There are a lot of things trending right now in the adult beverage world. Rose, Froze, Hard Seltzers, Canned Wines and Cocktails. And then there is craft beer—perhaps on another level—which continues to bask in its ever-growing popularity. Continue reading
Tales From a Chocolatier
Located high in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain range in the heart of the Rockies resides a small chocolatier company—with huge arms —that produces some of world’s best chocolate. Meaning “by hand” and “they love” in Italian, Amano prides itself on sourcing only the world’s very best cacao beans and ingredients. Continue reading
Q&A with New Travel Social Platform CEO LeAnn Campas
Travevel is a new platform that combines the familiarity and interactivity of a social platform with user generated content focused on travel, tourism, exploration and adventure. Travevel’s interactive platform is ad-free and filled with user-generated image and video travel content, including an interactive map. Here’s what CEO LeAnn Campas has to say about the future of travel and social media’s role.
Q. Why are travel and social media so synergistic?
A. Social media is visual and there are few things more visually interesting than travel images and videos. The two were made for each other. Additionally, the vast majority of us put more weight on personal experiences, and there is no better way to share our adventures, explore others’ experiences and interact with them than through a social platform.
Q. Does Travevel lend itself more to user-generated content (UGC) than some other genres and if so why?
A. UGC always carries more weight and credibility to consumers than any form of paid content and we have seen growing frustration from users of other platforms as to the aggressive amount of ads they are seeing, which has a negative impact on the user experience. With Travevel, our mission is to focus on authentic content from personal users. While business user accounts will be a part of the platform, the content they upload cannot be branded or watermarked, nor can they pay any additional fees for their content to be prioritized or shown in a different manner than individual user content. We want to ensure that the user has full control over what they see and how they interact with not only other users, but businesses as well.
Q. What is it like launching a travel-oriented social media platform during a worldwide pandemic that has brought the travel industry to its knees?
A. There is no question that this is a challenging time to develop and launch Travevel, however, we have found there to be some benefits to the timing. Through speaking with other travelers worldwide who have had severe restrictions placed on their movements and activities, we have seen even more enthusiasm about future travel not only from frequent travelers, but from those who didn’t have any plans pre-pandemic. A very large number of people have been actively researching and exploring new destinations to escape this new, and drastically different normal. Travevel is a platform that helps users plan now for travel later.
Q. Will COVID-19 change the future of travel even after a vaccine? What are the positives and negatives that will come out of this for the travel industry?
A. Based on the dramatic increase in activity we have seen in the last few months as more destinations started to open, I feel the only thing that will prevent a return to normal levels next year will be limitations on air transportation and rolling travel restrictions across the globe. Being shut in for so long has certainly seemed to increase interest in travel and new experiences, which should greatly benefit the industry. The main negative long-term will be transportation and occupancy based. It may take some time to see the effects of reduced airline routes combined with destinations operating a reduced occupancy. Unfortunately, at least in the short-term, employees will bear the brunt of these decreases.
Q. What are some destinations you recommend right now for Americans based on COVID-19 restrictions and protocols and all the headwinds associated with them.
A. While it is difficult to put together a list, there are so many amazing National parks and outdoors destinations close to home, no matter where you live. Internationally we have been very impressed with the protocols and restrictions imposed by Jamaica since the country reopened in July. Requiring a negative COVID test, designating a tourism corridor and mandatory masking in public areas have been very effective, and to date, they haven’t had any cases by guests or staff at resorts. We have visited four times since July and have always felt safe. Many countries are now reopening to tourism with a wide range of protocols in place from Mexico with no testing or authorization required, to others where a negative test is required as little as 48 hours prior to arrival in addition to travel authorizations, mandatory insurance. From our personal viewpoint, we prefer to travel to an area with well thought out, and in some cases, challenging safety protocols. These are interesting times for travel and we strongly encourage others to visit destinations that make you feel safe and comfortable based on your personal situation.
Q. What will travel look like in 2021?
A. There is certainly no shortage of people wanting to get away. The struggle will be finding available space in both transportation and lodging because of reduced routes and capacity. These transportations challenges could very well lead to a dramatic increase in weekend trips to parks, beaches and other outdoor attractions close to home.
Q. Any tips for travelers in 2021 and beyond?
A. Be flexible, be patient, and be understanding. The entire world has changed and everyone is still figuring things out.
Power and Elegance
Bordeaux style blends from Napa Valley have always been a favorite of mine. Whether it’s a left bank style (heavier on the Cabernet Sauvignon), a right bank style (heavier on the Merlot and Cab Franc) or somewhere in the middle, the concept of blending varietals together to make a more rounded, complex wine has been around for a long time. The French championed the style a couple centuries ago in Bordeaux—more out of necessity than preference, since their climate does not always yield ripe enough fruit. Thus blending was needed to smooth out the edges and soften the tannins. Napa’s trailblazer vintners were initially reticent to blend because they did not want to copy the French—nor did they need to. Thanks to its warm climate and consistently sunny days during most of the growing season, a lack of ripeness is rarely a problem in Napa. But the practice eventually took hold nonetheless. Joseph Phelps is considered by many to be the first winery in Napa Valley to practice the technique, back in the 1970’s. Their flagship wine “Insignia,” considered the first Bordeaux-style blend in Napa, remains one of my favorite wines.
Of course, many producers in Napa Valley still prefer to make 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and excel at it. Caymus Special Selection and Shafer Hillside Select are two of the most revered Napa cabs on the market, with international name recognition and cult-like status. Thanks in part to ideal vineyards plots, perfect soil and a long growing season—these producers can make world-class red wines that consist of 100% Cabernet, yet with decidedly soft, plush tannins and layers of complexity that might easily be mistaken for a blend. While most Napa wineries tend to concentrate and excel at one or the other, a few excel at both.
Located in the Stag’s Leap district of Napa Valley, Cliff Lede Vineyards is one of these producers that has mastered both. They make blends—namely their “Claret” and “High Fidelity” labels. And they make Cabernet—though depending on the label and the vintage it could be anywhere from 85% to 100% Cabernet, give or take a few percentage points. All of their wines, even their Sauvignon Blanc, are extraordinary in my opinion. Before I delve more into their wines, let’s take a quick look at the winery itself and it’s rather short, yet successful history in Napa Valley.
Cliff Lede Vineyards was established in 2002 by Canadian born Bordeaux enthusiast, Cliff Lede, following the acquisition of a sixty acre estate in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley. With a focus on producing wines from estate vineyards, Lede tapped David Abreu, considered the best viticulturist in Napa Valley, to replant the vineyards. Lede decided to name each vineyard block after some of his favorite rock songs and albums—from “My Generation” to “Dark Side of the Moon,” creating what is known today as the Cliff Lede Vineyards “Rock Blocks.” In 2005, a state of the art, 25,000 square foot winery and cave system was etched into a hillside overlooking the estate vineyards. Winemaker Christopher Tynan crafts Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, with the flagship, Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from the steep eastern hillside portion of the estate.
