Wine Spectator’s Grand Award Banquet 2018


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The Wine Spectator NY Wine Experience took place on October 18-20. The culmination of those three days was the Grand Award Banquet on Saturday night.

After a hiatus last year, I was able to attend the banquet this year. The reception was a black-tie sit down dinner that recognized the 2018 Spectator Grand Award winners from some of the 91 restaurants in 14 States and 16 countries that were awarded this year and also recognized the winner of the Wine Spectator distinguish service award. That distinguish service award was given to Domaine Serene winery in Oregon whose wines were served at the dinner. The very tasty dinner was held at the Marriott Marquis with a Champagne cocktail reception beforehand.

This years musical guests were Kool and the Gang.


Champagne Reception

2008 Pol Roger Brut

2009 Louis Roederer Brut Nature Starck

NV Barons de Rothschild Brut Blanc de Blancs

NV Henriot Brut Blanc de Blancs

NV Perrier-Jouet Brut Rosé Blason

NV Bollinger Brut Special Cuvée

NV Piper-Heidsieck Brut Cuvée

NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

NV Tattinger Brut La Francaise



Fall Mixed Greens, Roasted Stone Fruit, Toasted Almonds, Ricotta Salata Shaved Fennel with an Apple Cider Vinaigrette

2016 Domaine Serene Chardonnay “Evenstad Reserver” (Dundee Hills)

Gold in color, with pineapple, lime and green herbs on the nose, not overpowering moderate fruit, good balance.


Herb Crusted Filet of Beef with Truffle Potato Gratin, Crispy Oyster Mushrooms, Blistered Tomatoes and a Port Wine Reduction

2015 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir “Evenstad Reserve” (Willamette Valley)

Black to red in color, cola and dried herbs on the nose with a tight finish.

2015 Domaine Serene “Grand Cheval”  (Oregon)

Unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah from Dundee Hills and Walla Walla Valley, inky black in color, deep red fruit and dark chocolate on the nose, chewy black fruit with crushed coffee bean notes on the finish.

Chocolate, Carmel and Blackberry Slice with Blackberry Ice Cream





Wine Spectator’s NY Wine Experience 2018


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Wine Spectator magazine held its 38th annual New York Wine Experience on October 18-20. It was three days of sit-down seminars, wine pairing lunches, a critics’ choice Grand Tasting and a Grand Award banquet. Proceeds from the event go to support the Wine Spectator scholarship foundation.

The Grand Tastings were held on Thursday and Friday evening. They were one of the best if not the best wine tastings of the year. It was two floors of over 269 participating wineries/chateaus pouring wines that have been rated 90 points or higher on the Wine Spectator ratings scale. Many of the owners and wine makers were on hand to pour and to talk about their wines.

The event was held at the Marriott Marquis hotel in the heart of Times Square, Manhattan at 1535 Broadway. This was a mega tasting that one day of sampling didn’t do it justice but one day was what I had, I attended on Friday night. With so many great wines available I had to narrow my focus on what to drink. I decided to forgo white wines and Champagnes and narrow the tasting to Bordeaux and Napa Valley reds for the most part. Even with that I wasn’t able to get to all but I did my best. I drank some very, very nice juice.

The #1 wine of 2017 selected by Wine Spectator was the 2014 Duckhorn Merlot Three Palms Vineyard from Napa Valley.


New World

1993 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Fay” (Napa Valley) Medium brick, dusty nose of rusted metal, dried leaf notes on the good fruit and a long finish. Holding up well.

2008 Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” (Santa Cruz Mts) Opaque dark red to black, pretty perfume of fresh herbs, mint and red candy, chewy and chunky dark chocolate on the firm finish.

2008 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon “Jack’s Masterpiece” (Napa Valley) Black in color, roast nuts and crushed red fruit on the nose, thick, syrupy, dark chocolate on the fruit.

2009 Dominus Estate (Napa Valley) Red blend, opaque dark brick, tar, paint thinner on the nose, concentrated smoky fruit, tight, nice finish.

