New York Irish Whiskey Festival

 

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On November 2nd I attended the first annual New York Irish Whiskey Festival. It’s America’s first Irish Whiskey Festival and promised 25+ brands to try plus live music and “Irish Grub”.

It’s was hosted by the team behind The Dead Rabbit which has been named the best bar in the world. They decided that Irish Whiskey should have its own festival to showcase what Irish Whiskey can be.

The history of Irish Whiskey sales have gone up and down and back up again. Before Prohibition it had been the largest selling type of whiskey in the U.S. which was its largest market but politics in Europe and the enactment of the Volstead Act caused the Irish Whiskey industry to fall off a cliff. It has seen a resurgence in popularity going from US sales of $74 million in 2003 to $1billion in 2018.

The Irish Whiskey Act of 1980 states that Irish Whiskey must be triple distilled and aged exclusively on the island of Ireland at no higher than a ABV of 94.8% and must be aged a minimum of three years in wood. They are generally unpeated. The four types of whiskey are single malted, single pot still, single grain and blended whiskey.

I was looking forward to attending this tasting because most of my experience with Irish Whiskey has been with the Jameson and Bushmills that are available at every bar in town and I wanted to try new brands and whiskey styles.

There are no rules for what type of wood the whiskey is permitted to be aged in so to be globally competitive, the Irish Whiskey industry has been experimenting with aging in different types of barrels and wood. That includes casks that were used for Madeira, Sherry, Bourbon and Rum to name a few and types of oak such as American, French, Slovenian, Irish and even Japanese oak (Glendalough 13yr single malt). Many are aged in one type of barrel and finished in others. This in addition to the pot still whiskeys which are uniquely Irish.  

Many of the producers on hand make several whiskey, from a basic blend to the aged single malts to whiskeys aged in the different casks. I found most of those in the middle categories as the most interesting. In general many of the whiskey I sampled were very smooth with a lot of nuances going on in the glass, in other words, good sipping whiskey.

The event was held at Pier A Harbor House at 22 Battery Place in lower Manhattan. It’s a restaurant and event space inspired by the old oyster houses of New York with an expansive view of New York harbor.

 

Brands that I sampled:

Proper Twelve Egan’s
Lambray Glendalough
Tullamore Dew Pearse
Teeling Samual Gelstone’s
The Dead Rabbit Knappogue Castle
Sexton Bushmills
Roe & Co West Cork
Clonakilty The Pogues
Kinahan’s  

 

 

Raw Wine New York 2019

 

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The Raw Wine artisan wine fair was held on October 27-28. It was the New York City stop on a 2019 tour that has taken and will take the fair to Los Angeles, Miami, Montreal and Berlin.

The Fair showcased low intervention, organic, biodynamic and natural wine growers and makers and afforded the opportunity for consumers and members of the trade to sample the wines and to speak to the people involved.

The mission statement of the fair states that “Raw Wine celebrates wines with emotion. Wines that have a humanlike, or living presence. They are also wines that are an authentic expression of a place”.

The Fair was held at the Knockdown Center located at 52-19 Flushing Avenue in Maspeth, Queens. This is a new venue for the event and the first time I have been to this venue. It’s a former factory and is a huge, brick fortress that’s almost a football field long that on the Sunday afternoon I attended, was crammed with tables of wineries pouring their wines. There were a massive selection of wines to try.

There were representatives of wine producing countries from the old and the new world including the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Georgia, Australia and Chile.

For the most part these are small production wineries with labels that I didn’t recognize with the exception of a couple of California producers. All styles of wine were represented including still, sparkling, pet-nats and orange wines. There was also a small selection of beer, cider and spirits.

These are niche wines that have gained more traction the last several years. According to BeverageDaily.com, the organic wine market represents 3.6% of global consumption but that number has doubled in the last five years. I can say that they have improved much for these types of wine from decades past. Still, many of the wines had the pungent aromas that these wines are known to have.

 

 

Wine Experience Grand Award Banquet 2019

 

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The 39th annual Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience was held on October 17-19 at the Marriot Marquis hotel in Times Square, Manhattan.

The premier consumer wine event of the year hosted several wine seminars, and a couple of critics’ choice grand tastings.

The finale of the Wine Experience was the Grand Award Banquet held on Saturday evening in which presentations were made to the 2019 Grand Award winners and to the recipient of the Distinguished Service award.

The eight grand award recipients for 2019 came from the United States, Mexico, Austria and France and the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Georg Riedel, proprietor of his family’s Austrian glass firm.

This year’s live entertainment was provided by one of the most popular bands in musical history, The Beach Boys.

Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year was the 2015 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia.

It was a sit-down, formal dinner preceded by a Champagne cocktail hour.

