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AustralianWines2016AustralianWine-CastrelliAt a recent Australian Wines tasting, we especially liked the Castelli Estate Il Liris Rouge, 2012, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Malbec.

VINO2016eVINO2016bVINO2016VINO2016cThe 5th edition of Italian Wine Week featured dozens of fine producers from throughout Italy — making excellent and relatively inexpensive wines, but, because of the three-tier system, are unable to enter the NY market.

Wine-GrignolinoThe best hope for producers and wine lovers is a new channel that allows shipments direct to consumers.

The Gaudio Grignolino (local variety from Piedmont) was tasting well.

SlowWine2016cSlowWine2016aSlowWine2016b.JPGThe Italian “Slow Wine” road show rolled into NYC this week. With a snail as its symbol, Slow Wine has become a designation for Italian cellars that farm their vineyards and make their wines ‘green and clean.’

Among the wines that were tasting well were: Zidarich Terano 2013, Castel di Salve Primitivo 2012, Villa Venti Sangiovese 2012.

GrandCruDeBordeaux2016aGrandCrusDeBordeaux2016Just hours after a record setting blizzard pummeled the East coast of the U.S., some of the world’s leading, and most intrepid, wine producers made their way to Mid-town Manhattan, from Bordeaux, via Montreal to present their 2013 wines.

In Bordeaux, 2013 was a challenging year for reds, better for whites. Many of the producers in the room made excellent wines in a difficult year. We especially liked the Chateau Beychevelle, Rouge; Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Blanc; Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne, Sauternes.

DSWS-FourSeasonsDSWSArmagnacDSWSSantoBrojosDomaine Select Wine & Spirits (DSWS) held their 2016 Annual Grand Portfolio Tasting in the famed Four Seasons Restaurant (closing Summer 2016). One could spend days learning the stories and trying the offerings of the 100+ global producers on hand. But alas, we did manage, in the short time available, to get to know some fine producers and are happy to recommend: Armagnac Castarede (Armagnac, France), Certosa di Belriguardo (Tuscany, Italy), Kirsten (Mosel, Germany), Tiano & Nareno (Mendoza, Argentina), Two Rivers (Marlborough, New Zealand), & Vinas del Sol-Santo Brojos (Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico).

BeaujolaisNouveau2015It’s always a hopeful sign when Beaujolais Nouveau arrives — proof that Providence and man have been fruitful together for another year.

With its Gamay grapes fermented by carbonic maceration rather than yeast, Beaujolais Nouveau is “instant” wine that should be consumed within days of production.

The 2015 Beaujolais Nouveau, by Georges Duboeuf, is at Sherry-Lehmann on Park Ave. for $9.99/btl. The result is especially good, with the tannin structure and balance of a more mature wine, combined with the freshness of youth.

We like it with barbecue and turkey w/fixings.

Wines-StEmilionFrom the stunning 2010 vintage in Bordeaux, we recommend two from Migali & Thibaut Decoster: Chateau La Commanderie (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc) and Clos Des Jacobins (75% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon).

GaryPisoni1CattleyaPisoniFrom the Santa Lucia Highlands, near Carmel California, Gary and Jeff (son) Pisoni are making some of the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays (also Syrahs) anywhere — under the Lucia and Pisoni labels. Jeff’s wife Bibiana Rave is producing her world class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (Cattleya Wines) in Sonoma.

Together Bibiana and Jeff have a Sauvignon Blanc and a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend — “Shared Notes.”

ChampagneTwo fine Champagne producers, and releases — we recommend: Doyard Mahe Extra Brut Millsime, 2010 and Jacque Chaput, Blancs de Noir.

Wine-CaliforniaSummit1The recent California Wines Summit, in NYC, included a conversation between Thomas Matthews, of the Wine Spectator, and Patrick Capiello of Pearl & Ash.

With 4,400 wineries and 5,900 (wine) grape growers, California is the world’s fourth largest wine producer after Italy, France and Spain.

While commenting on “natural” wines, Mr. Capiello said that he felt better after a night of drinking them, than the day after drinking fancier chemical-laden wines. Mr. Mathews quipped that it was probably because he drank more of the latter.

Wine-LuciaThree wines that we really enjoyed and recommend from the day’s tastings: Ravenswood Zinfandel 1995, Lucia Pinot Noir 2013, and Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

OccidentalSteve Kistler is making big, yet crisp, pinot noirs under the Occidental brand.

Also from Sonoma, are excellent pinots from The Withers Winery for under $50.

