Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc 2011 marks the centennial celebration of a wine legend

Dwight The Wine Doctor
Wine of the Week:Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc 2011 ($32)
June 2013 Marks the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Napa Valley Wine Legend Robert Mondavi
 Robert Mondavi June 18, 2013--May 16, 2008
 Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume' Blanc 2011
 Margrit Biever Mondavi-Vice President of Cultural Affairs for Robert Mondavi Winery
 Margrit Biever Mondavi at the 100th Anniversary Celebration at the winery (below) in Oakville
OAKVILLE,California--When Robert Mondavi began selling his Fume Blanc wine in 1968, it set off a marketing firestorm that would propel California wine into the same coveted universe that American wine lovers reserved for then overwhelmingly popular French wines. Until that time, Americans generally regarded California winemakers as only capable of producing fairly cheap, but reliable jug wines. Taking a gamble, Robert Mondavi decided to buy a shipment of Savignon Blanc grapes,  a largely unknown white grape varietal to U. S. wine drinkers, which originated in western France. Previously, California winemakers had little success in selling wine made from the grapes, but Americans seemed to enjoy the French versions, sold as Sancerre or Puilly Fume from the Loire Valley. Because the French don't put the  names of their grape varieties on their labels, most Americans didn’t realize that they were actually drinking Sauvignon Blanc. Taking a clue from the French, while putting an American spin on things, Mondavi decided to rename the wine Fume Blanc and instead of recreating France's semi-sweet version of the wine, decided to use the grapes to make a dry, yet fruity style of wine with a little bit of oak aging in order to give it a smoky edge. The resulting wine was Fume Blanc, which literally translates as “White Smoke,” and the rest, as they say, is winemaking history.
When Robert Mondavi died at his home in Yountville, California at the age of 94, he left behind a trailblazing legacy. Part of that legend is embodied in the wine he created, and, in particular, Fume Blanc. This new  Oakville Fume’ Blanc 2011 is the embodiment of the Oakville tradition  in the Napa Valley. More importantly, it continues the exciting narrative of the Robert Mondavi Winery and its illustrious history.
Oakville Fume’ Blanc 2011 is a mouthful of wine-drinking pleasure that easily makes a place for itself at your summertime dining or picnic table. Lush with ripe citrus and melon flavors, it has hints of orange blossoms and lemongrass, with overtones of cinnamon and nutmeg from the light brioche toast flavors afforded by carefully monitored French oak aging. The resulting wine is one of the most food-friendly wines in recent memory.  Try it with a  wood-plank roasted side of sockeye salmon brushed with fresh rosemary and served hot,  straight from the grill, or  lemon and garlic brushed chicken kebobs or lightly grilled lamb chops marinated in garden-fresh mint and flecks of green peppercorns.  The lingering sensation on the palate will make you think of basking in a warm Mediterranean sun or, better yet, sitting on the veranda overlooking the vast expanse of vineyards just off Highway 29 in Oakville, with the friendly spectre of the master himself, Robert Mondavi, hovering over your shoulder! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

WINE(s) OF THE WEEK--OGIO: A Sleek, Modern, Refreshing Italian Wine Arrives In Times for Summer Fun!

A terrific tasting wine that goes with "everything summer" food, for under $20!

NEW YORK--OGIO Wines of Italy are a new arrival in the United States. They're a sleek, modern interpretation of Italian wine that combines the best of tradition with modern techniques to create wines that goes with a variety of foods, especially those well-suited to summer dining at an outdoor cafe or a brunch on the patio or in the garden. The best thing about them is that they are all under$20!

OGIO Pinot Grigio($16.99), for example, is light and refreshing, with a fruity lemon/lime taste that goes well with light salads and seafood or just by itself as an apperitif.

OGIO Toscana Red ($16.99) Is a sophisticated blend of native Sangiovese and other international grapes that defies everything you thought about red wine. It has a fruit-forward, pleasant taste that makes it the perfect accompaniment with grilled burgers and veggies, even certain types of seafood, such as salmon or grilled scallops. Served lightly chilled, it's a terrific wine to drink with veal or pasta dishes. It answers the question," what wine goes with pizza?"

