<![CDATA[Wine Unwrapped - Wine Unwrapped Blog]]>Tue, 16 Jan 2018 03:23:32 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[byob extravaganga]]>Thu, 04 Jan 2018 21:07:03 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/byob-extravaganga
The first wine of the night. One of the best Champagnes I have ever tasted.
On January 3, 2018 a group of fellow wine enthusiasts gathered to share a bottle of wine from their cellars. The event was organized by Vin Marattoli of Wine Lovers Tours. Vin has put together many other tastings such as this. In 2015 I posted a blog about a previous BYOB tasting. 

This one was different, all the others had been limited to one group of 12 tasters. This one had two groups, so more wines to share. 
Bubbly number two. Mature but still crackling with acidity.
My favorite of the reds
The event was held in the wine room of the Park Central Tavern in Hamden. A fitting venue for an event like this.
I didn't get a pic of the Penley Cabernet. The wine we had was from 2000. Photo courtesy Gordon's Fine Wine and Liquors.
This is courtesy of Wine Searcher. We had this vintage, the 2001.
Still alive and drinkable after all these years. Plenty of petrol, still in balance.
I was very interesred in the Huet. I will be visiting there later this year. Despite a crumbled cork the fruit held up well.
Always a show stopper.
The finale. This wine is older than some of the wait staff who took good care of us. The perfect way to end the night.
I'm sure I may have missed another wine or two but I think I got the spirit of the night. As we all agreed to last night, wine tastes better when you share it. Thanks to everyone at the Park Central Tavern for hosting and the great food that accompanied the wines. Cheers!
<![CDATA[Arizona wine]]>Tue, 24 Oct 2017 19:35:48 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/arizona-wine
The Barnstormer, from the Jerome Winery, made the trip home safely
On a recent tour of  America's canyon lands my wife and I had a very short visit to Sedona, Arizona. The stop was to be a lunch break before heading to the Grand Canyon. With just an hour and a half so we were glad that we had spent time there years earlier. My wife found a great way to spend the time by visiting The Art of Wine for a tasting of wines made in Arizona. 
The Art of Wine in Sedona
Chateau Tumbleweed is located in Clarkdale, just outside of Sedona. They source their grapes from several Arizona vineyards as you can see on the informative back label. Started by a group of friends, they now have their own facility.  Interesting blend don't you think? Very tasty.
When I tell people that I tried some wines made in Arizona they all say the same thing, "They can grow wine grapes in Arizona?" I get the same reaction when I tell people from other states about Connecticut wines. Just as here in CT, you have to pick the right site and choose the grape varieties that will grow there. For Arizona that means the high desert regions with altitudes of 4,000 - 5,000 feet above sea level. At that elevation the days are warm but the temperatures at night drop dramatically. That temperature swing insures that the grapes ripen while maintaining acidity.  
Wine number two was from Bodega Pierce. Located in Willcox they specialize in estate bottled wines. Kathryn, who did our tasting, remarked that she felt that Malvasia may be a grape that can excel in Arizona. The wine was fresh, lively, and satisfying. I have to agree with Kathryn, it was a very nice wine. 
The first red was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Freitas Vineyard in Cottonwood. The vines are planted on a small patch of land that was originally going to be an orchard. The owners realized that their land was not the best for fruit trees but perfect for grapes. So in went the vines. The cab was nice and rich with all sorts of black fruit flavors.  
Some of the wines made in AZ
The D.A. Ranch is located just ten miles from Sedona. The Capra is their Estate grown Tannat. In 2014 only 72 cases were produced. It was a big wine but not at all clumsy or overly tannic. 
A selection of international wines at The Art of Wine
The Keeling Schaefer Syrah was up next. Located in Willcox, their 21 acre vineyard sits at 5,000 feet above sea level.  They grow Syrah along with other Rhone varieties. This 2014 Syrah was nice, lots of black plums and meaty, would be perfect for a steak dinner. 
My first experience with high dessert wines was back in 1995. A visit to La Chiripada Winery in New Mexico opened my eyes to what was possible at those altitudes. So I can't say I was surprised that the Arizona wines were so good. The modern wine industry in Arizona began in the early 1970's and the first commercial winery, Sonoita Valley Vineyards, was planted in 1979. There is quite a bit of experimentation going on. Growers are still finding out what is possible in their vineyards. Follow this link for a list of the 80, yes 80, wineries in Arizona. Once at the page scroll to the bottom.
If you are visiting Arizona be sure to try some of their wines. Finding them outside of AZ is difficult. And if you are in Sedona, save time for a visit to The Art of Wine. A great place for an introduction to the local wines. 
Kathryn did our tasting
<![CDATA[australia up close    ungrafted: old vines and why they matter]]>Sat, 17 Jun 2017 13:13:07 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/australia-up-close-ungrafted-old-vines-and-why-they-matter
On June 7, 2017 the Wine Australia team presented a seminar and a walk around tasting in New York City. The theme of the seminar was Ungrafted: old vines and why they matter. ​The seminar featured an all star panel (see pic below) that was justifiably proud  of their wines. There was no doubt that they had a deep respect for the old vines that were in their care. 
The wines were from some of the oldest ungrafted vines in the world. Because of Phylloxera, many of the vines in Europe and many other parts of the world were infected and had to be ripped out. The only solution was to tear out the damaged roots and replace them with American resistant root stock. Click here for Wine Folly article on Phylloxera.​
Bruce Tyrell presenting the 2010 HVD Hunter Valley Semillon
The seminar showcased rare wines from very old ungrafted vines. It is not often you get to taste this many wines from vines this old. The fact that these wines came from the original vines 
untouched by phylloxera meant we were tasting history. I was truly honored to have the chance to taste the wines and hear the stories behind them.

