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16 September 2007

Paging Dr. Frank. Rkatsiteli, Stat!

2006_rkatsiteli Dr. Frank, Can I call you Konstantin?  How about, "Big K?"  I want to congratulate you on producing such a fine, compelling white wine from an unheard-of Georgian (as in Eastern Europe) grape variety.  Your Rkatsiteli is zesty, in the Jungwein/Vino Joven style.  It's a mouthful of spritz, fresh peach & pear and a hint of greenness (in the running-across-an-alpine-meadow sense).  Huzzah to you, sir.
Get it: Dr. Frank Rkatsiteli, 2006 ($25).

Champagne_ad However, Doc, you've got some splainin' to do.  When I hit your 'Wine Facts' page to have a gander of all the oeno-goodies you produce, I see something that is a mite bit disturbing.  I see something called, "Chateau Frank Champagnes."  Unless I've missed something (i.e. did you recently purchase a patch of vines in the Aube of Seine-et-Marne?), your "champagne" is produced in upstate NY from grapes grown near the Finger Lakes, no?  Well then, please Kahuna Konstantin, drop the champagne moniker and use the less confusing label of, "New York Sparkling Wine."  Hell, follow the Spanish (see: Cava) example and come up with a name for your bubbly.  How about, "Frank's Fizz" or "Dom Konstantin"? Anything, just do away with bogarting the Champagne title.  Merci!

31 July 2006

The Few, The Proud, The Combiners

Combinationslogo_2_4 Great movements don't always begin with a bang.  For example, take Combinations.  The July installment only had a few participants.  Yet, I'll take quality over quantity any day of the week.  The theme for July Combos was 'go green.'  I challenged all d.i.y. Sommeliers and chefs to create a menu based on fresh herbs out of their own gardens, from a farmers market, or green grocery.  My Combinations menu was an Italian-influenced exercise in Iron Chef-ing.


The herbal building blocks for this menu all came from my humble herb & tomato garden.  I selected rosemary, basil, sage (two varieties: 'common' and yellow-leaf) and sweet grape tomatoes.  Out of this green (& red) bounty, I created the following:

Fried Sage Leaves - If you've never fried up a little sage, you are missing out on a highly addictive appetizer & garnish.  Many of the fried sage recipes I found call for veggie oil as the frying liquid.  Instead, I decided to 'shallow' fry these tasty leaves in butter.  Make sure you fry the leaves until crisp.  Soggy leaves are just sad.  Fatty and high calorie?  Oh yes - deliciously so.

Linguine with Pancetta, Sauteed Grape Tomatoes and Fresh Basil - I based this pasta dish on a familiar epicurious recipe.  Seeing as how my grape tomatoes are considerably sweeter than your average cherry tomato, I opted to up the crushed red pepper and basil content of this easy-as-pie pasta entree.

Pan-Fried Boneless Pork Chop - Nothing terribly creative here.  However, before adding the pork to the hot, shimmering olive oil, I infused the oil with fresh rosemary.  This had the effect of adding just a hint of rosemary flavor to the finished chop.  I also discovered that a fried sage leaf is the perfect garnish for pork chops.  The two pair quite nicely together.


Continue reading for the wine combos..

Continue reading "The Few, The Proud, The Combiners" »

21 March 2006

A Long Island Wine Weekend wine

Lirose Beau’s been banging on my email door lately, wondering where the heck I’ve been. Where are my posts? Has the Wine Goddess died? Nope. Wine Goddess has been busy doing a whole lot of, well, nothing too exciting…except for this past weekend, when Lenn organized a gathering of fellow oenophiles for a Long Island Tasting Weekend.

I was so inspired, I had to come out of hiding and write.

Being local to the NYC area, I couldn’t turn down Lenn’s invitation: a BYO dinner on Saturday night, and a Long Island rosé tasting on Sunday morning. We drove out to wine country on Saturday afternoon and checked into our home for the night - the Harvest Inn B&B in Peconic. What a great place! The Harvest Inn is charming and cozy like a B&B should be, but with modern amenities, and super-soft sheets, that make the stay a little more splendid. Bonus: because it’s relatively new construction, there are no squeaky floorboards to keep you up at night. The innkeepers, Darolyn and Chris, are quick to make you feel right at home, and they routinely welcome guests in the evening with a wine tasting hour (which we skipped because our wine lineup for the night was already too daunting). And if this isn’t enough to entice you, Chris cooks up a mean gourmet breakfast each morning to get your day started off with a bang.

Continue reading "A Long Island Wine Weekend wine" »

22 February 2006

Long Island Globetrotter

OldsuitRemember way back when we decided to try a little blog-buzz experiment with  Macari's Cabernet Franc?  I sent samples to several food & wine bloggers.  Some enjoyed the wine; others - not so much.  One of the intended recipients of said samples was Sir Andrew of Spittoon.  I was curious to see how his British palate would take to this wine, which in my opinion, is a unique representative of Long Island vino.  And Long Island is where this wine's incredible journey began..

From Long Island, Macari's Cab Franc flew coach to Utah (shhhh. Don't tell anyone).  This was in October, mind you.  A few week's later, the wine & I took a drive to the local Ship-It Shop.  It was packed, wrapped and taped for a long, 3-4 week voyage to Britainia.  I expected it would arrive at the Spittoon household sometime around the Christmas holiday.  After contacting Andrew a few times, and fearing he felt I was full of fiction regarding the 'tale of the supposedly shipped bottle,' I began to suspect the wine had missed its intended recipient.  Perhaps it had found a home with one of Andrew's neighbors.  Perhaps, a courier, driver, or ship's captain had discovered the parcel somewhere along the route and treated themselves to a nice glass of Long Island's finest for dinner.  In any event, My Macari was missing.

Continue reading "Long Island Globetrotter" »

10 January 2006

Long Island + Merlot?

SonnycherLenndevours contributing columnist (and Long Island Winemaker), Charles Massoud, poses an interesting question: Should Long Island be associated with a particular variety?  A group of LI vintners posits that Merlot & Long Island wine go together like Sonny & Cher, like death & taxes, like the Patriots spanking the Steelers!  And to make things interesting, Mr. Massoud invites your comments, protests and/or questions.  If you've got an opinion on the matter, jet on over there and discuss.

Tagged with: + +long island 

09 December 2005

There Oughta Be a Law! (Take 2)

Stickup_3 I’ve never been to The Federalist in Boston, but I’ve always wanted to go. According to an article in the latest issue of QRW (Winter 2005/2006, p 13), The Federalist has a unique and amazing selection of wines; however, many people seem to balk at the wine list prices. The restaurant’s general manager, William "Chip" Sander, defends their high prices by stating, "What’s forgotten in all this is that no serious restaurant can survive just on fine food. Preparing it costs a lot of money. Great food comes to them from sales of wine and spirits."

I hate this excuse.

Chip is admitting that wine prices are jacked up in order to cover the costs of preparing food, and that all serious restaurants must do this to survive. But here’s my question: Why must we, the wine drinkers, subsidize other customers who merely eat and not drink? If I have to pay $100 for a bottle of wine that cost the restaurant $25, then the guy at the next table who drinks only water and orders a $25 tuna steak should pay $100 for it too. Why am I paying more for my wine so he can have a better meal?

Surely a restaurant won’t last too long if they start charging $100 for entrees. But it doesn’t seem fair that wine drinkers have to support the restaurant’s overhead. Why not mark up the food a bit more, mark down the wines a bit more, and even it out? Charge more for food and less for wine. Maintain a standard profit margin across the menu, whether it’s for food or drink. There’s far less work involved in opening a bottle of cabernet than in creating a dish of Beef Wellington, so why put a higher markup on the item that’s actually easier for the restaurant to prepare?

Chip’s statement also irritates me because it implies that inflated wine prices equal great food. Well I’ve been to a number of restaurants with expensive wine lists, and the food has often been average at best. I’ve also been to a few restaurants with modestly priced wine lists, and the food has been outstanding. For example: New York City’s Landmarc (and no, I don’t secretly work for them, even though I rave about them all the time). Their wine markups are extremely low – probably not much higher than their markups on food. But the restaurant does extraordinary business, the meals are excellent, and I’m sure that chef owner Marc Murphy is surviving quite well, despite the fact that he isn’t gouging people on wine prices to cover his food costs.

I'm done venting, yet again, on this topic.  Thanks for hearing me out.

06 December 2005

More Macari & Methuselahs

More Macari
Chas the Winetaster took the Macari plunge and tried the freebie bottle of Cabernet Franc.  The meat of Chas's review:

"To my taste, the wine really demanded some food along with it – and some fatty food went perfectly"

Read the rest of the winetasting fun with Cabernet Franc here.  To summarize, we've got

What's the moral of this story?  More wineries/importers/brokers should join the conversation and see how their wine gets buzzed by the blogosphere.

More Methuselah
As I explained yesterday, a Methuselah is a large format bottle of Champagne or Burgundy - 8x bigger than the typical 750ml-er.  Below is an actual pic (click to enlarge) of Taittinger's big 'ol Methuselah.  It was opened at a party hosted by the WG in honor of her SO receiving a ProMo; alas she didn't invite ME..


19 November 2005

Castello di Borghese

As I scanned the parking lot/wading pool, looking for a flotation device, I was greeted by the wizened hound, Trevie.  This unique canine acted as Castello di Borghese Vineyards' (nee Hargrave Vineyards) welcoming committee.  Trevie is the faithful subject of Prince Marco & Princess Ann Borghese - proprietors of the estate.  My visit to the vineyards and winery, were brief in light of the precipitation situation.  Lenn, WG, and I soon retired to the tasting room and started our sensory calisthenics.  Some highlights of CdiB's tasting table:

Castello di Borghese's Cabernet grapes rue the day they proclaimed themselves, "thirsty."

Continue reading "Castello di Borghese" »

17 November 2005

Slowly Bulding the Buzz

Macari2Some prefer the quick buzz.  I, however, prefer a nice, slowly building buzz that evolves into a roar.  Our little demonstration of blog power began with just a few bottles of Macari Cabernet Franc (Long Island, New York) sent to the following blogs:

Stephen kicked things off in a grand way by creating a recipe for the wine based on my initial tasting note.  Yesterday, Stephencooks reader, Dan, joined in the conversation:

"I'm a big fan of the Macari Cabernet Franc - I think it's one of the best ones on Long Island. One of the other things I like about Macari is their organic (and part of their vineyards are biodynamic) viticulture as well.

Cab Franc, by the way, is one of the ancestors of Cab Sauvignon - which is a cross between the Cab Franc and the white grape, Sauvignon Blanc."

I'm curious to see how our other freebie recipients contribute to this convo about Macari's Cab Franc.  I don't expect everyone to feel the same way as Stephen's reader.  In fact, I'm excited to see how the diversity represented by these five blogs shapes the Macari conversation.  More buzz roar coming soon..


16 November 2005

There Oughta Be a Law!

StickupHow many times have you started a sentence with, “There ought to be law” and finished it with “against price-gouging on restaurant wine lists? Okay, maybe you haven’t used those exact words, but you know what I’m talking about. Too many restaurants are gouging their patrons, and I’m sick and tired of it! Some patrons know the markups are crazy but pay them anyway. Others are clueless that they’re being robbed. They have a hard enough time just deciphering the appellations on a wine list, let alone knowing if the prices they’re paying are fair.

I have the illuminating opportunity of working in a wine shop and seeing the wholesale prices that shops and restaurants actually shell out for their wines. We mark up wines by about 50%, which is the retail norm and which covers our operating costs while allowing us to make a small profit. Sure we could mark things up much higher than that, but our price-savvy consumers would catch on and start shopping at the competition. Why would you pay $150 for Joseph Phelps Insignia when you could get it down the street for $100, right?

Continue reading "There Oughta Be a Law!" »

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