Tuesday, March 04, 2014

In Vino Veritas

Did you know that the original name of this blog was In Vino Veritas?  I love that phrase, which means "in wine, there is truth."  And although I changed the name of the blog, I still love the phrase. Today I came across this cartoon, which kind of hits the nail on the head...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wines for the Holiday: Easter

Whether you are serving roasted lamb, a baked ham, or a pork roast, there are numerous choices of wines to pair with your Easter dinner. Port Washingtonites are fortunate to have several excellent local wine stores, including Black Tie, Bottles, Main Street Wine & Spirits, Colonial Wine, and Port Washington Wines & Liquors. All provide both a great selection of wines, and helpful staff members who are happy to offer suggestions on food and wine pairings.

Pork and lamb, like turkey, can be tricky to pair wines with since they don’t fall into the typical “red with beef, white with chicken” mold. We got some suggestions from the staff at Bottles Wines & Spirits for reasonably priced wines (in the $10 to $20 region) that will help make your Easter dinner a success.

If you are serving lamb – Lamb pairs well with red Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz, or other red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, as well as red blends. Red Zinfandel is a best bet, with its big fruity flavors and low tannins. Try Ed Meades Zinfandel, a big lush wine, or Castlebank Zinfandel, made from old vine grapes giving it less fruit but more concentrated flavor.

If you are serving ham or a pork roast – Try a light red, such as a Pinot Noir, or a bright crisp white, such as a Sauvignon Blanc. Prefer red? Try 90+ Cellars Pinor Noir. The $20 wine is made from grapes sourced from vineyards that scored over a 90 in quality ratings for three vintage years in a row. Or try Fat Cat ($12), a soft, easy drinking red that will pair nicely with your dinner and has a label that cat lovers will adore.

Prefer white? Try a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc such as Wither Hills, Otto’s Constant Dream, or The Beach House. These wines are bright, fruity and crisp. Another suggestion for a white wine is Bogatell Grenacha Blanca, a minerally, crisp and dry wine.

Since ham and pork really take on the flavor of what they are cooked in, try matching the wine to the type of sauce you are using on the main course – for example, pork with sautéed apples, or ham with an apricot glaze, would pair well with aromatic fruit-driven wines such as Viognier or Riesling. Or consider matching the wine to the side dishes as an alternative (similar to what we do on Thanksgiving).

If you are a guest – Assume that the host has already picked wine for the meal, so bring something that you love, a wine that you’d want friends to try. Or, go totally different, and while the children are enjoying their chocolate bunnies, the adults can enjoy their chocolate liquor. Try a bottle of Godiva Chocolate Liquor for an unusual hostess gift.

When in doubt – Always get a wine that you love. Picking what you like is far more important than matching wines and foods according to “rules.”

Wines for the Holiday: Passover

When most of us think about Passover wines, we think about the standard Manishewitz (Extra Heavy Malaga or Concord Grape) or Kedem wines that traditionally accompanied the Passover Seder. While some people still prefer those time-honored favorites, today’s wine lovers may want something more at their Passover tables.
Kosher wines have come a long way over the past few decades – literally. While Manishewitz and Kedem are both from the East Coast of the United States (Manishewitz is from New York), excellent kosher wines are now available from places as diverse as Israel, Argentina, France, Germany, Italy and Australia. And, while once the only choice for a reasonably good kosher wine was Baron Hertzog, now excellent kosher wines are quite common, even with names that sound decidedly un-kosher, such as “Don Guillermo de Mendoza.”

