Wine & Spirits Top 100 2023

On February 15th, I attended the 3rd annual Wine & Spirits magazine’s Top 100 wine event.

Wine & Spirits magazine was founded in 1982 and focuses on, not surprisingly, the personalities, geography and news of the wine and spirits industry. They also evaluate and rate wines and spirits.

This was a tasting of what they considered the top 100 wines of the world for this year. It was also a benefit for the NY/NJ Baykeeper, an organization which bills itself as an advocate for the NY/NJ harbor estuary.

The event was held at the perennial event venue, the Metropolitan Pavillion located at 123 West 18 Street in Manhattan and was open to both Trade and Consumer.

They had a good sampling of sparkling, rosé, white, red and dessert wines of the world and I particularly enjoyed the California Cabernets. Whoever was responsible for the food at the event did a good job this time around, there was some very tasty nibbles to go with all that good wine.

Some of my highlights:


2020 Fess Parker Chardonnay Sanford & Benedict Vineyard: Light gold with toasty notes, nice balance.

2021 Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Blanc: Medium gold, ripe flowers and lime on the nose with pineapple and lime notes on the crisp finish.

2019 Zind-Humbrecht St. Urbain Pinot Gris: Medium gold with a closed nose of green herbs, nice floral finish with a good balance.


2019 Corison St Helena Cabernet Sauvignon “Sunbasket Vineyard”: Clear medium purple, closed nose, juicy, silky fruit ending with firm, silky tannins.

2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt: Clear medium brick, dried leaf on the nose, juicy black fruit with mint notes, firm black cherry finish.

2018 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Red Rock Terrace”: Opaque dark red, black licorice and forest floor on the nose, silky red fruit with dark chocolate notes, great balance.

2018 Diamond Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Gravelly Meadow”: Opaque dark red, perfume of black licorice and forest floor, concentrated with dark chocolate, slate and cherry notes ending with a silky grip.

2015 Jordan Vineyards Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Nice to try a Cab with some bottle aging, clear medium red, violets on the nose, silky and balanced.

2018 Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Monte Bello”: Clear medium red, black licorice on the nose with silky and dusty fruit ending with a balanced finish.

2019 Sullivan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon “Founders Reserve”: Opaque dark red, roasted nuts on the nose, thick with dark chocolate and black fruit notes, moderate tannins and acidity, drinking nicely.

2019 Delas Freres Cote Rotie “La Landonne”: Opaque dark red, roast meat on the nose, concentrated dark fruit with ripe, silky tannins.

2018 Fratelli Alessandria Barolo “Gramolere”: Clear light brick, closed nose of tar, dusty and tight.

2019 Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore: Clear medium brick, leather and mint notes on the nose, dusty fruit with silky tannins, nice balance.

2019 Petrolo Barolo Val d’Arno di Sopra Boggina Riserva: Clear light brick, tree bark on the nose, silky, earthy fruit with firm, silky tannins.

2017 Produttori del Barberesco “Rabaja”: Clear light brick, closed nose of anise, silky and tight

2016 Sandrone Barolo “Vite Talin”: Clear light brick, dark chocolate and dirt on the nose, tight rasperry fruit ending with big tannins.

2017 Vega Sicilia Tinto Valbuena 5: Clear medium red, leather notes on the nose, silky red fruit with a nice balance.

Raw Wine Festival NYC 2022

On November 13th I attended the fall edition of the Raw Wine Festival. The festival, which was also held in London and Berlin as well as New York City, showcases wines from around the world made with few, if any additives.

Their mission statement is: “Raw Wine celebrates wines with emotion. Wines that have a humanlike or living presence. They are also wines that are an authentic expression of a place.”

The event was held at the Knockdown Center at 52-19 Flushing Avenue in Maspeth, Queens. It’s a music venue in an over 100-year-old brick building that was once a glass factory and a door factory.

This venue is huge, pretty much like a brick airplane hangar. It made for a experience different from the Spring edition of the festival when they hosted the event in Bushwick. That event was mobbed with most tables three deep to get to the pourer. This place was so huge overcrowding wasn’t an issue this time around.

Natural wines are a niche market that has grown tremendously in the last few years. At this event there were over 200 wines from all the major wine producing countries of the world and a few from outlier countries such as Georgia, Slovakia, Macedonia and Switzerland. The United States was represented with a handful of wineries from California, Washington, Oregon and New York with the largest showing of wines from France and Italy. All types of wine were poured with still, sparking, red, white, rose and pet-nats.

Belmont Park Tasting

There are many venues where the professional and consumer wine tastings are held. Some are small, intimate tastings in an office or in a restaurant, some in much bigger venues with a much larger selection of product. But I have to say that one of the most exotic venues I’ve attended for a tasting is at a racetrack.

On May 21st I attended the Belmont Uncorked wine tasting at Belmont Park racetrack which is located at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, just across the Queens border in Nassau County.

Belmont Park was built in 1905, during the heyday of horseracing it was one of many racetracks in New York which included Meadowlands Raceway, Aqueduct Raceway, Yonkers Raceway and Roosevelt Raceway. All of those have stopped hosting racing and Belmont Park is the last holdout. It’s an old school facility with a lot of parkland which on the Saturday afternoon of the wine tasting was full of people having picknicks or just wandering around enjoying the sunshine (and betting on the horses too).

There are professional tastings and there are tastings open to the consumers. With the consumer tastings, some are aimed at the wine geeks while other tastings are geared to the novice drinker, those for the novice drinkers are more of a wine party than a wine tasting.

Going to these events I don’t have an expectation that there will be much upper tier, or trophy wines poured. I have to admit the last time I went to this event I was disappointed, it’s not so much that the wines came from unknown producers but that the wines were terrible. This time around I’m happy to say the quality improved. Other than Kendall Jackson and Duckwalk Vineyards, the wines were still from unknown labels but at least they were drinkable on this nice Spring afternoon.

NY Wine Fest Winter Edition 2020


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This past Saturday on January 25th I attended the New York Wine Festival. It was a consumer event with tasting sessions in the afternoon and in the evening. I attended in the evening. The event was held at The Tunnel event venue at 269 11th Avenue on the west side of Manhattan.

These bi-yearly wine festivals are run by the same company at venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan. They are more or less cookie-cuter versions of each other with the same food and wine vendors in attendance. They’re not events for hardcore wine and spirit drinkers but rather events for wine and spirit neophytes who are looking to sample something new while socializing in a party atmosphere.

They poured a wide selection of wines from Italy, France, Spain, South Africa and the United States. Local wines from New York State were represented by Rooftop Reds, an urban winery based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard using New York State fruit and by Pumphouse Wines which poured locally produced red, white and rosé on tap.



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



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.



Tap & Cork Brooklyn

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This past Saturday afternoon I attended the Tap & Cork Brooklyn Beer and Wine Festival held at Restoration Plaza located at 1360 Fulton Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

I had attended the event a couple of years ago and it was a different event this year. The event I attended a couple of years ago took place in Brooklyn as well but at an indoor venue. There were many more wine (and beer) stations which were staffed by someone involved either with the importer or distributer of the product they were pouring.

This years event was more neighborhood block party and Summer festival than a wine tasting. It was held outdoors, under tents with less product and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers instead of salespeople. And a block party it was, a huge crowd of people were having fun enjoying wine, beer and the DJ on hot August afternoon in Brooklyn.

A couple of wines out of the ordinary were the 2014 True Wine Connoisseurs White and the 2013 True Wine Connoisseurs Red. These wines, made in Brazil, were from the Brooklyn duo of Will Davis and Sadat X who produce a wine tasting video series and the wines were nice and easy drinking.