Author

About the Author
Joe Wehinger (nicknamed Joe Winger) has written for over 20 years about the business of lifestyle and entertainment. Joe is an entertainment producer, media entrepreneur, public speaker, and C-level consultant who owns businesses in entertainment, lifestyle, tourism and publishing. He is an award-winning filmmaker, published author, member of the Directors Guild of America, International Food Travel Wine Authors Association, WSET Level 2 Wine student, WSET Level 2 Cocktail student, member of the LA Wine Writers. Email to: Joe@FlavRReport.com

Discover DC’s Newest Cocktail: Now Madre Mezcal offers a Gateway to a Better Taste

Philly Cocktails! Now Madre Mezcal offers a Gateway to a Better Taste

Today’s conversation is with Ryan Fleming from Madre Mezcal.  The LA nightlife veteran reveals his time working behind the bar in some of Southern California’s hottest spots, as well as the inspiration that got him to travel to Mexico, discovering Mezcal. 

The aroma, flavors, science and food pairings for Mezcal.

Love Tequila?  Discover the Gateway to better taste with Madre Mezcal's Ryan Fleming

Love Tequila?  Discover the Gateway to better taste with Madre Mezcal’s Ryan Fleming

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited conversation, visit our YouTube Channel.

 

“…I’ve been a big Mezcal lover before I ever sold it…”

Joe Winger:  Can you share the behind the scenes or how the brand itself was created? 

Ryan Fleming: I’ve been a big Mezcal lover before I ever even sold it or made a dollar doing that. So I got to actually meet Ron Cooper, who is the legend that started the Del Maguey label back in 2011.

I got to drink rabbit Pachuca with him and all these other amazing things. The reason I bring him up is he’s a kind of one of the people that we look up to, how to sustainably bring a brand and how to create culture that crosses boundaries in a sense. 

He has a beautiful book that I recommend anyone to read if you haven’t read Ron Cooper’s book.

But we share a similar story. One of our founding partners, Tony Farfalla and one of my good friends, Stefan Tony’s an artist and he was literally traveling through Oaxaca doing documentaries and embracing the art and culture. He happened to meet Jose Morales, which is the first family we ever worked with.

If you have original bottles of Madre [Mezcal] before the labels have changed, it used to say Jose’s name on the bottle. 

So Tony was bringing bottles back to Brooklyn in plastic water bottles and it snowballed. His friends in Brooklyn were like, this stuff’s great. Started out in plastic water bottles in 2014. I think it was 2016 when our first glass bottles actually came by and we became like of a more legit brand and company.  But it started with Tony and Stefan; and they brought on our CEO and COO, Chris and Davide.

Chris actually is one of the founding driving forces in the electronic scene in the 90s in Europe. Chris comes from a very artistic, music based background. Then he went on to work for some bigger alcohol brands in the vodka world. 

madre mezcal

Davide, who is our COO, my direct boss, who I love, is Italian and his whole family built furniture and he got his big break by importing and bringing furniture over [to the United States]. He also works with a beautiful high end apparel line. 

“…everyone has a very unique artistic background, which really reflects the brand and the label…”

So everyone has a very unique artistic background, which really reflects the brand and the label. Just not wanting to make a quick buck and actually make something we can stand behind and believe in.

As the families now blossom into four, we use three: the Vasquez family, the Blas family and the Morales family are our three main producers for our red and black label, which most people are familiar with. 

We just brought in Moises and he’s actually from Santa Catarina Minas.  That’s a little town where all they really make is their production. It’s a town known for nothing but clay pot distillation. So if you actually use a copper pot in, in Manera and Santa Caterina Minas, you’re looked at as what are you doing? That’s not what we do here. 

He’s our last and newest producer and he may be the most cowboy of them all, and he’s my favorite.

When you get to Tlaxcala, you have to walk over like a little rope bridge over like a river and stuff into the hills of Minas to see his production, and he’s got his grandfather’s old still, and he’s got his mom’s little kitchen that he wants to reopen, and it’s like a restaurant. But if you and I were to look at it, it just looks like a backyard set of tables and chairs with a cooking center.

No, this is a restaurant for the village. It’s really beautiful down in Minas. I recommend everyone, if you get a chance to go down there, it felt like the jungles in Costa Rica, cause it’s up near the hills and it’s just so green and lush up there.

 

“…I’ve been working in the alcohol industry for almost 15 years …”

Joe Winger:  What got you down there? Was it for a vacation or for Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

So I’ve been working in the alcohol industry for almost 15 years and I worked for the Houston Hospitality Group for over a decade, helping run programs and menus. I worked for a couple other restaurants, but I used to work for Stillhouse Whiskey, which many people remember the terrible flavored moonshine in a gas can.

Yeah I actually sold that. I did pretty well, there was always one flavor that someone loved. I had the mint chocolate chip and I would keep it in the freezer to take care of my sweet tooth when I didn’t have ice cream. So that’s how it started.

My buddy, Stefan, who’s one of the founding partners goes, “Hey, we got this Mezcal company.”  I was just basically consulting for free lunches. 

One day he goes, do you want to go to Oaxaca? And I went, absolutely. 

I familiar with going down to Mexico city, but I’d never been as far South as Oaxaca. So I jumped at the chance.

[Meanwhile] we all got an email from Stillhouse saying “Hey, I know things are being shaken up right now, but trust me, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” 

That weekend, apparently the whole team got laid off, but I didn’t get the email untll I came home Monday. They’re saying, “Ryan, are you going to be okay? Do you need help finding work?”

So I went down to Oaxaca, met the families, broke bread with Jose Morales, got to meet his mother who blessed the roast and cooked us dinner.  They offered me a job.

That was started my journey about six years ago with Madre [Mezcal ]and I’ve been with him since.

Fleming motions to tattoos on his arms and hands.

Discovering Madre Mezcal

I have it tattooed on my hand right here. I have it tattooed on my palm right here. And I think I have another one on the inside of my leg too. We do tasting events and we’ll have pop up tattoo artists all the time.

 

Tequila vs Madre Mezcal

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned the tastings and the education.  Are there quick lessons that you teach the most often?

Ryan Fleming: 

Basic production, culture, financial, environmental and economic sustainability. 

I don’t think people understand that Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico.  Everyone thinks the Mezcal boom must be bringing so many jobs, but it really only affects about 20 – 40,000 people that live in Oaxaca for the production, 

Mezcal is great because it does bring some financial sustainability to the families. Jose started off driving a taxi to pay his bills and now he’s making Mezcal in his family’s tradition.  His whole family, his cousin, his uncles, they all make Mezcal for a living now.

There’s so much culture behind it. Even the old argument of did the Spanish bring over copper stills and that started distillation or does it go back to the Aztecs and Mayans? Because they found distillate and pottery from 3000 years ago. It’s those little nuances.

People really like to talk about the environmental, but giving back to the people down there by not just buying product, but giving them some ownership, which Madre does do, so that everyone has a little bit of skin in the game.

So I think Sustainability, whether it’s environmental, economical, cultural, and production. Those are the things I really like to talk about.

Joe Winger:  What is the basic difference between mezcal and tequila? Or is it more complicated?

Ryan Fleming: 

You could say production techniques, additives, mass production are probably the three biggest differences. 

Tequila can only be made with one agave. It’s a blue weber.  Mezcal can be made with the other 47-ish varietals, and that number is always fluctuating, based on classification and family genius.

Production is the big one. Tequila is made in massive factories and made with either chemicals or steam for the most part. 

Whereas mezcal is actually made by hand, roasted in an earthen oven. The biggest thing that separates Tequila and Mezcal is the 1% additive rule.

Tequila can have up to 1% by volume additives, and they don’t have to tell you. That’s why certain large brands will say 100% Agave, but it’s full of additives, because it doesn’t take much  with modern chemistry. Just a couple drops of glycerin or vanilla extract to change the flavor and hide  all the nuances.

Mezcal can’t have any additives by law. 

Joe Winger: Can we walk through the roles and responsibilities between the families that produce Madre Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

Yeah, the four families. Let’s start with Jose Morales. Him and his brother both make mezcal. Now they produce for us in the US exclusively. We encourage all of our families to continue making mezcal to trade. They use it for a local economy.

Every time I go down there, [their operation is growing].  When they started, they had three stills. Now there’s 12 up and running and they have solar power.  It’s just so crazy to see how much the transformation has happened. 

The original recipe, the blend of cuishe and espadine at 90 proof, that’s his family’s recipe. So we expanded that and we brought on Carlos Blas and the Vasquez family. Unfortunately, Natalio the father passed away a couple of years ago.

His daughters are now producing in the family’s tradition and we take whatever we can from them. 

But what we do, that’s a little bit different is, we started out when it was just Jose, he was making the blend himself. Now we have them make the espadine and the cuishe separately.

All three families are part of the process. Sometimes we just get cuiche from Jose. Sometimes Carlos makes all the espadine, but Carlos is like a master blender. 

We blend a cold style like Scotch does. Even though it’s not the most traditional way, all the distillation and process is as true as it can be.

But by blending post distillation allows us to keep consistency, which was a huge problem because every batch with your wild fermentation, your wild yeast and all these beautiful nuances, it’ll be inconsistent as you grow as a brand.  It was hard for us to keep consistency.

But by blending multiple terroirs and three different families’ production, we can keep a consistent product that tastes the same as well as expanding and bringing on more families to help instead of just going to a large factory house and not making what I would call “traditional Mezcal.”

Joe Winger: So focusing on your background, you mentioned that you’ve been a bartender in the LA nightlife.  Any memorable adventures or lessons you can share?

Ryan Fleming:

There are some stories I could tell that I probably don’t want to share publicly. But there are some amazing stories I can tell.

One of the oddest experiences I’ve ever had, I worked at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, which is one of the most famous bars in the Hollywood nightlife in the past decade. 

Paul McCartney showed up at our door. 

But because our staff is younger and our door guys are a little bit younger, they thought it was an old weird British man that just showed up and they turned Paul McCartney away from the door.

‘Holy crap, is that Paul McCartney’?

He was like, do you know who I am? The guys [were like] ”We don’t care.” Like straight up, blowing Paul McCartney off. One of our managers came out and was like, ‘Holy crap, is that Paul McCartney’? And they’re like, wait, the guy from the Beatles?! 

My manager ran out, “Please come back,” and Paul had a great time at the bar. We got him a special little area to sit down. It was a packed Saturday.  It’s not a nightclub where we have gated off [areas]. Even if you reserve a table, people are inches away from you where you’re sitting at your table. 

Justin Bieber showed up one time and everyone went nuts.  He comes in, walks around, does a loop, comes out and goes, “I thought this was a hip hop club.” and just left.

It was a 1970s themed bar and we played nothing but 70s music. 

The dichotomy between the two different generations and to see them all melt into one location was one of the coolest things about working at that bar. 

 

Joe Winger:It’s so crowded because it’s so popular.  The Houston Brothers always do such a good job.

Ryan Fleming: 

Yeah.  The cocktails are still really good too. For as much volume as we used to do there, the biggest thing is how can I make a really beautiful cocktail that’s still cost effective and doesn’t take 12 steps. We got really good at batching stuff and figuring out how to infuse things.  Luckily our back of house was just the most amazing.  Mariano is the best barback I’ve ever had in my whole life. He’s still there. 

He is just a workhorse that got all the infusions. He would cook, he would infuse all of our products and he was just great. Even if we just did a jalapeno infusion on our tequila, if it got too spicy, he could break down the ratio and water it down with more products so that we could keep the spice level approachable.

Joe Winger:

What is the secret to high quantity yet high value cocktails? 

Ryan Fleming:

Batching is definitely the way to do it. Any of your alcohols that are shelf stable, you want to put all of those in the proper ratios in a bottle.

Instead of grabbing a modifier and your base spirit and another modifier, you’re grabbing one bottle with a special tape at the bottom, so you know which cocktail it goes to and then all your fresh stuff. 

You can’t batch the fresh stuff. It has to be separated because you put citrus in something and it goes bad in three days.  Now the whole batch is bad. So keeping your fresh stuff separated.

Joe Winger: Back to Madre Mezcal.  Obviously the bottles themselves are where all the power is.  So let’s talk about labels and taste profiles.

