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Women and Wine - Corkbuzz Wine Studio

 

There's a strange irony in the wine world: as much as women drink wine (visit any wine bar and the numerous tables and stools occupied for a girls' night out will confirm this), much of the wine industry is still seen as a boys' club. However, there are a few female pioneers that are out to change this, not to mention revolutionize the whole wine bar experience itself.

One of the most noteworthy places to drink wine in the city is at Corkbuzz Wine Studio, the creation of Laura Maniec. Until 2011, Maniec was the youngest person to hold the title of Master Sommelier and only one of 18 women with this prestigious title. Although she had extensive experience as the Wine and Spirits Director for various restaurants across the country,  she notes on the Corkbuzz website that she " 'retired' so I could create and run my own own wine studio." What's a wine studio?  It's hybrid wine bar/restaurant/classroom/event space that's holistically awesome.  With classes such as "A Tour of Italy," "Blind Tasting 201" and "Sparkling Wine Around the World" there's a diverse range of topics for novices and aficionados alike to dive into.

One of Laura's passions is Champagne and she strives to bring this sparkler out to the public in a fun and accessible way.  Every night after 10pm, a bell is rung and Champagne Campaign begins, where every bottle of the bubbly stuff is 1/2 price.  Late night not your thing?  Then head over for brunch, where Champagne Campaign will assuredly make running errands later in the day much more fun. On tops of all this, there are clambakes in the summer, blind tasting happy hours and a roster of other unique experiences. 

I've been to Corkbuzz quite a few times ever since it opened in 2011 but have been delinquent in making a return visit in recent months.  With the opening of the new location in Chelsea Market, it was about time to see how the original has evolved. Having made a reservation on OpenTable,  I headed down to reacquaint myself with this unique venue.

The staff is more than well-equipped to guide guests through the constantly rotating 30+ wines BTG (By The Glass, for those looking to get down with the lingo).  Educate, not intimidate, is the goal here.

First up was the Palmina, Arneis, Santa Ynez, CA, 2011.  Arneis is a white grape indigenous to the Piedmont region in Italy but is now being grown domestically in Santa Barbara.  There was a good amount of acid along with some honeysuckle, basil and a savory spiciness. 

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The sign of a great wine bar is a sommelier who knows his or her stuff and loves to bring out something unique to guests. Lusenti, Bianca Regina, Malvasia, Colli, IT, 2008, was a ripe, aromatic Italian white from the Colli region. There was a slight note of wet wool on the nose along with hazelnut.  Again, there was a good amount of acidity and body on this fun n' funky wine.

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These bad boys needed some food, so my friend and I started with the brussel sprouts, which were roasted to al dente and topped with a flurry of pecorino cheese, and followed with the fideos tossed with squid, tomato, pepper and topped with a large prawn. Savory and satisfying, the food made fast friends with our wine.

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Clang! Clang! Everybody stopped and looked around at as the bell reverberated throughout the bar: Champagne Campaign!  Having made friends with two people next to us, we decided to combine forces and partake in a bottle. Chartogne-Taillet, Rose, Champagne, FR, NV.  Yeasty with a bit of a brioche tone, strawberry tones and mousse-y bubbles, this was the perfect wine to end our Corkbuzz experience with. 

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After three years, Corkbuzz continues to impress with its unique concept, oenophile staff, and exciting wine and food; Maniec's vision is definitely redefining the way people learn, consume and understand wine. 

(And P.S., in addition to the newly opened Chelsea Market location, a Corkbuzz in Charlotte, N.C., is due to open very soon).

 Reservations can be made on OpenTable 

http://www.opentable.com/new-york-city-restaurants

Wines of Alsace - Pinot Gris

There's a wine region in France that I don't frequently write about but find myself constantly drawn to its offerings. Alsace, in the northeastern area of France, primarily produces mineral-driven, high acid wines that are intensely aromatic.  The majority of production is dedicated to white wines, with some sparkling wines known as Cremant d'Alsace.  Fuller in body than some other whites, they stand up well to food but are also a toothsome alternative to the light summer sippers I've been drinking frequently. 

