Monthly Archives: January 2016

Ode to Mozart’s Opera Don Giovanni

Yesterday was the anniversary of Austrian composer Mozart’s birth and I wanted to mark the day that created this genius. I looked far and wide for a winery named after my favorite opera – Don Giovanni – and of course found one, here in California. I have never tried their wines so I can’t vouch for them but I like the story and the name of course. I heard on the radio yesterday that half of Mozart’s works were composed between the ages of 9-19. Quite a legacy. I was forced to listen to Don Giovanni and other operas throughout my twenties by a boyfriend who was obsessed with those works. While the boyfriend didn’t last past that decade, my love of opera and Don Giovanni in particular did. I remember an amazing performance of it in Ferrara with Claudio Abbado performing, a once in a lifetime experience.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day – Il Giorno della Memoria


Today I don’t want to write about wine but rather about family. All the families that lost people in the Shoah, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, children, nieces, nephews, cousins, neighbors, friends, lovers, husbands, and wives. My family lost 80 people – all of my great grandfather’s brothers and sisters and all of their children, 11 siblings. I can’t stand it as I watch people being attacked the world over still just because they are Jewish. Two people survived from the family, in Poland, two. They made their way to the United States and appeared at the Seder at my grandmother’s house in the late 1940s. I was watching the stories of what went on in the train cars that brought people to the camps today.  I am overwhelmed with sadness at what people went through. Having a small son has made it even harder to bear as I imagine mothers saying goodbye to their babies.  All I want to do today is hug my happy baby and pray that we will never forget and will fight the rise of anti-semitism when it rears its ugly head, as is happening today.

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Drinking Austrian Riesling in St. Anton

It’s been five years since this trip to St. Anton, my ripped ACL and my last skiing experience. I didn’t grow up skiing but started at 15 with a friend’s family in Vermont. I loved to ski all through my teens, twenties and beyond. Then I started to get scared. I think that was around the time that snowboarding became everyone’s favorite sport. These days, with a very young child, I’m looking forward to getting back on the slopes. The small ones and starting over. This weekend’s blizzard has really made me miss ife on the slopes, all of it. I always remember the panini with speck and asiago cheese that I would eat when skiing in Italy and the desire to drink Vin Brule but the knowledge that too much of it would make me a worse skier. Hopefully, a settimana bianca will again be part of my life as Niccolo’ learns to ski and wants to go. It’s a great February tradition in Italy that I miss.


I´m finally in St. Anton, a ski paradise in Austria. We had great weather yesterday as you can see from the color of the sky in this picture. New Year´s Eve in ski towns all over Europe are generally the same, fireworks everywhere, much revelry and prix fixe dinners.

I went to the Hotel Montana for dinner to celebrate and had an eight course meal which I must say was delicious. I had expected the food here to be basic fare but instead have had one great meal after another much to my surprise.

I also have been able to taste some great wines including the Weninger Blaufranckish that I mentioned on my last blog post.
Last night I tried some great Zweigelt and amazing riesling from Martin Donabaum from the Wachau. I had both the Federspiel and the Smaragd. They were both great but the Smaragd was beyond lovely…

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This is a photo from a storm last year around this time. The scene outside the window today is much more white. I love the snow, albeit more so when I am in the mountains than in the city or the suburbs. That said, today’s storm is a nice forced moment to stay inside and think, something that is hard to do with such busy lives.

Over the last week, I have seen changes to New York City that brought me back to my first year in town, right after college. I used to live on 13th street and University. Back in those days, my world was about law school and being a paralegal. I had a homeless man living on my stoop who used to make little circles out of matches and leave them for us. The city was very different than as was my block.

Today 13th street is a thriving and hip place and the location of the great local for wine, Corkbuzz but back then, the arrival of a Korean run deli was a big deal. Sure we had Souen and the New York Health and Racquet club which are still there but nothing else that is on the street is the same. My sister went through a macrobiotic phase and I remember eating often in that place which seemed to me to be the opposite of joyful eating.