Ryan Fleming:

People love our labels. Our branding is top notch. It’s one of the first compliments we always get. “Oh my God, I love your branding.” 

Madre Mezcal Artesanal

Madre Mezcal Artesanal

Looked at Oaxacan culture and some other like medieval culture and combined the art from the two.

As far as the red label it’s the woman on the bull. It’s a really beautiful message of Mother Earth coming down and starting to share humanity and move across the world to plants and spread love.  That’s why she’s on the bull.  It’s the combination of animal, Mother Earth, and humans. 

Madre Mezcal Espandin

Madre Mezcal Espandin

The black label is a beautiful logo of a woman on the ground.  She’s planting and spreading the seed of life that gives us agave and flowers and fruit and vegetables and everything else.

Madre Mezcal Ancestral

Madre Mezcal Ancestral

The ancestral is this beautiful clay bottle with old clay vessels from Greece that carried wine with the fluid coming out and it’s supposed to celebrate the ancestral way of making mezcal and clay pots and clay distillation.

I always love telling the story of people who say mezcal is not supposed to be aged, which is a true-ish statement in my opinion. But back in the day, everything got transferred in barrels. So Mezcal would accidentally get aged in barrels because it would travel from town to town on horseback after the product was made.

So the idea that Mezcal was never aged is it wasn’t aged on purpose. 

Mezcal was accidentally aged in wood. The traditional way that people would age Mezcal is in glass and they would hide it underground. 

I always tell people, if you have a beautiful bottle of Mezcal, you should open it and take it out and put a wine cork in it, or at least crack the bottle and get some air because it really lets alcohol open up and aerate.

Mezcal benefits from a resting period. Pouring it in a nice open glass, like a snifter or a wine glass, letting it sit for about 5-10 minutes will really open it up.

Madre Mezcal tasting notes 

Madre is designed to be less smoky. I really hate the term smoky. I like the word roasted because what you’re tasting is like barbeque.

You’re tasting the roasting of the agave and the charcoaling and the burning of the outside agave which will affect the sugars, the caramelization.

Madre really was designed to be a more approachable mezcal. We call ourselves ”The gateway to the category.” 

We want to bring people from tequila over to Mezcal so you can explore what agave spirits also have to offer. 

It’s bright, clean, and smooth. I always compare it to a really nice, made tequila.

Our Espadine is actually a close cousin of [tequila’s] Blue Weber. It tastes really bright, clean and smooth.  But you’re going to get some of that minerality and smoke in the end. 

Like easy drinking with some earthy aromas. 

Joe Winger:  That night when I met you, what you handed me was my first taste of the night. I love that it was so pure and smooth.  It didn’t clog up my mouth for the rest of the night.

Ryan Fleming: 

I’m like you. I want to have 2-3 cocktails a night. Not just one and my palette’s done. 

Our Espadine to me is a 2-3 second palette.  It clears up and you get like a breath and it’s fading.  Our Ensemble goes on for 10- 12 seconds.  From sweet vanilla to chocolate to mineral and then to smoke.  Then the smoke fades and you get just a really beautiful, crisp.  It’s viscous. You can feel the oil in your mouth when you swirl it around and it makes the best Negroni.

Joe Winger:  Let’s talk about food pairings.

Ryan Fleming: 

I want to know if this caught you off guard, but it’s Italian food.

Very rich foods. These beautiful Mezcals are light and almost floral and fragrant, It cuts through the richness and creaminess of food.

That’s why mezcal and chocolate are consistently paired together, but that was just way too easy. There’s always mezcal chocolate pairings, but like a really nice Italian dish, something creamy and rich, like an Alfredo or a really well done piece of pizza, like a margarita or a white sauce pizza.

“…I want to know if this caught you off guard, but…”

We are working on doing some [pizza] pairings with some places in LA.   Do a different slice of pizza with three different cocktails of Madre and then have a tasting at the end.

Chocolate has a big part of Oaxaca too. You can’t not have some chocolate and mezcal at the end of the night. 

Espresso martinis are so hot again right now. Try making one with mezcal instead of vodka and just [see] how coffee helps open up the agave and the notes, and you’re going to get so much more going on in your cocktail.

If you pair a nice espresso martini with  beautiful, dark chocolate from Oaxaca.  That is your final cocktail at the end of the night, it won’t let you down.

Joe Winger:  You mentioned replacing Mezcal with vodka in a martini, are there any traditional or more common cocktails we should also try replacing Mezcal in?

Ryan Fleming: 

When I tell you this, it may blow your mind. Most gin cocktails are a little bit better with Mezcal.

There are certain times you need botanicals, but a lot of really good classic gin cocktails, if you sub them for Mezcal, are absolutely fantastic. 

Joe Winger:  I’m shocked because most gins have such unique aromatics.

Ryan Fleming: 

Which Mezcal has so many of those same unique terpenes going on that it changes the cocktail, but it works.

So instead of having botanicals, you have all these beautiful vegetal and mineral notes that just come from agaves. 

Joe Winger:  What are the biggest misconceptions in the world of Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

A lot of people have a misconception, especially on the trade side, that we have grown exponentially. It’s been a lot of hard work. People think we have this massive team behind us.  There’s less than 20 of us on the whole team. That includes our team down in Oaxaca, who  watches over manufacturing and production for us down there. 

We don’t have an office.  We have a little tiny apartment in Venice for meetings.

A lot of people don’t understand the hard work that goes into creating a small brand. It’s just a lot of people working hard to create beautiful Mezcal, especially the families. 

People [unfairly comparing it to] tequila.  What do you mean, we can’t get more? Why is it so expensive? We have people going out hand collecting wild agaves and harvesting espadine.  All of that is hand cut, hand chopped.   I’ve hand cut agaves with the families.

None of this is industrialized or mechanized like tequila. 

Appreciate every drop of mezcal you have, because someone put a lot of love and labor into it.

Joe Winger:  Ryan, as we wrap up, let’s talk about where can learn more about Madre Mezcal? 

Ryan Fleming: 

We have a beautiful Instagram.  Madremezcal.com is our website. 

We also have this Instagram called mezcal. Learning and it’s a little short videos and little blurbs to talk about production, families, history, and culture. It is focused on Madre, but it’s not just Madre, it’s Mezcal as a whole.

If you want to know more about our families who produce, where it’s made, you can find all that information on madremezgal. com. 

Our bottles are in most of your nicer bottle shops, liquor stores. In California, we’re lucky enough to be in Trader Joe’s for the Espadine and Whole Foods has our Ensemble.

If you can’t find it,  go to madremezcal.com and we ship bottles to almost every state in the U S.

We’re in nine countries, too. Australia. All over Europe, Costa Rica.  We’re working on Japan and South Korea as well. So I’m just excited to see the culture of mezcal just expand beyond just America and see how excited because I, when I talk to people that are in London or, people in Australia, and they’re so excited about the idea of being able to get mezcal.

Joe Winger: What is the future for Madre?

Ryan Fleming: I can’t tell you about the big one.

But, [exciting things for] our Ancestral, which is pretty new and every batch of that’s going to be hand numbered and labeled.

We’re going to start doing small batch productions that will be very limited. Then the desert waters, which we have ready for summer. 

To learn more about MadreMezcal, visit MadreMezcal.com. Find them on Instagram at MadreMezcal

 

DC Demands Caffeine: Nitro Black, Double Espresso, Flat White! Chameleon Organic Coffee Introduces Ready-to-Drink Cold-Brew Cans

DC Demands Caffeine: Nitro Black, Double Espresso, Flat White! Chameleon Organic Coffee Introduces Ready-to-Drink Cold-Brew Cans

Chameleon Organic Coffee®, the original purveyors of handcrafted bottled cold-brew coffee, today announced the expansion of its ready-to-drink category with the debut of four ultra-convenient 8 oz. cold-brew cans.

Handcrafted with 100% organic beans, Chameleon’s new ready-to-enjoy canned cold-brew line features four distinct flavors with sweetened and unsweetened options.

Each delivers unparalleled convenience by offering sustainably sourced coffee in a shelf-stable format, providing optionality for retailers and customers alike.

“We recognized the growing demand for variety and ease of convenience in the RTD coffee segment without compromising on quality and flavor,”

Andy Fathollahi

CEO of SYSTM Foods

“Our new canned cold-brew line provides our loyal customers with another delicious, no-prep option to enjoy their daily coffee ritual on-the-go, anytime.”

Each 8 oz. can contains approximately 130mg of naturally occurring caffeine, providing the perfect boost on the move or at home.

Flavors include:

Nitro Black: Chameleon’s first nitro cold-brew offers a smooth, creamy experience in every sip.

Double Espresso: Bold and smooth organic cold-brew made with dark roast espresso beans delivers a flavorful kick.

Sweetened Black: Black cold-brew lightly sweetened with just the right amount of organic cane sugar.

Flat White: Black cold-brew blended with whole milk creates a traditional flat white experience with a creamy, velvety finish.

The upcoming line complements Chameleon’s existing portfolio of award-winning products, including a variety of organic ready-to-drink 10 oz. cold-brews and 32 oz. multi-serve concentrate cold-brews; each handcrafted to match every mood.

Launching just in time for summer, Chameleon’s Nitro Black, Double Espresso and Sweetened Black 8 oz. canned cold-brews will be available for purchase online at ChameleonCoffee.com and Amazon, as well as at select retailers nationwide starting June 2024 with Flat White availability to follow.

For launch updates, please visit ChameleonCoffee.com.

About Chameleon Organic Coffee®
Founded in 2010, Chameleon Cold-Brew is Austin’s original purveyor of bottled cold-brew coffee. Providing a one-of-a-kind, completely customizable coffee experience, Chameleon uses certified organic, responsibly sourced coffee. Chameleon’s proprietary brewing process produces a super smooth, less acidic, highly caffeinated coffee that can be enjoyed hot or cold. The brand’s portfolio of organic coffee offerings includes ready-to-drink cold-brew varieties, cold-brew concentrates, and now whole bean and ground coffee.

For more information, please visit ChameleonCoffee.com.

DC: Introducing New Passover Wines approved for 2024: Lovatelli, Cantina Giulian

Introducing New Passover Wines approved for 2024: Lovatelli, Cantina Giulian

The Festival of Passover starts April 22 – 30, an eight day holiday celebrating the Israelites’ Exodus from Egyptian slavery.

The most important event in Jewish history is marked by eating a festive meal with matzah, telling the Passover story (Seder) and drinking four cups of wine.  And, when you have four cups to get through in one Seder dinner, wine quality is paramount.

Passover wines perfect for 2024

Royal Wine Corp. is the largest manufacturer, importer and exporter of Kosher wines and spirits, with a portfolio that spans hundreds of brands and thousands of bottles of world-class wines.

For Passover 2024, they are introducing top quality wines from some of the finest wine producing regions including California, France, Italy, Spain and Israel, among others.

Lovatelli

Lovatelli

While forty percent of annual kosher wine sales occur for the Passover holiday, sales of kosher wine and spirits have been growing significantly throughout the rest of the year.

The not-so-secret to perfect passover wines

According to Jay Buchsbaum, VP of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp.,

“There’s nothing cookie-cutter about these Passover wines – they are top notch, award winning and distinctive.”

Jay Buchsbaum

VP of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp

“And, while red wine is traditional for the Passover Seder, it can be a nice Burgundy or a Pinot Noir, or a Cabernet – just as long as it is kosher for Passover. There are dozens to choose from. And, just to be clear, our portfolio consists of  acclaimed wines that just happen to be kosher, recognized for our quality and value.”

These Passover-approved bottles will complement any Seder fare. “L’Chaim”

  • Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico, world famous winery producing kosher wine for the first time. This renowned and well regarded brand is producing kosher wine for the first time exclusively for Royal Wine Corp. (with more to come); SRP $25
  • Lovatelli, a new line of fine and affordable Italian wines, including a Salento Primitivo, SRP $17 and a Barbera d’Asti, SRP $25; Coming soon:  Nebbiolo, a Super Tuscan, as well as two new vermouths.
  • Cantina Giuliano, fully kosher boutique winery started in 2014 in Tuscany, Italy. The winery was started  by a young couple, who inherited wineries from their grandparents. It’s now fully kosher with new bottles and labeling.
  • Many new kosher wines are being imported from South Africa by ESSA and J Folk wineries (among them are : Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and more).