2010 Carter Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon To Kalon Vineyard “The OG” (Napa Valley) Thick black in color, crushed raspberry on the nose, thick and chewy, nice tannins.

2012 Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque medium red, roast nuts on the nose, chewy with silky firm tannin on the long finish.

2013 Kerr “Reserve” (Napa Valley) Black in color, crushed back fruit and ripe plum on the nose, thick, syrupy dark chocolate on the fruit, moderate finish.

2014 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon “Oakville” (Napa Valley) Clear dark purple, dark fruit on the nose, dusty, chewy red licorice on the fruit, moderate finish.

2014 Dariosh Cabernet Sauvignon “Darius II” (Napa Valley) Dark red to black, deep concentrated with chewy black licorice on the firm, balanced fruit, long finish.

2014 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon “Lot 1” (Napa Valley) Black, crushed black berries on the nose, chewy, minty with big acidity at the end.

2015 PlumpJack Cabernet Sauvignon “Oakville” (Napa Valley) Dark purple, purple rim, crushed red cherry on the nose, thick, juicy and toasty on the fruit.

2015 Joseph Phelps “Insignia” (Napa Valley) Black in color, toasty red berries on the nose, tight and concentrated with dark chocolate on the firm finish.

2015 Peter Michael “Les Pavots” (Knights Valley) Opaque dark red, crushed red fruit and red leather on the nose, concentrated with green herb notes on the fruit, balanced.

2015 Continuum “Sage Mt Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Black in color with a purple rim, crushed black fruit on the nose, thick and juicy with firm tannins at the end.

2015 Sinegal Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, crushed black fruit and dark chocolate on the nose, very chewy and concentrated, a big wine with a lip smacking finish.

2015 Staglin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, sweet black cherry and roast nuts on the nose, red cherry fruit.

2016 Bergström Pinot Noir “Bergström Vineyard” (Dundee Hills) Light red, toasted nuts, bacon on the nose, black cherry on the fruit, tight finish.


Old World

2003 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac) Dark amber, ripe plums, tar and leaf notes on the nose with oak notes on the balanced finish.

2005 Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere (St-Emilion) Cloudy dark red, roasted tar and crushed red berries on the nose, starts juicy, tightens up at the finish.

2005 Chateau Montrose (St-Estephe) Cloudy black in color with a brick rim, herbs, roast meat and forest floor on the nose, finishes tight and hard.

2005 Chateau Pichon Longueville (Pauillac) Black with a red rim, crushed red berries and toasted nuts on the nose, very tight fruit that drops off, thought it was unbalanced.

2006 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan) Dark purple, sweet black cherry and turpentine on the nose, tight and chewy sweet fruit, firm tannins on the finish.

2008 Chateau Lafite Rothschild (Pauillac) Medium red, with sediment, green herbs on the nose, tight, light. Disappointing.

2008 Chateau Margaux (Margaux) Medium brick, toast and roast meat on the nose, tight with silky tannins on the finish.

2010 Chateau Pavie (St-Emilion) Opaqe dark red to black, mint and red leather on the nose, chewy with firm and silky tannins.

2011 Chateau Haut-Brion (Peassac Leognan) Dark amber, crushed dark fruit on the nose with sweet, dark fruit.

2011 Chateau Cheval-Blanc (St-Emilion) Opaque dark red, toast, roasted nuts on the nose, silky red fruit, firm, long finish.

2012 Bouchard Pere & Fils “Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus”(Burgundy) Light amber, ripe red fruit and mint on the nose, light cherry fruit, balances.

2012 Chateau Angelus (St-Emilion) Moderate red, toasty and green herbs on the nose. moderate fruit, nice balance.

2014 Chateau Canon (St-Emilion) Moderate purple, roasted bacon on the nose, tight, bright fruit, crisp finish.

2015 Chateau Pontet-Canet (Pauillac) Dark red with a purple rim, barnyard on the nose, chewy red fruit with a long finish, nice balance.

