Best of the West 2019


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Best of the West was one of two events held as part of the 12th annual Taste of the Upper West Side. The events were a fundraiser benefitting the upper west side community. Summer in the City was held on Friday evening and Best of the West on Saturday evening. Both events were held under the tents on Columbus Avenue between 76-77th streets in the upper west side of Manhattan, just across the street from the Museum of Natural History.

Both events had 80+ chefs from local restaurants serving unlimited food along with some drinkable wines, cocktails made with the ever present Tito’s vodka and Rums from Puerto Rico, beer and hard cider.

It was a big foodies event, a night of good eating, so much so I couldn’t get to all the food stations but had tried my best. Just wish I had brought a doggie bag.


Some of what I sampled:

The Milling Room: Mini Lobster Roll, featuring Maine lobster on Amy’s challah bun.

8th Hill Restaurant: Stuffed beet leaves with meat.

The Loeb Boathouse Central Park: Yuzi cured Hamachi, cucumbers and watermelon salad with ginger dressing.

Leyla: Fava bean bruschetta, fava bean spread, arugula, pickled carrots, dill over sourdough bread.

Lincoln Center Kitchen: Chilled spring pea soup, jumbo lump crab salad, smoked bacon.

Da Capo: Veal meatballs, pan seared San Marzano tomatoes, Sunday Sauce, basil.

Elea: Grilled octopus, fava puree with pepper & onion “Stifado”.

Shake Shack: Cheeseburger topped with Monterrey Jack cheese, double smoked bacon and fiery shack sauce.

Café 21: Mixed seafood Ceviche with miso ginger Asian slaw.

Red Farm: Chicken with truffle Shu Mai.

Tavern on the Green: Confit of Berkshire pork shoulder, pickled julienne vegetables, Sambai aioli.

Dizzy’s Club: Smoked baby back ribs with Carolina BBQ sauce, with jalapeno, peach slaw.

Salumeria Rosi: Pork meatballs, fresh tomato sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano.

Café Frida: Mole negro cooked for 8 hours, chicken breast, fried sweet plantains, white onions and sesame seeds.

The Leopard: Parmigiana of zucchini with smoked mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce and basil.

Café Luxembourg: Tuna tartare, avocado mousse, rice cakes.

Tessa: Chilled octopus salad, celery, pickled red onions, preserved lemon, smoked paprika oil, micro arugula.

The Smith: Toasted ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream.

The Mermaid Inn: Chilled ruby red shrimp ceviche, charred tomato, avocado, cilantro and old bay popcorn.

Crave Fishbar: Salmon sashimi tostada, avocado puree, Calabrian chili oil, grapefruit, crisp shallot, micro cilantro.

Calle Ocho: Ceviche Demorro, black grouper, pickled vegatables, calle ocho pique.

Alice’s Teacup: Mini pumpkin scones.

Treat House: Sea salt caramels, chocolate peanut butter, cookies and cream.



Dan’s Taste of Two Forks 2018

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Dan’s Papers is a weekly lifestyle magazine of all things Hampton’s. Every Summer they host/sponsor several parties out in the East End including Rosé Soirée, Chefs of the North Fork, Grill Hampton and Montaco.

On Saturday July 21st they held their 8th annual Taste of Two Forks event. A food and spirits party that showcased the “bounty of both the North and South Fork of Long Island”.

The event was held under the big tents overlooking Mecox Bay at Mecox Farms located at 19 horsemill lane in Bridgehampton, Long Island.

In addition to bites provided by local restaurants, there were local wines and wine from Italy, California and Chile, beer from Corona and Blue Moon, and several cocktail stations including the Jack Daniel line of whiskeys, the ever-present Tito’s vodka, Aperol, Campari and Espolõn tequila to name a few.

The celebrity host this year was David Burtka, the music provided by DJ Phresh and a portion of the ticket price went to benefit the all for the East End charity.

The weather was a concern since a big storm was forecast but the rains held off for most of the evening.


Some of the food I sampled:

The Basil House & Hotel: Basil soaked mozzarella,  heirloom tomato chutney, zucchini.