  • Bartenura – Flavored Moscatos in cans such as Peach, Lychee, and new Blueberry.
  • Château Dauzac Grand Cru Classé and Aurore de Dauzac Margaux ’21
  • Chateau Roubine Cru Classé Lion & Dragon Red
  • Des Moisans Deau Cognac Privilege
  • Herzog Lineage Momentus Rose
  • J de Villebois Sancerre Pinot Noir
  • Kamisa Winery – Galilee, Israel
  • Malbec du Clos Triguedina – Cahors
  • Shamay Winery Upper Galilee, Israel
  • New Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilée, Israel (SRP $30)
  • Brio de Château Cantenac Brown, Margaux

Is Kosher for Passover Wine Hard to Find?

Actually, it’s rather easy! Most kosher wine is also kosher for Passover, making it easier to sell this wine (and for consumers to stock up on bottles) year-round. Any kosher-for-Passover wine will have a “P” symbol or “Kosher for Passover” next to the kosher certification on the label.

But that’s not the case with some spirits. For example, you’ll be unlikely to find kosher-for-Passover whiskey, as whiskey is made with grain.

Fine kosher wines are made the same way that fine non-kosher wines are made,” adds Buchsbaum. “There is no kosher winemaking ‘technique.’ What’s required for the wine to be considered kosher, is that the wine be handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews. And there are plenty of fine winemakers and cellar workers who are Sabbath observant. Great grapes and skilled winemakers yield great wines—kosher or not.

Consumers looking for wines from renowned regions throughout the world can satisfy their thirst with more options than ever before. It seems the problem is not the availability of great wine but the overwhelming number of great wines to choose from. Royal Wine offers a delicious selection of kosher for Passover wines from around the world,” says Buchsbaum. “Some of the top producers are creating award-winning varietals at every price point, and with Passover just around the corner, we want to take the guesswork out of buying wine.”

 

Why Four Cups of Wine

One of the rituals served at Passover is the custom of drinking four cups of wine. The four cups of wine are consumed in a specific order as the story of Exodus is told. Served to the adults throughout the dinner, these four wines represent points from the exodus story. While there are several explanations for the significance of the number four, the connection to “freedom from exile” is often referenced. For observant Jews, the wine served should be kosher. Although a kosher wine uses the same grapes as other wines, the wine making is handled by “sabbath-observant Jews”.

DC Discovers Bordeaux wines, leading the way with Julien Bonneau from Chateau Haut Grelot

Incredible Bordeaux wines from Chateau Haut Grelot leads the way with Julien Bonneau

Today Chateau Haut Grelot’s Julien Bonneau visited to talk Bordeaux winemaking, their legendary wine region, his family’s pioneering legacy, his favorite food and wine pairings.

Chateau Haut Grelot's Julien Bonneau

Chateau Haut Grelot’s Julien Bonneau

 

Can you tell us a little bit about what inspires you about the wine business? Maybe a memory or wine celebration.

 

Julien: As you imagine in Bordeaux, or even in France, most of the wine business is a family business. It’s very father and a son or daughter. There’s always this kind of takeover. 

Chateau Haut Grelot's Bonneau Family

Chateau Haut Grelot’s Bonneau Family

I grew up with my father and he was always into wine, tasting wine. ’Oh, you should smell the wine and making me discover the wine from when I was a very young child. And so I didn’t want to take over the company. 

I didn’t wanna take over the story about the wine, but I had one weakness:  I love wine actually. I like wine very much, so it was very hard to say no. 

Chateau Haut Grelot

Chateau Haut Grelot

I don’t want to take over. But I like wine anyway. I went to business school. I went to New Zealand and England to learn the wine trade.  It was a very nice experience. 

Then I came back to the wine business and started again to make wine, to discover the wine business through the company. That was probably my first step. When you start taking a foot in the wine business, then you never go back.

Obviously, it’s a passion to grow and grow because making wine is like growing a child. You start from the vineyard and then you go to making wine and then to age the wine in barrels. Then you put it in a bottle just to show your wine to your customers.

Chateau Haut Grelot's Julien Bonneau

Chateau Haut Grelot’s Julien Bonneau

Looking at your winery’s history.  1920, 1927 was a big year for your vineyard. 1975 was a big year for your father. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the vineyard?  Up to the more modern technology your vineyard has pioneered.

 

I’m the fourth generation in my family’s wine business. So my grandfather used to have cows for breeding. Vineyards, asparagus, as well. So it was just a culture after the war. 

My father started in 1978 and he focused on the wine business.

He wanted to make and grow quality wine. Very tasty wine.  [His goal] changed a lot of things about the process of winemaking to develop very aromatic, long aging. So we started to make a range of wine:  white wine, rosé, a bit sparkling as well.

 

He went to see the customer directly in the north of France, in Europe. He tried to sell directly and not through negociants. That’s the main story because in AOC Blaye which is north of Bordeaux on the right bank of the river, negociants were necessary through the distribution to sell the wine.

The big challenge was, ‘No. You don’t want to pay more for my wine, I’m going directly to the customer. I don’t want to go and to carry on sitting through a negotiation because you don’t trust me on quality wine and you don’t pay more for the wine. So we’ll stop sending to negociants. And go directly to the customer, private customers, wine shop, restaurant, wine importers.’

That was 1984 and 1985. It was a very different direction. It changed a lot compared to what happened in Bordeaux at that time. We started to control our distribution. From that time, he developed a lot of quality wine, he invested in new vineyards, bigger and bigger, and also buying some barrels and new equipment to make very good quality wine. 

He loves saying ‘I was the first in 1990 to make green harvesting.’ Green harvesting is cutting some grapes in August. So one month earlier than the harvest to remove a bit of quantity and to make better quality. So he removed grapes in the vineyard to produce better concentration on the grapes left on the field.

That was his focus, it was an improvement in quality wine. From that time, we carried on. What I changed is, I make more wines, different wines, different quality wines. But still focusing on quality wine. I do more than 30 wines –  different quality, colors, and winemaking process. 

 

Let’s talk about your region, and how those elements inform the wines that you’re making?

 

Julien: We are located in AOC Blaye, north of Bordeaux, one hour driving up.

On the right bank of the river. So opposite to Saint-Estèphe, you have AOC Saint-Estèphe, you cross the river, the main river, and you are in AOC Blaye. 

Where we are located we are mostly very gravelly. We have two types of terroir.  For the red grapes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec. 

Gravelly soil to help have early harvesting and early maturation for nice harvesting. The second is more on clay soil, for the Sauvignon Blanc for the Semillon and Muscadet to make more powerful wine. Two very distinguished terroirs.

The climate is very moderate, oceanic influence but also very warm during the summer. We are very hot right now. It’s a very hot summer so that’s helped a lot to have very ripe grapes.

North of Bordeaux is quite hilly so it helps to have very nice exposure to the sun. For us, it’s very important to have ripe grapes. So we need to look for the sun and remove the leaves in front of the grapes.  It helps to keep the freshness in the wine and still have very ripe grapes.

 

Let’s talk about your winemaking process.

AOC Bordeaux or AOC Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, we have very strict rules. We need to have the vineyard on a hill.  You need to respect 6,000 bottles per hectare of production. 

Then we have nine months of winemaking before bottling it. So for us we make one year, even sometimes two years after, focusing more on quality wine.

AOC rules are just a basis. We try to make higher quality by aging and also to decrease the quantity of grapes per hectare to focus on sun contact for the grapes to have very ripe and very juicy grapes before harvesting. So we are very much challenging and controlling this aspect. 

For example, in September, I walk every day, all my vineyards, just to check on the quality.

We try to get the aroma window. According to the evolution of the aroma on a grape, on a palate, we say ‘the window is there’, so we need to get it. It’s not only analysis from a laboratory, but it’s mostly from the palette.  ‘How’s it taste?’

It’s the same as when you cook, you taste your sauce all the time. 

 

Let’s talk about your wines.  Can you talk us through some of the wines that you have? 

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Ruby red in the glass.  Lovely nose with red berries, vanilla and spicy flavors.  Very drinkable.  Fruit forward with medium body. Well-balanced with long and aromatic finish

Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Château Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc Côtes de Blaye 2022

Château Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc Côtes de Blaye 2022

Classic Bordeaux blend: 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sémillon & 5% Muscadelle. Floral, crisp, elegant.  Exotic fruit on the nose with grapefruit and wild herbs.  Generous  citrus on the palate. Full body, almost velvety with a decadent finish.

Perfect to pair with seafood, chicken, fresh salads and cheese boards.

 

Pin Franc Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Pin Franc Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Pin Franc Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Big gush of red fruit, red currant, raspberry, blueberry on the nose.   Big body, well-balance.  Very muscular with silky and structured tannins.  A long finish.

Enjoy as an aperitif or pair with game, pigeon, lamb, turkey, or as a dessert with chocolate.

Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

 

Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine

Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

Powerful, bold, muscular. 100% cabernet sauvignon. A v ery special bottle, aged for 16 months in small oak barrels. A lush, velvety mouthfeel with medium tannin and a long, vanilla finish. 

Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, Orange Wine

Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, Orange Wine

Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux

100% Sauvignon Gris

On the nose, citrus and orange zest aromas.  Light body, light tannin.  A tart bitterness on the palette with medium finish. Enjoy as an aperitif, or pairs with hard cheeses and desserts.

 

Julien: We have a wide range of wine. But I’m going to start with…

[Première Cuvée Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux, red wine]

Which is very fruity wine. This one is more classic Bordeaux style. 

For the white is [Château Haut Grelot Sauvignon Blanc Côtes de Blaye 2022].

For 90% and very fruity, juicy, very aromatic fruit, grapefruit, and also passion fruit and it’s very easy drinking very easy drinking, very crisp.

The red is 70% of Merlot, 30% of Cabernet sauvignon. Wine aging on the lees a bit just to bring a bit of fatness.  Strawberry character. 

Both wines are very drinkable. Don’t need to age too much. Lovely with sushi, seafood, tuna, all fish.  It works pretty well with meat. So that’s my two first classic range of Bordeaux style. 

Then I have Parfum, which is 100% Malbec.  [Chemin de l’Estuaire Red 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux]. Fruity, easy drinking, not too heavy as Argentina wines or Malbec wine.  It’s more of a freshness and very licorice character. 

The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in barrels for one year, very select grapes.

We make a very good balance between the fruit from the Cabernet and the barrels. From aging typical from wine. That’s two different wines which is this one a bit more on the liquorized fruit freshness side, and this one is very elegant. 

Lastly is orange wine. Bois Pauvoir, which is a sauvignon grape. [Boir Pour Voir 2020, Blaye Côtes-de-Bordeaux]

The story of this wine was Bois Pauvoir. It’s orange wine. I never made it before, but I wanted to make a wine which says let’s try to see how it’s going. And that means in French, “let’s try, you will see.”

 

Going back to cooking, what are some of your favorite things to eat with these bottles?

Julien: I’ll say for Sauvignon Blanc,  this one is lovely with tuna. Rare tuna. Even tataki tuna. It has a very fresh character, very nice acidity and it’s very well matched with tuna. 

This is one who can match pretty much with many things, but if you like pasta with tomato.  Easy drinking freshness. Very drinkable. Not too heavy and you have acidity in a tomato with pasta and that keeps your freshness. 

It pairs well with game. I like pigeon with a side of onions.  Even lamb is very nice. It works pretty well with white meat. You can say beef as well. Roasted beef on a barbecue with carrots and peppers. 

That’s very long, which is very a bit unusual, but it’s lovely with cheese.  Even with fish in tomato sauce.  Sea bass or grilled octopus. Yeah, it could be a very nice match. 

How can we find more about you and your wines?

It would be fantastic to go on Instagram and follow us and follow our story about how we try to develop in the U.S.  You can also visit our website to learn more.

Fritz Coleman, Louise Palanker are ‘Woke Boomers’ on Media Path Podcast taking a Deep Dive into Pop Culture

Take a Deep Dive into Pop Culture with Woke Boomers Fritz Coleman, Louise Palanker on Media Path Podcast

Fritz Coleman and Louise Palanker are hosting a virtual dinner party.  It’s a fun time, a good time, with lots of laughs, smiles, and a deep dive into pop culture past and present.

Have you ever become obsessed with a topic and taken a deep dive into consuming all you could uncover about it?