The Tyrell's 2010 Semillon tasted like a much younger wine. I predict a very long life for this one. This was bottled under screw cap and held for 5 years before release. Hunter Valley Semillons are well known for transforming into fleshy, waxy, deep wines with bottle age. This was still crisp and pure with peach and melon flavors. 
Alister Purbrick of Tahbilk
Next up was the 2008 Marsanne. My first impression was that this was unlike any other Marsanne I had ever tasted. Most have very little acidity, this one clocked in with a pH of 2.89. Alister explained that these old vine grapes are picked a bit early so as to preserve the natural acidity. A wine purposely made for long aging, also with a screw cap. Lively and with great aromatics. I'd love to try this again in 10 years.
Photo courtesy of Best's Great Western Wines
Josh Reynolds presented the Best's Great Western "Old Vine" Pinot Munier 2016. The last previous vintage of this wine was the 2012. It is believed that the vines that produced this wine are the oldest known ungrafted Pinot Meunier in the world. Only 250 cases of this wine were produced with just 10 cases sent to the USA. A beguiling wine, very aromatic with a spicy quality that stayed with you. 
Josh Reynolds
The Cirillo 1850 Barossa Valley Grenache 2011 was presented by Stephen Henschke. These vines are described as the planet's oldest ungrafted Grenache. 2011 was a difficult year but you couldn't tell that with this wine. With a pH of 3.1 it was brighter and crisper than the usual Grenache. Still very fresh tasting even after two years of oak aging. 
Toby Porter, the winemaker at d'Arenberg
The d'Arenberg "The Beautiful View McLaren Vale 2010 Grenache was was next. The vines were planted in 1912. Toby Porter discussed how old vines were quite consistent from year to year. That makes sense when you consider that these old vines have had so many years to adapt to their surroundings. This had a wild, meaty streak the made it distinctive. 
Photo courtesy of Hewitson Winery
The Hewitson "Old Garden" Barossa Valley Mourvedre 2013 was made from the oldest ungrafted Mourvedre vines in the world. The pattern continues. The wine was amazing. Spicy, leathery with sweet fruit on the finish. 18 months of new French oak gave it a touch of smokiness at the very end. 
The Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz 2013 was a rich but restrained wine. Not at all over the top it saw 35% new oak. With a bit of acidity to keep it lively it was a pleasure to drink.
Christy Frank of Copake Wine Works
Michael Englemann MS Wine Director of The Modern
In keeping with the theme this wine came from the oldest syrah vines in existance. The Langmeil "The Freedom" 1843 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014 was the most tannic of the three Shiraz. Lots of spice on the nose and palate. 
Stephen Henschke, Winemaker at Henschke
When the organizers sent out the list of wines for the seminar I was surprised to see the Hill of Grace would be poured. This is a wine that retails for over $800. The  Henschke "Hill of Grace" Eden Valley Shiraz 2010 is a legendary wine. It has its own video!
Stephen Henschke generously donated his wines for this seminar. I had read about them for years and was eagerly looking forward to this event. The wine did not disappoint. Loaded with so much fruit from cherry to plum to blackberry it was balanced with fine tannins and a hit of oak. Really a seamless wine. For all its power it came off with class and style.
It would have been a sin to not finish the Hill of Grace. No spitting for this one!
I have been to many trade show seminars but this one was special. To me it was a privilege to be able to taste wines that had so much history. Most of all the wines produced today come from vines that had to be grafted onto different roots. Who knows what wine would taste like if phylloxera had not  wreaked its havoc on the world. There are pockets places that have of vines  that have not been affected by phylloxera and they are prized. Everyone on the seminar panel talked about these vines with pride and respect. It was obvious that these vines will be never be ripped out to put in new vines that will one day produce higher yields. Ungrafted vines are our link to the past. 
Following the seminar there was a walk around tasting of many other Australian wines. One of the things I love about Australia is that they will try just about anything. They produce wine from grapes from just about every wine growing region in the world. Because of that you see wines that could only come from down under. The variety of wine styles is quite amazing. Good on you mates!