Stag’s Leap District
Ok, so what makes these wines special? After all, Napa Valley is home to a lot of great producers. For me, it’s the balance, complexity and polish of their wines. And while winemaker Christopher Tynan deserves a lot of credit, even he would probably agree that the vineyard plots Cliff Lede lays claim to in the Stag’s Leap District play a major role in the final product. There are 16 AVAs in total in Napa Valley and each one has different characteristics. Yet, while the differentiating characteristics of these AVAs can be debated, it is hard to argue against the notion that Stag’s Leap District Cabernets have distinctively softer, silkier tannins than their neighboring AVAs. This is what SLD Cabernets are known for. Power and elegance.
Situated in southeastern Napa Valley, along the Silverado Trail, about five miles north of the city of Napa, the Stags Leap District is only about a mile wide and three miles in length. This makes it is one of the smallest AVAs in Napa Valley. And given its southern location in Napa Valley, it is also one of the cooler AVAs, resulting in a more subdued style of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Often referred to as a “valley within a valley,” the district is bounded on the east by the towering Stags Leap Palisades, to the west by the rolling hills and Napa River, to the north by the Yountville Cross Road, and to the south by low-lying flatlands. These landscape features lend the district its clear physical identity while a unique set of topographical characteristics make it ideal climate for growing Cabernet.
Says the Stag’s Leap District Winegrowers Association, “The rock facades of the palisades reflect the heat of the sun onto the vineyards below, causing temperatures to rise more quickly than in neighboring vineyards. As afternoon draws to a close, the hills funnel the cool, marine air flowing north from the San Pablo Bay through the Stags Leap District corridor. The cooling effect of this breeze, coupled with nighttime air drainage off the mountains and hills, means lower nighttime temperatures. This allows the grapes to achieve an excellent balance of acid and sugar and also minimizes the threat of frost. The end result is a longer growing season of warm days and cool nights—perfect for late-maturing varietals such as Cabernet.”
Cliff Lede currently produces a total of 10 Cabernet and Bordeaux-style blends. While all of them are muscular enough to stand up to a steak or lamb chops in the heart of winter they are also very elegant wines that can be enjoyed anytime of year with a wide array of cuisines. Below are my notes for the three wines I tried.
2017 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District
The fruit for this Cabernet (88% Cabernet Sauvignon,5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc) was sourced from the hillside terraces of Cliff Lede’s Poetry Vineyard, Twin Peaks Vineyard estate which surrounds the winery, and a few neighboring vineyards in the Stags Leap District. The wine is composed of small lots from their best blocks, representing a diverse range of carefully selected clones and rootstocks. This wine is also rich in soil diversity ranging from Poetry’s volcanic origins, to the ancient riverbed alluvial soils of Twin Peaks, further contributing to the wine’s complexity. Great wines are indeed “made in the vineyard.”
The 2017 Stags Leap Cabernet has vibrant aromas of crushed flowers and dark fruits (blackberry, dark cherries) intertwined with chocolate, spice box and cassis. The wine has tremendous depth and layers of flavors that build into a long opulent finish that is framed with great minerality and loamy soil that personifies the SLD terrior.
2017 Dancing Heart Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District (Rockpile Vineyard)
89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, and 1% Malbec. The fruit for this one is sourced from Lede’s Poetry and Twin Peaks Vineyards. The Cabernet Sauvignon is planted in shallow volcanic soil and farmed to low yields, resulting in good structure with plush tannins and tremendous concentration.
This wine announces itself a bit more on the nose than the Stag’s Leap Cabernet, wafting with a bouquet of dark berry fruits, lavender and cocoa. Wonderfully complex with minerals and slate/graphite on the finish.
2017 Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District
The Poetry Vineyard, carved into a steep west-facing hillside, reaches from the highest elevations of the Stags Leap District appellation to the valley floor. This vineyard, designed by David Abreu specifically for Cabernet, draws its uniqueness from shallow, volcanic soils atop fractured shale. Due to the stressful nature of the site, planted with high vine density and farmed to very low yields, the vines develop slowly and produce small flavorful berries.
A blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 1% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot the bouquet on this one is loaded with black currants, crushed flowers, stone and cherry liquor. On the palate it has a complex medley of spices, tobacco, licorice, currant, dark cherries and even hoisin. The long finish includes cigar, dried cherries and warm slate.
Talking Turkey—With Wine
“Thanksgiving wines” has become an annual piece for me. I enjoy coming up with a list of food friendly wines that pair nicely with turkey and gravy and stuffing and sweet potatoes and green bean casserole (insert traditional sides) because, quite frankly, not many do. My general rule is, don’t overthink it…and stick to white wines.
What do I mean by don’t overthink it? When you have family and friends over (though this year may be different) and you are in charge of the wines it’s perfectly normal to want to offer some different choices, including something that may not be on your guest’s radar. Albarino or Riesling for example. But do these wines really match well with turkey? Not in my book. Sometimes the obvious choice is the best. Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb? Not Stonewall Jackson.
So what is the obvious choice? I always favor American Chardonnay. Why? Well, first off, because it’s American. This is our holiday after all. Yet ironically, it pairs nicely with Thanksgiving cuisine. Why do I say ironically? Because I don’t think Chardonnay pairs all that well with much. And yet it pairs well with a meal that doesn’t pair well with much. Go figure. But there are other reliable choices other than Chardonnay. Plenty in fact. Here is is my 2020 lineup:
Gary Farrell “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay 2017 ($60)
Simply put, this is one of the best chardonnays I have tried in a long time. And being 2020, of course I tried it on a virtual wine tasting session via zoom call. A wine writer on the call made what I thought was a very astute comment about this wine, saying that it had a “lean mid-palate.” But he meant it in a complimentary way. And I knew right away what he meant. In addition to the wonderful stone fruits, lemon curd and limestone minerality that this wines exhibits, the lean mid-palate creates a sense of even-flow and gracefulness that allows the fruit to fully shine as the wine slowly unleashes all its splendor right up through the long finish. This is a wine you can certainly enjoy on its own but it is a food wine through and through. It’s California fruit meets Burgundian acidity and minerality. It’s opulent yet practices restraint. It’s a Chardonnay that people who aren’t particularly fond of Chardonnay will still like.
Ram’s Gate “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay 2018 ($70)
Usually when I think of famous vineyards in Napa and Sonoma I think of vineyards planted for Cabernet. There are many. But Chardonnay has a few too. And the Hyde Vineyard in Carneros—who’s soils its namesake Hyde family has been working since the late ’70s—is one of them. The cool Carneros winds here lead to slow and steady ripening allowing for complex and exquisite flavor development, with more of a Burgundian framework. The Ram’s Gate Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay is no exception.
A medley of the two clones—Robert Young and Musqué—produce a mineral-driven, austerely elegant chardonnay (similar to the Gary Farrell Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay in this sense) with white peach, apricot and lemon zest. Partial malolactic gives lovely texture in the mid-palate while the chalky soils drive saline and minerals on the finish.
Says winemaker Joe Nielson, “Hyde Vineyard is one of those cherished places in California where heritage, hard work and terroir come together to produce a wine that has incredible depth, richness and precision—hallmarks of not just a complex wine, but a delicious addition to your favorite meals.”
