Monthly Archives: July 2010

100 Days Of Oil In The Gulf

Today marks the 100th day of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I thought an article from the Associated Press was really well done and gave an idea of just how many lives have been impacted by this terrible spill.

I haven’t spent much time there but did get to go to New Orleans two years ago for the Society of Wine Educators conference. This year the conference is in DC. Today is the first day. I’m going to DC tomorrow and am excited.

Back to the Gulf, aside from giving money to the organizations that I mentioned a few days ago on my blog for Gulf recovery, I’m trying to find ways to support local businesses. As always, I think reminding people of an area in need is import. Today we are still focusing on the Gulf but who knows in the next 100 days. I was looking to see if they are any wineries along the Gulf of Mexico. It seemed that there was one in Mississippi but the site said that it may have been damaged by Hurricane Katrina and has never recovered. When I was in NOLA two years ago, the 9th ward looked as if Katrina had happened the day before. It was a scandal. I didn’t take pictures at the time but I do remember the horror of those streets. I bet the same thing is true today. Let’s hope this time, things are different.

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Red Wine & Peaches – A Real Summer Treat

People always ask me if I miss Italy and of course, the answer is yes, who wouldn’t. What is so hard to describe are the moments that encompass what Italy means to me. The little things. I had a sense memory of Italy some 20 years ago yesterday walking down Broadway. It was 1990 and I was in Italy for the Summer studying Italian. I met a man who made my heart sing in silly ways but I think what made me find him so appealing was watching him peel peaches and put them in red wine.

Needless to say, I was hooked. That and the way he stirred his coffee, trivial items but sensuous ones nonetheless. I digress. Anyway, back to the peaches. Try it sometime.
Peaches cut into red wine is a delicious summer dessert, easy to make, easy to digest and easy to find. The red wine can be anything but of course you don’t want to use any wine that is too heavy or prestigious. We were in Tuscany so I assume the wine was from that region but he was Pugliese so it might have been from there but I don’t think so. In any event, it has been many years since I have had peaches and wine but you can bet I will be trying some later today. I just noticed a recipe for peaches and wine on a new blog I discovered called Bleeding Espresso. Like the blog, like the recipe. Check it out. And yes, I do miss it in big and small ways every day of my life but being in New York allows me to have a little piece of Italy every day. Non e la stessa cosa pero’ va bene lo stesso…per ora.

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Wine of the Week: Banfi’s Florus- Moscadello di Montalcino DOC

The first time I tried this indigenous grape, I was in Montalcino visiting the Mocali winery. Alessandra the owner told me about this indigenous grape from the area that they were bringing back. I liked it then and I also enjoyed it at a recent event at Accademia di Vino featuring wines from Banfi.

I’m a sucker for dessert wines of any stripe or color. This one is made from 100% Mocadello di Montalcino. It is a late harvest wine, a DOC from 2007. The wine ferments in stainless steel and is 15% of it is aged in French oak from one year. I really liked this golden yellow colored wine with apricot and honey notes. It was sweet but not unctuous with 161 grams of residual sugar. It also had very nice acidity which offset the sugar artfully. I’d absolutely order this wine as a dessert. I try to eat or drink my dessert and not do both. As you can imagine, I usually end up drinking it.

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An American Icon- Pete Seeger at City Winery To Support Relief For Gulf Coast

I was on my way out on Thursday when an email caught my eye in my inbox – Pete Seeger will be playing at City Winery to support relief efforts in the Gulf by the Gulf Restoration Network the email said. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Everyone knows who Pete Seeger is and what a wonderful, giving and inspiring man he is at 91.

Pete Seeger at City Winery

I was so touched and pleased to be able to see and hear him and to sing along to his songs. He played “Turn, Turn, Turn” and “If I Had A Hammer” and a new song that he’s just written about the spill. “Drill Baby Drill…Spill Baby Spill”, written in response to the ongoing environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I couldn’t believe my good fortune so a big thanks to City Winery. My parents were and are avid fans of Pete Seeger from the days of the Hootenannies many years ago. I went to sleep listening to Peter, Paul and Mary sing “If I Had A Hammer” for the first 5 years of my life I think. I loved that record. Seeger is just so great in so many ways I can’t begin to express them here. His work on the Hudson River with his sloop the Clearwater, for example, has changed life for all New Yorkers who use the River. What an accomplishment. Yes, he wasn’t alone but his fortitude has inspired so many people. Including, my favorite singer—-Bruce Springsteen. I love his album called the “Seeger Sessions” when he plays a tribute to Pete Seeger and his music.

Proceeds from the event went to the Gulf Restoration Network and Global Green, . Both non-profits support workers and fisherman along the Gulf Coast from New Orleans to the Florida Panhandle. They showed a video of many of the Fisherman who have lost their livelihoods. It was heartbreaking. I hope every donates something. City Winery is also holding concerts tonight and tomorrow to benefit the Gulf.

There were so many fabulous musicians singing last night that they are too many to mention, one really struck me though, Julie Gold. She wrote a song I love but haven’t thought of in maybe 20 years “From a Distance.”
. This version is by Nancy Griffith.

