Ice Wine 2004, "...tangy...apricot, peach, pineapple...moutherwatering...." In the November 30, 2005 issue of Wine Spectator. This is an excellent wine and a steal at $25.00 per bottle, especially with a score at 90 points. At that price, you should horde it!

Also, their Chardonnay Reserve 2003 scored an 88.

Congrats to the folks at Standing Stone!

Sheldrake Point Scores 91 From Wine Spectator

Sheldrake Point Riesling Finger Lakes Ice Wine 2004 scored 91 points in the November 30, 2005 edition of Wine Spectator. James Molesworth opined, "Elegant...peach, dried pineapple, and orange blossom notes." This is one of the most expensive Ice Wines made in the U.S., but is still a mere pittance compared to what is being charged by comparable wines from our Canadian neightbors.

According to the winery: "Harvested in January from vine-frozen grapes, this fine dessert wine expresses subtle aromas and silky, full flavors of baked apples and peaches; all supported by a mouth-watering acidity and a racy, sweet finish."

The other nice news it that the Sheldrake Point Riesling Finger Lakes Dry 2004 scored a respectable 86 points.

Congrats to the folks at Sheldrake Point!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine

Watch for the documentary film, The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine, coming this fall on PBS. The film explores Jefferson’s passion for fine wine and the trials and tribulations of his efforts to introduce wine culture and European vines to the U.S. and Virginia. Easilly the most passionate wine lovers of all the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in bringing vines to the New World.

From Albemarle Magazine Nov. 2005 by John Kelly, "In 1993, a mere 250 years after his birth, Wine Spectator named Thomas Jefferson "Man of the Year." His contributions to wine in America are behind the upcoming PBS documentary, The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine, executive produced and directed by John Harrington and written by University of Virginia alumnus Alessandro (Sam) Santarelli."

From WGBH in Boston:
Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine
This program explores Thomas Jefferson's lifelong passion for wine and his efforts to introduce wine culture and European vines to the United States. From his early experiments with Italian vignerons at Monticello to his grand tour through France and Italy, through his years in the White House and his later efforts at Monticello, the program offers viewers a visual journey through the life of the founding father of American viticulture. It culminates in a celebration of Jefferson's legacy to American wine, realized first in California and now burgeoning in many states, including Virginia. Narrated by Hal Holbrook and featuring an original music score.

From Jefferson Vineyards:
The story of Jefferson Vineyards, and the modern Virginia wine industry, begins in 1773 with a meeting at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello between Mr. Jefferson and Italian winemaker and industrialist Fillipo Mazzei, who planned to produce wines, oils and silks for sale in the Colonies. The idea intrigued Jefferson, famous for his love of the wines of Bordeaux,and he invested in Mazzei’s company. Jefferson’s influence attracted other investors, including George Washington, George Mason and Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Virginia.

Mazzei started with 400 acres of land adjoining Monticello on which he would plant vineyards and build his home, Colle. After surveying the property, Mazzei declared, much to Jefferson’s delight, “I do not believe that nature is so favorable to growing vines in any country as this." While overseeing the construction of his home, Mazzei stayed with Jefferson at Monticello, and so began their life-long relationship.

With the construction of Colle underway, Mazzei began planting in the early Spring of 1774, marking the beginning of the commercial wine industry in the Colonies, and what would become – some 200 years later -- Jefferson Vineyards.

The Revolutionary War ended Mazzei’s efforts to make wine, when our country's founding fathers sent Mazzei back to Italy to solicit war funds from the Duke of Tuscany. While away, Mazzei rented Colle to an imprisoned Hessian General captured at Saratoga, NY and housed in the Charlottesville barracks. The general’s horses made quick work of the vineyards, which then fell to ruin, and all – for a time -- was lost.


Los Angeles California KCET - Sunday, November 6, 4:00pm
Portland Oregon Oregon Public Broadcasting - Sunday, November 6,

Richmond Virginia WCVE - Sunday, November 6, 9:00pm, Tuesday, November
8, 9:00pm, Sunday, November 13th, 2:00pm

Charlottesville, Virginia, WHTJ - Tuesday, November 8, 9:00pm, Sunday,
November 13th, 2:00pm

Hampton Roads, Virginia WHRO - Thursday, November 17, 10:00 p.m.
Lexington, Kentucky, KET - Thursday, Nov 3 at 10:00 pm, Friday, Nov 4
at 8:00 pm, Saturday, Nov 5 at 9:00 pm

Houston Texas, Houston PBS - Sunday, November 06, 2005 4:00 PM
Boston WGBH, Ch. 2/44 Sun, Nov 6, 5am, WGBH 44, Tue, Nov 29,
7pm, WGBH World (209)

Washington, DC, WETA's HD channel Thursday, November 3, 8:00pm

Sunday 11/6, 5:00am, on WSKG, Binghamton and WCNY, Syracuse

Oregon Public Broadcasting, (DTV) Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 12:00 PM (view schedule)
(TV) Sunday, November 6, 2005 at 11:00 PM (view schedule)

WGBH channels only on Comcast
Tue, Nov 29, 7pm, WGBH World (209)
Wed, Nov 30, 2am, WGBH World (209)
Wed, Nov 30, 8am, WGBH World (209)
Wed, Nov 30, 2pm, WGBH World (209)


Belated Congrats!! James River Wins Governor's Cup

2005 Virginia Governor's Cup Wine Competition Awards
June 13, 2005 - Governor Mark R. Warner awarded James River Cellars of Hanover County with the 2005 Governor’s Cup, the highest honor in Virginia’s wine industry, for its 2004 Dolce Vino. In total, 183 medals were awarded including 11 gold, 96 silver, and 75 bronze. Additionally, Keswick Vineyards’ 2003 Chardonnay was named “Best White” and AmRhein Wine Cellars’ 2004 Petit Verdot was named “Best Red.”

2005 Governor's Cup Winners:

Over all choice
2004 James River Cellars Dolce Vino (Dessert Wine)

Best White
2003 Keswick Vineyards Chardonnay

Best Red
2003 Am Rhein Wine Cellars Petit Verdot

Congratulations to Linganore Winecellars

Linganore Winecellars Merlot Wins Maryland's Governor's Cup!!
It's official! Governor Robert L. Ehrlich presented Linganore Winecellars winemaker Anthony Aellen with the 2005 Governor's Cup Award at the Maryland Wine Festival for his 2002 Merlot. Aellen described the wine as easy-drinking proof that Maryland can make great wines. The Governor's Cup competition judges described the wine as soft, well-balanced with good structure, and bright cherry aromas. Their Maryland Merlot is grown in Queen Anne's County at the Hemsley Fortune Vineyard. This wine is full bodied with a soft oak background, rich in black cherry, vanilla and plum overtones.