Gamble Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2019 ($28)
Sauvignon Blanc, sometimes to people’s surprise, actually thrives in Napa Valley (the chardonnay on the tasting list at a Napa Valley winery is likely from Carneros or Sonoma and not from their actual estate). Yet for a long time, it played the role of warm up wine—a palate cleanser or amuse bouche—before the featured wines. Not anymore. Across the board, vintners are no longer making Sauvignon Blanc for a little extra cash flow. They are investing it in big time—from farming, to specific clones, to barrels and concrete eggs.
One such producer is Gamble Family Vineyards. While their “Heart Block” is a benchmark for Napa Valley Sauvignon block (and commands a $95 price tag) their regular Sauvignon Blanc at a more palatable $28 is a wonderful wine, composed of four distinct Sauvignon Blanc clones:, Sauvignon Musque and 530, which originate from the Loire region, and Preston and 316, which originate from Bordeaux.
Truchard Vineyards Roussanne 2018 ($28)
This white varietal has been traditionally associated with the Northern Rhône, where it is blended with Marsanne to make white Hermitage wines. Like a lot of varietals that originated in France, it can also thrive in California, provided the right soils and microclimates are present. Carneros has exactly this, with cool (enough) temps, volcanic rock and ash soils and gently sloping vineyards—like it’s Northern Rhône brethren.
Floral aromas of pineapple, honeysuckle, and jasmine, with highlights of brioche and vanilla. The mouth is crisp, with clean flavors of fresh pear, honeydew melon, and lychee. Bright acidity provides a lengthy finish of citrus, mineral, and spice.
Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc Los Carneros 2016 ($92 1.5 L Magnum)
This one might seem like a bit of a wild card. And yes, it’s only available in 1.5L Magnum format (and .375L split) but that shouldn’t be a problem for a Thanksgiving feast. I say wildcard, because at first glance a Pinot Blanc may seem a bit light for your average Thanksgiving meal. On the contrary, Pinot Blancs from California tend to be a bit “bigger” than those from Alsace or Italy. And not everyone’s turkey lunch or dinner is dominated by heavy gravy and buttery mashed potatoes. If your Thanksgiving meal is on the lighter side, this could be a perfect match.
Truthfully, when it comes to white wine, Robert Sinskey is more known for their “Abraxas” white blend, which includes Pinot Blanc but also Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurtz. I like the straight Pinot Blanc more though. It has been one of my favorite white wines from the sunshine state since I first tried it about 15 years ago.
The bouquet on this wine never disappoints. Aromas of fresh cut flowers, honeydew melon and even a little allspice jump out of the glass. Stone fruits (peach and apricot) and Meyer lemon are joined with white pepper and crème brule on the long finish—framed by great minerality.
Best Library Bars
Ah, the library bar. An urban oasis steeped in history (quite literally). Vintage, deep-seated armchairs, mahogany shelves and leather bound books ease the soul, while a single malt scotch calms the nerves after a long day of work. Ron Burgundy’s kind of place. My kind of place. Continue reading
Las Vegas Refresh
When gangster Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo in 1946, it was the first large-scale casino-hotel project on a quiet stretch of Nevada desert. Today, Las Vegas is anything but quiet, with massive casino-hotels stationed like giant soldiers on the world-famous Strip.
Shoulder Season Wines to Welcome in the Fall
The term “shoulder season” is most commonly used in the travel business, referring to a period of time between the high and low seasons of a vacation destination. In the wine world, a similar transitional period exists when the changing of the seasons can cause our preference in wine to change. Continue reading
Inman’s Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir
If you read my article on Ehlers’ Rosé—made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc—then you may recall my affection for new world rosés. Yes, the classic Provence style, driven primarily by Grenache and Cinsault (Syrah and Mouvedre to a lesser degree), will likely reign supreme for a long time—both in terms of market cap and perceived authenticity (what a rosé should taste like in most people’s mind). And in the dog days of summer this style of rosé is usually what I look for too. But rosé as a segment of the wine market is unique in its sheer size and endless possibilities. Remember, you can make rosé out of almost any red varietal—from a single varietal or a blend of several. This is why the number of rosés on the shelf of your local wine merchant has probably grown over the years. They are everywhere and constantly evolving.
One varietal that has proven to work well for rosé is Pinot Noir. However—and this is key—it depends on the region. You don’t see many rosés coming out of the Côte-d’Or in Burgundy, for example. Yet this region is world famous for Pinot Noir. So why so few rosés? Rosé needs very ripe, bright fruit to achieve the kind of flavor profile that people have become accustom to—in my opinion. That’s not to say some earthiness is not also a key factor in making quality rosé. Provence has both, but it’s the warm climate in the south of France that is paramount. When I think of wine regions of the world that have the kind of soil to grow world-class Pinot Noir but also have plenty of sunshine, California and Oregon come to mind above all other regions. Particularly California.
Inman Family Wines
Established in 2000 with the planting of their Olivet Grange Vineyard in the heart of the Russian River Valley, Inman Family Wines is the result of Kathleen Inman’s love of Pinot Noir and the soil that produces it. Since her first small vintage in 2002, she has been an ardent supporter of non-interventionalist winemaking practices, ignoring the critically acclaimed riper-style and leading the movement towards more subtle, nuanced wines with a sense of place.
The 2019 Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir, OGV Estate
The 2019 Endless Crush Rosé of Pinot Noir, OGV Estate is no exception to these practices and reflects the winery’s success with “intentional” or “direct-to-press” rosés. Some rosés are made as a by-product of red wine by bleeding off some of the juice early in the production process to create a higher ratio of skin to juice, which concentrates the resulting wine. Whereas rosés made “intentionally,” rather than simply by drawing off the free run juice, tend to have greater complexity and structure because the entire grape is used.
As you might expect this wine has flavors of a classic rosé as well as the alluring, delicate flavors of a premium Russian river Pinot Noir. Strawberries and raspberries intermingle with stone fruits (peach and apricot)—held up with great minerality. This wine is indeed a result of the “direct-to-press” approach with good complexity and layers of flavor that last a while on the finish.
Frank Family Vineyards Donates Portion of Chardonnay Sales To Autism Speaks
Coronavirus has gripped our country and the world like nothing we have ever seen or could imagine. To say that vanquishing it through social distancing and other measures is the most important thing in most of our lives right now seems like a safe bet. From a philanthropic standpoint it should rightfully be a priority for most who can afford to give. But there are other causes that still need our attention even in the deepest depths of the coronavirus pandemic. One of these causes is Autism awareness. April, after all, is Autism awareness month.
Frank Family Vineyards, founded in 1992 by former Disney Studios president Rich Frank—and one of my favorite wineries in Napa Valley—is a champion of this cause. Throughout the month of April, the winery will donate 15% of all proceeds from direct sales of its 2018 Carneros Chardonnay ($38) as well as from “Frank for a Cause” packages ($55) featuring a limited-edition blue t-shirt and bottle of Chardonnay. Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest autism advocacy organization and this donation will help fund the organization’s vital programs that increase global understanding, advance breakthroughs in autism research, expand early childhood screening and improve transition to adulthood. Those interested in supporting the cause may do so via the Frank Family Vineyards website.