WinesOfHungaryWinesOfHungaryRoseSome wines from Hungary that we recently tried and recommend:

  • Fanni Kertje — Tokaji Aszu dessert wine
  • Arvay — Un-oaked 100% Furmint (an indigenous white varietal)
  • Bukolyi — Red Cuvee
  • Duzsi Tamas — Kekfrankos rose

The wine would taste even better if Hungary was more humane with the refugees it has to deal with, because of U.S., Israeli and Saudi evil-doing in Syria.

WineTastingWine-SelzerWine-DomaineCluselRochWines-IsabelSome of our favorites from a recent Rhine to Rhone tasting: Weingut Kunstler Riesling Trocken 2014, Darting Riesling Kabinett 2013, Setzer Gruner Veitliner 2014, Domaine Clusel-Roch, and Domaine Saint Prefert.

Wine-FaviaWine-Withers3A couple of gems from California: Favia Wines and The Withers Winery.

At a recent tasting, we especially liked the Favia Rompecabezas 2012, a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Andy Erickson (photo) is the winemaker. Annie Favia, his wife, is the viticulturalist.

Also, the Rose’ El Dorado 2014 from The Withers Winery — made with Mourvedre and Grenache.

WinesSouthwestFrance1WinesSouthwestFranceFrom France’s ‘hidden corner’, for Summer enjoyment, may we suggest: Domaine Chiroulet 2014 Terres Blanches, Domaine du Tariquet 2014 Rose and Domaine du Tariquet 2014 Premieres Grives — all from Cotes de Gascogne.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Uruguay-ArtesanaUruguay-GimenezSome Tannat wine producers from Uruguay that we recommend: Artesana, Gimenez Mendez and Alto de la Ballena.

VIDA4At a recent tasting of wines from the Somontano Region of Spain, we especially liked the Pirineos Maridaje Red Garnacha.

Artwork: Pablo Ferreiro Mederos

Photograph: Stephen Wise

RhoneValleyWinesRhoneOdyssey2015aRhoneOdyssey2015cBalancing neurotransmitters with Rhone Valley Wines.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Singla-RoussillonHappy to recommend wines from Domaine Singla, located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. We especially like the un-oaked Cuvee No. 5 2013 Red, made with Syrah and Grenache grapes. It’s probably the least expensive wine we’ve tried this year (under 5 Euros in France) but in many ways the most satisfying — especially good with a cheeseburger.

StClair-ThompsonEvery wine producing area in the world could claim to have “land like no other,” but New Zealand wine producers say it and deliver on it with particular elan. At a recent New Zealand Wines tasting in NYC, the Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2014 was crisp and tasting well. Winemaker Kyle Thompson (photo) said he moved quickly to get the grapes picked before the rains came during last year’s harvest, thereby saving the vintage. We also liked Armisfield Sauvignon Blanc Pisa, Otago 2014.

NewZealandWines-TePaAmong the Pinots, Te Pa Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Marlborough 2014 was exceptional (seeking a distributor in NYC).

Inglenook2015Inglenook, one of the pioneer California wine producers, is trying to be itself again. Having survived the 20th century scourges of: phylloxera, Prohibition, and Wall Street, Inglenook Vineyard (brand, chateau, and Napa Valley vineyards) is back under one roof in the hands of Francis Ford Coppola and French winemaker Philippe Bascaules.

We especially like their 2011 Blancaneaux (blend of Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier), and the 2012 Edizione Pennino Zinfandel.

CorsicanWines2015aCorsicanWines2015bThis year’s Corsican Wine’s Week in NYC featured some delightful blended Rose’s. One thar we especially liked was Domaine Vetriccie Rose’ 2014, made with Niellucciu, Sciaccarellu, and Grenache grapes.

Other producers that we recommend are: Orenga de Gaffory, Domaine du Mont Saint, Clos Alivu and Domaine de Torraccia.

TseleposGiannis-SantoriniSantoriniTseleposGiannis Tselepas, one of Greece’s leading winemakers, was in NYC last week with his 2014 Assyrtiko, white wine from the Greek Island — Santorini.

Mr. Tselepos also makes terrific red wines from mainland Greece.

Argentina-MargotArgentinaWinesArgentina-PelleritiWines of Argentina passed through NYC last week seeking importers for some of its passionate producers. Among those that we liked were: Margot and Marcelo Pelleriti Wines from Mendoza, and Secreto Patagonico from Patigonia.