The 51 Grand Cru appelations in the region were recently granted AOC status to ensure the quality of the wines remains consistent. In these sites, only four varieties are allowed to be produced: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat d'Alsace. Also required? The wines must be bottled in the green fluted-shaped vessels.  Quick history: the trade route along the Rhine, where Alsace and Germany did most of their commerce, was not a rough ride, so the fluted shape was ideal for packing and shipping the wines.  It was also a cheaper style of bottle to produce so economically it was the best option. Over time, efficiency became tradition, which then became a marketing tool.   

Recently I was sent a couple of Alsatian wines to try and the other night opened up the Pinot Gris.  The Dopff et Irion Cuvee Rene Dopff Pinot Gris, 2012, immediately announced ripe apricot, lemon and honeysuckle on nose.  Sipping through, the slight amount of residual sugar brought to mind candied peach and zesty lemon peel.  I was reminded of the sugar-coated gummy candies that were thrown at a kid during his or her bar/bat mitzvah once the Torah portion was completed. (My dimished recollection of Hebrew School thinks we did this to celebrate his or her accomplishment and to send wishes of a sweet life.  Of course, services were long and we all were a bit hungry by this point. Sorry, Rabbi). With a medium plus body and a good amount of acid, this wine was a delicious, lusty sipper for a warm summer's evening.

 

Dopff & Irion Cuvee, Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2012. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Dopff & Irion Cuvee, Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2012. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Keep tasting, friends....

 

 

Weekend Quickies

Just a couple of the wines we got into this weekend:

 

Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Black fruit and a lot of funky, barnyard animal notes were going on in this Noemie Goichot, Pommard, Burgundy, France, 1998.  Definitely needed some food (like dem there meat and cheese in the background).

 

Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Nicknamed "Baby Sassacaia,"  this Guidalberto Tenuta San Guido, Tuscany, Italy, 2011,  a 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot wine, was uber-high in acid, lots of deep red cherry and a noticeable tannic structure.  A bit stinging on its own, it found its plushness with the marinara sauce consumed during dinner.

And the summer keeps rolling along...

Going Back, Back to Cali, Cali

And I'm not talking Napa.  Tonight at The Dutch was a wine from Santa Barbara, southern counterpoint to the famed Northern wine country.  Wanna get fun n' funky? It was a Gruner Veltliner, most often found in Austria.  The Habit, Gruner Veltliner, Santa Ynez Valley, 2012, had some of the classic Gruner qualities - lime, lemon peel, slate, rocky - but there was a slight roundness of green apple and pear that spoke to the New World's love of fruit. High acid but not attacking on the finish, this was a great wine for both sipping and light fish dishes (lobster salad with mustard oil and Old Bay as the app and tilefish with a Thai herb broth for the main course, in case you were wondering. Oh yeah, and blueberry pie).  According to the sommelier, the vineyard is a side project for the winemaker who's main career is a voiceover artist.  I think he should give up his day job, this stuff was friggin' good. 

 

Crappy picture, good wine.  Habit Gruner Veltliner.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Crappy picture, good wine.  Habit Gruner Veltliner.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Drinking the USA

It was the 4th of July and it felt a bit unpatriotic to drink anything besides domestic wine.  In the spirit of the holiday, I opened myself up to revisiting some Napa Valley wines, which is one region I don't traditionally drink.

Oh man, I am so happy I gave myself over to the West Coast. At dinner Friday night, we went with a bottle of Jordan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, CA, 2010 and Saturday we gave the 2009 a test run. 

The favored Jordan vintage.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The favored Jordan vintage.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

By law in the US, these wines need to be composed of 75% of the primary grape in order to be named single varietal.  What this means is that although they are dominantly Cab Sauv, technically they are a blend (I dare you to try pulling this stunt with a Brunello)  The 2010 was 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. The 2009 varied slightly, with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. How did the compare?  The 2010 showcased riper, richer berries and the tannins were softer and better integrated.  Hints of mocha and chocolate also came through as the wine opened up.  The 2009, on the other hand, felt a bit leaner and more angular and there was a more dominant presence of oak tannins on the tongue.  This vintage could probably use a bit more aging and the bottle itself could have benefited from some decanting.