“The outbreak of the coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on the world, with the fast-changing environment requiring navigation through uncertain times. During a time like this, we want to make sure non-profit organizations are not overlooked and are therefore continuing with our plan to support Autism Speaks during the month of April,” says Rich Frank.
The inspiration behind Frank Family’s 2020 fundraising campaign is Jennifer Higgins, who has been a vital part of the Frank Family team as Retail Operations Administrative Assistant for the past 12 years.
She graciously shared her family’s experience with Autism: “Every parent stresses out and worries about their kids. For us, our concerns are just different. We love our son Owen for all that he is and want to see a world where people with autism can discover their true potential,” she says. “I hope this campaign, along with all the work this charity does throughout the year, helps to create a kinder, more inclusive world.”
This year Autism Speaks is celebrating its 15th anniversary as an organization and will be launching a commitment to make 2020 the “Year of Kindness.” The goal of the “Year of Kindness” is to make both the online and offline worlds kinder while increasing acceptance of individuals with autism and their families. Since the organization’s founding in 2005, its core mission remains the same: to enhance lives today and accelerate a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.
“We have an amazing community of wine buyers at Frank Family, many of whom have supported our fundraising campaigns in the past. Through our “Frank Fights Hunger” campaign last November, we were able to raise $20,000 for Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization,” says Leslie Frank. “We’re grateful that our winery’s ethos of giving back has been embraced by our customers. We look forward to raising funds for Autism Speaks this April.”
Supporters of Frank Family’s April campaign on social media should use #FrankForACause.
Hollywood and Vines: An Interview with Rich Frank
How do you make a million dollars in the wine business? You start with five million. That’s an old saying in the wine business—and probably a dozen other businesses that people dream of making a living in (the restaurant and hospitality businesses to name a couple). Continue reading
Ehlers Estate Rosé
Like a lot of people who enjoy a glass of rosé as the weather warms, I like the classic style that the Provence region of southern France is known for—light salmon color, dry, with a slight earthiness. That’s not to say, however, that the wine has to be from Provence in order to achieve this style. Put a bottle of Wollfer Estate (Eastern Long Island, NY) in a blind tasting line-up and you’ll likely fool some people who might peg it for Provence or Bandol in the south of France. Regardless of its origins, this style of rosé is very quaffable, very popular and very available. And for years this has been my default style. But rosés, which can be made from almost any red grape varietal, come in a lot of different styles. So why not branch out.
I recently tried Ehlers Estate’s Napa Valley Rosé (“Sylviane”) made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Cabernet Franc and was pleasantly surprised. While a number of Napa wineries do a rosé, most are merely a fun experiment. A warm-up wine to include in the tasting line-up for people visiting the winery. After all, Napa Valley does not exactly lend itself to rosé, at least not from a traditional standpoint. In my article, “The Real Rosé Season Starts Now” I highlighted a couple of California rosés that I love—Beckman’s Grenache Rosé and Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris De Cigare. The former is 100% Grenache and the latter is a blend, comprised (typically) of Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Carignan, Cinsault and Mouvedre. Notice a pattern here? Both of them use Rhone varietals (which are also prevalent in Provence to the south), mimicking the French style. And both are delicious. But that doesn’t mean wineries in Napa Valley most follow this script. After all, these varietals do not exactly thrive in Napa Valley. Beckman and Bonny Doon are both in the central coast. Napa vintners can certainly grow varietals like Grenache with decent quality and they do. But is that something they really want to put much effort towards? My guess is no, which is why you see many of them, like Ehlers, using what they already have—Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Why mess around with Rhone varietals when you have some of the best Cab and Cab Franc in the valley?
Tasting Notes: The juice of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc lots were fermented in stainless steel drums and once-used barrels. The first thing I noticed is that the wine was not quite as acid driven as the traditional roses I have talked about, yet it had more structure with mellower tannins and more body. According to the winemaker, the fermentation went very slowly and the used oak allowed for the development of a beautiful creamy texture in the wine, which I would say is dead on. Bright aromas of raspberries and strawberries, melon, vanilla beans and white peach fill the glass. This rose will certainly refresh you on a hot day but, because of the softer tannins and more muscular body, can also be enjoyed year-round.
12 Wines To Try This Holiday Season
This has become an annual column for me and one I really enjoy writing. I find this food and wine pairing fun to write about because it can be a challenge. Yes, old man winter’s wrath may queue the obligatory Bordeaux or Cabernet from many an oenophile’s wine cellar, but not necessarily on the fourth Thursday in November with turkey and gravy or in late December with a Christmas Ham. Nor do these muscular reds ingratiate themselves with any particular harmony with those potato latkes during the 8 days of Hanukah. Indeed, the various cuisines that we celebrate with during the final month and a half of the year are not necessarily a great match with the wines we might otherwise think to drink this time of year. To be fair, not a lot of wines, in my opinion, are an obvious match with turkey and gravy. But I’ll try.
2018 Sidebar Kerner Mokelumne River, ($25)
From acclaimed winemaker David Ramey, Sidebar is the only winery to make a 100% Kerner wine in California. Kerner, an aromatic cross between Riesling and Trollinger (known as Schiava in Italy), with origins in Germany, shows well in this dry, aromatic and acidic bottling—an ideal white wine for offsetting heavy meals.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2016 Eroica Riesling ($22)
Riesling is one of the most misunderstood wines out there, often thought to be overly sweet. The fact is, Riesling can be sweet but also bone dry. Offering sweet lime and mandarin orange aromas, this CSM Riesling is more in the middle and could match with a variety of foods. It will pair with your turkey and gravy but also with those sweet potatoes.
2018 FEL Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley ($25)
FEL, a second label from Cliff Lede Vineyards—one of my favorite Napa wineries—produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from the Anderson Valley and Sonoma Coast. A blend of fruit from three different vineyards (Wiley, Hein and Klindt) located in the “Deep End” of Anderson valley near the town of Navarro, this wine is heavily influenced by the Pacific Ocean allowing for bright citrus flavors and refreshing acidity. Pinot Gris, if done right with plenty of acid (some can be flabby), can be a great match with myriad cuisines from Thai to Indian to oysters on the half shell.
2016 Inman OGV Estate Pinot Noir ($70)
Kathleen Inman made her name in wine at the Inman estate, the 10.45- acre Olivet Grange Vineyard (OGV) located in the Santa Rosa Plain neighborhood of the Russian River Valley. The site was planted by Kathleen in 2000 and has always been farmed organically to encourage a healthy ecosystem and soils. The OGV Pinot Noir is complex, with great aromatics. The wine’s bright red fruits—strawberries and red cherries—and complex savory components reflect the full depth and nuances of the vineyard. California Pinot Noir is a no-brainer with your Thanksgiving feast—it’s fruit forwardness a better match with all those flavors than Burgundy in my opinion. Just make sure you get one that is balanced with plenty of earthiness (terroir) to keep the fruit in check. The Inman Pinot Noirs do this in spades.
