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Dining with Domaine Drouhin

Upstairs at '21' Private Dining Room where our Drouhin Dinner took place

For those of you who were unable to attend our Domaine Joseph Drouhin wine dinner at the ‘21’ Club on June 26th, don’t worry, I am here to give you the scoop. I’ll take you through the journey of delicious courses created by executive chef John Greeley and a mouthwatering array of nine wines produced by Domaine Joseph Drouhin. Just a heads up, I highly recommend reading this with a glass of wine in hand.

Our Drouhin dinner took place in the private dining room on the second floor of the ‘21’ Club, strategically named Upstairs at ‘21’. As guests began to trickle in, the pleasantly chilled 2009 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis was offered, a delightful pair for the various passed hors d’oeuvres, including a fresh lobster salad in a beautiful cone cracker, delicate smoked salmon toasts, and mini burger bites.

As our final guests arrived, we were seated at our tables, each placement adorned with the proper fine dining utensils and an overwhelming set of eight wine glasses, begging to be filled.  Before our first course was served, we were greeted by our host, Laurent Drouhin, great grandson of the founder Joseph Drouhin, and one of four children at the helm of the estate. As the first wines were served, we had the privilege of receiving a mini lesson by Laurent on the Burgundy region, appellations, grape varieties, and of course, a little background on Domaine Joseph Drouhin. If only all classrooms were this way!

Our first two wines were the 2009 Meursault and 2009 Puligny-Montrachet, two delightful village Chardonnays which were paired perfectly with the fresh soft shell crab dish showcasing tender baby artichokes, cherry tomatoes and an herb-basil pesto. Both wines were crisp, with the Meursault expressing more yellow stone fruits, citrus and florals on the palate and the Puligny-Montrachet with slightly less sweetness and more spiced pear notes, lemon and minerality tones.

Next on the menu was lightly seared tuna with grilled prawns in a wasabi pea purée which accompanied the 2009 Chassagne-Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche and 2009 Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc. At this point in the dinner, monsieur Drouhin stood up to explain the two wines and this routine ensued throughout the rest of the evening. The Marquis de Laguiche was packed with different rich and round flavors spanning hazelnuts, ripe fruit and creamy butter. Similarly, the Clos de Mouche Blanc portrayed a blend of flavors, but with a different flavor profile, revealing a swirl of stone fruits, and firm acid and minerality that danced on the palate.

The amusement of our taste buds continued with the third course, a scrumptious pork dish lying lazily on a bed of red rice drizzled in the pork’s jus. It was a comforting dish with a genial medley of flavors, but none too overwhelming or overpowering.  Along with the pork dish, we made the transition to Drouhin’s Pinot Noir selections and said farewell to our Chardonnay glasses, though many of us chose to keep them at our place settings to revisit as the wines continued to evolve. Our two picks for this dish were the 2009 Chambolle-Musigny and the 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin. This is where I found my personal piece de résistance, the Chambolle-Musigny. It was the perfect match with the pork, intertwining its balanced tannins, and subtle cherry and candied fruit flavors perfectly with the tender meat. The 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin was also dressed to impress, showcasing a velvety texture also with balanced tannins and more peppery and spicy flavors.

Despite my elation from the food and wine endorphins, a slight sadness settled over me as I realized that we were reaching the final course of the meal. The four selections of cheeses were accompanied by the last two Drouhin Pinot Noirs: the 2009 Volnay Clos des Chênes and the 2008 Beaune Clos des Mouches Rouge, each sporting red fruit aromas, but with the Volnay Clos des Chênes showcasing refined tannins with plums and floral fruity flavors that lingered on the finish, and the Clos des Mouches Rouge portraying an earthy and firm body with tart rhubarb, some spice, as well as sweet and silky fruit.

The amazing combination of exquisite wines and gourmet dishes in an atmosphere both informative and relaxing was utterly mind-blowing, and an experience to remember. Now if you’re feeling hungry, I apologize for exciting your salivary glands, but if I have portrayed the slightest notion of this delectable dinner to you, I am satisfied. If you feel that this is the kind of event and experience that you don’t want to miss out on, we host a number of events every year that you can choose from. We have several great dinners lined up in the fall, our next one on the list being the Chateau Palmer Dinner at Aureole in September. Stay posted for more events to come!

