Monthly Archives: October 2010

Happy Halloween – Best Costume Goes to….

I never get dressed up for Halloween. Every since I was a little kid, I think I have always dressed up as a cat or nothing at all. Yesterday, I was dressed as a depressed New York democrat. You can imagine, I wore black. Nothing too original. I was invited to a lovely soiree held by two wine friends, Kathryn and Ken, hosts extraordinaire. I saw numerous lovely costumes and drank a couple of great wines but Rodolphe as a pimp above took the cake. Chapeau Mr. Boulanger. Rodolphe has one of the most refined palates I know, I can’t say the same for his sartorial splendor last evening but I do admire his style.

In terms of wines last evening, I think the Blancs de Blancs from Ruinart which bills itself as the oldest Champagne Maison in the world, was my favorite. It was a very beautiful and pure champagne, just what I needed after I overdosed on cheese. Kathryn and Ken hold a very sumptuous tasting group in their abode and those lucky enough to attend are treated to the loveliest cheese spread I have ever seen outside of Artisanal or Murray’s. I had been depriving myself of cheese for a few weeks and last night, couldn’t resist. Thank goodness for the Ruinart which was a welcome contrast with beautiful acidity and minerality to balance out the Epoisse, one of the perennial favorites at the tasting. Many other lovely wines were consumed but this one and a fabulous dessert wine from Gaillac made with Mauzac and other local varieties truly magnificient. Merci beaucoup Mesdames e Messieurs.

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Vinitaly Goes to Philadelphia

I’m on the Vinitaly train and tomorrow we are going to Philadelphia. It’s the first time they have held an event in Philadelphia. I’m excited to see some old friends and to meet some new ones. I’m hoping to meet Scott McDuff of McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail, a great wine blog. I’m also hoping to see Brian Freedman. I’m sorry that Eric V. Orange of LocalWineEvents.com will be absent on account of an injury. I’ll toast to you EVO!

The event will surely be different than the one at Eataly yesterday and I think producers will find the juxtaposition of the Union League and Eataly an interesting mix.

Today I took 60 producers to see Astor Wines, Total Wine and the Wine Library.

It was very useful for producers I believe to see different types of stores, who used ratings, who shuns them, what price points work and how stores are set up. I think there was a lot of surprise among small producers to see a supermarket of wine like Total Wine. I know I am overwhelmed in a store like that too.

Onward to Pennsylvania and a control state. I look forward to further investigations. Soon or later though, I would like to taste some wine :)….

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Filed under Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, Travel, wine stores, wines

Vinitaly Day at Eataly is finally here

Today is a big day at Eataly, the mega Italian food marketplace on 23rd and 5th. Vinitaly, the wine fair from Verona run by Veronafiere is having a Vinitaly Day at Eataly celebration for the trade (2-6pm) and consumers (6-9pm) who bought tickets from the American Cancer Society. The event is totally sold out at this point and the logistics of it all will be exciting, complicated and busy.

I go to Vinitaly every year and am thrilled that they are having an event in New York. I’ve been working on this project for a few months now with other agencies and people and have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time at Eataly and meet the people who are responsible for making it run so well. I’m duly impressed with their professionalism and dedication.

Honestly, the first time I went to the store, it was so crowded I couldn’t get in and I was somewhat turned off. Luckily, I didn’t stop at that first time.

The more time I spend in Eataly though, the happier I am. I really like to be there in the morning when it is not so busy. At times, I look around and find a new chocolate or coffee or item that brings me back to when I was in Italy on a daily basis for 15 years. I found myself tearing up one recent morning when I was in Eataly and I realized just how much I truly missed Italy, not just my friends but the country and its mysteries and joys.

Thanks to the vision of Oscar Farinetti and his American partners, the Sapir family, Joe and Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali, I have a little piece of Italy right near by. I never thought I would say this but thank you, it makes me very, very happy.

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Women in Wine: Clotilde Davenne’s Saint Bris – Sauvignon Blanc From Burgundy

I’ll admit it. I’m not a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan. There, I said it. I don’t find myself seeking them out be they old or new world wines but earlier this evening at Terroir Tribeca, I saw something that intrigued me, a Sauvignon from the Saint Bris area in Burgundy. I knew that this is the only region in all of Burgundy where they grow Sauvignon Blanc but I had never tried one. I decided to give it a whirl, part of the new me..insomma.

The wine was made by Clotilde Davenne, a vigneron from Burgundy who makes a range of exciting wines. This Saint Bris 2008 Vieilles Vignes spent some months aging on its lees and was truly a beautiful expression of the grape variety. The wine is made from 50 to 70 year old vines.

It was refreshing and fruity with good minerality and nice acidity. It was not over the top and made me reconsidered my position that I don’t like Sauvignon Blanc across the board. The new way to phrase it I guess would be that I prefer some styles of Sauvignon to others. I’m feeling more diplomatic already. I guess that Masters degree in Diplomacy serves me well for something :). All kidding aside, this was an exciting find on the ever eclectic and changing wine list at Terroir. Bravi.