2016 Tasca d’Almerita Tenuta Tascante Contrada Rampante Etna Rosso DOC ($50)
If you read my article “A Winemaking Renaissance in Sicily” then you know how fond I am of Sicilian wines these days. I think they represent a value in terms of price-to-quality that is hard to match on a world stage. The vineyards of Contrada Rampante are characterized by volcanic formations of different lithological characterization but belonging to the same time period as Contrada Pianodario (between 15,000 and 4,000 thousand years). Rampante, one of the four Contrade in which Tasca d’Almerita works, is located at an average elevation of 740 meters a.s.l., between the communes of Passopisciaro and Randazzo. This is as food-friendly of a wine as I have had in some time. Bright red fruits, spice and an earthiness almost reminiscent of a classic French Burgundy are in abundance, framed with sharp acidity that keeps everything in check throughout its long finish. This wine would go great with richer pasta dishes, like pappardelle with bolognese but because of it’s lighter body can easily work with Thanksgiving turkey, gravy and all the fixins.
2018 Tasca d’Almerita Tenuta Capofaro “Didyme” Salina IGT ($26)
Sicily, like mainland Italy, does not get enough recognition for their white wines, sans Pinot Grigio which is almost too popular and takes too much of the spotlight. The fact is Italy has a ton of white varietals, many of which are wonderful food wines. The Malvasia fruit for the Didyme is harvested at the ideal stage of ripeness and immediately vinified. The result is a dry and savory wine with good acidity. Didyme shows notes of aromatic and floral herbs, which recall the Mediterranean characteristics of the Island. The wine is named Didyme, the ancient name for the island of Salina, because it captures the essence of the island’s terroir. So often we talk about terroir in red wines but whites have it in equal amounts and I love a white wine that has equal amounts fruit and terroir and plenty of each.
Chateau Des Jacques Moulin a Vent (Louis Jadot) 2016 ($27)
Depending on your level of wine interest, you’ve either never heard of Gamay or you’re tired of hearing about it—particularly in reference to it being the perfect Thanksgiving wine. Then add in the common confusion (mainly among Americans) that surrounds Beaujolais—namely it being grouped together with the folksy Beaujolais Nouveau wine that is released the third Thursday of every November—and Gamay can be a bit confusing. But there is no denying it is an elegant, highly versatile wine, if you pick the right producer. It also happens to be a favorite choice among sommeliers—however much that counts for you. I’ve gone with Louis Jadot here because its extremely consistent, highly available and in general a classic example of the Gamay grape. This Beaujolais offers a fleshy texture and greater longevity than any other Beaujolais cru. Its exceptional structure supports vivid red fruit aromas and crushed flowers with good minerality.
Alban Central Coast Viognier 2018 ($30)
Alban Vineyards makes what many consider to be the best Viognier in California. As one of the original Rhone-style wineries in the United States, Alban has helped to bring Viognier out of obscurity, claiming its rightful place in the American wine drinker’s lexicon. This white Rhone varietal is full-bodied, fresh tasting, with nice balance, depth and concentrated flavors. Remembered for its complex aromas hinting of apricot and peaches, this wine is just the right amount of floral with low to moderate acidity. Their cool climate location and use of malolactic fermentation helps to counteract the high acidity, high alcohol and over-luxuriant flavors that Viogniers tend to be chastised for. The 2018 J Rickards Viognier ($28) from the lower Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma is another fine choice.
Tensley Colson Canyon Vineyard Syrah 2018 ($45)
Tensley describes the 2018 vintage as a cool one that “gave the grapes plenty of time to hang on the vine to develop flavor and texture.” I would agree. It’s a great example of cool climate Syrah and my preferred style. Warmer climate Syrahs from places like Napa and Lake County can sometimes be overripe, too high in alcohol and lack balance. Not the Tensley Syrahs. The Tensley Colson Canyon delivers the up-front fruit you would expect in a California Syrah along with spicy, meaty, and peppery qualities that beautifully balance it out. Also of note, if you’re into scores. Their 2017 Colson Canyon scored 95 points with Wine Spectator and made #14 on its Top 100 List. The 2018 could be better though!
Mi Sueno Chardonnay, Los Carneros 2017 ($42)
Chardonnay is a classic pairing with the typical Thanksgiving meal. The key is finding the right style of Chardonnay. Turkey may not be known for its wine pairing ability but there is plenty of richness in a Thanksgiving smorgasbord—from the gravy to the buttery mashed potatoes to the stuffing and all the flavors it absorbs. Therefore I like to go with a full-bodied Chardonnay but one that is still Burgundian in nature. Mi Sueno’s Los Carneros Chardonnay achieves this balance. Their Chardonnay also owes some of its rich elegance to a wild yeast fermentation, and 18 months of aging in 30% new French oak. This stirring of the lees and a secondary 100% malolactic fermentation lends a plush texture to the wine. A platinum-hued color begins the experience and follows with aromas of guava, white peach, lemon zest and wet stone. The flavor echoes the nose and reveals additional flavors of pineapple, lemon custard and green apple delivered with a mouthwatering, bright acidity.
I also like the Mi Sueno story. Husband and wife team Lorena and Rolando Herrera started the winery in 1997 as a side project while Rolando was assistant winemaker at Chateau Potelle. The brand represents the couple’s love story as well as the culmination of Rolando’s journey from being an immigrant dishwasher at Auberge du Soleil to his becoming director for Paul Hobbs Winery and eventually winemaker more than a decade later, before giving 100% of his time to his own winery.
The 2018 Pfendler Vineyard Chardonnay ($42) is another example of a full bodied California Chardonnay with a Burgundian backbone. Lemon curd, nectarine and crème brule on the nose, and framed by good minerality, it’s a great example of Petaluma Gap (Sonoma) Chardonnay—one of my favorite regions.
Tenuta Sant’ Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG ($50)
Amarone della Valpolicella—the most prestigious red wine of the Veneto region in Italy—might seem a little too muscular for turkey and stuffing but I think it can be a match made in heaven (especially with all the other side dishes) if it’s a well balanced Amarone from a good producer. The four brothers who started Tenuta Sant’Antonio dedicate their primary Amarone to their father, Antonio Castagnedi. The best grapes from different vineyards are selected for this wine and are brought to the winery’s drying room to undergo the appassimento process. After at least 3 months of drying, the grapes have shriveled and lost much of their water, while retaining their sugar, flavor, and other components. Once fermented and aged in new barrels, the Amarone is a powerful wine, yet fruity, fresh, and clean.
“Amarone is a wonderful complement to Thanksgiving meals because it will hold its own against the many flavors at the dinner table,” says Armando Castagnedi of Tenuta Sant’ Antonio. I agree. And once the meal is over it is the perfect wine to retire to the couch with and watch a little football.