Simons Center Café: Long Island Fluke, citrus, watermelon, green peppercorn.

Buoy One Seafood: Local corn, fresh blue claw crab and black bean salad.

Shucker’s Lobster & Clam Bar: Blackened shrimp, guacamole, cucumber and jalapeno relish.

Topping Rose House: Local catch ceviche, coconut milk, calamansi gelee, crisp chicharron, shiso and spicy corn cake.

Claudio’s: Pan seared day boat scallops with cioppino broth and summer vegetables.

Events by Peter Ambrose: Carolina low country Paella.

Southampton Social Club: Sushi roll, scallion, avocado, cucumber, toro, sashimi, wasabi tobiko.

Little Red: Heirloom tomato and watermelon salad with ricotta salata, basil oil and balsamic reduction.

The Frisky Oyster: Peconic gold oysters Friskafella with garlic chipotle spinach and parmigiana aioli.

North Fork Roasting Co.: Sunkissed melon salad, Mexican mint, dehydrated lemon crystals, edible flowers.

Insatiable Eats Catering: Sicilian meatballs two ways.

North Sea Tavern: Shrimp ceviche.

Smoking Wolf BBQ: Slow smoked BBQ pulled pork sliders with pickles and onions.

SAAZ: Chicken tiki masala, mix vegetables, naan bread and basmati rice.



Wine On Wheels Fundraiser 2018

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On April 28th I attended the 7th annual Wheeling Forward Wine on Wheels grand tasting and auction. Wheeling Forward is an organization that helps people with disabilities live life to the fullest through advocacy, mentorship and support services. One of the founding members, Yannick Benjamin is a Sommelier so it’s not surprising that they have many wine themed fundraising events throughout the year.

This event was held at City Winery, a music venue and urban winery located at 155 Varick Street in lower Manhattan. Many distributors/importers donated well over 100 wines from most of the major wine regions in the world. Pouring at the event were dozens of Sommeliers who volunteered their time and it really was “great wines for a great cause”.

It was an eclectic list of old and new world wines with everything from great Champagne to Pet-Nats. Before the general public were let in they had a premium wine room that poured some interesting older vintages some of which I sampled:


2014 Cucamon Granache A Tribute to Grace “Hofer Vineyard” (Cucamonga Valley). Light red, leather notes on the nose with cherry red leather fruit.

1985 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot (Napa Valley). Medium amber with an amber rim, closed nose of roasted meat, dusty black cherry fruit, firm silky tannins. Still drinking nicely.

1991 Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon “Cherryblock” (Sonoma Valley). Amber in color, ripe plums, bell pepper and mint on the nose, chewy black leather fruit and dried leaf notes on the finish.

2010 Cerretto Barolo (Piedmont). Medium amber, tar and leather on the nose with moderate tannins on the firm finish.

Others that I sampled:

2015 Joseph Drouhin Chassange Montrachet

2013 Domaine Faiveley 1er Cru Clos de l’Ecu Monopole 1.5L

2013 Domaine de la Chapelle Corton Bressandes

2014 Chateau Mont Redon Chateauneuf du Pape 1.5L

2000 Chateau La Louviere

2005 Calon-Segur

2005 Chateau d’Issan

1999 Chateau Lagrange

2011 Brane-Cantenac

2011 Chateau Phelan Segur

2013 Bruno Giacosa Barolo “Le Rocche del Falletto”

2013 Mount Eden Chardonnay “Estate”

2015 DeLoach Vineyards Pinot Noir RRV

2009 Heitz Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

2015 Raymond Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve”

2014 Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon “Animo”

2015 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel




Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Fest 2018

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The 9th annual Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Festival was held on January 11-13. The event raised money for the arts in Albany and was three days of seminars, dinners, grand tastings and culinary and bartender competitions which included a cooking challenge and a Bloody Mary contest.

This year the event partnered with the Indonesian Diaspora Network which inspired the artwork on the poster and provided the food theme for the dinners.

