Thursday, May 19, 2016



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


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


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!  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wine of the Week-Feudo Zirtari Rosso Sicilia IGT 2013-$12

A Red Hot Red From Sicily is perfect for summer Barbe

A Red Hot Red From Sicily is perfect for summer Barbeque

by Dwight Casimere

I know that summer is the time to think about refreshing Rose's, semi-dry sparkling wines and lighter-than-air Pinto Gris, but my preferred activity is heading to the grill with some spicy, marinated meats and a red hot red wine on the side. If youyre not familiar with the wines of Sicily, now is a good time to start. Feudo Zirtari Rosso is an I.G.T. blend of native Nero d'Avola and Syrah that delivers a wallop of luscious fresh red fruit flavor with a hint of delicate spice and a delicate aroma of fresh cut violets for starters---and all for just $12. Deep ruby red in color, the look alone gives you an idea of whats in store; lots of delicious fruit and a nice structure backboned by the limestone mineral-rich soil afforded by Sicily's volcanic mountains. Lamb or chicken marinated in Tagine spices, even a meaty white fish like grouper or Chilean Sea Bass, cooked over hot coals with a hint of wood,  makes for a perfect afternoon of al fresco dining. Add a mix of veggies sliced and drizzled with garlic-infused olive oil and a dash of coarse sea salt and you have the perfect lunch, Sicilian style. Start out of with an appetizer of grilled peel and eat shrimp or, for the adventurous, grilled rabbit smothered in fresh oregano, and you'll be eating just like the folks I met in Terreliade.
 The lush vineyards of Sicily with spring wildflowers and volcanic mountains as a backdrop
Ancient ruins left by the Moors dot the landscape and the vineyards

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wine of the Week-Benziger Coelo Pinot Noir Terra Nuema-$75

2013 Benziger Coelo Pinot Noir-Terra Neuma-Sonoma Coast-$75

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

I normally don't recommend wines to my readers that are above the $35 price point, but Benziger Coelo Pinot Noir Terra Nuema is such an excellent example of how fine a wine can be made from this elusive and finicky grape, that I've made a rare exception. The aroma, first of all, is an enticing mix of crushed red flowers and hints of luscious, dripping ripe blackberries. The fruit flavors continue to caress the palate and blend with cranberry, pomegranate and black pepper, followed by hints of handfuls of black earth just after the rain. A sophisticated edge of English Breakfast tea and a whiff of newly oiled  leather completes the overwhelmingly satisfying flavor experience. This is a sterling example of the type of true-to-the-terroir wines that are being produced on the Sonoma Coast. With its rich, dark volcanic soil and climate of bright, sunny, hot afternoons, bookended by Pacific Ocean breezes and dampening fog, the Sonoma Coast is an ideal environment for growing this delicate grape variety. The region doesn't nearly get the glowing press that its cousins to the north in Washington State and Oregon get. Perhaps the arrival of this wholly balanced and appealing offering will turn some heads in Sonoma's direction. Perfect as a sipping wine for solace and contemplation or a magnificent companion with your favorite food indulgence (please, no burgers or pizza, splurge on the lobster, duck or fois gras, prime aged steak grilled on an open wood fire, or a simple homemade pasta dish drizzled in butter and shaved white truffles.
 Chris Benziger and his 2013 Coelo Pinot Noir-Terra Nuema
 Harvesting Sonoma County Pinot Noir
 The lush vineyards of Sonoma County-photos by Dwight Casimere

Tuesday, April 5, 2016



by Dwight Casimere

Vistarenni, Greve in Chianti, Italy--There's a new Chianti Classico in town, and its a bright, intense, fruity wine with all of the floral aromatic sensations and sweetness associated with spring. Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Raccolto 2012 ($19)  starts with a deep ruby red color with hints of sparkling garnet jewel flecks along the rim followed by the fragrance of fresh cut violets, redolent of spring. This stunning  blend of Sangiovese, with a hint of Cabernet gives off the elegant perfume that is so characteristic of Chianti Classico. If you've never been to Tuscany, you can take a trip there just by opening a bottle. Swirl the wine in an appropriately large bowled wine glass with a narrowing rim to focus the aromas and you're in for a potpourri of sensations on the palate; baking spices, well integrated oak and tannic austerity reigned in by intense fruit. This is just the wine to serve with spring lamb, smothered in garlic and fresh rosemary or oregano and drizzled with olive oil and a dash of the wine and cooked quickly on a flaming grill to just the right temperature of semi-pink doneness. Serve with a side of grilled asparagus or gently sauteed kale or spinach with a hint of garlic and thinly sliced shallots or red onion for a heart-pounding flavor sensation. A cheese course of severely ripe Gorgonzola or fresh figs drizzled with balsamic and you have another food pairing idea altogether. Dare I mention that after dinner Cuban cigar that a good friend just brought back from their now-legal trip to Havana? I digress to the outer edge of hedonism!