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Celebrating in DC? We asked a Kosher Expert for Perfect Passover Wines

Celebrating in DC? We asked a Kosher Expert for Perfect Passover Wines for Passover 2024

Passover starts Monday April 22 at sundown and ends April 30th. But today’s conversation is about the flavors of Seder dinner.  

Jay Buchsbaum

Royal Wine and Kosher.com’s Jay Buchsbaum visits to talk about flavor, tradition, tastes for every family member and what’s exciting in the wine world for 2024.

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

 

Joe Winger: Jay, welcome back.  I appreciate that you’re returning.  Last time was great and we learned alot.

Jay Buchsbaum: Thank you for having me. Wow. This is great. So getting invited back for a second date, that’s really cool.

Joe Winger: Passover is just around the corner and we want to talk about different over wines to enjoy during the celebration and some great wine pairings.

I wanted to start off with what might be one of the popular new bottles – Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jay Buchsbaum:  It’s very hot and the reason it’s very hot is because people want something that’s rich and flavorful, especially the American palate, what we call the New World style.  

Opulence, fruit forward, but they don’t want to spend a fortune like you’d have to from some fancy vineyard in Napa or from Judean Hills. When it comes to Israel or the Golan Heights, and this is one of those wines where they’ve put together this at the beginning of opulence, lots of fruit forwardness, 14 months in oak and about $25.

So it’s really one of those really wonderful wines. What I noticed, and they say they forgot to do it, but I noticed that it does not have an appellation specific, except for Israel.  The reason I believe the winemaker did that –  I don’t know for sure – he talks about it on the back [of the bottle] that they brought the grapes from some of the finest vineyards.  He chose small amounts [of grapes] from the best vineyards from different places and put them all together, carefully crafting it so that it’s big and rich and flavorful and still under $30 bucks.

Joe Winger: That sounds amazing. What are some good food pairings that you’d recommend with it?

Jay Buchsbaum: A roast would be great. On the first and second night of Passover, we don’t officially roast anything because we don’t want people to think that it was a sacrificial lamb that was done in Egypt because we don’t have it today yet.

Until the reestablishment of the temple on the Temple Mount at some future time. 

So people cook a roast in the oven, it’s not barbecued. That’s what they’re talking about from a historical, spiritual sense –  but a delicious roast, maybe chicken marsala, where you have mushrooms and caramelized onions, you have a really rich flavor to go with that.

A lot of the Sephardic foods are like that too. We talked about traditional foods. Traditional foods from where? Sometimes it’s Eastern Europe, sometimes it’s Middle Eastern, and sometimes it’s Sephardic.

Lots of seders have a mix of all [cuisines] because you have melded families.

 

Joe Winger: Royal Wine currently has a wide roster of wine suggestions for Passover  Something for every adult at the table, from Grandpa to 25 year old Grand-daughter and her boyfriend.

 

Jay Buchsbaum: That’s a great point.  I’m going to give you the last one first only because I thought this was so much fun when I thought about it and I actually might do it. 

Let’s say the boyfriend is coming over. He wants to bring you something and he doesn’t know what to get you because, he’s not that observant..

So I thought, why don’t you end the meal with something Sparkling. The Momentous Rosé. That might be fun. You go out with a pop, so to speak. There’s Vera Wang’s  Prosecco Rose that’s also wonderful.   Both around $20.

But if you want to go really high end, why not go with the Rothschild Brut Rosé from Champagne, which is magnificent.  It’s 100% Pinot Noir, and about $100 a bottle.

So you have great diversity and  accessible and quite delicious sparkling wines.

Grandpa, or if you have a real fine wine guy. You have beautiful wines from the Rothschild vineyards, the Haute Medoc. which is in the upper $30s, and then you even have Grand Cru’s LesCombes, Grand Cru Margaux as an example, and some amazing wines from the Herzog Winery in California like the Alexander Valley Herzog Reserve, or the Napa Valley Herzog Reserve.  

We have a beautiful Lake County Reserve Cabernet from California. Big, opulent, delicious, mouth filling. 

I start my Seder usually with a rosé.  The reason for that is because you’re starting your Seder, having eaten nothing pretty much since the morning. So you’re on an empty stomach and the tradition is to finish at least the first glass. So I try to start with a rosé.  It’s a little lighter, a little lower in alcohol, a little lighter in texture and, and I like to start with an Israeli wine first.

Joe Winger: Iis there a hidden gem as far as just high quality with amazing value?

Jay Buchsbaum: There’s a really wonderful wine from New Zealand.

It’s a white wine, not a red wine. It’s made by the Rothschild family, but it’s made in New Zealand, called Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc. Less than $30 for sure.  Fresh, sweet lemons, but with enough acidity and structure, almost like a palette cleanser.

Joe Winger:  Anything that you’re looking forward to in the next few  months that wine lovers should be getting excited for?

Jay Buchsbaum: We were missing rosés from Israel for a whole year because of the sabbatical year. We skipped that vintage of roses, and so they’re back for the first time in 24 months for this Passover.

I love some of the new Italian wines. One of them to take a look at is Cantina Giuliano.  it’s a boutique winery. They make 3,000 – 4,000 cases maximum. It’s run by a young couple and I just had them over at my house for Sabbath Shabbat.  His wines blew people away.

I think the most exciting thing is our new winemaker and what our new winemakers is doing with our grapes. His selection and his final product over at the Herzog Wine Cellars. And that could be

Our new winemaker, his name is David Galzignato. He’s with us about three years and he has a background that is with some of the finest and smallest, medium sized boutiques. 

He was going to be moving to France, going to go for his MW [masters of wine] and they asked him if he’d come and consider working with us and he did. He has been making literally blow your brains out wonderful wines so our Napa Cabernet, our Alexander Valley Cabernet are just up and down the line, the wines, especially the reds are just rich and opulent.

He got Joseph Herzog to buy a visual sorter, they range in cost between a $100,000 – 1 million dollar machine.

What they do is when the grapes come in [during harvest] and there’s something called sorting tables.

Done by hand [vineyard workers literally sorting through the harvested grape bunches, looking for]  damaged or a little beat up or whatever, and they only allow the perfect grapes to go through. 

This visual sorter does this electronically by computer, so nothing is missed, zero. As a result, the grape quality is much higher

Famously said in The New Yorker Years ago, “There’s only three things that matter in good winemaking. Good grapes. Good grapes. Good grapes.”

So, the fruit that we get and the fruit that we end up making wine out of is literally the most important thing.

By using these kinds of methods, which are not inexpensive. But the quality is through the roof. We’re looking to make a 100 point wine one of these days and I think it might we might get close this year. 

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”.

Bourbon Podcast announces 2023 Whiskey of the Year

Bourbon Podcast announces 2023 Whiskey of the Year

“Big, bold, packed with flavor” – Bourbon Podcast announces 2023 Whiskey of the Year

After sampling over 100 whiskeys in 2023, Bourbon Podcast announced its 2023 Whiskey of the Year: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon®.

The highly anticipated 2023 release of Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon® was limited to 9,600 bottles coming in at 140.9 proof.

Cowboy Bourbon® is bottled at cask strength, uncut and unfiltered, providing a unique flavor that is distinctly Garrison Brothers and unapologetically Texas.

“The 2023 release of Cowboy Bourbon® really stood out to us,”

Joe Nassif

co-host of Bourbon Podcast

“It is a big, bold, hazmat bourbon that is packed with flavor. It tastes like a dessert in a glass, with notes of brown sugar, chocolate, raisins, and cinnamon.”

Each barrel of Cowboy Bourbon® was hand-selected by Master Distiller Donnis Todd and stashed away in Garrison Brothers’ barrel barns for at least six years.

The process and high heat in Texas allows the bourbon to soak in even more flavor and texture, resulting in an incredible product. “Cowboy 2013, the first Cowboy ever released, put Garrison Brothers and Texas on the bourbon map,” said Donnis Todd, Master Distiller, Garrison Brothers Distillery. “It’s an honor a decade after the first release having the 2023 Cowboy named as the 2023 Whiskey of the Year,” Todd said.

Founded in 2005, Garrison Brothers Distillery is located in Hye, Texas. In 2006, the distillery was granted the first stiller’s permit for bourbon outside of Kentucky and Tennessee, which makes it the oldest legal bourbon distillery in Texas.

In addition to 2023 Whiskey of the Year, Bourbon Podcast announced the following 2023 Honorable Mention Whiskeys:

2XO Gem of Kentucky, 108 Proof, MSRP $199
Old Forester The President’s Choice, Barrel #30, 117 Proof, MSRP $189
Russell Reserve 13, Batch 4, 114.8 Proof, MSRP $150
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 10 year (Spring 2023), 100 Proof, MSRP $140
Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Rye, 114.4 Proof, MSRP $270
Elijah Craig Barrel Strength (C923), 133 Proof, MSRP $70
Elijah Craig Barrel Strength (B523), 124.2 Proof, MSRP $70
Garrison Brothers Balmorhea, 115 Proof, MSRP $180
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon, Barrel #23G2651, 94.4 Proof, $185 MSRP 
George T. Stagg, 135 Proof, MSRP: $125

Bourbon Podcast is the premier podcast for whiskey enthusiasts, consistently ranking in the Top 10 of Apple Podcasts in the United States in the hobbies category. Bourbon Podcast has thousands of weekly subscribers made up of whiskey enthusiasts and industry insiders. With over 60,000 followers on social media, Bourbon Podcast has distinguished itself as one of the top sources for news and reviews of whiskey in the United States.

For more information: www.bourbonpodcast.com

Instagram: @bourbonpodcast
Facebook: facebook.com/bourbonpodcast

 

East Coast Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Wine Pro Alan Tardi Returns to NYC for Beyond Bubbles Class December 13

Alan Tardi has worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

This past fall, Alan Tardi taught his very popular Italian Wine class, The Many Faces of Sangiovese.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi returns for a conversation about his new Champagne, Prosecco and Lambrusco sparkling wine class Beyond Bubbles on December 13 at New York Wine Studio.