2015 Chateau Lynch-Bages (Pauillac) Dark red to black, closed nose of roasted nuts, starts thick and chewy then drops to tight tannins.

2015 Clos Fourtet (St-Emilion) Opaque dark purple, vanilla on the nose, thick and chewy with good balance on the dark fruit.


2006 Vega Sicilia “Unico” (Ribera del Duero) Amber in color, toasty red cherry on the sweet dusty fruit with a moderate to long balanced finish.

2009 Tenuta dell Ornellaia “Masseto” (Tuscany) Medium brick, crushed cooked berries on the nose, starts chewy, finishes tight, long finish with some heat.  

2011 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino “Tenuta Greppo Riserva” (Tuscany) Light brick in color, red cherry on the nose, cherry leather on the fruit.

2013 Gaja Barolo “Sperss” (Piedmont) Light brick, roasted nuts on the nose, dusty, roasted meat on the light fruit, balanced.

2014 Pio Cesare Barberesco “Il Bricco” (Piedmont) Medium brick, tar, cherry leather on the nose, medium dusty, dried leaf on the fruit, ending with big acids.




Pigs & Pizza


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Food Network held its 11th annual New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF) on October 11-14. It’s New York City’s largest food and wine festival with four days of 80 events and 500 chefs featuring a grand tasting, culinary demos, rooftop parties, late night parties, dinners, cocktails, spirits and classes. A foodies dream with something for everyone concerning food, drink and parties. This is the sister event to the South Beach food and wine fest held in February in Miami. 100% of NYCWFF’s net proceeds benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign and Food Bank for New York City. I was able to get the party rolling by attending some of the late night parties starting with Tacos & Tequila on Thursday night and Rock & Roll Sushi on Friday night. On Saturday I spent the day eating well. I attended:



The Ultimate Pizza Party presented by Slice and hosted by Jeff Mauro

Who doesn’t like pizza? At this fest several pizza establishments served their wood-fired creations with a wide range of toppings that in addition to the traditional red sauce with cheese included toppings with various meats and cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, and even egg and with red sauce or no red sauce. Some of the rotating restaurants sending hot slices out of the wood-fired ovens included Motorino, Speedy Romeo, LBK and Sottocasa to name a few.

The event was held at Fornino’s Pier 6 restaurant located at Brooklyn Bridge Park which has a stellar view of lower Manhattan. To keep with the Italian theme I washed down those slices with shots of Fernet.




Pigs & Pours presented by Whistle Pig and hosted by Robert Irvine

Later in the afternoon, I attended the pigs & pour event held at The Standard High Line Biergarten at the Standard Hotel located at 848 Washington Avenue in the Meatpacking district of lower Manhattan.

It was a walk around fest of local restaurants serving all things pork and pork centric that included everything from a whole roasted pig to bacon desserts with everything in between. To wash all that down was beer from Modello, cocktails made with WhistlePig whiskey and surprisingly, a nice selection of pinot noir from Oregon and California that included:

Cambria Julia’s Vineyard, La Crema Sonoma Coast, Siduri Willamette Valley, Willakenzie Estate Gisele and Kendall-Jackson VR.



Upcoming Wine Event: On November 10, Robert Parker Jr’s Wine Advocate Matter of Taste is hosting one of the best wine tastings of the year at the Conrad New York Hotel. At the Grand Tasting there will be an opportunity to try some of the finest wines of the world.

Promo code for $50 off the Grand Tasting: SVNYC18



Fall Food & Wine Festa At Eataly


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On Friday October 5th I attended the Eataly Fall Food & Wine Fest which was held at the downtown store at 4 World Trade Center. That’s second Eataly to open in New York City, the first in 2010 at the former Toy Building on 5th Avenue in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan. I’ve been to the Flatiron store many times but this was my first visit to the downtown store. Both stores are food theme parks where you can spend the entire day wandering around the store aisles eating and drinking.

Eataly is an Italian marketplace and mega store founded in 2007 in a former vermouth factory in Turin, Italy (A store I’ve been to). They now have stores worldwide and in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston.

