Chioggia Day & Night

Chioggia is a small port town on the southern end of the Venetian lagoon about 16 miles south of Venice. It’s an ancient town, older than Venice and like Venice, it was built on islands, has canals and bridges that span them.

It’s scenic “Main Street”, the Corso del Popolo, spans the length of the town and is surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes with characteristic narrow streets, called calli radiating outward from the main street.

The town has old churches, a fish market, ferries to Venice and the oldest clock tower in the world. It’s also my father’s hometown and I spent my time there visiting family.

Not too far from the old town is the newer Sottomarina which is a beach resort with a long sandy beach and the hotels and restaurants that cater to the beach tourists.

Up until recently it was an off the radar stop for American tourists but an article in the travel section of the New York Times earlier this year has brought more of them into the town and I’ve noticerd more restaurants and B&B’s than the last time I visited.

Madrid Tapas Crawl

They finally relaxed the Covid era restrictions on traveling and I decided to take a road trip to Europe since it’s been nine years since I’ve last been there.

I decided to go visit family who live in the small town of Chioggia which is south of Venice and then drive to the Valpolicella wine district just North of Verona.

On the way to Italy, I wanted to stop in a city in another country. On my list were London, Dublin, Lisbon and Madrid, I finally settled on Madrin since it’s a city I haven’t visited before, and Spain has an excellent food and wine culture. And the fact that there is direct subway access from the airport to the center of town didn’t hurt either.

I made plans to do an organized tapa the day after arrival since I would deal with jet lag on the first day, but I didn’t want to miss out on the tapas experience so on day one I headed to the San Miguel Market. It’s a famous tourist foodie destination, opened as a local food market in 1916 and becoming Madrid’s first gourmet food hall. The hall is full of fixed and temporary food and drink stalls, and I spent my first day eating and drinking there.

The next day I went on an organized tapas crawl. The tour began in the Chamberi neighborhood which is north of the city center. I figured that it would have fewer tourists than the city center. As our tour guide, Raul explained, the Chamberi is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Madrid and as such the quality of the tapas would be of a higher quality. We made four stops plus a bonus stop at the end of the tour.

Stops on the tour:

Los Arcos

First stop on the tour, well-lit place, we had fried crackling hot out of the fryer and a tapa with chorizo. We washed those down with a nice cold caña of Mahou beer.


As you walk in, you’re greeted by a large, refrigerated case of aging beef so I assume that’s their specialty. For tapas we had sliced Iberico ham on bread and bowls of extra virgin Spanish olive oil to dip more bread in. We drank a glass of nice Spanish red.

Taberna Almacheli

Tapas here were marinated anchovy, Manchego cheese and chorizo sausage. To drink we were served a Vermouth cocktail, Vermouth being a very popular aperitif for the locals.

Alipio Ramos

Really old bar/restaurant. We ate the national dish of spain, Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omlette) and tapa of cooked ham with paprika. We washed those down with home-made Sangria.


Next door to the last place we visited and not part of the tour, the unusual feature of this bar is that they serve spirits distilled by the owner. I ended my tour with a gin and tonic.

Brooklyn Rum Fest 2022

I missed the New York Rum Fest & Congress which was held on June 18th of this year. It’s the biggest rum festival in the city. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me) it was held on the same day as the Decanter Wine Encounter which was too good of a tasting to miss.

So, I was happy to see that the Brooklyn Rum Festival would be held on August 13th. The event was held at the Brooklyn Monarch, an event space in the outer reaches of Bushwick at 23 Meadow Street.

The great thing about rum is the shear diversity of the styles available. There are white rums, dark rums, flavored rums and rums of various ages. While the industry is concentrated in the Caribbean, rum is made throughout the world, and they were represented here as well.

Every producer poured several versions of their rums and even the mass producers such as Bacardi poured some limited production aged rums.

The event space is a huge warehouse with an outdoor area in the back which had a DJ spinning tunes. There was definitely a “Caribbean” vibe to the event which had about half the number of producers present than in the New York Rum Fest, but there were till more than enough rums to sample that afternoon.

Some of the rums I sample, every producer poured several different.

Dos MaderasRhum Barbancourt
BacardiTrans Continental Rum Line
Plantation RumRhum J.M.
Mount GayRhum Clement
Chairman’s ReserveTen To One
Dan QPasetto 8

Rosé Splash 2022

In the past few years there have been a couple of wine events that featured rosé wines and a boat ride around Manhattan. Those events were La Nuit en Rosé and Rosé Splash.

The La Nuit en Rosé event had a day for the consumer with an afternoon and an evening sail. They also set aside one afternoon with a sailing for members of the hospitality industry while the Rosé Splash event did not. Because they held a tasting for members of the trade, I feel that the La Nuit event poured a better selection of worldwide rosés than the Splash event.