Judgement of Paris by George M. Tabor, is an exceptional telling of the fateful tasting in Paris in 1976, when the French put their best wines up against their American up-start cousins, and in a blind tasting, lost to a handul of American viticultural visionaries. Best wine story of the year! This is a perfect gift lovers everywhere. Open a bottle of French or Californian wine, and relive a little bit of history.

From Publishers Weekly
In 1976, a Paris wine shop arranged a tasting as a gimmick to introduce some California wines; the judges, of course, were all French and militantly chauvinistic. Only one journalist bothered to attend, a Time correspondent, looking for a possible American angle. The story he got turned out to be a sensation. In both red and white blind tastings, an American wine won handily: a 1973 Stag's Leap cabernet and a 1973 Chateau Montelena chardonnay. When the story was published the following week, it stunned both the complacent French and fledgling American wine industries—and things have never been the same since. Taber, the Time man, has fashioned an entertaining, informative book around this event. Following a brisk history of the French-dominated European wine trade with a more detailed look at the less familiar American effort, he focuses on the two winning wineries, both of which provide him with lively tales of colorful amateurs and immigrants making good, partly through willingness to experiment with new techniques. While the outrage of some of the judges is funny, this is a serious business book, too, sure to be required reading for American vintners and oenophiles. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
In 1976, a Paris-based British wine merchant, Steven Spurrier, organized a blind tasting of California and French wines in honor of the bicentennial of the American Revolution. With labels hidden from view, French wine experts in attendance at Spurrier's event pronounced the California wines generally superior to those from France. Some judges professed to be unable even to discern which wines were French and which American. Media reports of this tasting sent shockwaves throughout the wine world. Thirty years after the event, this seems very old news, but at the time it marked an absolute revolution in taste and in expectations. California's wine industry took off, commanding ever-higher prices and attracting even more talent. French wineries were forced to innovate and find better ways to market their formerly unrivalled bottlings. Taber expands on the events leading up to this celebrated event with a readable, concise history of wine making in America, recounting the long journey from sweet, sacramental concord grape wines to today's range of sophisticated offerings. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

"Here's the inside tale of the dramatic tasting session that transformed the wine industry. George Taber was the only reporter there, and he tells the tale with the same authority, depth and clarity of the American wines that won. His tale has fascinating characters, great locales, and a fine bouquet."
-- Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin

"For those of us who were lucky enough to be part of the fun at Steven Spurrier's wine shop in Paris, this book is a trip down memory lane. For everyone else, Taber brings the event to life brilliantly with insightful portraits and a reporter's eye for telling detail."
-- Don and Petie Kladstrup, authors of Wine & War

"Nearly thirty years later, Taber's book outlines an historic event that is relevant, captivating and compelling -- even for non-wine aficionados. The petty wine war that the Paris Tasting set off had one big winner: good wine. And one big loser: good wine...from France."
-- Christian Vannequé, Former chief sommelier at the Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris and one of the judges at the Paris Tasting

"George Taber was alone among journalists to attend the wine world's Declaration of Independence from French supremacy. He tells the story of the California wine revolution with verve showing how the upstarts managed to surprise the complacent French. This is a rare book about wine to be sipped, not gulped."
-- William Echikson, author of Noble Rot

"The Judgment of Paris is a fascinating recounting of that historic event that was like a lightning rod to the budding wine scene in California. It is a must read for anyone interested in wine."
-- Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director Montrachet and President Daniel Johnnes Wines

Howard Goldberg Highlights New Whites at Duckwalk

In an article entitled "A French Flair Settling In At Duck Walk" in the October 23, 2005, Sunday, New York Times, Howard G. Goldberg (Section 14LI, Page 13, Column 4)
wrote "BERNARD CANNAC, hired as the winemaker last year, gives Duck Walk's whites a lift, a bounce. Their brightness is evident in three 2004 wines: the sauvignon blanc Cuvée Select, the regular chardonnay and the pinot grigio (pinot gris)."

Have some fun and treat yourself. Howard is rarely wrong.


It Was A Very Good Year 1993 Pellegrini Merlot

One of the few nice things about getting older, not including being able to say, "Been there, done that," in your jaded way, is that there are a few surprises that say to you, "Shut up! You're not as old as you think. You still have a lot of living to do." This was said to me the other night by a bottle of 1993 Pellegrini Merlot.

I had bought three bottles back in the mid 1990s, and drank two right away, and carried this other bottle since I lived in Park Slope Brooklyn, many years ago. A few nights ago, my wife asked me to surprise her with something. I was looking all around the cellar, looking under this bottle and that, when suddenly, I found this dusty old bottle. It lay there forgotten, discarded, like a kid who'd been passed over at the schoolyard basketball court for more than a decade. A loveable loser. I brought up a second bottle, just in case this one did not work out.

I could remember the day I bought it. I had found a trove of it in a small store. I was already seeking out such wines years ago, prodded on by reading people like Howard Goldberg of the New York Times. I can remember where we lived, where my office was, what my commute was like. It was like a quick trip back in time, remembering when my wife and I were newly married, and taking the subway from Brooklyn, before we owned our first car - a hand me down Subaru station wagon with more than 100,000 miles on it. Bush (Herbert Walker) was President, the subway was still under $1.00, the Yankees were still struggling to win their division, and Ray Handley was trying to single handedly destroy my beloved NY Giants.

I looked at the wine in the bottle against a strong light, and saw much sediment. So I carefully decanted and filtered the wine through a coffee filter (I hear the hissing now.....relax, I saved some raw sewage for myself to taste the unfiltered wine separately), making sure to remove the sediment that was dense at the bottom of the bottle, and decanted it.

I was doubtful, until I breathed in my first wisp of the aroma. And then a broad smile filled my face. It was like finding Cinderella's slipper. It was going to be a good night. The wife was going to be very happy.

The aroma was that of fresh bright cherries...and something a little deeper, maybe chocolate? I wasn't entirely sure. So, I poured a sip, and played with it in the glass. And then I tasted. Fresh, bright cherries were intense on my palette, followed by deeper berries, like blackberry or plum. And a nice, dry finish. Oh, boy.

Long story short, I was a hero. We langorously devoured the the rest...very slowly. We were newly weds again. And many of the issues and problems that beset us, not the least of which are two rascals for sons, and three loving and large dogs, melted away. It was nice to find that kind of surprise in the cellar. And it also tells you how long it has been since they've been making wonderful reds on Long Island.