The event was held at the Empire State Plaza, a 1970s era complex of monolithic state government buildings which cost around $2 billion to build at the time. I attended the grand tasting on Saturday afternoon which featured food from local restaurants, wine, spirits and craft beer as well as the chefs and bartenders competition. There was also a one seminar which I attended.  Like many consumer tastings, there was a lot of mid level wines but there was a table with some high end juice and I tasted some interesting whiskey.

Albany is the capitol of the state of New York but it’s a small town and the downtown area was pretty much a ghost town on the Saturday afternoon I was there.

Some of what I sampled:



Jack Daniels’s: single barrel rye, single barrel select, Sinatra select

Hudson: Manhattan rye, four grain bourbon

Eagle Rare bourbon 10yr

Ironweed rye



2015 Steele Chardonnay Cuvee

2015 Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

2013 Twonmey Cellars Merlot

2013 Gaja “Sori Tilden”

2012 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino

2014 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf du Pape

2016 19 Crimes Red Blend


Seminar: Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir Horizontal

The tasting room is just south of the city of Salem, Oregon and is one of the larger producing wineries in the state. I did stop by the huge tasting room when I visited Willamette Valley last Spring.

2014 Pinot Noir “Estate”. A blend of grapes from several vineyards, clear, dark red with a delicate perfume of dark cherry, some earth and petroleum, dusty fruit ending with tart black cherry.

2014 Pinot Noir “Tualatin”. Clear, medium dark red, red licorice on the nose, tight, bright delicate fruit with smoky notes on the finish.

2014 Pinot Noir “Elton”. Clear, dark purple, cherry and leather on the nose, tight fruit, firm acids with charred notes on the finish.

2014 Pinot Noir “Bernau Block”. Clear, dark red with mint, green herbs and strawberry jam on the nose, delicate and earthy notes and black licorice on the finish.



Toast Of France

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On October 8th I attended the Toast of France wine event. The tasting was a fundraiser in which 100% of proceeds benefit Wheeling Forward and Hurricane Relief.

The event was held at Le Dû’s wine shop at 600 Washington Street in lower Manhattan where I’ve been to many a wine tasting in the past. It was hosted by Somms, Yannick Benjamin, one of the co-founders of Wheeling Forward and by Jean-Luc Le Dû.

All of the French wine regions were represented with a table of wines served by volunteer Sommeliers. There was a live and silent auction, oysters in the Champagne room, cheese and paté in the main room, and some French guy strolling around playing the accordion. It was an enjoyable afternoon of sampling wines from all of France.

Some of what I sampled:



NV Krug “Grand Cuvee” En Jeroboam

NV Larmandier-Bernier “Longitude” En Magnum

NV Marc Hebert Brut Rosé


2014 Domaine Christine Moreau Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos”

2014 Pierre Morey Meursault

2014 Domaine Antonin Guyon Pugliny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Pucelles”

2013 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Cazetiers”


2015 Domaine des Billards Saint Amour

2015 Domaine de Haute Combe Julienas

2013 Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent “La Roche”


2009 Le Petit Caillou de Ducru

2009 Chateau Bourgneuf

2014 Chateau Cartier

2012 Sirene de Giscours

2012 Chateau de Sales


2016 Domaine Pabiot Puilly Fume

2012 Domaine de la Chevalerie Bourgueil “Galichets”


2008 Chateau d’Arlay Vin Jaune

2012 Domaine Berthet-Bondet “Tradition”


2010 Domaine Trimbach Pinot Gris

2012 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris “Clos Windsbuhl”


2014 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc

2013 Pierre Gaillard Cote Rotie

2014 Domaine J. Despesse Cornas

2012 Domaine de Beaurenard  Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge


2009 Domaine Hauvette Baux de Provence “Cornaline”

2012 Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol

2014 Mas Daumas Gassace Rouge


2014 Domaine du Clos des Fees Les Sorcieres

2014 Chateau Haute Serre



Wine On Wheels Fundraiser 2017

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On Saturday afternoon, April 29th I attended the 6th annual Wine On Wheels Grand Tasting fundraiser. The event raised money for the Wheeling Forward organization whose mission is to “help people with disabilities experience life to the fullest and enable them to see possibility where others see insurmountable obstacles”.

