Thursday, September 24, 2009

Can you guess what MY favorite wine is?

HI All!

Those who know me well, know that I'm a Burgundy Girl all the way. Unfortunately, having a Burgundian-centric palate does have its drawbacks........Number One being price. For me, the "Holy Grail" of the Cotes du Nuits is and always will be Chambolle Musigny. I covet them, jumping at ANY opportunity to taste them or get my hands on a rare bottle from this gorgeous region. As fellow Burghounds will easily profess, it's not Chambolle's power or big structure that makes our mouths water. It is SO MUCH MORE than that. It is that beautiful, perfumed, elegant, feminine component that is both aggressive/ assertively raw and oh-so-refined all at once. It's the "What IS that?" component of this wine that makes it so intriguing to me. I have a compulsion to study it, re-taste and analyze it again and again, hoping to catch the wine in its perfect moment of development that is the height of Pinot perfection. Ok, reading this, I seem a little fanatical, but I know at least one respected Burghound, my good friend and customer, Thomas Ryder, former CEO of American Express and Chairman of Reader's Digest, owner of one of the largest Euro-centered wine collections in the country who will agree with me......Earlier this year, I had the misfortune of falling ill, with a series of hospitalizations. Tom was kind enough to call with the suggestion, "What wine will cure you?" Well, you can guess my answer!!!! An BY GOLLY, as of today, I FEEL GREAT! Thanks Tom- you were right! It worked!!!

Check out my top three picks for sensational Chambolle:

Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny Premier Cru 2006- $85- 2 cases/ 4 bottles available- Ok, LE MUSIGNY goes for $400 and up IF you're lucky enough to get your little hands on some......THIS wine is nearly 100% de-classified Musigny (yes, the GRAND cru) in the seductive blend. Serious, Serious, serious juice. A MUST experience wine! Guaranteed to make you smile!

Domaine Ponsot 2004 Chambolle 'Les Charmes'- 3 bottles available- $85- Are you kidding me? Ponsot? Available on a SHELF? Really...unheard of. Grab this rare Burg before I do!!! The "holy Grail of the Cotes du Nuits"...Right here, but not for long......


Amiot -Servelle Chambolle Musigny 2004 Derriere de la Grange- 90 points Burghound (Allen Meadows)
NOW: $75- save nearly 40%!!!!!
“A ripe and ultra elegant red pinot fruit nose precedes the precise, edgy and intense flavors that are underpinned by a linear, dry and long finish. This is absolutely striking yet fashioned in an understated, fresh and vibrant style.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Beer do Sommeliers Drink?


Sometimes it's simply too darn hot to drink wine. For instance- here's a perfect scenario- you've just finished mowing the lawn; you're dripping in sweat. You step out onto the deck to asses your handiwork. What's the quickest, most refreshing beverage to grab that doesn't require a corkscrew for immediate access? BEER! Thirst-quenching extraordinaire!

Sommeliers not only know their wines, but we simply MUST know our beers too! One of my favorite quotes while visiting wineries in Oregon last year is by winemaker Steve Dornan of Cristom Vineyards, after I was startled to find him enjoying a beer at a lavish dinner, "It takes a lot of beer to make a great wine!" Simply awesome, and oh-so-true. What do these guys drink on a 90 degree day? It ain't wine!!!

So what do winemakers and sommeliers prefer on the hottest days of summer? Well, me.....I like a Hefe-Weizen or Weisse beer (Wheat beers with a cloudy color that are so refreshing with a slice of orange or lemon). These have a citrus-y note and a lemon-chiffon texture- soft and easy on the acidity.

I'm also a big IPA girl, though the fruitiness of the hops in these beers reminds me more of Fall than anything, with hints of milk chocolate and honey. If you're an IPA kinda guy or gal, you must try the Pinnacle of IPAs, which is Dogfish Head- SERIOUS stuff, and is like drinking a fine Pomerol. If you're an IPA virgin, then start off with something easy to drink, like Harpoon- another personal favorite.

Sometimes its a good 'ol-fashioned Pilsener I'm craving- light crisp, and refreshing- sort of the Sauvignon blanc of the beer world. I like the imports here, such as Pilsener Urquell, or Bitburger Pils from Germany.