Find some old vintages from Long Island, and relive a little bit of your youth. Back when you were superheroes, when the world seemed less complicated and more fixable, and when jeans and sneakers were still you biggest concern, and not car payments and soccer games. Cheers!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Run, Don't Jamesport Vineyards for Great Pinot Noir

Jamesport Vineyards is one of the oldest vineyards in Long Island. It’s 60 acres of Early Rising Farm tended by a father-son team by name of Ron Goeler Sr & Jr. Goerler pere bought the 150-year-old barn that houses the winery and tasting room in 1986.

Since then they have turned out a number of fabulous wines, one of which was reviewed here earlier. I was reluctant to review a second wine of theirs since I just recently gave them a write up not so long ago, but I could not resist. This nice sized winery, about 5,000 cases per year, makes some solid wines.

When we were last at the winery, I went to pick up a couple of bottles of Late Harvest Riesling. While we were there, we tasted a couple of other wines. I bought some things, pleasantly surprised, and put them in the cellar. Yesterday, I pulled one of them out.

My wife, Dominique, made a wonderful roast chicken (with lemon, rosemary, and butter, salt and pepper), with baked potatoes, fresh cut string beans, and a lovely salad for a very lovely Sunday dinner with the family. To accompany this warm meal, on the first cool day of the fall, I pulled out a bottle of Jamesport Pinot Noir, unfiltered 2002.

I didn’t remember what it tasted like, I only remembered I liked it very much. But it was beautiful! The nose was pure bright cherries. As promised, dark cherry, plum, cola and smoky vanilla aromas also come through. The wine is a mixture of bright cherry and plum…very rich. Great mouthfeel. This is easily one of the best Pinot Noirs on the east coast, for folks who like a deeper pinot, and can stand up to any pinot made anywhere. Seek this out. Call Jamesport…or try my trusty default when trying to find NY State wines…Vintage New York.

Seek this out…you don’t have to have a lot of money to feel rich…this is proof!

Macari Vineyards – A Triple Surprise

Macari Vineyards has made some wonderful wines over the years, and I have long been a fan of Bergen Road, one of their signature wines. Bergen Road has long been one of the stars of east coasts reds. But they make more wines than just that one.

I started a recent tasting with their 2004 Sauvignon Blanc. The nose was lemony and bright. Bright notes of green apple and citrus were high on the palate. It was fruity and crisp, with a nice dry, finish. A very nice sauvignon blanc.

Next up for me was the 2003 Cabernet Franc. This is a 100% cabernet franc estate wine. There was a wonderful nose full of cherries. As I drank, both bright cherries and darker fruits came through. It was a wonderful mouthful of mixed dark berries, with nice acidity and a nice dry finish. This was a wonderful red, perfect with chicken, pork, or much darker meats. It was also a nice wine for sipping or with a plate of cheeses. A very nice experience.

Lastly, I was curious to try the Block E, their late harvest desert wine. This edition was another wonderful surprise. The nose and mouth were filled with notes of honey, apricot, melon, and apple. It had wonderful acidity and excellent mouthfeel. Never too sweet, nor cloying, this was a well-balanced wine, that was a mouthful of desert in a glass. Wow!

Hats off to the folks at Macari!!

Mead Has Come to Long Island!

As always, the wine industry, especially on the east coast in general, draws its heroes from all walks of life, and each story is something unique unto itself. This is the story of a long-time home winemaker who finally realized his dream, and became the hero of his own life, as well as a model for all of us who marvel at the brave ones who take a giant step forward, no matter the number of cases they produce.

In a small town, in Holbrook, New York, located in central Long Island, is a new winery, nee’, a meadery, called The Long Island Meadery. Long the dream of 20-year Long Island Railroad veteran Paul Holm, the meadery offers a number of wines of varying types, from dry to semi-sweet.

For those not in the know, beer and meade (and later wine from grapes) are some of the oldest beverages in the annals of human history, and came not long after milk and water. Mead, of course, is an alcoholic beverage made from honey, using wine yeasts. Meade (or meade as it is sometimes spelled) is sometimes also called honeywine. For some folks, mead is too over powering, and generally doesn’t have the roundness of most fruit wines. It is generally an acquired taste, but those who like mead, usually become fanatics.

Holm has focused on dry and semi-sweet wines only. Nothing sick and syrupy sweet here. The wines are meant to go with salads, fish, and light meats, or just for sipping. He has also mixed his mead with some fruits, to add more complex flavors to his overall line. The results are something wonderful.

The Peach-Apricot Mead is a white dry wine. The apricot comes through on the nose and slightly on the palate, but with nice acidity. The Strawberry Mead is a nose full of fresh cut strawberries, with a nice dry finish. Very nice. Both finish very dry. Strawberry-Raspberry is a slightly darker dry wine. The raspberry adds a much more robust flavor to the wine. It is rounder and deeper than the single strawberry mead. The Raspberry Mead is a big nose full of raspberries. It’s full flavored, and semi-sweet, and very nice.

However, my absolute favorite was the Apple Cyser Mead. When you stick your nose in the glass, it smells like a wonderful baked apple. It’s semi-sweet, with wonderful acidity, and great full flavor. It’s nicely balanced, and not too sweet. It is an excellent sipping wine, or great for cheese or with a slice of fresh apple pie with a slice of melted cheese. The other thing is that you could easily warm a bottle of this wine up on the stove with some mulling spices, and sip away a wonderful fall afternoon. What a great surprise. One of my favorite mead’s on the east coast!

This is almost a one-man band, and one of the smaller wineries on the east coast, but as Shakespeare says, “though he be but small, he is fierce.” This is one of the better meads I have had the pleasure to taste. I recommend that on your next trip out to the North Fork, you should stop in and do a tasting.

They are located at 1347 Lincoln Avenue, Suite 11, in Holbrook, New York. Their phone number is (631) 285-7469. You can find out more about them at Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Tasting New York Wines for a Good Cause

On September 28, 2005 there is going to be a tasting of New York State wines, from the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley, to Long Island, and it's for a good cause. Some of the wineries include Bedell Cellars, Castllo di Borghese, Millbrook Vineyards, Rivendell, Standing Stone, and Swedish Hill among many others.

The event is being hosted by the BROOKLYN RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION
& NEW YORK WINE & GRAPE FOUNDATION, and being held at Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen's School, at 125 Summit Street (at Hicks Street) in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The cover charge is $50 to taste dozens of wines, and proceeds go to the school.

Buy some 1-800-442-5959. I'll be there signing my book, as well as Tony DiDio (author of Renaissance Guide to Wine and Food Pairing) and Firehouse Chef Keith Young (Cooking With the Firehouse Chef).

It's for a good cause and the wines will be wonderful!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

White Whites? Don't Put Your Whites Away Until Next Summer

So many poeple are so dedicated to the age old proverbs of fashion and food....whites get pulled out after Memorial Day and get put back the first tuesday after Labor Day. Even with the plethora of advisors who have extolled the virtues of ignoring such blather, people continue to do so. Don't follow convention.