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

NYC Wine: Wine Pro Alan Tardi Hosts Popular NYC Wine Classes: Beyond Bubbles on December 13

Alan, thank you so much for coming back. You have a new class called Beyond Bubbles.

Can you just give us an idea of Beyond Bubbles about the class itself?

Alan Tardi:  The class is going to take place on December 13th. That’s a Wednesday from 6 – 7:30pm. And the venue is  the New York Wine Studio located at 126 East 38th Street between Park and Lexington, so a couple blocks away from Grand Central Station in New York City.

It’s going to be called Beyond Bubbles. I’m really focusing on three archetypal sparkling wines. Champagne, Lambrusco, Prosecco.

And I have to say Prosecco from the original growing area, Cornigliano Valdiviadene, not the extended one right now.

These are the sparkling wines that, to me, took their own path and they can, in the case of Lambrusco and Prosecco they’re really ancient grape varieties that have been going on for a very long time. 

Champagne, they’ve been making wine for a very long time. But as we’ll talk about, which is really fascinating, they’re adjacent to Burgundy and they’re both in close proximity to Paris where the King and the royal kingdom was. They were very competitive with their wine.

The counts in Champagne and the Dukes in Burgundy. They were really vying for their wine for the favor of the King. But Champagne, like Burgundy, began making it for a long time, hundreds of years, still wines. And when, and that was what they made for a long time.

 

Pouring sparkling wine

In your class Beyond bubbles, can you give us an idea of how many bottles are going to be tasting from and learning about, and maybe one or two that are extra special to you?

Alan Tardi: We’re going to be tasting 10 wines. Three from Lambrusco, a very misunderstood wine.  The grapes for Lambrusco are wild. Prosecco and Champagne.

The class is Beyond Bubbles. Wednesday, December 13th, tickets are on sale. Now it’s coming up very quickly. 

Let’s really dive deep for a second and just get to know champagne’s history.  The whole idea of sparkling wine was an accident.

 

Alan Tardi: Yes. It was originally considered a flub because they were trying to make still wines to be in competition with Burgundy and they were very good at it. The still wines of Champagne were highly regarded.

So it did happen by accident.  What happened is that Champagne is much further North than Burgundy. It’s at the breaking point beyond 45 degrees North where grapes can’t grow anymore. So they had a hard time making wine.  it got very cold after harvest. One of the big customers for champagne was England and they shipped a lot of wine in barrel to England.

They were put into barrels once the fermentation stopped, because it got very cold and then they would ship them to England eventually in the springtime..

Because they finished their fermentation too early because it got cold, the fermentation stopped. Once it got warm again, the ferment: the remaining sugar went to work on the remaining yeast and it created bubbles in a closed container. 

So when people opened up the barrel, it was fizzy.

When that happened in France, people did not like it because it was considered a flaw. England didn’t have a problem with that. 

Eventually the producers said, wow, these people really want to have the bubbly wine. The King of France became very fond of this wine.  So it really took off from there, but it happened in England first. 

 

Talk a little bit about who “The Father of Champagne” was and how he tried to prevent this from happening.

 

Alan Tardi: It’s a really great story. Dom Perignon is considered to be the father of champagne. He was a chef and while he was a monk, he took over as the steward.

The convent had a lot of land given to them as dues to the church. He was managing the winery there in order to sell wine to support the monastery. 

He would select different grapes from different places. He created fractional blending and fractional pressing of the grape so it’s very gentle and soft, which is very important for the development of champagne. But this was a still wine.

He was trying to make a still wine. When it spontaneously started sparkling, he considered it a flaw.  He tried to avoid it with everything that he could possibly do. 

It became extremely popular.

Dom Perignon champagne

He said, “Brothers, I see stars in my glass.” And he was supposed to be blind by that point. 

This whole thing of Don Perignon being the the father of champagne and seeing stars was made up as a marketing ploy by Robert de la Vogue, who was the head of a major champagne house.  So they created this story around it.  It’s a great story. I love it.

I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why champagne does swell during the holidays. When there’s decorations out and it really is a celebration.

Alan Tardi: I think it is. Sparkling wines bring something with them. There’s this effervescence, It’s like shooting stars. When they’re in the glass and you’re, you put them in your palate and they’re tingling and that’s all good.

Once the sparkling version was approved around 1725 by the King, it expanded throughout the world, it was a worldwide phenomenon.

 

You’ve mentioned the words method and process, share more about traditional champagne method?

Alan Tardi:  It is a very stable process. You have to make a base wine. So you ferment grapes. They started sourcing different grape varieties from different areas throughout the extensive Champagne area. They would blend them together to make a decent wine.  That’s the first fermentation.  

Then they add a liqueur, called the tirage in French, it consists of primarily sugar, could be beet sugar or cane sugar; and yeast. 

They’re put in individual bottles and then the bottle is sealed with a crown cap to keep the wine in the bottle.  They would sit in a cellar for a period of time to create the secondary fermentation in a closed container. Like the initial fermentation process where the sugar goes to the yeast that is added to it. That creates a combination of sugar and yeast creates alcohol and carbon dioxide.

The carbon dioxide goes up, the alcohol stays in, and that’s how wine is made. But because [in still wine] it’s in an open container, the carbon dioxide goes out. 

In a closed container [like in sparkling wine], in this case, a bottle, the carbon dioxide that was given off from the second fermentation was trapped inside the bottle. So once you open the bottle, the carbon dioxide would come up and out. And that’s where it comes from. That is what gives it the sparkle. 

In Champagne, their method is known as the Method Champenoise

Pouring sparkling wine at Popular NYC Wine Classes Beyond Bubbles

They carry out the secondary fermentation in a closed bottle. Then, in the third part, they make the method Champenoise. It’s removing the sediment from the wine.  There are many different ways to do it. 

The most important common grapes for sparkling wine are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meurnier, Chardonnay.  But your class reveals “lost grape varieties”.  Tell me more about that.  

Alan Tardi: These were grape varieties, typical of the area, that were used initially, but then people just put them by the side. The most important grape varieties were Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  Meunier was used as a workhorse, a filler, but it didn’t have the same identity that that Chardonnay and Pinot Noir had.  Those are the three principal ones. Then [there was] these other varieties.

There’ve been major changes in the past 10 – 15 years in Champagne.  It was driven by the Maison.  Thousands of growers who supplied grapes to the Maison.  Many times they would actually press the grapes, vinify the wine and then send the wine to the Maison.

They produced it for the houses. They didn’t have their own labels.  That changed. A lot of the grower producers started labeling and selling their wine on their own. They got a lot of attention.

Some of these people were very loyal to the old grape varieties that were left on the side – they like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris – not very rare grape varieties, but people are not aware they are part of the grape varieties of Champagne.

Some people are really trying to promote those because it’s part of their culture. It’s part of their history. 

There’s two others, Petit Mellier and Arban. It brings a whole new aspect to Champagne.

So we’re talking with Alan Tardi. On Wednesday, December 13th he hosts his new class Beyond Bubbles.  One of those bubbles we’re going to be talking about is Prosecco. Frizzanti, Spumanti. Help us understand what these words mean, the region, how it all relates 

Alan Tardi: Prosecco is one of the most misunderstood wines out there. There’s a lot more to it than most people are aware of. It’s not just a base for a Bellini or a cocktail, or just a cheap fix. There’s a lot more going on there than often meets the eye.

It’s a very old wine growing area.  The original area is Conigliano Valdobbiadene. Fifiteen towns that make up the area in the hills just at the foot of the Dolomites in Veneto. They’ve been making wine there for a long time.

I have a feeling that the people who originally planted grape vines there were members of this  Celtic Ligurian tribe that were up in Northern Italy, like in the Botellina and over in Liguria. They have this amazing capacity to plant vines in places where it’s very difficult.

Prosecco is very different from Champagne.  I was living in Italy. I was going to Prosecco a lot because I did a story for Wine and Spirits Magazine about the Cartice area in Val di Biadena.

It blew my mind away. At the same time, I was starting to go to Champagne to research my book and I spent a lot of time there. I was finding a lot of similarities between these two very different wines.

Champagne began as a still wine called Coteaux Champenois.  It had another wine in between. A sparkling wine, but a softer, lower amount of pressure called Cremant de Champagne. 

In Prosecco, the traditional way of making wine was fermenting the wine.  Then, they would put it in a container, either a barrel or a cement tank or in a bottle. The same thing happened. The fermentation would stop prematurely because it got too cold. Then, in the spring, when the temperature rose, the wine would wake up and the sugar would go back to work on whatever yeast was left.

Being in a closed container it would be fizzy. Now, in the bottle. The Italians had no problem with the sediment in the bottle. 

I remember going there in 2013, I heard about this kind of Prosecco where the sediment was left in the bottle and people were a little bit embarrassed to show it. 

This is actually called the Method Ancestral like they did in Limu. 

They left the sediment in the bottle. It was just part of the wine. m In 1895, someone at Vinicultural Research Research Center in Asti named Martinotti, figured out they had a lot of sparkling wines in that area like Moscato.

Martinotti invented a system instead of having to do this process in the bottle, he created a large container with a top under pressure where the second fermentation could take place under pressure and then bottle it from there. It’s called the Martinotti Method that he created and patented in 1895. 

Then 15 years later, in France he applied a sterilizing system.  It’s referred to as the Sharma Method. That is the typical Way to make Prosecco not the traditional way.

Most producers in the area did not advance their methods until after World War II happened.

Mionetto, a very big Prosecco producer, only started using autoclaves in 1987. 

