Archive for September, 2009

My Favorite Wine Books & Publications

Friday, September 25th, 2009 | wine educator | No Comments

It’s imperative that I continue to remain educated when it comes to my passion of wine. Whether it’s reading up on the latest and greatest wines, needing to understand the differences between Rioja and Riebera del Duero, unable to pronounce ‘Txacoli’ or just need a bit of wine humor to get me through the rough spots, I turn towards my favorite wine books.

Here’s a good sampling for the inquiring minds who want to know…

  • Red, White And Drunk All Over - A Wine Soaked Journey From Grape to Glass‘ by Natalie MacLean

Natalie has a solid wine background and comes from the north country of Canada, ay (and no, i didn’t just pick this book because she holds a fantastic name as my own) . She’s a wonderful writer, sommelier and expert of off-beat food & wine pairings. She covers the gamut of regions, history, wines, anecdotal humor and covers ‘people to know’ in the wine business in her book. She’s light, bubbly, sociable, a motivated learner and she passes on her knowledge and passion through her writing. Oh, and you can sign up for her very own free newsletter, Nat Decants at www.nataliemaclean.com. It’s part of my email inbox…what are YOU waiting for?

  • The Grail - A year rambling & shambling through an Oregon vineyard in pursuit of the best pinot noir wine in the whole wild world‘ by Brian Doyle

I am in love with Oregon. I’ve never been there, I’ve never known anyone who lived there nor had I ever sipped on a wine from there until about 3 years ago. I am madly in love and his name is Willamette Valley! Specifically, Dundee Hills. Doyle runs around with Jesse Lange from Lange Vineyards for a full season to get a real taste of what life if like working, producing and selling wine on what is essentially ‘just a farm’. A farm?? Such humble words. I felt like I was reading poetry. Doyle does a fantastic job of relaying not only the chaos that takes place on most vineyards, but the history of the land and, more importantly, the seductiveness of making wine. This is THE book that put my love of Oregon Pinots on the Wino Tasting map!

  • ‘Great Wine Made Simple’ by Andrea Immer

This was the FIRST book I ever read that helped me hone in on my wine selling skills back in the day of Barcelona Restaurant. It is a superb, concise and informative read on the major wine basics. Just don’t ask me about Italy… I still get stumped to this day. HAHA! But if you just want a good, overall summary of wine, the major grapes, regions, tasting notes and how to read labels, this is the book for you! I highly recommend it to ANYONE just getting their feet wet and don’t know where to start. You can read my other experiences with this book here.

  • ‘The Wine Bible’ by Karen MacNeil

I received this fantastic book as a birthday gift and what a wonderful reference book it makes! I even utilized it to understand some of the history of Spanish wines during my Wine Educator’s course back in July! This is a MUST as part of your collection. It’s a nice thick book too, so it doubles nicely as a coffee table book / wine glass coaster! :)

Other Publications to keep you in the ‘know’:

Next in my reading queue:

Do you have a favorite wine-related book you’d like to share? I’m open to suggestions!
Cheers!

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Labor Day Weekend Wine Outtings In Connecticut

Friday, September 4th, 2009 | Favorite Wine Destinations, wine events | 3 Comments

Ok, long weekend coming up! So, what’s a wino to do with her/himself? Here are some ideas for you! Don’t complicate it, just grab a bottle of your favorite wine, some cheese and crackers and stay local.

Some fun wine-related outtings to keep you enjoying the weather, to keep it local and to help you discover new places.

Restaurants:

Fairfield, CT: Get yourself out to Cafe Lola! This is a wonderfully shabby-chic, French bistro restaurant that always brings a smile to my face. The ambiance, the food, the staff, the music all make my heart sing. Bring a friend, a relative, a date, your significant other; they are sure to be delighted! Read my full review here.

Some recent food finds here are the Escargot, perfectly succulent little guys soaked in butter, garlic, fresh herbs with a melt-ability factor of 10 when they hit your tongue.

The Steak Tartar is an absolute MUST if it’s on the menu! This was done a tad differently than I’ve had it before. It was richer, tastier, great use of capers and the bread went fantastic to spread or dip with!

And make sure you get the FRIES! Whoa…. won’t say anything more here… just try them! Desserts were simple and very tasty. The Tarte Au Pommes Provençale (Apple Tart) I shared with my friend was surprisingly light, but FAR from disappointing. Pair up with some Madame Pigalles (Champagne, St. Germaine Liquor & Abolut Pears) for a wonderful finish.

South Norwalk, CT: Match is celebrating it’s 10th year birthday party with 1999 Prices on all Dinner Menu items. Now that’s a deal!

Start Time: Monday, September 14, 2009 at 5:00pm

End Time: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 10:00pm

Location: 98 Washington St

City/Town: South Norwalk, CT

Take 50% off your Dinner of the Month Club purchase. Use code MENU, now thru 9/8/09 at Restaurant.com.

Milford, CT: Bistro Basque is toting a beautiful outdoor patio and it’s going to be a superb weekend for outdoor eats and wine! Romantic, but busy and close quarters.

My food recommendations if you go: Txiperones, Gambas al Ajillo, Pequillo Peppers, The House Fish Special and Duck Confit (falls right off the bone). Great wine selection by the glass and bottle, or you can have the owner, David, choose for you. The man has a wonderful palate!