I was downtown on Thursday and saw that even Bowlmor, a famed bowling alley is gone. University between 12th and 13th is going to become one big development project. I also noticed that the Quad Cinema closed. All signs maybe of progress but the constantly changing landscape does take my breath away. I remember that in the back room of the apartment, the bowling alley sounded like an ocean and could help one get to sleep, except for Thursday when they would constantly announce “Ladies drink for free.” One restaurant that is still the same is Cafe Loup which brings me to another memory from that time, I only really drank French wine.

As a devoted francophile until I was around 22, the wines that I drank and thought of were all French. I was a French major, lived in Dijon in college and was obsessed with all things French and Burgundy. My uncle, also a great lover of French wines and a lawyer, had this bottle that I shared with my parents earlier this year.

Monthelie 1997

Monthelie, in the Cote de Beaune has had an appellation since 1937. While mostly known for their red, pinot noir based wines, they also produced some good chardonnay. Not the most prestigious of Burgundy appellations but nonetheless, a nice expression of a very approachable Burgundy. I wish I had another bottle to share today during this blizzard. I think it would go well with the Risotto ai Funghi that I am making for lunch. Alas, we will have to drink something else.

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Women In Wine Fridays: Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Donatella Cinelli Colombini is the new president of Le Donne del Vino. Sono felice di averla conosciuta in passato e contenta di vedere dove porta l’associazione nel prossimo futuro. Auguri!


Today is International Women’s day or La Festa delle Donne. It has always annoyed me that only one day a year is dedicated to women but nevertheless, I always mark it in some way. It is a perfect day to write about Donatella Cinelli Colombini . Donatella was the second woman that I met in 2005 who worked in the wine business and was part of the organization, Le Donne del Vino.

I met Donatella when I was writing the first piece of my as of yet unfinished opera on wine. I just got a copy of Tom Hyland’s book today so maybe that will push me to write my own. Donatella ran one of the first all female wineries, Casato Prime Donne. She told me in a brief interview in January that she decided to hire all woman when she went looking for a cellar master and they said…

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Anteprime Toscane: Memorable Events – Benvenuto Brunello

While today’s event won’t be as thrilling as the one that I attended in Italy a few years ago, I am looking forward to tasting some great Brunello today in New York and to seeing good friends.


Benvenuto Brunello

This is a post about a memorable experience that I had last year right around this time when I was lucky enough to attend the Benvenuto Brunello tasting in Montalcino. The event held by the Consorzio is a huge draw for journalists. While the 2014 edition has already come and gone as well, I never had the chance to write up my impressions of the 2013 event, one of the most significant wine tastings I have ever attended.

I have been numerous times to the Benvenuto Brunello event in New York as well at Gotham Hall, which has also come and gone. This year I worked at the show with a producer that I represent at the tasting on January 27. Despite all of that and friendships with many Brunello producers, I was not prepared for the marvelous experience that this Anteprima turned out to be.

You are seated at…

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South Africa Comes Of Age: Winemaker Ntsiki Biyela Opened My Eyes To What It Could Produce

Ntsiki at Stellekaya

This is a photo of my friend, Ntsiki Biyela from Stellekaya. I met her six years ago this month. I think it was on January 18. I had written a long article for the magazine Gourmet Retailer on South African wines and they found me through that piece. I organized a few press events for her and attended others. It was my first foray into South African wines. Since then, thanks to conferences and tastings I have tasted many others that I have enjoyed. I am due for a new tasting and hopefully one will be coming round soon or someone fun will come to town. In the meantime, I can go to any wine store these days and by a South African wine. Something unexpected years ago. Today Meininger Wine Business International came out with this article which struck me and I found very interesting. Kudos to Jim Clarke, the PR agency involved and Wosa for their work here in the US. I just discovered that they even have an online certification class now. I remember talking to someone in South Africa in 2010 about coming over to do certifications for the New York Trade. Times have changed. This photo was from the 1994 voting in Soweto when Apartheid had finally ended. I used to work in an office with the Associated Press and was the recipient of amazing photos when they went digital.


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