The shining diamond in all this was the other bottle of wine on Saturday: the Opus One, Napa Valley, CA, 2006. Opus One makes a Bordeaux-style blend: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% 
Merlot 5% 
Cabernet Franc, 3% 
Petit Verdot and 3% Malbec. Interestingly enough, although the wine contains the required 75%+ Cab Sauv, it chooses not to identify as a single varietal.  

Truthfully, I've always been put off by Opus One.  When I visited the winery a few years ago, I wasn't overwhelmed by what I tasted and I couldn't get over the audacity of charging me $35 for a 1/4 of a glass "taste."  That's some shit right there.

However, this wine was stellar. Deep raspberry and blueberries were immediately apparent and met by tobacco and smoked meat. Chocolate and mocha again made an appearance, rounded out by a full body and silky feeling in the mouth. I wish we had decanted it for a bit before we started drinking because those last few sips were something special.

 

Keep tasting, friends...

 

I Prefer These Kinds of Fireworks

We BYOBed these beauties to dinner last night: 

 

Swoony-worthy Nebbiolo.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Swoony-worthy Nebbiolo.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

This Travaglini, Riserva, Gattinara, Piedmont, 2001, was a Nebbiolo stunner.  Gattinara is another DOCG region in Piedmont that, like Barolo, produces Nebbiolo wines. Once it opened up a bit, the rich, deep blueberry and raspberry fruit, slightly perfumed with violet, showed great aging with its complex black tea and loamy soil notes.  Medium in body, the tannins integrated lusciously to give it structure but didn't overwhelm.  

We also brought along this  Malenchini, Bruzzico, Tuscany, year not noted, Supertuscan for comparison: 

 

Supa-dupaTuscan, Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Supa-dupaTuscan, Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Brandy-soaked cherries and a chili pepper spiciness met with earthy and tobacco essences in this bottle.  The acid felt more prominent on the tongue as well as the tannins.  Man, they were not shy and I felt them acutely.  

There were definitely some "oohs" and "aahs" at the table night and if this was the prelude to July 4th, I can't see what tonight brings.

 

 

Journey to the North Fork

I've waxed poetic about Finger Lakes wines for a while now, but New York State also houses a large area of viticulture on Long Island, especially on the North Fork. It's an interesting wine culture where many wineries take their vinicultural cues from other parts of the world, yet international grape varietals are also given a distinct local treatment.  On a recent trip, I felt as if I was exploring Champagne and Provence, yet still encountered wines that were uniquely New York. 

The first winery we stopped at was Sparkling Pointe, an aptly named place that produces sparkling wine. If you can get past the numerous marriage proposals (two that occurred nearly simultaneously) and bachelorette parties (I counted about 5 "Bachelorette!" sashes), it's interesting to experience the gamut of sparkling wines being produced out here.  What I found most notable is that most of the wines are of a specific vintage and not a cuvee. What's the difference, you ask? Cuvees, which are blends made from various vintages, are created to ensure a consistent house style and quality. When a winery creates a bubbly based on a vintage, they are paying more attention to the weather and other climate factors that will affect their final product. I'm not sure why this is the path Sparkling Pointe has chosen; it could be they are still building their reserves, or perhaps they like the subtle variations in the vintages.  

Sparkling Pointe Brut, 2010.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Sparkling Pointe Brut, 2010.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Sparkling Pointe Brut, 2010 was an easy drinking bubbly with lots of pear notes up front and a little bit of baking bread on the palate. The texture was soft with very fine bubbles, slightly mousse-y on the tongue.  It was simple yet perfect for a summer patio situation.

Next in the flight was the Sparkling Pointe Brut, 2007 (not pictured). The aging on this one gave more noticeable yeasty, savory tones to the wine  and was a bit more complex and refined than the 2010.  