Lastly, if I'm having a good steak, and want a heartier beer to stand up to my BBQ/ smoky flavors, I go to Porters or Stouts. For Domestic- do either the Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter, or Sam Adams Honey Porter. For imported, I recommend Sam Smith's Taddy Porter- it totally rocks! On the Stouts- the biggest is still my go-to- of course, Guinness.....But, I've got to tell you, Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout is like a fine meal unto itself- rich and creamy on the palate, with that bitter coffee and dark chocolate hints. Like a fine cigar!

Ok, so grab a 6 of your style of preference, and do it up this August- time's a wasting, and the weather's not this hot for long!!!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What to drink in cowboy boots.....

Hi Y'all!

I just returned from a week in Jackson Hole Wyoming for my best gal's wedding, and BOY, can I tell you- these Westerners sure know their wines! Granted, the beer and whiskey is what keeps the cowboys running to the saloon after a hard day of riding on the ranch, but for me, it was some great wines while kicking back in the hot tub, or watching the sunset behind the Teton Mountain Range in the late evening.

Now, I presumed that 85 degree weather was going to call for ice- cold beer and the occasional Sauvignon Blanc, but when I found out that 90% of the local cuisine was big game, it was time to bring on some equally big reds. I knew from the moment I hopped in the taxi, and our driver boasted of his recent hunting bounty (bear), which he promptly made into jerky (he claimed it's too tough to chew otherwise)- who knew?, that I had to find a wine shop- and fast!!!

Thank goodness Jackson is a "gentleman's ranch town"- complete with $5 and $10million vacation homes, and therefore some REALLY great wine shops. The guys at Dornan's were more than happy to oblige my obscure requests for chillable but hearty reds. Here's what I ended up with:

Remember for reds that can take a little chill try Cabernet Franc, Gamay/ Beaujolais/ and some lighter/ less woody Pinot Noirs

Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvee Terroir ($23)
Domaine de Vissoux Moulin Au Vent- ($29)
Permutations Pinot Noir (yes I'm STILL TOTALLY HOOKED ON THIS AUSSIE PINOT- BACK OFF!!!- $15)
Matua Pinot Noir- ($12)
Roc du Chateauvieux Pinot Noir - ($13)
even this malbec- Calzo ($10) worked with some chill time!

And I have to say- the HIT of the week was this awesome wine that is impossible to find (Thank you Steven from Jess Jackson Wine Estates for tracking it down for me!)......If you find it, you have to BUY IT and send me some!!!!

Byron IO Ryan Road Syrah OR their Rhone Blend of Sryah and Grenache-@ $70- omg!- Really OVER the top. Before I headed to Jackson, my dear friend Danielle Botros of Majestic Wines brought a bottle to a "Rhone Ranger" Tasting I was hosting, and it BLEW my doors off. Inky-black in color, with Moroccan spices, cloves and blackberry jam. Just to die for. I had it in Jackson at my friend's reception, and I paired it with Elk Sausage in a black currant and pepper reduction. Nothing better- really. Buy it!

Monday, July 13, 2009

A case of the Mondays

Hi Everyone,

I truly hate the expression "Someone's got a case of the Mondays", but sadly, I'm there. So what's the wine for a melancholy day? For me it's gotta be something heartwarming, endearing even, that reminisces one of home-cooking, that favorite old boyfriend's sweatshirt from college, or the cozy shawl grandma knit for me. How does this at all relate to wine- BELIEVE me, it DOES! I need that wine that enraptures your senses, bringing on a sense of "Om" or serious calm that I only get in certain asanas in my Bikram yoga class. A wine that screams, "I'm giving you a TOTAL do-over for your day, and tomorrow will be the best day ever." Tall order, yes, but here's some wines up for the challenge.

Wines that give me the warm and fuzzies tend to be similarly textured, coating my palate in soft, chewy tannins. My go-to for this style is Amarone look- alikes, such as Valpolicella Ripasso (I'm digging Zenato these days), or Southern Rhones, ie Cotes du Rhone Villages or Cotes du Ventoux (try Pesquie Terrasses) and the occasional northern Rhone- Crozes Hermitage(Remizieres rocks). Sometimes- (don't laugh my wine geeky friends), I even like a plush, fruity, soft California Zinfandel that doesn't require a masters degree to figure out- just pure enjoyment without any headgames. I LOVE Green Meadow for $16; the big body and lush texture with a jammy fruitiness makes me wanna run for the couch.

