Monday, July 25, 2016

WINE OF THE WEEK-LUNELLI ZIGGURAT MONTEFALCO ROSSO D.O.C.-$19.00



Lunelli Ziggurat Montefalco Rosso 2010-$19

BY DWIGHT CASIMERE

The summer grilling season is in full swing, with the coals burning almost non-stop from now through Labor Day Weekend. Italy's beautiful Umbria region, known for its lush hillsides and ancient history, is also home to one of the most versatile summer time wines, newly released just in time for the summer barbeque season;  Ziggurat Montefalco Rosso D.O.C. 2010 ($19), from the Lunelli family of Treviso.  The wine literally speaks of sun-kissed beaches, pool parties and sumptuous barbecues. A luscious red blend of native Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Cabernet and Merlot, the wine is strikingly elegant with aromas of ripe dark cherries and cloves. The wine is just packed with fruit and heady herbal flavors. Besides the almost jam-like plum flavors, there's a healthy sprinkling of rosemary, thyme, fennel and a hint of licorice on the palate. This is a great wine with meat and veggies hot off the grill. For a versatile twist, serve the wine lightly chilled. It makes for a refreshing pairing.  Skirt steak marinated in a bit of the wine overnight along with crushed garlic, fresh thyme or oregano from the garden and a generous coating of olive oil and grilled 2-3 minutes on each side over the hot coals then set on the side of the grill to smoke to preferred doneness is the way to go with this lean, flavorful cut. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing on the diagonal against the grain. Serve with grilled summer squash, fennel, corn on the husk and potatoes seared over the coals and swathed in garlic butter or aioli (garlic and olive oil) for the ultimate summer time feast. 




 The hills surrounding Umbria 


The ancient city of Perugia

 

WINE OF THE WEEK-MARQUES DE RISCAL RIOJA ROSADO 2015-$9.99

Marques De Riscal Rioja Rosado 2015-$9.99

The dramatic Frank Gehry designed entry to Marques de Riscal


BRIGHT RED RASPBERRY AND STRAWBERRY FRUIT ARE PERFECT FOR SUMMER

by Dwight Casimere

This rose defies everything you might think about rose's. Marques De Riscal Rioja Rosado 2015 is an incredibly delicate and smooth wine, bursting with fruit flavors of intense raspberries and ripe strawberries and hints of lilac flowers, yet it only costs about ten dollars. Marques de Riscal has been making rose wines since the '60s.  The wine is made from grapes picked from young local tempranillo and garnacha vines that are less than 15 years old. The result is a bright, bracing rose wine that is fresh and well balanced with a nice mouth-feel that produces a pleasant fruit filled sensation at the finish. The rose is produced from a method known as 'bleeding; which is part of a classically refined concept that extrudes the wine's beautiful, bright pink color while also retaining the lively fruit flavor of the wine. I personally love a piece of grilled salmon with this wine. Besides the matching coral color, the flavors of the wine and the fish go perfectly together, especially if the salmon is drizzled with a bit of lemon or lime juice, brushed with some fresh sage or fennel and a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking to the grill. Grill quickly over the hot coals, so that the flesh springs back just a bit to the touch of your finger, be4ing careful not to overcook it. Serve with a side of grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and garlic powder and you have an instant al fresco lunch. 

Marques de Riscal is an historical family producer that has revolutionized the art of Spanish winemaking. Their Rioja Rosado is a shining example of their ability to raise the act of winemaking to the level of art. Their also able to do it for under $10, which is also commendable.  One of Spain's oldest Rioja wineries, Marques de Riscal was created in 1858. Within five years, the accolades came roaring in. In 1862, the first wines were bottled. In 1895, it became the first non-french winery to win the Diploma of Honour at the Bordeaux Exhibition. 

Great strides were made in the following century. In 1972, the first white wines were produced in Rueda. In 1980, the winery became a force behind creation of the Denominacion de Origen (DO) Rueda. In 1986, Baron de Chirel, the winery's first "signature wine" was launched and in 1995, Marques de Riscal introduced the first grape sorting table to the Rioja appellation.

 The winery in its founding days and (below) the historic wine caves



Friday, July 15, 2016

CHRISTMAS IN JULY-CHAMPAGNE TAITTINGER PRESENTS THE ART OF CELEBRATING THE HOLIDAYS

VITALIE TAITTINGER, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF CHAMPAGNE TAITTINGER FLIES DIRECTLY FROM REIMS, FRANCE TO HOST EXCLUSIVE EVENT IN TAITTINGER STYLE

by Dwight Casimere

 The Empire State Building looms over the Eventi Suite and South Veranda,  the setting for the release of Taittinger's Nocturne Rose and the house's new line of large format bottles
 Vitalie Taittinger, Artistic Director of Champagne Taittinger with Dwight Casimere
 Taittinger's new line of large format bottles is poured at the specially designed decanting station.
The Magnum is poured here
 The famous Taittinger Champagne Tower adorns the Eventi Suite
 Chef Jacques Torres of Jacques Torres Chocolates presides over his signature Dessert Bar (below) and the festive Croquembouche Macaron Wedding Tower-a Holiday favorite (in the shape of a Taittinger Champagne bottle, of course!)