Sparking Point Brut Seduction, 2005.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Sparking Point Brut Seduction, 2005.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Because sex sells, we were treated to the cheesily named Sparkling Pointe Brut Seduction, 2005.  Luckily, the wine fared way better than its label name; complex toast notes met with floral sweetness and subtle fruit, creating a elegant bubbly.  

Sparkling Pointe Cuvee Carnaval Blanc, NV.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Sparkling Pointe Cuvee Carnaval Blanc, NV.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The final wine was the sole cuvee, the Sparkling Pointe Cuvee Carnaval Blanc, NV.  The sweetest of the bunch, the residual sugar lingered on the palate and the flavor profile immediately brought to mind a Moscato d'Asti.  I could see this as a great pairing for dessert. 

We hit the road and headed over to what promised to be my Nirvana: Croteaux, which is all rose, all the time.  

 

Provence via Long Island.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Provence via Long Island.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

The beautiful Provencal-inspired patio was the perfect venue to taste through six of their roses.  

 

The rose lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

The rose lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

The Provence aesthetic clearly extended to the wines as most were in the light and crisp spectrum of roses, perfect for summer day drinking.  I found most to be rather simple, but I did favor the Croteaux Merlot 3 Rose Cuvee, which was softer and a bit richer than the others, as well as the Croteaux Jolie, which was in an Italian rosato style, meaning a fuller body and richer fruits. 

The final stop was to Corey Creek, an offshoot of the North Fork stalwart Bedell. 

 

Can't beat that view.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Can't beat that view.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

 

If this isn't the essence of summer, I don't know what is. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

If this isn't the essence of summer, I don't know what is. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Corey Creek lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Corey Creek lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Here, I found myself drawn to their reds a bit more over their whites, including their Corey Creek Cabernet Franc, 2012, which is not normally in my wheelhouse.  However, theirs was a bit rounder and softer than the underripe pepper and vegetal notes I often associate with Cab Franc.  Their Corey Creek Merlot, 2012, too, avoided its soft fruit bomb association with a balance of soft tannins and spice. 

While the North Fork is still working to stake its claim as  a major player in the wine world, it's definitely worth a trip to seek out some of these hidden gems.  

Keep tasting, friends....

New Zealand Wine Fair

New Zealand wines have always been a bit of a hard sell for me. Touted for their Sauvignon Blanc, I haven't been able to fully get on board with the cut grass/pineapple/cat piss thing that is prevalent in so many of these wines.  I always get a little gun-shy when ordering and inevitably hide behind the fort of Old World vinos.  

So, at a recent James Beard wine event, I went into the trenches and put myself in the line of fire.  New Zealand, hit me with your best shot.  (like I went from violent warfare references to cheesy eighties tunes right there? Didja?)

Overall, there was quite a bit of what I expected, but there were a few shining gems that definitely turned my head. The Framingham Classic Riesling, Marlborough, 2011 was one of the first wines I tasted and it held my attention for most of the night.  I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, 2013, and was about to walk away but figured I'd give it's vineyard neighbor a chance, even though this first wine was textbook in all that didn't appeal to me in a Sauv Blanc. I'm glad I gave it a whirl; this Riesling had intruiging notes of charcoal up front with mineral and flint tones immediately following. Fresh peach and lemon took the edge off and although this was technically a dry wine, there was a tingle of residual sugar on the palate.  

 

 

Framingham Classic Riesling, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Framingham Classic Riesling, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Waimea Estates presented a noteworthy Gruner Veltliner, 2012. This producer is located in the Nelson region, which has very few wineries, especially in comparison to the vineyard-heavy Marlborough.  However, this wine proves branching out from the popular crowd can lead to something unique. There was nice balance between fruit, body and acidity in this accessible white. 

Waimea Gruner Veltiner, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne

Waimea Gruner Veltiner, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne

Astrolabe, who's Sauvignon Blanc I've written about in the past, did not disappoint with the latest vintage, but there were a couple other wines that showed this producer's skill. The Province Pinot Gris, Marlborough, 2013, presented a bouquet of honeysuckle, freesia and other flowery aromatics on the nose.  Apricots also came to light when drinking through this crisp wine.