 

Champagne Reception

Barons de Rothschild Brut

Bollinger Special Cuvee

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

Henriot Brut Souverain

Louis Roederer Brut Nature

Piper Heidsieck Brut Cuvee

Tattinger La Francaise

 

Dinner

Cream of parsnip, walnut and pear en croute served with fall mixed greens, shaved baby carrots, beets, radish, ricotta salata and red currents in a Champagne vinaigrette.

2017 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay (Napa Valley)

Medium gold with a honeyed nose, juicy tropical fruit with a nice balance. Big, old school Cali Chard.

***

Herb crusted filet of beef with slow roasted beef croquette, potato gratin, cipollini onions and baby carrots with a red wine reduction.

2015 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Lot No. 1 (Napa Valley)

Dark red to black, crushed black fruit and dried herbs on the nose with juicy fruit with dust and mint notes with silky, lip smacking tannins at the end. Another fruit forward Cali style of wine.

 

 

Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience 2019

 

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The 39th annual Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience was held on October 17-19.

The Wine Spectator magazine was founded in 1976 and is one of the premier periodicals dealing with wine and wine culture. It’s 100 point wine scoring system is highly influential and often used as a guide by consumers in determining wine quality.

The Wine Experience was three days of sit-down wine seminars and lunches, two critics’choice grand tastings and a Grand Awards banquet and Champagne reception which hosted The Beach Boys as this years musical guests.

The event this year was held at its usual venue at the Marriott Marquis hotel located in the heart of Times Square, Manhattan at 1535 Broadway.

I attended the Grand Tasting on Friday evening. Without a doubt this is one of the if not the best consumer wine tastings of the year. The tasting featured two floors of 273 wineries/chateau pouring various vintages of their wines that have been rated 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator. That’s an overwhelming amount of quality juice to be had in one evening. As such, I focused my efforts as I usually do at this event with the red wines of Bordeaux and Napa Valley Cabernet.

The Critics’ Choice Grand Tastings are sponsored by the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation which awards scholarships and grants to students pursuing careers in enology, viticulture, wine service and other related fields.

 

New World

1999 Ridge “Monte Bello” (Santa Cruz Mtn.)  Dark brick with an amber rim, perfume of sweet red fruit, chewy red fruit with great balance.

2008 Dominus Estate (Napa Valley)  Dark red with an amber rim, black licorice on the fruit and on the firm finish.

2010 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon “Kathryn Hall”(Napa Valley)  Dark red to black, tree bark on the nose with concentrated sweet red fruit.

2010 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon “Hillside Select” (Napa Valley)  Dark purple, earth and black cherry on the nose, silky concentrated fruit with a moderate finish.

2013 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon “Trailside Vineyard” (Napa Valley)  Medium red with a tarry, black cherry nose, silky red fruit on the nice balance.

2014 Schrader Cabernet Sauvignon “RBS Beckstoffer” (Napa Valley)  Black in color, closed nose of tobacco, concentrated, silky crushed red fruit, firm finish.

2014 Hestan Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)  Black in color, closed nose of raspberry, juicy, sweet black fruit with a moderate finish.

2014 Charles Krug Cabernet Sauvignon “Vintage Selection” (Napa Valley)  Black in color, pickle juice on the nose with chunky, dark chocolate fruit, nice balance.

2014 Harlan Estate (Napa Valley)  Dark red, closed nose of toasty dark fruit, concentrated and juicy, balanced.

2014 Bond St. Eden Red (Napa Valley)  Dark red with a brick rim, sweet roast nuts on the nose, juicy black fruit with a moderate finish

2014 Ovid Red Blend (Napa Valley)  Dark red, sweet tar and violets on the nose, chewy with roast nuts on the firm finish.

2015 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Cask 23” (Napa Valley)  Dark purple, crushed red fruit on the nose, chewy black licorice fruit with a firm grip on the balanced finish.

2015 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon “Special  Select” (Napa Valley)  Dark red to black, mint and roast nuts on the nose with juicy, big fruit and a moderate finish.

2015 Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon “Pritchard Hill” (Napa Valley)  Cloudy dark red, some cooked fruit notes on the nose, chunky, chewy and dense with black licorice fruit and a nice grip at the end.

2015 Diamond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon “Red Rock Terrace” (Napa Valley)  Dark purple, sweet nuts on the nose, juicy dark chocolate fruit with a sweet, long finish.

2015 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon “Lot No. 1” (Napa Valley)  Dark red to black, sweet dried leaf on the nose, chewy and dense red cherry fruit on the moderate finish.

2015 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon “The Reserve” (Napa Valley)  Dark red to black, roast nuts and black fruit on the nose, mouth filling chewy licorice on the fruit with a long and balanced finish.