At the afore mentioned Hudson Valley Wine Festival (see previous entry) we drank many wines. And we discovered some great, inexpensive summer whites. These were fruity but dry inexpensive whites, that go great with salads, chicken, fish, grilled vegatables, pasta dishes. And you don't only have to drink them in summer.

We discovered one new white we liked very much.... Ravines House White. Ravines is a Finger Lake winery, based on the east side of Keuka Lake, in Hammondsport, New York.

The 2004 House White only cost $8.95. it is an off-dry blend of "Cayuga and Vignoles with vibrant fruit flavors of honeydew, pear and apple," according to the winery. It finsihed light and crisp and was delicious. We had a bottle on our deck with some fresh tomatoes, some cheese and a baguette. Excellent!!!

Another white we liked was Tickle Hill Cayuga White. The 2003 bottle goes for $8.95 and won Best of Class and Double Gold at the New York State Food & Wine Classic. It's grapfruit-y, with lots of good fruit up front on the nose and on the palette, but a fabulous dry finsih. The label is puckish and good natured, but what's inside is a a great, sophisticated pleasure.

We also loved the Alison Seyval Blanc. Seyval Blanc 2004. Green apple and lemon, and a touch of honeysuckle, this is a stainless steel delight. A fabulous suprise. A wonderful mouthful of summer in a bottle. And it's a bargin at $12.95.

These wines are great with all kinds of food. Don't relegate your "summer whites" to the back og your whine closet because the calander has turned. Show your an iconoclast...serve some whites this fall...and look, feel, and live like a trendsetter. Go on with your bad self...and let those other folks live their boring, stright-jacket lives.

Hudson Valley Wine Festival - My Mother-In-Law Loved It!

On September 10th, myself, my wife Dominique, my two sons and my mother-in-law went to the New York Wine festival. I was a little dubious of bringing my mother-in-law, since she lives in France, and has very distinct, and very French views, on wine. It was a beautiful day. It was held at grieg Farm in Red Hook, New York. We ate crab and lobster roll, curried goat, and german sausages. And then we ended with some wonderful baked goods.

Of course we drank some wonderful wine, and discovered some wonderful new labels and wines. It was a great day! And my mother-in-law even liked a number wines. What more could I ask for?

The wineries represented included a combination of Hudson Valley Wineries and Finger Lake Wineries, as well as gourmet foods of all kinds. Some of the wineries included:
Alison Vineyards- Red Hook, NY Keuka
Overlook Wine Cellars - Dundee, NY
Americana Vineyards - Interlaken, NY King
Ferry Winery- King Ferry, NY
Ashley Lynn Winery - Mexico, NY
Lakewood Vineyards - Watkins Glen, NY
Atwater Estate Vineyards- Hector, NY
Long Island Meadery - Holbrook, NY
Bagley's Poplar Ridge Vineyards - Valois, NY
McGregor Vineyard - Dundee, NY
Baldwin Vineyards- Pine Bush, NY
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery- Millbrook, NY
Benmarl Winery - Highland, NY
Montezuma Winery- Seneca Falls, NY
Brotherhood Winery - Washintonville, NY
Nagy's New Land Vineyards & Winery - Geneva, NY
Cascade Mountain Winery- Amenia, NY
Pazdar Winery- Scotchtown, NY
Cascata Winery - Watkins Glen, NY
Rasta Ranch Vineyards- Hector, NY
Catharine Valley Winery- Burdett, NY
Ravines Wine Cellars - Hammondsport, NY
Chateau Lafayette Reneau- Hector, NY
Red Barn Winery - Liverpool, NY
Clinton Vineyards- Clinton Corners, NY
Red Newt Cellars- Hector, NY
Fox Run Vineyards- Penn Yann, NY
Seneca Shore Wine Cellars- Penn Yan, NY
Glenora Wine Cellars- Dundee, NY
Sheldrake Point Vineyard- Ovid, NY
Fulkerson Winery- Dundee, NY
Standing Stone Vineyards - Hector, NY
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards - Hector, NY
Swedish Hill & Goosewatch Wineries- Romulus, NY
Heron Hill Winery - Hammondsport, NY
Thousand Islands Winery - Alexandria Bay, NY
Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars- Dundee, NY
Tickle Hill Winery - Hector, NY
Hunt Country Vineyards - Branchport, NY
Warwick Valley Winery - Warwick, NY
Johnson Estate Winery- Westfiled, NY

White tents. Blue sky. Green lawn. Great wine. We had a ball. Several of my next few dispatches will be from the said event. If you missed it this year, then make sure to mark your calander for this next year. And if you want, bring your mother-in-law...she'll leave very happy.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

2002 Jefferson Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Recently my good friend Chris Terry came over, as decided to break some bread. We started off with a nice bottle of California red, and we were very haappy. As a second bottle, I opened up a botle of Jefferson Vineyards 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. Chris was somewhat skeptical. But surprise of surprises, the wine fared very nicel in Chris's humble opinion, and that of my own as well.

According to Jefferson Vineyards, the wine "shows classic varietal characteristics: aromas of cherry, cassis, oak and spice, with flavors of ripe blackberry, toasted oak and tobacco." My palate is not sensitive enough to pick up the tobacco, but all these others came through nicely. And for the price, it's an incredible bargin.

The winery website provides the following information: "The story of Jefferson Vineyards, and the modern Virginia wine industry, begins in 1773 with a meeting at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello between Mr. Jefferson and Italian winemaker and industrialist Fillipo Mazzei, who planned to produce wines, oils and silks for sale in the Colonies. The idea intrigued Jefferson, famous for his love of the wines of Bordeaux,and he invested in Mazzei’s company. Jefferson’s influence attracted other investors, including George Washington, George Mason and Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Virginia."

We can only guess Mssrs. Jefferson and Mazzei, et. al would hae been pleased by today's results. Try some and enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Pindar's 2001 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer

I have many family members and friends I have turned on to dessert wines. Why not? We live in one of the greatest dessert wine regions in the world. And one of the most delicious an infectious dessert wines I have ever tried comes fom Pindar.

Pindar is a popular stop on the North Fork Wine Route, in Long Island, New York. Pindar is known for its chardonnay and it's other light red and white wines. But if you go to Pindar, or buy it, and you hven't tried the Pindar Late Harvest Gewirztraminer, then you have wasted your time.

Pindar's 2001 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer is Double Gold Medal Winner, was voted Best Dessert Wine in New York, and is consistenly one of our proudest and most requested wines come dessert time.