Their Province Pinot Noir, Marlborough, 2011, was another wine worth considering.  Very New World in style, it was rather fruit forward but still characteristically light bodied, yet had a dusty violet essence that what somewhat reminscent of a Burgundy. 

 

 

Astrolabe Wines, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Astrolabe Wines, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Finally, there was VIlla Maria.  One of the most well-regarded wineries in the Marlborough Region, their lineup included delectable whites and reds. Their Cellar Selection Riesling, 2010, was one of the few Rieslings I encountered, besides the Framingham, that had a Germanic tilt to it. Acid? Yep. Citrus and stone fruits? Check.  But it also had a smoky charcoal essence that moved it away from its fruit-driven New World counterparts.  The Reserve Pinot Noir, 2008 and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Gimlett Gravels, Hawkes Bay, 2008, were two of the best reds tasted all night.  Both in balance, both delicious.

 

logo via villamaria.co.nz

logo via villamaria.co.nz

Keep tasting, friends….

I'm Wicked Serious...

Massachusetts makes wine. Sparkling wine. Definitely a sweeter style bubbly, almost like a fizzy apple juice, but come on. That's a wicked pissah. Suddenly I'm a bit nostalgic for my Bostonian roots. 

Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

 

So You Think You Know Chianti?

Pop quiz: what do you think of when you think of Chianti?

This question was posed to a random group of wine enthusiasts and answers ranged from "Meh" to "why drink that wine when there are so many other great Italian options out there?"

More famous for its straw wrapping rather than the quality of the wine, Chianti was seen as an inferior wine choice to many of Italy's other famous varietals. Chianti winemakers have worked feverishly over the past few decades to rectify their reputation and present wines that are worthy of recognition. Through stricter regulations, more advanced vineyard management techniques as well as a passion to keep traditions alive, Chianti wines are trying to be seen as serious contenders on a wine list.

While Sangiovese is still the primary grape in Chianti, blends of native and international varietals lend unique characteristics to the wines.  By allowing other grapes into the wine, unlike a Brunello, the winemaker is empowered to find a balance in technique, terroir and varietals.

At the Consorzio VIno Chianti Seminar, held in April in New York City, we tasted through a series of 2010 Riservas.  I have to admit, I was skeptical about what I would find in the glass. I favor Barolos, Barbarescos and other Piedmont treasures and am somewhat biased in my Italian wine choices. So, how did Chianti measure up?

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Wine number one, a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Trebbiano immediately showcased notes of violets and dark berries.  A peppery spice also became apparent, along with the savory notes of tomato. On the palate, essences of white flower came through as well, most likely attributed to the trebbiano.  

The international varietals used in wine number two -  Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah -brought to mind brighter fruits such as raspberry and overall there was a sharp contrast to the indigineous blend of wine number one.  Herbaceous tones of rosemary came forth but again there was a distinctly floral essence to the wine. Overall, there was a freshness that seemed to be lacking in the first as well as a softness and roundness that was absent in the first.

Through the murmers heard throughout the audience, the third wine illicited the most positive response out of all the wines tasted. Again, it was comprised of native varietals - Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino. Sweeter baking spices, such as cinnamon and cumin jumped out immediately and the berries again were of the deeper blackberry profile. On the palate, cherry was the star player, with a bit of vanilla softness. The tannins were very noticeable and the finish resonated long after the wine left the mouth. 

The fourth wine, with Colorino and Merlot supporting the Sangiovese, was aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak.  This was one of the most floral Chiantis tasted but there was a slighlty persistent sour note, hard to identify, that permeated the wine.  Soft tannnins gave this wine structure and a soft mouthfeel.

Wine number five, the only one in the lineup to solely use Sangiovese, showed obvious traits of having gone through malolactic fermentation. Bright berries, soft tannins, sweet vanilla all rolled together into a plush mouthfeel that was balanced by the high acidity common to Italian wines.  

