Monthly Archives: November 2016

Wine Wednesday: Pol Roger Extra Cuvee Reserve

Pol Roger

Celebrating life with Champagne. I love Champagne and I love this particular one quite a lot. Pol Roger is one of the last few champagne houses that are still entirely family owned. In fact, my very first wine tasting in New York years ago was a Wildman portfolio tasting, Pol Roger’s importer, and a member of the family was there pouring their wines. A very elegant older gentleman, it was a memorable experience. The family has some 220 acres of vineyards, mostly in the south of Epernay and the Cotes de blancs. This particular Champagne is composed of one third Pinot Noir, one third Chardonnay and one third Meunier. It spends three years on its lees. Each grape brings different aspects to the blend: Pinot Noir brings body, Pinot Meunier provides freshness and fruit notes and Chardonnay enhances the experience by adding an elegant lift.

This Champagne has a beautiful perlage, lovely floral and fruit notes as well as nutty and toasty aromas and flavors that make this a classic and a great one to celebrate sweetness in your life. I drank it right after my beautiful, long desired son arrived in 2014. Every time I have this wine, I think of how marvelous that bottle was indeed. Cheers to life and to Niccolo’, my exquisite boy.

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Filed under Champagne, France, Memorable Events, Pol Roger, sparkling wine, Wine of the Week, Wine Wednesday, wines

Monday Musings: Wine Education In The Age of Trump

This week I can’t help but wondering how wine education will change under the new President-elect. Will we no longer study climate change and it’s impact on wine grapes. Will we ignore all the evidence that points to climate change being largely a result of human activity. Will we also no longer study how to improve our carbon footprints and lessen the impact of the industry on businesses. I wonder if anyone in the American Association of wine economists will do a study on what his election may do to the business. If anyone has heard of such a study, please let me know. I am curious to read it.

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Post Thanksgiving Recovery: Sipping Beaujolais Nouveau


Like many of you, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving replete with lots of family and lots of food. Recovering from this most festive and food oriented holiday is never easy. I had great wines yesterday from Spain and France, including a fantastic 1985 Burgundy from Musigny. It would be hard to top that I figured so today I decided to go in a completely different direction and sip a Beaujolais Nouveau at lunch in a French bistro. One might think that’s a shocking day after response but I think it totally appropriate. Not much is going to compare to last night’s wine so why try to go in the same direction. Beaujolais Nouveau Day is the third Thursday in November. Today’s wine was the first one I had this year. According to French law, this wine may from Gamay grapes can be released at 12:01 a.m., quite soon after the harvest. Many of quite critical of Beaujolais Nouveau and it’s fresh, fruity style. I am not among those who critique this cheerful wine. I’m not going to lay it down either but as with much of life, it’s all about expectations and as we know, that is the key to success in every area. Sante’!

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Wine of the Week: Cremant de Limoux Rose from Domaine Martinolles


This Wednesday’s wine of the week was a Cremant Rose from Martinolles that I had last night at Raouls with friends. The wine is made from a blend of 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. It is made using the traditional method and spends some 15 months in the bottle before being released into the market. The vinification is done using whole cluster pressing. I had it with skate but could also see it pairing well with sushi and salmon. The domaine is in town of Saint-Hilaire, where the Blanquette de Limoux wines were born. The soils are a mixture of clay and calcareous matter. The wine has both fruity and floral characteristics. It had a fair amount of residual sugar. around 14 g/l, which surprised me but also good acidity. I really enjoyed it and would buy it in a store to drink at home as well. It’s widely available and priced around $18. It would work well with Thanksgiving foods as well from the turkey to cranberry relish as well as cheeses and sides.

I’m having a sparkling rose moment so it went perfectly with my latest deep dive into these wines. The winery is apparently quite close to Carcassone, a
city in France that I have never visited but have always longed to see. Perhaps now I have two reasons to go on my next trip.

I had this wine at Raoul’s. It was a real New York evening, in a real New Yorky bar/restaurant of old. It was great to be out and see the New York I want to see rather than box stores and high-rises. Raoul’s recently celebrated it’s 40th anniversary, a long time for a restaurant. It was started by two brothers from Alsace, Guy and Serge.