At my tasting in New York on December 13, we’re going to taste three Prosecco’s. One is a still version from a winery called Bortolomeo, one of the most significant wineries of the area

After World War Two, he was very instrumental in creating a small group of producers and protecting their tradition of making wine in the area. 

Now their daughters are running the winery. They’re still making a Prosecco. It’s part of the disciplinary of the rules for Prosecco Cornigliano Valdobbiadene

That used to be the same with Coteau Champenois, the still wine of Champagne. You would not find those around. 

While we’re talking about Prosecco, tell us about their growth —  between the DOCG and the DOC?

Alan Tardi: One thing I want to say is that in the very small area of Corneliano, Corneliano about to be out in a Prosecco, DOCG.  In about 2009, because of the large demand for Prosecco, and because of the fact that people were growing grapes and making wine outside 

That appellation covers the entire region of Friuli and three quarters of the region of Veneto. So it’s a huge area, mostly flat. Higher yields, most of the vineyards can be worked, can be harvested mechanically. It’s a very different wine and that accounts for the vast majority of the 500 million bottles that are being produced.

The little area up in the hills has a much more complex growing area, soil to topography. 

It hasn’t really been touched since the earth rose when that, when the sea and the sea receded on the other side of Cornigliano, there was a glacier that happened up in the north and it came down and just took all the land with it.

If you look at the map, the part is very narrow and the Cornelia part spreads down and is very wide and lower altitudes.  So you have two very different soil makeups and different sections within the area.  So it’s much more complex. 

In 2009, they created the DOC and that’s when the original area, called Prosecco, changed its name to Corneliano Valdobbiadene and they were elevated to a higher level, a DOCG category.

They created subzones within this very small area. 43 different areas within the overall territory. If grapes come from one of those areas, they can have the name of that on the label. 

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be tasting the Tranquilo Prosecco from Botolomeo.  We’ll taste a Colfondo from a young guy who’s been carrying on his family’s winery.

He always made wine in the cofondo method, and he just also started using the method traditionnel as well.

We’re going to taste his Cofondo, and then we’re going to taste Prosecco, Brut Nature, no sugar added, from the Cornigliano side, different softer, denser soil, lower altitude.

You can taste the difference.

That sounds incredible. We’re celebrating Beyond Bubbles, Alan Tardi’s new class coming up December 13th. One of the bottles, the Lambrusco. Can you talk a little bit about its reputation? 

 

Alan Tardi: I think we should feel very excited.  In the United States people still think about Lambrusco as a sweet, red, bubbly wine.

Lambrusco has really changed and it’s very complex.  Usually wines don’t do well in flat areas, but in the Po Valley, that’s where they come from, they started out as wild vines.

They were cultivated by this old ancient tribe who lived in the area from about 12 to 6  BC, and then they just disappeared  There are 12 different Lambrusco grapes. Three of them are really the most important because they have their own distinct identity and growing area. 

Sorbara comes from the town of Sorbara, takes its name after it, and it has its own appellation. 

Grasparosa di Casavetro, down in the south, it’s flat, but it starts to go up a little bit into the hills. 

And then Salomino, in the north, which is the powerhouse of the three.

It’s really fascinating.  They’re considered to be the most elegant because they’re all red grapes. In Champagne, it’s mostly white grapes.  in Prosecco, the grapes are also predominantly white. There’s Pinot Noir that was one of these international grapes. It was permitted but only as a 

The Sorbara is very light, transparent, elegant.  There’s a lot of finesse to it.

The Graspa Rosa is dark red, juicy, fruity, floral, intense, foamy.

The Salomino is the workhorse, Sorbata is not self pollinating. And Solomino is often the pollinator for Sorbata.

At Beyond Bubbles on December 13, we’re going to be talking about unusual bottles.  Tasting a Salomino wine from a winery called Lini 910,  a wine is made using the method Traditionnelle.  This wine is going to be 2006 vintage, and it’s spent nearly 14 years on the lees.

At our Beyond Bubbles class, I’m going to start with the Lambrusco, the oldest of the wines. Then the Prosecco.  Then the Champagne. So there’s a buildup to that. 

After the champagne, there’ll be a still champagne from the Valley de la Marne from the Mounier grape, and the Philipponat Champagne vintage.

After that, I thought it would be really interesting to look at two wines from made by people who went to the champagne area in the turn of the 20th century and they fell in love with champagne and they were compelled to go back to where they came from and make a wine using the champagne style method in their own way.

A wine from Trentino, Giulio Ferrari.  And the other one is RTOs in in Catalonia in Spain, compare.

Alan Tardi’s class Beyond Bubbles will take place December 13, 2023 at New York Wine Studio.  126 East 38th Street New York, NY 1001. Readily accessible between Park and Lexington Avenue, just minutes from  Grand Central Station.

For tix and more information visit NewYorkWineStudio.com

 

DC Wine Lovers Demand Flavor: 1000 Stories Wines delivers with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

DC Wine Lovers Demand Flavor: 1000 Stories Wines delivers with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

At 1000 Stories Wines, they share that same bold roaming spirit, which is why each of their wines tell incredible stories of exploration and discovery.

1000 Stories Wines delivers Crowd-Pleasing Big, Bold taste with Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

In every bottle thy hope you’ll find journeys, encounters, people and places—stories that stoke the roaming spirit in all of us so that once your grass of wine is finished, you set out once again to create the next chapter in our stories.

Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines

Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines

Today we’re talking with Margaret Leonardi from 1000 Stories Wines.  The below conversation has been editing for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited version, check out our FlavRReport YouTube channel.

 

Just to get to know you a little bit better, can you tell us more about what inspired you to get into the wine business?

Margaret Leonardi: I’m originally from an organic dairy farm in Northern California, so just the county north of here.  We’re in Mendocino County. I’m from Humboldt County, so just the closest wine growing region from home. The wine industry is so much more glamorous and romantic than the dairy industry. I’ve been making wine since 2009. Now my whole life is the wine industry.

My husband is a winemaker too. We live in a vineyard. We’re in the middle of harvest right now. We’ve been harvesting for over a month now. We’ll harvest hopefully through Halloween.

How’s it going this year? Are the grapes looking good?

Margaret Leonardi: Pretty average yields. It’s a little later as a whole than normal harvest.  Not noteworthy, but maybe a couple of weeks depending on the region, the variety.  It’s tasting good. The chemistries are nice. Good acids. So far we’re happy but we’re only halfway done. 

The brand is called 1,000 Stories.  On your website it mentions each of your wines tell incredible stories of exploration, discovery. Where does the idea of stories come from?

Margaret Leonardi: There’s a lot of stories around how we came up with the name and how we got from point A to point B, but everyone has their own rendition, which is just ironic that it’s 1000 stories. Our consumer is adventurous, and likes to roam and wander and connect with people.  So all those people, each adventure you go on, and each new connection you make, you have new stories, and you have new stories to share, and you can share our wines together. 

 

You mentioned the word “explore”.  Up in your area is Yellowstone National Park, and a thousand stories that you guys partnered with Yellowstone Forever.

Margaret Leonardi: That’s a new partnership for this year.  The official non profit partner with Yellowstone, and their main focus is bison conservation.  With our label, our mascot is a bison.  The partnership promotes bison conservation, make sure their population is safe and healthy.

It’s a beautiful design. Tell me about how the bottle itself was created and how you decided what should be on that bottle?

Margaret Leonardi: We have three SKUs that are bourbon barrel aged. Our first is the Zinfandel, the OG of the portfolio, this came out first and then in the Bourbon Barrel Age side, we also have a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Red Blend.  

Then we have an American Barrel Aged section that’s Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, so not Bourbon Barrel Aged, just American Oak.  That would be used for normal winemaking, and then we have our newest corn sku, it’s a Sauvignon Blanc, and this is just stainless steel and some concrete aging.

The Bourbon barrel aged [popularity] has grown. We have customers who want more diversity, more variety. So we’ve expanded the set. 

On the Zinfandel [label], we have our mascot the bison.  Another noteworthy thing with this is on the Zin, because it was our first.

Each time we get bourbon barrels, we go through a 3rd party broker. So we’re not working directly with any distillers.  We have a mix of the distilleries these bourbon barrels are shipping to us from, so they’re all different. 

We’re filling finished Zinfandel in these barrels and then we taste each one.

Some can be really bourbon-y, really potent.  A lot of fresh dill. Some can have less bourbon influence and it’s more smoky, toasty. 

So we have to really craft each one. We’re tasting a bunch of lots and crafting the blend for the finished product.

That’s when we decided to put the batch number [on the bottle]. Because as a whole, the backbone of the wine tastes very similar, but there are some little minute differences. We wanted to convey that to the consumer with the batch number because you can tell [each bottle] tastes a little different.

 

Bourbon barrel has become very popular.  How was that method chosen at your winery?

Margaret Leonardi: It was a practice from the original winemaker, the founding winemaker, Bob Blue, who just retired a couple of years ago. 

We were innovating, thinking of new wine ideas, and this is a practice that he used 20 plus years ago. [Back then] French oak wine barrels were pretty pricey, like a luxury commodity to use. So he was looking at different alternatives to age his wines here at Fetzer. 

He had this idea. Bourbon and whiskey barrels were cheaper.

We bought some bourbon barrels and tried it.  We were like, we should bottle this, not blend this into a bigger portion. This should be its own bottle. That was in 2014, our first vintage. 

I started with the company in 2015. I was here at the beginning, so I saw some of the evolution and then Bob has retired and he’s passed the torch to Sebastian and I.

Let’s talk a little bit about the different varietals. The process, the styles aromas, flavor notes.

Margaret Leonardi: The first original Zinfandel is our classic.  I say classic because Zinfandel’s kind of an American grape variety, it’s very Americana.  It goes with our whole spirit of the brand, and It’s what Mendocino County and Mendocino is known for.

