International Wine Fest At The Golden Nugget 2019


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On August 24th I attended the 8th annual International WineFest held at the Golden Nugget hotel and casino.

The Golden Nugget casino along with Harrah’s and the Borgata are in the Marina district of Atlantic City in New Jersey. That’s about a couple of miles from the famous boardwalk where the bulk of the casinos are located.

Originally, seven years ago the festival began as the Cal-Ital wine festival. It had paired Italian along wines with California wineries of Italian heritage. Some of those included Sbragia, Mondavi, Sebastiani, Seghesio, Peroncelli and Louis Martini to name a few. Italian immigrants had brought over their wine culture and wine making skills to the early winemaking industry in California. It was an exciting concept and they poured some nice juice.

Unfortunately I believe the organizers of the event found that concept too limiting for a large wine event so they segued into an international festival theme which gave them more product to bring into the fest.

The Wine Fest was a two day event with the grand tasting on Saturday evening which I attended. Over 100 wines from the wine producing countries of the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia were poured.

While there were no trophy wines present, it was a good opportunity for a neophyte wine drinker to experience a broad range of international wines and styles. The room was never overcrowded and there was never a long wait for a pour of wine.

Along with live music, a buffet and their signature attractive wine ambassadors pouring, it made for a fun evening of drinking wine before you got back to the business of gambling.


I was in a Champagne drinking mood that evening so my go to drink for the night was Champagne.

Paul Goerg: Brut reserve, blanc de blanc , brut  .

Pol Couronne’s: Brut cuvee, blanc de blanc, brut rosé.


Some others I sampled:

Robert Mondavi: Bourbon barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon, barrel aged Chardonnay, rum barrel aged Merlot.

Rodney Strong: Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Vallery estate Pinot Noir, Sonoma Merlot.

Francis Coppola: Sofia Rosé, Diamond Collection Oregon Pinot Noir.

Heavy Weight: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Knockout Red.

Smoke Tree: Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.

Dancing Crow: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel.

19 Crimes: Hard Chardonnay, Shiraz, The Warden, Red Blend.

Oyster Bay: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Barossa Valley GSM.

Perrin: Cote du Rhone Rosé, Cote du Rhone Villages Rouge, Vinsobre Les Cornuds.

Louis Jadot: Macon Villages Blanc, Rosé, Beaujolais Villages.

Cavaliere D’Oro: Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva.

Laurennz V: Friendly Gruner Veltlener, Charming Gruner.

Quinta Do Crasto: Douro White, Douro Red.

Montes: Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon.



Wine Fest At The Golden Nugget 2018

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On August 25th I attended the 7th annual International Wine Festival hosted by the Golden Nugget hotel and casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Golden Nugget, located at 600 Huron Avenue, is one of a handful of casinos in the Marina district of Atlantic City which is about three miles from the famous boardwalk.

It was a truly international wine event featuring over 100 wines from the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, New Zealand, Germany and even some sparkling wines from England. A live band provided musical entertainment and there was a nice buffet to go with all those wines.

Unlike many consumer wine tastings, the room never became overcrowded and I didn’t have to wait very long to get a sample of wine or to speak with one of the wine representatives that were on hand to answer questions.

Some of what I sampled:


