Monthly Archives: October 2013

Wine of the Week: Bailly Lapierre Cremant de Bourgogne NV

My wine of the week for Wine Wednesday is Bailly Lapierre’s Cremant de Bourgogne NV. I tried this wine early in September at the Regal Wine Imports portfolio tasting. I found it on wine-searcher for about $18.

This Maison (House) focuses exclusively on Cremant de Bourgogne. Cremant is made in much the way that Champagne is, using the same varieties but cannot be called Champagne because it comes from other regions in France. Speaking with the export manager that day he mentioned the underground quarries where the wines age and the location of the vineyards as being the signature differentiating factors for these wines. They have been making wines since 1972, using classic Burgundian varieties : Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

I love sparkling wines every day of the week and Cremant has been a go-to wine for sometime. Less expensive than Champagne, Cremant is a beautiful alternative if you are looking for a French bubbly. I also find the bubbles to be somewhat smaller and the perlage to be creamier, like a Saten made in Franciacorta. This is a style I am partial to and it works perfectly with my palate. Salut!

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Cococciola Bianco From Abruzzo

Cococciola bianco isn’t exactly the kind of grape variety that you see on a daily basis. Not unless you grow the variety that is. This variety hails from Abruzzo and is usually vinified together with Trebbiano. It is less widely planted now than in the past when it was found in Chieti, Teramo and L’Aquila although I did find it on Wine-Searcher in Gianni Masciarelli’s wine, Villa Gemma. It is said to be a hardy and fertile grape. Somewhat hard to pronounce and to spell, it is unlikely than you will find it vinified on its own. It is 15% of the blend in Villa Gemma, for example.

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Wine Travel – Miramonti Hotel In Cortina With Masottina Wines

I’m on a wine trip flying to Portugal and the Tejo region thanks to the Dunn Robbins Group but I’m thinking of another recent trip to pass the time before we delve into the wonderful wines of the Tejo which I tasted a bit earlier in the month at a seminar and round-table discussion at Corkbuzz. Candela Prol gave the Master class on the wines and was very informative. So much so I have the sense that some of the area will be familiar to me when we land.

Hotel and Mountains

In the meantime though, I am looking through pictures from another trip I took this summer to VinoVip in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

View from Miramonti
A place I had never visited, the events were held in rifuigi at 1700 meters and higher as well as in a hotel called the “Miramonti.”

The hotel had spectacular views and a grand ballroom where seminars were held. They also had a charming bar with unbelievable views of the mountains. While sitting at the bar, I had a glass of wine and then another.
Miramonti Bar List

After a while I discovered that all of the wines, practically all still and sparkling were from a producer called Masottina. I liked their Prosecco from Conegliano Valdobbiadene. It was a pretty nice place to have all the slots on the wine list. Good gig if you can get it…

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Sunday Dinner At North End Grill

During the past two years, I have had the pleasure of dining at the North End Grill. A super restaurant in Battery Park city owned by Danny Meyer. Once again, last night it was the scene of a meal following the last sail of the season. A friend and I always sit at the bar. He’s more of a foodie than I am but we equally like to watch how plates are prepared and how the staff works together. Sadly, I think last night’s meal might be my last one at this eatery because of what I consider two different levels of service: that provided to our party and that provided to a diner three seats away.

Like many restaurants, North End Grill provides a Sunday dinner. The catch apparently is that it is for a least two people. That was what we were told. In reality, it’s for two people until it’s not. Or until someone comes into the restaurant who you know or just feel like treating differently. To be fair they did take a glass of wine that I was drinking off the bill and the general manager did come over to our table to ask if we wanted something more or if he could help in any way but the whole experience left a bitter taste in my mouth that wasn’t from the Scarpetta Barbera I was drinking. That was lovely. The treatment and the service wasn’t and sadly, I think I will be celebrating the end of sailing season somewhere else next year and the beginning of sailing season too. We all know that we aren’t treated the same way in life or even in restaurants but it was pretty glaring watching it up close and personal in a totally empty restaurant. It’s good to appreciate good service when you have it. It’s also good to pay attention when you don’t. For a restauranteur like Danny Meyer who prides himself exactly on that, I was quite surprised to find this treatment at one of his restaurants. I’ll be on the look out for good restaurants near North Cove for next year.  I’m sure something new to surprise me will come to the fore.