Media Path Podcast is here to indulge your creative obsessions. Co-hosted by Los Angeles weatherman/humorist Fritz Coleman and filmmaker/columnist and co-founder of Premiere Radio Louise Palanker.

Take a Deep Diver into Pop Culture with Woke Boomers Fritz Coleman, Louise Palanker on Media Path Podcast

Today we had a conversation (via zoom) with Fritz Coleman and Louise Palanker.  This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

For the full conversation, visit our YouTube channel here.

 

 

What’s the best way to introduce this fun, flavorful conversation?

 

Louise: We tell folks, this is what you would be talking about if you got together with a group of friends anyway. What have you been watching? What should I stream? What’s good? So this is where every conversation eventually devolves. We just get there very rapidly

Fritz: Wheezy and I grew this podcast out of a friendship we’ve had for about 35 years, where we found out surprisingly and wonderfully, that we see eye to eye on lots of entertainment, movies, books, TV shows, and we thought, why not make this a podcast? It is a continuation of our common interests in our conversation.

So that’s what we do. We start each show with some suggestions on what people can watch, listen to, read, and that takes eight minutes. And then we always have a guest on; guests from all walks of life. We found that one of our sweet spots is television personalities from the Los Angeles area particularly ones from our growing up period, the 1960’s and 1970s boomer material and older.

But we do everything. We do politicians, we do singing stars. We’ve had very interesting books and topics that aren’t generally known to the public. I’ll give you an example. Two weeks ago. We had a show about a man who wrote a book about a woman by the name of Connie Converse, who I suppose you could describe as one of the great undiscovered musical talents in America.

She was a great songwriter and a great singer. She was never discovered, which was sad and then she just magically and mysteriously disappeared. So the book this guy wrote was about somebody that not everybody was familiar with, but it was fascinating because it was like a, ‘whodonnit’ and also the heartache of an undiscovered musical talent, that lady that started in Greens Village and all those things.

All that to say it’s Weezy and I discussing stuff we find fascinating and we hope you come along.

 

From the episodes I’ve watched, it feels like the most interesting dinner party you’ve been to in a long time.

 

Fritz: We appreciate that.

We’re gonna use that as a sales tool from now on. The most interesting dinner party you’ve ever been to. Yeah,

Louise: the food is awful. 

Fritz: My dinner with Weezy. 

Louise: Yeah, there’s some hard candies and it’s bring whatever you can in your purse because we, I’ve got some granola bars on the coffee table, but that’s it.

Fritz: We want the intimacy of a conversation among friends and so you, you analyzed it well. Beautiful.

 

Because everyone watching and listening loves food. Do you have a favorite food you’d recommend either you per personally and enjoy or something that we should be eating or cooking while we listen and watch your show?

 

Louise: I’m gonna recommend some water. This comes out of a filtration system near my sink. It’s just lovely.

Fritz: I happen to be a fan of Northern Italian cuisine. I won’t name specific dishes, but in general, I love risotto with a great protein like shrimp or chicken.

I love penne with a bolognese sauce. I love capellini alla checca, which is a great when you add shrimp to it and then you add a checca sauce, which is the red sauce with garlic. And so I like Northern Italian Cuisine. I don’t cook, but I can buy the best food in America. Just walking out my front door here.

Louise: Have you ever put salmon on a pizza?

Fritz: I’ve had that actually. That’s actually very good.

Louise: Very good. Goat cheese. Wonderful. I love let’s see, chicken parmesan, I think that’s what I would order.Maybe that sounds very pedestrian. But comfort foods are delicious.

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, chicken parm. That’s the kind of stuff – any potato really, you can’t do anything to a potato that would offend me.

Fritz: I’ll tell you, LA is wonderful for that lately cuz there’s all sorts of interesting fusions going on. You have Vietnamese food and Italian food and a fusion menu.

And if you like to experiment with different palettes, this is a great city to do it in. It really is, thanks to Wolfgang Puck and some of the gourmet chefs in the town. Completely

 

I think what we’re all, what we’re all noticing immediately is the two of you have phenomenal chemistry. What’s the origin story?

 

Louise: Yes, absolutely. We know each other quite well. It’s very natural, and I’ve been podcasting since you could, you go back to 2005 whenever you got that new iPhone that said, would you like to listen to a podcast? And then you said, what’s a podcast? And then the adventure begins. 

So I’ve been doing it from jump and Fritz was contractually obligated to not speak outside of his news job about anything that did not concern a weather pattern. Your newsman cannot have an opinion. That’s very distracting, especially now in our divided sensibility.

Fritz: You just can’t say anything smart, that would embarrass the station. That’s all.

Louise: So you couldn’t do commercials. It makes sense if you’re talking about the weather, you don’t wanna be thinking, oh, this guy sells batteries. You just, you wanna just get your weather cast.

So as soon as he retired we jumped on board together because I had done four podcasts before this one, and I was prepared in terms of what a podcast requires, how difficult it is. And so for Fritz, I just need his mind, his preparation, his wit and his fascination with all things interesting.

And he’s more than ready to take on the podcasting world. He’s the best. 

Fritz: And this is not a brag but it’s true. You cannot manufacture chemistry. You can see two people on television. You hear them on the radio or hear them in a conversation, and you know that these two people should not be in the same room together, let alone host their own presentation.

But we just have a natural thing that was born out of our friendship really, and our common interest in stuff. One of our sweet spots is baby boomer and older music, old rhythm and blues. Weezy’s interest in music goes back to the old harmony groups like the Mills Brothers, cuz she was personal friends.

So all those things we find fun and so when we get in there we I think that the fun we’re having resonates to the audience. I hope it does. 

Louise: We geek out together. It’s like watching Jimmy Fallon. You’re just so giddy that he’s that giddy. So hopefully we bring that kind of enthusiasm and just to get to meet the people that we grew up watching.

And also the excitement of when you have an author reading the book and then getting to talk to the author and, rather than having to scour YouTube for interviews that the author did, because now you’re fascinated. We actually get to talk to the person. And so we find that exciting. It’s like going to grad school for free.

Fritz: One of the great joys is having a topic that you don’t know anything about. For instance, this Connie Converse topic and the one we’re having this week we’re preparing for now, this is a guy that wrote a book about the friendship between Henry Ford, John Burrows, and Thomas Edison.

These three geniuses in a different venue, each one, but they all had this spectacular friendship and they all took a road trip in a model T Ford.  I knew a little bit about Henry Ford, you know it from the Industrial Revolution and extreme antisemitism. But I didn’t realize that he had interests outside there. Louise and I are just gonna be blank slates and come into this interview with just being inquisitive, and that’s always fun.  You discover something you had no idea about.

Let’s talk about both of your backgrounds.

We’re gonna go to Fritz second. Louise,  bring everyone up to speed about what you’ve accomplished and those other podcasts you’ve worked on so people know the background that you bring to this show.

 

Louise: Yes, I began my career as a studio page, and it was one of those things where you get your foot in the door and one thing leads to the other thing.

So I became a studio page at a place called Metro Media Tape. We were doing all of the Norman Lear sitcoms. We had the John Davidson talk show. Which was where a person like me gets to meet Van Johnson. It was just crazy. Look, I’m from suburban Buffalo and here I am with Van Johnson.

It was crazy. So I’ve always just been so grateful to work in entertainment. I just consider it to be an honor. But that led to a job at a show called PM Magazine, which led to me meeting Rick Dees who was a local radio personality. I went to write his syndicated countdown show, which is called the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40, which led to me meeting other personalities at KISS FM and forming a company with them called Premier Radio Networks.

And that was a 15 year rocket ship that led to that company being sold to Clear Channel, which is now iHeart Media. At one point I went to one of my partners and I said, Hey, Craig, what are what’s the chance of me having my own show? And he said, none. And I said, I have two words for you, podcast.

Because he didn’t know that they were just the one word at that time. And I, that’s how new it was. I was doing standup comedy at the time, so I went to do standup comedy that night and I said to my friend, Laura Swisher, have you heard of a podcast? And she said, I just heard about it today.

It was just like, it was hot off the press, right? So we were like, let’s make one. That led to 100 episodes of Weezy In The Swish, which was my first podcast. And then I did one with K with teenagers where I was like giving teenagers advice cuz like I love to mentor young people.

And that one was called Journals Out Loud. And then I did one with some of my comedy friends called things I Found Online, which was people our age discovering the interne. Then Fritz retired and now I’m working with Fritz.

I never was a radio personality at Premier. I was a creator. I was in charge of all of the creative output, but Premier had shows that did not involve or include me other than behind the scenes. 

And now Fritz obviously. My words, you’re an LA icon. For more than 40 years…

 

Fritz: Contactually, you have to say that about me.  Every time you introduce me. I’m an LA icon.

 

Not only do you own LA TV, but you own LA stages because for those who don’t know, seeing you live is a phenomenally fun, entertaining evening.  Was it a very conscious segue to get into podcasting?

 

Fritz: My involvement with her podcast is totally her both blame and her gift that she gave to me after I retired.

People find this hard to believe. Real meteorologists hate this story, but I’ll tell it to you anyway. I was working at the Comedy Store in 1982 and because I talked on stage about having done the weather earlier in my broadcasting career, the news director from Channel Four and his wife were in the audience that night and he came up to me after the show and he said, I really enjoyed your show, particularly the thing about doing the weather in the Navy, but not knowing anything about it.

He said, would you have any desire to come to Channel Four and do some vacation relief, weather forecasting? I was making $25 a night at the Comedy Store, and so I almost passed out. I said, of course, when do you want me to start? He said you have to audition. So I auditioned and got the job, and I did two years as a vacation relief guy on the weekends.

Filling in on the weekends and filling in for people on vacation. And then two years later, I was bumped up to the weekday weather cast position and I retired two weeks shy of my 40th anniversary. And it’s just unbelievable. I didn’t set out to have a career in weather. This opportunity presented itself.

I could continue to do standup. I came out here from Buffalo, New York where we Weezy’s from to do standup. Even as the weather job I was able to continue to do standup. And so I had two careers. One paid for my children’s education. The other exercised my ego, and as they, it both worked out.

 

How do you two decide on the topics and when you bring up your guests, how do you decide on your guests?

 

Louise: We get a lot of offers coming our way now.  There’s definitely people that we go after. But we have so many folks that are pitching, when someone has something new that comes out, they make the rounds. And so we just know what our sweet spots are and we email each other with our producer Dina, and we say, does this sound good? 

So for example we did not know anything about that Elvis story that you’re talking about. And when it was pitched to us, we just said Absolutely. Exactly. This is what we wanna delve into. So that is what you’re referring to, is a book about a woman who researched Elvis’s health history and discovered that he wasn’t a drug addict because he enjoyed drugs. He was a drug addict because he was trying to feel normal. He was born with disease in 9 out of the 11 systems of the body, and this is why everyone on his mother’s side dies in their forties, including Elvis.

Fritz: That was a great example of what I was talking about.

Weezy and I were just flabbergasted. I mean we’ve all known a lot about Elvis, especially Weezy and I, because we’re students of music, but there was so much in there that we didn’t realize. And that’s a great example of discovering things that you weren’t aware of that made the podcast so much fun.

Louise: And the book is by Sally Hodel and it’s called Elvis: Destined to Die Young.

I think so many people are looking for that level of knowledge and a deeper dive. I think both YouTube and podcasts allows for those deeper dives.

 

What do the two of you look for when it comes to interviews? Is there different angles you’re both looking to achieve or how does that happen?

 

Louise: If we find it interesting, we just believe that other folks will find it interesting. So we just gauge it on what fascinates us.

We’re a pretty good barometer.

Louise: We’re always looking for politics. We both call ourselves “woke boomers”.

We’ll take it. And we love history. We love biographies, we love documentaries. We’re both news junkies. We love TV, especially the TV that is close to people because they grew up with it. We believe firmly that what you loved at 10 you love forever. We talked to Marty Croft and we talked to former child stars and we talk to folks like that.