2004 Paul Goerig Blanc de Blanc

NV Paul Goerig Rosé

NV Collet Brut Rosé

NV Coppola Sofia Brut Rosé


2017 Mirabeau Classic Rosé

2017 Mirabeau Etoile Rosé

2017 Coppola Sofia Rosé


2015 Etude Chardonnay Grace Benoist Ranch

2015 Neyers Chardonnay

2017 Donati Family Chardonnay Unoaked

2014 Andre Brunel Chateauneuf du Pape White

2015 Macon Lugny Les Charmes


2016 Etude Pinot Noir Lyric

2015 Etude Pinot Noir Carneros

2014 Trione Winery Pinot Noir Russian River

2015 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir

2014 Neyers Zinfandel

2013 Trione Winery Henrey’s Blend

2014 Donati Family Claret

2012 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva

2011 Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Il Solatio

2014 Ruffino Reserva Ducale Tan Label

2010 Arcanum Chianti Classico Reserva

2011 Arcanum Il Fauno

2014 Masi Campofiorin Roso

2012 Masi Costasera Amarone

2014 Andre Brunel Chateauneuf du Pape Les Cailloux Red



Mohegan Sun Wine & Food Fest 2018

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Mohegan Sun casino is located in Uncasville Connecticut which is about a two-hour drive as the crow flies northeast of New York City on interstate 95. It’s owned by the Mohegan tribe and is one of the largest gaming facilities the U.S with three casinos all with Native American decor. The casino has all the usual amenities of dining, shopping, hotel accommodations, a concert venue and even its own WNBA basketball and lacrosse teams.

It was a two-day event on January 26-27 kicking off with a bourbon and cigar event on Friday evening. I attended the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon with featured chef demonstrations, wines and spirits on the main floor with craft beers on the 2nd floor.

When I go to these mega consumer events I have a certain expectation. I know they have to cater to a large range of wine drinkers so I don’t expect much high-end juice to be poured and also have an expectation that on a Saturday night, the venue will be mobbed which it was.  Fortunately there was a separate “Elite Cru” tasting room with a more manageable crowd and some nice juice poured. Some of what I sampled at that tasting:


Keenan Winery

2013 Merlot Napa Valley

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2013 Spring Mt Reserve

2013 Cabernet Franc

Fulcrum Winery

2013 Petite Sirah Landy

2015 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown

2015 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

Fullerton Winery

2014 Pinot Noir Momtazi Vineyard

2015 Pinot Noir Bennet Vineyard

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Fay

2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Cask 23


2015 Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 707

2012 Guilano Rosati Amarone

2013 Pelissero Nebbiolo

2013 Cheval des Andes

2015 The Withers Winery Mouvedre Rubin

2014 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon The Reserve

2014 Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve

2013 Mt Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mt Veeder



Wine Fest At The Golden Nugget 2017


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On August 26th I attended the 7th International WineFest held at the Golden Nugget casino located at 600 Huron Avenue in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Golden Nugget is one of a handful that are located in the marina district which is a few minutes from the famous boardwalk. The event is the brainchild of Scott Tarwater, the corporate director of wine and special events for Landry’s Inc (the owner of the Nugget) who has passion for fine wines and as it was, a colleague of mine when we worked at Disneyworld back in the day.

The Fest began with a jazz on the lawn reception on Friday evening and culminated with the Grand Tasting on Saturday evening which I attended.  The event was a walk-around tasting and while there were no trophy wines being poured there was with a good representation of wines from the major wine-producing regions of the world. A live jazz band played and food was served as well.

Unlike some consumer wine events, the event was never overcrowded which made for a comfortable evening of wine sampling. Wine reps were on hand to answer questions and they were ably assisted by several lovely young ladies. People were having fun.

Some of what I sampled:



2015 Chateau Suau Cotes de Bordeaux Blanc (Bordeaux) Light yellow with a greenish tint, tangerines on the nose with crisp medium fruit.

2014 Beringer Chardonnay “Private Reserve” (Napa Valley) Medium to dark gold, toasty tropical fruit on the nose, big, fruity with oak notes on the finish.

2015 Clos Pegase Chardonnay (Mitsuko’s Vineyard)  Medium yellow, ripe peaches on the nose with stone fruit and tropical fruit on the tight finish.

2015 DeLoach Vineyards Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) Light yellow with tropical fruit notes on the nose and finish, moderate acidity.

2016 B.R. Cohn Chardonnay “Silver Label” (Russian River) Medium yellow, tropical fruit with some earth on the nose, juicy tropical fruit with a firm finish.