OGIO Prosecco ($19.99) is the real gem in this treasure trove of Italian wines. Light, crisp and fruity, it's a delightful apperitif with a delicious taste. This sparkling wine just says "summer" with a capital "S!" Serve well-chilled and its the great kick-off to any summer picnic, barbeque or an evening at Opera In The Park. I plan to have a couple of bottles in my picnic basket the next time Andrea Bocelli sings in Central Park.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Orleans Wine and Food Experience 2013: The Trip to Culinary Bountiful

NEW ORLEANS--There are few events to compare to the annual New Orleans Wine
and Food Experience. Others may boast more celebrity chefs and wider attendance, but few can dispute the fact that the festival, now celebrating its 21st Anniversary Year, occurs in a place where food and drink are celebrated every day of the year in grand style!

That fact was made abundantly clear at the Grand Tasting Sessions and NOWFE Seminars that filled the weekend celebration. Local chefs teamed with wine producers and wine experts from around the world to crteate a unique expression of taste and terroir that firmly cemented New Orleans' reputation as the culinary epicenter of America.

Here now are the images of the people and events that made this year's wine and food experience an epic event.

 Inside the Grand Tasting at Morial Convention Center
 Barefoot Bubbly!
 Kris Kato/ Senior Winemaker , Mark West vineyard, Soledad, California

 Special Guest Thibault Gagey, son of Pierre-Henry Gagey. Presoident of Louis Jadot wines
 Bubbles, Bubbles and more Bubbles-Duval Leroy and Bollinger Champagnes
 Burgundy's Best Kept Secret-Chateau des Jacques Morgon Wine

 The Royal Street Stroll

 The Grand Tasting at Morial Convention Center

 Nearby Louis Armstrong Park and the historic corner of Royal and Dumaine Streets near Napoleon House (offered as refuge  in a never executed escape plot  during his exile to the Isle of Elba in 1814)

Come to Your Senses: New Orleans Wine and Food Experience Celebrates 21st Anniversary

Special to Dwight The Wine Doctor

NEW ORLEANS--Hundreds of wine lovers and foodies gathered in the Crescent City to indulge in an annual rite of passage of spring into summer, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, now in its 21st Anniversary year. The weekend celebration brought out nearly a hundred of Louisiana's finest chefs and attracted winemakers and wine experts from around the globe.

Besides the annual Royal Street Stroll, arguably the nation's biggest culinary block party, NOWFE featured seminars that saturated both the intellect and the palate with tastings of an incredible rainbow of wines and champagnes from the cellars of Duval Leroy and Bollinger Champagnes and Louis Jadot wines of Burgundy with special guest Thibault Gagey, the son of Pierre-Henry Gagey, The President of Louuis Jadot on hand to personally pour and explain his wines.