Serious Summer Whites
It’s easy to crave simple and refreshing white wines in the summertime as the mercury rises. In fact, I am all about crisp, clean and refreshing wines this time of year—especially as a cocktail or apéritif before dinner. There is nothing like that $15 bottle of Sancerre that you discover at your local wine shop and stockpile, by the case, for the rest of the summer. But then there are times when you want something a little more complex Continue reading
Interview with Keith Zivalich—Inventor of the Original Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets have exploded in popularity of late. They’re used therapeutically for a variety of issues including sensory processing disorder, anxiety, depression, autism, insomnia, ADHD and simply getting a better night’s sleep. Continue reading
4 Cucumber Cocktails To Keep You Cool This Summer
Cucumbers are a summer staple for their refreshing flavor, high water content and hydrating capabilities. Of course, salads and fresh summer vegetable plates are not the only place you will find them. The cucumber is a classic cocktail compliment (and garnish), particularly for gin. Continue reading
Vows and Braus
Sierra Nevada Honors The Origin of Oktoberfest With Contest for Beer Loving Lovers
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. will kick-off its annual Oktoberfest celebration with an expense-paid “royal wedding” at the festival for one lucky beer-loving couple. The celebration harkens back to the very first Oktoberfest, which was held in Munich in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Continue reading
Business or Pleasure in Charleston
While big cities like New York and Chicago remain the big hubs for business travel—and Las Vegas is still the king of conventions—smaller, trendier cities like Austin, Nashville and Scottsdale, Arizona are seeing more corporate travel events.
It should be no surprise then that Charleston, South Carolina—named best city in America for three years running by Travel+Leisure—has a new resort that is attracting corporate travel events. Across the harbor from Charleston in Mt. Pleasant, The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina opened its doors in 2016 and has received rave reviews from the travel press.
Pairing good ole hospitality and luxury amenities, The Beach Club is part of the Leading Hotels of the World collection and is located just over the bridge and minutes away from Charleston’s historic district. And thanks in part to its sheer size, The Beach Club is able to offer custom experiences that few hotels in the Charleston area can match. With this amount of wonderfully manicured space—especially in a city like Charleston where most of the hotels are smaller boutiques—it is no wonder that corporate America has taken notice.
When companies plan their business gatherings in Charleston, they expect to get a taste of the city’s rich history, charm and coastal ambiance. At “The Beach Club” however, they will also experience a level of service that caters to the culture of their organization with customized events and tailored itineraries. The hotel’s commitment to hosting only one corporate group at a time ensures attention to detail and to helping each business achieve their end goals. Innovative meeting venues and nautical infused interiors are a refreshing departure from the typical hotel conference room. In addition, outstanding views of downtown Charleston, combined with views of the harbor and marina, the Arthur Ravenel bridge and USS Yorktown provide a backdrop for creativity, inspiration and extraordinary experiences for groups of all sizes.
The new luxury 92-room hotel opened its doors in late 2016 and has already been recognized as one of the Best New Hotels in the World by Fodor’s – only one of four hotels in the United States to be honored with this impressive distinction.
The resort’s waterfront location and proximity to the largest marina in the Carolinas, lends itself to an array of teambuilding activities and unique meeting venues such as private yacht excursions, sailing lessons, fishing expeditions and even meetings set among vintage airplanes on the USS Yorktown, a WWII aircraft carrier. Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) are available at nearby Sullivan Island’s Beach as well as on-property waterfront yoga classes on the sandy beach or pier. Indoors, the views are just as thought provoking with a 30-seat private movie theater featuring surround sound and leather recliners—presentations and theater style meetings can be scheduled for a unique experience—and a stunning, specially-commissioned 20-seat table in the Palmetto Executive Boardroom. Larger groups can be accommodated in a variety of spaces including The Yacht Club, overlooking the Charleston Harbor Marina, the Atlantic Ballroom and the Commodore Room, all contributing to more than 40,100 square feet of total indoor and outdoor meeting space. The 30,000 square foot pool area at The Beach Club overlooks the harbor and is just as awe-inspiring as the luxe interiors. A welcome reception at the poolside Tiki-Bar or under the grand porch creates a bold beginning to several days of brainstorming and eleven private cabanas become a great reward for incentive trips and outstanding performance within an organization.
Outside of the boardroom, teambuilding activities embrace the local, southern charm of Charleston as team members take to the streets of downtown in the Charleston Chase Scavenger Hunt or participate in a game of Charleston Feud, where contestants answer questions about their host city.
Teambuilding activities, which vary by season, have included opportunities to embrace nature via the water on a sailing competition in the Charleston Harbor; the Veggie 500 where teams create a four-wheel racing vehicle—out of vegetables; and a bicycle building experience where the team builds a bike from scratch that is then donated to a local child or charity in need. For groups wanting to apply a little zen to their meetings, wellness opportunities include Beach Yoga and Meditation classes which help attendees maintain focus and shift their thinking for optimal output. Southern charmer, Suzanne Pollak, Dean of the Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits offers keynote and breakout sessions on topics ranging from Etiquette and Entertaining to Culture and Wellness. Her unique style of storytelling keeps attendees engaged and on the edge of their seats, and equipped with valuable tools that apply to life both in and out of the boardroom.
“The charm of Charleston, South Carolina has drawn national acclaim as one of the country’s best cities by Southern Living, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, to name a few,” says Oliver Rooskens, Managing Director of The Beach Club. The Beach Club takes this allure a step further with corporate meetings and retreats—offering unique services for the business traveler—including events in our private in-house movie theater, parties on the grand porch, poolside, overlooking the Charleston Harbor or even taking your boardroom meeting to the water via a private charter at the Charleston Harbor Marina—the largest marina in the Carolinas. We can arrange keynote or breakout sessions with engaging wellness and business etiquette experts who can even teach you how to host a Southern Cocktail Party.”
Of course, any good corporate outing should include some non-structured time—some good ole fashioned downtime. And The Beach Club has plenty of options. From the 30,000-square-foot Tropical Pool and Deck, to the Tranquility Pool with Whirlpool, to Private Poolside Cabanas, the pool scene is on par with even the grandest big city hotspots. Those not in the mood for lounging can indulge in a bit of seaside competition on the private bocce court or some lighthearted fun on a life-sized chessboard. Or, they can take a mental and physical break inside the resort’s Estuary Spa, where massages, body treatments and facials provide a healthy dose of relaxation. Once you’re ready to explore, be sure to take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary trolley service and bikes to see the city. Alternatively, the Water Taxi, while a small fee, is the best ride into downtown Charleston. At night, head back to the hotel to enjoy a sumptuous seafood dinner at the Fish House, one of Charleston Living Magazine’s “Top 25 Restaurants in Charleston.”
Where to Stay, Play and Eat Gourmet in Bermuda
Rosewood Bermuda in St. George’s on the north end of the island is steeped in history. Formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point (the adjacent Tucker’s Point Golf Club has been around since 1932) when Rosewood Resorts took over the management of the 88-room Tucker’s Point in 2011 the new resort sits atop one of the highest hills on the northeastern end of Bermuda, next to Castle Harbour and with ocean views from almost every room and window.