The fundraise was held at City Winery at 155 Varick Street in Manhattan. The event featured over 200 wines served by over 60 local Sommelier and cocktails created by local Mixologists.

The afternoon was warm and the air-conditioning lacking so I spent a lot of time in the “Champagne Room” where the wine storage tanks are located which was cooler than the rest of the building. There was much juice to drink and people having fun for a good cause. Some of what I sampled:


NV Ruinart Rosé

NV Ruinart Blanc de Blanc

2004 Ruinart Blanc de Blanc

NV La Caravalle Rosé

NV La Caravalle Blanc de Blanc

NV La Caravalle “Cuvée Nina”

NV Marion-Bosser

NV Géraud Loriot

NV Jose Dhondt

NV Tattinger Rosé

NV Laurnet-Perrier Rosé

2014 Hirsh Vineyards Pinot Noir San Andreas Fault

2014 Hirsh Vineyards Pinot Noir East Ridge

2014 Hirsh Vineyards Block 8

2015 Costa Graia Rosato del Frusinate

2013 Costa Graia Piglio

2014 Domaine Faiveley Mercurey Clos des Mygland

2012 Domaine Michel Viré-Clessé

2005 Nicolas Potel Beaune Les Greves

2015 Marisa Cuomo Bianco Fuore

2015 Singulier Trousseau

2014 Chateau de Vaux Les Gryphees

2014 Domaine Durant Saint-Joseph




Wine On Wheels Fundraiser


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On Saturday May 2nd I attended the Wine on Wheels fundraiser run by the Wheeling Forward organization. The event was held at City Winery on 155 Varick Street in Manhattan.

Wheeling Forward is an organization that “helps people with disabilities experience life to the fullest and enable them to see possibility where others see insurmountable obstacles”. They work with individuals to provide advocacy, mentorship and support services to reach their goal.

The event consisted of a Grand Tasting with over 175 wines poured by 50 local Somms, Fast-Track seminars and a Silent Auction.

Some of what I sampled:

2004 Dom Perignon Blanc de Blanc. Always start with something sparking.

NV Krug Brut Grand Cuvée

2006 Perrier-Jouet “Belle Époque” Brut

Manoir du Kinkiz “Cidre de Fouesranz “. A trio of ciders from Brittany, lots of character, very wine-like, tasty.

Manoir du Kinkiz “Cornouaille”

Manoir du Kinkiz “Cuvée Blanche”

2010 Domaine Francois Buffet Volnay “Clos des Chenas”. Medium red, black fruit, dried herbs.

2010 Domaine Marchand Grillot Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Perrier”. Medium red, tart.

2013 Francesco Cirelli Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Black in color, slate on the nose, chunky wet stone on the firm but balanced finish.

2011 Podere Ciona “Montegrossoli” Four wines from this producer poured by the winemaker, all very nice. This one was clear medium red with smoky black cherry on the nose with concentrated bitter cherry on the finish, good  balance.

2011 Podere Ciona “Semifonte”. A Merlot based wine, dark red to black with slate and roasted meat on the nose, silky dark cherry fruit, great balance with roasted meat notes on the finish.

2010 Podere Ciona Chianti Classico “Riserva”. Medium red with a pretty nose of sweet tar and pencil shavings, silky with sweet tannin at the end.

2007 Podere Ciona “Le Diacce”. The flagship wine of the estate and Merlot based, dark red to black with ripe berries and cooked meat on the nose, deeply concentrated with ripe fruit, graphite and silky tannin.

2006 Chateau Giscours. Medium red, toasted oak on the nose and oak on the fruit, firm tannin.

2003 Clos De L’Oraroire Grand Cru Classé. Dark red with an amber robe with a big perfume of smoke, sweet fruit and ripe berries, silky and balanced on the moderate to long finish. Tasty.