So, tonight it's me, a bottle of Crozes, and some cookie dough- yes Haute Cuisine at it's finest.....But DAMN good and awfully comfy......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Going SUPER Green....

Hello fellow “Greenies”-
Biodynamic is all the rage- and for GREAT reason. It’s good for us and good for the planet. Plus, it’s mighty tasty. The Europeans have been practicing Organic/ Sustainable farming for centuries. For them, it’s simply how you make wine. Know Domaine de la Romanee Conti? Zind Humbrecht? Pingus? Yup- they are ALL Biodynamic! Why? Biodynamic farming simply allows great terroirs (soil sites) to sing to the best of their abilities. Americans have caught the bug, due to a large European influence in California winemaking over the past 15-20 years. The thought of having no usable vineyards left in 20 years gave the winery owners pause. So that being said, some of the top growers, ESPECIALLY Cult Wineries like: Araujo, Quintessa, Joseph Phelps, Robert Sinskey, Grgich Hills, are spreading the word and producing earth- conscious wines.
Biodynamics is sometimes called the “Rolls Royce” of organic farming. It is VERY expensive to do, and extremely difficult to become certified. It is a holistic approach to farming, which looks at the entire property, including people and animals living and working there, as one ecosystem. By biodynamic regulations, 1/3 of the property must be dedicated to some other type of crop, be it wildflowers, cotton, avocados, raising sheep- anything but grapes. In this way, the land doesn’t get “used up”.
I traveled to Willamette Valley, Oregon last year and spent several days learning about this farming practice. I tasted wines blind, spent hours in the vineyards doing soil studies, and attended lectures conducted by Oregon and California's top growers- all advocates for sustainable farming. Tony Soter, of Etude and Soter vineyards, is leading the charge, urging enighboring wineries to follow suit. What I learned and saw was astonishing. Can you believe some of their tractors run on biodiesel, and if any fuel leaks into the soil they lose their certification? Talk about strict! Roses grew at the end of each row, used as a barometer for possible pest infestations (roses are SUPER-sensitive to the same pests as grapes, and therefore let vineyard managers know there's a problem before the vines get effected). It was bizarre to see a random tree or shrub stuck in the middle of a dizzying row of vines. Apparently, according to biodynamic laws, they are not allowed to disturb any living thing on the property from its habitat, and therefore have to work around these obstacles rather than remove them. Pretty cool, I think!

The people working there must have access to medical insurance, and this includes day laborers employed for harvest time. Natural pest control, including bat houses, owl houses, and the occasional Golden Retriever are all employed to avoid the use of pesticides. Soil mineral balance is carefully maintained by planting cover crops and plowing them under to control weeds. What does all this mean for you? Great wine that’s great for your cellar and the planet. Everyone wins!

AND, at this One-Week Only 25% Off Sale Price, you can KEEP some green!!!

At Stew's Wine Shop in Norwalk!!!

2005 Benziger Tribute
94 points Wine Enthusiast “Cellar Selection”
“Softly lush, complex in flavor, this Cabernet-based Bordeaux blend impresses with power and authority. Thoroughly dry and firm in tannins, it shows classic flavors of black currants and cedar, with intricate notes of cherries, violets, tobacco, mocha and beef jerky. Beautiful now, and should develop for a decade.”

Regular Price: $75

NOW: $56.25- Save 25%
2 and ½ cases available

2005 Quintessa
Amy’s Pick- “This is, for me, the most profound Quintessa I have tasted in my career. It has such opulence and elegance. Its seamless texture builds in intensity on the long finish, resulting in a lingering licorice and smoky blackberry palate that goes on and on. I truly love this wine, for both its approachability and tannic structure, ensuring it a decade of cellaring easily.”
“Top Cabernet” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Regular Price: $150

Now $112.50- Save 25%
2 cases available

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

4th of July "Go-to" wines

It's me, a cooler, some soppressata, manchego, St. Andre, chips and guacamole, and of course- WINE this weekend- all headed out for some fun in the sun; a little boating, a little beach, a little dinnertime on the patio with friends....What more can a girl ask for? Hmmmm.....Something affordable, refreshing, and great with burgers, dogs, steaks AND lobster. Wow- tough bill to fill! Well...NOT REALLY! Some wines are so gosh darn versatile that they'll travel as spontaneously as you do! Try these on for size, and they won't disappoint this weekend....