Port Washington’s many excellent wine stores, including Bottles, Black Tie, and Main Street Wines are offering an array of kosher for Passover wines, which will pair with anything you plan to serve.
Black Tie offered some tips on what to choose. As a general rule, choices of wine will be the same whether the wine is kosher or not, so generally red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Merlot) pair best with meat, whites (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc) pair best with poultry and fish.
Recommended Choices:
If you are serving brisket or meat – try Don Guillermo de Mendoza (from Argentina) Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, priced at a reasonable $9 to $11 per bottle. Both wines are dry, with the Malbec possessing a bouquet of cherries, berries and mature figs. The Cabernet has been described as having a voluptuous and full-bodied bouquet with hints of cherry and mint. Either would be suitable with a brisket or beef dinner.
If you are serving chicken – try Recanti (from Israel's Upper Galilee region) Chardonnay. At $15, it is a perfect mid-priced kosher table wine. Described as pale straw gold colored, this wine is full bodied with a long smooth finish that will complement a poultry dish. Serve this wine chilled.
If you are a guest and want to bring a bottle: Splurge on Shoresh 2008, a blend of 90-percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10-percent Syrah, with flavors of dark fruit and spices. This wine from the Judean Hills of Israel was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. The poor and rocky soil of the area forces the grape vines to fight to live, which results in concentrated grapes with an intense flavor. At $33 a bottle, it’s not inexpensive, but it is a great way to show your appreciation for a Seder invitation.
And of course, Manishewitz and Kedem are also available for those who want to stick with tradition.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Coppola renames his Rubicon Estate "Inglenook"

I belong to the Coppola wine club, so I got this press release via email today...

Chateau Mârgaux’s Philippe Bascaules to Become Estate Manager and Winemaker of the Newly Renamed Inglenook

RUTHERFORD, CA (April 11, 2011) - Francis Ford Coppola announced today that he has acquired the iconic Inglenook trademark and that henceforth, his celebrated Rubicon Estate in Rutherford, Napa Valley will be known by its historic original name, Inglenook, which he has acquired from The Wine Group. In addition, beginning this summer renowned Bordeaux winemaker Philippe Bascaules will assume the position of Estate Manager and Winemaker at the newly renamed Inglenook.

Inglenook and its wines have played a prominent role in defining Napa Valley as one of the great wine regions of the world, with a legacy dating back nearly 150 years to the founding of the Inglenook Winery in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum. The 1941 Inglenook Cabernet, which is considered one of the greatest wines ever made, was produced from vineyards that are still part of Coppola’s estate in Rutherford.

“Welcoming a preeminent winemaker like Philippe Bascaules to the renamed Inglenook expresses my intention to honor the estate's heritage and restore its legacy,” said Coppola. “There’s an interesting idea that the owner of a wine estate is part of the terroir, and it’s in this spirit that I’ve spent the last year assessing Inglenook’s future needs, including recruiting Philippe Bascaules, invigorating the vineyards, planning a new state-of-the-art winemaking facility, and focusing on what it would take to achieve my goal of restoring this property into America’s greatest wine estate. This would not be possible save the gracious support of the owner/managers of The Wine Group.”

"Good stewardship of our brands is central to our company's operating philosophy and culture," said David Kent, CEO of The Wine Group. "We are pleased to see the revered Inglenook brand reunited with its historic estate under The Coppola Family’s stewardship. This is a proud moment for the California wine industry."

“I was charmed by the beauty of the estate and its unique environment,” said Bascaules. “I found the tasting of 1959 Inglenook astonishing with regard to its freshness and complexity, and when I tasted some samples of the 2009 vintage, I recognized the incredible potential of this property. I understand Francis Ford Coppola’s desire to bring the quality of the wines to their fullest potential and I’m excited to explore new methods to reach this goal.”

Rubicon will continue to be the proprietary name of Inglenook’s flagship wine, and Bascaules, who spent the past 21 years at Chateau Mârgaux, will lead a team of talented winemaking professionals dedicated to the goal of making Rubicon the finest New World estate wine produced in the Old World style. Bascaules will work closely with Stéphane Derenoncourt, the famed Pomerol-based winemaking consultant who has been the consulting winemaker at the Estate responsible for the 2008 and subsequent vintages.