Three Cape Ladies

While listening to these artists sing for the Gulf, I slowly sipped a nice South African Wine called Three Cape Ladies.. The wine was from Warwick Estate. This family owned winery is well known for the Bordeaux style blends. This wine was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Pinotage. I’m fond of blends from South Africa as any readers of this blog know. All in all, it was one of those memorable evenings that make you smile. I hope they raised a lot of money. The house was packed so that’s a good start. If you are in New York City this evening with no plans, head on over to City Winery to support a good cause.

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Filed under Bruce, Memorable Events, South Africa, Travel, Wine Bars, wine stores, wines

Working Retail, Getting An Education

After many years of saying I was going to work part time in a wine shop, I’m finally doing it. The idea is to learn the business and understand it from the retailer’s point of view rather than the journalist e/o public relations idea of sales. I also get to meet more people in the trade and to really understand the workings of the “business.” I have a renewed appreciation for just how hard it is to sell wine both as a retailer and as an importer. Often people who work in PR or are journalists are accused of not knowing much about the business side, of waxing poetic about indigenous varieties and wines that are made for the very few.

Alain, Keri, Francois and Mollie B.

I’m finding that working retail is much more of an education than I might have thought. I’m learning things about people’s true reticence when buying wine and just how few know what they want to drink and why. I’ve also discovered that people use wine stores as therapy, not retail therapy but just to come and chat. Maybe its the proximity of alcohol or my short dress and winning smile but I doubt it :).

I’ve found that customers ask for a wine they can cook with much more often than I would have thought even in a beautiful upscale shop like Maslow. In Italy, people use wine to cook with that they have generally had the day before or the ones that come in cartons, like Tavarnelle.

I always suggest something neutral and that they also might enjoy drinking. Many people come with an idea of how much they want to spend and that’s their primary focus yet they are open to trying new things if the price is right.

Maslow 6, the store that I am working in is owned by Keri Jackson Kunzle. Keri is a friend and has many wines that I really like and buy on a regular basis. She also does tastings everyday which I think is a great way to have both your staff and customers get to know your wines. Keri’s been very lovely to let me see what goes on in the “real” world . The idea is that one day I shall own part of a wine store. I thought it would be appropriate to know what I would be getting into before starting out.

I discovered that lifting heavy boxes of wine is my primary constraint, I’ve got to get back to the gym. My cute red heels were the wrong choice for today’s load but I guess it’s all a work in progress.

Three observations:

a) Many people love to be guided so that educating your wine staff should be key to all wine stores owners.
b) Regular tastings and a welcoming atmosphere make people return to the store early and often.
c) Tribeca is a whole world unto itself.

More musing on wine stores at a later date.

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Birthdays, Bloggers, Barbaresco & Me

I’m totally immature about my birthday. Every year it’s the same thing. I love my birthday the way I did when I was a little kid. I love to celebrate, I love presents and flowers and good wine and friends. This birthday I celebrated with old friends, family, special people, clients and some new friends too.

I gave myself a nice little treat and had a lovely 2003 Montaribaldi Barbaresco with Sasha Smith and Diane Letulle last night at Accademia di Vino Broadway. They are a client of mine so I won’t go on and on about the food or anything else but I do want to mention the great deal that they have on Monday nights – Half priced bottles of red wines for those over $80, like the Barbaresco I ordered and whites over $60. Last night was my first Monday there but won’t be my last. I never order Barolos or Brunellos in a NYC restaurant because of the markups but that looks like it’s going to change thanks to this 50% off deal.

The wine was fabulous and didn’t over power the beef carpaccio, cheese of Truffle pizza that we paired it with last night. It was well integrated and balanced with lovely dusty cherry notes, violet, and smooth elegant tannins. I forget how lovely Nebbiolo can be when I don’t have it for a while. I didn’t know the producer but do know that 2003 was a very hot year so I was a little surprised to see that it was still so well balanced. Perhaps this Barbaresco isn’t as long lived as some other years but I certainly thought it could go for another 3-5 years.

Diane a wine educator and blogger and a new friend I met at our Snooth dinner party last weekend at ‘Cesca. She writes of The Manhattan Wine Examiner and Wine Lover’s Journal.

Sasha I’ve met on a few occasions and most recently at a Soave tasting at Colangelo Pr’s office. She also was at our Snooth blogger dinner. She writes a great blog called Spin the bottle .

Eric Guido who came to our lovely Snooth Blogger dinner wrote a lovely review of his meal at ‘Cesca that I just had to share it. He pens the VIP Table blog He also gave the three of us a very big shout out. Thanks Eric.


Anyway, another birthday has come and gone. Thanks to all who participated, it was just what the doctor ordered.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian Restaurants, Italian wineries, italy, Restaurants, wines

Italian Olive Oil Producers Make A Stand

Italian olive oil producers are making a stand to differentiate their products from those of other nations. For too long they say, other nations have been bottling olive oils in such a way that it seems that they are from Italy when in fact, they are not. This is true of many Italian products be it cheese, coffee, or panettone.

Unaprol, the Italian consortium of olive oil producers, has decided to make a stand and has created the 1.0.0.% Qualita Italiana Brand. Unaprol represents over 600,000 olive farms. Italy is one of the world’s leading producers of olive oil with 350 cultivars that represent different aromas and flavors and are linked to specific terroirs. There are over 220 million olive trees in Italy

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