  • REDS:
  • Montepulciano: check out Quattro Mani- soft, easy to drink and not heavy
  • Pinot Noir: My all time favorite red- great with tuna steaks and lobster too- try Permutations Pinot Noir from Australia- it's juicy and delicious!
  • Beaujolais- Throw a little chill on Beaujolais, and you're in great company! it is the perfect burger wine on a hot day.Period! Check out George Duboeuf Regnie
  • Cabernet Franc- yes, that's NOT a typo- there's a fabulous grape grown in the region of Chinon, Loire, France, California, and Chile that is simply FAB! The depth of texture in Cabernet Sauvignon without the weight, with lots of chewy fruit, and a hint of Moroccon spices! Try Charles Joguet Chinon Cuvee Terroir
  • Grenache- comes in all shapes and sizes, but I'm a fan of two totally different styles- one being the Ogier from Cotes du Rhone (soft and silky) and the Evodia (big and bold)- it just depends upon my mood, the temperature, and my food!


  • Chenin Blanc- I LOVE this grape! It's fruitier than Sauvignon Blanc, but without being cloying- it generally has a crisp finish- especially styles from the United States and South Africa- check out the Cape of Good Hope from S. Africa, and the Pine Ridge Chenin/ viognier from California
  • Riesling- I can't get enough of the stuff- especially once summer hits. This grape really stands up to just about anything you throw at it- Seriously! Try Wurtz Riesling for a BONE dry style, or St. Urbans Hof for a medium-dry beauty.
  • Verdejo- Huh? What's that? It's a cool Spanish white from the high altitude region of Rueda, where nothing grows but this awesomely crisp white. A great Sauvignon Blanc alternative- Analivia is my favorite under $10
  • Sauvignon Blanc- My old standby- really hard to screw this grape up unless, of course you add too much wood, and THAT's just gross......However, the un-oaked styles with hints of fresh mown hay and pineapple entice me seductively- like the Chateau Magence- it's CRAZY inexpensive, and from Graves, Bordeaux!


  • Anything goes for me here (I'm so easy, and so is Rose'~ LOL!) Try Mesache, Muga, Coppola Sofia, La Scolca Chiara, and Domaine Tempier Bandol. These will ROCK your world!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bordeaux meets Rhone in Southern Italy!.....

Hi Everyone,

You know how excited I get when I’m madly in love with a new wine! Well, I am just tickled to have stumbled upon this gorgeous red. Piero Incisa della Roccheta is the proprietor of the famed Super Tuscan, Sassicaia. He has been making headlines with his innovative new projects in Sardinia and Patagonia. His wines are known to age 30+ years, with the class of a First Growth Bordeaux. He has this incredible property called Agricola Punica on the island of Sardinia, which grows some of the oldest Carignan vines in the world, along with Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
Many of you are familiar with a pricier wine from this estate- BARRUA, which is like a glorious Chateauneuf du Pape meets Bordeaux. Big, chewy tannins, high acidity leading to dense blackberry fruit with a persistent finish. The nose has a hint of anise, smoke, and tart raspberry. Serious, Serious wine. Sold elsewhere for $30+! LIMITED………..

Montessu 2005
$24.99/ 2 for $40

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Best New Pinots

HI Folks,

I've been tasting TOO many really awesome Pinot Noirs lately. From Burgundy to New Zealand to Willamette Valley, Oregon, there is simply a lot of killer juice out there. What's a girl to do?'s simple really- I've been totally addicted to these tuna and salmon burgers I get at Costco- they're frozen (yes, blasphemous, but it's hard for me to "pop into" a grocery store for fresher stuff these days with Elvis at my side). .....I throw these puppies on the grill, toss salad from garden with avocados and balsamic (NO TOMATOS- FYI- they DO NOT LIKE PINOT!), and get my corkscrew. Ooh- good question for you folks- what's your favorite type of corkscrew? I have this cheap plastic waiter's key with a VERY cool foilcutter I bought in Beaune, France, and have held onto for over a decade. Oldie but a goodie. I digress.....