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An Evening with Chef Angelo Sosa

Posted By: Gretchen Dec | In: Tags: , , | Dated: October 19, 2011 | No Comments »

Chef Angelo Sosa at De Gustibus

On September 27th, I had the pleasure of attending the De Gustibus Cooking School’s “Asian Adventures” class with Angelo Sosa, Executive Chef and Owner of Social Eatz here in NYC.  Angelo is a protégé of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, having worked for a number of years at Restaurant Jean-Georges in Manhattan, Ocean Club at Dune restaurant in the Bahamas and opening Spice Market as Executive Sous Chef.   In 2009, Angelo went on to open his own restaurant, Xie Xie (shay-shay), a fast paced-casual establishment in Hell’s Kitchen.  Then, in 2010, Angelo was cast in Season 7 of Bravo’s hit reality series “Top Chef”.  His most recent endeavor is Social Eatz, a fun, creative American-Asian restaurant and bar in mid-town Manhattan.

Angelo’s energy and enthusiasm was palpable as he prepared a stunning five-course menu while telling entertaining anecdotes from earlier in his career as a Chef, and earlier in his life.  Each dish that Angelo demonstrated for the class was a sensational, playful surprise and paired beautifully with the wines of New Zealand Complexity.

The first course was a delightfully spicy Sweet Tomato Soup, made with whole peeled San Marzano tomatos, lemongrass and curry cream.  The soup was paired with one of our favorite sparklers from New Zealand, the NV Quartz Reef Sparkling Methode Traditionnelle ($28).

Next, Angelo whipped together his Tuna Pastrami with Asian Pickles and Rye.  In this tuna preparation, a riff on NYC’s classic sandwich, a center cut sushi grade tuna loin is cured overnight in an exotic spice mixture, including coriander, smoked paprika, mustard seed and allspice.  The tuna is sliced sashimi style and garnished with chili mayo, the homemade Asian pickles and a sprinkling of rye bread “bits”.  The result is incredibly refreshing and invigorating combination of textures and flavors, a dance party in your mouth, if you will.  The Tuna Pastrami paired wonderfully with both the NV Quartz Reef Sparkling Methode Traditionnelle ($28) and the 2008 Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Chardonnay ($24) that were poured while Angelo prepared the dish.

The third course was Angelo’s modern take on “Pork & Apple Sauce”, which is spiced up with Pickled Japanese Ginger Sprout and Sake.   The Pork and Apple Sauce à la Angelo was paired with the 2008 Craggy Range Kidnapper’s Vineyard Chardonnay ($24), which really highlighted the apples and Asian pears in the dish.

For the fourth course, in a whirlwind of energy, right before our bemused eyes, Angelo created the most delicious Korean Beef Tacos with pickled veggies.  The freshness of the pickled veggies combined with the sweet-salty-spiciness of the marinated beef, all tucked into homemade tortillas, made for a real savory finale to the exquisite menu.  The Korean Beef Tacos paired marvelously with the 2008 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir ($40).

Angelo’s final demo of the evening was dessert, a Corn “Brulée” with bitter sugar, sake and blueberries.  This was the perfect end to the menu, a not-too-sweet spin on classic Crème Brulée.  I usually can’t finish a dessert course all by myself, but had no problem with this.

This was my first experience at the De Gustibus Cooking School and it was truly a treat.  Watching Angelo demo five courses, each distinct yet unified by Asian flavors, and learning from his methods and tips was an inspiring adventure!  Adding to the whole experience of the evening, I had the opportunity to interview Angelo after the class and learned even more about one of New York City’s great Chefs.  The Wine Cellarage’s exclusive interview with Angelo Sosa is below…

WC: The wine menu at Social Eatz is manageable, yet eclectic.  What was your philosophy behind choosing the wines?

Angelo:  A dining experience is not only formed by the greeting at the door, the presentation of the menus, the staff and the food, but it’s the whole experience of the wines that really accentuates the dining experience, along with the personality of the restaurant.  Social Eatz is more of a casual environment and we have a very affordable and very easy to drink wine menu; wines that are very diverse with different types of flavor, from Rieslings to Gewurztraminers and Sauvignon Blancs.  The wines we’ve chosen are very manageable and very easy to drink.

WC:  Is there a wine pairing rule of thumb that you go by?