We grow really great Zinfandel’s up here, it’s a nice and warm climate. We’ve also expanded, now we’re sourcing some of the fruit from Lodi as well, which is also a really great growing region for Zinfandel.  They’re also known for their Zin.

It’s blended with some Petite Syrah.  Just to give the color a little more enhancement. Some more tannin structure. We want the whole backbone of the blend to be bold. You’re supposed to match the bison. Big style, bold characteristics. We pick them when the fruit is really ripe. It’s pretty hot.  Then we finish it in bourbon barrels and we can  use a little bit of American oak, French oak in there too, just to give it some oak enhancement. Usually around 15 percent alcohol in the finished product.

The unique part of the Zinfandel itself is the blackberries.  It’s really juicy, some cranberry and then the bourbon barrel aging process is just where you get some like dried herbs, oregano, thyme.  Toffee characteristics from the toastiness of the bourbon barrel itself. 

The point is to have a really strong wine. We want to have a really strong wine. We don’t want it to waft bourbon and we don’t want the bourbon to sit on top of the wine.  We want them to be really integrated and just like a finish, not overwhelming or overpowering.

It’s very well balanced. Were there any challenges in finding the balance or was it pretty straightforward?

 

Margaret Leonardi: It’s not pretty straightforward. We wish.  The barrels coming from the distillers can vary.  They can be emptied the week before [and be very fresh]. They can be emptied a month [and be less fresh]. So how much has evaporated, how much has been absorbed into the wood.  Those are unknown factors. So it’s a bunch of trial and error. So it’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. We want some consistency, but we want a little bit of difference. 

You’ve mentioned Sebastian Donoso. Tell us about him. How the two of you balance roles.

Margaret Leonardi: He’s the winemaker for the Bourbon Barrel Aged Wines. Before we were both collaborating with Bob, it was more like a team effort.  When Bob stepped down, we also had the new American Barrel Aged Pinot and Chard and the Sauvignon Blanc’s brand new.

Sebastian took the Bourbon Barrel Aged because he was working on those more, and then I took the other half.  We work together.

Before we move on, I don’t want to forget the Sauvignon Blanc. Process, styles, aromas, the taste?

Margaret Leonardi: This just came out in April of this year so I’m really excited. I think it’s still working its way across the nation, but I’m really happy with this wine. I really like the way it came out and I got to make it from scratch. I made exactly what I wanted.  It’s nice when you make something that you really like to drink too.  The fruit that we source for this comes from the majority from the Arroyo Seco region, so down Monterey, central coast of California, which is just a really nice growing region, Bay Area influence.  Warm days and then cool evenings. A little bit comes from just up here in Mendocino County. Then the rest is from Lodi. 

A unique thing is it’s blended with 10% Viognier. The Viognier is an ironic blender for Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s like in the spirit of things bold, I have this Viognier that I really like.  It’s really concentrated, ripened flavors. A lot of peach and nectarine flavors, so I thought it could be really interesting in a Sauvignon Blanc.

I fermented them separate and then blended this percentage in there and It’s really interesting because the Sauvignon Blanc has a little bit of grassy, grapefruit, citrus aromas, 

The Viognier twist makes it almost a little floral, but you get those white peach, stone fruit flavors pop a little more because of that Viognier.

It’s all stainless steel, fermented and aged, so it has no oak contact. I do some concrete eggs. I think it enhances the texture and makes it a little more mineral-y.

 

Are you a foodie?  Can you please suggest some really delicious dishes that pair with these bottles?

Margaret Leonardi: That is a nice thing about our portfolio expanding,  because before we had the three reds. So it’s similar food pairings. Now that we’ve expanded, we can have almost a wine for any dish. The Zinfandel and all of the bourbon barrel aged wines go really great with barbecue or smoked meat, ribs, red meats.  It’s a good “occasion wine”, right? If you’re going to a friend’s house for a barbecue or somewhere where you want to grab a bottle of wine, but you aren’t sure what – it’s a crowd pleaser, it’s a perfect conversation starter.  Sporting events soccer games, Super Bowl, that kind of thing.

Then the Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with oysters, light sauce pastas, cream based pastas.  It’s also great just appetizer wine. I think the Viognier is different. It is fun to start with it. So if you’re coming over and not sure what to open or if you’re having a dinner party, it’s like a great wine to kick off the night with.

You can explore it and then it transitions well with food, especially as it warms up a little.

Where we can find you follow and find that all this stuff both to buy as well as on social media

Margaret Leonardi: The brand as a whole is available through our website.  They’re also available at any grocery stores around the whole country.

For our social media, our Instagram is 1000 Stories Wines. We have a Facebook, a YouTube, and TikTok.  

 

French Bloom Delivers Flavor and Elegance to DC without Boozy Battles – Wine Review

French Bloom Delivers Flavor and Elegance to DC without Boozy Battles

You want to celebrate.  You want to “pop the cork”, enjoy the flavor, but you don’t want the after-effects.  The drunkenness.  Certainly not the hangover.  And women?  Of course there needs to be ways to elegantly celebrate even (and especially) during pregnancy.  Imagine a pregnant-friendly wine?

It’s a situation that should have been solved already.  But now it has and with style.  It’s a  subtle, elegant, flavorful answer.

French Bloom Re-Invents the Game 

Now everyone can share “moments of pleasure” as their website mentions.  French Bloom’s organic de-alcoholized chardonnay and pinot noir, alcohol-free French sparkling cuvées combine French tradition with innovation.

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean - Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

French Bloom Co-Founders Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski

The Team Behind French Bloom

 

Maggie Frerejean – Taittinger and Constance Jablonski bring different and complementary skill sets.  Equally important, they bring the desire for the vision and the motivation for innovation. 

Through their innovative and female-founded brand, French Bloom gives an alternative and inviting drink to those wanting to celebrate elegantly and differently, making the most of the precious moments shared with friends and family.

If the names sound familiar, Constance is a globally-working fashion model you’ve seen representing Estée Lauder and countless luxury brands.  

Maggie is director of the Michelin Guide and married to Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger, chief executive of Champagne Frerejean Freres. 

Carl Héline, the former head of Champagne Krug, joined French Bloom. 

Let’s Taste French Bloom

Le Rosé 

Pale pink in the glass.  Rose petals, freshly picked red currant, raspberry aromas on the nose.  Indulgent white peach notes on the palate. Elegant. The organic French grapes give a nice acidity.  Well-balanced complexity of minerality and freshness.  Tartness and a rounded balance on the finish.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal
0.0% Alcohol
Pregnant-friendly
Low Calorie
Sulfite-Free
No preservatives
No sugar added, 4,2g/ 100ml

A blend of de-alcoholized organic French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines, organic grape juice, Gensac spring water and natural organic flavors such as lemon. 

 

French Bloom sparkling Discovery Kit

 

Le Blanc 

Organic French Bubbly, 0.0% Alcohol

Medium golden amber in the glass. Minerality and pear aromas on the nose, that just keep opening and opening.  Pear, banana, melon, white flowers.  An explosion of complexity on the palate.  As the flavors open, Granny Smith apple, spicy citrus.  A full-bodied mouth with a luxurious, zesty finish that keeps going.

De-alcoholized organic wine, organic grape juice, French sparkling Gensac spring water, organic lemon juice, organic natural flavors.

Certified Vegan- Organic- Halal

0.0% Alcohol

Pregnant-friendly

Low Calorie

Sulfite-Free

No preservatives

No sugar added, 5,9g/ 100ml

Learn more: FrenchBloom.com

https://www.facebook.com/frenchbloomsparkling

https://www.instagram.com/french.bloom

 

DC Horror Lovers: Invite Your Foodie Friends over for Horror Movie Night CookBook

It’s Scary-Delicious! Invite Your Friends over for Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent and Nevyana Dimitrova (Photographer).

Sixty deliciously deadly recipes inspired by iconic slashers, zombie films, psychological thrillers, sci fi spooks, and more. 

The Horror Movie Night Cookbook

The Horror Movie Night Cookbook on sale now

Horror Movie Night Cookbook can be found at any local bookstore or online Barnes Noble, Amazon. Follow the Horror Movie Night Cookbook Instagram.

Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent

Horror Movie Night Cookbook written by Richard S. Sargent

Author Richard S. Sargent joined me for a conversation about food, cooking, horror movies and Halloween.  The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full, un-edited conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

What inspired you as far as horror movies go? What’s your all time favorite horror?

 

Richard Sargent: Wow, that’s a tough one. Yeah, so I would say my all time favorite horror movie is Scream. It’s what got me into diving deeper into horror. My mother actually got me into horror when I was a kid, we would watch a bunch of the old ones after school and that sort of thing, but as I started to discover the newer ones on my own, Scream was the first one that really showed me that there’s more to horror than just blood and boobs.

 

You’re a filmmaker, an artist, an author, many things. Tell us a little bit about your journey

 

Richard Sargent: I went to school for theater and film and acting.  As most people do New York or LA, I chose New York. I did that for a while. I did a couple of my own indie horror films as well. And then as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. 

As a side project, because you have to have a side project when you’re trying to break into that field. I thought I love cooking. I love experimenting. I love being creative. Let’s take some culinary classes. So I was gifted some culinary classes and it was really great. And I thought, okay, great. Now I’m going to go work in a kitchen. But the more I thought about that, I realized I would hate it if I had to do it as a day job.  I would hate cooking. I put that on the back burner and focus more on the theater and film and all that. 

And just kept plugging away at that. When I moved to the West Coast, I became artistic director of a couple of theater companies and had some plays published, that sort of thing.

So my writing and my directing was starting to take off a little bit. I had a little more free time to go back to the cooking thing that I was looking forward to doing. And the way this came together is that I was doing a play with some friends and we were chatting we actually were doing the play, The Woman in Black, and we were chatting about horror and horror films and they felt the way I felt about them initially, that they’re all just and I just couldn’t have that.