This week we talked to Nellie Oleson,  Alison Arngrim from Little House on the Prairie as well. We love talking to those folks and learning what life was like as a child growing up making the television that other kids were so in intrigued by, and of course the music of our era, sixties, seventies, eighties,

Fritz: We had two documentary filmmakers on a couple of about a month or so ago.  They made a documentary about Blood, Sweat and Tears, which was one of the iconic groups of the late sixties and early seventies. They and Chicago were the first bands to use horns in mainstream rock and roll. But there’s a great backstory about how Blood, Sweat and Tears were bamboozled into making a tour behind the Iron Curtain.  They were the first American rock band that had ever been allowed to tour behind the Iron Curtain.

And there’s hundreds of hours of video of these guys experiencing Romania and all these less than welcoming countries. And that was fantastic because, again, we’d always been fans of Blood, Sweat and Tears.  But this was an aspect of their career we didn’t know anything about. That was fantastic.

And we had Bobby Columby, who was the drummer for Blood, Sweat and Tears in the studio with us. It was really fun. 

 

You both brought up in your own ways, “happy accidents” with guests.  Can either of you suggest guests we should go back through your archives and find?

 

Louise: My favorite episode features Joyce Bouffant. She wrote a book called My Four Hollywood Husbands. It’s absolutely a tremendously entertaining read. She was married to James MacArthur, The son of Helen Hayes. So this kid who has a impoverished childhood and suddenly she’s hanging out with Helen Hayes. Launches a career of taking care of alcoholic husbands and finally winding up with the man of her dreams.

And it’s just, it’s quite a ride and remarkably entertaining. 

Fritz: And we have guests that will always be our favorites. One of our only repeat guests, Henry Winkler, who happens to be a close friend to Weezy’s.  We had him on, but not because he’s a close friend. Because when you just have a very casual conversation with him, you realize his appeal to the world.

He’s one of the most down to earth, non-condescending, brilliant guys who never talks down to you. He’s just the loveliest man in the world and who has had an astonishing career. And we’ve had him on, and we’re gonna try to get him on again because he has an autobiography coming out soon. So we hope we can coerce him into coming back on.

But yeah, we love those too. We haven’t had anybody else on twice? I don’t think so. Adam Schiff. The politician. Now his life has changed because he’s running for senator from California.

Louise: He’s Fritz’s Congressman, so he’s congressionally obligated to attend our podcast.

He’s wonderful and very funny guy as well. We’re always just really honored to speak to him. Another favorite show of mine is: The Steve’s. Steve Young and Steve O’Donnell, both wrote for David Letterman. Steve Young has created this documentary called Bathtubs Over Broadway, where Steve Young becomes obsessed with industrial musicals.

It’s on Amazon Prime right now and it still gets a lot of views.

It’s fun to talk to Pat Boone and Vicky Lawrence and Johnny Whitaker and Christopher Knight. All of our comedian friends, but those are the stories that you love. Uncovering is things that you didn’t know were there and that delight you.

 

Let’s tell the audience where to find your show – Where do we find you?

 

Louise: Anywhere you type Media Path Podcast  it’s gonna come up.  Website, podcast, youtube, iphone.

Fritz: I have a new comedy special, which is streaming on Tubi. It’s called Unassisted Living. It’s just describing life for people of our demographic: that is old people and their parents.

 

That’s gonna be fun.  Can we find you live on stage soon?

 

Fritz: I think I’m gonna be having a residency at the El Porto Theater in North Hollywood, California. It’s a fairly legendary theater, called the Maryland Monroe Forum.

And I’m gonna be doing a show there once a month for a while as I work out new material. And I’ll be advertising that on social media and elsewhere. 

 

Find the Media Path Podcast: https://www.mediapathpodcast.com/

DC is celebrating this summer, Give Champagne Jeepers a Taste

DC is celebrating this summer, Give Champagne Jeepers a Taste.

It’s easy to fall in love with champagne.  Life celebrations.  Work success.  Life’s best memories (hello weddings, anniversaries, babies, birthdays).  If you’re ready to try a new champagne, this is for you.

 

 

Today we had the amazing opportunity to talk (via zoom) with Jeeper Champagne’s Camille Cox.  This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full conversation, visit our YouTube channel.

Can you share a favorite memory where you celebrated with champagne?

 

Oh, there’s, God, there’s so many. I can’t even begin to tell you. But the one thing I can say is that you always should carry champagne because in victory you deserve champagne and in defeat you need it. That was Napoleon Bonaparte, if I’m not mistaken? 

I think my most memorable toast with champagne are personal victories  And, of course, business victories as you can imagine. I’ve been selling champagne for a very long time, and I can name a couple that come to mind. One of them a few years back was getting business at the Delta Airlines lounges. Putting another maison there.   At the time, the house that I was working for at the time that was a big victory in itself. And just little victories in life each and every day. Every day is a celebration. 

It’s all relative in how you look at it and how you live your life, but I think every day calls for champagne, to be completely honest with you.

 

I love that,  ‘Everyday calls for champagne’. Jeeper has an interesting story behind it based on the end of World War II.

Can you give us just a very brief history lesson of Jeeper that brings us up to present day?

 

So, as you know, many champagne houses have great stories, and that’s the great thing about Champagne. Every Maison has their story and the fact that you get to go back and find out how it became is super fascinating to me.

When I had the chance to join Jeeper, I went back to look at the story.  A family started  making champagne in the 1800s.  It had its heyday and then it floundered. It changed hands for quite some time. Then a gentleman by the name of Armand Goutorbe, who was working his family vineyards, had to be called to war and ended up in a house in an undisclosed location because everybody was fighting against the resistance at that time.

He happened to be holed up in a place with some American soldiers and they were being bombed and consequently they were all trying to help save each other’s lives. History tells us that Armand was a gentleman who took it upon himself to risk his own life, to pull some American GIs away from the building that was going to be bombed, possibly losing their lives.

In doing so, he impeded his leg and went back to looking over his vineyards in Champagne. The hills aren’t high, but they’re steep. His leg impeded his day-to-day operations. The US army got ahold of the story and some of the soldiers that he saved wanted to pay tribute to him and in all humbleness to thank him for saving their lives. So the US military gave him a Willie’s Jeep, and he rode around in the villages and he became known as “Mr. Jeeper Man”. Two years later, he said, I think I’m just gonna name my vineyards Jeeper. So there it was born Jeeper in 1949 because of a wonderful gift that the US Army bequeathed to him.

We still have the Jeep today on property.

 

 

 

Can we talk about the terroir of the region?

 

We are located in Faverolles et Coëmy, a commune near Reims in the north-west of the Champagne region.  In the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs and the Marne Valley.

We are mostly a chardonnay house and we use Chardonnay as our primary grape.

We make eight different wines under the Jeeper label. We  have two great certifications for being biodynamic and organic.  Our flagship for the winery is our Blanc de Blanc. Our bottles are color coded in terms of the labels so that they stand out significantly to consumers.

That area has cool nights. A little bit of frost, but beautiful, pristine, crisp grapes from those regions, from the sub regions in Champagne. We own about 80 hectares. We don’t buy any grapes. We use our own grapes. We have the capacity to make 3.5 million bottles, but we hope to make more with some partnerships that we’ve kind of acquired.

Having Michel Reybier as a new partner with Nicholas, the current owner of and partner, who makes the wines too. Nicholas Dubois makes us stand apart from that we’re not right in the middle of Reims. We’re out there, believe it or not.

So when you come to Reims, you’re not gonna see us. You’re gonna have to get on the train or take a little cab and make it to Jeeper. 

I love talking about process.  Our audience is a mix of very basic drinkers up to connoisseurs.

So can you share a little bit of the process and how, how, what, what makes your champagne so unique?

 

What makes us a little bit more unique is a lot of champagne houses only use steel vats. We’re still kind of old school. We do use some Burgundy barrels.  We have one of the biggest barrel rooms behind Krug and Bollinger. We have about 1200 barrels that we use. So for instance, our Grande Assemblage, which happens to be our brut non vintage, we age 20% of the chardonnay that we use in that blend for two years in used burgundy oak barrels and then we do the aging of the lees. We lay it down for about four years. So that’s two years for the 20% Chardonnay laying down for two years. Then the four years makes it a total of six years. So you get a totally different taste. There’s a little bit of maturity there with the oak barrels. 

It’s something completely different. I’ve worked for houses that were stainless steel, so this is something new for me as well too. The aging process, there is some lactic, it just depends on which cuvee we’re speaking about.

Withholding our wines a little bit longer. We’re not big production, we’re not a grower champagne house by any means. We’re just over the hump as a boutique champagne house. We’re just getting started here in the United States. Our biggest production and where we sell the most champagne is in France.

But opening up the United States, it’s tough to build a champagne brand in the US, believe it or not. It’s super tough.

You have to find a way to differentiate yourself, what makes you stand out. I think that’s Jeeper having the name and the story and the total difference of not having stainless steel aging, and that we’re malolactic and that we do use oak barrels in some of our cuvee’s.

 

One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is a few weeks ago when I had the chance to actually taste through the bottles, they did have such a unique taste.

 

So let’s talk about the actual bottles.

 

I’ve mentioned the Grande Assemblage, which is our brut non-vintage. It’s a green label, and I just told you a little bit about that. But the one that is our flagship is our Blanc De Blanc.

I think our bottles are beautiful. We have a patent on the bottle.  People notice how easy it was to take off the foil.

So there’s still a little label underneath the foil that says Jeeper, which is kind of neat for us and it speaks volumes because it doesn’t leave you a mess or end up getting paper cuts from the foil cuts. 

The Blanc de Blanc is big, full-bodied, rich.  Also super elegant. It’s clean. It’s crisp, even though it has a big mouthful. 

Our champagnes are the categories in the last 7 to 10 years that have really ended up getting some traction. I think people are walking away from the norm. They’re walking away from big commercial houses because they wanna see what else is out there. 

Their curious is curiosity’s sake and I think it’s really helped the champagne business. I think the champagne business has always been cyclical, but in the last 7 to 10 years, it’s really gotten a hold and people are really embracing champagne to great success 

Because there’s so many beautiful wines out there, so many different styles and so many cool things that you can learn. I think the more the people, because of the terroir, I always say that champagne is a reflection of the mood of the terroir.

Champagne, the terroir from where we are, its chalky soil limestone. It lends itself to so many different characteristics in the wine. We’re not a big vintage champagne house. 2008 was probably one of the best vintages of the century.  It was gone in a flash. With our 2008, we age it for 12 years on the lees. It’s 88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir. So there’s that wonderful characteristic and it has a little maturity on it, a little oxidation. 

I’m a vintage champagne girl and a no dousage champagne girl so this one fits the bill for me, but it may not be for everyone’s taste profile. 

I can always tell at the beginning when I’m doing a tasting with the two lead wines that you start off with in Champagne, what someone is gonna like in the rest of the range.  It never fails me. It’s always about 95% full proof. 

It’s so subjective. The 2008 for me is interesting. We’re getting ready to release a new release of Blanc de Blanc coming in May, which I’m super excited about. It’ll be no dousage.

We also now have a partnership, as I mentioned, one of our owners, Michel Repier. There’s a gentleman by the name of Tony Parker, who’s a former four-time NBA champion. A hall of famer. I was just with him a couple weeks ago. Super, super person. He told us his story about where he came from and how much he loves gastronomy.  He’s French.  A lot of people don’t realize that.  He’s from Lyon, and I’m sure the Parisians would beg to differ, but Lyon is supposedly now the gastronomy capital of Paris. So we have him as an ambassador; a gentleman who really loves wine and is very enamored with it, wants to roll his sleeves up.

He’s helped us with our Rose project that we have in Provence, but helping me with Jeeper as well. It’s a great collaboration. It’s been great for me, for the brand, for helping us build the brand here in the US because we’re building our distribution network.

Which is not an easy thing to do, as I can tell you having done it for many years. So we’re looking for new partners that want to build a brand with us who we want to be on the ground floor with.  I feel like the people that bring you to the party are the people you need to stick to.

It’s easy to be a fair weather friend, but I am all about loyalty and building a brand with someone. And making it happen. The wine business is exploding, so there’s a lot of opportunities out there. It’s just finding our niche and letting people know the story and taste the wines.

 

I don’t know that champagne gets enough love when it comes to food. Let’s talk about food pairings.

 

A previous maison I worked for didn’t want us to suggest pairing champagne with chocolate or strawberries.  I think that fallacy of Pretty Woman when she’s having her “floor picnic” as she called it in the movie.  She’s drinking champagne and having strawberries – they are very acidic. But I think it’s really what you want to do.