Below:An authentic Parisian Raw Bar, perfect for Holiday entertaining

 The Manhattan skyline is the backdrop for Champagne Taittinger's exquisite portfolio


 Two views of "Manhattanhenge" when the sunset aligns with the city street grid, a rare event


NEW YORK--Vitalie Taittiinger, Artistic Director of Champagne Taittinger arrived in a stunning designer summer party dress to preside over the grand marquee Champagne houses' "The Art of Celebrating The Holidays" for the 2016 season. The event was held at the Eventi Suite and South Veranda, a Kimpton Hotel in midtown Manhattan, in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

An harmonic convergence of celestial events formed the backdrop to this stellar event. A bright half moon hung in the sky over the Eventi Veranda, which was framed by a dramatic midtown Manhattan skyline as the rare "Manhattanhenge" sunset, seen only a few times each year, descended outside.

An authentic Parisian Raw Bar, with oysters, clams, giant shrimp and steamed lobsters greeted guests, along with the famed chocolatier Chef Jacques Torres and his exquisite Dessert Bar featuring his signature chocolates, macarons and the famous Croquembouche Macaron Wedding Tower, a traditional French Holiday favorite, presented in the shape of a Champagne Taittinger bottle.

A side conference room also featured a Caviar and Champagne Seminar led by Chantelle Pabros, top NYC Sommelier and John Knierim, of Calvisius Caviar.

The Holidays can be overwhelming with so many personal tastes, palettes and preferences to cater to among family and friends. Champagne Taittinger offers a myriad of unique concepts to introduce creative and beautiful concepts to make for a memorable occasion.

For example, Caviar and Champagne make an elegant pairing for the Holiday Season. Served alone or as an element to add an elegant tone to holiday dishes, caviar is a simple, but effective grace note that elevates even the simplest fare.

The High-Low Snack Bar, which pairs Champagne with a dazzling array of guilty pleasures; Fried Chicken with Rosemary Honey and Sea Salt, Potato Crisps with Mascarpone Creme Fraiche, Brie and Pomegranate Crostini with Balsamic Crema, are all unexpected Champagne pairings that will leave your guests clamoring for more.

Top off the night with an elegant display of mouth-watering desserts, including the Champagne Taittinger Macaron, and you've added a layer of sparkle to your celebration.

Champagne Taittinger is one of the last family-owned and operated grand marquee Champagne houses in the world. For more holiday entertaining suggestions visit www.taittinger.com.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

ZONIN1821 "DRESS CODE" PROSECCO BLENDS ALWAYS IN STYLE FOR SUMMER-$16.90 EACH



ZONIN 1821 DRESS CODE PROSECCO-IN STYLE FOR SUMMER

BY DWIGHT CASIMERE



ZONIN PROSECCO DRESS CODE (L TO R) BLACK EDITION, GREY EDITION, WHITE EDITION ($16.90 EACH)
 

DWIGHT CASIMERE WITH FRANCESCO ZONIN, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AT OPERAWINE/VINITALY

ZONIN1821 is one of the world's most admired brands and the largest privately owned vinegrowing and winemaking company in Italy. It's no surprise that the Zonin family, after seven generations as one of the most successful family-owned companies in Italy has come out with a line of sparkling wines that gives consumers something entirely new to drink and enjoy during the summer months--"Dress Code" Collection by Zonin ($16.90 each).  What makes this collection of Prosecco wines different is that each one is blended with a different grape varietal, creating a unique taste profile and style, that differs greatly from traditional Prosecco made from 100% Glera grapes. 

Zonin Prosecco Black Edition is a blend of 90% Glkera and 10% Pinot Noir. The wine goes great with summer favorite appetizers like sushi, salmon puffs and crab cakes. It is bursting with flavors of fresh, ripe green and gold apples, hints of violets and rose hips on the nose and a nice whiff of exotic cardamom spice. Try with Thai or Indian food during your next restaurant outing. In a word, its Silky. Zonin Prosecco White Edition is a totally different experience. Youthful and bracing, it is a blend of 91% Glera and 9% Pinot Bianco. The taste is light, floral and fruity with aromas of delicate white flowers and hints of tropical fruit. Light summer salads, flecked with bits of tuna, white anchovies and mussels, tiny bay scallops or razorback clams are perfect with this timeless, elegant sparkling wine. In a word, its  Crisp. Zonin Prosecco Gret Edition is a smooth marriage of 87% Glera and 13% Pinto Grigio. Soft and delicate, it is a case study in harmony with flavors of Golden Delicious Apples and a light shaving of ginger. This is the sparkling wine to bring out as the first act of a spectacular patio brunch or al fresco dinner. Perfect with groaning buffet tables of cheeses, salumis and various seafood salads, its modern, cool and casual. Perfect for a summer's eve.  At $16.90 a bottle, keep a case of each on hand as your 'go to' sparkling wine for the entire summer season  oif entertaining. I guarantee your guests won't hesitate to accept your summer garden dining invitations and ask to bring a friend. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

