Monthly Archives: February 2009

Blending Pinot

sscn0531I got to accompany winemaker John Levenberg in the One Woman winery as he tested, tasted and planned his blends for the 2008 pinot noir grown by Russ McCall in Cutchogue.

We started with five samples from different clones and different barrels/tanks, tasted each separately, evaluated their strengths and weaknesses and then decided which would bring the best to a blend.

John, ever the modern winemaker, basically makes wine with his laptop filled with spreadsheets of tiny numbers and an indecipherable short hand — easily explained if you have a patience for numbers. Continue reading


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Delicious 10 year old

sscn0537One of my first introductions to wine was when I work at An American Place restaurant, a good 20 years ago. (Yee god.) The place was one of the first to focus on local food, in a macro sense. It only served ingredients and wine from American. The only exception was the fancy sugar cubes imported from France.

The wine list contained all the usual suspects of American brands, including one staff favorite, Lolonis, distinguished by the lady bug on the label advertising the winery’s organic bona fides.

I think it’s been that long since I tasted their wine, and this week I had the opportunity to drink the 1999 Private Reserve Merlot from Redwood Valley. Initially I was dismayed because the cork crumbled when I tried to open it and had to settle for pushing the remainder down into the bottle. But the wine was bright ruby, the color of a much younger wine and it was packed with fruit, gentle tannins, good acidity and a long beautiful finish. None of the green merlot flavors that I’m afraid are typical on Long Island merlot. I might not have picked this out blind as merlot, as it wasn’t typical, but rich. It was also very clean and evident that it has many years ahead of it. Continue reading

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Cambie at Bowler

dscn0522aLast Monday I had the chance to taste some wine at the offices of David Bowler Wine with Southern Rhone great Phillipe Cambie, importer Peter Weygandt and Vincent Maurel of Clos St. Jean of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

We tasted 10 wines and it was pretty great because there were only a few of us sitting around a table. I had just come from a Vias tasting, which also presented a select group of wine — in this case all red. I find this a much better environment than the football-field sized tasting like those held at the Marriot Marquis. Mostly because I’m a lightweight and get drunk. I don’t know how others do it.

The wines were all rich and delicious. Continue reading

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South of France

Last week I attended a seminar at the International Wine Center that focused on the wine of southern France.

Make that the South of France, the new marketing push from Sopexa, the biggest food/wine marketer in France. The seminar was more than a commercial and contained information valuable to anyone studying wine, as well as a tasting with some impressive sommeliers. There was André Compeyre, who worked for Alain Ducasse and is now a consultant for the Les Halles restaurant group (where I had a realy good steak frites on Monday, but that’s another story) and the ubitiqutous Jean-Luc le Dû, former sommelier for Daniel and now the owner of his own shop in Manhattan.

First the info: the trade groups for the wine of the Langeudoc, Vin de Pays d’Oc and the wine from Roussillon joined forces in June 2006 to create one umbrella brand South of France in order to promote their wines. Continue reading

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Save the teeth

I went to the dentist today for a check up and the dental hygenist told me that wine tasting can be bad for your teeth, and not just in the turn-them-black way. The acid in the wine, or the acid in anything, eats away tooth enamel especially at the gum line. She suggested carrying a little bottle of floride rinse to use after tasting wine.

Good idea! This is one of the advantages of going to a dentist in a wine region.

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More on Israeli wine

The question of kosher. At the Israeli wine tasting on Tuesday Mark Squires addressed the the stigma of kosher wine and most Americans’ feeling that it isn’t very good. As he pointed out, there are 200 wineries in Israel and 150 of them are not kosher. But most of the output is. The non-kosher wineries are mostly boutique wineries with low production. He added that Hebrew National and Coca-Cola are kosher, but no one is bother by that.

The confusion, he believes, stems from mevushal wine, which has been flashed pasteurized — not boiled — in accordance with Jewish law. I’m no expert in Jewish law. Here’s the wiki link.

Here’s the take home message. All Israeli wine is not kosher. Not all kosher wine has been boiled, only mevushal. Coke is kosher.

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Israeli Wine Tasting

dscn05051The wine hiatus is over and tasting season in New York City is in full swing. The 2004 Brunellos are in and Michael Skurnik had a tasting two weeks ago heralding their arrival. It was mobbed.

But on Tuesday I went to something much more interesting: the first wine tasting of exclusively Israeli wines in the U.S. Held at the Prince George Ballroom in 27th Street. The tasting featured 20 producers who brought with them two to seven wines.

The event was kicked off by a talk from Mark Squires, above, of The Wine Advocate, who discussed the state of selling Israeli wine, as quality has been improving. He did a very good job, and kept it interesting while one of the Capsuto Freres kept interrupting him. Continue reading

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