What they shared in common was a boat with three decks of rosé, food, a DJ, a dancefloor and a sail around New York harbor cruising by local icons such as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Unfortunately, The La Nuit event ran into some “issues” and was forced into bankruptcy last year and did not have an event this year. Fortunately, on August 6th after a two-year Covid hiatus the Rosé Splash set sail on the Spirit of New York from Pier 61 on the West side of Manhattan.

While it didn’t have the same quality of wines as the La Nuit en Rosé boat ride, with three decks of rosé wine to sample and a nice sunny Summer afternoon to be on the water, it was a nice day.

Some of the Rosé I sampled:

2020 Chateau de Berne Romance2020 Chateau de Berne Inspiration
2021 Dauo Family Estate Rose2021 Ame du Vin Provence Rose
NV 90+ Cellars Prosecco RoseNV Bridge Lane Rose In A Can
2020 The Vice Rose of Pinot Noir2020 Croteaux Vineyards Jolie
2021 D’Agostino Rose2021 Albert Bichot Cest la Vie Syrah-Granache
2020 Maiden + Liberty Rosalies2020 Borghese Vineyards Rose of Merlot
2021 Lange Twins Rose of Anglianico

Hard Seltzer At Belmont

Hard seltzer has been the newest beverage craze the last couple of years which according to Grand View Research, had a global market of 8.95 billion dollars in 2021. The U. S. market share is 21.7%.

Even the mainstream brands such as Budweiser and Corona to name a couple have gotten into the act.

They are made from carbonated water with the addition of alcohol usually from fermented sugar but sometimes from barley with fruit flavorings and even cannabis. In addition to the hard seltzers at the event there were hard tea, hard lemonade and canned cocktails.

I have to admit there are times when I’m in a situation where I’m looking for something refreshing to drink and I don’t feel like an overpriced Pinot Grigio or a high alcohol cocktail, so I’ve ordered a hard seltzer.

Usually in a bar there are a handful of the same major brands to choose from but at this tasting there were dozens of brands with many flavors that were poured.

The event was held at Belmont Park at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont Long Island. It’s a unique venue to have a tasting, the tasting was held on the upper levels of the grandstand overlooking the racetrack. With live racing that day you could have placed a bet on the horses in between sips of seltzer.

Decanter Wine Encounter NYC 2022

Decanter is a British based magazine similar to the Wine Spectator magazine in that it reports on all things concerning wine including wine personalities, vineyards, wine regions and the influential wine reviews.

They hold a big tasting in London and in Asia and on June 18th they held their first tasting in the United States in New York City.

That tasting was held at Manhatta restaurant on 28 Liberty Street in the Financial District of lower Manhattan. The restaurant is located on the 60th floor of the building which gave for an amazing view of lower Manhattan.

The tasting was more Euro-centric with France and Italy well represented and a handful of wines from the rest of the world including California. Most of the tables had at least one older vintage that they poured which made for an interesting tasting.

Some of what I sampled:

1995 Col d’Orca Poggio al Vento Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (Tuscany) Clear medium brick, sweet tar and anise on the nose, toasty and tannic.

2005 Chateau Lagrange (St-Julien) Clear medium to dark red, pretty nose of olives and crushed red fruit, concentrated, silky and dusty fruit with silky tannins.

2005 Lungarotti Vigna Monticchio Rubesco Riserva (Umbria) Opaque dark brick, stinky smoke on the nose, silky red fruit ending tight and tannic.

2006 Chateau Lascombes (Margaux) Opaque dark red with a brick rim, toasty, earth notes, ripe vegetable and violets on the nose, chewy with big tannins.

2006 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape (Rhone) Clear medium brick, dried leaf notes on the nose, chewy and tight, long finish.

2009 Jean-Claude Boisset Chambolle-Musigny (Burgundy) Light brick, roasted meat on the nose, silky red fruit with some earth notes, dusty finish.

2009 Chateau Beychevelle (St-Julien) Medium brick, violets and black olives on the nose, silky, tree bark and olives on the fruit, balanced and long.

2010 Chateau La Dominique (St-Emilion) Opaque black, closed nose of crushed dark chocolate, chunky and chewy with a good grip at the end.

2014 Chateau Lagrange (St-Julien) Opaque medium red, cinnamon and sweet bell pepper on the nose, medium red fruit with big tannins at the end.

2015 Mas de Daumas Gassac Cuvee Emile Peynaud (Languedoc-Roussillon) Opaque dark red to black, earthy nose, chunky and dense with meat notes on the finish, good balance.

2015 Col d’Orca Olmaia Cabernet Sauvignon (Tuscany) Medium clear red, sweet bacon fat on the nose, dusty bell pepper fruit with firm tannins.

2016 Domaine de Chevalier (Pessac-Leognan) Medium with a red purple rim, pretty nose of tar, red leather and sweet spices, chunky and silky with gritty tannins, balanced and long.

