Tuesday, January 10, 2017


by Dwight Cashmere

This is a lush, full-flavored Chardonnay from Sonoma's famed Russian River Valley. Dry Creek pulled out all the stops to create this 'runway model' of a Chardonnay. Harvested under ideal weather conditions in mid-September, the wine was pressed from whole clusters and then barrel fermented, with 50% of the juice undergoing malolactic fermentation. Aging ion French Oak brought forth a delightfully flavorful well-balanced wine with lush flavors of ripe tropical fruits; ripe honeydew melons, Meyer lemons, mandarin orange and ripe tangerine with hints of toasted almonds, cinnamon stick and a slight after taste of salted caramel. A hint of white flowers and crushed chamomille and sliced Golden Delicious Apples greets the nose just as the flavors begin to cascade down the palate. This is a terrific lunchtime wine to be enjoyed with salads, roasted free-range chicken with sage or tarragon, garlic and white pepper, then drenched in the wine for slow oven-poaching. Throw in some fresh multi-colored carrots, some tiny golden yukon fingerling potatoes and some fresh garden peas and you have a one-pot dish that will make this golden colored beauty shine. Serve a freshly baked apple/caramel crisp sprinkled with crushed almonds and a dash of creme fraiche or freshly whipped cream and you have the perfect ending to a perfect meal. Save a bit of the wine to savor alone afterward, because, with its hearty, well balanced structure and beautiful 'legs', this beauty will just start opening up at meal's end to reveal even more astonishing taste treats. Be sure to buy two, because you just may want an encore performance at the following evening's meal. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


White Bordeaux blend dazzles with finesse and complexity at under $20

by Dwight Casimere

Year in and year out, France enjoys its reputation as the finest maker of wines in the world. Also, this year, as in all others, Bordeaux remains its most prized region. The common myth is that the wines of this coveted region are priced out of the realm of reality for most of we mere economic mortals. The truth is just the opposite, there are a number of wines from Bordeaux, known as 'petite' Bordeauxs that offer the same care in winemaking and an abundant amount of complexity and flavor as their more expensive counterparts. Fortunately, they are readily available for your discovery in the New Year. A case in point is the versatile, highly flavorful and affordable Chateau Timberlay White Bordeaux 2013, a lively blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Bordeaux that is crisp, dry and delicate with flavors citrus fruit, such as Asian Pear, Meyer Lemon and a hint of tangerine and lovely floral notes. It has a lovely finish that literally  dances on tongue. If you're resolving to head to the lighter side of cuisine in the new year, this is excellent wine to have to tag along as  you explore less calorie laden fare.  Salads, seafood and dishes emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables are perfect accompaniments. Spices and herbs  are a great way to amp up the flavor quotient in meals to excite your palate and make you less likely to crave salt and salt, the two worst enemies of weight loss. Consider Chateau Timberlay Bordeaux Blanc your flavor companion as you 'battle the bulge' in the New Year!

Saturday, December 10, 2016



Story and Photo Gallery by Dwight Casimere

Dwight Casimere with Violet Grgich at David Burkes Kitchen Treehouse bar and terrace in SoHo

NEW YORK--Violet Grgich, proprietor of Grgich Hills Estate of Napa Valley and daughter of winemaking legend Mike Grgich, is recounting the colorful life and career of her history-making father as no one else can in the chic Treehouse bar and dining room at David Burke's Kitchen at the James Hotel in SoHo.  What, for her father, began as a journey, fleeing the Nazis from a tiny village in his native Croatia, to creating a wine that won the 1976 Paris Tasting, founding a world-famous winery in the Napa Valley, which is now in its 40th anniversary year, to having that championship wine enshrined in the Smithsonian Institute as one of 101 Objects That Made America, is a story she never tires of telling.

Violet Grgich and her 2014 Napa Valley Chardonnay, her father, Mike Grgich, is known as "The King of Chardonnay"

"When my father was growing up in the tiny village of Desne in Croatia, " Violet Grgich began, "he never imagined that the wine he crafted would appear in the same museum as the Declaration of Independence or that he would have a winery in one of the premier wine growing regions of the world. His achievements far exceeded even his own American Dream. In every way, my father's journey is inspiring and empowering, " she said movingly.