The food and wine festa featured over 40 regional Italian wines which were paired with small dishes from specific regions in Italy. I was an interesting mix of wines from several appellations and not surprisingly given the venue, the food was excellent.

I like the way the tasting was laid out. Instead of everyone crammed into a room, the wine and food stations were sprinkled throughout the store so you would have to stroll throughout the store to sample everything.

Some of my favorites:



Gnocchi con salsiccia e cime di rapa (Friuli) Gnocchi with sausage and broccoli rabe. (very delicious)

Halibut Barcaccia (Calabria) Halibut marinated in red wine vinegar, ginger and lime with Calabrian chilis. (loved the sweet, sour, salty combo on this)

Polenta Fritta (Trentino) Fried polenta with Parmigiano and rosemary.

Octopus Barcaccasi (Sardegna) Octopus marinated in extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar with potato, celery, chili flakes and sea salt.

Pane con Fonduta (Liguria) Housemade bread with a Parmigiano and Fontina dip.



Barone Pizzini: 2014 Saten Franciacorta,  NV Anima Extra Brut

Altesino: 2016 Rosso IGT,  2016 Rosso di Montalcino

Castello de Neive: 2013 Dolcetto d’Alba,  2015 Barberesco

Secodo Marco: 2013 Valpolicella Ripasso,  2011 Amarone

Boroli: 2012 Barolo Classico,  2012 Barolo Vittero

Tua Rita: 2016 Rosso dei Notri,  2014 Perlato del Bosco

Rainoldi: 2017 Rosso di Valtellina,  2017 Grumello

Colle Massari: 2014 Montecucco Riserva

Galardi: 2012 & 2013 Terra di Lavoro




Rum Fest New York 2018


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On September 29th, the Rum held their 2nd annual rum festival in New York City. They have produced similar festivals in Puerto Rico, California, the Midwest and Seattle. The Rum Lab is “focused on becoming the official rum expo throughout the northern east coast.”

Rum is made around the world but most associated with the Caribbean. Generally, there are three principle styles of rum in the Caribbean that reflect the terroir, climate and who colonized the country. There is the Spanish style ron which is molasses based and are generally lighter in body, the English style rum which are also molasses based and tend to be bolder, and the French style rhum agricole which are based on sugar cane juice and have many of the place of origin rules that wine have, they tend to taste of herbs and the earth.

The event was held at Sounds of Brazil, a music venue located at 204 Varick Street in lower Manhattan. There were a good selection of rum from around the world and since I enjoy aged rum, I began the tasting by trying whatever was the oldest rum at the table.

Some of what I sampled:

Montanya (Colorado): Oro, Exclusiva, Anniversaria.

Owney’s (New York City) Distiller’s Reserve, Superior Quality.

English Harbor Reserve (Antigua): 5yr, 10yr, port cask finish, sherry cask finish.

Chairmans’ Reserve (St. Lucia): The forgotten cask, 1931.

Ron Barcelo (Dominican Republic): 30yr Anniversary Reserve, Imperial.

J Bally (Martinique): 2002.

Clairin (Haiti): Sajous, Vaval, Casimir.

Diplomatico  (Venezuela): Single vineyard 2002, Ambassador.

Plantation Rum (Barbados): XO 20th Anniversary.

Clement Rhum (Martinique) VSOP, XO.

Flor de Cana (Nicaragua): 18yr, 25yr.

Rhum JM (Martinique): 1999 Reserve.

Denizen (Jamaica): 3yr, 8yr.

Barcardi (Puerto Rico): Limitada.

Boukman (Haiti): Botanical Rhum.



Newport Mansions Wine & Food Fest 2018


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The Newport Mansions Food & Wine Festival was held on September 20-23 in Newport, Rhode Island which is a three-hour drive north of New York City. It was four days of wine dinners, seminars and a grand tasting. The grand tasting was held on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and featured cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs as well as international wines and food from local restaurants. I attended on Sunday afternoon.

