Italian Winemaker’s Invitational

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This past Saturday I attended the Astor Winemaker’s Invitational event held at Astor Wines & Spirits at 399 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. The event consisted of 13 artisanal wine makers pouring their products as well as winemaker seminars. It was a consumer event. There were many off the radar producers with small labels pouring some very interesting wines that afternoon.

Grand Tasting: Whites

2012 Coenobium Bianco (Lazio). A white wine blend made by Sisters of the Cistercian, fermented with some skin contact, closed nose with a light, floral finish.

2011 Coenobium “Ruscum” (Lazio). An Orange wine, more skin contact than the Bianco, copper colored, nicely balanced and very drinkable.

1997 Ronchi di Cialla “Ciallabianco” (Friuli-Venezia Giulia). Dark yellow with wildflowers and sweet spice on the nose with some oak and vanilla on the honeyed , but dry finish. Holding up well.

2011 Gulfi “Carjanti” (Sicily). Carjanti is the grape varietal, light gold in color with ripe flowers on the nose, very ripe fruit with a hit of lemon tartness at the end.

2013 Foradori Manzoni Bianco “Fontansanta” (Trentino Alto-Adige). A blend of Pinot Bianco and Riesling, light gold with an oily nose of canned peaches, some oak and vanilla spice on the fruit with cotton candy notes on the finish.

Grand Tasting: Reds

2012 Cantine Valpane Grignolino “Euli” (Piedmont). Little seen varietal from Piedmont that produces light bodied reds, this one has more heft than usual. Strawberry on the nose with silky fruit and cigarette smoke on the balanced finish, very drinkable.

2009 Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato “Perlydia” (Piedmont). Dark red to black with black berry on the nose with dusty, chewy fruit and moderate tannin and acids on the balanced finish, drinking nicely now.

2012 Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium to light red with some cooked fruit notes on the nose with juicy tobacco fruit and tart at the end.

2009 Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Brick color and slightly cloudy, silky with herbs and nuts on the well structured finish.

2010 Gigi Bianco Barbera D’Alba (Piedmont). Medium red with a big perfume of dark fruit and pencil shavings, silky dark fruit and firm acidity on the finish.

2009 Gigi Bianco Langhe Nebbiolo (Piedmont). Medium red, brick robe with sweet herbs on the nose, pencil shavings on the fruit, feels light but ends with a long finish.

2009 Oddero Barberesco “Gallina” (Piedmont). Light red with an amber robe with cigar box on the nose, silky and tight with lip-smacking tannin at the end.

2010 Oddero  Barolo (Piedmont). A blend of grapes from three vineyards, brick color with a muted nose with smoky black cherry on the tight fruit, roasted nuts on the firm finish.

2009 Oddero Barolo “Rocchi di Castiglioni” (Piedmont). Brick color with cigar box on the nose, sweet silky fruit, firm structure and mouth coating tannin at the end.

2007 Oddero Barolo “Brunate” (Piedmont). Medium red with an amber robe, sweet black cherry on the nose, silky sweet fruit with a firm structure.

2011 Poggio la Nocce “Gigetto” (Tuscany). A blend of Sangiovese and Teroldego, dark red with roasted coffee and black cherry on the nose, rustic, chunky and dusty, firm but balanced.

2011 Poggio la Nocce “Gigiò” (Tuscany). The flagship wine of the estate, mostly Sangiovese, dark purple with roasted meat on the nose, chewy and chunky with a nice brambly and mint finish.

1995 Ronchi di Cialla “Schiopettino” (Oriental dei Friuli). Schiopettino is the varietal, dark red with licorice and dried leaf on the nose with herbs and earth on the crisp finish.

2007 Tormaresca Aglianico “Bucco di Lupo” (Puglia). Dark red in color with dried herbs and fruit on the nose, very silky and concentrated, with chewy mint notes on the finish.


Iconic Antinori with Allegra Antinori

2011 Tignanello (Tuscany). Single vineyard wine, Dark red with dark fruit and rosemary on the nose, tight fruit with bitter herbs on the finish, getting some heat at the end, still young and needs time to balance out.

2011 Solaia (Tuscany). Purple robe with a perfume of pencil shavings and roast meat, silky with the same roasted meat on the tight and dusty fruit with dried herbs on the finish. Young.

2011 Guado Al Tasso (Bolgheri). A Bordeaux blend, black in color with fresh herbs, oregano on the nose, thick, dusty with bitter cherry on the fruit, mouth coating dusty tannin.

Paolo Bae, Il Censo, and Neal Rosenthal

2012 Il Censo Cataratto “Praruar” (Sicily). An orange wine. Burnt orange in color, muted nose, good fruit and balance.

2009 Paolo Bea Umbria Bianco “Arboreous” (Umbria). Another orange wine, dark copper with a perfume of sweet berries, chewy and earthy with a bit of citrus acid on the finish.