For the past 11 years, Bascaules served as Estate Director at the legendary Chateau Mârgaux, one of France’s five First Growth Bordeaux wineries, overseeing the vineyards and cellars and working alongside renowned Technical Director Paul Pontallier. Bascaules, who has an agricultural engineering degree, specializing in oenology, from the graduate school of agronomy in Montpellier, France, began his career at Chateau Mârgaux as the assistant to the Estate Director.

Concurrent with Bascaules’s arrival, Heather de Savoye has been appointed President of Sales for Inglenook. Over the past four and a half years, de Savoye has successfully established an international sales presence for the Estate wines and will now assume responsibility for both international and domestic wholesale sales operations.

Since only the intellectual property of Inglenook brand is being transferred, The Wine Group intends to transition the current wines sold under the brand name to alternative labels over the coming months. No financial terms of this transaction have been disclosed.


Inglenook Vineyards was founded in 1879 by Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain who used his enormous wealth to import the best European grapevines to Napa. Over the next several decades under the guidance of the legendary John Daniel, Inglenook built a reputation as the source of some of the finest wines ever made. By 1975, however, when Francis and Eleanor Coppola first purchased part of the famed property, the Inglenook Estate had long since been broken up and its name sold off. The Coppolas spent the next twenty years reuniting the vineyards and restoring winemaking to the historic Inglenook Chateau. Today, in addition to the Cabernet Sauvignon that dominates the Estate, the Inglenook acreage is also planted with Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and six acres of white Rhone varietals that produce the estate's flagship white, Blancaneaux. Inglenook is now completely restored to original dimensions and is once again America's great wine estate.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yet ANOTHER reason to drink red wine....

Amid the misery of the current nuclear situation in Japan, and as panic starts to spread about the threat of radiation, scientists have finally come up with a bit of positive news....  Red wine may be protective against radiation.

The article, from the Telegraph, is reprinted below...

Red wine 'can protect against radiation'

Impending nuclear attack? Then scientists may soon recommend that it is best you start drinking heavily and not just because you may be facing oblivion.

Red wine 'can protect against radiation'
Research claims that red wine may 'protect you from radiation exposure'  
Photo: GETTY
According to the latest research, red wine - along with its many other claimed benefits - may also protect you from radiation exposure.
A team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have discovered that resveratrol, the natural anti-oxidant found in red wine, can protect cells from the damage caused by radiation.
In experiments on mice the scientists found that when combined with the chemical acetyl and administered before radiation exposure it protected the cells and helped prevent death.
The results, to be presented to the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, could lead to drugs to counteract poisoning in the wake of a nuclear emergency or attack.
"New, small molecules with radioprotective capacity will be required for treatment in case of radiation spills or even as countermeasures against radiological terrorism," said Dr Joel Greenberger of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the university.
"Currently there are no drugs on the market that protect against or counteract radiation exposure."
The study was overseen by Pitt's Center for Medical Countermeasures Against Radiation, which is dedicated to finding radiation protecters that can be administered in the event of a large-scale radiological or nuclear emergency.
The current research is not connected to advice given to workers cleaning up Chernobyl who were told to drink half a glass of vodka after every two hours of exposure to radiation.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Rodney Strong Chardonnay

In 2006, I visited the Rodney Strong winery in Sonoma, CA. What I remember most about it was the very nice tasting room and the extremely knowledgeable staff in that tasting room. When you go to a winery, you often get an opportunity to taste wines that you'd never be able to get in the store. In fact, some of our favorite wines from that trip (namely Gundlach Bundschu wines) are not even available in my neck of the woods (NY).

I enjoy trying to find the Sonoma wines that we had in California out here. So whenever I see a Rodney Strong, a Chateau St. Jean, or a Sterling (all of which are fairly easily available here), I pick them up to see if they taste as good here as they did there.

This 2008 Rodney Strong Chardonnay was on sale at my local wine store for about half it's normal price (which is around $14). It had an aroma of yellow delicious apple with a hint of oak. It was fairly smooth, with a slight fruitiness and a bright aftertaste. All in all a good solid (but not great) chardonnay. Would I get it again? Yes. Would it be good to bring to a dinner or party? Yes. I suspect it will taste even better in another year.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Wine lengthens life?