Do I think it’s the best pairing? Absolutely not. 

I’ve gone through this with many chefs in the past where I’ve asked them not to use chocolate or strawberries, and [while they weren’t happy with that] luckily they did talk to me at the very end of it, but they weren’t very happy. But there’s so many great things out there that you can pair champagne with and the new thing is, Champagne and chicken fried chicken.

As a southerner, I’m a fried chicken lover. It’s an incredible pairing. 

I also think sea salt potato chips with a non-dosage champagne are absolutely fabulous. But let’s look at the classics. What about ratatouille from France? You know, something that you don’t really ever think about. It’s always the ones that are there that you can think about.

Gratin potatoes are an amazing pairing if you’re a big potato lover as I am.  It’s just great. So I think the sky’s the limit depending on what it is you’re drinking. Of course, no dosage champagnes aren’t gonna be great with everything. I also love Dim Sum and champagne, to be completely honest with you.

So all the pairings that are non-traditional, if you will, kind of thinking outside the box. Really making it an opportunity to see: where you can take it? Are you gonna push the limit? I’m all about pushing the limits on a lot of things.  Nobody should be chastised for that on any level.

So if somebody likes what they like, they like what they like. I think the traditional [concept] many years ago: Are you having chicken for dinner? You can only have white [wine]. I love the fact that that’s out the door now.

People learn more and more about wine every day. They’re so enamored with it.  I think the pandemic gave us all an opportunity to stop, take a minute, take a breath, slow down, maybe enjoy things or get into things that we didn’t have the time to do. I think gastronomy is one of them.

People now love to make food at home. People love to drink wine at home. We saw that with the pandemic. There’s a lot of opportunity, everywhere you look. I like the classics.  I’m a foodie.

But I love food and I think drinking it the way you want to drink it and the way you want to enjoy is paramount. Paramount. I don’t think there should be any rules put around that on any level. 

As everyone’s hearing the Jeeper story and getting to know your bottles, what can our audience do for Jeeper Champagne?

 

Helping Jeeper is to buy some [bottles] where we’re distributed. Give something new a chance. Wherever you buy wine, take an opportunity to just treat yourself to something completely different because you never know what’s gonna happen.

It could end up being your favorite wine and you just don’t realize it. Expand your opportunity and your horizons, and that’s what life is all about. 

Think outside the box. Live a little, okay. You, you bought a bottle, but there’s some great champagnes out there that are really economical. We know we’ve taken a little bit of a price increase, but treat yourself, you’ll be glad that you did. I think it, it expands your horizons and makes you see so many other things you didn’t see

 

Where can we find Jeeper Champagne on social media to follow?

 

Jeeper is on most major social media channels.  Please give us a follow and visit our website at: https://www.champagne-jeeper.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ChampagneJeeper/

https://www.instagram.com/champagnejeeper/

https://twitter.com/ChampagneJeeper

Camille, thank you so much for your time. I loved hearing the stories.

 

Thank you so much!

Taste Award-Winning Olive Oil from Heraclea – Discover flavor, health and heritage, reveals Berk Bahceci

Heraclea Olive Oil delivers flavor, health and heritage, reveals Berk Bahceci

We are here with Berk Bahceci from Heraclea Olive Oil.

Berk joined me for a conversation (via zoom).  Below has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation on our YouTube Channel.

I’m excited because I’ve tasted your olive oils and they’re subtle, they’re flavorful, and there’s a great story behind them. And today I wanna touch on all of that and a little bit more.

 

Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into olive oil

 

Berk:  Sure. I moved to the United States approximately 10 years ago for college. Actually. That’s how my story here started. I studied economics at UCLA and then I went to law school at UC Berkeley.

But the day I started law school, I realized something was off. I started questioning whether I was the material to be an attorney. Three years passed by.  I took the bar exam and started working. In my first year I realized, I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore.

I started looking for an exit plan. So I reflected back on myself, my life, my childhood. What is one thing that would  make me wanna wake up every day with excitement?

I realized olive oil is out there. My family owned some olive groves before, but we were never doing this with a business mindset. It was just produced and consumed within family and friends. I came up with the idea to tell my family, why don’t we turn this into a business, create a brand around it, and sell it here exclusively in the United States.

The market itself is very dominated by a couple big players from certain countries. 

I did more research and realized that Turkey is the fifth largest importer of olive oil into the United States, but you are not seeing any Turkish brands on shelves.

What’s the reason for that? It’s probably because producers in Turkey don’t have the means to come here, establish a distribution center like channels, and move product. Selling in bulk is the easiest and most convenient way for those people.

But I wanted to bring a new way for the Turkish olive oil in the United States with Heraclea that’s how we found it.

 

 

We’re definitely gonna get into Turkey in a second.  A lot of the people watching this are wine lovers.  Region is very important.  So tell us about the region that you’re farming

 

Berk: Region has an impact on olive oil as well. That’s the reason why the European Union has a scheme called Protected Designation of Origin. I’m sure wine lovers and cheese lovers will know, when I say PDO, the red and yellow emblem that you see on certain products sold in specialty food stores.

 

PDO is basically a stamp given by the European Union, to distinct products. What do I mean by that? So the variety of olive that we work with is called Memecik. There are over 2000 olive varieties  in the world. 

 

Do me a favor, say that variety again and spell it for us.

 

Berk: It’s called Memecik. It is very unknown, very rare because it is specific to the region that we produce. 

And that’s why the European Union has given a couple years ago to this region and this olive variety, A P D O certification. For example, in California most growers are bequia, right? If they were to plant Memecik, which they can, in California, they won’t be able to have this PDO certification.

So PDO only comes if Memecik is grown in Milas. That’s a very special thing for us and we are very proud to be working with a very rare variety. So when you buy olive oil, it is for certain that you won’t taste it with any other brand because it’s distinct to Milas.

Just the same way that champagne only comes from the Champagne of France.

Berk: That’s exactly what I was going to say. 

 

When did you realize the magic and the power of the Memecik varietal?

 

Berk: This PDO certification is so new that we did not found this business upon that, that certification. It was just an added value with the PDO, but we always knew that our olive oil was distinct in its quality.

It has actually recently been approved by International judges in New York International Olive Oil competition, Japan Olive Oil Competition, Istanbul Olive Oil Competition. We got gold and silver medals from all of these. And this is the first year that we are actively participating in these competitions.

It’s a really good moment for us because usually these things don’t happen in the first or second year. [Usually] you’re a producer for multiple years or maybe generations.  So we’re really proud about that.

 

Congratulations. And just to give someone listening or watching an idea, the scale of these competitions.

Can you estimate how many different olive oils are in that competition?

 

Berk: I would say in the thousands, 2000.  Maybe a hundred companies are winning these awards. You’re in the select field of the top 5-10% in the entire world.

The panel is composed of people from all around the world, from all producing regions, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, Chile, Argentina.  Experts. So it’s a good indication that the product is at a certain level of quality.

 

So let’s talk about the behind the scenes and the process of making this award-winning olive oil.

 

Berk: We have around a hundred acres of land with over 10,000 trees that we take care of with a team of seven full-time on the field every day. We don’t use any fertilizers, we don’t use any pesticides. We don’t use any chemicals.  One reason is our grows are literally on the on mountains. They’re not plantations. 

Many olive oil brands have what people call “olive farms” where the companies do intensive and super, super high density farming, which means that where maybe 10 trees would go. They plant a hundred trees. So it’s very compact, producing very high yield olives, but lacking taste because they’re fed with irrigation all the time.

So the olives get really big when they’re given water every day, whereas our olives don’t have irrigation because it’s on the mountains. Our olives, in comparison, are relatively smaller, which keeps the aroma very vibrant. That’s actually the secret behind it.

A lot of people who taste our early harvest olive oil say that it’s a little bit bitter, especially right after the harvest.  That comes from the antioxidants that are loaded in it. Because our olives are very small. The density of antioxidants is higher, so that’s why the bitterness comes in. 

We just prune the trees, cutting the excessive branches because we’re working in a very scarce,  nutrient environment. Like I said, no fertilizers, so you have to keep the trees very optimal by cutting the unnecessary trees and branches so that whatever there is in the soil goes to the fruit.

That’s why our team of seven constantly does these kind of things. These kind of physical touches, no like chemical alteration or anything. Around October we start  walking  around the grow to determine the day of the harvest. That is the most exciting time of the year

Due to not using fertilizers, we really have to optimize the day of the harvest to maximize our production. So when we determine that day, which is mid-October, usually we start harvesting.

We hire local men and women who are living in nearby villages. We go in with a team of 20 to 30.

We keep it for 90 days until January. We don’t want to go into January. Because fruit flies, conditions and a lot of other things impact the quality. 

So we try to finish everything from mid-October until January. We work with a local mill to process our olives. We take two batches every day, one in the afternoon and one at night because we don’t wanna wait in between.

If you start harvest at 8:00 AM and harvest until 4:00 PM the olives that you have harvested at 8:00 AM will have waited nine hours before going into the processing machine. We don’t wanna do that because as the olive waits, fermentation starts and the quality decreases.

So we do two deliveries every day to the local mills, one in the afternoon, and one later in the day. This way we ensure that our olives go right into production within two to four hours of harvest.  Believe me, we’re working really hard to maintain that.

Then we store our olive oil in stainless steel tanks in temperature and humidity controlled rooms with nitrogen gas used as a buffer between the olive oil and the rim. 

Think of a five ton tank.  You fill it out, but there’s always some portion of the tank that is left empty and there’s oxygen in that empty part. When olive oil touches with oxygen in the stainless steel tank as it is stored, oxidation starts, which leads to rancidity, which decreases the quality of the olive oil. So we take that oxygen out by pumping in another gas – of course, food grade safety, no worries there. 

That’s the level of attention and care we give to our olive oil. 

 

Let’s switch to the the tasty part. Let’s talk about the flavor of your two bottles.  Flavor profiles, aroma, anything you’d like.

 

Berk: So we have two products right now. We’re bringing in a third one soon.

Olive oil is the white bottle which is made from olives that we harvest starting from October until mid-November.

And the moment that we switch from early to mature harvest is when the olives start turning into this purplish color. As months pass the green olives start to ripen and then change in color. When we see that change into purple, that’s the moment we say, okay, early harvest is done.

Now we’re doing mature harvest and then everything else that we harvest mid-November, till January, is considered mature harvest. That’s the distinction between the two. 

The mature harvest is the black bottle. And when it comes to flavor profile, there’s one disclaimer that I wanna make, uh, in general about, uh, these, uh, like.

Flavor profiles.  I think to really understand and feel and get this smell. In any olive oil, you have to have a sensory memory, have that experience in your mind, I still remember it.

Here’s an example from my sensory memory:

We had a walnut tree right across the street by our house, and there was a fine paper-like cover, outside of the walnut. Right before they mature, we would take from the tree and taste it and it’s bitter. So that [bitter] taste is in my sensory memory right now.

Same as tomato stems. Like if you touch a tomato plant with your hands and play around and then smell your hands, you’re going to get a very unique tomato stem smell, and that’s like embedded in your mind now. So from now on, every time you taste an olive oil, if there is that distinct smell or taste in it, that’s how you recognize it.

So in our olive oil, early harvest, for example, I get the notes of freshly cut grass, tomato stems, walnuts, banana.

What I was told in this olive oil school that I went to in Spain is, get your hands out there. Touch everything, smell everything. Taste everything. That’s how you develop your sensory memory.

And that’s how you become, as people say, familiar. But you know, like you don’t have to have a certificate to be one. You know, you just go out there and taste stuff and try to. Memorize and remember those smells and tastes.

I was talking to somebody earlier this week about food pairings and he had a similar answer, which was be curious.

Exactly. Taste things, touch things, smell things, and be curious. 

 

I know your website has a cookbook, let’s talk about some of your favorite food pairings with your olive oil

 

Berk: I love  drizzling our early harvest on cheese plates. That’s my favorite thing. Early harvest is more for finishing dishes because it has a bitter aroma to it.

If you cook with it, you may have a bitter taste in the food. Actually, I know people who cook with our early harvest. I know people who drizzle with our mature harvest, so it’s not set in stone.

It really depends on what you like, but generally, early harvest is better for drizzling over salads. Hummus, cheese.  Sometimes  I dip my bread in it. 