SheaCayuse (2)It’s been said that U.S. wines are experiencing a renaissance. From Oregon and Washington State, the wines of Shea Wine Cellars and Cayuse are a revelation.

Love&SqualorWineAt a recent tasting of global Indie Wineries, several Americans stood out: Eric Demuth Wines (Sonoma, CA), Farella Vineyards (Coombsville, Napa CA), Love and Squalor (Willamette Valley, Oregon), and Oyster River Wine Growers (Penobscott Bay, Maine).

Eric Demuth has an especially good Grenache, Farella a distinctive Cab, Love and Squalor memorable Rieslings and Pinots, and Oyster River a “Village White” with grapes from the Finger Lakes.

VINO2015VINO2015aBilled as the “grandest Italian wine event ever held outside of Italy,” VINO 2015 is underway in NYC, with particular emphasis on wines from Southern Italy.

There are many excellent wines, some that are amazingly inexpensive (under $5), being produced in Italy. The problem is getting them from the producers to the consumers.

Priority is being given by the trade to wines that generate higher margins. In one of the panels, a leading NYC wine retailer said the hedge fund that bought her company insisted that they “not sell inexpensive (under $35) wines anymore.”

Among our favorites of VINO 2015 was Montenidoli, from southern Tuscany, considered a “slow wine” and a “snail” wine. Elisabetta Fagiuoli (top photo) represented the winery.

Azienda Vitivinicola Al-Cantara (bottom photo) from Sicily, near Mt. Etna, has a Pinot Noir that is especially unique and good.

Other that we liked were: Avignonesi Grifi, from Tuscany, Bel Colle, from Piedmont (looking for an importer); and Fratelli Ponte Vini, from Piedmont (looking for an importer).

GrandCrusDeBordeauxGrandCrusDeBordeaux2015 (2)ChateauSmithHautLafitte2015 (2)ChateauVillemaurine (2)The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, with most of their 133 wineries, was in NYC this week to present their 2012 vintage.

It’s hard to go wrong with this group. They’re all good. We didn’t try them all. Some that we would recommend, for their distinctiveness and price, are 2012’s from: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Leoville Barton (and Poyferre), Chateau Villemaurine (95% Merlot), as well as the 2012 Sauternes from Clos Haut Peyraguey.

DomaineSelect-PureWineDomaineSelect--Movia1Pure Wine producers that we especially liked at a recent tasting: Albert Seltz from Alsace France; Alvaro Castro, from Dao, Portugal; and Movia, from BRda/Collio, Slovenia. Also Doran Vineyards, from South Africa.


SparklingSake-HanaHouHouShuCrafted in the Champagne Method (second fermentation in the bottle), sparkling sake has arrived from Japan. New York importer Joto Sake has two sparkling sakes in their portfolio: Hou Hou Shu & Hana Hou Hou Shu (Rose’ sparkling sake). Both were hits at a recent NYC sake tasting.

LotusEditions-Wines“With wisdom we are always armed.”

As America’s nouveau riche (black women) gravitate towards wine, the world’s wine producers are racing to meet them with mid-level (even bulk) wines (while the nouveau riche of China get the better juice).

There are good wines being sold in the U.S. for under $30, even under $10 (see 2014 Beaujolais Nouveau, $9.99 in NYC), but one should be informed. There are plenty of wines in that range that would be better off in gasoline than in humans.

If your price range is under $30, may we suggest:

  • Younger wines.
  • Second labels of blue chip producers.
  • Champagne over Prosecco.

Some wines that we enjoyed at a recent tasting (available at Eataly in NYC):

  • Bardolino Classico DOC “Vigna Morlongo” 2013 ($10)
  • Valpolicella DOC Superiore Ripasso “Mara” 2012 ($17)

Photograph: Stephen Wise




ConchaYToro-DonMelchorConchaYToro-Enrique (2)The Wine Spectator announced its Top 100 Wines of 2014 on Monday. Topping the list was Dows 2011 Vintage Porto, an unusual choice with few if any bottles available. Dows has already released its 2012. But coming in at #9 was a favorite of ours, Concha Y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Don Melchor 2010, which is available at Zachy’s for $125, as of last night (while supplies last).

Don Melchor Technical Director (Winemaker): Enrique Tirado Santelices


BordeauxUnderOneRoof2014BordeauxUnderOneRoof2014aThe recent Bordeaux Under One Roof event in NYC highlighted some of the fine wines from Bordeaux in the $20-40 price range.