Angelo:  Maybe it’s a little bit unorthodox, but personally I think any combination can work.  Flavors are subjective.  ‘Drink what you like’ is really the bottom line.  You eat what you like, so why shouldn’t you drink what you like?  Who’s to say what goes with what?  Maybe there’s a certain combination that you can extract an epiphany experience from, but in the end, you have to drink what you like and what you enjoy.

WC:  At what point in your life or career did you become Asian food devotee?

Angelo:  Working with Jean-Georges Vongerichten definitely was the first exposure to Asian flavors. But in retrospect, thinking back on my life, part of my Latin-Dominican side had an influence.  Very spicy foods with a plethora of flavors, from rice and beans, to ingredients such as bay leaf, vinegar, cumin and coriander.  That background is really the essence of my inspiration and affinity for Asian flavors.

WC:  What was the most valuable lesson or experience that you took from being a Top Chef contender?

Angelo:  Biggest lesson, other than ‘taste your food’, was to be 100% confident in what you put out.  Stand behind what you put out.  There shouldn’t be justification, it’s your vision, it’s what you feel and you have to stand behind it.  You can sell yourself on your passion and what you love to do and then people will love what you are doing.  When people are placed outside of their element they actually accomplish more.

WC:  What has been your greatest culinary achievement to date?

Angelo:  Competing back to back on Top Chef.  I created over 50 dishes, improv.  I think that’s a lot for one person under those extremes, the pressures of being on national camera, cooking for those judges, competing outside of your element.  It’s a big accomplishment.

WC:  As Executive Chef and Owner of Social Eatz, where does the inspiration for your menu and recipes come from?

Angelo:  Definitely from my travels.  I’m very keen and really push myself to travel.  It’s a very important process of linking and bridging the beginning phases of travel and discovery to the end product.

WC:  If there’s a wine you could drink every day, what would it be?

Angelo:  Definitely Icewine.  I think I would take a bath in it if I could.

WC:  Have you tried Icewines from Canada?

Angelo:  Yes, absolutely.  And I love the ones I’ve tried from Niagara too.  I love sweet things.

WC:  Finally, what is your favorite ingredient?

Angelo:  I go through phases and get very compulsive with ingredients.  I would say either Dill or Sriracha.

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Kissing Summer G’Bye with Castello di Monsanto

Posted By: Gretchen Dec | In: Tags: , , , | Dated: September 29, 2011 | No Comments »

Castello di Monsanto wines at the estate.

September is always a busy month from Labor Day on.  It’s back-to-school and back to the grindstone as the lazy days of summer draw to a close.  For those in the financial sphere, September marks the end of the third quarter and is an especially busy time, and likewise, for those of us in the wine world, a parallel whirlwind ensues.  In wine retail circles, we’re busy attending trade wine tasting events and choosing the wines we’ll offer through the fall and winter seasons.  Many importers and distributors hold their portfolio wine tastings in September, making it a wine soaked month for those of us in the trade.

At The Wine Cellarage, we’ve had a very fun and eventful month, with some intriguing and exquisite wine tasting dinners.  Last Thursday, September 22nd, on the eve of the fall equinox, we held our last event of the summer, hosted by Laura Bianchi, who, together with her family, owns Castello di Monsanto in Tuscany.

Starting with their first vintage in 1962, Castello di Monsanto’s founder – the Bianchi family – has achieved distinction in their wines. The Il Poggio vineyard was chosen as the Estate’s first Chianti Classico cru and was carefully tilled out of the land’s stony soils. Fabrizio Bianchi felt that white grape varietals had no place in his impeccable Chianti Classico and removed these from the blend in 1968, giving way to a more refined wine. Castello di Monsanto is distinctly respectful of their Tuscan terroir and its native grape varietals. Their wines are some of the region’s finest expressions – powerful, elegant and pure.

“Monsanto is a reference-point producer for fine Chianti. The estate’s top bottlings have a brilliant track record, but these entry-level wines deliver almost as much pleasure at much more accessible prices.” – Wine Advocate, August 2010

Our Castello di Monsanto Wine Dinner was held in The Morgan Library Dining Room within The Morgan Library & Museum.  This truly special venue was built by financier Pierpont Morgan between 1902 and 1906, next door to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Designed by architect Charles McKim, the structure was built to display one of the world’s greatest collections of artistic, literary, and musical works, while reflecting the inherent character of the rare artifacts within.  McKim’s design resulted in an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo comprised of three magnificent rooms, an incredibly elegant structure.