I’d seen so many great ones that have changed my life and had so many positive messages. Because horror movies are basically about the outcasts winning. I felt like I’ve been an outcast my whole life, so I could really connect to them. So I started showing them the ones that I thought were important.

I started with my favorites and then dug deeper into the ones that I felt. Told really great stories and had really great messages through these horror movie nights where I would pair an appetizer, a dinner and a dessert, each with its own movie and we would do three movies a night and we would do this every couple of weeks.

 

Can you talk a little bit about this book’s undertaking and 1-2 lessons that you learned from that process?

 

Richard Sargent: Absolutely. Yeah, it really was an undertaking. When I started these nights, these horror movie nights myself I just thought they were going to be fun. I just thought we were all going to have a good time.

Then about halfway through, maybe about five or six nights in, my friends were all like, what are you going to do with this? I’m like, what do you mean? We’re just having a good time. And they’re like, no, other people are going to want to do this. I’m thinking about what can I do with this?

Maybe I can start an event service and cater these nights myself? But ultimately I chose to do a book because it’s more accessible and it’s more fun. You get to do it in your own home and invite your friends over and it makes for a much more fun evening. Once I decided that it was going to be a book, it took about two years to compile it all into book format. Retake some pictures, that sort of thing, get it all ready for my copy. So I self published it two years ago and then it got picked up. 

So the version that you have and that we’re talking about today is the version that Ulysses Press put out about another year or so later.

So it was about a five year process from the first horror movie night, all the way to the book that, that we’re talking about today. 

If I have any tips for people, find what makes your idea stick out.  What about your idea do people want to know, be authentic about it and just keep plugging away at it.

You’re going to get frustrated. Move on to another project, take a walk, do something else. And come back when the inspiration strikes, but never force anything. That’s my big thing. You can’t force inspiration or you’re not going to end up with the best product that you could possibly have.

From the five years ago first draft to Ulysses Press version now, how close is the finished product compared to your original vision?

Richard Sargent: It’s very close actually. A lot of things that were changed were just improvements on the pictures. Things are worded differently, more clear, more consistency throughout the book.

Ulysses was really great with the editing process. They kept a lot of what I wanted to do with the book and the whole spirit of the book. 

 

There’s millions of horror movies out there. How did you go from a million down to 60?

 

Richard Sargent: It really had to just speak to me. It had to be bigger and better than the average horror film. Or at least I had to view it that way.

I studied horror and I studied film throughout my life. I can grasp the difference between your average horror film and something that’s trying to influence the viewer in some way. And those are the ones that I tried to put into the book. I know that 60 is not a lot and that’s why there will be more books hopefully.

I thought it would be a fun start to break newbies in. So rather than just hitting every classic that you can think of: Exorcist, Jaws, I picked a lot of classics and mixed them in with some newer things that had more up to date themes and up to date comments on society, like The Conjuring and The Descent, movies like that.

Not everyone seeing this is a huge horror movie fan.  Can you give us any tips or ideas about what makes a really great horror movie?

 

Richard Sargent: I think it all starts with the characters which then reflects on the script.  So if it’s a really well written script,  it has characters that A) you care about and B) are telling a story within a story, basically, by living through their story, they’re telling us how we should be living our lives. Of course, we know that because of Scream and movies like that, we know the rules of horror.

Don’t don’t say “I’ll be right back” and all that kind of stuff. 

But beyond that, there are things that make a horror film great. It’s a lot of really great being on the side of the outcasts. So if you think of movies like Frankenstein a lot of people will say that the monster is the monster, but the monster is not the monster.  The society not accepting the monster Is the real monster. 

That’s a film that tries to show us how to accept people who are not like us. Some people may say that science is the monster. I am not that kind of person. But, there’s the commentary in that film too, that maybe we shouldn’t do everything that we are able to do with science.

For queer culture and women’s rights we have films like Hereditary that  dive into dealing with grief. 

As long as your characters are doing something important, they’re not just playing with a Ouija board, or running into a shed full of chainsaws.  As long as they’re making smart decisions,, I think it elevates it to the next level, movies like The Exorcist, obviously, more recently, I thought Barbarian just from last year was outstanding, just in that way of telling the story, that was creative to me. 

Ones that stick with you forever. Jaws, a lot of people didn’t want to go in the water after that.

 

We have a very dinner party kind of an audience. Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget?

Richard Sargent: Yeah, so I had to cook these meals. There were actually some other recipes that I worked on too, for these films that I didn’t put in the book.  Everything is trial and error in the kitchen. So I cooked several of these many times until I found the right measurements of everything.

It was a long process in the kitchen, but a fun one, of course. 

Maybe it makes me basic, but my favorite kitchen gadget is the slow cooker because you can do so much with it and you can step away from it and work on other things while your main meal is sitting there for hours.

 

Are there 1-2  recipes in the cookbook that you want to point out?

 

Richard Sargent: As I like to start any meal, let’s start with dessert. I would say I’m super proud of the pavlova from Cabin Fever, if you’re familiar with the movie. The dish is called The Close Shave, and it is a pavlova with Chantilly cream inside and berries on top, berry compote on top, and it just drips through a bloody wound.

I’m pretty proud of that one, and I got a lot of great feedback. I still have my friends from that horror movie night talking about it all the time. 

Another one I’m super proud of is the paella from Broken Lizard’s Club Dread, which is an overlooked horror comedy. Basically, Coconut Pete runs this party island and he has his own special paella, Coconut Pete’s paella, which I tried to recreate with his secret ingredients and I thought it came out pretty well, so I’m pretty pleased with that one as well. 

Let me see, appetizers. One that was fun was just coming up with the popcorn for Scream. I tried a bunch of different flavors and a bunch of different ways of doing it and it’s one of the ones that I feel is a recipe, but also a hack.  An easy way to pop bagged popcorn and put flavoring on it.  

It’s a good one to show that anybody can do what’s in this book. You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to be able to create what’s in this book, recreate it. 

When the book first arrived, I was sitting in a room with teenagers and as old as people in their 70s, so it’s quite a range and we were all having fun with it.

As an author, as a creator, how does that make you feel?  Was it designed to be a communal experience?

Richard Sargent: Putting things out there always makes me nervous.  The feedback that I’ve been getting, hearing people, seeing pictures from people doing their own horror movie nights or just recreating the recipes or just on podcasts and things talking about the clever titles and all that kind of stuff it just makes me feel so good because I was worried that maybe this is just a “me” thing, like I’m just this weirdo super into horror and food.  It’s good to know that I’m not.  The whole horror community, the whole film community is into something like this.

 

They they can entertain, they can bring their own friends over. They can be the star of their own show. It speaks to everybody. 

 

Since you are the Horror Movie Night Cookbook expert, can you give us some tips and advice for our next movie night?

 

Richard Sargent: I’ve done horror film nights where we just all get together and we eat the food and we watch the movies. 

I’ve done one’s where we play extra games other than the drinking games. We have costume contests. It’s really how far you want to go into it. 

But I would say start early if you’re going to use some of the recipes in this book, start early because there are many things that could go wrong especially if you’re not used to cooking and there are things that could go wrong, things that could burn things that might not set the way you want them to.

Have extra ingredients on hand. 

If you don’t like a movie that the recipe is paired with, think about how that recipe could go with another more you like more?

Have fun with it and try it all.

How can we elevate the experience to a Superbowl Sunday level?

Richard Sargent: Definitely add costumes. Decorate. Fog machines are always fun. Pick the ones that pick the recipes that can make it a more social evening. Maybe ones where you add your own stuff to them. Like the one for Cujo is like a burrito bowl, essentially, so that people can add their own ingredients to it.  That gets people up and mingling and having a good time, definitely play the drinking games, but be careful because the drinks are strong.

It’s Halloween season right now.  When is the best time of year for the Horror Movie Night Cookbook?

Richard Sargent: All year. There’s no set time. Horror has so many stories to tell. A lot of them are very important that you can watch them all year round.

Get in that spirit all year round. I think that people don’t give horror the credit that it deserves. There are a lot of great films out there that even people that don’t love horror will like. Those are the ones I think we should be talking about. Horror should always be part of the conversation.

A lot of horror films are set throughout the year, so if you wanted to do a horror movie night for Valentine’s Day, you’ve got plenty to choose from, It’s not just for those of us that like to get dressed up one day a year.  It’s all year round.

 

As we wrap up, any final message you want foodies or movie lovers to know about you or this book?

Richard Sargent: I would just want them to know that I really did put a lot of thought and heart into everything that they see in this book. I really didn’t just say, Oh, wow, let’s come up with some gimmicky-looking cookie or something. These aren’t decorations. This is real food and real thoughtful recipes that are inspired by things that happen in the film, things that they eat, things that they do, places they go. For example, in The Descent, they are supposed to be spelunking in the Appalachian mountains. So I used a local dish from the Appalachias as that recipe. These are not just Halloween decorations. These are actual recipes that you can enjoy any time of year. But watch the movie too. So yeah, I would just want people to know that don’t expect cutesy little Pinterest ghost cookies. That’s not what you’re going to get. You’re going to get real recipes like you would in any cookbook. This just has the horror edge to it as well.

Where can we learn more about you? Tell us the website, the social media

Richard Sargent: The book can be found at any local bookstore or online Barnes Noble, Amazon

If you want to learn more about me, or just maybe get bonus recipes every now and then on my Instagram you can follow the Horror Movie Night Cookbook Instagram, or my own personal one, @rsargent83.

Tell me what you like. And if you host your own, tag me in that sort of stuff. I’d love to see how your recipes come out, what you would change. I’d love feedback. If you do try any of this, please contact me online and let me know what you liked and what you didn’t.

