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.