See what I mean?
I would like to thank Louise Nightingale of Wine Australia for squeezing me into the seminar. I replied to the registration email quickly but was not in time to get into the seminar. Being half Australian I would have hated missing the chance to participate in the event. Thanks Louise!
<![CDATA[Beer versus wine throw down dinner at veracious brewing company]]>Tue, 30 May 2017 19:16:07 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/beer-versus-wine-throw-down-dinner-at-veracious-brewing-company
On May 24, 2017 Veracious Brewing Company held its first dinner. The theme- Beer vs Wine. I have always wanted to do an event like this so when Tess and Mark Szamatulski asked me to present the wine portion I was more than happy to sign on. 
I first met Tess and Mark many years ago when I started buying wine grapes and supplies from them at their first business, Maltose Express. We started doing wine tastings together and in 2010 I worked there on Wednesdays. During that time I was offered a job as an adjunct professor at the University of New Haven teaching Wine Appreciation. Reluctantly, I had to give up the Maltose job in order to be at UNH. 
 Chef Mike Jackson of It's A Party Catering  created  a fantastic menu with each course to be paired with a wine and a beer. Attendees would vote on which paired best for each course. 
The watermelon salad
So who won?
Chef Mike and his team
My job was to pick the wines and present them. I had total control over which wines I wanted to use. Mark was hoping we could use some of the wines from nearby Jones Winery in Shelton. I work with the Jones family doing their wine dinners, some shifts in the tasting room and staff training and agreed we should put some in the mix. I set up a tasting and Tess, Mark and I went through the line up.  We needed six wines for the night, we ended up picking five of the Jones wines. The wines are excellent and I was happy with the picks. If Jones Winery made a Sauvignon Blanc we probably would have used that as well. I had my mind made up to use a Sauvignon Blanc with the watermelon salad. With feta, tomato, basil, lime, cilantro and more  it seemed like a sure bet. 
Caribbean Shrimp
Chef Mike and Tess
Tess and Mark
Chef Mike Jackson with his mother, Diane Zello, who is also the pastry chef
After I agreed to do the dinner I was worried that since the venue was  a brewery I would be preaching wine to a beer crowd. I was quite wrong. The crowd was very open minded and were quite happy to share their feelings about the pairings. I knew wine had a chance but...
Charcuterie Sushi
The middle one was a real favorite of the crowd. Crispy cured meat wrapped around fig and a whole lot more. The flavors and textures were outstanding.
Bacon wrapped stuffed filet
Cheese Cake Duo
So, who was the winner? The food! Chef Mike stole the show with his dishes. The wines and beers showed very well and for a time it seemed that beer edged out wine by a vote. After the announcement one more ballot was found that had not been counted. In the end, a tie. Beer and wine each won two courses and there was a tie for the remaining course. It seemed appropriate. 
Click on images below to see full size picture
It was a great night of food, wine and beer. Mark, Tess and I took some friendly jabs at the opposing beverages as we tried to convince the group that our pairings were the best. This evening will be hard to top, stay tuned, maybe a rematch is a possibility. Thanks to Chef Mike and his team and to everyone that turned out for the dinner.  And yes, we did go a few rounds with the
Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. 
Veracious Brewing Company Beer versus Wine Throw Down Dinner
Each of the five courses will be served with a beer and a wine that complement the dish. The chef will describe each course; Jon Haight of WineUnwrapped.com will tell you why the wine is the perfect pairing for the dish while Mark & Tess Szamatulski of Veracious Brewing Company and Maltose Express will make the case for Veracious beer! It is up to you to vote on which beverage goes best with each course. Chef Mike Jackson has created an incredible menu for our dinner.
Welcome glass of wine and beer
Jones Winery Blueberry Bliss
Veracious BLOOBS-Blueberry Wheat Ale