The Dining Room itself was the original Morgan family dining room, located in the refurbished nineteenth-century brownstone, and provided the perfect ambiance for showcasing the extraordinary wines of Castello di Monsanto.

Guests were greeted with a refreshing glass of NV Mionetto Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG ($20), crafted from single vineyard grapes that are specially selected from the finest area of Valdobbiadene.  This delicious, exotically perfumed prosecco was provided by Mionetto USA, the importer of Castello di Monsanto’s wines.  A delicate sparkler, with fine, creamy bubbles, the Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore made the perfect aperitif.  A great way to kick off the evening!

Laura Bianchi was a wonderful host and got up several times throughout the evening to introduce Castello di Monsanto and the exceptional wines that we all enjoyed.  Laura explained the history of the estate and shared the story of how she came back to the family business after her career as a lawyer.  She described the beauty of Tuscany and the Chianti region, transporting the entire room to that magical place.  With heartfelt words, Laura spoke of the terroir surrounding the wine estate and how everything in the air, the nearby forests and the soil contributes different elements to the finished wines.  We were honored to have Laura Bianchi host the dinner and share these special wines with us.

Once guests were seated, The Morgan’s staff graciously poured the featured older vintages of Castello di Monsanto’s ‘Il Poggio’ Chianti Classico Riserva and we were all treated to a rare vertical tasting of the estate’s iconic single vineyard wine.  The 1997 Castello di Monsanto ‘Il Poggio’ Chianti Classico Riserva is delicious and just coming into its peak drinking years.  Rich black fruit aromas and flavors are layered with herbaceous notes and a sweet spice character.  Full-bodied and unctuous, the ’97 Il Poggio has great structure and incredible length, a real gem that you can uncork with confidence and drink now!

It was fascinating to taste the youthful 2003 Castello di Monsanto ‘Il Poggio’ Chianti Classico Riserva ($50, Wine Advocate – 92 pts) alongside the 1997 vintage.  2003 was a hot vintage throughout Europe and in the ’03 Il Poggio, the heat manifests itself with generosity and grace, offering opulent flavors and mesmerizing lushness.  It was tough to put the glass down.  Displaying less prominent herbal notes than the ’97, the ’03s complexity comes through in tiers of tobacco and spice aromas.  This wine is a great beauty!

The older Il Poggio vintages were served with a delightful trio of Savory Popovers, including Asiago, Taleggio and Gorgonzola. Yum.

Next up, we were each poured glasses of the 2006 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva and the 2003 Castello di Monsanto Nemo Cabernet Sauvignon Tosana IGT to accompany our delicious main course, a Pan Roasted Chicken Roulade with Alphonso Olive Gnocchi, Braised Romaine and Preserved Lemon Emulsion.

The 2006 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva ($23, Wine Advocate – 91 pts) is adorned with its original label and in Laura Bianchi’s words, is a “true expression of Tuscany and the Sangiovese grape.”  The image on the label is a painting of the estate from the 1800s and the label itself has never been changed since the wine’s release.  The 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva is stunning and delicious, a great value from the estate.

The 2003 Castello di Monsanto Nemo Cabernet Sauvignon Tosana IGT ($52, Wine Advocate – 94 pts) is still in its youth and will continue to age beautifully for years to come.  The Nemo was named for the latin saying “nemo propheta in patria” (No-one is a prophet in his own land) and pays tribute to the resistance that the estate met with during the early 1980s, as they began producing wine from Cabernet, which was an unconventional choice at the time.  The grapes for Nemo come from a single vineyard, Il Mulino, and the wine is truly spectacular, rich and enchanting.

The evening concluded with a glass of the 1993 Castello di Monsanto Vin Santo La Chimera IGT ($54 for a 375 ml bottle), which was perfectly paired with The Morgan’s Oven-Roasted Seasonal Fruit Cobbler.  Laura introduced the Vin Santo, explaining that the Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes for the dessert wine are left to hang on the vines until the end of October, then carefully harvested and dried on racks until the beginning of March, giving them greater concentration.  Once fermentation begins, the grape must is transferred to 50-100 liter oak casks, where the wine continues to undergo alternating cycles of fermentation and then maturation.  Fermentation happens during the warm, summer months and is halted during the colder, winter months, during which time the wine is allowed to mature.  These cycles of fermentation and maturation go on for 12 years!  The 1993 Vin Santo La Chimera is the current vintage and is a lovely wine, not too sweet with pretty aromas, fine texture and medium body.  This is my kind of dessert wine, refreshing the palate after a delightful dinner.