The last wine, with a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix, showcased a whole baking rack of herbaceous spices.  Deep berries and ruby fruits were largely present on the palate along with balanced, structured tannins.  

 

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 Overall, I was positively surprised by many of these wines. There was a complexity to several of these that belied their infamous reputation, as well as an obvious thoughtfulness to vinification of the grapes. Many of these can stand proud on any wine list and I'm hoping more winemakers will follow suit.

An Oldie But Goody

Not oldie in the traditional sense of the term.  In this case, Oldie refers to the oldest champagne house in Champagne. Started in  1584, Gosset is the original house in the region and still producing renowned wines. 

At Encore Champagne Bar in San Diego, I was introduced to Excellence, Champagne Gosset, France, NV.  The house tries to avoid using malolactic fermentation, so the fruit essence is well represented in the wine, as opposed to a champagne with strong bready, yeasty tones. It was round, balanced and delicious. Also impressive is the price.  It was $90 for the bottle, but most likely goes for half of that in a retail setting. For real champagne that is quite a value.

Gosset Champagne, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks WIne

Gosset Champagne, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks WIne

Cheers! 

Southern Charm

 

With the increasing public service announcements about the dangers of smoking along with the numerous smoking bans in cities around the country, the tobacco industry has taken a nosedive.  Tobacco farmers had a plethora of land but their current crops are undesirable.  What to do? That's right, plant vines and make wine.

It seems like a crazy concept, but North Carolina has started to produce some interesting varietals as the terroir lends itself to creating some decent wine.  On a recent trip down there, I had a Shelton Vineyards dry Riesling.  It was reminiscent of a Finger Lakes Riesling.  Slightly viscous, lush orchard fruits along with some citrus fruits filled the glass.  High in acid, it was a zingy surprise. 

I'm not too sure what their shipping and distribution regulations are, but keep your eyes out for them - definitely worth a try. 

Keep tasting, friends...

 

Shelton Vineyards Riesling, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Shelton Vineyards Riesling, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

These Are A Few of His Favorite Things

Saturday is rapidly becoming one of my favorite days.  Yes, it's everybody's favorite, I know.  But Saturdays are when Del Posto holds its 5 for $5 classes. Beautiful space,  delicious wines, and a relaxed atmosphere; what's not to like? 

This week's topic was about sommelier Luke's favorite wines from the Del Posto list. He selected wines, with the exception of Champagne, that fall within the $60 - $70 range.  It's a smart way to find accessible, yet affordable, wines as a starting point to navigating a list. What I also appreciate, in addition to the education about the wines, is the discussion about food pairings, which is always a lively and hunger-inducing conversation.  I've added the ideas below for your eating pleasure. 

 

Menu, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Menu, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Per tradition, we started the class off with champagne. Agrapart et Fils "7 Crus", NV is from the southern Champagne region and is comprised of 90% chardonnay/10% pinot noir. The 7 Crus in the name refers to the 7 plots of land where the grapes are grown.  A little higher in residual sugar than other champagnes, the nose portrayed pear, honey, lemon and a eensy amount of yeast. The palate, though, had a gorgeous texture and more citrus fruits.  Still dry, still delicious. Pairing: anything!

Champagne, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Champagne, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

We moved on to the J. Hofstatter Pinot Blanc "Barthenau Vigne S. Michele", Trentino, IT, 2005. Guava, mango and passionfruit were immediately obvious on the nose and when drinking, a bit of honeysuckle and sweet almonds came out.  There was a richness to the texture and the somm pointed out the nuttiness and other notes of aging that slowly came through. Pairing: cheese plate.

Pinot blanc, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Pinot blanc, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Next up was the Marco De Bartoli Zibbibo  "Integer," Sicily, 2008. The somm told us how the producer is famous for his marsala wine and is a champion is moving that wine from a bulk-produced, low quality wine into an artisanal product and Zibbibo, an indigenous Sicilian grape, is the next project of his offspring. The wine sees a little bit of grape skin contact so it's slightly darker in color with a veil of cloudiness. It also spends a little bit of time in oak, giving it a completely unique quality. Honestly? Hated it.  If I ever ordered this, I would think it's corked and send it back.  It was nearly devoid of fruit except for a prickly rhubarb note.  Very earthy and salty, I had a rough time getting through it. This is one that maybe would fare a lot better with food, but I couldn't imagine sipping on it solo. Pairing:  Briny, umami-rich seafood pasta, such as squid ink fettucine with uni.