Among chef presentations was the Sip and Savor seminar led by Celebrity Chef Susan Spicer of Bayona restaurant in the French Quarter and author and Food and Wine Magazine Top 10 Chef, who shared her observations on the elements of complementary food and wine pairings along with Bayona Sommeliers Shannon Fristoe and Carly Dicasola.  Bubbles, Bubbles and More Bubbles, the opening seminar, featured tastings of Duval Leroy Brut Rose and a once-in-a-lifetime offering of Bollinger "La Grand Annee' 2004 and Bollinger "La Grande ANNEE" Rose' 2004, both served from large Magnum and Jeraboam bottles., which enhances the flavor of the wines. Both Champagnes exhibited strong floral notes and ripe berry flavors, with an underlying structure of strong minerality, creating the 'spine' that makes Champagne the most prized of all drinking sensations. Burgundy's Best Kept Secret featured a tasting of Domaine Ferret Pouilly Fuisse and Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent and Chateau Des Jacques Morgan. These limited edition wines are on strict allocation and primarily only available in the cellars of serious collectors or in the wine cellars of Five Star restaurants who purchase them under strict allocation. The sold-out seminar participants are among the fortunate few who will have had an opportunity to taste these wines.  Tide to Table featured Champagne and Chefs! with Chef Brian Landry of Borgne, Aaron Burgau of Patois and Tenney Flynn of GW Fins as they teamed up with industry insiders to showcase and celebrate Louisiana Seafood. The Chefs would later be among the 75 chefs who would participate in the Grand Tasting at the Morial Convention Center, along with winemakers from around the globe, who were personally on hand to pour more than 1000 wines to hundreds of foodies and oenophiles. Wine makers included Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates in St. Helena, California in Napa Valley, Kris Kato of Mark West Cellars of Soledad, California,  Lance Macdonalrd of Selby Winery in Healdsburg, California, also in Napa Valley and Chris Alton of Craggy Range winery who came all the way from Havelock North, New Zealand to personally pour his wines at the Grand Tasting.

Among the 75 chefs serving everything from Crab Beignets to "Asian Cajun" Pork Bellys glazed in soy sauce of Housemade pasta Ya-Ka Mein, was Executive Chef Demietriek Scott, CC of NOLA Foods, a specialty catering and food truck operation from New Orleans, who served up what he called "The Perfect Hamburger." Other chefs of note include Nat Carrier, Sous Chef at Martinique Bistro and Chris Wadsworth, Executive Chef at Martinique Bistro on Magazine Street in New Orleans.

One of the most popular spectator sports in New Orleans isn't watching the NBA Playoffs or French Open Tennis but, you guessed it, watching chefs cool! Bleachers were set up in the Morial Convention Center at the NOWFE Grand Tasting for  hundreds of salivating spectators who watched 10 of Louisiana's best chefs compete in the 6th annual Louisian Seafood Cook-Off, presented by the Louisian Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.

Chef Cody Carroll of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads, Louisiana was crowned the King of Louisiana Seafood and won the chance to compete in the 10th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off August 3rd in New Orleans. Chef Carroll won for his Louisiana Speckled Trout Perdu and Etouffee' of Red Swamp Crawfish, accompanied by sweet corn and blue crab cala, whipped Creole potato salad, house-pickled banana pepper, charred green onion and sassafras with a Tabasco (r) sabayon.  The phenomenal spread was put together by Carroll and his wife Samantha, working as a husband and wife team. This is the second year in a row that a husband and wife team has won the cook-off, according to LSPMB Executive Director Ewell Smith.

Coming in 2nd Place was Chef Tommy DiGiovanni of Arnaud's in the French Quarter with his Potato-Encrusted Cobia (whitefish) on Cauliflower Celeraic Puree, Tomato Jus and Pancetta Lardon. Chef Guy Sockrider of Tomas Bistro in New Orleans placed 3rd with his Pecan-Encrusted Gulf Cobia with Crab and Pecan Relish.

Coming in 2nd place today was Chef Tommy DiGiovanni of Arnaud's in New Orleans with his Potato-Encrusted Cobia on Cauliflower Celeriac Puree, Tomato Jus and Pancetta Lardon.  Chef Guy Sockrider of Tomas Bistro in New Orleans placed 3rd for his Pecan-Crusted Gulf Cobia with Crab and Pecan Relish. The panel of judges included Chef Tenney Flynn of GW Fins and last year's King and Queen of Louisiana Seafood, Chefs Kent and Nealy Frentz, co-owners of LOLA Restaurant in Covington, Louisiana.

Chef Demietriek Scott of NOLA serves up "the perfect burger"
Chef Dean Terrebonne of Belle Terre Country Club competes in the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off
Chef Austin Kirzner of Red Fish Grill shucks corn for his entry to the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off


New Orleans Wine and Food Experience 2013 is now in the history books as the most exciting edition to date of the nation's greatest gustatory extravaganza!