Watermelon Salad
Tomato, feta, basil, basil oil, apple pickled fennel, radish, cucumber-lime thyme papare, red wine balsamic reduction.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Vineyard
Veracious 29 Pews IPA
Caribbean Spiced Shrimp
Tropical Salad- Grilled pineapple, cucumber, roasted red pepper, tomato, lime, cilantro Kiwi Avocado Mousse, Apple pickled Onion, Citrus Mango "Air“, Crispy Platanos 
Jones Winery Pinot Gris
 Veracious Saison d' Tessa-Belgian style Saison

Charcuterie "Sushi"
A charcuterie platter served in a "sushi" presentation.
Jones Winery Cabernet Franc
Veracious Last Call-Belgian Strong Golden Ale
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Filet Mignon
 Gorgonzola-lime-scallion, sweet potato, roasted grapes, asparagus, arugula, herbs, spiced almonds 28 hour rosemary demi-glace
Jones Winery Merlot
Veracious Owd Boreas-Imperial Red Ale

Gelee Cheese Cake
Pig Tail Porter gelee with Lucy's Last Call caramel-bacon
Jones Winery 7 Generations Port style wine
Veracious Pig Tail Porter-Robust Porter
<![CDATA[Sandrone Barolo       Tasting History]]>Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:01:00 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/sandrone-barolo-tasting-history
I had the pleasure of attending a tasting that featured 11 wines from 10 different vintages of Luciano Sandrone Barolos. The wines  ranged from the 1982 to  to the 2000. It was very much like tasting history. 
Luciano Sandrone is an icon in Barolo. He purchased his first grapes in 1977 and in 1978 decided to dedicate his life to making wine. Over the years he was able to purchase a few parcels in the Cannubi Boschis vineyard. Each parcel has a different exposure which means that there must be several different picking times. So you have a wine from a single vineyard but each plot will contribute a different dimension. 1985 was the first bottling of Cannubi Boschis and the birth of the label with the cobalt blue background and gold letters. As of 2013, the label has been changed to ALESTE, rather than the vineyard name. ALESTE is a combination of ALEssia and STEfano, the names of  two of his grandchildren. 
 Two friends, Ric and Steve, were kind enough to share these bottles from their cellars for the evening's tasting. A few non Sandrone wines were thrown in to round it out.  

The oldest wines were the Prunotto 1978 Riserva and the 1982 Sandrone. Both were quite mature with tar and earth flavors. The 1985 Sandrone had not gone all brown in color with some crimson still showing. Fresher and more lively than the first two wines it was a wine to drink now. The 1989 Sandrone was the overall favorite. It had everything you could ask for. Sweet red fruits, a silky texture and a finish that went on forever. An incredible wine! At the end of the tasting I revisited it to see if it still bested the other wines. It did, the tannins were just a bit more prominent than on my first taste but it still was the star of the night. 

If either the 1990 or the 1996 Sandrones had been tasted on their own they would have gotten rave reviews. But coming after the 1989, (We tasted oldest to youngest. I know that some tasters prefer to go the opposite way but I think this was best for these wines) it was too much competition. 
The younger wines seemed to share a common trait. While quite good they may not have the longevity of some of the earlier vintages. That said, I wouldn't say no to a second pour of any of them. 
After all those reds it was time for dessert. 
Is there any better way to end a night than with a 100+ year old wine? Still alive, but not sweet, another taste of history. 
The Durand. A two part wine opener, a necessity for opening older, fragile corks.  
Thanks to Steve and Ric for sharing their wines!
<![CDATA[liberty rock tavern whiskey dinner]]>Wed, 22 Feb 2017 22:01:05 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/liberty-rock-tavern-whiskey-dinner
I love fried chicken. That's what brought me to Liberty Rock Tavern. They made a couple of appearances in CT Magazine's Best Of edition and one was for their fried chicken. My wife and I went with some friends of ours to give it a try. This was not your average bar food. The fried chicken lived up to its billing and the crab / avocado dish was a winner as well. I even have to say the Brussels sprouts were so good  I ate more that night than I have in my whole life.  When I saw they were doing a dinner I reserved a spot right away.