The tasting was held at the Marble House located at 596 Bellevue Avenue, one of the many gilded-age mansions in Rhode Island overlooking Narragansett Bay that were built (for an obscene amount of money) for some of the early twentieth century robber barons. More specifically, the tasting was held in the backyard of the mansion.

The event raised money for the Preservation Society of Newport county which maintains and preserves the Marble House and other mansions which are open to the public.

As far as consumer food and wine events go, this festival is one of the best, with good food, an excellent selection of very drinkable wines and a killer view from the backyard.

I was happy to spend the afternoon noshing on some of the many cheeses available, on any paté from Les Trois Petits Cochons, on any cut of beef that the guys and gals from Dole & Bailey Grill manning the grills out back were serving and an amazingly good dish of seared scallop on a bed of pureed spinach with crispy bacon that was from a restaurant I didn’t write down. Of course, there was wine to wash that all down with.


Some of what I sampled:

2014 Miraval Rosé

2017 Chateau D’Esclans The Palm Rosé

2017 Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé

2017 Simi Winery Rosé


2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley

2017 Qupé Marsanne

2014 Qupé Roussanne

2017 QTR Vineyards Chenin Blanc

2013 Anselmi Capitel Foscarino Soave

2016 Anselmi San Vicenzo Soave


2014 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot Napa Valley

2015 The Prisoner Wine Co. Thorn Merlot

2015 Justin Vineyards Justification

2015 Justin Vineyards Isoscelles

2014 Smoking Gun Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville

2014 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon

2013 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Howell Mt.

2011 QTR Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt.

2013 QTR Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt.

2014 QTR Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2016 Purple Hand Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard

2016 Purple Hand Pinot Noir Kropf Vineyard

2014 Sbragia Vineyards Gino’s Zinfandel

2009 QTR Vineyards Dark Matter Zinfandel

2013 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino


Mexico In A Bottle

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Mexico In A Bottle is a website founded in 2014 by Susan Coss and Max Garrone that celebrates “food, art, mezcal, life”. They sponsor North America’s biggest agave spirit tasting, an annual tasting and celebration of more than 500 years of Mezcal history and culture. In 2018 the tour has stopped and will stop in Washington DC, San Diego, Chicago and San Francisco and on September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, the tour stopped in New York City.

The event took place at the House of Yes, a nightclub, performing arts space and event venue located at 2 Wychoff Avenue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Over 50 brands were represented and considering that Mezcal, unlike Tequila which can be made with only with blue agave, Mezcal can be made from up to 30 varieties of agave which means that many producers make a wide range of Mezcal from different varietals as well as from different villages. There were a staggering quantity of spirits at this event. .

I recognized a handful of producers but for the most part many of the producers were “mom and pop” operations that still make Mezcal in the traditional way and most of the labels were unknown to me. Most had the signature smokiness that Mezcal are known for but many had more nuanced flavors of grass, herbs, butter, stone fruit. I would have loved to pick two or three producers and go through their line to taste the differences in the types of agave used. Personally, unlike rum, I like my Mezcal/Tequila joven, clear instead of aged. Interesting food item at the event were crispy Chapulin (aka grasshopper).

Some of what I sampled:

Erstwhile Espadin, Cuishe, Espadin Limited Edition

Los Amantes Joven, Reposado

Wahaka Ensamble, Reposado con Gusano

Amaras Espadin, Cupreata

5 Sentidos Papalomentl, Sierra Negra

Mezcal Union El Viejo

Nuestra Soleda Del Rio, 3 Mezquitos

Los Siete Misterios Coyote, Barril

Mezcal Vago Tobala, Espadin

Nobile Coyote Jabali, Coyote

Mezcal Nacional Tobala, Ciral

Los Nahuales Espadin

Mezcal De Leyenda San Luis Potosi

Amormata Masparillo de La Cruz

Mezcal Los Javis Espadin

Ancho Reyes Chile Ancho Liqueur, Chile Poblano Liqueur

Blue Nectar Tequila Silver