That’s a tradition we have in Turkey sometimes, find a piece of bread and dip that into your olive oil, and that’s a good breakfast. 

Mature harvest is for everything else. Cooking, baking, marinating. A lot of people are saying that they use it for marinating.

 

Anything else you want us to discover about olive oil?

 

Berk: Our goals are twofold.  One is, olive oil is a very healthy product for human consumption, There is research showing that the positive effects on health of olive oil, daily consumption of olive oil. We believe that a product that is so healthy for humans should do no harm to the environment.

It’s production should not cause any more trouble to our Mother Nature. That’s why we’re not using fertilizers. That’s why we’re not using pesticides. We think there’s a solution in nature to resolve any problem that these things claim to be curing. That’s number one, producing as environmentally friendly as possible.

Number two is to introduce to the world the intricacies of Turkish cuisine. It is beyond  just kebab. It is just one meal in thousands of distinct and unique recipes. And the way that we treat these recipes are not just a list of ingredients.

To us, these are stories from past generations and that Turkish cookbook has 550 very distinct recipes. Each recipe is associated with a specific region or maybe sometimes even a village. 

 

It almost sounds Farm To Table.

 

Berk: Exactly. That’s the goal. We’re small batch and we have really certain values and principles.

 

Are there any specific health benefits that you wanna cover?

 

Berk: There are a lot.  There are a lot of research.  I’m not a scientist. I’m not a doctor. But consuming olive oil daily helps with chronic diseases. Cardiovascular diseases. Type 2 diabetes, and many more.

We have lab reports showing the amount of antioxidants in our olive oil, which is around 500 milligrams per liter, which is a high amount. Consuming antioxidants is healthy. Olive oil has anti-inflammatory effects as well. 

When you consider all of these things and if you consume fats, why don’t you switch to a healthy alternative where research shows that its consumption helps you.

That’s why as a layman I recommend consuming olive oil on a daily basis. 

 

Berk, you’ve given us a lot of good information. You’ve given us a lot of tasty ideas.

Let’s talk about how to buy and how to, how to where we can buy your olive oil.

 

Berk: We’re available online at heraclea.co. There is no “m” at the end. 

We will very soon be available on Amazon.

If you are in New York, we will soon be available in NoHo. Manhattan. Then if you are in Seattle, very soon we will be available in a grocery chains in Seattle.

Hopefully by end of this year we will be in over a hundred physical locations 

 

Oregon Wine’s Incredible new vintage Re-Invents the Rules with Winemaker Aaron Lieberman from Iris Vineyards

Oregon Wine shares incredible new vintage with Winemaker Aaron Lieberman from Iris Vineyards

Sure, Oregon Wine is world-famous for its Pinot Noir.  And rightly so, as the area produces incredible expressions of the varietal.  But that’s not all they can do. 

Award-winning winemaker Aaron Lieberman wants the world to taste and discover all of the incredible wines from the area including Iris Vineyards’s new Pinot Gris which has won acclaim several years in a row.

Oregon Wine

 

Today, Winemaker Aaron Lieberman from Iris Vineyards sits down over zoom to talk about his inspirations, his favorite wines, food pairings and what’s next for Oregon Wine.

 

The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the whole conversation on our YouTube channel.

 

There’s so much to go over with you because you’re in a great area of Oregon.

Last year we had the privilege of covering the 2022 McMinnville Wine Classic, your Pinot Gris won Best in Show and Best White varietal.

 

According to press announcements it’s the first time ever for a Pinot Gris. What was it about that bottle and that year that brought you so much acclaim?

 

The vintage we won that on was the 2020, and I think our Pinot Gris is fairly consistent. So I actually personally felt that the 2021 vintage was better than the 2020. What I think is going on there is that in our growing area Southwest of Eugene we have our vineyard in what’s called the Lorane Valley. We’re a relatively high elevation vineyard compared to the rest of the Willamette Valley. We get a lot more hang time on our Pinot Gris, which allows more flavor development and preservation of acidity, as well as slower and lower accumulation of sugar.

So we ended up with a higher acid, lower alcohol wine that’s very expressive in terms of fruit flavors.

 

I wanna let our audience know a little bit about your background and what brought you to where you are today. Your education in soil and winemaking, but I hope you’ll touch on your Peace Corps time, and your work in Guatemala with soil education.

 

As I was finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree at Oregon State University, I became involved with a couple of different grad students, helping them with their research projects, basically. At the beginning of my junior year [I had already] switched my major from Pre-Vet to Crop and Soil Science.

So the projects I was working on with these grad students involved soil research. One of these grad students had been in the Peace Corps and talked about it frequently and also had a professor who had been in the Peace Corps. They both inspired me to look into it and do it.

I ended up going to Guatemala. The project I worked on was called Corn and Bean Seed Improvement and Post Harvest Management. We were trying to counteract the invasion of commercial corn seed into Guatemala and Latin America. It’s replacing the land raise varietals or the traditional varietals of corn. We were working with those traditional varietals to improve their performance in the field by selecting the plants that were growing well and were the most disease resistant.

The program started four years before I got to Guatemala, so I was the third volunteer and we were really showing some really good results.

 

Something I love about winemaking is such a mix of science and magic, or science and artistry. And it sounds like science is very strong with your background and the magic that you bring to the bottle.

 

Yes, I would agree with that.

 

 

So let’s switch back from Guatemala. You’ve got some great soil types. Let’s talk about how you use the soils in your region to bring such delicious flavor, characteristics and aromas.

 

In our vineyard, we do have some Jory soils, and I think most people who know about the Willamette Valley know that Jory is the preferred soil in the region particularly for Pinot Noir.

Our vineyard is dominated by Bellpine soil. Bellpine is kind of an analog of Jory, but it’s formed in sedimentary rock rather than basaltic rock or volcanic rock. So there’s some significant differences in the chemical makeup of the soil that contributes to the flavor difference in our Pinot Gris compared to some others.

 

The last time I visited, what I heard overwhelmingly from the winemakers is you have to be okay with inconsistency year after year.

 

I want my wines to represent the area that they’re from and the varietal from which they’re made and different weather during each growing season as part of that representation.

So based on the weather and the level of ripeness of the fruit and what we’re tasting in the grapes before we bring them in, we will make some adjustments to how we do the vinification to try to push it in one direction or another, to be at least somewhat consistent.

 

 

Let’s talk about the wines themselves. 

 

Let’s start with the Pinot Gris. The comment I hear the most is white peach. That’s new. I usually hear pear, red apple peel, quite a bit of citrus.

iris vineyards

 

Commonly I get stone fruit comments on our Chardonnay. Whether it’s our still Chardonnay or our Blanc de Blanc.

 

Then there’s the Brut Rose, the Pinot Noir 2021, the House Red Blend. A lot of people will remember 2020 and how that vintage went for us. I refer to that year as the worst year of my life.

 

Let’s talk a little bit about what made it such a bad year.

 

We had beautiful weather during bloom. I started to feel like it was going to be a really great vintage. We’re seeing a really modest crop load and smallish berries, which leads to more fruit forward. Right around Labor Day, the major fires started. Smoke came into the valley for about two weeks which was extremely disheartening.

 

In the Willamette Valley that was really our first experience with that level of damage to the fruit. So a lot of people were scrambling, worried, and ultimately didn’t produce Pinot Noir in 2020.

We made less than we had planned. We applied some techniques to mitigate the smoke effect.

 

Can we talk about what you did to mitigate?

 

Well, there are two things that helped the most. One, we sent some grapes to California to go through a process called flash.  It’s a kind of thermovinification method where the must is heated to 80 degrees celsius and then pumped into a vacuum chamber that boils at a much lower temperature. The water and the skins of the grapes “flashes” to steam in the the vacuum chamber. That steam carries away a lot of bad things. Those things are responsible for the bulk of the smoke effect that you might find in a wine.

 

Then following vintage and some aging, we did some reverse osmosis to remove the smoke effect from the rest of our wine.

 

At the tail end of vintage, I had surgery for appendicitis. As I was about recovered from that, I got covid right at the end of 2020.

 

Fortunately ’21 and ’22 were very similar to 2020 and how the vintage started and ended up, we had some really beautiful fruit and beautiful wines. I’m really excited about ’22 based on what we have in barrel right now.

 

Some people approach wine from a food and wine pairing point of view. I’m not sure if you are a chef or a home cook, but do you have any suggestions for great food pairings for some of your bottles?

I think with our Pinot Gris, I really enjoy seafood.

It’s really good with salad. Brut Rose, I always say if you’re making a dinner and you’re not quite sure what wine to serve with your dinners sparkling wine is always a a crowd pleaser. It’ll go with dishes from salad to steak or pizza. The acidity of sparkling wines makes them really versatile in any kind of food. Fatty foods in particular pair well with more acidic wines, kind of a palette cleansing.

For our Pinot Noir, traditional pairings like salmon and chicken.

 

When you’re going through a year, from growth to harvest, what are the traits or elements that get you excited saying it’s gonna be a good year?

 

Last spring we had a couple of fairly severe frosts after bud break and it was an interesting year because of that. We ended up, to everyone’s surprise, with a vintage that was quite nice and yields that were not really affected by the frost. The vines bounced back with their secondary and tertiary buds set fruit, set a really good crop. We got a nice batch of wine out of it.

If we get into harvest in the rainy season, sometimes your hand is forced and the grapes start to get ripe, the skin softens an they become more susceptible to botrytis and other bad things that you don’t want.

 

But ’22 was nice. We weren’t really forced right up until the end. Around October 20, we had the first big rainstorm come in. 20% of our fruit still hanging. We brought most of it in before that big rain.

But I think we had really good ripeness even at that point.

You’ve been doing in-person and zoom wine tastings, do you have a favorite part of that wine tasting process?

 

My favorite part, without a doubt, is just when I see somebody tasting my wine and the look on their face shows me that they’re really enjoying it. That’s a big reason why I’m in this industry, what we do makes people happy.

 

Do you have a certain memory of including either your wine or someone else’s wine in a great celebration?

 

Several memories. My father and I had a wine business of our own from 2002 to 2015. [A few years in] we had a celebration at a steakhouse in Portland. I ordered a Puligny Montrachet off the menu. I still remember that wine quite vividly and how impressive it was. That changed my mind about chardonnay in some ways.

 

In Oregon, there’s a lot more chardonnay coming out of the Willamette Valley now is a good thing, but it’s still been an uphill battle for producers to get that chardonnay wine passed the gatekeepers, the distributors.

You go to a distributor and they’re like, “Everybody drinks California Chardonnay or white burgundy. They don’t know about Oregon Chardonnay. And when you say Willamette Valley, everybody thinks Pinot Noir, which is great. But we’ve kind of pigeonholed ourselves with that. There are a lot of other nice things that can come out of this valley like Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. So we have some work to do on the marketing and publicity to let people know.

 

Any lessons your winemaking team has learned this past vintage that you can share?

 

 I think that happens every year. Let’s not assume that I know everything because I learn stuff every year as well.

One of the things that I really stress with people who are working for me during harvest, is the importance of fermentation temperature.

 

It’s with white wine, with aromatic whites in particular. You really have to keep the temperature under control. Yeast likes to get hot and ferment fast, so you have to keep those ferments cool, whatever the method is if you’re in stainless with jacketed tanks or if you’re in barrel and you’re taking the barrels outside at night or wetting them down to keep the temperature down. It’s super, super important.

 

With the white wines, you get a temperature or a fermentation that’s too hot and you end up with a wine that’s like generic white wine. It doesn’t have varietal character left in it, that’s something I stress a lot.

 

Then when you talk about red wines, the style of red wine that you’re making is so dependent on a lot of things, but temperature is a big thing. So if you do a cool ferment on a red wine, you’re going to have a red wine that’s fruit forward and aromatic, but it’s not going to be very extracted. It’s not gonna have a big tannic backbone to it. In that way it would be out of balance.

 

Like with our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, we do a couple of different fermentation methods that end up having different peak fermentation temperatures and then we blend them together to get a wine that is crowd pleasing, easy balanced. So one of my big things is temperature.

 

Are there any topics in winemaking that you wish got more attention? 