2002 Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, pretty nose of mint and cocoa, chewy dark chocolate fruit with a good grip and great balance.

2012 La Jota Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black, anise and black fruit on the nose with dense black fruit ending with lip smacking tannins.

2013 Trefethen HaLo Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black with a purple rim, mint, smoke and black pepper on the nose, chewy fruit with mint notes, good grip with a long finish.

2013 Domaine Anderson Dach Vineyard Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley) Clear medium red, sweet herbs on the nose, dense with roasted nuts and coffee on the finish, good balance.

2014 Staglin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black, cracked black pepper on the nose, chewy fruit with dark chocolate on the long finish, great balance.

2017 Beaux Freres The Belles Soeurs Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge) Clear medium red, sweet red fruit on the nose, silky red fruit with a nice balance.

2018 Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red to black, crushed black fruit on the nose, dense red fruit ending with firm tannins.

2018 La Jota Howell Mountain Merlot (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, plum and bacon on the nose, dense, bright fruit with tight tannins at the end.

2018 Staglin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque black with a purple rim, bacon fat and black pepper on the nose, dense and chewy with mint and dark chocolate on the finish, good grip.

2020 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay (Napa Valley) Light gold in color, lime and green herbs on the nose, juicy tropical fruit notes, good grip.

North Fork Tastings

Took a drive to the North Fork wine country, was curious to try the new winery (EV&EM) that was under renovation the last time I visited the area.

Pellegrini Vineyards 23005 Main Road, Cutchogue

One of the early wineries in the area opened in 1991 with 70 acres of vines planted and a distinctive architecture for the winery and a wood beamed tasting room (with cherubs!).

2019 Stainless Steel Chardonnay

Unoaked, light gold in color with grassy cooked fruit on the nose, clean and crisp with lime notes at the finish.

EV & EM Vineyards 3165 Main Road, Laurel

Former Laurel Lake Vineyards, new owner completely renovated the tasting room. The winery was named after the owners two children, Everett and Emilia.

2019 Cabernet Franc

Clear dark brick with an amber rim with tobacco and green olives on the nose, silky red fruit, chewy and dusty with nice balance.

Westchester Food & Wine Fest 2022

The 11th annual Westchester Magazine’s Food and Wine Festival was held on June 6-11.

It was a week of wine dinners, a Burger & Beer blast, a Party on the Pier and capping off the week on Saturday afternoon, the Grand Tasting Village which I attended.

The Grand Tasting Village was an outdoor, tented event with scores of booths with wine, spirits and food. There was an additional “VIP” tent with wine upgrades and additional food.

The tasting was held at Kensico Dam Plaza in the village of Valhalla, an upstate suburb about a forty-minute train ride from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.

As usual, it was a huge event with plenty of drink and food from Westchester restaurants. This year though, I was a little disappointed. Normally in the General Admission section the quality of the wines poured were high for a consumer event. It seems like this year the quality was cut back as there were more off labels being poured than in the previous events. I was particularly disappointed in the VIP tent which could be counted on to pour some nice juice. It felt like they cut back there as well.

To make up for the changes in the wines, the number of spirits available at the festival doubled in size from the previous year, which already was double in size from previous festivals. This year there were copious varieties of different spirits to sample and near the end of the event, those booths became very popular.

It was still an enjoyable event and a fun way to spend a somewhat cloudy Saturday afternoon.

What I sampled in the VIP tent:

2020 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon2017 Caymus Special Selection
2019 Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir2019 Lucienne Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir
2016 Taub Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon2017 Talbott Estate Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir
2012 Ugolini Valle Alta Amarone2010 Bertani Amarone
2017 Allegrini Amarone2017 Banfi Sumus
2016 Banfi Poggio alle Mura2017 Banfi Excelsus
2015 Antico Borgo Taurasi Riserva2017 Pio Cesare Barolo
2016 Esprit de Pavie Bordeaux2018 Ratti Barolo
2015 Campofiorita Brunello di Montalcino2019 Domaine Ott Rose
2019 Catena Chardonnay2018 Catena Alta Malbec

Scarsdale Music Festival 2022

On June 6th, I attended the Scarsdale Music Festival located, not surprisingly, in the village of Scarsdale, New York which is a suburban town about a forty-minute train ride North of Manhattan. As you step out of the train station you are in the scenic village center where the festival was held. The festival was held to raise money for Feeding Westchester.

There were several food trucks scattered around the town center and a stage where a rotating selection of live music played throughout the afternoon.

The purpose of my visit was to experience the Grand Tasting Tent which was sponsored by local fine wine shop Zachys (now moved to Port Chester). I attended the last time the festival was held pre pandemic and I found that for a consumer event, the wine tent poured a nice selection of wines, and they did not disappoint this year. It made for an enjoyable sunny afternoon of wine drinking.