Rather than opt for a minimal contemporary look, Tucker’s Point remains true to its location with rooms decorated in a Georgian colonial look, complete with canopy beds, wainscoting and freestanding tubs. The resort has an impressive four pools (considering its relatively small size), including a 25-meter lap pool and another reserved for adults. Not so much a complaint as a caveat: while the resort has an enviably large beach (unlike many Bermuda properties), it’s a five-minute shuttle ride away. On April 1, Rosewood Bermuda reopened after a four-month, $25 million makeover. Formerly known as Rosewood Tucker’s Point, the reimagined resort welcomes guests with an elegant lobby anchored by a new bar and lounge, plus an atrium courtyard. The 92 rooms and suites are now residential-style retreats that reflect the island’s English colonial heritage. Dining-wise, the resort’s signature restaurant reopens as the Island Brasserie; A refreshed Beach Club features a restaurant inspired by the island’s fish markets (plus an updated bar and new luxury cabanas). Wellness junkies will appreciate a modernized Sense, a Rosewood Spa.
If some laps in the pool or splashing in the surf don’t constitute sufficient exercise, guests at the resort also have access to the Tucker’s Point Club. This 18-hole course was originally laid out in 1932 and then redesigned in 2002 by Roger Rulewich, former chief designer for Robert Trent Jones. Greens fees start at $205 through mid-September and $225 after. What’s more, guests of Tucker’s Point also receive playing privileges at the renowned Mid Ocean Club, which consistently ranks among the world’s top 100 courses. Originally designed in 1921 by Charles Blair Macdonald, the historic course was enhanced in 1953 by architect Robert Trent Jones.
The Reefs, a villa only resort in Southampton is also a great stay if you can afford it. The beloved fixture on Bermuda’s South Shore since 1947—and which Conde Nast rated #1 in the region (including Bermuda, Bahamas and Turks & Caicos) not long ago—is family-owned and operated by the Dodwell family, native Bermudians whose passion for island living and gracious hospitality has delighted generations of loyal guests. Nestled in a pink sand cove surrounded by Bermuda’s wind-swept limestone cliffs, The Reefs echoes the island’s enduring elegance, blending it effortlessly with a youthful, make-our-own-rules spirit that charms friends old and new.
A less expensive alternative to Tucker’s Point and The Reefs, The Fairmont Southampton, right down the street from The Reefs is a great deal with a great location. If you can get by the size and color—affectionately known as the “pink elephant” due to it’s size (400 rooms) and light pink facade—the Southampton has a ton to offer at a very reasonable rate. Fairmont’s Private Beach Club is situated on one of Bermuda’s finest beaches, a secluded private cove with Bermuda’s signature pink sand. The cove is somewhat protected from rough water due to a large rock just a short swim out (you can walk to it during low tide). It also happens to be an easy and convenient location to put on your snorkel and mask and see some of Bermuda’s beautiful fish. If you want a larger beach, the world-famous Horseshoe Bay Beach, a curved stretch of pink sand that connects to other South Shore Beaches, is just steps away. The Southampton also has two pools including a kid’s pool with a slide.
Of course, the most talked about resort right now in Bermuda right now is the newly built (2017) The Loren at Pink Beach. The first hotel built on Bermuda in a decade, The Loren has raised the bar among the island’s resorts with posh yet minimalist rooms and suites which bring a new level of elegance and style to the destination. This seaside resort embraces the clean and modern aesthetic of an urban boutique hotel resulting in a set of sophisticated retreats with endless ocean views.
If you’re not staying at Tucker’s Point (and you’re not a member or don’t know one) then Mid Ocean is not an option. But many will argue that the prestigious Port Royal Golf Course is just as good—and easily as beautiful. Originally designed by famed course architect Robert Trent Jones in 1970, the Port Royal Golf Course of Southampton Parish underwent a $14.5 million refurb back in 2009. It now features resewn fairways and tee boxes, a new irrigation system and a grandiose clubhouse. Although the course has incredible ocean views, at 6,842 yards, it is also Bermuda’s longest and perhaps most challenging course so beginners beware. (Non-members can book a tee time at Port Royal Golf Course up to seven days in advance. The course is public and open to all players daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.). But be prepared to pay hefty greens fees and book well in advance.
For a less highfalutin activity, and one that is completely free, the beaches in Bermuda are a top-of-the-list activity. Whether your beach time is of the more active nature (walks, swimming, frisbee) or the less active (sunbathing) there is no place on Bermuda more pristine to waste the day away than Horseshoe Bay Beach. Always ranked among the top beaches in the world, it is easily on par with the best stretches of sand in the Bahamas and Caribbean.
To say Celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelson’s namesake restaurant Marcus’ in the Hamilton Princess Hotel is breathtaking would be an understatement. Arrayed with modern art from the hotel’s owners, including original pieces by Andy Warhol, Liu Ye and Nelson Mandela amongst others, the space is visually striking, The signature restaurant occupies the former Gazebo Room, once a grand ballroom, offering a central bar and views of the ocean. An open kitchen creates a show all in its own, with chefs creating Samuelsson’s specialty including Jerk Pork Belly, and tantalizing Fried Chicken & Waffles. Additional dishes pay tribute to Bermudian culture, such as Grilled Bermuda Onion and Fish Chowder Bites among others. The restaurant features a full beverage menu with signature and classic cocktails, a well-rounded selection of wine and beer, and a new spin on a local favorite, ginger beer-based Darker and Stormier.
The only true beach bar and bistro on the island, Mickey’s Beach Bistro—or just “Mickey’s”—on Elbow Beach is loved by locals and visitors alike. Sip an island cocktail prepared by Bermuda’s best bartenders while listening to the waves break and gazing at the wide open Atlantic. Their eclectic menu and versatile wine list rounds out a great overall experience—a must stop while on the Island.
For cheaper eats, head to Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy (in Hamilton and in St. George’s) for what many—including Marcus Samuelson himself—believe to be the best fish sandwich on the island. The traditional Bermudian fish sandwich — deep-fried and served on raisin bread with lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, coleslaw, and perhaps a touch of hot sauce and some sauteed onions — is one of the best fish sandwich anywhere.
Bermuda is a unique island in that it has many of the characteristics of the tropical islands in the Bahamas and Caribbean but it is undoubtedly subtropical—it is on approximately the same latitude as the Carolinas. So while the peak season in August and September may feel balmy and lend itself to island (rum) drinks, much of the year is more temperate. This, combined with the fact that Bermuda is a British territory, steeped in British culture and cuisine, results in food and drink options that are just as much pub fair-oriented as they are beach bar.
A less formal option than Mickey’s, Sea Breeze, also located at Elbow Beach Resort and positioned just above the famous stretch of sand, is an open-air terrace, with stunning, panoramic views of Elbow Beach’s pink sand and the wide open, blue atlantic waters. It’s a wonderful spot in which to enjoy cocktails from the bar, an aperitif before dinner or drinks under the stars.