2006 Paolo Bea Sangrantino “Pagliaro” (Umbria). Medium to dark red with a brick robe with smoky tobacco on the nose, starts silky and ends with mouth numbing, fuzzy tannins.

2007 Paolo Bea Sangrantino “Pagliaro” (Umbria). Black in color with a light red robe with a gamey, barnyard and black fruit nose, concentrated with mint notes ending with the same ferocious tannin as the ’06.




Aviation Wine & Bloody Mary’s


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This Past weekend I attended a couple of wine and cocktail events. Saturday evening I made my way to the Cradle of Aviation museum in Garden City Long Island for the Taste of Flight wine expo. It’s promoted as the “largest wine event on Long Island”. I attended the event last year which was held in the afternoon. It’s a great space for an event, the museum is full of real military aircraft, many from World War 2. This was a consumer event and like a lot of consumer events, the wines were at mid-level range.

On Sunday I attended the Bloody Mary Festival held at Industry City which is a very minimalist event space on the waterfront in Sunset Park Brooklyn. A dozen local bars and restaurants poured their versions of the drink. It was a young crowd who where enjoying themselves though I have to say that this Bloody Mary event wasn’t as polished as the Bloody Mary event I attended at L’Apicio restaurant last February.

Some of what I sampled: At the museum

Angry Orchard “Strawman” Farmhouse Cider. From the Ciderhouse collection of this company’s cider lineup, in a Champagne bottle with a cork with wood aging and special fermentation techniques. Drank like a nice white wine.

Bernard-Massard Brut. Sparking wine from Luxembourg. A first for me and not too shabby, dry and crisp.

2013 Notorious Pink Grenache Rosé

2013 L’Escargot Rosé

Bocelli Processco

2013 Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Cambria Estate Chardonnay “Katherine’s Vineyard”

2013 Cambria Estate Pinot Noir “Julia’s Vineyard”

2012 Freemark Abbey Merlot

2011 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

2011 Matanzas Creek Merlot

2006 Bertani Amarone (Outlier wine)

2010 Fontanafredda Barolo Serrralunga d’Alba

2013 Pietro Di Campo Barbera “Silenzio”

2011 Masciarelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

2013 Borsao Garnacha

At the Bloody Mary Event:

My favorite of the day a Bloody made with White Pike Whiskey, it had a nice tang to it with a touch of heat at the end. Others I sampled from local eateries:

Travel Bar                               Catfish

Cain’s Tavern                           Char No. 4

Lucky Luna                              Mominette

Bloody Mary Liberation Party



Craft Spirits & A Wine Zoo

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Last Saturday I attended a couple of spirit oriented events in Manhattan, Wine Riot and the New York City Craft Distillers Festival.

I began the afternoon at Wine Riot which was held at the Lexington Avenue Armory on 68 Lexington Avenue. Wine Riot is a bi-annual, multi city event hosted by Second Glass and they promote it as “the most innovated wine event in the world to educate about wine in a fun way”. Ok. Aimed at newbie wine drinkers, it was more of a wine party than a serious wine tasting, not that anything’s wrong with that. About 250 wines served at booths with different themes and countries as well as interactive booths with “crash courses” in wine 101. As it was a consumer event, many of the wines were of mid-level quality served in a plastic wine glass. I did enjoy the Bubble Lounge with various sparkling wine served from driest to the least dry and I did have an outstanding grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. The event soon became extremely crowded with some booths four deep with people trying to get a splash of wine, it was time for me to leave.

Later that evening I made my way down to the Bowery Hotel at 335 Bowery for the New York City Craft Distillers Festival. This event showcased over 60 craft spirit distillers, many from New York State including New York City which is going through a booze Renaissance with new distilleries being opened. The theme of the night was Prohibition-era speakeasy with a couple of 1920’style jazz bands and a “fan” lady entertaining the crowd.

Some of the local spirits I sampled:

1911 Spirits Co. Vodka and Gin (Upstate NY)

Cooperstown Distillery Gin, Vodka, Whiskey and Bourbon (Upstate NY)

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur (Brooklyn)

Astoria Distilling Co. Queens Courage NY Old Tom Gin (Upstate NY)

Tirado Distillery Moonshine, Double Gold Whiskey (Bronx)

Industry City Distillery Industry City Vodka, Technical Reserve Vodka 193°! (Brooklyn)

Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine (Upstate NY)

Hudson Bourbon Whiskey (New York)

Window Jane Bourbon (Brooklyn)

Manhattan Moonshine Prohibition-Style Whiskey (New York)

Long Island Spirits Sag Harbor Rum (Long Island)