Snowy Day & Pinot Days

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This past Saturday I attended the 5th annual Pinot Days wine fest. The event was held this year as in last, at City Winery on 155 Varick Street in Manhattan. Pinot Days, whose mantra is “serious wine, serious fun” is the largest gathering of Pinot Noir producers in the world. The events are held in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and this week in New York City. In New York over 35 producers were scheduled to show up for this event to pour Pinot Noir mainly from California with a table or two from Oregon and New Zealand as well. At the San Francisco event there over 100 producers in attendance , much more than the New York event but there was still plenty of juice to be sampled on Saturday.

Last Saturday was also the day that a massive snow storm was scheduled to hit the city. There was speculation from high to low on how much snow would actually fall in New York, in fact the city got hit with the second highest accumulation of snow since they started keeping records for that sort of thing in 1869 with the official count at 26.8 inches (68cm) of snow on the ground. That missed the record by just .1 inch. Since the vendors and winemakers were already in town for the event and the product was at the venue, the show went on despite the blizzard and frankly, indoors drinking good wine was probably the best thing to be doing during a raging snowstorm. Many wine drinkers managed to find their way down to Varick Street and the event was surprisingly crowded with many happy drinkers.

In my opinion the 2013 and 2014 Pinots were drinking very well. Some of what I sampled:


Sojourn Cellars

2014 Pinot Noir “Sangiacomo” (Sonoma Coast). Medium red with bright cherry nose, silky with some earth on the finish, great balance.

2014 Pinot Noir “Ridgetop” (Sonoma Coast). Medium red with earth notes on the nose, silky with a moderate to long balanced finish.

Proprietor Craig Haserot was kind enough to pour some his limited release (300-400 cases) Cabernet Sauvignon which was mighty tasty juice.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Home Ranch” (Sonoma Valley). Dark red to black in color, dusty mint on the nose, chewy and silky, camphor on the firm tannin, great balance.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Oakville” (Napa Valley). Dark red to black with a pretty perfume of dark plum and licorice, silky dark fruit, concentrated with great balance.

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer Georges III Rutherford” (Napa Valley). Dark red with a purple robe, dark chocolate and dried herbs on the nose, tight and dense with firm tannins and acids on the end. The most austere of the three.

Lula Cellars

2012 Pinot Noir “Costa Vineyard” (Mendocino). From a five acre vineyard, medium red with turned earth and red cherry on the nose and bright, silky fruit and crisp acids.

Waits-Mast Family Cellars

2012 Pinot Noir “Mariah Vineyards” (Mendocino Ridge). From a very small production winery (50-100 case lots). Light brick in color, slate on the nose, chewy with dark chocolate on the nicely balanced finish.

2013 Pinot Noir “Nash Hill” (Anderson Valley). Light red in color, red cherry and earth on the nose, Asian spices on the fruit, moderate to long finish, balanced.

2013 Pinot Noir “Oppenlander” (Mendocino County). Light brick, smoky dark chocolate on the nose with smoky red cherry on the bright finish.

Panthea Winery

2011 Pinot Noir “Londer Vineyard” (Anderson Valley). Another small production winery (1500 case total). Medium red with a pretty perfume of with flowers, mint, silky dark fruit, nice balance on the moderate to long finish.

2012 Pinot Noir “Estate” (Anderson Valley). From a 2.5 acre plot, light purple with dried herbs on the nose with juicy dark cherry fruit and silky acids at the end.

Trombetta Winery

2013 Pinot Noir “Gap’s Crown” (Sonoma Coast). Medium to dark red, prune notes on the nose with silky dark fruit and a great balance.

Chenoweth Winery

2012 Pinot Noir (Green Valley). Only 175 cases produced, medium red, spicy red fruit and some toast on the nose, juicy with firm acids.

Balo Vineyards

2014 Pinot Noir “Estate” (Anderson Valley). Medium red, dried herbs on the nose, bright cherry fruit with firm acids.

Brooks Note Winery

2013 Pinot Noir (Marin County). Very small producer with this bottling at 250 cases, light brick, turned earth on the nose, silky fruit, a little one dimensional but a nice glass of wine.

2013 Pinot Noir “Weir Vineyard” (Yorkville Highlands). 150 cases produced, light purple, tobacco on the nose, smoke, violets and tobacco on the hard finish.

Thomas Fogarty Winery

2012 Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mtn). Medium amber, barnyard on the nose with bright cherry herbs on the bright finish.

Bel Glos Winery

2014 Pinot Noir “Clark & Telephone” (Santa Maria Valley). Dark red, dried herbs on the nose with chewy dark chocolate fruit and good balance. An un pinot, pinot.

Mansfield Dunne Winery

2012 Pinot Noir “Peterson Vineyard” (Santa Lucia Highlands). Light brick with dusty oak on the nose, tight and silky.

Saintsbury Winery

2014 Pinot Noir “Lee Vineyard” (Carneros). Medium red, dried herbs on the nose with bright black cherry, crisp, moderate to long finish.

2014 Pinot Noir “Stanly Ranch” (Carneros). Closed nose, chewy and chunky dark fruit, good balance.

Bernardus Winery

2012 Pinot Noir “Pisoni Vineyard” (Santa Lucia Highlands). Medium clear red, crushed rocks on the nose, juicy, plummy, dark fruit, firm with some heat but tasty.