 

Zibbibo, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Zibbibo, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Onto the reds. He next poured us the Canalicchio di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, 2011.  Rosso di Montalcino is 100% sangiovese, but what distinguishes it from a Brunello (it's famous sibling) is it spends much less time aging, which produces a more fruit-forward wine. Blackberries, raspberries and cherries were very obvious as well as pepper and spice.  There was a very slight floral essence that also  came through, almost like a freesia.  There was quick a bit of acid and some structured, but not ovewhelming tannins. Pairing: pasta pomodoro.

 

Rosso di Montalcimo, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Rosso di Montalcimo, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

For the finale, the somm served us a Cappellano Dolcetto d'Alba "Gabutti", Piedmont, 2009. Story has it the winemaker would only let critics taste his wines if they didn't rate it on a point system when reviewed. Gotta love these strong personalities. This Dolcetto, a simpler wine to the region's famous Barolos and Barbarescos, had less fruit than the Rosso di Montalcino and what did come through were darker, plummier fruits. Earthiness and a slightly sour muskiness were also in the blend, along with a tingling spice. Structure-wise, again there was a high amount of acidicty and more noticeable tannins than previous red.  This was a red that could definitely work with meat.  Pairing: lamb ragu. 

 

Dolcetto, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

Dolcetto, photo by Shana Sokol of Shana Speaks Wine

I love Saturdays...

Cherry Bombe Jubilee

Last weekend I had the honor of the attending the inaguaral Cherry Bombe Jubilee after-party at Corkbuzz, sponsored by OpenTable.  Cherry Bombe is this ridiculously gorgeous biannual magazine all about women and food, highlighting and exploring all of their culinary accomplishments.

More than ever, food has become a primary focus in our society, from the chef-as-celebrity icon to reality TV shows to the locavore movement, just to give a few examples.  One of the biggest controveries as of late was the Time magazine list called "Gods of Food" which, not only was predominately male, but also ignored female chefs, causing much backlash.  It was the smashed plate heard 'round the world.     

Ironically, until the past 50 years, a woman's place was supposedly the kitchen, where she oversaw the home and wellbeing of her family.  So why are women chefs, who are in essence doing the same thing in a restaurant kitchen, largely overlooked? Why does it feel like Sysyphus pushing the rock up the mountain when it comes to creating equality in the professional realm?  

The magazine couldn't have come at a better time.  Its celebration of women in all aspects of the culinary world, not just in the restaurant kitchen, is exciting and invigorating.  It's inspirational in how it showcases their innovations in the food world.  Did I mention aesthetically it should be displayed as a coffee table book? 

Out of the magazine came the inaugural Cherry Bombe Jubilee, a daylong conference about females and food. While I wasn't able to attend during the day, I was beyond thrilled to join in the evening. 

Let's just say this was one of the best cocktail parties I've ever attended - check out the menu below:

 

After-party food menu, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

After-party food menu, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

And of course, the wines were impeccable.  Four top female sommeliers selected two wines each, each unique and creating a unique and well-rounded tasting experience. The story behind each wine is so compelling it's better to show a picture of the wine menu that explains their appeal: 

Wine menu page 1, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Wine menu page 1, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

 

 

Wine menu page 2, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Wine menu page 2, photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine

Did you note the commonality with all these wines? They were all made by women winemakers. 

The conversation will continue but it's moments like this party, where we can stop and celebrate all that's been done so far, that will keep the discussion fresh.  

#NotWine

Setup for the beer class.  Photo by Shana Speaks Wine

Setup for the beer class.  Photo by Shana Speaks Wine

Here's a snapshot from Saturday's Beer Class at Top Hops in NYC.  Full report to come!