Liberty Rock Tavern opened up late last year in Milford's Devon section. The site was once the King's Court and way before that a restaurant I liked called Brickers. Liberty Rock Tavern is a collaborative effort of  Chef Dan Kardos, who has run the kitchens of some impressive CT restaurants, along with Brian Kearney, Dan Rizzo and Chris Hey.  
We started the dinner with the Coppersea Raw Rye and charcuterie. The rye was unaged so it was colorless. I was surprised how aromatic it was. Spices, pepper, and floral notes on the nose and palate made it a good match with the first course.

Next up was the Troy and Sons Blonde Whiskey. Oaky and nutty, the whiskey was nice and smooth. The shrimp and grits were delicious, and when the lobster gravy came my way it was even better. The thick cut smoked bacon really complemented the whiskey. 
All the whiskeys were introduced by Chris Murk, Craft Portfolio Manager of Eder Brothers. Chris provided background for each of the whiskeys and explained the differences between them.

The third course featured the Copper Fox Rye with duck. The whiskey had a smoky quality and was aged with apple and cherry wood in barrel.  Steak knives were passed out for the duck but it was so tender the plastic knives would have been sufficient. A great combination of flavors with the cherries, mustard greens and parsnip puree, this was definitely not pub grub.

The 1995 Chateau Latour was brought in by my friend who had cleared it before the dinner. The wine was still peaking, lots of black fruits with some tannins still evident, overall a silky wine. Nice with that duck! 
The Wasmund's Single Malt is also made by Copper Fox. This is produced in a single batch copper pot still one barrel at a time. Think American Scotch. The final savory course of prime rib was rich enough to stand up to the Wasmund's. 
Dessert was served with the Waypoint Spirits Honey Habanero Whiskey. This is a unique, small batch flavored whiskey that is made in Bloomfield CT. The heat from the peppers was not at all over the top. Very enjoyable with the honey taking the edge off and smoothing it out. Add in the spicy butterscotch pudding and you have a perfect match.  
Our table mates
The meal was served family style which made for a nice casual vibe. The crowd was lively and we all enjoyed the evening. The Liberty Rock Tavern is blazing new trails here. They have elevated bar food to a higher level with their regular menu.  With what I'm sure will be more dinners they are showcasing the talents of Dan Kardos as well as turning people on to some distinctive whiskey producers. Did I mention they also have shuffle board?
<![CDATA[Slow wine 2017]]>Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:21:29 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/slow-wine-2017
Slow Wine held their 2017 tour on February 1, 2017 in the downtown Eataly located in the World Trade Center. Slow Wine is a part of the Slow Food group that began in Italy at the site of a proposed McDonalds near Rome's Spanish Steps and close to the Trevi Fountain. A 1986 demonstration there began a movement that now includes among others, Slow Fish, Slow Cheese and Slow Meat.  
What follows is according to their web site- Slow Wine describes their beliefs:

Slow Wine believes that wine, just as with food, must be good, clean, and fair — not just good.
Wine is an agricultural product, just like any of the foods we eat, and has an impact on the lives of the people who produce it, as well as on the environment – through pesticides, herbicides and excessive water consumption which are all commonplace in conventional wine production.
Through our guide, online magazine and international tour, we support and promote small-scale Italian winemakers who are using traditional techniques, working with respect for the environment and terroir, and safeguarding the incredible biodiversity of grape varieties that are part of Italy’s heritage.