 

The fact that I don’t do this alone. If I didn’t have a team behind me doing the right thing and supporting production in the winery, starting with our vineyard and our vineyard manager, who is amazing, grows amazing fruit, all the way through to the marketing team selling the wine or promoting the wine and the sales team selling the wine. I think it’s really important for people to understand that it’s really a team effort. I’m the winemaker, I get the publicity, I get the recognition but there’s no way I could do it by myself.

 

I’m sure you talk to young winemakers all the time. Is there one huge piece of advice you would give a young winemaker from all your experience?

 

A big thing would be, and I’ve made this mistake when I was a young winemaker, if you’re about to do something to a wine and you think you know what you’re doing, but you’ve never done it before, make a phone call.

 

Ask another winemaker that maybe has had the experience and has done that. You’ve got a 5,000 gallon tank of wine and you’re gonna do some kind of adjustment that you’ve never done before. Get some information first.

Building network, building community, reaching out to those with either more experience or more diverse experience.

 

Yes. And in most wine regions, it is a community and people are happy to share their information to help the next guy out. Because ultimately, if we’re all making really good wine in the Willamette Valley, that enhances our reputation as a region. So I think it would be a big mistake for us not to share information.

 

Let’s talk about where people can find more information. 

 

On Iris Vineyards website and social media. Our website is IrisVineyards.com and our handle on every social site is @IrisVineyards.

So thank you again for your time, and it was, it was great to have this conversation. 

Thank you, Joe. I really appreciate your time.

DC loves more coffee and cocktails! Jordan’s Skinny Mixes Reveals Tasty New Flavors

Yum!  Jordan’s Skinny Mixes Reveals Tasty New Flavors in Exclusive Interview for ExpoWest 2023

 

Say yes if you love coffee.  Say yes again if you love cocktails.  Say yes a third time if you love ‘em, but wanna be healthier and save some money.  

 

If you said yes to *any* of the above, you’re going to want to listen, because we just had twenty minutes with the woman who makes all those things happen for you.

 

This week at ExpoWest 2023 Jordan’s Skinny Mixes has a lot to share!

Jordan’s Skinny Mixes Margaritas

Jordan’s Skinny Mixes Margaritas

 

Their Naturally Sweetened line of margarita mixes is made with real lime juice and sweetened with agave and contains 75 % less sugar and calories than other leading brands. The four margarita mixes flavors are Classic, Peach, Spicy, and Strawberry Key Lime, and they do not contain any artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. 

Jordan’s Skinny Mixes natural line of skinny syrups is available in 4 guilt-free flavors, including Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Dolce, and Chocolate Mocha

Jordan’s Skinny Mixes natural line of skinny syrups is available in 4 guilt-free flavors, including Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Dolce, and Chocolate Mocha

 

Their natural line of skinny syrups is available in 4 guilt-free flavors, including Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon Dolce, and Chocolate Mocha, for your coffee, tea, protein shakes, baking, or just about anything. 

 

Jordan’s Skinny Mixes was founded in 2009 by female entrepreneur Jordan Engelhardt. The beverage brand was created with the simple desire to enjoy a margarita that wasn’t loaded with sugar and empty calories. Now with over 100 products, this female-led team is on a mission to craft beverages that cut the sugar and keep the fun from coffee ‘til cocktails. 

 

Skinny Mixes can now be found in over 13,000 specialty retail locations across the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe, including Target stores, Skinnymixes.com, and Amazon.

 

 

Jordan Engelhardt is an impressive person, so when I had the chance to meet up and have a conversation, it was an easy yes.

 

 

Just to give us some background, what were you up to before launching back in 2009?

 

Back in 2009 I was a recent college graduate working in real estate as an appraiser. I launched this product [Jordan’s Skinny Mixes] right when the recession was basically at its peak. It had just started and the market crashed pretty heavily in Florida where I was living at the time.

 

So I found myself without work, and this idea that I felt pretty strongly about. 

 

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve navigated in the industry over those 10 years?

 

Oh, there’s been a lot.  The world has evolved much more to natural products, which is why we’re here at Expo West as we just have launched our new natural line so this is pretty big for us. 

 

Also,  the customization of flavors over the years have just gotten more and more prevalent. 

 

Millennials, and the population in general, really like the variety of flavors, and being able to customize everything. And then Covid really drove at-home consumption of coffee. So I think all of those trends over the last 10 years have really helped drive this company’s growth.

 

 

When Covid forced everyone to stay home, did that become a “lucky opportunity” for the business and boost at-home coffee drinking?

 

It was certainly fortunate in some ways, but in many other ways  [not as much].  We were selling to many grocery accounts. We’re selling to a lot of specialty stores which had no choice but to close their doors. So we lost quite a bit of distribution during that time, but were able to make up for it online [with website e-commerce].  So [with market] penetration and trying to drive consumer growth, in that capacity, yes, it was fortunate.   But it was also a little bit scary [for us], like many other businesses at the same time.

 

What is the biggest misconception in general about skinny mixes?

 

People don’t necessarily understand the versatility of our syrup and how you can not only use it for coffee, but you can use it for baking and protein shakes, and just anything. 

Flavored syrups are great for iced teas.  You can simply just add a dash to water and transform your water.  

 

Once we got the samples this week, the amount of random things we’ve tried [the skinny mixes] with just to see how it’d go.

 

I love it!  It’s part of the fun and part of the great relationship we have with our consumers.  They

have so much fun experimenting and making these recipes, and then including us on that.

 

So [experimenting with the syrups on different foods]  just became a benefit over the years. It’s certainly something we think about now.

 

We have this really amazing closed Facebook group that has really active members. It’s called “Skinny mixes. Share your recipe”.  You can see the amount of creativity that our users come up with and then they share their recipes.

 

One person put it with sweet potatoes, they used it on egg sandwiches. Interesting wild things that you would never think about.

 

 

Can you share a little bit about the inspiration behind the line and how you develop the flavors?

 

Yes, of course. We have a great relationship with our consumers, and they asked for it.   When they ask, we listen.  We do a lot of innovation. We launch a lot of flavors.

 

So that’s where it came from and it’s really done. We’ve gotten into Target with this line.  We take a lot of pride in listening to what our customers want, and this is what they wanted

 

What’s the development process like for these flavors?

 

We have several partnerships with different food labs and beverage labs.   We start by verbally explaining to them what we’re looking for. We have a big panel at our company and we just do a lot of tasting. It often takes quite a bit of time because we take a lot of pride in making sure it tastes exactly what we were visualizing. 

 

We can come up with anything from “Mermaid” to “Unicorn”.   The different food labs across the country are amazing and they make it happen. 

 

It’s a slow, methodical approach.  Then we have a larger tasting panel and we keep going until we find just the right mix.

 

That’s incredible.  What’s the timeline from concept to finished product? 

 

It varies widely.  It could take a couple of months or it could take over a year. Probably on average, about 4 to 6 months.

 

Do you ever try to create flavors and they don’t end up working out?

 

Oh, it happens all the time, especially in the beginning.  We’re innovating constantly.  Trends change fairly quickly.   We’ve been fortunate with a robust website where we can test things quite easily and pivot. 

 

Are there any teases as to what flavors might be next? 

 

Well at the show we’re launching our naturally sweetened flavors. French vanilla, caramel, peppermint, mocha and pumpkin spice. Maybe some new seasonal offerings after that. We’re constantly innovating, constantly looking at new categories. 

 

Switching over to coffee, what inspired you to launch coffee syrups?

 

12 years ago the company started with cocktail mixes.  With the popularity of Starbucks and people going through the drive through and having what they thought was guilt-free drinks but was not necessarily guilt free. 

 

They didn’t realize how many calories they are consuming with their Frappuccino or their latte.

 

It immediately seemed like another way to really help people not have such a sugar laden beverage every single day.

 

That’s why the coffee syrup was developed.  Since cocktail mixes are so seasonal, coffee syrup is something that consumers consume daily. So it was a natural extension for the product line with the coffee syrup

 

You have some new coffee flavors launching as well 

 

Listening to the trends and looking at the popularity of the most popular flavors just through our [tasting] panel. and you know, just having a great team that’s out and about, and looking at menus, and using some common sense, if you will, and reading up on trends, it’s then a 3 prong process.

 

You’re getting a lot of positive attention at ExpoWest. What in your opinion, makes for a successful trade show?

 

Taking the step to take the risk to be there and have your branding there; and be open to meeting consumers and buyers in the trade. We try to make it fun. So we serve cocktails, and we’re going to be serving espresso Martinis today. Yesterday we served Margaritas, and we had a speakeasy happy hour.  It helps people really understand the brand, and come by and see us.  I think that’s most important, really put your brand out there and your brand’s personality and just have fun with it.

 

 

Can you talk a little bit about the mission behind Jordan’s Skinny Mixes?

 

Our mission summarized is crafting beverages that cut the sugar and keep the fun for a healthier, more flavorful lifestyle and to make everyday moments simply sweeter.

 

What is your biggest call to action for the audience? 

 

I’d love the consumers to experiment at home. I’d love for them to make their latte at home.  Make that morning coffee at home. So many people will say it’s going to be a better experience.

 

Try our products.  You’re going to save calories. You’re going to save time. You’re going to save money.

 

Shop Jordan’s Skinny Mixes products online and view recipes at https://www.skinnymixes.com/ 

 

Check out Jordan’s Skinny Mixes latest and greatest recipes by following on Instagram – @skinnymixes, Facebook- @skinnymixes, TikTok – TikTok , and Pinterest – @skinnymixes 

 

‘Wine Makes You Travel’: Kosher Expert Gabriel Geller Visits for Passover

‘Wine Makes You Travel’: Kosher Expert Gabriel Geller Visits for Passover

With Passover coming up, Expert Gabriel Geller visited to talk about his passion for wine, Kosher wines and his favorites for family celebrations like Passover.

 

What was the moment that inspired you to get into wine professionally?

 

Okay. So this is actually 2 questions. So first thing. What I like most about wine is wine makes you travel.

There was a wine writer and critic who used to say that when you open a bottle of wine, you’re opening 5,000 years of culture and history. I love that.

 

And you know when you open up a bottle, whether it’s the Carmel single vineyard, Volcano from the Upper Galilee Israel or Herzog Special Reserve from the Santa Rita Hills in California.

 

Whether you are here, California, Israel, France, that region, this region.  You’re traveling, you experience, different expressions of grapes, of wine-making style coming from all parts of the world, and all of that has an impact and influence that comes from the history, the culture of the specific region the wine comes from.

 

I think that it’s part of what makes you know wine such a special beverage, it brings people together. It’s not just about the wine itself, the way it tastes, it smells.  But where it comes from.  What’s the story there? And that’s really what I love most about wine.

 

Do you have any amazing wine picks for Passover this year?

 

Okay, so let’s start with this one. 

That’s the Carmel Single Vineyards Volcano Merlot 2020.   It comes from a vineyard called Evyatar Creek, in the Gallilee in Israel.  This is a full bodied Merlot.

 

Carmel Single Vineyards Volcano Merlot 2020

Carmel Single Vineyards Volcano Merlot 2020

 

It is grown, as the name of the series Volcano indicates, in volcanic soil,  which brings a great mineral profile to it, elegance to it, natural acidity that keeps the wine really refreshing.  There’s great complexity here.   It’s a very enjoyable wine now and has the potential for development and aging for about a decade.  

 

I love to pair it with lamb chops; they go great together. But, if you’re not so much into land and game, a nice rib roast would do just fine.  So that’s a really good one for that. It’s fresh out on the market and just introduced last month.

 

So I’m a big Merlot fan.  Ever since the movie ”Sideways” came out almost 20 years ago. Now you know that there’s some people who, just because of the Hollywood movie, steered away from it, and it’s such a shame, because it is a great variety. So many great wines for you just like every other grape, you just need to pick the right wine, but they are there.

 

Talk for a minute about Kosher vs Non-Kosher wine

 

I don’t want to say it’s a misconception, but the difference between a kosher wine and non kosher wine is the label itself. There may not be that much other of a difference exactly.

You can take the most knowledgeable experienced sommelier in the world, a master of wine and it doesn’t matter, they won’t be able to tell you which one is kosher because there is absolutely no way to tell based on taste. It’s only about who handles the process itself.

 

To learn more about Gabriel Geller visit Kosher.com

To shop for the wines Gabriel Geller suggested

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