2000 Chateau Les Orme de Pez. Medium to dark red with a pretty perfume of sweet red fruit, tight and tannic.

2009 Echo de Lynch-Bages. Dark red with a closed nose of brambly dark fruit, concentrated and finishes tart.

2011 Flowers “Sea View Ridge” Pinot Noir. Light red and slightly cloudy with floral, ripe flowers on the nose, smoky fruit with some crisp acidity at the end.




Chefs And Champagne 2014

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Last Saturday evening I attended the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne fundraiser event that had Bobby Flay as the guest honoree. The event featured more than 40 chefs who were on had to serve bites of their signature dishes. There was also a silent auction. The event was held out East under the big tents at the Wöllfer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack.

Wines were supplied by Wöllfer Estate, Champagne by Tattinger, beer from Belgium including Stella Artois, Leffe Blonde and Hoegaarden and cocktails by Tito’s vodka. Since it was a long drive back home I had to moderate the wine consumption and limited myself to glasses of Champagne and rosé

Tattinger Brut “La Francaise” NV (Champagne). My Champagne of the day.

2013 Wöllfer Estate Rosé (Long Island). Their “regular” rosé, Merlot based, light salmon pink in color with strawberry notes on the nose and fruit with moderate acids and was easy drinking.

2013 Wöllfer Estate Rosé “Grandioso” (Long Island). The base varietal Merlot was fermented in six-year old French oak barrels. Pale copper in color, earthier on the nose than the regular rose with notes of wildflowers and was tight and crisp.

Other wines from Wöllfer that were poured:

2011 Chardonnay

2012 Diosa Late Harvest Chardonnay

2011 Merlot

2011 Fatalis Fatum

2006 Grapes of Roth Merlot

Couldn’t drink a lot at the event but I could certainly eat plenty,  signature dishes that I sampled and the Chefs that created them included:

Lindsay Autry: Deviled Crab with Summer Vegetable Slaw, Melba Toast and Hot Sauce.

Steven Deveraux Greene: Watermelon Gazpacho with Peekytoe Crab, Jalepeno, Coriander and Yuzu.

Chris Jaeckle: Tuna Crudo with Kizami Wasabi, Olives and Basil.

Brian Loiacono: Lettuce-Cucumber Gazpacho with Poached Langoustines, Pink Peppercorns and Cilantro.

Chad Brauze: Apricot-Fossil Farms Quail Ballontine with Paprikash Vinaigrette.

Todd Mitgang: Seared Black Bass with Sun Gold Tomatoes, Wild Arugula, Salsa Verde and Crispy Artichoke Leaves.

David Santos: Charred Portuguese Octopus with Cured Tomatoes, Olive Petals and Almond Foam.

Alex Guarnaschelli: Homemade Riccota Crostini with Heirloom Tomatoes, Flying Pigs Farm Bacon and Ancho Chile Salt.

Jason Hall: Crispy Suckling Pig Pressé with Farofa and Stone Fruit Mostarda.

James Carpenter: House-Cured Gravlax with Black River Caviar and Aquaponic Greens.

Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth: Blue Crab Waldorf Salad, Sliced Green Apple Wrapped Pecans, Grapes, Celery, Lemon and Blue Crab with Buttermilk Yogurt.

Hugh Magnum: Smoked Bone-In Beef Ribs with Chimichurri and Picked Ramp Raita.

John Greeley: Cherry Smoked Fossil Farms Duck with Rocket, Sweet Corn, Pine Island Onion-Ash, Salt and Barrel-Aged Pepper Sauce.

Coby Farrow: Scallop Crudo with Preserved Lemon Custard.

Shane McBride: Smoked Leg of Fossil Farms Lamb Hogie with Pickled Sweet Corn.

Rufino Rengifo: Za’atar Grilled Lamb Chops with Tabbouleh and Greek Yogurt.