I like that belief. Not just good but clean and fair. The world can use a bit more of that right now. 
Pieopan makes some of my favorite Soaves. This La Roca gets to spend some time in large barrels. That gives it a richness but it is in balance, the wood does not intrude. Their Soave Classico is bottled with a twist off rather than cork. At first they had to drop the Classico designation due to DOC rules. Things have changed, the alternate closures are OK now.
Eataly put out a great sampling of Italian specialties
All groups of pics are galleries. Click on one for full image
The team pouring wines from Cantina Della Volta
Cantina Della Volta in Emilia Romagna make some incredible Lambruscos and other wines. They  use the  champenoise méthode .  Several see lengthy maturation times. Slow Wine indeed. They have an animation about making sparkling wine. Click here to view. 
Monsanto celebrated their 50th harvest in 2012. They use only Italian varieties in making their Chiantis.
Both of the Fontodi reds were 100% Sangiovese. The Flaccianello come from outside of the Chianti region. 
I had a nice conversation with Joseph Di Marco, regional manager for Classica International. They represent Avignonesi. He explained that they have a new owner as of 2009 and that they are now using organic and biodynamic methods of farming. What I did not realize was that both of the Vino Nobiles present were 100% Sangiovese. Most Vino Nobiles are a blend of several allowed grapes. Jokingly I asked if he had any Vin Santo hiding under the table. Avignonesi makes the Holy Grail of all Vin Santos. Their Vin Santos have consistently received ratings of high 90's to 100 points. I knew the answer but had to ask. 
 The wines from Giovanni Almondo were presented by Stefano Almondo. His Arneis was really special. I went back for a second taste just to confirm how much I liked it.  After all the big reds it woke my palate up and showed some new dimensions. 
Cool presentation
 I became a member of the Wine Century Club many years ago. You need to have had wines from at least 100 different grape varieties to join. I love encountering new grapes and there were several I have not had.
Our new friend Veronica
Veronica presented several wines from Ronc Soreli and Rodaro. A nice line up of wines from northern Italy. 

​As usual at a tasting like this there are more wines than you can taste in a few hours. When you consider the time and effort that goes into making wine I feel you need to respect each one and not have your palate so burned out that they become a blur. You have to takes lots of breaks and refresh yourself. Slow Tasting if you will.  All in all this was as close to being in Italy as it gets this side of the Atlantic.

​ During the tasting a couple of things stood out. First, there were no prices listed in the wine list booklet. You could always ask if you wanted. There were wines I knew and had a good idea of their cost. Obviously Barolos, Brunellos, etc will have a higher price tag. But there were quite a few wines and producers I was not familiar with. Because of that I had no preconceived ideas about them. I enjoyed just tasting the wines without having any expectations about what should be in the glass. 

​Second, the quality level was very high across the board. There may have been a wine or two that didn't knock me out but I think I could have closed my eyes and grabbed any bottle and been happy with it. 

This was my first trip to Eataly.  An amazing collection of all things Italian. From the pre tasting espresso to the salumi and cheeses I sampled it made me wish there was one near my home town. If I didn't have to take a rush hour train back to Connecticut I would have brought home more than just some cheeses. 

And then there was this. 
I debated whether or not to include these images in this type of blog. Depending of the exit you take from the World Trade Center you may come upon the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 site. I think it is best we never forget so I put them in. 
<![CDATA[Dönnhoff dinner at Kawa ni]]>Tue, 17 Jan 2017 18:38:46 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/donnhoff-dinner-at-kawa-ni
I recently received an email from Ancona’s Wines & Liquors about a dinner featuring the wines of Weingut  Dönnhoff at the restaurant Kawa Ni in Westport. The event was sponsored by Ancona’s and Skurnik  Wines.  Dönnhoff is one the top producers in Germany and own some of the greatest vineyards in Germany. Being a Riesling lover I reserved a spot right away. Kawa Ni is a Japanese Izakaya, essentially a Japanese tavern where you can have a drink and small meals.  Opened just this past year by Bill Taibe who started Le Farm and The Whelk I knew this would sell out quickly but not as fast as it actually did. 
Trocken, a dry style that is finally catching on in America
Fried Oyster Bo Ssam
The opportunity to have some of the world’s best Rieslings paired with the food from a top chef drew an enthusiastic group. When Ancona’s announced the dinner they wisely did 2 sittings. 
Cornelius Dönnhoff center, and Gabe Clary on the right
Cornelius Dönnhoff works with his father, Helmut Dönnhoff who has been making the wine since 1971. Together they craft some amazing wines. Cornelius, along with Gabe Clary, who works with noted importer Terry Theise, presented the wines. They explained the differences between the vineyards and how those differences influenced the wines we tasted. Each wine was distinctive and expressive. Very limited amounts of their wine are brought into the U.S. so it is a treat to sample this many at once. 
So how was the dinner? Fantastic! I have always recommended the pairing of Riesling with Asian food and this was perhaps the ultimate way to do it. Wines with just a bit of residual sugar and bright acidity complement many Asian dishes. Well balanced wines such as these don’t come off as simply sweet, their acidity makes a them seem dryer. These Rieslings had flavors of apricot, peach, citrus, apple and minerals  that made a fine match for the varied dishes.   