We liked the Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte, “Les Hauts de Smith” 2011 (Red & White); Chateau de Landiras 2010; Clos Magne de Figeac 2010; and Chateau Tour Seran 2011. For a few more dollars the Chateau Latour Martillac Cru Classe de Graves 2005 is worth it.

Barolo-ElioAltareThe Barola Boys (innovative wine producers from Langhe, Italy), were back in NYC this week for tastings of their recent and past vintages of big Barola wines.

Barolo-ElioAltare1Barolo-EPiraChiaraBoschis (2)Barolo-SeghesioWe liked the Elio Altare Barolo (La Morra) 2008 & Barolo ‘Cerretta’ 2006, which can be had now but should further develop with age. Also the E Pira — Chiara Boschis Barola ‘Via Nuova’ 2009, and Seghesio Barola ‘La Villa’ 2006.

Pictured here from top are: Elio Altare, Chiara Boschis, Riccardo & Laura Seghesio

Photographs: Stephen Wise

WinesOfPortugal2014There are many good wines produced in Portugal, available at relatively low prices. But for various reasons (including demand from China) some are not getting into the U.S. market.

CARM-Portugal (2)Our favorites from the recent Annual Grand Tasting/NY incude: White — 2012 Solar das Boucas Loureiro; Red — 2010 Monte da Ravasqueira Vinha das Romas, 2008 Quinta da Sequeirna Reserva Tinto; Fortified — Sogevinus Fine Wines Burmester Tordiz 40 Year Old Tawny Port.

Especially noteworthy was CARM 2008 Maria de Lourdes-red Douro, DOP, made from Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca grapes.

Filipe de Albuquerque Roboredo Madeira, of CARM, was on hand pouring his family’s wine.




MeranoWineFestival2014MWF2014-MastroberardinoThe Merano Wine Festival, brainchild of Helmuth Kocher, now in its 23rd year passed through NYC yesterday. This years festival featured 42 wineries from 15 Italian wine regions.

Our favorites were: Baglio di Pianetto from Sicily, Citari from Lombardy, Casale del Giglio from Lazio, and Mastroberardino from Campania.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

Kobrand2014Kobrand-MasiKobrand, the American wine and spirits importer, is touring the U.S. this month with their Italian wine portfolio.

Our favorites from a recent tasting:

from Piedmont — Michele Chiarlo Le Marne, Gavi DOCG 2013 ($19.99); Michele Chiarlo Cerequio, Barolo DOCG 2010 ($106.99).

from Veneto — Masi Agricola Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2010 ($63.99); Masi Agricola Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2007 ($84.99).

from Tuscany — Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto, Toscana IGT 2012 (56.99); Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia, Bolgheri, Sassicaia DOC 2011 ($234.99).

JoeyWolfferWolfer139DryRoseCiderJoey Wolffer and her Styleliner bus stopped on Park Avenue, in front of Sherry-Lehmann, last evening. In addition to jewelry, handbags and accessories, she was promoting her winery’s new Dry Rose Cider, a unique blend of hard cider and red grape skin extract.

It’s a good product, one that can hang on the Upper East Side and the East Village, but with fewer than 3000 cases made one needs to move quickly to get some.

Photographs: Stephen Wise

ThomasJeffersonRose“The whole art of government consists in being honest.”

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” Thomas Jefferson

Gerard Bertrand, from Languedoc-Roussillou, France, makes a nice Rose named for Thomas Jefferson.

WinesOfHungary2014WinesOfHungary2014NYCA 2014 copy of the Wine Guide, by Food & Wine Magazine, fails to mention Hungary among its ‘Old’ or ‘New’ wine producing countries. And yet wine has been made there for 1000 years, with volcanic soils, unique varietals and a commitment to craftsmanship — resulting in sublime wines. Perhaps that’s one reason why Hungarian wine producers, in New York this week for a tasting, see themselves as ‘back with vengeance’.

Hungary was the first country in the world declared to be GMO-free. Many of the country’s wine producers seem committed to organic grape-growing and wine-making.

“Best grapes from my garden, native yeast fermentation, moved by gravity, minimal sulphur, unfiltered, unfined.” Franz R. Weninger

Our favorites from the tasting were: Weninger Kekfrankos Steiner 2009, Sauska Kekfrankos 2011, Disznoko Tokaj Aszu 5 Puttonyos 2007,  Maurus Ezerjo 2012, Merfelsz Nero Rose 2013.

Photographs: Stephen Wise