Style, Flavor, Awards: DC’s Favorite New Wine has a Secret

Style, Flavor, Awards: DC’s Favorite New Wine Jøyus non-alcoholic wines has a Secret. Not just for #SoberOctober, but its award-winning tastes help you celebrate all year-long.

Jøyus non-alcoholic wines not only taste like wine, but great wine. With the industry awards to prove it. 

Recently I sat down with Jøyus leader Jessica Selander.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  You can find the full, un-edited conversation on our YouTube page.

 

 

Can you give us a personal story, maybe that includes the celebration of wine, if you have one?

Jessica Selander: The story is very personal and the funny thing is I get so nervous before talking about things because when I started Joyus, I did not originally [think about] doing things like this, being so face forward. 

I thought I would create a product that I was really excited about.  Eventually I came to realize, how do I do that without telling the “why did I do it?”

The whole reason that Joyus exists and it influences everything I do is because I’m sober.  I quit drinking alcohol 17 years ago now, which just feels like a fantastical amount of time.

For me, it’s been very rewarding. I’m very glad about it. But it was definitely something that was really hard and very personal. It wasn’t something I shared about publicly. So that’s also why this is a journey of getting comfortable talking about my sobriety, my recovery.

I like the taste of wine. I like beautiful glasses. I like the smell of wine.  I love the community and people; and hanging out and celebrating.  It literally says ’let’s celebrate’ on our bottles.  How great sparkling is for summer, but sparkling is such a happy thing.

You know what I mean? Something good happens in your life and people are like, let’s celebrate. Let’s pop some bottles. New Year’s Eve is such a beautiful idea of let’s start over. Whatever happened last year, whatever terrible things went down, there’s a brand new year.

It’s a new idea that we can celebrate either that past year that was good or celebrate the potential of a new year. That’s going to be better and that’s sparkling. 

And for me, I didn’t have any options. 

I started Joyus nine years ago. People ask me how long the company’s been around and we launched about two years ago. So it took me a very long time to figure it out, to save up the money to do it because as you can imagine, nine years ago, people thought it was crazy.

They’re like, ‘That’s a terrible idea. Nobody wants that’. And I’m like ’I want it’.

Having quit drinking, I had a lot of friends that also didn’t drink. I had a lot of people in my life too, who were just light drinkers – could give or take alcohol.  Then I have two kids and there’s a huge percent of the population that quits drinking for nine months [because they’re pregnant], sometimes even longer.

You can get into medications, you’re not supposed to drink on it. Anxiety medication, not supposed to drink on it. Heart medication, cancer treatments. There’s a lot of medical stuff too, that you could go down the list.

So I get a lot of people now who are like, ‘Oh, it’s not alcoholic. It’s trending.’ And that’s a thing now. 

Early on in my sobriety, I actually used to drink a lot of soda pop out of glass bottles, and then eventually discovered non alcoholic beer.

Non alcoholic beer is definitely having a really cool movement right now. There’s so many different options for non alcoholic beer, but the beer has always been around. 

I was like, this exists and it tastes like beer. What’s up with non-alcoholic wine?

There was one sparkling [non-alcoholic wine] in the entire country and that’s all you could find. There was one white and there was one red and that was it.

For me these options were really sweet. They were very affordable, which is nice, but they didn’t have the complete experience that I was going for. I wanted non alcoholic wine that tastes like wine. 

I wanted something that I could bring to a gathering and bring to a get together and have it feel appropriate and look appropriate and just look like everybody else’s [alcoholic] bottles.  Smell like everyone else’s bottles that you just wouldn’t even know that it was non alcoholic until you saw it on the label. And that’s what I did.

So after trying to find it for forever, eventually I was like, I’m going to do it myself. And I had no idea that this whole sober curious, non alcoholic world would take off like it has at exactly the right time.

So part of me is very frustrated that it took so long. But part of that too, it was like saving up the money to start the company.

This is a bootstrap company.  I like making my own decisions. A side effect after getting to this point is I’m 100% in control of all the decisions, which also means that I can control the quality because [it] is incredibly expensive to make.

 

Let’s talk about your sober story.  What it means to you, how you got there, what your mission is, how that helps others.

 

Jessica Selander: So for me, I can’t drink alcohol. What happens when I put alcohol in my body is that I make decisions I don’t want to be making.  

I tried a lot of things. I tried cutting back and it didn’t work. I tried replacing [the drinks and that didn’t work].

My life became pretty chaotic. 

I stopped drinking and once I get my life in order, then everything will be fine. I can drink again. 

Then after not drinking for a period of time, I was like, Oh, you know what?  There’s actually something to this and it’s something deeper and it’s probably the best thing I ever did, honestly, in my life. 

I would not be the person I am today on the inside if I had kept drinking.

I have a wonderful spouse and I’ve got amazing kids and I’m able to be a parent and be a person and do that clear eyed and there’s a lot of my upbringing was not the most positive. 

Sober curious, it’s a hashtag now. 

I’m not saying alcohol shouldn’t exist. I’m not that kind of person whatsoever. 

On a personal level it is so exciting to see other brands pop up. The first time I tried non-alcoholic tequila, it blew my mind. It was amazing. The spirits are interesting because some people build it up from science and some people are de-alkalizing; taking the alcohol out.

So that’s the really interesting thing about this. Normally spirits are completely separate from wine, which are very separate from beer, but in non-alcoholic, we’re all in the same swimming pool and everybody’s doing it differently and everybody’s got their own take and you can try one non-alcoholic whiskey and it’s incredibly different from another one.

Community not competition is one of our core values.  Normalizing non drinking is a big one. It’s not necessarily replacing alcohol either. I’ve talked to people in the wine industry who are very offended by the idea of non alcoholic wine.  I’m like no, it’s backwards. You’ve got it backwards. Non-alcoholic wine is a love letter to wine. You love wine so much that you still want to have it. You just can’t have this one piece that’s in it [the alcohol], but I want everything else. 

I want to cheers that glass with other people. I want to drink that red with a really strong stinky cheese. I want to pop that celebratory cork. I want to Rose all day. I just can’t.

I think that wine is very important culturally. It’s so interesting historically. The process is this fascinating mix of art and science.  I love everything about it. Getting deeper and deeper into it too, because I want Joyus to be around for forever and I want to make the best possible non-alcoholic wine.

There’s so much stuff to perfect that I could spend the next 50 years just working on non-alcoholic red – period.

 

You mentioned you’re seeing other competitors in the marketplace. How many different ways are there to make non-alcoholic wine?  Are some ways higher quality than others?

 

Jessica Selander: I can give tips. Our wine is a dealcoholized or alcohol removed wine, which means it’s gone through the whole winemaking process.

It’s aged, it’s fermented, and then we have removed the alcohol from it. Our bottles also say it’s non alcoholic. Sometimes you’ll see a bottle in the store and it just says non alcoholic on it. It doesn’t say dealcoholized or alcohol removed. They’re interchangeable. That means it wasn’t fermented.

So if you’re looking for a wine that is really going to taste like wine or have that fermented taste, look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed.

[Look at the label on the bottle] look for dealcoholized or alcohol removed, because it could say that it’s a non alcoholic red or a non-alcoholic grape [varietal] and it might just be a juice, that hasn’t been fermented or ages but comes in a wine bottle.

 

What are your goals in the present moment and in the near future to help your company continue to be a leader in the industry?

 

Jessica Selander: I think goals are accessibility. Normalizing sober drinking.  Making [non-alcoholic bottles] easy to find.  We do ship off our website, which is great. We’re shipping from Seattle. We ship everything ourselves.  If you’re out East, it’s going to take four or five days to get to you. 

Also starting to talk to restaurants, getting into more restaurants is a big one.  I’ve had anniversary dinners with my spouse and I’m drinking an Arnold Palmer.

I’m calling restaurants and I’m calling grocery stores and they’re still really skeptical that it can be good and that people want it.

 

Do you think it’s just audience reaching out? Is there a tipping point?

 

Jessica Selander: Yes, that really helps having people being in a restaurant and saying, “Hey, what do you have that’s an alcoholic?” Because restaurants are saying nobody’s asking for it. 

Here I am double digit sober and I had never gone into a restaurant and asked for it.

I would look at the [menu’s] non alcoholic section, which is always juice, soda pop, iced tea and stuff. If it’s not on the menu, I would never ask them for anything. Here I am for over a decade, not telling them that I want this thing. So we started doing more education on social media and online.

If you walk into a restaurant, ask them “What do you have that’s not alcoholic?”

Just pregnant people alone. There’s a large percentage of the population.

Is there science that says a pregnant woman can drink this and have zero concerns?

 

Jessica Selander: Yes. So this is super interesting. In the United States we’re the most strict in terms of alcohol. If you go to the UK, they have different, actually higher limits for how much alcohol can be in something. The US’s rules come from prohibition when you can’t sell, make, transport alcohol.

The government said once it gets under 0.5%, it’s not alcohol anymore. So that’s where that number comes from and sometimes people see it and say, “Oh, there’s a little bit of alcohol in this.” 

There was a study done in Germany where they tested a lot of grocery store items.  What they found was there’s a lot of stuff in our grocery stores that had a little bit of alcohol in it. Very ripe bananas, which we feed to toddlers have some alcohol in them. Orange juice is another one.

American hamburger buns. But it also makes sense, bread, yeast and we have more sugar in our products, right? Bread actually has more alcohol than people realize. 

Let’s talk about your wine’s flavors and aromas and the winemaking process to get there.

Jessica Selander: I knew what I wanted and I was incredibly picky about it. 

We launched with the sparkling white and the sparkling Rose’ and people were asking for a Rose’ with no bubbles.

I thought it would be easy.  It was not easy. 

Stills are very different from sparkling. I’m a balance of “I know what I want. I’m going for this thing and very focused”, but then I’m also balanced with listening. So we do a lot of focus groups. I do want feedback.  I do want opinions. 