East Ville Des Folies

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This past Saturday afternoon I attended the East Ville Des Folies which was billed as a “prohibition tasting event”. The event was held at the same venue as last year, Webster Hall at 125 East 11th in Manhattan. Webster Hall which was built in 1886 was an appropriate venue for a prohibition themed event since in one of its various incarnations was Al Capone’s New York City speakeasy in the 1930’s. The place has plenty of dark spaces, nooks and crannies and the event had four floors of spirits, beer, cider and three live bands pumping out music, a good time was had by all.



Michael Arenella & His Dreamland Orchestra

Queen Esther’s Quartet

Molly Ryan Quartet


Some of what I sampled:

Rekorderlig Cider

Magners Cider

Woodchuck Cider

Ace Cider

Badass Cider

Downeast Cider

Crabbie’s Ginger Beer

High West Rendezvous Rye

Hudson Whiskey Bourbon

Four Roses Single Barrel

Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniels Single Barrel

Knob Creek Rye

Bird Dog Bourbon

Widow Jane

Jefferson’s Small Batch

Old Forester 1870

Drambuie 15 yr

Redenbachbeer Grand Cru



Wine Bars Of Queens

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Queens county is one of the five  boroughs that comprise the city of New York. It has the largest area and with a population of 2.3 million, the second most populous after Brooklyn. If Queens was an independent city it would be the fourth largest city in the United States.

It is also the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world which means that there are many establishments that serve those various ethnic cuisines. Of course, wine bars are a part of that mix.

Many wine bars follow the same model of which they serve beer and ciders in addition to wine but usually no spirits. The space is usually small with a micro kitchen cranking out pannini and charcuterie. Hopefully there wont be a television in sight.


Wine Time Wine Bar: 40-15 235th Street, Douglaston.

This wine bar is in the North-Eastern fringe of Queens in a setting that’s more rural than urban and is tucked away right off the Douglaston LIRR station. It follows the formula of a small space, micro kitchen and votive candles on the tables. With an interesting wine list and someone on the guitar on the weekends. What I drank: 2014 Ca’Momi Zinfandel (Napa Valley).


BLVD: 4720 Center Boulevard, Long Island City.

This wine bar just celebrated its one year anniversary. It’s in a part of town that a few short years ago was deserted waterfront but is now full of luxury high-rise apartments. An “L” shaped bar with comfortable lighting with the usual suspects in the kitchen and a small out door terrace with a Manhattan view. In addition to their offerings on the wine list they have a quartet of wines on draught at reasonable prices. One of those is  a nice Cote du Rhone from Estezarques. This night I also had a Mont Marcal Brut Cava


Jack & Nellies: 10825 Ascan Avenue, Forest Hills.

First time for me in this wine bar and on the rainy and windy weekday night I was there, the place was empty. I can’t see the wine list dark with candles on the bar and a small kitchen. What I drank: 2013 Broglia Il Doge Gavi (Piedmont), 2013 Vigna Madre Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo (Abruzzo).


Domaine Wine Bar: 5004 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City.

This one has been around for a while just steps from the No. 7 subway station. Small dark space with candles on the bar and  the usual micro kitchen. Even though the subway station is in front of the place, they never seem to get a crowd. The wine by the glass list is not too extensive. They do have an oyster happy hour. I had a glass of 2014 El Grano Carmenere (Chile).



Sparkling Wines Of Long Island

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Everyone starts the New Year with a glass of sparkling wine so on my next trip to wine country out East I decided to sample some of the sparkling wines produced in the area. Many feel that the cool climate of the Long Island wine-producing region is conducive for making sparkling wines which benefit from the higher acidity. All of these wines were made in the méthode champenoise method.


Martha Clara Vineyards: 6025 Sound Avenue, Riverhead. Owned by the Entenmann family and anyone in the New York area who has ever satisfied a sweet tooth by picking up a box of cake or pastry from the local deli has had a product from the Entenmann family. One of those destination wineries with event spaces, art gallery and a petting zoo.

2005 Crémant Blanc. Estate fruit, 74% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir. Gold in color with some copper notes, closed nose, crisp with bread dough notes on the fruit, crisp, clean with fresh bread on the finish.


Shinn Estate Vineyards: 2000 Oregon Road, Mattituck. Founded in 1998, the first East coast winery to be solely powered by alternative energy and they use “holistic” farming techniques. They also produce brandy and eau de vie.

2010 Brut Blanc de Blanc. 100% Chardonnay. Light yellow in color with a greenish tint with crisp, green apple notes on the fruit, some bread notes on the crisp finish.


Sparkling Pointe Winery: 39750 County Road 48, Southold. A new member of the wine community on the North Fork that produces only sparkling wine. The wine making facility was completed the Summer of 2010 and they have 40 acres planted solely to the classic Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The tasting room was big and airy with couches and artwork, more lounge than tasting room. All of the artwork this week had a Brazilian theme.

2012 Brut. 38% Chardonnay, 38% Pinot Noir, 24% Reserve wines. Their flagship wine, light gold, clean with a hint of sweetness on the palate with a crisp and clean finish.