Over in the more bustling Hamilton Parish lies The Swizzle Inn, a landmark known as Bermuda’s oldest pub and favored by both locals and visitors. It also happens to be the birthplace of Bermuda’s original Rum Swizzle, the deliciously potent national drink made with Goslings Black Seal Rum, Barbados Rum, Triple Sec, pineapple juice, orange juice, Bermuda Falernum, and Angostura Bitters.
For more British style pub fair, head to the The Frog and Onion Pub which calls an old barrel making building home and is also attached to the Dockyard Brewing Company. This authentic British-style pub was created in 1992 by a Frenchman (Frog) and Bermudian (Onion), hence the name. The historic Cooperage, completed in 1853, was converted to five storehouses in the 1940s. With the pub serving great comfort food, it pairs perfectly with an ale from Dockyard Brewing Co., Bermuda’s only microbrewery. Featuring 5 different types of beers and ales, it is a favourite destination of locals and tourists alike who wish to sample artisanal beverages of exceptional quality.
I love Napa Valley in the off-season, when the hills, a parched straw color for much of the year, are lush green from the fall and winter rains and cooler temperatures. And that is exactly how I found it on my most recent trip, with picturesque green hills rising above the grapeless, valley-floor vineyards. Continue reading
Turnberry Isle, Miami—Something for Everyone
Tucked away on 300 tropical acres between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Turnberry Isle Miami is a tropical oasis with a culture of authenticity and an itinerary of enriching experiences. Continue reading
A Winemaking Renaissance in Sicily
It will likely never have the allure—or tourist traffic—of Tuscany or Piedmont. But Sicily’s reputation as a rising star among Italian wine regions cannot be denied. Continue reading
Five Sparkling Roses for Valentine’s Day
Much like its still wine cousin (rose), sparkling rose and rose Champagne strike a soft and delectable balance between sweet, dry and earthiness that sets it apart. And of course the color only adds to the allure—especially on a certain day in Mid-February when the red and pink color spectrum reigns supreme.
Here are five rose sparklers I love this Valentines Day:
Roederer Estate Brut Rose, NV—$28
This 56% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay blend, produced by the renowned French Champagne house Louis Roederer but in California (Anderson Valley), has been a favorite value wine of mine for years. In fact, I actually used to sell it when I briefly worked for a wine distributor many moons ago. It was so popular it had to be allocated, or bundled with the higher-end offerings that Roederer produced—a little trick that distributors and suppliers (in this case Maisons Marques and Domains) like to use when they know they have a winner. Mouth filling, elegant and sweet—but not too sweet—this festive sparkler has a beautiful red hue and comes in at a great price point considering the producer (Louis Roederer also produces Cristal).
Schramsberg Brut Rosé, 2017—$45
Another great value from Northern California, driven by bright, flavorful Pinot Noir grown in Carneros, Anderson Valley, and the Sonoma and Marin coastal areas (a few small lots of Pinot Noir are fermented in contact with their skins to add depth and subtle color to this unique sparkling wine). Aromas of strawberry and orange peel dominate the nose while grapefruit, darker berries and a little toast lead to good structure on the palette. This versatile sparkling wine has a bright, clean finish and can be enjoyed any time of year with a variety of foods.
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé—$45
Blended with 90% red grapes (45% pinot noir /45% meunier) and 10% chardonnay, this sparkler is on the sweeter side for a Brut yet very well balanced. Think strawberries and cream; this light, salmon colored rose is perfect with desert—or as desert.
Frank Family Brut Rose, 2016—$55
Frank Family quietly has four sparkling wines offerings. And while it may not be a core competency I think it’s a testament to the diversity and willingness to experiment with new ideas that is prevalent in Napa and Sonoma today. While all four of their sparkling wines—Blanc de Blancs, Rose, Rouge and the Lady Edythe Reserve Brut—are all delicious, the Brut Rose is my favorite. Made in the traditional French method where the secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle, the wine then rests on the spent yeast cells for two and a half years before disgorgement. The 2014 Brut Rosé is lively yet balanced, with alluring flavors of strawberry and orange creamsicle and framed with just enough toasty oak notes. Side note: Frank Family has been recognized in national publications for leading the effort of “grower-champagnes” in the United States—Marylin Monroe used visit the winery from time to time to get her fill of bubbles.
Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé—$60
Madame Clicquot created the first blended Rosé in 1818 by adding some red wine to Yellow Label champagne. The result was Veuve Clicquot Rosé, a fruity and full-bodied expression of the Veuve Clicquot style. If you love their yellow label it’s time to try the Rosé. Made using 50 to 60 different crus, the cuvee is based on Brut Yellow Label’s traditional blend, 44-48% Pinot Noir, 13-1 % Meunier, 25-29 % Chardonnay. This wine has classic Rosé Champagne aromas of ripe strawberries integrated with more vibrant notes of grapefruit and lemon singer. Perfectly quaffable with desert it is also a great wine to have as a cocktail or aperitif before dinner.
An Insider’s Take On The Surging Demand For CBD Oil
I recently attended a trade show promoting various spa and wellness brands at none other than the Rainbow Room atop NYC’s Rockefeller Center. The boutique show—hosted by the Green Spa Network, a nonprofit trade association that provides education, resources and gatherings for the spa and wellness industry—represented my first glimpse into the burgeoning market of CBD oil. Continue reading
One of the Rarest, Most Expensive Wines on the Planet is About to Go To Auction in Naples, FL
Most people, if asked what is the most expensive, sought after wine in the world might point to the great “First Growth” wines of the Medoc region in Bordeaux, France. Continue reading
A Father’s Day Gift Sure To Cause Envy
What do you get a dad that has everything? How about a bourbon that not only tastes great and is made with impeccable craftsmanship, but also has a great father-son-grandson legacy behind it? Continue reading
Auction Napa Valley Raises 13.6 Million For Charity—Four Imperials of Opus One and Masked Ball at Versaille Lead Way
The 38th Auction Napa Valley took place this weekend (May 30 – June 2), raising more than $13.6 million for charity. Here are some of the highlights and big ticket items that sold according to Napa Valley Vinters—who have hosted the event since 1981. Continue reading
Pursuitist Epicurean: Ian Blackburn, Wine Guru
Top 10 Wines To Give (And To Keep)
Move over, vodka , rum, and beer. Wine is now the world’s number-one most popular alcoholic beverage. But things get complicated when it comes to choosing what type of wine to drink, gift, or store in cellars to enjoy in a few years. Continue reading
The Best of Las Vegas—Old and New
When gangster Bugsy Siegel opened the Flamingo in 1946, it was the first large-scale casino-hotel project on a quiet stretch of Nevada desert. Today, Las Vegas is anything but quiet, with massive casino-hotels stationed like giant soldiers on the world-famous Strip. Continue reading
Hotel For The Holidays
From rooftop terraces transformed into enchanting winter wonderlands to charming, artisan markets selling handcrafted novelties and gifts, hotels from Vancouver to London are pulling out all the stops to offer one-of-a-kind holiday pop-ups, festive events and even a few deals to guests and locals alike this winter. Here are some of the most festive (and luxurious) holiday experiences in the US, Canada and Europe. Continue reading