We were working on it.  Everyone’s saying it’s good, it’s great.  But I didn’t think it was good enough. We were supposed to launch it in summer and I pushed everything back.  Back to the drawing board. 

What if we did this? What if that?  Talking to people, reading science and chemistry books

Was it like working for the right blend?

Jessica Selander: It’s tweaking so many different things and pieces in the blend. But it doesn’t always work out.  If you tweak a blend, sometimes other notes will come forward that you’re not expecting, or sometimes you’ve diminished things that you didn’t intend to diminish.

The still Rose is a great example, it didn’t have that click and so I just kept working on it. And that’s the one that won Double Gold and Best in Class in the San Francisco International Wine Competition, which is one of the biggest and oldest blind tastings in the world and the biggest and oldest blind tasting in the U.S.

 

Can you share any details and lessons you learned taking on the world of winemaking?

 

Jessica Selander: There’s so many things.  We’re not just making wine.  We’re wholesale, we’re distributing, we’re direct to consumer. We have so many different facets. 

I could talk for hours about how our wines are very low in sugar and they don’t have the alcohol in them. So our [bottles] probably freeze easier than anything else on the market. So shipping during the winter.

I’ve had conversations with other non alcoholic people too.  Everybody’s doing it differently and that’s the hard part too, where I feel like there’s a solution for every problem.

We’ve gotten better and better at winter shipping, but it’s not quite there yet.  Figuring out what can we ship in that’s going to have thermal protection, but isn’t going to contribute a ton of garbage. We’ve got the most eco-friendly, innovative winter shippers.  They’re made of corn. 

They’re expensive as hell, but it’s better than styrofoam. We have to keep everything under 50 pounds for UPS and 12 bottles of sparkling is 51 pounds in these corn shippers.

That thermal protection is still not enough, so we added heat packs. 

Let’s talk about your wines.

 

Jessica Selander: We have four varietals.  We’ve got our sparkling white, a sparkling Rosé. Still Rosé, a Cabernet Sauvignon. I love our red a lot. The reds are hard. They’re the most complicated; red wine has the highest alcohol content to begin with.

What flavor notes should we be looking for?

 

Jessica Selander: It’s definitely an American Cab. More fruit forward. It’s not grape juice. It’s fermented, it’s aged in American oak so you’ll get some green-ness to, like forest floor.  The longer it’s been open the more tasting notes you’ll get. I like it more and more throughout the week because the fruit notes settle down. Black currant, cherry, some leather 

The still rosé, watermelon, a nice floral to it. 

Sparkling rosé. Slightly floral.  Some orange blossom to it.  Blackberry, but some people say raspberry. Some people say strawberry.  They’re very summery

I think sometimes tasting notes feel in excess because we all taste things very differently. 

Our audience is foodies. Let’s talk a little bit about some of your favorite meals that you think would pair that your favorite pairings with your wines

 

Jessica Selander: I bake. I come from a big family, so I can pretty much cook anything. 

I heard someone say one time that baking was more science. And cooking was more art and I do agree with that. 

Let’s talk about the wine competitions. How you see them, what the experience has been like, and of course, what their results have been.

Jessica Selander: I did not know that competition was as big of a deal as it is [which was a blessing].  So what happened was I was beating my head against the wall being like, “They taste like wine!”  And my brother said, nobody believes you. You have to enter them into wine competitions. You need to prove to them in their own landscape that you belong there. 

So, here’s this competition. The first one, the sparkling rosé won gold and sparkling white won bronze.

Then I looked deeper into what the competition was [and realized it was the acclaimed San Francisco International Wine Competition & World Spirits Competition ]. It was a blessing because I think I would have been scared to do it. Then [next year] I do it with the Still Rose and the Cab.  Then hearing back, you’ve got the highest a non-alcoholic has ever gotten and you’re Still Rose is the best non-alcoholic wine of any varietal entered from all over the world. 

I was only wondering if it was even going to place, and here it ends up winning the best.

I was at a grocery store [today] I’ve been trying to get into for two years where the head buyer won’t even try it. So it’s [frustrating] but the more of these awards that we stack up, at some point in time they have to not ignore it. They’ll be like, Oh, this is a real thing.

We haven’t [hit that goal], it’s not normalized yet. We’re in over 300 stores and in almost in every state.

 

If you want more non-alcoholic near you at a restaurant and grocery store, what are the step-by-step, simple direction

Jessica Selander: This is super easy for people.

So if there’s a grocery store or a local market that you shop at already, you just go into the wine department and say, “Hey, what non-alcoholic wine do you have?”  And let them know you want it.  Verbally say it

It’s the same thing in restaurants. I do it myself now too, where I get the menu and I’m not seeing what the stuff on it. And I just ask and say, Hey, what non alcoholic stuff do you have?” 

 

Tell us how we can learn more about Joyus.  Shopping and following on social media.

 

Jessica Selander: So all of our social media stuff, our website is DrinkJoyus.com. Our Facebook, our Instagram, our TikTok are all DrinkJoyus

And on the website, there is this Find Joyus store finder map. So you can look on there and find us closest to you and working hard to add new stores pretty much weekly and email, email us. There’s a contact form on the website. Email. If you’re like, Hey, there’s a store by me. I want them to carry you. Email us. And we will call them and we will try, we’ll do our best and we’ll call them again three months later and we’ll call them again.

 

Worth the train ride: New York Wine Studio starts classes this October in NYC, with Wine Expert Alan Tardi

New York Wine Studio starts classes this October in NYC, Wine Expert Alan Tardi reveals why you need to Enroll

He’s worked as a chef, a restaurateur, a sommelier, a consultant to some of New York City’s biggest and best fine dining restaurants.  He’s also written for magazines and publications, such as Wine Spectator, Wine and Spirits, Decanter, of course, the New York Times.

Today Wine Expert Alan Tardi visits us for a conversation about NYC, restaurants, Italian wine and his new classes starting this fall (October) at New York Wine Studio.

 

 

As a get to know you question for everyone out there who loves food and wine and spirits, but they don’t necessarily know your background so much.

You’ve been in the wine world, the hospitality world, the restaurant world for many years. Tell us about a celebration in your life that inspired you to join these industries?

 

Alan: Sure. First I should say that, when you introduced me, you said I was a chef and a restaurateur and all that’s true. But before I was a chef, I was a cook. And actually before I was a cook, I was a dishwasher.  I took a little bit of a break from college and went to Europe and traveled around and then came back and wanted to come visit my sister in New York City.

And so I did. And I ended up staying. And at a certain point, I thought okay, I’m going to go back and finish my undergraduate degree, but I also want to get a job. So I walked into a place that could have been a shoe store or whatever. A gas station.  But it happened to be a restaurant. 

One of the new, the first restaurants in this area called Tribeca, when it was just starting to take shape and walked in there and said, ‘Hey, I’m looking for a job.’

The person who was in the back that they sent me back to talk to in the kitchen was washing the dishes. And he said, Yeah, I’m the owner. You want to wash dishes? Yeah, sure. 

So I started washing dishes there in this restaurant. And then after a while I would, I became a bus boy on the floor.  Then when I would come into work, oftentimes the kitchen was a little bit behind. So I would help them out. I ended up going to the kitchen while I was going to school at the same time. 

For me, it was a job and while I was going to college in the village after my classes in the evening, I found this tiny little restaurant on Greenwich Avenue in the village called Chez Brigitte.

It was like a counter basically, they had two little tables on the side, but there was a counter there with maybe eight seats. And there was this French woman named Brigitte who was cooking food back there. I started to go there, so I didn’t go home by myself and have supper.

I started to get half bottles of wine from a nearby wine shop and took it to this place, Chez Brigitte. I spoke French. I was talking to the woman cooking there.That was a celebration for me, and I was there all by myself. I would go there after, after my schooling before I went back home.

So that was like a celebration. I would go there two or three times a week. And that was my own sort of really like dining. But it was very casual. It was an open kitchen.  But that was my celebration factor. And then after I finished my degree I thought I’m actually into cooking.

I was cooking in this restaurant in Tribeca. And so I went and knocked on the door of a little restaurant in Soho, which was called Chanterelle. It was a legendary restaurant for about 25 years. And the woman, the manager, the wife of the chef, Karen Weltuck, and David Weltuck was a chef.

She hired me. I was the third person. Before that, there were two people in the kitchen. I became the third person in the kitchen doing Garde Manger. Then after six or nine months, I was promoted to he sous chef. So I went from a Garde Manger to the sous chef in this really legendary restaurant.

So that was my celebration.

 

The fact that you grew up behind the scenes in the back of the house makes me curious.

For a couple – whether it’s a date night, an anniversary or a business dinner,

do you have any tips for how to take that fine dining experience and make it really truly memorable

Alan: First of all, we talk about fine dining. To me, sometimes you have the best experiences in a very simple, very unpretentious place. When I was working at Chanterelle, I was there for a little over three years. Every August, the restaurant would close for the month and most of the staff would go off on a gastronomic tour. 

I went with some of my colleagues to France two years in a row. We would go through all the three star Michelin restaurants. At that time, you had to write a letter in French asking for a reservation at a certain time.

You had to reserve ahead of time because you had three star Michelin restaurants, highly sought after. Three or four days a week we would be eating in these fancy restaurants, sometimes lunch and dinner. It’s crazy. But there would be the down days too, right?

When you’re just traveling somewhere, you’re going to a different part. Some of these meals were amazing, that it was a whole new world for me. You get the menu, all the service and the cheese and the wines and everything. It was a great experience.

On the off days, you would just find a place to eat. And sometimes we would go to a little aubergine. I remember one in Normandy, walking into this place. It was just a few doors down from where we were staying overnight, waiting for our next kind of big meal. We went to this little aubergine and they had the most banal dish, trout almondine, right?

Trout almondine. It was in Normandy, however.  There were women in the kitchen, not men, and usually in these three star restaurants, it was all male at that point. 

I realized that some of those down meal nights and simple places, they had no stars at all. You had amazing food.

The meals were on the same par as some of the best three Michelin restaurants I had. So that was an important distinction for me to make. When you’re talking about how to really create – whether it’s in a very simple environment or kind of more fancy –  how to really make it special. I think it has genuinity.

Just being what you are and trying to take care of your guests as best as you possibly can. That can really make it very special. You need to have good food, you need to have good wine, you need to have good service. All of those factors play in. But the most important thing is really trying to take care of your customer.

And I think you can do the same thing at home, your customers, whoever’s coming to your home and you’re going to offer them something and you want to try to make it as special as you can, even if it’s just hamburgers, but that can be really great and memorable.

 

We’re going to stick with the restaurant for a second, but move toward the wine list.

What are some tips for someone who wants to have a nice bottle out at dinner and they just don’t even know where to start?

 

Alan: That’s a great question. When I had my restaurant I decided to take a certain approach to the wine program, which was to find the best regional wines that would really best accompany the food.

Many of them were wines that people were unfamiliar with, they were just not among the top 10 that people would go to automatically. This is some years ago when a lot of the wine lists in the restaurant were the most famous ones you see all over the place because people are comfortable with that. So sometimes it threw people off and they would ask questions. What is that? Don’t you have this other one that’s very popular and all over the place? 

No, but we have this and – we didn’t always say this – but it’s actually much better and it costs less.

So people would try it.  They would take a leap of faith and for the most part they always loved the wines, and they went very well with their food.  Not only was I the chef and the owner but I was also the sommelier as well. 

We tried to train the staff very well about the wines and inform them. We had monthly tastings with them so they could taste the wines.

If people were really interested, I would come out of the kitchen and explain, make a suggestion based on what they said they liked. Sometimes it’s very difficult for people to explain what they want, so you have to read into that a little bit, but it’s something that really worked.

 

I know you love Italian wine, you’re an expert in Italian wine. Are there some Italian wine regions that deserve more attention?

 

Alan: Absolutely. I love wine from all over the place. Initially I spent time in France, delving into the wine regions there and they’re amazing and superb. When I was working at Chanterelle after the two first years going to France and the three Michelin restaurants, the third year I said maybe I’ll go to Italy and just try that out.

When I actually went there, it totally blew my mind. We rented a little house outside of Siena and explored the area. We went to a fantastic restaurant and it’s still in existence, La Chiusa, in a tiny little village called Montefollonico.

That really blew my mind completely. Because it was in an old olive oil mill, outside of this tiny little village up in the hills. The food was both very traditional and also very kind of cutting edge. They were trying to expand a little bit, but there was a really great balance of that. I actually went back there to do a stage, a summer stage working in the kitchen.

What really blew my mind was the fact that everything there was local. It was right, very close to Montepulciano and I would go walk in the vineyards.  A lot of the food they got was made from grapes in the vineyards outside the restaurant. And the cheese was the pecorino.

The cheeses in Tuscany were made locally and everything was from that particular area. This was long before farm to table. 

So it was a tremendous experience and that was just the beginning because Italy has 20 different regions, each one of them very different.

We think of Italy’s being old, the ancient Romans and the Etruscans. That’s true. But Italy is a country just a little bit more than a hundred years old. 150 years old. It was formed in 1861 bringing together the Italy that was once where it was fragmented after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Up until that point, you had all these different city states that had their own language, their own identity, their own cuisine, their own architecture. And while it’s been now collected into one country, each region is very independent and different from one another.

It’s changing a little bit now.  At one point the dialects were very strong. When I moved to Piemonte. In the village where I lived for over 12 years, when I moved there in 2003, most of the people – who are over 50 years old, spoke Piedmontese as their first language. They had gone to school, so they learned Italian, but they spoke Piedmontese whenever they could.

In Italy there’s an incredible diversity of different places within the country. And it goes into the wine. The wines are very different. The grape variety, there are more grape varieties in Italy than most any other place. 

 

I appreciate how you fit all these areas together: the wine, the food, the identity of the people themselves. When people Google you, they can find a lot.  Your videos, your books, your webinars.

What do you think is a  tip to being a great speaker when it comes to food, wine, travel, these types of genres?

 

Alan: I feel like I’m very humble, especially when you’re talking about wine, there’s always something new to learn and it never really stops. So I’m learning too, as I go along..

I approach it as I want to learn about something myself. Then I want to explain it and talk about it to other people and fill them in on it as well, because it’s exciting for me it might be also interesting and exciting for other people. 

The other thing is really trying to share that information in a meaningful way. I’m not trying to be an expert. I just want to share that excitement that I’ve felt myself.

Tell me how your background and the learning we’re talking about informed your  decision to launch the New York Wine studio?

Alan: As you alluded to, I’ve been teaching for quite a while. All these things just happened almost organically. I didn’t say I’m going to become a restaurateur or a chef. I just started. From there, I really got interested in wine because there’s a very strong correlation between wine and food.

I got really interested in wine.  I was doing a lot of panel tasting with Wine and Spirits magazine, whose office was very close to my restaurant. Josh Green, the editor there and a friend of mine for quite a while.  At one point he said, Hey, do you want to write an article? I said, sure. So I started writing for them a lot and it just went into other venues as well. 

Teaching is the same thing. I started giving presentations at wine conferences like Society of Wine Educators annual conference  I started teaching around 2015 for the Wine Scholar Guild. I was teaching for about six years.

I’ve been doing it in many different forms. Italian Wine Scholar. French Wine Scholar and Spanish Wine Scholar as well.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea to offer this program, the IWS, Italian Wine Scholar program, in New York City. No one is doing it here. Why? Why is that? So rather than doing it online, I thought it would be really great to do it in person. Where you can actually interact with the students that are there rather than just having them in the background on a computer from many different places in the world.

So I wanted to offer that along with wine because that’s a very important component. Obviously, if you’re talking about wine and explaining different Appalachians and different growing areas and different winemaking traditions, it’s good to be tasting the wines while you’re learning about that.

I came across a place that was willing to host these presentations, a beautiful wine tasting area, right in midtown Manhattan, close to Grand Central.

In addition to the Italian Wine Scholar Program, to start things up, do four individual classes that are theme oriented.

Is it fall and spring, or what’s the schedule?

 

Alan:  Right now we’re going to be starting this fall beginning in October,  I want to ease into it. I’m not loading up an entire schedule of things, but I’m going to be offering part one of the Italian Wine Scholar program, because There are two parts to this certification program.

The first part of the Italian Wine Scholar program will be this fall. Six 3-hour sessions live in-person with wine once a week during October and November.

Then to add something else, in the evenings, we’ll be doing four courses.  One in October, two in November, and one in December.  Two hour courses with wine, as well, and they’re not regionally driven, they’re thematically driven.

The first theme class is going to be: the many faces of Sangiovese because Sangiovese is a grape variety, Italy’s most widely planted grape variety, and of course it’s very closely tied to Tuscany, where there are at least five major appalachians that really focus on that grape variety.So we’ll be showcasing 10 different San Gervasio based wines. Five of them from Tuscany and then other San Gervasio based wines from other regions that, that really featured that like Umbria and Marche and even up in the north, Romagna, which is part of the Emilia Romagna region.  Emilia and Romagna are completely different places.

There will also be individual classes on volcanic wines, Appassimento wines, which are wines that are made from grapes that have undergone this drying process. 

Then also sparkling wines, which I’m a big fan of.  My second book was about champagne and I’m really deeply into champagne.  It’s going to involve sparkling wines from three different countries.

It sounds like this might be the most in-depth Italian class you can find in Manhattan.

 

Alan: To be careful, I would say it is “one of”, the most comprehensive program in Italian wine anywhere.

This program has not, has never been offered in New York City. It’s kind of a first time for that. It’s very comprehensive. It covers all 20 regions, all of the significant Appalachians and there are many of them.

All of the significant diverse grape varieties and I say significant because it might even be a little bit more now in the Italian National Register of Grape Varieties. Many people think that there are more than 2,000 different grape varieties. They just haven’t been genetically defined before.

Because it’s so deep with knowledge, it’s great for trade. New York City is a huge foodie and restaurant dining scene.

Alan: If you want to have all these post nominal certifications, that’s good. Nothing wrong with that. The most important thing, however, of course is knowledge and understanding. that you can use if you’re in the trade.

The understanding, the awareness of wine that you can then transmit to your customers in a restaurant or to your customers in a wine shop where you’re selling to.

It’s a very comprehensive program, but you don’t have to be in the trade to do it.  There are a lot of people who are just really fascinated and interested in wine. This is certainly a great comprehensive program for people who just are really fascinated by Italian wine and they want to learn more about it.

What are the goals for the New York Wine Studio? What’s the future for you? What’s the future for the studio itself?

 

Alan: For me, it’s this and I’m very excited about it. I like this sort of counterpoint between the really focused credential certification course with an exam at the end, and then the other ones that are more mixing it up and comparing /  contrasting these different wine regions.

Next spring I plan to do Italian Wine Scholar Part Two. There’s also an introductory course, used to be called Italian Prep, now I think it’s called Italian Essentials. It is for people who aren’t ready to jump into a whole certification program with all that detail, but it’s an introduction to Italian wine.

I would also love to do the French Wine Scholar, along with some additional classes in the evening.

Tell us where we can find more.  Websites?  Social Media?

 

Alan: Check out the website www.NewYorkWineStudio.com. It talks about the programs, the IWS program with the schedule mapped out and the four individual classes. 

There’s also an email there, info@NewYorkWineStudio.

 

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.

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