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.
So who won?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Italian organization Gambero Rosso publishes a guide to Italian wines called Vini d'Italia. It has grown from its eight page start to a very comprehensive book of 900+ pages and reviews of over 2,000 producers. The English translation is published as Italian Wines. Their unique, and refreshing, rating system rates wine with one glass, two glasses, or three glasses- Tre Bicchieri. Tre Bicchieri being the top wines of Italy. On July 13, 2016 Ancona's Wines and Liquors in Ridgefield organized a tasting of six Tre Bicchieri wines. (along with a couple of extras that Wine Director Codey Foster threw in) The wines were a nicely varied selection, all from different regions.
There are quite a few farm to table dinners these days. How about a Long Island Sound to table dinner? Chef Plum's latest Underground Dinner was held on the docks of Norm Bloom and Son's Norwalk facility on June 25, 2016. Wines were provided by Renee Fontaine of 3 Badge Enology. With perfect weather, fresh seafood paired with wine, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary.
I received an invitation to the second annual Southwest Wines of France Gourmet French Fries Competition that was held on June 16, 2016. The event was presented by WINE ENTHUSIAST at the Hotel Eventi in New York City. Spending the afternoon tasting gourmet fries and wine seemed like a good idea.
The event was well organized and set up with five stations. A chef at each station presented their take on the fries along with an assortment of wines from Southwest France.
Wine Unwrapped Blog, I will post about wine events, dinners, memorable wines and anything else that sparks my interest.