Beer, Bourbon, Bacon & BBQ

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This past Saturday the New York City stop on the 2016 Beer, Bourbon and BBQ fest tour took place. It’s an event that says it will “put a big apple in the mouth of the pig”. The event was held in two sessions, an afternoon event with a bacon focus and an evening event with a bbq focus with both events serving various beer, cider and copious amounts of whiskey.

The event was held at The Tunnel on 608 West 28th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan. It was at rail freight terminal, turned nightclub, turned event space with a very distinctive brick-lined tunnel shaped main room. Unlike last Saturday, the weather cooperated this time around and there was no blizzard to slow things down. I attended the evening session and it was crowded with a young, casual crowd.



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.




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.




ABC’s Of Long Island

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ABC is an acronym for anything but Chardonnay or anything but Cabernet. That is a way to say that people should break out of their comfort zones of drinking the same thing all the time and try to drink other varietals other than Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. Out on Long Island, the stalwart grapes are Chardonnay for white and early-ripening Merlot for red. There are other varietals planted, some more obscure than others and many with only a relatively few acres planted. On Sunday I took a trip out East to try those different and sometimes overlooked (for Long Island) wines.

Paumanok Vineyards: 1074 Main Rd., Aquebogue. One of the originals founded in 1983. A family run operation with the tasting room in a renovated turn of the century barn.

2014 Chenin Blanc. As far as I know the only Chenin grown out East, unoaked steel fermented 100% Chenin Blanc. Pale yellow in color, floral lemon and grapefruit on the nose with bright, clean fruit and a nice, crisp finish with lemon notes at the end.


One-Women Vineyards: 5195 Old North Road, Southold. Small winery with owner/winemaker Claudia Purita (the one-women), off the main road with a little red shack for a tasting room. They have a tasting room in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan as well.

2014 Gruner Veltliner. The first and only producer of this Austrian varietal on Long Island with about four acres planted . Light yellow with some greenish tints, floral peach on the nose, peach and earth notes on the moderate fruit with good acidity on the balanced finish. This vintage is showing more fruit than the previous one.


Osprey’s Dominion Winery: 44075 Main Road, Peconic, Right off the main road with a large tasting room and picnic facilities.

2012 Carmenere. I believe the only winery to grow this varietal on Long Island with 2.25 acres planted. Originally planted in the Medoc region of France and one of the original six red grapes of Bordeaux, it is a member of the Cabernet family. Rare now in France, widely planted in Chile. Served in a small glass, inky black in color, crushed red berries on the nose, concentrated and silky with juicy mint and some smoke on the balanced finish.


Pelligrini  Vineyards: 23005 Main Road, Cutchogue. Founded in 1983 with a pretty tasting room and self guided tours of the barrel room.

2001 Petit Verdot. One of the red grape varietals of the Bordeaux blend and not too often bottled on its own. Served in a small glass, inky black with big dark cocoa on the nose with that dark chocolate, black and pepper and some smoke coming through on the fruit.


My pet peeve: One part of the enjoyment of wine is drinking it in the proper vessel. That’s why the mouthfeel of the wine is better in a glass than in a paper cup. I understand that in a tasting room when you are pouring flights of wine, they use small wine glasses that are basically oversized shot glasses. To serve a full glass of wine in one of those classes really takes away from the experience. Being able to swirl the wine and getting your nose into the glass for a sniff of the aromas adds to the pleasure of drinking the wine as well as permitting the wine to open up and show all the aromas. It doesn’t have to be a Reidel glass but just something big enough to swirl the wine.



GimmeJoy Holiday Soirée

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Tis the season for holiday parties. To me it seemed that there were less consumer holiday parties this year than last, a couple of big events that were held last December weren’t replicated this year, or maybe I was just out of the loop. I did manage to attend one holiday party last Saturday evening on December 19th which was the Gimmejoy holiday party. The event was run by the same organization that ran the Secret Summer food and cocktail festival last August at The Foundry in Long Island City.