Grgich kept her comments brief and to the point because her main objective was to have the assembled 20 or so invited wine journalists and special guests dive into a wine pairing luncheon choreographed by David Burke's stellar culinary staff. The opening salvo was, of course, Grgich Hills 2014 Fume' Blanc, the wine which Mike Grgich originally created for winemaking icon Robert Mondavi. The wine popularized Napa Valley wine in a way that it had never been before. Paired with a Root Vegetable Salad composed of fennel, smoke and white truffle, the wine's characteristic smoky flavor and full-mouthed texture and flavors of juicy tropical fruit and lemongrass was enhanced by 6 months on the lees in neutral barrels and aging in a combination of neutral casks and large oak barrels, which gives the wine smoothness and roundness of character.

Composed salad of root vegetables, fennel, smoke and white truffle was paired with Grgich Hills 2014 Napa Valley Fume Blanc

The centerpiece of the afternoon was, of course, the 40th Anniversary 2014 Napa Valley Chardonnay, accompanied by a Za'Atar Spiced Cornish Hen with roasted pork belly, spinach and yogurt, a Mediterranean spin on a lunchtime staple. The pairing emphasized the complex fruit flavors of ripe peach, backed by flavors of mango and tropical fruit, with a note of minerality. A pleasant natural acidity brought about by the fact that the wine is not allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation, and the grapes are farmed naturally and are certified organic. The fresh tastes and aromas linger long on the palate and brought out the sunny array of spices used in the dish.

Za'atar Spiced Cornish Hen with 2014 Grgich Hills Chardonnay, 40th Anniversary

House Made Rigatoni appeared next accompanied by Grgich Hill's robust 2012 Napa Valley Merlot.
With a red wine game ragout, duck egg, roasted mushrooms and parsley gremolata, this was an ideal flavor pairing. It mined the ripe plum and slightly earthy notes of the wine, with hints of black dirt and freshly unearthed truffles. For lovers of game meat, this was a rewarding taste excursion.

House Made Rigatoni with Duck Egg and Red Wine Game Ragout is paired with 2012 Merlot

2013 Violetta Late Harvest, named for the proprietor herself,  was every bit the classically-produced late harvest wine brought about by the "noble rot," Botrytis cinerea. The thick, rich juice from these shriveled berries that barely yield a drop of highly concentrated juice bring forth a wine rich in flavors and aromas of ripe pear, Mandarin orange and honeysuckle. The wine paired perfectly with the dessert of Mascarpone Mousse, with graham crumble, green apple sorbet and violetta honey reduction made from the wine.

 Grgich Hills 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is poured
The dessert of Mascarpone Mousse is paired with 2013 Violetta Late Harvest

There is  nothing more sublime than the melding of chocolate with a terrific red wine. In this case, Grgich Hills 2012 Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, served as the dessert wine.

2012 Yountville Selection Cabernet Sauvignon and Dark Chocolate with Red Wine Ganache

 With its rich, full bodied flavors of black berries, licorice, and hints of allspice and juniper berries, this wine showed its pedigree as having been produced from some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Napa Valley. Dark Chocolate accompanied by a red wine ganache and cocoa nibs, made for the perfect flavor combination and an ovation-worthy finale.

Photo Gallery/Dwight Casimere

Views of the Treehouse Bar and Terrace at David Burkes Kitchen in SoHo

Friday, December 9, 2016

Champagne Taittinger and Calvisius Caviar-Ring in the Christmas Spirit and a Bright, Happy New Year!

by Dwight Casimere

 Dwight Casimere with Vitalie Taittinger-
 Champagne Taittinger and (below) Calvisius Caviar

The challenges, trials and tribulations and yes  occasional joys, of 2016 are almost at an end. Time to treat you and your loved ones to something really special. Kick back, relax and expand your taste buds to absorb the unique combination of flavors created by the combination of Champagne Taittinger and Calvisius Caviar. 

The unctuous flavor combination of champagne and caviar is unparalleled, particularly when both are of such extremely high quality and compatibility. 