According to the results of a new study, drinking a small amount (half a glass) of wine increased life span by five years. Of course, limiting yourself to half a glass could be challenging.

See the article here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wine for Bone Density?

A recent study suggests that people who have a drink or two of wine or beer a day may improve their bone density. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on the study which found that people who had one or two drinks of wine or beer had denser bones than those who didn't. Yet another reason to toast?

Read on - http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE52J2VX20090320

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Wine may protect against esophageal cancer

I love good health news about wine... don't you? And really, there's been plenty of it. But today I saw one I hadn't seen yet. A new study found that drinking a glass of wine a day may lower the risk of Barrett's espophagus, a precurser to esophageal cancer. Barrett's affect about 5% of the population, and people with the condition are 30 - 40 times more likely to develop esopheagal cancer. Researchers looked at close to 1000 men and women in California (where, I must add, the wine is quite good), and found that those who drank one or more glasses of wine (red or white) were 56% LESS likely to develop Barrett's. Beer or liquor did not have a similar effect.

So... next time you have a glass of wine... toast to your health!

For the full story, click here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mondavi Tribute

This video was actually created prior to Robert Mondavi's recent death. It has old archival pictures as well as quotes on what inspired him. Check it out!

Interview with Robert Mondavi

There is a three part interview of Robert Mondavi available on You Tube. If you're interested in learning more about him, in his own words, check it out.

Goodbye Robert Mondavi

Robert Mondavi, the California wine legend who changed the status of American wines, has died at the age of 94, according to the NY Times. I've written about Mondavi in the past on this blog -- visit the archives to view the old stories. One can't help but be impressed with Mondavi's achievements. After a bitter fight with his brother, he split from his wine-making family at age 52 and started his own winery. Over the next ten years, he introduced French techniques (such as using oak barrels and cold fermentation) to improve the typical jug wine that was being produced. In 1976 came the momentous tasting when, to the shock of many, California wines beat French wines in a blind taste test. Since then, California wines have steadily improved and are on a par with the best wines in the world (at least in my opinion). Mondavi left quite a legacy.

So tonight, as you uncork your California cabernet or chardonnay, drink a toast to Robert Mondavi whose vision changed the face (and taste) of California wines.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Vampire Merlot - Oh, The Horror

You can't blame me for trying it. After all, there it was, right before Halloween - Vampire Merlot. Better yet, it was an actual product of Transylvania! Plus, it cost less than five bucks. So who could blame me?

I figured it would be the perfect Halloween wine. And it was -- but it was a TRICK not a TREAT. This is how the company describes this wine...

"An intense dark plum bouquet typical of a very young wine is just starting to open up and reveal the full, true character of this wine. The wine's lively, dark purple color will destroy your carpet so be careful! Already the soft fruit flavors are starting to integrate well with the powerful structure of this wine, which marries soft tannins with vanilla hints of fine American oak. Made in the modern reductive style, this wine is perfect to enjoy now but has the structure to age for many years. A big wine, Vampire Merlot can take on the biggest char-grilled steaks and barbequed pork cutlets that you can throw at it, but it also has the fine elegance of this classic variety, allowing it to be served at parties with buffet foods and dips."

This is how I describe this wine -- "This merlot was to me what the blood of an anemic person would be to a Vampire... thin, sour, and unfulfilling." But what do you expect from a Transylvanian wine? There's a reason it's the home of ghouls, not grapes.

To be fair, the company Vampire Wines also has a California Merlot that I did not try. Their CA wines are from Paso Robles. The company has a whole line of Vampire branded wines, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, and even a White Zinfandel (for old lady Vampires?) I give them points for inventiveness (Dracula Syrah anyone?), but frankly, I'll leave this brand to the Children of the Night, and I'll stick with something a bit lighter to have with my stake and garlic. (And a glass of holy water on the side, please.)