This soirée was held at the “hip and funky” artists’ loft, Poverty Row, deep in the heart of Chinatown in Manhattan at 277 Grand Street.

This was a more intimate event than the Summer event and was scheduled to run to 2am. With a team of mixologist making craft cocktails, a holiday photo booth, a DJ, live music by the jazz duo Acute Inflection and some frolicking reindeer; a good time was had by all.


Long Island Wines On A Sunday

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This month has been unseasonably  warm for December so on Sunday I took advantage of the warm weather and took a day trip to the North Fork of Long Island to visit some of the wineries.

Pugliese Vineyards: 34515 Main Road, Cutchogue

One of the original wineries on the North Fork established in 1980. Family owned and operated, you will always find a family member in the tasting room pouring wines. Pugliese has always produced sparkling wines and from what I understand, grow the only Sangiovese (about a couple of acres) on the Island.

2007 Blanc de Noir Nature Sparkling. Big copper color, doughy notes on the nose, crisp with bread notes on the finish.

2010 Blanc de Blanc Brut Sparkling. Nose of cooked bread, rising dough, lemon curd on the very ripe fruit.

2009 Merlot Sparkling. Fizzy with sweet herbs on the nose, moderate fruit with some green notes. Reminded me of a Lambrusco.

2012 Sangiovese. Medium to light red with pumpkin pie spices on the nose, tight and tart.


Lenz Winery: 38355 Route 25, Peconic

Another of the original wineries, founded in 1978 and having some the most mature vineyards in the area. I appreciate that they don’t release their wines too soon so you can try whites with some bottle age.

2012 Chardonnay “White Label”. Cold-fermented, gold in color with apricot on the nose, nice balance.

2013 Chardonnay “Gold Label”. Gold in color, toasty nose, dry with some oak on the fruit.

2012 Gewürztraminer. Light yellow with greenish tints, very aromatic, sweet floral, moderate fruit, low acid.

2012 Merlot. Medium to dark red, black cherry on the nose with toasty, black ripe leather on the fruit.


Duckwalk Vineyards North: 44535 Main Road, Southhold

The main winery is on the South Fork, this is the North Fork tasting room.

2014 Pinot Grigio. Light yellow in color, floral with some tropical notes on the fruit.


Sherwood House Vineyards: 1291 Main Road, Jamesport

The tasting room is in a comfortable 1860’s farmhouse connected to an antique shop barn where you can sip your wine around a fireplace.

2013 Chardonnay “Oregon Road”. The house chardonnay, last glass of the day, nice sipper.

Sunday Afternoon Wine In Chelsea

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This time of year are the dog days for wine events, the trade tastings slow down and most of consumer events are holiday cocktail parties. So I was happy to see that one of the Meetup groups I belong to was going to this wine tasting on a Sunday afternoon. Billed as “old world wines in an old world wine bar” the event took place at the Pierre Loti wine bar on 258 West 15th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan. The wine bar is one of a trio of similarly named wine bars in Manhattan named after a late 19th century French novelist, travel writer, naval sea captain and all around bon vivant  who become something of a national hero in Turkey.

The wine bar itself was small with a horseshoe shaped bar dominating the space. Apparently my Meetup group wasn’t the only group invited and the bar quickly filled up. The bartenders did a heroic job of pouring and explaining the wines to the many people elbowing their way to the bar. Cheeses and charcuterie were served with some nice juice and a good crowd making for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon.

NV Canard-Duchêne Champagne Brut (Champagne). Dry and crisp with none of the yeasty notes.

2013 Juliette Chenu Sauvignon (Pays D’OC). Stinky peaches on the nose, dusty fruit.

2014 Domaine Pepaquié Cote du Rhone Blanc (Rhone). Peachy notes, easy drinking.

2014 I Stefanini Soave Classico Monte De Toni (Veneto). Floral, white flowers on the nose, tart.

2012 I Stefanini Soave Classico Mont De Toni (Veneto). Sweet lime juice on the nose, green herbs on the tart fruit.

2013 Baldovino Tenuta I Fauri Montelpulciano d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo). Red licorice on the nose, tight, dusty with dried herbs on the tart finish.