2016 Lewis Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Napa Valley)  Black in color, dark chocolate on the nose, dark chocolate fruit, crisp acids at the finish.

2016 Pahlmeyer (Napa Valley)  Dark red to black, dusty dark chocolate nose with dark chocolate on the fruit with crisp acids on the finish.

2016 Opus One (Napa Valley)  Medium purple, smoky red cherry on the nose, chewy red cherry fruit with lip smacking silky tannins at the end.

 

Old World

2004 Chateau Margaux (Margaux)  Clear medium brick, pretty nose of floral wildflowers, tight red fruit on the firm finish.

2005 Chateau Leoville Barton (St. Julian)  Cloudy dark purple to black, dried earth, oak and cooked vegetable on the nose, tight and tart.

2008 La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan)  Dark red, sweet flowers on the nose, dusty, tight fruit, hard finish.

2009 Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac-Leognan)  Dark purple, sweet red fruit and tree bark on the nose with silky red fruit and a nice grip at the end.

2009 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Paulliac)  Dark red with a brick rim, pretty nose of smoky dark tar and graphite, tight and juicy red fruit, nice balance.

2009 Chateau Canon (St. Emilion)  Dark red to black with a funky, dirty nose, tight, silky dark fruit, firm finish.

2009 Chateau Clerc Milon (Paulliac)  Dark red in color, tarry, leather on the nose, tight and crisp.

2010 Clos Fourtet (St. Emilion)  Cloudy dark purple, pretty perfume of violets and stone, chewy dark fruit with excellent balance.

2011 Chateau Lafite Rothschild (Paulliac)  Dark brick, sweet nose of violets and graphite, tight, red cherry fruit with some smoked earth on the finish.

2014 Chateau Montrose (St.-Estephe)  Dark purple, stone and pencil shavings on the nose, tight red cherry fruit with lip smacking tannins.

2014 Chateau Calon-Segur (St. Estephe)  Black, crushed black fruit on the nose, tight and juicy crushed black fruit with mint notes on the finish.

2014 Chateau Pontet-Canet (Paulliac)  Dark red with a purple rim, tarry nose, tight red cherry fruit, crisp acids.

2015 Chateau Pichon Baron (Paulliac)  Medium red, roasted walnuts on the nose, tight and chewy, firm.

2015 Chateau Branaire-Ducru (St. Julien)  Dark purple with black cherry tar on the nose, concentrated and dusty with firm silky tannins at the end.

2016 Chateau Duhart-Milon (Paulliac)  Medium purple with a perfume of sweet red fruit and some toast, tight, silky red fruit with a moderate balance.

***

2016 Gaja Barberesco (Piedmont)  Medium brick, closed nose of sweet tar and sage, tight with mouth watering tannins.

 

 

Beef & Pork

 

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The 12th annual Food Network New York City Food & Wine Festival was held October 10-13.

It was a four day event that featured television chefs, culinary personalities, wine and spirits with over 100 events that included dinners, hands on culinary classes and late night parties. The festival raises money for the Food Bank of New York City and for the No Kid Hungry organization.

 

On Saturday afternoon I attended a couple of those events and was a day of meat.

I began the day by attending the Steak and Whiskey pairing held at STK Downtown restaurant located at 26 Little West 12th street in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan. It was a sit down affair that featured four different whiskey paired with four different types of beef.

Basil Hayden’s High Rye Bourbon paired with Lil Burgers made with a propriety blend of beef, onions, special sauce, tomato and cheddar.

Suntory Whisky Toki paired with Filet Mignon and signature STK sauce.

Bowmore 12 year Single Malt paired with New York Strip steak au poivre.

Knob Creek Rye paired with boneless beef Rib Eye with truffle butter.

 

Right after that event and a quick stroll down the block took me to the Octoberfest event hosted by TV Chef Andrew Zimmern. It was held at The Standard High Line Biergarden which is located at the southern terminus of the High Line walk at 41 Little West 12th Street.

In was a walk-around event and befitting an Octoberfest, there were many pork-centric dishes served including Zimmern’s famous wieners. Specialty cocktails, steins of Sam Adam’s beer, Pinot Noir and Riesling from Germany, and free- flowing Jägermeister were on hand to help wash it all down with.

 

 

 

Oysters & Cider

 

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In the last week of September, I attended a couple of Autumn themed events.

On Saturday September 28th I attended the 8th annual Long Island Pour the Core hard cider festival which was held at Heckscher State Park in East Islip Long Island. That’s about a 45 minute drive East from the Queens border. This is one stop on the Pour the Core tour that included Philadelphia and Brooklyn. This was an outdoor event and it was a beautiful, sunny Autumn afternoon.