Szechuan Dumplimgs
With the courses served family style it felt more like a party than a formal wine dinner.  The lively crowd enjoyed the casual vibe as the numerous dishes and wines kept coming.  I think we all appreciated that many Rieslings have a lower alcohol content than other types of wine. It makes them even more drinkable. 

I enjoy comparing wines from the same site in different years. It gives you a chance to see the weather shaped the wines. Our table was split on which vintage was their favorite. 
Hamachi Sashimi
Peekytoe Crab Rangoon
The food was even better than it looked. 

The 2004 was a mouthful of ripe apricot and just a touch of petrol that great Rieslings often show.  

Smoked Bone Marrow
I have had bone marrow before but never as good as this. The dish came out with a wonderful smoky aroma and was accompanied by clam tsukemono sauce that I could have eaten on its own.  

Thanks to everyone involved for putting on such a memorable evening. 

Video courtesy of Skurnik Wines
<![CDATA[An Evening with Jean Trimbach]]>Tue, 04 Oct 2016 13:04:14 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/an-evening-with-jean-trimbach
I had the opportunity to attend a dinner with Jean Trimbach of the
great  Maison Trimbach in Alsace. Organized by William Miller of Harry's Wine and Liquor Market the dinner took place at Artisan  in Southport on September 13, 2016.  
Photo courtesy of Maison Trimbach
This was the second time Harry's had an event featuring Jean Trimbach, I was unable to attend that one so I was more than happy to get a second chance. Sometime in the mid 1990's I was at a distributor's trade show and had my first experience with the Trimbach 1990 Frédéric Emile Riesling. I went back to that table several times to see if my first reaction was correct. This was one of the greatest wines I had ever tasted. I had tried many Alsatian Rieslings before but this was my first taste of Grand Cru Riesling.
​I bought quite a few bottles of that wine and enjoyed them over the next decade.  The wine just kept getting better. I put visiting Trimbach on my bucket list. 
We began the evening with the Trimbach 2014 Pinot Blanc. Jean called this a "Glug, Glug Wine", one that you could drink all night. He was right. A real crowd pleaser with flavors of lemon, apricot and pear. Jean brought to  our attention that it was bottled with a twist off rather than a cork. Not all markets see that type of closure. For this wine I think it makes sense. 
The Pinot Gris Reserve was next. A rich wine with stone fruit flavors, balanced acidity and dry. I commented to Jean that many of the other Pinot Gris wines I have had from Alsace had a touch of residual sugar.  Jean agreed and said that the Trimbach style has always been to produce a dry Pinot Gris. He suggested that the trend to leave a bit of sugar in other wines may have been to appeal to wine critics. 
The Frédéric Emile Cuvée line was named after Frédéric Emile Trimbach who had run the family business in the late 1800's. His wines were honored at the 1898 Brussel's international show. He brought the level of quality to the high level we see today.  The 2007 showed many layers. Apples, citrus, a touch of petrol and minerals to name a few. Dry with racy acidity, it too will continue to improve for many years. 
Over the course of the dinner, Jean shared many stories with us on a variety of topics. From his time spent in Bordeaux to his appearances in the Somm movies. He told us how he had to get a bottle from his father for the scene where he opens a 1962 Clos Ste.-Hune, Trimbach's most famous Riesling, for the Somm: Into the Bottle movie. He was happy to answer all questions and kept us enthralled with his tales. By the end of the night Jean had us all singing with him- My bottle lies over the ocean, my bottle lies over the sea, Trimbach, Trimbach, bring back my bottle to me.... When the  entire crowd joins in with the singing you know you it is a great night.
We ended with the 2013 Gewurztraminer and the Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 2008. The 2013 had all the floral and fruit flavors you expect but was not at all flabby. The acidity kept it in line along with a nice dry finish. The 2008 was exotic. So many things going on at the same time. 