2015 Coppola Vineyards Chardonnay “Jaws” (Sonoma/Monterey) Medium yellow, earth and melon on the nose, juicy fruit with slate notes, crisp finish.

2016 Shannon Ridge Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc “High Elevation” (Lake County) Light yellow with a grassy, herbaceous nose, sweet fruit with lime notes on the finish.

2015 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc “Reserve” (Alsace) Light yellow with a greenish tint, tree bark on the nose with good acidity on the fruit.

2016 Wolf Blass Chardonnay “Reserve Release” (Australia) Yellow with greenish tints, pineapple on the nose with oak and tropical fruit on the finish.



2014 Vail Llach “Embruix” (Priorat) Medium red with tar notes on the nose, bitter cherry and almonds on the finish.

2014 Chateau Suau Cotes de Bordeaux Rouge (Bordeaux) Medium red, petrol on the nose, very concentrated with dark plum on the fruit, good balance.

2013 Rocca di Montemassi “Sassabruna” (Tuscany) Medium red, closed nose of dark fruit with a hint of tar, concentrated and tight with bitter cherry on the finish.

2015 Gaja “Magari” (Tuscany) Medium to dark red, smoky nose with a hint of anise with chocolate notes on the moderate fruit.

2015 Bodegas Garzón (Uruguay) Medium red with stewed fruit notes on the nose, juicy black fruit with green fruit on the finish.

2013 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon (Knights Valley) Dark red to black with crushed dark fruit and dark chocolate on the nose, concentrated black fruit, coffee and chocolate on the moderate balanced fruit.

2013 Swanson Vineyards Merlot (Napa Valley) Dark red with smoke notes on the nose, dark cherry fruit with good acidity.

2015 Shannon Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Lake County) Medium red, crushed black fruit and mint on the nose, juicy with dried herb notes and moderate acidity.



Wine Fest At The Golden Nugget

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On Saturday August 27th I attended the International Wine Festival at the Golden Nugget casino. The Golden Nugget is one of a handful of casinos in the marina district a couple of miles off the boardwalk in Atlantic City New Jersey. They have held a wine fest in August for the past several years the theme of which was Cal-Ital which showcased wines from Italy and Italian heritage wines from California. This year the event was changed to an international wine fest with wines from several new and old world countries.

Atlantic City has been going through some tough times lately with several casinos closing down and the city on the verge of bankruptcy. But on this Saturday night, the city and the casinos were alive with gamblers and partiers.

The event had plenty of wines to keep everyone busy for the night along with a live band and a buffet table. Not as many Cali wines as I would have liked but Italy provided a nice selection.


Some of what I sampled:

2015 Chateau D’Esclans “Whispering Angel’ Rosé (Provence). Light pink, strawberry on the nose, tart strawberry fruit.

2013 La Crema Chardonnay (Russian River Valley). Yellow with green tints, toasty tropical fruit on the nose with toast and tropical fruit, crisp finish.

2015 Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Blanc (Rhone). Light yellow, lime and slate on the nose, clean and crisp with lime notes on the finish.

2014 Domaine Ferret Pouilly Fusse (Burgundy). Toasted oak on the nose with toasty, lime notes on the fruit.


2013 Renwood Old Vine Zinfandel (Amador County). Medium red with crushed black fruit on the nose with spicy red fruit.

2013 Chloe N° 249 (North Coast). Medium red with warm, smoky dark berries on the nose, jammy and juicy.

2014 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Medium to dark red, green herbs on the nose, tight and concentrated, medium to long finish.

2013 Robert Mondavi “Maestro” (Napa Valley). 50th anniversary bottling, Bordeaux blend, primarily Merlot, medium red, green herbs on the nose, tight with mouth filling tannin.

2013 La Crema Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley). Light red, cherry nose, tight with smoky, cherry fruit.

2014 The Prisoner Wine Co. Zinfandel “Saldo” (California). Medium to dark red, stewed red fruit on the nose with juicy cherry fruit balanced with firm tannin on the finish.