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Wine of the Week: Soave Classico Re Teodorico From Cantina di Monteforte

This week I have had the good fortune to spend some time with Giovanni Ponchia, the young and talented winemaker from the Soave Consortium. I also was lucky enough to try a new Soave that I didn’t know from Cantina di Monteforte. It was light, refreshing and very easy to drink as an apertif and I found myself wondering why I have been drinking so little Soave over the years. I also really enjoyed the fact that it was only 12% alcohol, making it an easy wine to sip without having to eat a big meal in order to contrast the wine.

The Soave Consortium is made up of large and small wineries as well as bottlers and growers. Together they have 7000 hectares under vine. Garganega, the grape variety in Soave is very vigorous and needs to be reigned in to preserve white flower, citrus notes that are typical of Soave.

Giovanni spoke with me about the changes in Soave, the studies being done by the consortium and a fascinating initiative that is in its third year, an event for only white wines made on volcanic soils that takes place in June in Soave called Vulcania.

This video in Italian is truly interesting. Attilio Scienza a very well known enologist and professor in Italy talks about the different regions in Italy which have volcanic soils and what these soils bring to the wines that are made there. Ponchia noted that the best Italian whites are made on Volcanic soils be they in the Veneto, in Soave, around Etna in Sicily or Mount Vesuvius in Campania. Additionally both Friuli and Alto Adige have volcanic soils and both areas make great white wines. I hope to be able to attend one the next editions of Vulcania. 2011 will be the third year that Soave holds this type of conference.

Ponchia explained that volcanic soils are great for grape growing because they are fertile as well as porous. The soil holds water well which can be very useful during times of little rainfall. Additionally, the soil releases the water slowly into the ground so it doesn’t get overwhelmed. Half of the Soave Classico region is made up of volcanic soil, the Eastern part of the DOC.

Ponchia noted that most Soave is made from a combination of grapes from the Eastern and Western parts of the area.

He also said that the Adige Valley where Soave is located in among the hottest areas in Northern Italy and for this reason, they use the pergola training system in order to protect the grapes from the scorching sun. Pergola is usually used in Southern Italy not in the North of the country.

The Soave consortium never rests on its laurels and is constantly studying its soils and climate. On the website you can find a very detailed soil map of the area.

Soave is mostly sold in the Veneto and Italy and through export. Ponchia said that Soave isn’t too worried about competition from the New World despite the fact that they produce 70 million bottles a year.

“We are very competitively priced, have high quality, and indigenous grapes that make out wine totally unique and a great option both for large retail stores and restaurants,” he said. Garganega, the grape that Soave is made from, only grows in the Veneto and a small bit in Sicily. The Sicily version however doesn’t have the same acidity.

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Non-Wine Vacation In Costa Rica

I went on a 10 day trip to Costa Rica this Summer with all kinds of ideas of what I would find there. Some turned out to be true, others not so much. One thing I didn’t find was any locally grown grapes that are made into wine. Sure there are grapes that are trucked in from elsewhere and made into wine that is labelled as “locally bottled” but in my book that doesn’t count. Before I moved back to the US from Italy, even winemakers who didn’t own their own vineyards didn’t count for me. I guess it’s all what you become used to at the end of the day. What I did find in Costa Rica were lovely people everywhere, fabulous fruit and vegetables that I had never seen, tropical rain forests, volcanos, thermal baths, lakes and coffee plantations.

Did I mention Coffee plantations. Costa Rica is covered in Coffee. Delicious, rich, delicate coffee. I am going to write a separate piece about that as Coffee is one of the themes of this blog together with wine, olive oil, Italian food and other random issues that I feel like writing about.

For now though, I wanted to post some lovely pictures of Costa Rica. It has amazing flora and fauna and as I love taking pictures of both, I have about 400 shots but promise will only post a few. Mangroves are some of the most interesting trees to me with their gnarled roots and wierd shapes. In my travels around the world I have often happened upon them but they never cease to amaze me. Check this one out.

One of the best things I did in Costa Rica was to go to a wholesale fruit market at 400am with my Tica mother to buy fruits and vegetables. Yes I stayed for a few days with a Costa Rican family in order to improve my Spanish. This fruit is called Pejiballe and they eat it for breakfast with salt. It tastes somewhat like a potato but hangs in bunches like bananas.

Of course I had pineapple and papaya everyday, mangos and plantains and naturally rice and beans. Here we are learning to make Gallo Pinto, a traditional rice and beans dish that farm workers used to eat in the morning. You can imagine that it was quite filling and without doing farm work, hard to digest and work off.

I always find that you can bond with people over wine discusses, recipes or food tips. At least it has always worked for me. When I moved home from Italy, I decided I wanted to become fluent in Spanish and for the last few years have taken at least one trip a year to a Spanish speaking country in the hopes that I will improve over time and I’m pleased to say it has. People think that if you speak one Romance language you automatically speak the others. That isn’t always the case in my opinion.

I went on a trip while in Costa Rica to see Monteverde, Volcan Arenal and the hummingbird gardens. Most people canopy ride but that didn’t appeal to me. I did love the volcan and the hummingbirds.

The Hummingbirds was also fascinating, twirling around my head like mini helicopters.

Here are some more shots of the birds, I found them fascinating.

Costa Rica also has a huge surfer culture. I stayed mostly on the other side of in town but what I did see was beautiful I just don’t agree with a few things but that’s normal. I’m signing off now but shall be back.

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