It is one of the rishest, sweetest dessert wines with concentrated flavors of apricot, peach and honey coming through. But it has nice acidity, and what mught be a cloying, grotesque syrupy mess in lesser hands, is truly a wonderful elixer.

It's not inexpensive at $30.00 a bottle, but far less than it's comparable Canadian cousins. Try this...I promise you will like it.

Mount Vernon Mulled Apple Cider

During the holidays, we often buy bottles of Martinelli's non-alcoholic cider. The kids love it, and it makes catherings so much more special. Earlier in the year, my wife and the boys went to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens. There at the store they spied a bottle of Mount Vernon brand apple cider. I was skeptical, but I picked up a bottle to molify my crew while I bought expensive cobalt blue wine buckets.

According to the folks at Mount Vernon, "Cider was a popular and festive beverage in the 18th century, enjoyed often by George Washington and his many guests who visited the Mount Vernon estate. The Washington family purchased cider in remarkably large quantities. In 1774, shortly before the Revolutionary War, records reveal that no less than 477 gallons were ordered! Washington also made his own cider, probably at River Farm, one of the five adjacent farms which formed the Mount Vernon estate. This Mount Vernon private label cider sports a cheerful red foil top on a green bottle."

We filed it in the refrigerator, and left it there, awaiting it's unveiling. Recently, we opened the bottle to an extraordinary surprise. It's a wonderful, lightly mulled cider. It's not overly sweet. It's not to heavilly mulled. I am sure it would taste cold or warm. And it was excellent.

I heartilly recommend this non-alcoholic cider as a wonderful treat during the waning days of summer, and of course, as a fabulous accompaniment for the coming fall and winter seasons. The nice thing is you can order it and they can ship acoss state lines without an appeal to the Federal government.

If you go visit Mount Vernon, treat your self to this delicious bit of history. And raise a glass or two to old George and Martha.

You can find this at:


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Stonington Vineyards Seaport White...And an Order of Crow

You will find Stonington Vineyards in the Stonington Uplands above the Connecticut Coast where the Long Island Sound meets the open Atlantic. I have been buying wine from them for many years. They have been producing award-winning European-style wines for 17 years, not far from Mystic Seaport.

One of their best selling wines is Seaport White. I am not the least bit sorry to say, that for years I dismissed it as just another inexpensive white blend ($8 or so). An amusing wine for the unwashed masses. But I am ordering one large dish of crow…or seagull, as may be more appropriate.

Always among Stonington’s more popular offerings, Seaport White is a wonderful summer sipping wine. Served chilled, or heaven forbid, even with an ice-cube when the weather insists, this is a wonderful sipping wine, and this summer, when entertaining, we’ve served it numerous times to raves. The most recent offering even comes with a slight sparkle. This off-dry Vidal/Chardonnay blend made by winemaker Mike McAndrew is a wonderful little wine, that could easily be mistaken for the best of Languedoc, or a Australian or New Zealand sauvignon blanc. And it stands up to them beautifully. A smashing summer wine for sipping with fun conversation, or with fish or chicken or salads or roasted vegetables.

It even might make a large plate of crow taste good. Drink up and enjoy the conversation.

Sharpe Hill Vineyard American Chardonnay

There are many good chardonnays throughout the east coast. And how experts, especially like Matt Kramer, James Laube, and Robert Parker, among many, taste so many and are able to distinguish among them all is a mystery to me, though I have the up-most respect for the, for I know they can and that their talents are true and supreme. But the one thing I am truly grateful for about the east coast is that it offers so much variety.

However, that said, one wonderful chardonnay you need try is Sharpe Hill Vineyard American Chardonnay. Dominique and I just served it to family at a mid-summer get together, and it was incredible. It had lots of fresh fruit up front, especially citrus. This barrel fermented chardonnay was smooth and dry, and with a touch of toasted oak and vanilla. Just beautiful. And the 2001 was only $12.99...a steal at that price, especially considering there are so many much pricier versions on both coasts.

Sharpe Hill is usually known for Ballet of Angels, which is one of he best selling wines on the east coast, and which requires a more respectful review in-and-of-itself. But their chardonnay

This chardonnay has won more than 39 medals, including three gold in the last 4 ½ years, and countless other awards, at competitions like the Tasters‘ Guild. The American Chardonnay has received 39 medals from events such as the San Diego International Wine Judging; International Eastern Wine Competition; the L.A. County Fair, and many more.

Sharpe Hill Vineyard is one of the better east coast wineries, and has received over 140 medals in international tastings overall, and is located in the town of Pomfret -just minutes from scenic Route 169 and from the Putnam Antiques District.

Search their wines out…and enjoy.

Bartlett Maine Estate Winery

My brother-in-law Michael, and his wife Jill, live in Maine with their three Golden Retreivers. And over the years, we have gone up to visit them. A few trips in summer, a Christmas or two. We've taken in a Seadogs game, bought antiques, shopped in Portland and L.L. bean's, and taken a boat ride up the Kennebec River. And of course, when we're up there, or when they are coming down, I always satisfy my fix for Maine wines, some of which are very good.

The most notable winery, to me, was also the first. Founded by Robert and Kathe Bartlett in 1982 Bartlett Maine Estate Winery was Maine's first winery. Nestled in a quiet wooded setting enhanced by gardens, the tasting room allows for a relaxed appreciation of the many internationally recognized wines produced here from Maine grown fruits.

The Bartlett's make some excellent wines. The other night, I pulled out a bottle of Pear Dry, an exceptional, lemony white wine, with great fruit flavors, but not sweet at all. Slightly oaked, it is very much like an exquisite sauveignon blanc. It is a shock every time we serve it to newcomers. Even the biggest wine snobs are always impressed by this wine.

Because of Maine's harsh climate, grapes are hard to grow. The Bartletts decided to make fruit wines, and they are the premiere maker of such matter where you are. And the packaging is incredible.

"The Bartlett bottles are adorned with unique labels depicting old Victorian era designs of fruit and flowers. This smart packaging contributes to the overall air of sophistication surrounding the wines," wrote Abagail Ingalls in the June, 2005 issue of Beverage Magazine. That's why they make great gifts, especially around the shows good taste in so many ways.

"The Bartlett wines go wonderfully with food. Some popular pairings are: Oak Dry Blueberry with assorted cheeses and herb-crusted lamb," Ingalls wrote. "The French Oak Pear pairs very well with pork tenderloin and parsnips or a beet and walnut salad with baby spinach and dried cranberries."

I have always thought that if the Bartletts made the same wines but were located on Long Island or in the Finger Lakes, their brand would be a much higher profile product. Ah, well. Now that the interstate shipping laws are starting to come down, this is one of the wineries we hope makes huge strides....because the quality is incredible.