Some of what I sampled:

NV Bollinger Special Cuvee

2008 Charles Heidsieck Rare Millesieme

2011 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne

2020 Patrick Piuze Chablis

2009 Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva

2015 Franco Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino

2016 Castello dei Rampolla d’Alceo

2016 Piancornello Brunello di Montalcino

2017 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino

2018 Heights Justice Vineyards Pinot Noir

2018 St.-Estephe de Calon Segur

2018 Ricasoli Colledila Chianti Classico Gran Sellezione

2018 Castello dei Rampolla Chianti Classico

2018 Louis Jadot Beaune 1er Cru

2018 Montinore Estate Pinot Noir

2019 Ridge Vineyards Three Valleys

2019 Joseph Drouhin Cote de Beaune

2019 Joseph Drouhin Gevrey Chambertain

2019 Volpaia Chianti Classico

2019 Ornellaia

2019 Sassicaia

2020 Le Volte dell Ornellaia

Great Wines Of The World : New York 2022

James Suckling is a well-known wine critic with a wine blog that covers all things wine as including rating them on a 100-point scale. He hosts an annual Grand Tasting at someplace in the world and on June 2 & 3 the Grand Tasting was held in New York City for the first time.

Over 150 wines from around the world were poured, all curated by Mr. Suckling for wines that received 92+ points on his rating scale.

The tastings were held at the Altman Building event space at 135 West 18th Street in Manhattan.

The tasting was open to both the consumer and to members of the trade with a portion of the ticket price going to Sea Shepard, an organization involved with marine conservation.

The event did not disappoint, there were copious amounts of excellent wine from around the word, I focused on wines from the U.S. but was able to sample many nice wines from other countries as well.

Some of what I sampled:

2019 Bergstom Chardonnay “Bergstrom Vineyard” (Dundee Hills): Light gold, toasty nose with toasty fruit with green herbs on the finish.

2015 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Trailside” (Napa Valley): Dark brick in color, perfume of smoke and tree bark, silky red cherry fruit ending with bright tannins.

2016 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “Lot C-91” (Napa Valley): Clear medium red, earth and mint on the nose with tight, bright red fruit.

2016 Newton Cabernet Sauvignon “Mt Veeder” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red to black, dried herbs on the nose, juicy and thick ending with silky red tannins.

2016 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “SOLO” (Stags Leap District): Opaque medium red, black olives on the nose, tight, silky red fruit with a good grip.

2018 Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Rutherford): Opaque dark red, sage, mint and crushed dark fruit on the nose, tight and dense with a nice grip at the end.

2018 Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Georges De Latour” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red to black in color, closed nose of spice and green herbs, dusty, silky red fruit ending with firm tannins.

2018 Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red (Napa Valley): Opaque black, dark chocolate on the nose, chewy with silky, firm tannins.

2018 Amici Cabernet Sauvignon “Oakville Ranch” (Napa Valley): Opaque black, dark chocolate and black olives on the nose, chewy, juicy with silky tannins, nice grip and balance.

2018 Futo “OV” Red Blend (Oakville): Opaque dark red, roasted notes on the nose, chewy fruit with a nice balance.

2019 DAOU Vineyards Red Blend “Soul of a Lion” (Paso Robles): Opaque black, stinky red fruit and tree bark on the nose, chewy dark chocolate fruit with a nice grip and balance.

2019 DAOU Vineyards Red Blend “Mayote” (Paso Robles): Black in color with a purple rim, closed nose with some toast notes, chewy fruit followed with a mouthful of tannin.

2019 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville): Clear medium red, roast coffee on the nose, tight with coffee notes on the firm finish.

2019 Amici Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Napa Valley): Opaque dark black, big nose of roast meat, tight, dense, lip-smacking fruit, long finish.

2019 L’Aventure “Estate Cuvee” (Paso Robles): Opaque dark red to black, red fruit and roast meat on the nose, dusty, chewy fruit ending with tight tannins.

2019 Louis Latour Corton Charlamagne Grand Cru: Light gold, tropical fruit on the nose, subtle, peachy notes on the fruit and nicely balance.

2011 Bertani Amarone (Veneto): Light brick in color, caramel dark chocolate on the nose, medium dark chocolate on the fruit with a nice balance.

2014 Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile): Opaque dark red with a brick rim, chalk, bacon fat on the nose, chewy, milk chocolate on the fruit, nice balance, long finish.

2014 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva (Rioja): Opaque dark red to black, spicy bacon fat on the nose, chewy and silky with good balance and a long finish.

2016 Phelan-Segur (St Estephe): Clear medium red, crushed black fruit and camphor on the nose, tight, dusty red fruit with a firm finish.

2019 Chateau Beychevelle (St Julien): Opaque dark red to black, black olives, tree bark on the nose, dense, silky fruit with a nice balance, still young at this stage.