WINE OF THE WEEK-DOMAINE DU TARIQUET CLASSIC-$9.99


TARIQUET CLASSIC MAKES DIVING INTO SEAFOOD A SUMMER TREAT

By Dwight Casimere

                                                          

The Gascony region along the Atlantic coast of France is famous for its Armagnac and for its abundance of seafood, commonly called "fruits de mer," the fruits of the sea. Now comes a white wine blend from Gascony that is perfect with oysters, scallops, shrimp, lobster or langostino and fresh salmon or sea bass, that is not only delicious, but quite affordable; Domaine du Tariquet. At under 10 dollars a bottle, this classic blend of local grape varieties of 45% Ugni blanc, 35% Colombard, together with 10% Sauvignon and 10% Gros Manseng, brings forth all of the fresh citrus taste and bracing minerality so typical of wines of the region. The wine is packed with intense flavor that emphasizes its youth and vitality. This is a wine to be drunk right away, with no thought to aging, and served well chilled, making it perfect for summertime thirst quenching. One can almost imagine walking through the vineyards, dotted with the fragrance of wild flowers and the bracing aroma of the salty Atlantic sea air. There's great tropical fruit flavors along with an almost  slightly salty taste that comes from the combination of earthy minerals and the lingering wafts of sea salt in the air, coming from the coast. Have a glass just before dinner as you grill a salmon steak brushed with a handful of fresh thyme soaked in olive oil, or scallops doused in lemon butter cooked ever so lightly on the open flame. The Grassa family has been making wine at Tariquet for generations. The winery itself has a history dating back more than a hundred years. With that type of experience behind them, and a sincere love for the land and its complex soil which translates into herculean efforts to sustain and preserve the environment, its no wonder that this wine is so enjoyable. Domaine du Tariquet Classic is  a real thirst quencher with a light, well balanced flavor that puts the essence of summer in a glass. 

Below: Views of the vineyards in the Gascony, Bas Armagnac



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MARIUS RED-$12, A VERSATILE RED THAT GOES WITH ANY SUMMERTIME MEAL

Rhone Valley blend is perfect with fish, veal or vegetable tarts and salads



by Dwight Casimere




"A good wine is a wine you want to taste again." That's the message from French wine legend Michel Chapoutier on the back label of his Marius Red, a blend of 54% Grenache and 44% Syrah from the warm climate and complex soils of the South of France. The wine is a reflection of the breezy, open air lifestyle that is so typical of the Rhone Valley wine region in the South of France. Unlike most reds, these wines are served lightly chilled, between 50-53 degrees F, and can be had with almost any of the dishes served at a summertime brunch or lunch served al fresco. That means the wine is equally at home with a grilled swordfish or salmon steak, steam lobster or mussels or lamb kebabs or beef carpaccio or a goat cheese tart or classic salad nicoise. The wine has a lovely deep purple color with flecks of garnet and a heady floral aroma of a bouquet of crushed red roses and a luscious flavor of ripe blueberries or black raspberries and a nice aftertaste of crumbled cinnamon stick and a hint of nutmeg. The finish is long and clean, more like that of a wine three times the price. Do yourself a favor and get a case to keep around for all occassions. Even those finicky wine drinkers who say they  don't normally like the red wine will go back for a second or third glass when they think no one is looking.


Some views of the Rhone Valley in the South of France





Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WINE OF THE WEEK: KALLISTA RESERVE BOUTARI-$28

A Taste of Greece and 4,000 years of winemaking experience

                                                                 

by Dwight Casimere


The Greeks have been making wines for thousands of years. Kallisti Reserve Boutari ($28) is an exceptional opportunity to reap the benefits of that experience and savor a wine with one-of-a-kind distinction. Kallisti is a white wine of robust character. Its made from 100% Assyrtiko, an indigenous variety that is quite different than any other white wine. First of all, the wine comes from one of the most distinctive regions in the world. Santorini is one of only 33 Protected Designation of Origins (PDO) within Greece. The geography of Santorini was drastically changed over the years by the volcanic activity of Thera and the surrounding Aegean Sea. The wine is distinguished by grapes grown through the  ancient kouloura vine training system which guides un-grated vines to weave around in a circle to create a basket appearance which leaves the berries protected from the elements.  This specific topography and growing method combines to create a wine that is full-bodied. The wine displays rich citrus fruit aromas and flavors,  an intense minerality and bracing acidity. This is a well-balanced wine that  goes terrifically with the foods of summer. Try having it with a salmon fillet, cooked over the grill on a wood plank or over coals sprinkled with mesquite chips, or giant sea scallops, drizzled in fresh lemon juice or marinted shrimp kebabs and your in for a real flavor treat. The wine has a bright yellow color with complex aromas of wood, hazelnut and Tahitian vanilla. The harmonious blend is furthered by aromas of fresh sliced Golden apples or ripe peach. A slight tinge from the unique volcanic soil give the wine an elegant structure with a nice, round taste that lingers long in the mouth. This is a wine to savor through a meal eat Al fresco on the patio, the terrace or in the garden. Save a sip or two for dessert with lemon sorbet and freshly made apple crisp. Be sure to forward me an invitation for lunch or dinner!