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Filed under Aude, France, Rose, sparkling wine, Wine of the Week, Wine Wednesday

Women in Wine: May Matta Aliah- Armagnac Ambassador, French Wine Expert, Graphic Designer

Sadly I missed a big Lebanon wine tasting today in New York City. It reminded me of my dear friend May who hails from Lebanon. I thought I would repost this blog about her.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I have begun to interview women who work in the wine business in the United States as well. One of the people who was nice enough to have a chat with me about her work in wine was May Matta Aliah, owner of Red Dot Solutions. I met May some years ago when she taught a class on Sherry at the International Wine Center (IWC) as part of the WSET Diploma program. I later discovered that May was not only a wine educator but also a fabulous graphic designer. This is a very long post without photos but I haven’t yet been either to Armagnac or Lebanon and have no nice photos to share. Must remedy that.

In fact, May has been my graphic designer for the past few years and I am very happy with the results at Vigneto Communications and another…

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Lambrusco Grasparossa del Castelvetro

italy 600

This week’s indigenous variety is Lambrusco Grasparossa. It hails from the areas around Modena and Reggio Emilia in the province of Emilia Romagna. It is considered to be a tad less refined than last week’s variety – Lambrusco di Sorbara. It makes wines in the frizzante and amabile styles which people usually drink young and fresh. Grasparossa refers to the ruby red color of the stems. One of the most widely sold Lambruscos in the US is from Cleto Chiarli. That winery, founded in 1860, makes a Lambrusco from Grasparossa del Castelvetro as well. I could use a glass of Lambrusco today. I admit, I feel that way many days as I am a big fan. Today however, I particularly need one post-election. When I lived in Bologna in the 1990s, Silvio Berlusconi “e sceso in campo” as he used to say or came into the field. Living in Bologna was amazing, he was horrible. It made me stop reading the newspapers, one of my greatest pleasures in life. He wreaked havoc on the Italian economic and social fabric for 20 years. Americans will have the opportunity to see our own version of Berlusconi in power. Hopefully his reign will be much shorter and less damaging but I fear for what havoc he can do to our democracy even in a short time. He has already frayed it as we have seen in the past 18 months. There is an Italian publisher that no one will mention in print or by name. He has a nickname that people use when mentioning him. They say if you mention his name you will bring bad luck upon yourself. Maybe that is the same with our version of Berlusconi. I think I won’t mention his name but rather allude to him only in the future. Bring on the Lambrusco please….

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Wine Wednesday: Franklin Tate Chardonnay from Margaret River, Australia


It’s a struggle to even put two sentences together today after the rout that was the American election yesterday and all that I personally believe in but the President and former Secretary of State had the presence of mind to get up and make speeches and put a good face on it so whom am I to be a slacker and cry into my wine. Today is a new day and it’s important to look ahead and give President elect Trump a chance to show he isn’t as awful as I suspect, just like many chardonnays. I wasn’t always in the “ABC” camp but had spent some time as one of those anything but chardonnay people.

The same can be said of Chardonnay, a grape I often discount and stay away from a priori. That would have been short-sighted in this case and I would have missed this lovely Chardonnay from John Tate and his son Franklin Tate of Franklin Tate Estates. The winery is located in the Margaret River region. The area is located on both the Indian and Southern Oceans. The climate in this area is both warm in the morning and cool in the afternoon. That taken with the ocean breezes enables the fruit to remain healthy and achieve phenolic ripeness. The area is also quite isolated which allows it to be free of many of the problems that plague more densely populated regions. Their oenologist is Rory Clifton-Parks. When making their 2015 Chardonnay, after crushing and pressing, the wine goes through partial barrel fermentation and is then matured in French oak for a time.

The wine was creamy, with nice acidity to balance out its toasty, citrus and apple aromas and flavors. It would work well with many foods including lobster and salmon. This is a wine I might not have been open to and yet it was delicious. I doubt I will feel the same way about the political situation but at least I will have lots of wine, including this great chardonnay to console me.

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Filed under Australia, Chardonnay, Wine of the Week, Wine Wednesday