The Castello di Monsanto Wine Dinner was the perfect way to end the summer season and to transition into the fall.  These warming Italian wines are ideal for drinking throughout the harvest season and into the cold weather months.

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Bouchard Père & Fils Wine Dinner at Aureole

Tuesday, September 13th 2011

Bottles of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin and Meursault.

This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending an exquisite wine dinner at New York City’s Aureole, hosted by Luc Bouchard of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, representing the ninth generation of the family.  The dinner was held in Aureole’s elegant private Halo Room, a lustrous dinning space designed with custom backlit sconces that surround its guests and imbue a soft, warm glow.  Rich fabric panels and silver leaf detailing add to the Halo Room’s modish adornment.

Founded in 1988 by Charlie Palmer, Aureole was originally located in a historic townhouse off Madison Avenue.  In 2009, Aureole reopened in the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, the most environmentally progressive skyscraper in the world, making it a fitting home for Palmer’s flagship restaurant and his signature Progressive American cuisine.  When creating Aureole, Palmer was inspired by Manhattan’s famous French restaurant, Lutèce, a NYC landmark for over 40 years.  Palmer’s Progressive American cuisine was founded in his early dedication to “farm over factory food”.  Today, the Michelin-starred Aureole continues to thrive at its new location, under the kitchen leadership of Executive Chef Marcus Gleadow-Ware.

The Wine Cellarage has been a long time devotee of the Bouchard family’s wines.  When Henriot Inc, the exclusive importers of Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils, presented us with the opportunity to co-host this wine dinner, we were thrilled.  Established in 1731, Bouchard Père & Fils is one of the Côte d’Or’s most legendary producers. The team behind this great winemaking house is fully committed to producing fine wines that are pure expressions Burgundy’s many terroirs.

Maison Bouchard Père & Fils is located on the site of the ancient Château de Beaune, the underground fortress built by King Luis XI.  The Bouchard family has used the underground stronghold as an ideal place for the slow maturation of their wines.  Millions of fine and rare bottles are nestled in the cellars of this historic site, in optimal well-protected storage conditions.

Over the past three centuries, the Maison has been devoted to acquiring the very best parcels, in order to build a prestigious domaine and has obtained many vineyard holdings, largely composed of Grand Cru and Premier Cru vines in the heart of the Côte.  Champagne Henriot, one of the oldest family-owned Champagne houses, purchased the Maison in 1995.  Champagne Henriot’s ownership, together with the Bouchard family’s continued involvement, has carried the Maison’s longstanding tradition of excellence into the 21st Century.

Luc Bouchard was a genial host and visited each table in the dining room, spending time talking with the guests in between courses.

Guests were welcomed into the Halo Room with a glass of NV Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain ($50) and a delicious selection of passed hors d’oeuvres, including irresistible Gougères (classic French cheese puffs) and a delightful tuna tartare. The Champagne was a huge hit.  A blend of 50% Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from Montagne de Reims, the Brut Souverain is aged in the quiet darkness of Champagne Henriot’s Gallo-Roman crayeres.  These dramatic cellars, unique to the Champagne region, are carved out of chalk 60 feet underground and provide optimal aging conditions.  Upon release, the Brut Souverain has been aged to perfection.  Its elegance and richness made it the perfect aperitif and accompaniment to the hors d’oeuvres.

Once the guests were seated, each was graciously poured a glass of 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Blanc ($18) and our first course appeared, a delectably flavorful Peekytoe Crab salad, with cucumber, watermelon, tomato and summer squash.  This combination was ethereal.  The refreshing quality of the Chardonnay, its light citrus notes, melon and peach aromas and crisp, integrated acidity and silky smoothness, made it a gorgeous pairing for the flavors in the crab dish.

For the next course, we were presented with a beautiful piece of Alaskan Halibut with English Peas, Girolles (Golden Chanterelles), Pearl Barley, Sea Beans and a soft, poached egg.  This stunning dish was paired with the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru ($85), a truly magnificent wine.  This Meursault’s enduring stonefruit aromas mingle enticingly with exotic floral and spice notes, following through with peach and apricot flavors, refined richness and silken texture.  This was a lively, playful companion for the halibut, accenting the elegant richness of the dish with complementary texture and supple acidity.  A favorite among the dinner guests, the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Genevrières Premier Cru has a long lasting, memorable finish that beckons you to come back for more.

The Alaskan Halibut and Meursault Genevrières were a tough act to follow, but the third course pulled it off magnificently.  A perfectly prepared Veal Ribeye with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, Brown Butter Pomme Puree and Perigord Truffle Jus, was paired with the 2008 Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château Rouge ($42). This wine is showing red berry aromas and flavors, with notes of leather and sweet spices.  On the palate, the gamey, savory quality and bright red fruit flavors made it a perfect accompaniment to the veal.  The combination was utterly sublime.

The dessert was a pleasant departure from the typically sweet course.  Guests were presented with a lovely cheese plate of Murray’s Artisanal Cheeses.  The cheese selections were paired with the 2009 Bouchard Père & Fils Gevrey-Chambertin ($54).  The Gevrey’s charming wild berry flavors, earthiness and fresh, medium fullness made a superb escort for the cheeses.  The Gevrey’s lingering finish was the perfect way to cap off this delightful, delicious evening!

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Mt. Difficulty Winemaker’s Dinner at ’21′ Club

Tuesday, July 19th 2011


Last week I had the pleasure of attending a sumptuous wine dinner at New York City’s ’21′ Club, hosted by Matt Dicey, the winemaker of Mt. Difficulty Wines in Central Otago, New Zealand.  The dinner was held in the elegant, upstairs dining room, Upstairs at ’21′, surrounded by vibrant murals of New York landmarks created exclusively for ’21′ by Brooklyn-based artist Wynne Evans.

Mt. Difficulty is a boutique winery located in Bannockburn in Central Otago, New Zealand and owns some of the region’s oldest vineyards.  Central Otago is the world’s most southern vineyard area and has unique, unpredictable temperature fluctuations on a daily basis, as well as from season to season, which turns out to be a plus for growing finicky Pinot Noir.  The distinctive microclimate of Bannockburn provides hot summers and cool autumns, coaxing the very best out its Pinot Noir grapes.  The namesake of the nearby mountain that shelters the vineyards, Mt. Difficulty Wines is an exceptional New Zealand producer.

Here at The Wine Cellarage, we’ve been fans of Mt. Difficulty for quite some time, which is why we were thrilled to find out that Matt Dicey was coming to town and jumped at the opportunity to partner with ’21′ Club for this special wine dinner. Matt is a fourth generation winemaker and has been making Mt. Difficulty Wines since 1999.  Matt was a wonderful host and gave captivating introductions for each of the wines that we tasted, going into the differences in soil types, the mixture of clays and gravels found in the region, along with the influence of the region’s climate on grape-growing there. Matt’s jovial disposition and informative dialogues made the evening truly memorable.

Guests were welcomed with a glass of the 2010 Roaring Meg Pinot Gris and a delicious selection of passed canapés, including tuna tartare and lobster and crab salad.  The Pinot Gris was crisp and refreshing, cooling everyone down as they came in from the intense heat!

The dinner, prepared by Executive Chef John Greeley, began with seared sea scallops over English pea risotto, razor clam nage and kefir.  The scallops were paired with the 2008 Mt. Difficulty Estate Pinot Gris and the 2008 Mt. Difficulty Estate Sauvignon Blanc, offering an interesting juxtaposition.  The Pinot Gris complimented the dish perfectly, enhancing the inherent sweetness of the scallops and peas with its aromatics, floral and tropical qualities.  The Sauvignon Blanc had a more racy acidity that cut right through the richness of the dish, while its herbaceous notes played harmoniously alongside the pea risotto.  Both wines were a great pairing, but I preferred the Estate Pinot Gris.

Next up, we were presented with sockeye salmon, a fricassee of mushrooms, sweet corn purée, lemon butter and dry chilis.  This lovely salmon was paired with the 2006 Mt. Difficulty Estate Chardonnay and the 2009 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, both working marvelously with different elements in the dish and really demonstrated that both varietals can offer an enticing pairing for salmon.  The Estate Chardonnay’s red apple notes had a pleasant interplay with the corn purée, while the wine’s creaminess highlighted the splendid richness of the sockeye and lemon butter, finishing with palate cleansing, fresh minerality.  On the other hand, the Roaring Meg Pinot Noir complimented the earthiness of the mushroom medley and provided a refreshing contrast to the salmon’s rich texture and flavor.

By the time the third course arrived, animated conversation was as plentiful as the wine being poured and our table had covered a range of topics including biodynamic farming, sustainable energy and the differences between salmon from New Zealand and that from the Atlantic.  The grilled lamb chop (cooked beautifully on the rare side) and belly were presented with an array of accompaniments – fine herbs with honey mustard, cherry tomatoes, zucchini blossom and smoked bacon. The lamb was paired with the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir and the single-vineyard 2008 Long Gully Pinot Noir, providing the opportunity to compare different bottlings from the same vintage.

The Estate Pinot Noir showed rich, black fruit and prevalent, balanced tannins and acidity, making for a wonderful pairing.  Both Pinots shared rich dark fruit, black cherry and blackberry characteristics, yet the Long Gully had greater complexity and finesse.  The Long Gully displayed wild berry flavors, currants and cassis, along with floral and violet aromas, velvety tannins and harmonious acidity that carried through on the long, sweet fruit finish.

The final course, a Pavlova filled with passion fruit coulis and exotic sorbets, was paired with the 2008 Roaring Meg Riesling.  This vibrant dessert was the perfect finale to the dinner, where each element came together and made for an enchanting evening of magnificent wine, incredible food, flawless service and delightful ambiance.

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Autism Speaks’ Annual Golf Challenge

The Wine Cellarage is proud to participate in the Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge.  We have partnered with Cape Classics, the leading US importer of South Africa’s finest wines, to feature a selection from their superb portfolio of wines on the evening of the golf challenge. Attendees will have the opportunity to taste the wines and to learn about them from our Cape Classics representative.

The Wine Cellarage is pleased to announce that for two weeks following the event, 20% of gross purchase price from any purchases of the featured wines will be donated to Autism Speaks.  In addition, several of our partners will be donating fine wines for the silent auction to be held the evening of the event.

Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Golf Challenge

Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge will be held on June 20, 2011 at the highly acclaimed Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY.  Among the attendees at this important event will be renowned celebrities from entertainment, sports and media. Golfers will play their rounds on Winged Foot’s demanding East and West courses and will have the chance to participate in several course contests.

After golfing has finished, the evening program will commence, including both live and silent auctions.  These auctions will feature unique get-aways, signed sports memorabilia, soothing spa treatments, fashion items and fine wine.  For more information please contact Elizabeth Irving at eirving@autismspeaks.org. For an event recap and to see photos from last year’s Celebrity Golf Challenge, click here.

About Autism Speaks

Founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism, Autism Speaks has since grown to be the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the United States, devoted to funding the research of causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism.  Autism Speaks has worked diligently to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and is the leading advocate for the needs of the individuals and families struggling with autism.  This organization gives hope to all those affected by autism.

Featured Wines

We are thrilled to be pouring the following outstanding South African wines on the evening of the Autism Speaks’ 13th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge and to make a contribution to this wonderful cause.

2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rose Stellenbosch – Mulderbosch Vineyards, situated in the Stellenbosch Hills area outside of Stellenbosch, South Africa, is widely accepted as one of the very best white wine producers in the country.  Their delicious, refreshing 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé showcases complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.  This rosé is ideal for summertime quaffing!

Glenelly Estate Wines

Located in Stellenbosch, the Glenelly estate’s heritage goes back to the 17th century. May-Eliane de Lencquesaing purchased the property in 2003, after running the famed Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande for 30 years prior. May de Lencquesaing is renowned for the wines of her Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Chateau and has upheld the same level of excellence at Glenelly.

2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch – The Glass Collection was inspired by antique glass pieces from May de Lencquesaing’s private collection. The Glass Collection Chardonnay showcases invigorating aromas of peach, citrus and ginger.  Crisp and refreshing on the palate, this lovely Chardonnay has an enduring finish.

2007 Glenelly Grand Vin de Glenelly – The estate’s signature red blend, Grand Vin de Glenelly offers elegant, complex aromas of blackcurrant, blackberry, plum, spices and hints of toasted hazelnut.  On the palate, this wine has a rich intensity that is harmoniously balanced by refreshing brightness and great structure.

Rustenberg

2007 Rustenberg John X Merriman Stellenbosch – A blend of five Bordeaux varietals (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc & 3% Malbec), the John X Merriman is one of South Africa’s most legendary wines.  Named for the Prime Minister of the Cape who, in the late 1800s, bought and refurbished part of the historical Rustenberg estate, this wine is rich with cherry and licorice flavors that mingle seductively with smoky tobacco and spice notes.

The Rustenberg estate has enjoyed an illustrious, albeit tumultuous, wine-making history that dates back to 1682, when the land was first recognized for grape-growing potential by a German man named Roelof Pasman.  The estate flourished for the first half of the 19th century, but faced hardship when recession came and disease struck the vines.  In 1892, the Cape’s Prime Minister, John X Merriman rescued the estate and helped to restore it to it’s early glory. Wine has been consistently bottled at the estate ever since.

Peter and Pamela Barlow purchased the Rustenberg estate in 1941, passing it on to their son, Simon, who has taken over operations. Although among South Africa’s oldest wine estates, Rustenberg boasts one of the Cape’s most modern cellars.  Rustenberg produces long-lived, depthy wines, crafted through a marriage of technology with the art of tradition. Rustenberg wines are exemplary of the Stellenbosch region’s excellence.

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An Exquisite Evening of Champagne Awaits You

Champagne cascading into flutes

Enjoying a glass of Champagne is both relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time.  Its bubbles and ethereal flavors instantly commemorate festivity. Not only does it set any party in motion, it also pairs wonderfully with a variety of foods.  So, after four solid days of rush hour commuting and long hours at the office, by the time Thursday evening rolls around, a glass of bubbly is just what the Dr. ordered, right? Or better yet, a glass of the finest Champagne paired with delectable gourmet cheeses and some light-hearted socializing!

Next Thursday, May 12th, Wine Cellarage and the bulthaup showroom in Soho have joined together to host an amazing evening filled with Champagne!  Not only will the very best Champagnes be poured, Cristal, Krug and Dom Perignon to name a few, the event will be an enlightening adventure.  This exciting tour of select, premium Champagnes will showcase styles ranging from Blanc de Blanc to Rosé and is sure to put a sparkle in your eye.

Antonio Galloni, wine critic for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, will be the featured guest for the evening.  He will be available throughout the event to answer any Champagne questions you may have and will share his insights with all attendees at 7pm.

This is an incredible opportunity to taste a great selection of the world’s finest Champagnes in one night.  If you love Champagne as much as we do, this is an event that you won’t want to miss!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the featured Champagnes…

2002 Moet Chandon Dom Perignon – Moët & Chandon’s prestigious Dom Pérignon is a vintage Champagne that is only made in the most excellent grape-growing years. Named for the legendary Benedictine monk who made great contributions to the craft of sparkling winemaking, this Champagne is a tribute to the noteworthy man. Truly the best of the best, there have only been 36 vintages of Dom Pérignon produced since the first, the 1921 vintage.

2002 Louis Roederer Cristal - A remarkable vintage, the 2002 Louis Roederer Cristal is rich, powerful and refined with great ageing potential.  Made with 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, this wine exhibits complex aromas and flavors of ripe red fruit, cocoa, caramel and Viennese pastries.  Cristal is the perfect choice for special dinners and celebrations, pairing wonderfully with lobster, scallops, salmon and oysters.

2002 Pierre Peters Brut Cuvée Spéciale les ChétillonsPierre Péters is a small family-run estate located in the center of the Côte des Blancs region, in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil sur Oger.  The Péters family has worked together to maintain their vineyards, growing and selecting only the best grapes and producing superior grower Champagne, dedicated to expressing the terroir and varietal character in each of their ethereal wines.

NV Krug Brut RoséKrug Rosé is pure extravagance, combining the chic taste of the celebrated Champagne with an intriguing elegance and style of its very own. Exquisite aromas of wild berries, exotic spices and flowers give way to opulent, seductive flavors on the palate. As with all of Krug’s Champagnes, power and finesse come together in each harmonious, sublime sip.

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