The wines can be found in some of the better wine shops throughout Maine (we've had luck finding them in downtown Portland shops)and of course at the winery in Gouldsboro. Try the Pear Dry and the Blueberry Dry, as well as many of their other wonderful dessert wines. This is a wonderful winery!

To read more about Robert and Kathe, see this article:

Saturday, July 30, 2005

New Wine Cookbook Highlights Eastcoast Wineries

RECIPES FROM GOLD MEDAL WINERIES by Joe Borello, who is also the author of Ask the Wine Guy, is a wonderful new book on cooking with wine. Joe Borrello is the Executive Director of Tasters Guild International. He frequently travels the globe leading winery tours, conducting cooking seminars, and judging in international comeptitions.

Founded in 1987, Tasters Guild International is a food and wine appreciation society dedicated to the enjoyment and responsible use of wine. Each year, Tasters Guild conducts an international wine judging with entries from wineries around the globe.

Gold Medal-winning wineries have provided author Joe Borrello with some of their most delicious recipes. Using their award winning wines as an ingriedient, over 150 recipes from 60 wineries can be found in the book. Some are easy to prepare and some are more compicated. It includes apetizers, desserts, meat, fish and vegatable dishes. It's great for small elegant meals as well as a great source for dishes that will impress both family and friends. A great entertaining tool and a secret weapon for the holidays.

Eastcoast wineries featured include:

Alba Vineyards
Dr. Konstatin Frank Vinafera Wine Cellars
Gray Ghost Vineyards
Hosmer Winery
Lakewood Vineyards
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
Palmer Vineyards
Sakonnet Vineyards
Sharpe Hill Vineyard
Tomasello Winery
Unionville Vineyards

Borello does an excellent job collecting a wide variety of recipes. Delectable dishes include Salmon with Prosecco-Caper Sauce, Pumpkin Risotto, Pork Filet Mignon with Port Wine Sauce,Plum and Pinot Gris Sorbet, Pear Infused Pear Cake, and many, many more fun recipes.

We love this book. Go and find it, and have a nice glass of wine with an excellent dish of food. Enjoy!

Summer Fun and Paumanok Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2001

Recently, my sister Claudia came down from Massachusetts with her two children, and my other sister Leigh also joined us. Along with my wife and children, all of us spent a glorious day at Avon-By-The-Sea, New Jersey. The sun was a beautiful periwinkle blue, and the water was a light green, and very clear, and the waves were brutal and fun. We body surfed, boogie-boarded, ate French fries and walked the boardwalk. A marvelous day.

For dinner, we went to a little restaurant called Bella Cucina, in Freehold. Luella, the owner, made us a dish to start off with that comes from a small town north of Naples. She cut pizza dough into small triangles, and fried the dough, and then placed the pieces, still hot, in a large bowl, and then covered it, not too heavily, with diced tomatoes, onions, basil, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. We tossed it like a salad and ate it like it was going out of style.

And we washed it down with a wonderful, lemony white wine from Paumanok Vineyards. Their Chenin Blanc 2001 is fantastic. But don’t just take my word for it…see what the professionals have to say about this wine.

“Chenin blanc, long a Paumanok specialty, is a perennial favorite of mine,” wrote Howard G. Goldberg, of the New York Times on April 3, 2005. “The bracing, aromatic 2004 ($25, only 180 cases) resembles a Loire Vouvray from a cool year. Densely flavorful, it has herbal accents and a mouth-watering acidity that is ideal for seafood.”

“The Oyster Bar at Grand Central prevailed on us to sell them some,” Mr. Massoud told Mr. Goldberg. “Thereafter, we took it off the wholesale market as we will not have nearly enough to sell in our tasting room.”

Newsday Long Island wine expert Peter M. Gianotti also gushed, on May 1, 2005, “The 2004 Paumanok Chenin Blanc is balanced, refreshing and fruity white, with typically fine acidity. It has the qualities of an easygoing Vouvray and pairs neatly with raw or cooked shellfish and with simple pork and chicken dishes.”

No matter what, no matter the time of year, whether it’s oysters, clams, or any other kind of shellfish, raw or cooked, or with light salads or soups, this Chenin Blanc is incredible, whether your drinking wine from the east coast, California, Europe, or anywhere else. You’re missing something if you’re not tasting this.

Friday, July 29, 2005

A Date With My Wife and a Bottle of Standing Stone Cabernet Franc

The other night my wife decided we would have a wonderful summer meal. We had fresh corn and Jersey tomatoes right off a small farm 5 miles down the road from us. I love the farm, whose name I am not aware of, but which is on Route 33, between Freehold and the Jersey Shore. It is stocked with a turkey, geese, chickens, roosters, ducks, and other odd assorted animals. It is not the prettiest, most commercial place. The vegetables and fresh flowers are left on large tables, and they rely on honesty as you put your money in the slot.

We fed our boys first, and let them watch a movie in the den. My wife, Dominique, and I had a date. It was grown-up’s night out….we ate our dinner on the deck. We put a cloth tablecloth on the back table, candles, and real napkins. She served a salad of fresh, cut tomatoes, onions, and oil and vinegar. And with it she offered fresh picked corn on the cob, steaming from the burner on the grill. And my contribution was that I grilled two medium-rare small steaks. A little salt and pepper and we popped the cork.

I opened a 1999 Standing Stone Vineyards Cabernet Franc. This is a light-to-medium bodied red. An old-fashioned claret, if you will. Lot’s of bright red fruits up front – raspberry and cherry. But as it lingered, softer, more mature fruits came through. And it finished nice and dry.

Standing Stone is one of the premiere makers of Gewurztraminer and Riesling in the country, but their reds are wonderful too. The Cabernet Franc was pressed and finished fermenting in American Oak Barrels. The wine was aged for 10 months in a combination of French and American oak barrels, and then blended in late spring with some Merlot for a little more mouthfeel.

The 1999 Cabernet Franc is no longer available, but the new 2002 Cabernet Franc is excellent, too. They only made 221 cases, so you better buy it when you see it….you can drink it right away, or you can save it too. But what you really want to do, no matter when, is drink it.

Rhode Island Summer In a Bottle - Greenvale Vineyards Chardonnay

For two summers, my family and I have rented a house for a week in Narragansett, Rhode Island, not far from Newport. These have been some of my favorite moments in life. The house is on the water and the bright blue sky pierces the eye. The vibrant green lawn stretches out to the dark navy ocean, and the sea breeze fills your nose and lungs with fresh summer air.

There are several wonderful wineries in the area. One of my favorites is Greenvale Vineyards. A beautiful New England experience, I’m not sure what’s more exciting…visiting the grounds with the age-old, well preserved Victorian house or tasting the wine in the old converted barn.