2013 Penfolds  Cabernet Sauvignon “Bin 407” (Australia). Dark red to black, close nose of cherry-mint, firm balance.

2013 Penfolds Cabernet-Shiraz “Bin 389” (Australia). Dark red to black with crushed black berry on the nose, cherry fruit followed by firm acids.

2012 Masi “Campofiorin” (Veneto). Medium red with sweet blueberry and tar on the nose, tight bitter cherry fruit.

2011 Masi Amarone “Costasera” (Veneto). Medium red, forest floor on the nose, tight and tannic with bitter cherry fruit.

2013 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany). Light red, earthy, barnyard notes on the nose, deeper fruit than what the color suggests, nice balance.

2011 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium red with cherry leather notes on the nose and fruit.

2012 Castello di Banfi Chianti Classico “Riserva” (Tuscany). Medium red with fresh herbs and tar on the nose, tight with moderate light fruit, leather notes on the finish.

2011 Castello di Banfi Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium to dark red, crushed dark berries on the nose with mint undertones with dusty, silky red fruit, great balance.

2013 Tenute del Cabreo (Tuscany). Cabernet, Sangiovese blend, medium to dark red, crushed black berries on the nose, tight and tart finish.

2013 Nozzle Chianti Classico “Riserva” (Tuscany). Medium red, violets on the nose, dusty red fruit with silky tannins.

2011 Tenute La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium red, sweet nose, silky fruit with bitter red cherry fruit.

2013 Ramon Bilbao  Tempranillo “Limited Edition” (Rioja). Dark red with leather and tar on the nose, tart cherry on the fruit.

2013 Argento Bonarda (Argentina).  Dark red, sweet red fruit on the nose with green herb notes on the fruit.

2012 Carmen Petite Sirah “Gran Reserva” (Chile). Medium red, herbs on the nose with chunky, dusty fruit.

2013 Famille Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape (Rhone). Medium red. fresh herbs and tar on the nose, tight and brambly on the firm finish.

2012 Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques “Moulin a Vent” (Beaujolais).Medium to light red, closed nose of crushed blueberries.rambly on the firm finish.



Atlantic City Italian

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On Saturday August 16th I ventured down to Atlantic City to attend the third annual     Cal-Ital Summer Winefest. The event was held at the Golden Nugget casino which is just off the boardwalk on the Marina. The fest was billed as “a celebration of California and Italian wine” or more specifically, Italian wines and California wines with Italian heritages. It was a consumer event with over 200 wines poured. Some light food was served and a very good jazz band serenaded the crowd and instead of the usual sales persons/volunteers manning the pouring stations, the event organizer decided to use a modeling agency to staff the event which made for good optics.

The event space was huge and it never got over crowded. Some of what I like:


2011 Sbragia Family Vineyards Chardonnay “Home Ranch” (Dry Creek Valley). Dark gold with tropical fruit on the nose and earth and tropical fruit on the ripe and juicy finish.

2012 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay (Napa Valley). Medium gold in color with pineapple on the nose with some oak on the juicy fruit with some nice acidity at the end.

2013 Pedroncelli Winery Rosé of Zinfandel (Sonoma County). Cherry red in color with notes of strawberry on the nose and fruit and was off dry.

2012 Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir (Napa Valley). Light red with a cherry-barnyard nose, juicy with red cherry fruit on the balanced finish.

2012 Sebastiani Vineyards Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast). Medium red with red licorice on the nose with some cola on the moderate fruit with good balance.

2012 Parducci Pinot Noir “Small Lot Blend” (California). Light red with spice red fruit on the nose and was juicy but nicely balanced with notes of cherry cough drops on the finish.

2011 Seghesio Vineyards Barbera (Alexander Valley). Dark purple with cigar-box on the nose with chewy and chunky red fruit and nice acidity on the finish.

2012 Ferrari-Carano Vineyards “Siena” (Sonoma County). Medium red in color with a stinky nose, nice acidity with dark cherry chocolate on the finish.