Wineries to Visit:

Hopkins Vineyard (Warren, CT)- Bring a small picnic and sample their tasty wines. Sit out back on one of the picnic benches, or go down by Lake Waramaug for a stroll! Very bike and kid-friendly here! The Lady Rose wine is out and will make a wonderful accompaniment to most lunch-time eats and picnic fare.

http://www.hopkinsvineyard.com/index.asp

McLaughlin Vineyards (Sandy Hook, CT) - LIVE Music on Sunday, 1-4pm, some hot Brazilian Jazz!

Pretty stoked about this one. they have a great wide lawn to bring a blanket to snuggle up on to listen to great tunes and share some fabulous wine. You can only get McLaughlin wines at the winery, so try to make it up there! It does cost money for the music scene ($15 online / $18 pp at the door). But a few clams will be worth it. :) Plus, hiking, winery tours available.

http://www.mclaughlinvineyards.com/

Jonathan Edwards (North Stonington, CT) -http://www.jedwardswinery.com/

Gouveia (Wallingford, CT) - LIVE Entertainment from 4-7pm, Sat, Sept 5th! Don Pierson will be playing. Bring your friends, family, book club, whatever and enjoy your own food with some great wine! Check out the sunset view!!

http://www.gouveiavineyards.com/

Sunset Meadows (Goshen, CT) - September 5, 6, & 7th: Sunset Meadow Vineyards will be at the Goshen Fair selling glasses of their award-winning wines. Stop by their booth and enjoy a glass! The tasting room will be open normal weekend hours, including 11 -5 on Labor Day.

Make sure to try their Cayuga white and also their Red blend. I enjoyed all their wines and one of owners, Judy, is just a delight. Do say hello!

http://www.sunsetmeadowvineyards.com/index.html

WHAT WILL YOU BE DOING FOR YOUR LONG WEEKEND? LEAVE A NOTE AND IDEAS!

Cheers, everyone!

Kronick Wino

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The Cool Grapes of Connecticut’s Wine Trail

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 | Favorite Wine Destinations, Hopkins, vineyard | 2 Comments

Cold, snow, leaves changing color, New York City, Martha’s Vineyard….most of you out there might think there’s just a lot of preppy talk going on up here in New England. What many people don’t know is that Connecticut, despite it’s continually changing weather, beaches along the Sound and clam bakes, we’re toting almost 40 different vineyards, 26 which are active wineries!

It might be strange to think of Connecticut as a state where one would go winery hopping, but the diversity of micro-climates, rocky soil and rolling hills make it a prime grape-growing region.
Two main wine trails make up the coveted land along winding back roads: The Western (Highlands) & Eastern (Shoreline) Trail.
The major grape varietals found in this coastal state are: Cabernet Franc, Cayuga (Riesling’s sister), Seyval Blanc (similar to Sauvignon Blanc), Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc (think Muscat).

One well-known vineyard on the map is Hopkins Vineyard up in the beautiful hills of Litchfield County. This winery, owned and operated by Hillary Hopkins, has been active for 30 years and is the first established winery in the state. The family-owned property dates back to over 200 years, originally as a tobacco and dairy farm. Around 30 acres surround the estate with over 10 different varietals planted. It’s the only winery in the state to produce it’s own Sparkling Wines, one of which is made with Estate-Grown Pinot Noir & Chardonnay in the traditional method and the only traditional Ice Wine (wine made from frozen Vidal Blanc grapes, because it does get that cold around here).
Winery Website: www.hopkinsvineyard.com

Wine To Look For

Hopkins Vineyard - ‘Westwind’: 100% Cayuga grapes, steel fermented.  A lovely nose of grapefruit and lemon, semi-sweet flavor and mouthfeel of nectarines, apple, melon with vibrant, crisp finish.

This past weekend took me out to the eastern side of the state where I generally don’t venture. Once such stop on the trail was Priam Winery. A 40-acre estate on a tucked away, shabby chic barn house in the quiet town of Colchester. The vineyard welcomed me with a gorgeous array of free-spirited gardens, a covered patio terrace to sip on your favorite glass of wine and chat with a friend. The highlight grape at Priam is the St.Croix grape; a grape from Minnesota! The flavor is earthy, yet with a floral aroma and a light fruity flavor, similar to Merlot or Chambourcin. DO add a chocolate pairing to your tasting…your taste-buds will thank you.
Winery Website: www.priamvineyards.com

Wine To Look For
‘Salmon River Red’: A traditional Bordeaux style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon barrel-aged one year. Blackberry on the nose, black pepper, black currant and leather on the palate. Finishes with oak and tannin. Very smooth medium-bodied wine! Wonderful with a good piece of dark chocolate!

Gouveia (Goo-Vay-ah), 140-acre hilltop winery, where the noise spills out the door! This place is jammin’ with a smorgasbord of people sharing their own family-style meals with live music. And what a view! The Gouveia family positioned the winery right at the top of a hill overlooking the vineyards, sheep grazing and small ponds. This vineyard was first planted in 1999 and opened to the public in 2004. They cultivate about 25 acres of all their own grapes, with only a few outsourced. The main grape leader here is Cabernet Franc, which is common state-wide. Secondly, Cayuga and Chardonnay.
Winery Website: www.gouveiavineyards.com

Wine To Look For
‘Stone House White’: A Semi-sweet wine that combines classic Chardonnay and crisp Seyval Blanc and Vignoles. Flavors of bisquity breads, light melon fruit that blend superbly from careful aging in mostly steel tanks.

For a complete list of Connecticut Wineries and Vineyards, you can visit http://www.ctwine.com/. Hope you enjoy the Nutmeg State as much as I do! Check out some of my other wine-hopping stories here.

Cheers!

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