This year we didn’t get a chance to stay in Rhode Island. But recently, my wife made a giant haul of mussels with garlic, onions, and chopped fresh tomatoes. And with it we opened a fabulous 2001 Greenvale Vineyards Chardonnay.

I like this chardonnay very much. Half the chardonnay is finished in stainless steel and the other half is finished in oak barrels. Fabulous fruity aromas, and a beautiful, full, smooth, dry finish. A wonderful wine.

So we ate the mussels, dipped some baguette into the broth, and sipped the fabulous chardonnay that connected it all in a tremendous way. I closed my eyes, and I was back in Rhode Island. Open up a bottle of summer vacation - try a bottle of Greenvale Vineyards chardonnay as soon as possible.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Blue Mountain 2002 Merlot

Blue Mountain Vineyards is one of Dominique and mine's favorite wineries in Pennsylvania. Joe and Vicky are the nicest poeple, and will answer all your questions with a friendly and open style, whether you're a novice or an expert.

The 2002 Merlot had a yummy nose, filled with cherry, plum, and yes, some vanilla, as advertised. The cherries and plum both come through on the palate with a smooth finish. Not the bite I prefer, but the style here is mellow and very drinkable. One of the better red winemakers on the east coast.

Eastern International Wine Competition - Bronze Award
Star International Wine Competition - Bronze Award
The 2001 Merlot won Bronze at the 2004 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition. The Blue Heron is also very nice. But that's another review.

Go say hello to Joe and Vicky...or just pick some up at your local Pennsylvania liquor store, or order direct....


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Basignani Winery Lorenzino Reserve

Without question, Maryland has several very fine wineries. Among them is Basignani Winery, a small family owned business, where even the wines are named after family members.

Last night, Dominique and I went to the cellar, and pulled out a wonderful wine from Basignani. A medium bodied red for a cool summer's evening. At a small restuarant called Bella Cucina, I enjoyed mine with an eggplant rollitini served with marsala sauce. The dish was exquisite and the wine was a superb cmpanion.

It is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. One can taste cherries and slightly darker fruits, like blackberry and dark cherry as well. It has nice tannins and a puckerish ending. A lovely wine to go with food.

Basignani Winery's 1999 Lorenzino Reserve was the 2003 Maryland Governor's Cup Winner, meaning it was best in show. It also recently took home a Bronze medal from the 2005 Los Angeles County Fair. And the Washingtonian magazine called the 1998 Lorenzino Reserve "impressive."

It's a winner from one of our favorite red wine makers on the east coast.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tom Stevenson's Wine Report 2005 Names Top Ten Wineries in Northeast - Dr. Frank Konstantin Tops List

From Dr. Frank Konstatin Vinafera Wine Cellars (4/5/05):

"The Wine Report 2005 has named Dr. Konstanin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars as the Greatest Wine Producer in the Atlantic Northeast, helping to boost New York’s reputation in the world’s highly competitive winemaking industry.

With competition being fiercer than ever, New York wineries have steadily been climbing the ladder to national and international acclaim. Consistently at the front of the pack, Dr. Frank’s has once again proven that New York wineries can compete with the best, as evidenced by their winning 32 gold medals in national and international wine competitions in 2004. In addition, Dr. Frank's is the only representative from the Finger Lakes region to make the Top 10.

Located on Keuka Lake a few miles north of Hammondsport, Dr. Frank’s has long been associated with the New York wine revolution. Its founder, Dr. Konstantin Frank, was the first to cultivate the European vitis vinifera grapevines in the eastern United States, the varieties used in virtually all of the world’s finest wines."

See the rest of the list above. Congratulations to all those who made it!

Unionville Vineyards Cabernet Wins Gold at Jerry Mead's

Unionville Vineyards, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve won a Gold Medal in the Cabernet Vintage 2002, at the 2005 Jerry D. Mead's New World International Wine Compeititon which was held in Ontario, California on February 20 and 21st.

Jerry Mead's event was founded in 1990 Jerry D. Mead's New World International Wine Competition was established in 1990. Mead was a well known and syndicated wine columnist, as well as a publisher, and wine consultant. According to the organizers, "It was his desire to establish a wine competition that, for the first time in America and perhaps the world, to pit the best wines from each price class against each other resulting in a Best of Variety award."

Unionville beat out such names as Trinchero, Gundlach Bundschu, and Kendall-Jackson. According to Unionville, the wine also won a Silver medal at the 2005 Grand Harvest Awards and a Bronze medal at the 2005 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.Unionville has always been known for their whites, especially their reisling, but lately they've been making great strides in reds. In the last two years alone, they've won seven gold medals, and countless siver and bronze.

Now, I know we're little late in reporting this gold medal. However the news was just enough to make me curious to buy a bottle and try it...but we hadn't gotten around to actually tasting it until now. My wife Dominique and I uncorked a bottle the other night. The 2002 Reserve has lot's of blackberry, plum, and dark chocolate that come through. Also cassis, and nice tannins to even it all out.

This is a very nice surprise from one of New Jersey's best wineries.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Jamesport Late Harvest Riesling

Riesling "Late Harvest" 2001

There is little doubt that Jamesport Vineyards produces one of the best dessert wines on the east coast. Baked apple, pear juice, vanilla, butterscotch, and honey all come through. Super sweet and viscous, it has a wonderful acidity that brings it to an incredible crescendo.

But don't just take my word for it. Howard Goldberg of the New York Times wrote, "My favorite is the voluptuous 2001 late-harvest riesling." It won a Silver Medal at the International Eastern Wine Competition, a Gold Medal at the 2003 NYW&FC, Double Gold Medal at 2002 NYSW&FC, and it scored 90 Points at Wine Spectator.

So what are you waiting for?

An Eloquent and Exceptional Wine Memoir

So many winemakers end up scribbling some kind of tome, and many are mostly self congratulating bumper stickers for their careers. I did this...I did that...I was right. They are written by ghosts who have no real sense of the wine world and often fail to bring across the charm and difficulties of vineyard life.

Louisa Hargrave's book The Vineyard is not one of those above mentioned snores. Ms. Hargrave tells of the hardscrable life of a pioneer vineyard owner, which brings across the struggles of everyday farming, bringing up a family, and growing a vineyard business. She and her husband Alex founded Hargrave Vineyards the first winery on Long Island. There are mistakes a plenty, and Hargrave handles it with a great sense of humor and a wonderful sense of grace.

For all those who harbor dreams of owning a vineyard, or wonder what owning a vineyard must be like, Ms. Hrgrave's heartfelt memoir recounts her failures, her triumphs, and her troubles. She is an uber mom, raising children and tending vines, year after year. And Ms. Hargrave details the winery's eventual triumph, as well as detailing the painful, emotional split with her husband.