Here are some combinations that will take you to the brink of ecstasy:

Champagne Taittinger Brut La Francaise NV-$59.99
Calvisius Caviar Tradition Prestige  28 grams, $74.99

Brut La Francaise is a kaleidoscope of flavors from bright orchard fruit of pears, white peaches and a hint of tangerine and white flowers to a touch of light toasty brioche and nutmeg. There's a touch of white stones and and chalky minerals that make it a perfect foil of Calvisius Caviar Tradition Prestige. Made from White Pacific Sturgeon, this caviar has a taste that is both delicate and elegant, making it a perfect match to the champagne. The taste is slightly nutty with a medium firm texture. There's a buttery creaminess about it that lingers perfectly in the mouth with the flavor and texture of the champagne. With hints of sea foam, it has a long clean finish, which makes for a satisfying and lingering taste experience.

Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus NV  $94.99
Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Classic       28 grams, $119.99

Oscietra Classic is also known as Russian Sturgeon, the same as the ancient species from the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, that are the bedrocks of fine caviar. There's nothing to compare to the taste and texture; firm with a rich nutty and creamy delicate flavor, with a hint of the sea, it melds perfectly with the hints of stone fruit and doughy brioche aromas that makes Taittinger Prelude and experience like that of Dancing with the Stars!

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006  $198.99

Calvisius Caviar Siberian  28 grams, $69.99

This is truly the symbiotic melding of two classics; the Blanc de
 Blancs has an acidity that cuts through the richness of the Siberian Caviar, thus creating a flavor sensation. The champagne is brilliant with the tingle of Chardonnay, which goes right to the heart of the mouth filling creaminess of the caviar pearls. As they roll across the tongue, the ethereal complexity of the nature champagne cuts through the saltiness and sea breeze of the caviar  to create an harmonious blend of flavors. This is, by far, the most rewarding of the all of the flavor combinations. 

Master Sommelier  Chantelle Pabros, Vitalie Taittinger and Calvisius Ambassador John Knierim

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose 2006  $261.99
Calvisiu Caviar Oscietra Royal   28 grams, $139.99 

Here, we have reached the pinnacle of flavor, with the combination of gleaming red fruit; think ripe strawberries, raspberries and notes of caramelized honey or light brown sugar that literally blanket the mouth in richm lingering flavors. Combine this with the special flavor and firm texture of the dark brown caviar with flecks of golden amber and a velvety texture, and you have the makings of a true classic. It doesn't get much better than this at any price. Flavors of ripe Bosque pears, hazelnut and creamy Irish Gold butter combine with a bright, refreshing finish to make this an experience of pure luxury. What a perfect way to top off the Holiday experience and ring in a bright and shiny New Year! 

Monday, November 7, 2016



A big, bold fruity wine that simply says hello to the Holidays is Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano 2014 ($17.99). The wine is very fruit forward with inviting notes of violets and rose petals, followed by flavors of bing cherries, strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate with a hint of white pepper belying its aging in large oak casks for 9 months to give it a nice rounded finish. This is the red wine that goes with everything on the Holiday table, straight from appetizers of asparagus wrapped with prosciutto, cherry tomato, mozzarella and basil skewers, and assorted cheeses, right through to the turkey with sage and rosemary dressing, baked yams with cinnamon, scalloped potatoes and walnut, pomegranate and goat cheese spinach salad. For a pre-Holiday dry run, try Angel Hair pasta with a simple sauce of cherry tomato, Buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil with a dash of the wine thrown in just before serving. Its a taste treat that will make you want to open a second bottle!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016



Fall is here, and along with the cornucopia of fresh flavors from the harvest comes a dizzying array of new wines. Wines of Chile is in the midst of a whirlwind national promotion at Whole Foods Market, and the wine selections are a natural with the vast selection of fresh foods and produce available from the fall harvest. The common theme between the wines and the food products center around sustainability and biodynamic and organic practices. Such is the case with the wine of Odfjell, in particular the Armador Estate Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2015 of the Casablanca Valley, Chile. 