Over 100 hard ciders were poured from across the country with many from New York State. Other countries such as England, Ireland, Sweden and Spain were represented as well. There were many of the well know big brands such as Angry Orchid, Magners, and Doc’s to name a few but there were many small producers represented as well.

Many styles of cider were on hand in various degrees of dry to sweet. Many were infused with fruit flavors and it seemed that rosé ciders are very popular this year.

I prefer bone dry ciders and Bad Seed, Merchant’s Daughter and Descendant Cider Co. poured some very dry and crisp versions.

There were food trucks for the hungry and live music to keep everyone entertained on this beautiful Autumn afternoon.

 

The next day Sunday afternoon, I attended the Oystober Fest oyster party held at The Well at 272 Meserole Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

It was one of the many oyster related events held for the 8th annual New York oyster week from September 17-29. The events are a production of the OysterHood, a global community of oyster consumers, producers, distributers and shuckers.

The Well is a bar housed in a former brewery in a neighborhood that had many in the past and the event was held in their in the outdoor event space, the “graffiti garden”. They served a rotating selection of East and West coast oysters, freshy shucked with a choice of various  hot sauces, mignonettes and citrus juices. My favorite of the day were the St. Simon, small and plump with the right mix of sweet and salty.

 

Oysters that I sampled:

East Beach Blond  (Rhode Island) Miyagi  (California)
Fiddler’s Cove  (Massechusets) Kosshi  (British Columbia)
Macho Maine  (Maine) Shigoku  (Washington)
St. Simon  (New Brunswick) Capital  (Washington)
Tuxedo  (Prince Edward Island)  

 

 

Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival 2019

 

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The 14th annual 2019 Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival was held on September 19-22 in Newport, Rhode Island.

The event was hosted by the Preservation Society of Newport county and supports historic preservation in Newport. All the proceeds from the festival go to preservation, protection and presentation of the historic homes.

It was three days of wine dinners, seminars, a Jazz brunch, an after party and a Grand Tasting. The Grand Tastings were held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. I attended on Sunday afternoon. The events were held at the various historic homes in the area that included The Elms, Rosecliff, The Breakers and Marble House. The Grand Tastings were held at the Marble House.

These “summer cottages” were built for the wealthy industrialists of the Gilded Age in the late 19th to early 20th centuries and no expense was spared. It became sort of “arms race” among the wealthy tycoons to see who would build the more opulent mansion.  The Marble House where the Grand Tasting was held was built between 1888-1892 for William Vanderbilt as a gift for his wife’s 39th birthday at an estimated cost at the time of $11 million. To say no expense was spared would be an understatement.

The Grand Tastings were held in the backyard of the Marble House. Throughout the afternoon there were Chef demonstrations at the Culinary Stage, tasting stations with food from various local restaurants and tables full of wine and spirits scattered under the tents and on the cliffs overlooking Narraganset Bay. A notable feature in the backyard that was used as a seminar space this day was the Chinese Tea House which was modelled on a 12th century Song Dynasty temple.

The crew from Dole & Bailey, a purveyor of fine meat and fish, always have an impressive display of a massive grill with cooks mingling with the rising smoke to grill up various meats and fish for us to sample.

There were sprits from Tito’s vodka, Mount Gay rum, Brockman’s gin, Knob Creek whiskey, Don Julio tequila, hard cider from Angry Orchard and over 100 international wines. This is one of the better consumer festivals, held at a beautiful venue with some nice nibbles and lots of good wine and spirits to wash them down with. I did attend one seminar.

 

Seminar: Elegance and Balance; the style of Palmer & Co. Champagne

NV Brut: Steel aged, medium gold, yeasty, green apple nose, crisp and tart with a lemony finish.

NV Blanc de Blanc: Medium gold, subdued nose of brioche, more pronounced yeast and green apple notes than the Brut with  a stone, minerally finish.

NV Rosé: Medium copper, light strawberry on the nose, medium body with mushroom notes on the finish.

 

Some of what I sampled:

2018 Whispering Angle Rosé

2018 Cuvaison Sauvignon Blanc

2017 Chapellet Chardonnay Calesa Vineyard

2017 Cuvaison Chardonnay Napa Valley

2017 Scarpetta Friulano

2014 Seghesio Vineyards Sangiovese

2015 Seghesio Vineyards Zinfandel Home Ranch

2016 Sojourn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

2016 Sojourn Vineyards Pinot Noir Gaps Crown

2016 Landmark Overlook Pinot Noir

2015 Smoking Gun Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2017 Olivier Leflaive Pugliny Montrachet

2016 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2015 Ferraro-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

2015 Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

2011 La Macioche Brunello de Montalcino

2011 Chateau Musar Red Blend