2008 Trinchero Family Estates Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley). Dark red to black in color, pencil shavings on the nose with silky and smoky ripe fruit on the nice balance.

2010 Sbragia Family Vineyards Merlot “Home Ranch” (Dry Creek Valley). Medium red with earth and pencil shavings on the nose with nice acidity and chocolate notes on the long finish.

2010 Gallo Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Dark red with toasty black cherry on the nose, tight fruit with moderate to long finish.


2012 Pieropan Soave Classico (Veneto). Light yellow with notes of tropical fruit on the nose, moderate fruit with nice acidity.

2012 Pieropan Soave Classico “La Rocca” (Veneto). A single vineyard Soave, light yellow in color with floral and sweet earth on the nose, firm acidity with lime notes on the finish.

2008 Pieropan Soave Classico “Calvarino” (Veneto). From a hillside vineyard in the Classico zone, gold in color with saffron and earth on the nose, tight with lip-smacking acidity on the finish.

2011 Jermann “Dreams” (Friuli). Chardonnay, dark gold with tropical fruit on the nose and was clean and crisp with buttery notes on the finish.

2009 Rocca della Macie “Ser Gioveto” (Tuscany). Mostly Sangiovese with some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon thrown in, very dark red in color with smoky, toasty and plum notes on the finish.

2011 Marchese Antinori Villa Antinori Rosso (Tuscany). Mostly Sangiovese, dark red with tobacco and cigar-box on the nose and was silky and chewy with nice balance.

2009 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium red with red licorice on the nose, delicate fruit with a floral finish.

2008 Castel Giacondo Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany).  Medium red with an amber robe, cigar-box and tobacco on the nose, firm with more of that tobacco on the finish.

Casino Tasting

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Sunday afternoon I attended the SunWineFest grand tasting held at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. The event was held for two days and was open to the consumers. I know that these large-scale consumer events will have a boatload of mid-level wines but I thought it would be an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It was a huge event with a broad range of wines, some of which were drinkable. The event also featured cooking demonstrations but I spent my time with the wine. The event also had a separate beer room which was quite popular with the crowd. Some of what I sampled:

Markham Vineyards 2011 “Cellar 1879 Blend” (Napa Valley). Something I havent’ tried from Markham, a red blend that changes with each vintage, it was dark red with a nose of cinnamon and crushed red fruit and was tight and velvety with some tartness on the finish.

Chimney Rock 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon “Stags Leap District” (Napa Valley).  Dark red with a closed nose of black cherry, balanced and velvety. My favorite red of the night.

The Californian Vintager 2007 Red Blend (Napa Valley). A producer I never had before, this on is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah and was dark red to black with notes of roasted coffee and bacon on the nose, deep and chunky and juicy with some mint on the finish with nice tannin mouth feel.

The Californian Vintager 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley). Black in color with a nose of sweet red licorice with medium and I thought it lacked some character.

Maray 2011 Pinot Noir Reserva (Chile). Medium red with a nose of roasted meat with black cherry and leather on the fruit which dropped at the end.

Carpineto 2009 Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany). Medium red with cherry tar on the nose and was chewy and tarry with nice firm tannin on the finish.

Pine Ridge 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Medium to dark red with a sweet nose of black cherry with sweet fruit and moderate tannin.

Duckhorn 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Medium red to dark red with a nose of roasted vegetable and was deep with black licorice fruit with some lightness on the finish.

Ca’ Momi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Another producer that I’ve never tried before, dark red with hints of mint and crushed berries on the nose and was concentrated with excellent fruit and balance.

Two Angels Winery 2008 Petite Sirah. (High Valley). Black in color with a nose of sweet dried herbs and cherry and was chunky with notes of dried herbs on the finish.

Serralunga d’Alba 2008 Barolo (Piedmont).  Amber in color with notes of tar and red roses on the nose with tar on the fruit and silky tannins on the finish.