She is as funny as she is charming...on the page as she is in real life. A fascinating, eloquent, and intimate prtrait of vineyard life.

Making Sense of Wine

I have an admission. I am both a fan and a friend of Matt Kramer. As his former editor while I was at Running Press, it was my great honor to work with Matt on his wonderful books. Since I no longer edit his books, I feel free, with the previous admission that I can tell you what I really think.

Firstly, Matt, in my estimation, is the the most literate and best living wine writer working today. Everyone one of his books is a pleasure and a treat to read.

Secondly, if you enjoy reading books about wine, and you don't have Making Sense of Wine in your wine library, you are missing out. This is simply the most important single book on wine, dispelling myths and making learning about wine as fun as drinking it.

Read his columns in the New York Sun and the Wine Spectator, and read Making Sense of is an excellent book.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sherwood House Vineyards Continues to Impress

I have long liked Sherwood House Vineyards. In the past Dr. Charles Smithen and his wife Barabara's wines have been difficult to find. But they are more than worth the effort. On our recent trip to Long Island Dominique and I had the opportunity to sample their two most recent bottlings.

Admittedly, I prefer the puckerish steely chardonnays over those legion of their more crafted mellower bretheren. But from time to time the oakier versions strike home. Sherwood House Vineyards Chardonnay 2001 is an excellent wine. Rich, smooth, mellow, with nice fruit up front and an excellent creamy but light finish make it an exceptional chardonnay....certainly one of our favorites on the entire east coast....a chardonnay that can stand up to any made here in the States. We've served this particular chardonnay to fanciers of Patz & Hall, Hanzell, and Kistler, and come away with favorable reviews. An excellent achievement.

The Merlot was no slouch either. With a nice mix of fruit that held both fresh cherries and blackberry and some darker fruits, this dry red is a medium bodied red with lots of flavor and nice tannins to even out all that fruit. Very nice!

You can find the wines at the Tasting Room on the North Shore, at Vintage New York in the city, or at another fine retailer near you.

Congratulations to those over at Sherwood House Vineyards!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

CaryMo Chocolate Candies and Confections

When Dominique and I were in Long Island recently, we met some wonderful folks. Most notably we met a burgeoning chocolatier named Cary M. Becraft, and her husband Peter. Cary's choclates are exceptional. Dominique is a lover of fine chocolates, and in the past I have bought many chocolates for her. But Cary's confections were unique.

She offers unique blends and matches one might not think up. They tend to be fairly sophisticated. If you like sweet chocolate, this isn't for you. Cary makes, deep, rich chocolates of all kinds, but her final product doesn't reek of sugar and wax. This is cocoa...and lots of it.

It's not inexpensive...but it's all handmade...and excellent. You can find her chocolates at Vintage New York, where I first found them. Make the effort to find this chocolate, and treat yourself to some. You won't regret it.

Here's her website:

And enjoy!!!

Howard G. Goldberg's Newest Review of Lieb Cellars

Howard G. Goldberg, one of the pioneers in East Coast wine reviewing (and still one of the best), has written a wonderful review of Lieb's Pinot Blanc in the New York Times. "Lieb's still pinot blanc ($17) is lean, light, dry, brisk, smooth and delicately redolent of pears and apples. Far more versatile than any East End chardonnay, it satisfies demands presented by a spectrum of fish, shellfish, poultry and veal dishes." (New York Times, June 26, 2005)

Keep an eye out for him in the NY Times. Always a treat.

And here's the URL for Lieb Cellars:

Barboursville Barbera 2003

One of the most pleasant discoveries of our wine travels in the last three or four years was Barboursville Vineyards, in Virginia. They make a number of wonderful wines. And since first fnding them, their product has grown better and better.

Dominique and I consider their Barbera one of the best red wines of the entire east coast, and this newest edition of one of their signature reserve wines is incredible. Dark cherries and blackberry. Plummy, smooth, and with just enough tannin to make your mouth pucker at the end.. Excellent!!

Praise for East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia

Vineyard & Winery Management (April 2004)
"Authoritative...a comprehensive up-to-date directory..."

Wine News (March 2004)
"Adds to the burgeoning reputation of wines from the Atlantic side."

Wine East magazine
"This book is the most comprehensive guide now available"

Millicent K. Brody & Frank Curcio, Courier News (3/10/04)
"DeVito's book is an excellent reference and tour guide."

Susan Sprague, Trenton Times
"East coast wineries get their due...."

Hello Mother, Hello Father....Wine Camp!!!

For our tenth year wedding anniversary, I told my wife we would do whatever she wanted to celebrate the event. With the entire world at her disposal, she told me she wanted us to go to Long Island, to something called Wine Camp.

I have dragged my wife Dominique all around the world to see wineries. From up and down the east coast to California, Canada, France, Spain and Chile. I said to her, "10 years from now, are you going to complain? I mean when people asked what we did for our anniversary, are you going to be happy telling them we went to Long Island?" She said yes.

So we went to wine camp. It was a three night, four day camp, that runs the tag line, "Finally, a camp for adults!" It is organized by the Long Island Wine Country Bed & Breakfast Group, a small group of charming inns from the region.

I had been on countless vinyard and winery tours, and I was somehwat skeptical about the camp, but I agreed that this would be it. Afterall, it's a passion of mine to begin with.

The program includes many of the region's award winning wineries:Bedell Cellars, Castello di Borghese, Corey Creek Vineyards, The Lenz Winery, Peconic Bay, The Old Field Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, and The Tasting Room.

The tour began with the requisite tasting instructions and explainations that seem a part of every wine tour. But it's for the intermediate wine lover as well. In our midst was a man who was studying for a Masters In Wine. Eventually we met many of the wine makers and owners. Most impressive were Eric Frey, of Lenz, Stan Schumacher of Castello di Borghese, and Greg Gove of Peconic Bay Winery. All were wonderful and entertaining.

We blended wine, planted vines, ate fantastic food, and drank some wonderful wine. The camp's tag line is an undersell - it should read - "It's the most fun you can have with your clothes on!" It's a great bargin (especially considering you get one free case of assorted wine per couple), and you'll be shocked, and pleased. Call's too fun to pass up if you like wine. And make sure you bring your credit card...because you'll want to bring home more wine than they give you.

Highlighets of the weekend:
Lenz merlots
Castello Di Borghese pinot noir
Bedell Cellars (all of their merlots)
Paumanok's whites
Osprey Dominion's sauvignon blanc
Jamesport's dessert wines
Sherwood House chardonnay and merlot

For more information contact: