Friday, October 20, 2017

3 Ways to Enjoy Wines of Chile

Three wines, three memories and that is how wine should be enjoyed. With Chile’s fast growing wine region and we’ll explore two producers Ventisquero, and Valdivieso. We’ll take a look at a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sparkling Rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc.

We’ll begin with a selection of a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Ventisquero harvested from their Trinidad Vineyard in the Maipo Valley. The vineyard is 150 to 260 meters above sea level and planted with 377 hectares of vines consisting of Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah, fermented in stainless steel and 70% was aged in French oak for 10 months and then 4 months in the bottle before release. It has a beautiful intense ruby red color. It’s a complex wine with aromas of blueberries, black currants, tart cherry and a hint of green pepper. Soft on the palate it has medium body with flavors of ripe raspberries, strawberries, black current and a hint of cocoa. This wine was enjoyed on the back deck with my husband and later over a steak and roasted cauliflower. SRP $15

Now let’s fast forward to new beginnings. Yes you have to celebrate the couple in love and take them on a boat ride with a bottle of bubbles. Valdivieso Brut Rosé was our choice. A blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay grown in the Central Valley of Chile at the foothills of the Los Andes mountain range. The wine was made in the Charmat method where the second fermentation happens a tank. A beautiful rose color with nice strong bubbles and had aromas of fresh strawberries shining through on the nose. The palate was fruity with hints of blackberry and red fruit. Delightful on the palate and a grate value at $13.

We head back to the back porch where we create those memorable family moments with close friends and share a bottle of Valdivieso 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes come from the valley of Leyda which has a strong maritime influence due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. There wine was left on the lees for 3 months and that contributes to its creaminess, but don’t worry you still get the acidity you get from a Sauvignon Blanc. Lots of lime on the nose accompanied by grapefruit and some fresh cut grass. In your mouth the wine was soft on your palate with white grapefuit and passion fruit and soft acidity. It went very well with salt and vinegar potato chips. At $17, I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Napa - Sonoma Fires and How You Can Help

This has been a tough week. Last Monday when I woke up to messages all over Facebook about the fires and areas to be evacuated I was upset. But as the day progressed every time I logged into Facebook it got worse. I was beyond words…I had tears in my eyes, I was scared for all my friends in the area. I was heartbroken by the time Tuesday came around. There are no words to express how I feel and the horror I was seeing.

People were without electric and the only way they were communicating was via social media. One by one people I knew were evacuating, posting pictures. I saw one friends entire neighborhood in Sonoma gone and her house was the only one left standing. This is a nightmare! Being so far away I don’t know what I can do except to pray for all of them.

Thursday night and Friday I started to hear from winery owners and friends that they were okay and what kind of damage was done. They aren’t out of the woods yet. Any shift of wind and weather conditions can change everything.

I know everyone will rally together, because that is what the wine community does. How does one put their lives back together, time. This is going to take a lot of time. Wine country isn’t going to look the same. What we can do right now is open that bottle of Napa or Sonoma wine, say a prayer for our friends, send them strength to get through this and enjoy the bottle with a smile. They would want that!

In the meantime, if you would like to help in the relief there various place you can donate to below. To keep up with what is going on the blog is keeping information up to date with wineries damaged or destroyed.

Sonoma County Resilience Fund
Community Foundation of Napa Valley
Community Foundation of Mendocino County

Besides all of this, my computer crashed on Tuesday and I lost everything. That is nothing compared to what my friends lost. I might be intermittent the next few weeks while I figure out my new set up.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Book Review: Crush - A Wine Thriller by Jennifer M. Fraser

There is nothing like a good read at the beach or on a rainy afternoon. I love to read, but life has been so busy these days, that it has taken me a good 2 months to read this wine thriller Crush. It is not for lack of interest. I began the book at the pool in August, it even traveled with me to the Smokey Mountains for the eclipse and just last weekend on a rainy day, I sat on the couch and finished it. Actually, I couldn’t put it down!

The book takes place in British Columbia’s Okanagan wine region. Investigative journalist Paige Munroe is a year into recovering from a devastating accident when she was on location in Syria where her partner was killed. An assignment comes her way through her Uncle’s publishing company for a year long assignment chronicling the vintners works in the Okanagan wine region. Although this isn’t an assignment she’s use to, she feels it will be a good way to get back to work.

Paige begins her assignment at Falcon Ridge Vineyard where she will be staying for the first part of her assignment. She gets educated about wine, befriends the chef and has a little romantic involvement with one of the owners. However, you can never take the investigative journalist out of Paige. What might seem like a boring assignment comes alive when strange things begin to happen, right from the beginning.

You’ll see how members of the wine region play together, and dislike each other all at the same time. Things you assume are not what the seem. Paige’s investigative spirit has her uncovering possible drug smuggling and unbeknownst to her, puts her in immediate danger.

The book is very well written and will have you smiling and guessing until the last page (don’t cheat and read the last chapter half way into the book, there will still be a lot to learn.) This will make a great Christmas present and is available on

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Wine Goddess Meets the Cider Goddess


So what happens when the Wine Goddess meets the Cider Goddess…Goddess’s unite! That is just what happened when I had some time to kill recently between an event in New Paltz and picking up my grass fed beef in Gardiner so I thought I would go check out Brooklyn Cider House. Since Ohioville Road was right around the corner from where I was I just followed it until I came to (and drove past) the sign for Brooklyn Cider House at Twin Star Orchards. I didn’t realize it was located at an orchard, although that does make sense.

Three years ago sister and brother Peter and Susan Yi had a dream of building a cider house in Brooklyn. Peter had 25 years in the wine business, Susan a teacher. They walked away for that all for apples. Cider begins with good apples and the Hudson Valley is the place with the apple orchards. They purchased Twin Star Orchards, revitalized the orchard and have plans of new plantings and created Brooklyn Cider House with plans of opening the cider house in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Peter Yi is the cider maker and Lindsey Storm is the Cider Goddess who left her corporate sales job and joined the Yi’s last year. Lindsay the Cider Goddess is the one who hold everything together and the backbone behind the cider house.

While visiting the Orchard enjoy lunch in the pavilion serving wood fire pizza and burgers on the weekend. Spend your time roaming through the orchard apple picking then stop by the tasting room in the farmstand for a free tasting of their award winning cider. For newcomers in the business their Half Sour Cider won the best cider in the Hudson Valley Wine & Spirits Competition, so that is a must try!

I had the opportunity to taste three of their ciders when I visited.

Raw Cider - This cider is a full uncarbonated and was just released. Inspired by the cider tradition in Basque Country this cider undergoes three fermentations with wild and wine yeast. It’s fermented for a total of 18 months. It expressed green apple aromas with a hint of citrus and tart green apples on the palate.

Half Sour - I was looking forward to tasting this award winning cider for the first time (No I didn’t get to taste it at the wine competition.) It ferments for between 6 and 8 moths in stainless steel and clocks in at 5.8% alcohol. It’s carbonated and off-dry, but enough of the acid from the apples balances the sweetness and it quite refreshing. I really enjoyed this glass.

Kinda Dry - This cider is made with eating apples you find at their orchard. Fuji, Gala and Jonamac. It is fermented between 2 and 3 months and has an alcohol content of 5.5%. This was nice, not to dry, hint of sweetness.

As of the writing of this article, you can taste the cider at their main base in New Paltz and the Brooklyn Cider House in Bushwick has plans of opening during New York Craft Beverage Week.

You have to love their slogan #UGLYAPPLESTASTEBETTER.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Prosecco Ambassador - Primo Franco and the Nino Franco Brand

I have to admit, until recently I wasn’t much of a Prosecco fan. I found them at times to sweet and unbalanced and even though they are economically priced, I would skip over the selection and choose another sparkling wine for the occasion. It all comes down to education and tasting. I am so grateful that I am able to participate in a program called #Winestudio and pass along this education to you. (You can also join us on twitter Tuesday at 9pm)

This past month and the month of October it’s all about Prosecco. September was a real eye opener for me and Prosecco. I got introduced to Primo Franco who is the third generation Prosecco producer who spearheaded the Prosecco revolution in the United States. It all began in 1979 on his first trip the the States and he became known as Prosecco’s leading ambassador, responsible the growth of the beverage not just his own brand, but Prosecco as a beverage. Today there is more Prosecco sold throughout the world than Champagne, and the producers have Primo to thank for that.

Prosecco is made with the Glera grape. Just to give you a little layout of the area, there are four regions of Veneto where the Glera grape is grown; Alps, Pre-alpes, valley floor and Venice basin. In August of 2009 Conegliano Valdobbiadene became Italy’s 44th DOCG region. There are only two DOCGs in Veneto, Asolo and Conegliano Valdobbiadene. The main difference between wine with the DOC and the DOCG designation, beside quality is where the grapes are grown. DOC grapes come from the valley floor and DOCG grapes come from the hillside. The hillsides in the Pre-Alps give the perfect climate for growing Glera and making the vines stress. (which is a good thing). The DOC vineyards located on the valley floor are twice the acreage and high yielding.

Nino Franco was founded in Valdobbiadene in 1919 by Antonio Franco. The winery is located in the Prealps region of Veneto. Primo took over the winery in 1982 and that is where things began to change. Previously Primo’s dad and grandfather made several other wines, but when Primo took over that the focus became solely on Prosecco. He saw it had enormous growth potential and began to focus on creating quality Prosecco. Today Primo works with his daughter Silvia with the fifth generation on its way.

Let Primo tell you about his Prosecco.


The Nino Franco logo features the Celtic plow and the coupe. I remember my grandmother having a set of the coupe glasses and I was honored that Nino Franco sent me a few to relive the memories I have of the past. If you look at the logo the Celtic plow is the cross-like symbol between the grapes. This is to symbolize how the Celts integrated with the local people in north-eastern Italy. That’s a pretty cool feature and a lot of thought was put into it. Now lets get into what’s in these bottles and how I think you will enjoy them.


  Rustico Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG really opened my eyes to what a good Prosecco is. Rustico is a term connected to an old local tradition of making wine using a shorter second fermentation in the bottle and leaving the sediment in the wine. This isn’t practiced today, as the second fermentation takes place in the tank (charmat method) but the brand name stayed. There are 4,000 cases of Rustico produced. This Prosecco was soft and creamy with a nice mousse and aromas of white flowers and apple blossoms. Nicely balanced, you can taste the salinity along with hints of apple and pears. Overall enjoyment. The went very well with Caprese salad and to celebrate new beginnings. SRP $19 (but it was on sale at Stew Leonard’s on Rt. 17 in Paramus for $14.98) 

Introduced my daughter Melanie & her friend Jamie to Nino Franco Brut

Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG This Prosecco even though it’s Brut seems a tad bit sweeter to me than the Rustico. With that being said, it had a hint of biscuit aromas but was crisp with hints of citrus fruits like grapefuit and lemon. The taste was elegant with a little tart apple and pear, smooth and light. SRP $27


Primo Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2016 This is the first Prosecco that Primo made after taking over from his dad in 1983. When we unfoiled the bottle we found it had a closure we were unfamiliar with. The bar is calld an “Agraffe” which was traditionally used in Champagne for the second fermentation in the bottle. We didn’t watch this video of Tim Clark opening the bottle, but we did get it off the same way. If you find yourself with this type of closure on a bottle click here for a demonstration on how to open the bottle without injuring yourself.


 I tried this wine in both the coupe and a Riedel Champagne glass (more like a white wine glass) and the Riedel glass expressed more aromatics than the coupe. I felt the same on the sip, that the Riedel glass allowed more flavors to be expressed than the coupe, but the coupe is history. The selection of the grapes used in the Primo is more strict than the other two and quite small production. They are focused on the hillsides of Valobiaddene where the best quality comes from.Beautiful light straw in color with aromatics expressed from the glass of white flowers, tart apple leading to a smooth rich in fruit flavors on the palate. Peach, kumquat and pineapple flavors stood out as its richness and elegance danced in my mouth. This went really well with a local Hudson Valley Farmers Cheese with  garlic and basil. It toned down the basil and blended together nicely with a hint of sweetness.  SRP $29

  Nino Franco Grave di Stecca Brut Sparkling 2010 This Prosecco was a real treat! First off it was vintage 2010 and I didn’t realize Processo has aging ability and am told this bottle has aging potential for another five years.. The grapes for this Processo come from an acient origin vineyards named ‘Grave di Stecca’ that they own whichlocated on the slopes of the Prealpi, close to the center of town. It’s a closed walled vineyard with limestone soil. What makes this special besides the vineyard is it ages 6 months on the lees and and after the second fermentation in the tank, another one and a half years in the bottle before it is released. Beautiful golden in color with fine tight bubbles expressing toffee, fresh limestone, pineapple and green apple. The palate is soft with a creamy feel and richness. Very complex with many hints of almond, pineapple, peach, pear and green apple. I went out on a limb and paired this with lamb chops and sage potatoes au gratin and it worked. SRP $49

 A recap of the month!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Taste of Long Island White Wines

It’s been a while since I’ve been out to Long Island, but one thing I do know is that when you reach the North Fork and are in the middle of Long Island Wine Country, you want to reach for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay! You deserve it after all that traffic you sat in, but it is well worth it. A entirely different side of New York just 2 hours east of New York City, Long Island Wine Country, small quaint towns, B&B’s, vineyards, farms, restaurants and a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay.

My first taste of Long Island Sauvignon Blanc was probably 10 years ago at Raphael Winery and it was so good I purchased 2 bottles because that was the limit. At the time I was really impressed with the wine. Now fast forward to last week where I had the opportunity to SURU’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Long Island and a Unoaked Chardonnay from Martha Clara Vineyards.

SUHRU Wines is owned by Sue and Russell Hearn. The name stems from the first two letters of each of their names together with the initial of their last name. They established their winery in 2008 and source grapes from Long Island and the Finger Lakes. Russell has 30 years of winemaking experience taking him to Australia, New Zealand and France before landing in Long Island. Russell is one of the founding partners of Premium Wine Group in Mattituck which is a custom crush facility. Susan a physical therapist by trade has spent many years with her husband in the fields and lab especially during harvest. After 30 years she decided to pursue her passion of wine with her husband Russell.

SURU 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from a 5 acre plot in Cutchogue where the average vine is 7 years old. Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks this Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of apple blossoms with hints of grass and lime. The palate is light with nuisances of apple, lime and peach with a minerality base. SRP $18

Located on Sound Avenue, Martha Clara Vineyards was one of the first tasting rooms I visited in Long Island. If any of you are familiar with the Entenmann brand (I grew up on their chocolate chip cookies and chocolate covered donuts) the family sold the company in 1978. After the sale, one of the sons, Robert purchased a potato farm on Sound Avenue. He transformed this potato farm into a thoroughbred horse farm but soon took notice of neighboring farms beginning to plant grapes. He soon followed with18 acres of grapes and has expanded it to today with over 100 acres. In 1999 the doors of Martha Clara Vineyard were opened named after his late mother.

Martha Clara 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay comes from their B1 and D3 blocks of Charodonnay aged in stainless steel tanks “sur lie” style (on the lees). Aromas of baked apple and citrus escaped from my glass. This lead the way to flavors of melon and Asian pear with a hint of creaminess on the palate. SRP $20

I paired the Martha Clara Chardonnay with a leek and goat cheese tart. I used the Chardonnay to deglaze the pan. It added a nice flavor to the tart.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tasting Buttonwood Grove's Governor's Cup Riesling

It’s not every day you get to taste a wine that has won the Governor’s Cup at the New York Wine & Food Classic. This is the first year that I haven’t worked at this wine competition, and even though I’ve worked at it for the past 10 years, I’ve never got to taste the winning wine. I’m always to busy working and just was never in the right place at the right time.

I was asked this year to give a private seminar at the Hudson Valley Wine Festival to a VIP crowd and thought if I could possibly have them taste the wine that won the Governor’s Cup (along with some Hudson Valley Wine) that would be super special. Thanks to Buttonwood Grove I was able to pour their semi-sweet Riesling for them and I was tasting it for the first time myself.

After I opened the bottle, I had to taste a little to make sure the wine wasn’t corked and boy was I blown away! Big smile on my face and I turned to the audience and said, “you are in for a treat!”

Buttonwood Grove is located on the western shore of Cayuga Lake and was purchased by David and Melissa Pittard from Ken and Diane Riemer in May of 2014. This was a dream realized for David and Melissa. David is a cider maker by trade growing up and working on his family’s apple farm and attending Cornell College of Agriculture.

Ken places much of the success on winemaker Sue Passmore who was the winemaker at Buttonwood Grove when they purchased the winery, she came along with it. This particular Riesling comes from vines planted in 1999 on the estate.

The 2016 Riesling is a semi-dry Riesling with 3% residual sugar.The wine had nuisances of peach, citrus and apricot. It’s clean and perfectly balanced. Think of a lake or bay that looks like glass, that is what you will think when you take one sip of this wine. Towards the finish of the wine there is a slight hint of petrol. If you can find this wine it should retail for $15.99