Two Wine Events And A Cold

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A couple of weekends ago I attended two nice wine events. On Saturday I attended a rundraiser for Wheeling Forward, an organization that helps people with disabilities that was held at City Winery at 155 Varick Street and featured over a hundred wines donated for the event. Sundays event was the Grand Tasting which was part of a week long food and wine festival sponsored by Westchester Magazine with the wines provided for by Zacheys wine shop located in Scarsdale. The event was held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in White Plains and featured many local restaurants serving bites of food and much good juice. The problem was that I had a massive head cold and my palate was shot. I mean completely shot, I couldn’t smell anything, all aromas were closed down which meant that white wines tasted flat and red wines tasted like bitter cherries. Everything tasted the same. At both events I ended up drinking sparking wines because the bubbles at least made the juice interesting. At the Westchester event that included:

Gosset Brut Excellence NV

Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV

2006 Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque

2002 Dom Ruinart

Henroit Souverain Brut NV

Barons de Rothschild Brut NV

Chateau de L’Aulee Brut Intense NV

2013 Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé

2010 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs

Roederer Estate Brut NV Brut Prestige NV

2011 Raventos I Blanc De Nit Cava Rosé

Ferrari Brut NV

Berlucchi Cuvee 61 Rosé NV

It was an interesting weekend in learning on how much the ability to pick up aromas affected how wine tastes.


Dressner Fundraiser 2014

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Saturday afternoon I attended a fundraiser sponsored by Chambers Street Wines and Louis Dressner importers for Partners in Health. It’s been an annual event for a while and the past few years has been held at City Hall Restaurant on 131 Duane Street. The event was open to the consumer and ran from 1-5 and over 100 wines were poured, mostly French with some Italian. I have to admit I had a head cold and congestion which made picking up the aromas from the wines difficult so most of them came across as closed on the nose.


I tried a few Muscadet from a couple of producers, I usually think of Muscadet as light and crisp, something to drink young with oysters. I tried a few with some bottle age to them and was impressed with the results. The wines gained a creaminess and complexity as they aged.

Domaine de la Pepiere                                                                                                                             2012 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie (Loire). Their basic wine, light yellow and easy to drink.

2012 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Les Gras Mouton” (Loire). Single vineyard, light yellow with tight fruit, tart with lemon notes on the finish.

2010 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Chateau-Thebaud Clos des Morines” (Loire). More body than the Mouton with good acidity.

2009 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “3” (Loire). Nice minerality with a mouth-watering finish.

Domaine Luneau-Papin,                                                                                                                2009 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Le L d’Or” (Loire). Light peaches on the fruit with nice acidity on the long finish.

2005 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Le L d’Or” (Loire). Great body followed by firm acidity with citrus and peaches on the finish.

Nusserhof 2010 Vino Bianco Blaterle. (Trentino Alto-Adige). An unusual wine, Blaterle is the grape varietal, yellow with some earth notes on the nose.

Maison Brulee Vin de France 2012 “Poussiere de Lune”. (Loire). Another unusual wine,  an orange wine made with Sauvignon Blanc and was pale red with moderate body.


Alain Coudet 2012 “Clos de la Roillette” Fleurie (Burgundy). Cru Beaujolais, dark purple with a nose of warm, cooked fruit and crushed black berries and was tight with bitter red licorice on the finish.

Georges Descombes 2012 Brouilly (Burgundy). Cru Beaujolais, dark purple with dried mushroom and forest floor on the nose with crushed red fruit and a nice grip.

Cascina Tavijin 2012 Grignolino D’Asti (Piedmont). Very light red in color with a closed nose, more fruit than the color would suggest with good balance with notes of dark flowers on the finish.

Monte dall” Ora 2009 Valpolicella Classico Ripasso “Sausto” (Veneto). Medium red with silky medium fruit with bitter cherry notes on the balanced finish.

Poderi Sanguineto 2011 Rosso di Montalcino (Tuscany). Medium red with dusty, silky fruit with tart cherry notes on the nice balance.

Domaine Bernard Baudry 2011 Chinon “Les Clos Guillot”. (Loire). Dark red in color with dusty fruit and silky tannin with a firm grip.

Domaine Bernard Baudry 2011 Chinon “Domaine” (Loire). Dark red with notes of slate and crushed rocks on the fruit with velvet tannin at the end.