 The grapes are all hand picked and crushed in whole bunches, then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve the pungent fresh fruit aromas and flavors. Think aromas of fresh grapefruit and gooseberry on the nose, followed by zesty citrus fruit flavors  and vibrant acidity that makes this wine great with all types of food. I tried it with a Chicken Tagine flavored with Moroccan spies and fresh root vegetables. Its a perfect, hearty Fall dish that takes full advantage of the harvest and makes for a colorful presentation, served in the same clay pot in which it was roasted in the oven. 

The story of Odfjell wines is noteworthy. Twenty-five years ago, a Norwegian ship owner (Armador in Spanish) fell in love with a tiny corner of Chile's Maipo Valley and decided to revive the forgotten wealth of Chile's wine growing past. With his commitment to sustainable agriculture and green winemaking practices, he created wines of distinctive character. The winery is especially known for its gravity flow system which minimizes the need to pump or agitate the juice throughout the winemaking process. The result is a finely crafted wine that is finished to perfection, preserving the natural subtleties of the wine and all of its rich, fruit and floral nuances.A variety of vegetarian dishes, salads, seafood and poultry dishes are perfect accompaniments to the wine, as are a variety of soft and semi-hard cheeses. My favorites are the marvelous goats milk (chevre) cheeses from Sonoma. which are also readily available at Whole Foods. That, and a tray of California Figs and a handful of honey glazed almonds, some  finely shave prosciutto and slices of fresh, artisan bread and you're in business for a fine al fresco lunch in the vineyards during  harvest!
Attachments area

Tuesday, September 13, 2016



by Dwight Casimere

 Laszlo Balint-Co-Founder,  Director of Operations Furmint USA (r) and Assistant to the Consul General of Hungary Judit Ludwig-Janosy
Estate Furmint  Beres Estate 2014-$14


by Dwight Casimere

The Romans brought wines to Hungary in the 5th cerntury AD. Over the centuries, new grape varieties were brought in from France and Italy.  Most of the production has been in white wine, particularly the sweet wines created from the Furmint grape of the Tokaj region. Furmint is a late-harvesting grape, often subject to botrytis, the "noble rot" that produces spectacular sweet dessert wines. Of late, dry wines made from the same full-bodied grapes are gaining traction. The Hungarian Consulate was the setting for an eye-popping display and tasting of new releases, destined for a restaurant or wine shop near you in the new fall season. A few may already be familiar; Beres Estate 2014, a mere $14, is among the most versatile of the bunch with flavors of crisp golden and green apples and hints of white flowers, white pepper and a touch of cardamum spice on the back note. This is a white wine with an unusual mix of flavors and surprising backbone that you rarely see in a white wine. It can stand up to really spicy dishes like curried lamb or thai basil chicken or, one of my favorites, lamb or chicken tagine redolent of Harissa  and mint. Kvasinger Winery Estate Furmint 2013-$22, is another crisp, bright wine with a lot of complexity. The Erzsebet Cellar 2012-$22 is another moderately priced, beautifully made white wine that is perfect with a variety of foods.  It won a Double Gold-Best of Category in the San Francisco International Wine Competition and was voted Best Eastern Europe, Best Buy  by Wine and Spirits Magazine.One thing is for sure, your palate will not be bored with these wines. They pack a lot of flavor into the bottle and for a very reasonable price. A veritable smorgasbord of goodies, ranging from various hams, cheeses and other charcuterie showed off the versatility of the wines presented. Somewhere in between, in terms of temperament and flavor was the Szent Donat-Estate Furmint 2014-$20. A real middle-of-the-road white wine, but still sure to please those who are just getting into wine appreciation. Serve it at your Fall Leaves soiree for one of the last meals on the patio before the dazzling colors of fall give way to the chill of winter. It will warm the soul.

 Savoring a delicious glass of Furmint  Szent Donat 2014-$20

 Not only are the wines versatile, according to Trade Commissioner Andras Juhasz, the label
of the Hold and Hollo Dry wine from Holdbogy Winery-$21, doubles as a nifty wrist band

 A smorgasbord of assorted charcuterie brought out the best in these versatile wines
 Kvaszinger Winery-$22 and (below) Estate Furmint Szent Dorat-$20

 The Furnint wine tasting at the Hungarian Consulate

Majores Estate Deak Furmint 2013-$20 A spectacular dessert wine