So, for value, I've been drinking a couple yummy Pinots- one being Cono Sur Sustainable from Chile. ($12) Cool thing about this little wine is its surprising depth, and intensely fruity profile without being sweet, (some of the cheapies are SUPER sweet- ugh). It even has a little backbone. LOVELY....Then I head across the southern hemisphere for a New Zealand Pinot- try Mud House ($15). This is a dead ringer for a great little Bourgogne Rouge without the pricetag. NZ is the SOUTHERNMOST place in the world for growing grapes- (cool little fact). For more serious Pinots from NZ, look for ones hailing from Otago- the country's premier growing region for the juice.....GREAT acidity- perfect with my above mentioned salad.

My personal faves come from Willamette Oregon. Unfortunately, they tend to get pretty pricey, but DAMN, are they good! Definitely worth the price of admission.....Ones from the Dundee Hills get to be powerful, blackberry scented Pinots with rich texture, and a core of minerality that makes them age well. I just bought this Arterberry Maresh Dundee Hills Pinot 2006 ($70). Yes, it's pricey, but holy cow- this is SERIOUS! It is BY FAR the best American Pinot Noir I've tasted this year. Trust me- I taste a LOT of 'em.....It also received the highest score in 06 of any Oregon Pinot from Stephen Tanzer- A Pinot geek like myself. Big, rich, refined, juicy, and so, so long!!! I've been dreaming about my next bottle....

Within the stratosphere is a wine made by wine-making demi-god Tony Soter- pioneer of great Napa and Oregon Pinot, and at the head of the West Coast Organic and Sustainable winemaking movement. I attended a seminar at Pinot Camp (yes there is a camp for us freaks each year where we eat, drink, and breathe Pinot for a whole week- it rocks!), with Tony, and learned more in 3 hours about organic/ biodynamic farming than I would have at a whole semester at UC Davis. He owns Etude in Napa, and the Soter estate in Willamette. His North Valley Pinot ($32) is from the coolest regions of the valley, where he achieves incredible freshness, acidity, and balance. Incredibly approachable, and drinks like a beautiful Savigny Les Beaune. Important to remember: Willamette is THE SAME latitude as Burgundy, France, so you're going to get similar styles of Pinot (generally), with the exception of those from the ultra north, where the soil goes from limestone to volcanic.

ooh- almost forgot! Pinot makes one of my OTHER favorite wines in the whole wide world...Ros`e! Try the La Scolca Chiara Rosato ($15). It is Pinot Noir from PIEDMONT, Italy, and is beautiful- silky strawberry, hints of white pepper, and a long, clean finish. It is served every year at the Queen of England's birthday celebration! Classy too!!!

Ok- enough with the Pinot babble- I could wax poetic on Pinot for days. A couple "take-aways" for you on Pinot:

The Best Pinots:
  • Come from cool climates (Champagne, NZ, Oregon, Russian river Valley, Santa Rita Hills, Burgundy, Patagonia
  • Have a zippy, "fresh" acidity (they should feel clean, not cloying on your palate)
  • Are drinkable in the near to mid-term (1-6 years)
  • Smell like grapes (sounds silly, but more true of Pinot than any other red grape)
  • Have a delicate texture, even if tannic- the tannins are linear like a fine laser beam on your palate
  • Unfortunately, are LIMITED, as Pinot is a PAIN to grow- Winemakers call it "The Heartbreak Grape"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rose'- it's not just for chicks

Hi Folks,

It is MUGGY outside! There is nothing more refreshing or a better cure to "Beat the Heat" than a gorgeous glass of the pink stuff! (and I'm not talkin' lemonade). For perfect example- yesterday I did some yummy lamb chops on the grill with a dry rub of cumin and clove and rosemary over tossed salad with balsamic. It was sticky as heck outside, and as much as I love a great glass of Syrah, I wasn't about to stoop to chucking ice cubes in the glass. So what did I grab? A bottle of Syrah Rose', of course! Its incredible acidity, and moderate tannins cut through the spice and fattiness of the lamb. The floral strawberry notes brought out the sweetness of the balsamic- just divine! Try the following:

  • Mesache Rosado from Spain

  • Relais de Cavalier from Provence

  • Chapoutier Bellaruche Cotes du Rhone

  • Falesco Vitiano from Umbria, Italy