The food at Artisan was every bit is good as the wines. A memorable meal indeed. 

Many thanks to Jean for taking the time to share his story with us during an incredible dinner. Maybe he will be back in our area one more time. ​
Maison Trimbach
In July of 2013 I was on a trip through Germany and into Alsace. I had set up an appointment at Maison Trimbach with one of our wine distributors. After a few other visits we arrived at Trimbach. I had been waiting years for this visit. We were warmly  greeted by Anne Trimbach. During our visit and tasting I shared with her my experience with the 1990 Frédéric Emile Riesling and asked if it was possible to get any more. Alas, no. Still, we had a wonderful visit, Anne was so charming and knowledgeable. She made us feel right at home and offered to take us on a walk into one of the adjacent Grand Cru vineyards. Just before we left Anne presented my sister and I with signed bottles of the 2007 Trimbach  Frédéric Emile Riesling. Thanks again Anne, holding on to that one for a bit longer!
Anne Trimbach

A few more pics from Alsace

<![CDATA[german wine and tapas]]>Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:30:12 GMThttp://wineunwrapped.com/wine-unwrapped-blog/german-wine-and-tapas
I attended a dinner featuring the wines of three different German producers on September 13, 2016. Sponsored by Harry's Wine & Liquor Market of Fairfield, the dinner took place at Taberna Restaurant Tapas and Wine Bar also in Fairfield. When I saw that one of the wines was a Dr. H. Thanisch Kabinett from the famous Doctor vineyard I signed up immediately. In July of 2013 I had the opportunity to "sneak" into the vineyard and this dinner would give me the chance to meet Barbara Rundquist-Müller, the owner of the winery and a part of the vineyard.
Our starter was this Sekt from Fitz Ritter. A great bubbly to start that is sadly not available to us. 
William Miller of Harry's  getting the evening started.
Ken Dane of Winesellers, Ltd. introduced the winemakers.
Paul Anheuser of the Paul Anheuser Winery presenting his wines from Nahe region. His family's connection to wine goes back to 1627.
The Blanc de Noir was 100% Pinot Noir and quite popular at our table. 
Ursula Müller of G.A. Schneider in Neirstein presented two of her Rieslings. 
The first wine was supposed to be the Paterberg but the Hipping came out instead. Ursula noticed that very quickly and a second glass was brought out for the Paterberg. It was  interesting to try them side by side. Same grape and techniques but different vineyards and ripeness levels. The wines each had their own personality. Both very good but unmistakably different.
Barbara Rundquist-Müller, owner of Dr. H. Thanisch Müller Burggraef  discussing her wines. 
This wine was a great representation of the dry style of Riesling. Dry  Rieslings are quite common in Germany but much less well known in the USA. That is a shame because they are delicious. They are also extremely versatile and can be paired with many foods. 
If I had this wine blind I would not have thought it was a Kabinett. It was richer and rounder than most other Kabinetts I have tasted. A tribute to the vineyard and the winemaker, the wine offered ginger, apple and stone fruits along with the mineral characteristic Riesling is known for. 

Barbara explained that they are using sustainable practices and do not use pesticides and herbicides. With a vineyard like this it is nice to see how much they respect the land in their care. 

In July of 2013 I visited Bernkastel while on a river cruise. I was walking up the path along side the Doctor Vineyard shown in picture above, trying to find a way in. I kept coming up to closed and locked doors. Suddenly a woman started calling to me from opened windows on the second floor of the building on the right. I first thought she was chastising me for trying to go on private property. At last I realized that she was giving me directions on how to get into the vineyard. "Doctor, Doctor" she repeated and gave me hand signals about how to get in. I called back "Danke"
and made my way in. While I felt like I was trespassing I couldn't resist taking a quick look around. Making sure not to disturb anything I left with a memory I'll cherish always.
Photo courtesy of Dr. H. Thanisch Facebook page
The food and service at Taberna were both excellent. The pace was good, no long pauses and the wines poured before the plates came out. I have to admit that my photos of the food were not very good and I did not include them. 

Thanks to William Miller for putting this evening together and to the winemakers for sharing their wines and stories with us. A big thanks to Taberna as well.