2010 Bodega Classica Hacienda Lopez de Haro Crianza (Rioja). Fragrant perfume of dark violets and tar, tight, silky and firm, some heat.

2004 Blason d’Issan Grand Cru Classe (Margaux). Big nose of tar and black cherry, dusty, green stems on the fruit, velvety with moderate to low tannin.

2004 Chateau d’Issan Grand Cru Classe (Margaux). Fragrant nose of crushed stone, tight and dense with firm acids oak on the finish.

2002 Chateau Lagrange Grand Cru Classe (St.-Julien). Stewed prunes on the nose, tight and dusty on the finish.

2013 Tokaji Kardos Late Harvest  (Hungary). Peach and apricot notes, not too sweet, low acids.




Brooklyn Crush 2015

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This past Saturday I attended the Autumn edition of the Brooklyn Crush wine & artisanal food festival. The event is the first part of the duo of wine events run by NY Wine Events with the other event next weekend.

The event was held at the Industry City event space at 882 3rd Avenue on the waterfront in the manufacturing district of Sunset Park, Brooklyn just off the Gowanus Expressway. The event is more of a wine party than a wine tasting with mostly second tier wines poured, and it seems that they cut back on the quantity of wines this year,  I felt that there were fewer choices available this time around. They were two sessions that day an afternoon and an evening session and I attended the afternoon session. There were several food station sprinkled throughout the room.

Some of what I sampled:


2013 Alamos Torrnetes

2014 Latium Soave

2014 Standing Stone Riesling

2014 Palmer Chardonnay

2014 Jamesport Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Hermann Wiemer Gewurtztraminer

2013 Lammershoek White

2013 Remhoogte Chenin Blanc

2014 BQE Rosé Cabernet Franc


2012 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc

2013 Banshee Pinot Noir

2013 Moric Blaufrankisch

2011 Dievole Chianti Classico

2013 Latium Valpolicella

2014 Crivelli Ruché

2013 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Alamos “Red Blend”

2014 Alamos Malbec

2013 Remhoogte Merlot


Somm Slam 2015

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October 25-27 was the 10th year of the International Chefs Congress, (ICC) which explored “the future of food and drink”. It was three days of cooking demonstrations, food, wine and bartender workshops and wine tasting seminars as well as the opportunity to sample very tasty food and cocktails. It was also the 6th annual Somm Slam competition and I was one of the judges for the event. Ten Sommelier competed against each other to be number one. The completion was held over the course of two days. On day one, the Somms were divided into two groups of five and each group was given a savory dish to pair with the wines (and beer) that were available. We, the judges rated each choice. After the first day the field was narrowed down to five who competed on the second day to determine the winner. The event was held at the Brooklyn Expo Center on 79 Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Chef Evan Hennessey/ Stages At One Washington, Dover NH

Round 1: Oyster Stew: Great bay oysters, sea blight, sea rocket, smoked Pollack cracker and oyster chips.

Ashley Broshious/ Arkestone Vineyards, Napa CA

Nicholas Daddona/ Boston Harbor Hotel, Boston MA

Steven McDonald/ Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, Houston TX

Daneil Toral/ 50 Eggs, Miami FL

Andrea Morris/ Jean-Georges, New York NY

Round 2: Glazed hanger steak, ground ivy, white garlic, caramelized spinach, trumpet mushroom and petite brassica.

Michael Dolinski/Junoon Restaurant, New York NY

Jordan Egan/The NoMad, New York NY

Todd Lipman/Bistro Du Midi, Boston MA

Winn Roberton/Bourbon Steak, Washington DC

Michael Duffy/Bowery Meat Co., New York NY

The ten Somms were pared down to five for the final part of the competition on Tuesday. The winner of the 2015 Somm Slam was Daniel Toral with Andrea Morris and Nicholas Daddona tying for second place.