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Expanding My Horizons: Porterhouse Red Ale

In the five years that I have been posting on this blog, I think I have written about beer twice or maybe three times. It’s not that I don’t like beer it is just that I gravitate to other beverages on a continual basis. Sometimes though, after a big tasting or during the right kind of event, I craze a beer. Last night I went to a historic New York hotspot, Fraunces Tavern. I haven’t been there since I worked on Wall Street right after college as a paralegal. A lifetime ago and another world. My memories of the place were not spot on and it has changed remarkably.

They have a great bar with live music a few days a week and a huge list of both beers and whiskeys. While they are well known for their dark beers, I chose a red ale, not being partial to the darker stout. The Red Ale was delicious and refreshing with just enough citrus and hoppy notes to strike my fancy. The Porterhouse Brewing Company is a chain of six bars Irish bars in Bray and Dublin, London and New York. It was founded in 1989 by Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes. Fraunces Tavern, on the other hand, has been open since 1767. To judge from the crowd last night, they are poised for another 200+ years.

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New Favorite Wine Bar in NYC – Pierre Loti With Its Turkish Flair

I had the pleasure of discovering a new wine bar (new to me) in New York last night – Pierre Loti. I had no idea what I was missing. I loved it dark corners, dimmed lights, and of course, its funky wine & food menu. The owner Orhan Cakir, who is Turkish, has a pretty nice concept going and has opened a number of locations in NYC

The bars are named for a French novelist who used to visit Turkey often. Pierre Loti was his “nom de plume.” It felt like I could have been in another city maybe even in Turkey or Paris. I had a wine from Turkey from the Pamukkale Winery. The winery was founded in 1962 by the Tokat brothers in Denizli in the city of Güney. The area is a plateau that is located at 850 meters above sea level. The soil is made of limestone and pebbles. For many years the winery sold its grapes to bigger concerns but eventually when one of the brothers studied agriculture and they began to produce their own wines.

I had a red blend which was full bodied with juicy tannins although a bit high in alcohol. It reminded me of Bull’s Blood from Hungary. I also tried the white that they had on their list at the Chelsea location. It was somewhat waxy and Chenin blanc like. I enjoyed both and would definitely go back to try new Turkish wines that I don’t know, essentially any and all Turkish wines that is.

My photos of my sailing trip aren’t digital here is a link to a map of the area:

I visited Turkey nine years ago and went on an incredibly sailing trip from Bodrom to Gocek. A fabulous trip with beautiful water, crazy wind, good food and nice people. Turkey is a country that can really draw you in and that I can’t wait to return to explore further. I also spent time in Istanbul on that trip. Truly one of the most beautiful and enchanting places I have been to visit, I highly recommend a trip. In the meantime, for a little taste of Turkey, I now know where to go…

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Italian Indigenous Grapes: Autochtona 2013 Fair In Bolzan October 21-22, 2013

Instead of writing about a particular indigenous Italian variety today I thought I would write about a great wine fair that doesn’t get enough play here in the USA. It is called Autochtona and is held at the Fiera di Bolzano. 

This fair, dedicated to native grape varieties, celebrates its 10th anniversary this weekend. The wines are exclusively from small-scale producers and contain over 95% of native Italian grape varieties.  The wines will compete for awards in two areas: “Autoctoni che passione!” and “Tasting Lagrein”.

I have not yet been able to go to this fair but have been aware of it for a number of years now. Prima o poi, I will make it to this wonderful fair and will get back to Merano, a fabulous wine fair held in November in that city. Wine fairs are always tiring but there’s nothing like being in one of those pavilions to remind me how very much I love the world of wine in all of its variety, especially in countries like Italy that have such varied indigenous varietals.

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