A Few Facts to Bring to the Table: Rosé

Posted By: | In: Dated: April 13, 2016 | No Comments »


“Rosé is a wine that should ideally be drunk within two or three years of being made; it is not for keeping, but memories of drinking rosé tend to last much longer. On a shady terrace; around an herb-scented barbecue; outside a café on market day; before lunch by the pool – it accompanies some of life’s most pleasant moments. Perhaps that should be marked on every bottle…” – Peter Mayle, Provence A-Z

I’m not talking about wine coolers or white zinfandel, I’m talking about delicious rosés: the cool, delicate, versatile wine that can hold up to basically everything you pair it with.

It is believed that some of the first wines in ancient times were rosés because they were quickly and easily made and did not require the more modern wine-making tools (i.e. large vats, sturdy presses, etc.). Rosé juice spends as little as a few hours to a couple of days on the skins to produce its light pink color.

From deep raspberry to the lighter rose petal, a rosé’s color indicates how long the grapes have been left to macerate in the juice and skins. A darker rosé spends more time on the skins, and will have a richer, more savory tannic taste. A lighter, more mineral forward rosé could have only spent a few hours macerating before it was pressed and moved into a separate bin to continue to ferment.  Another, less common, way of achieving the color is the “saignée” (bleeding) process. Some juice is taken from a fermenting red wine vat in the beginning of the fermentation process. The juice taken will be turned into rosé, while the remaining vat of fermenting red grapes’ flavor will intensify.

Winemakers, especially in France, do not have specific bottle requirements, so the bottles’ labels and shapes can appeal to our lighter more whimsical sides. You may have also noticed that a lot of rosés are screw caps…don’t be discouraged! Screw caps do not indicate cheap wine, but more so encourage the consumer to easily open a bottle of rosé on a whim (without having to worry about where that corkscrew went!).

I am a firm believer that rosé can be enjoyed year round (hey, we drink white in the winter, no?), but for the traditionalists out there, now that the weather is warming up, maybe you would like to swap your deep reds for a nice, crisp, fruity rosé!





MacNeil, Karen. “France.” The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Pub., 2001. 266, 312. Print.

“Rosé Wines of Provence: Ten Fun Facts.” Marvellous Provence. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2016. <>


A Few Facts to Bring to the Table: Burgundy (Part 1)

Posted By: | In: Dated: March 2, 2016 | No Comments »

“ Laissez le vin de se faire…Let the wine make itself” – Burgundian saying.

Located in central eastern France, Burgundy is a small region, but a prolific producer of complex, layered, and intriguing wines. To understand Burgundy, one must understand the word terroir, which having no direct English translation, can be defined as “the sum entity and effect of soil, slope, orientation to the sun, and elevation, plus every nuance of climate: rainfall, wind velocity, frequency of fog, cumulative hours of sunshine, average high temperature, average low temperature, and so on”. The terroirs of Burgundy were meticulously studied and recorded by the monks in the Middle Ages – they had the land, the time, and the literacy to be able to systematically record all of their growing and winemaking findings for centuries.

Swaths of land were donated to the church in the Middle Ages, then as time passed, reform movements took hold, and the French Revolution put an end to the luxurious relationship of the church and the dukes. Land was split and sold off, and years later, thanks to the Napoleonic Code (children inherit equally) land was fragmented even more. Nowadays, some land is split down to a few rows of vines! A group of these small bits of land is called a domaine or a “collection of vineyard parcels, often extremely small, owned by the same person or entity.”  The vineyards are spread out around Burgundy, each split into multiple domaines, and each domaine makes its own wine…confused yet? Me too.  It boils down to this: Burgundy has many domaines each producing small quantities of wine and each wine very different from the other (thanks to the terrior!).

There are two dominant grape varietals: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but not in your traditional sense. Burgundy’s terroir takes these grapes to another level. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are vehicles to tell the story each domaine has to tell. (Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, is also a contender, but technically Beaujolais is a sub-region of Burgundy and is a very different type of wine!). In Burgundy, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are never blended. Next there is the problem of whether or not to use new oak barrels, and for how long, and whether or not to filter the wine…thankfully the vigneron can worry about that, and we can enjoy the end result!





What’s in a Wine Name?

Posted By: | In: Dated: February 25, 2016 | No Comments »

Quick Facts:

-          New World wines are usually named for the grape varietal used (or at least the predominant grape in the bottle).

-          Old World wines are usually named after the region they were made in.

Did you know that Pinot Noir and Red Burgundy are the same type of wine? Confusing, I know!

Most wines are named in two different ways:

-          The grape they are made from

-          The region they are made in

The wine name depends on where you are buying your wine. For example, in the New World wines (“newbies” to the wine making traditions: United States, Australia, New Zealand), the wines are named after the predominant grape varietal in the bottle. If Pinot Noir grapes were used to make 75% of the wine, and the winemaker blended other grapes for the remaining 25%, then you are drinking a Pinot Noir according to the New World rules.

The Old World wines (think places with a long history of making wine: France, Italy, Spain) are more traditional. A wine made mostly of Sangiovese in Chianti will be called Chianti instead of Sangiovese. Winemakers in the Old World stick to regional names because they feel the region has as much to add to the success of the wine as the grape.




A Few Facts to Bring to the Table: Bordeaux

Posted By: | In: Dated: February 16, 2016 | No Comments »

Bordeaux VineyardQuick Facts:

-          Bordeaux: “au bord de l’eau” – “along the waters”

-          80% of wine produced is red

Bordeaux is the largest fine-wine region in the world. It is larger than all of Germany’s vineyards put together, and ten times larger than all of New Zealand’s vineyards. Bordeaux supplies about 700 million bottles of wine a year, 80% of which are red wines.  Known for wine that can age for many years, Bordeaux’s location is a huge factor in why the wines are so well received.

Located near the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by three rivers and many small streams, water places a crucial part in the Bordeaux wines we know and love. The name Bordeaux comes from “au bord de l’eau” French for “along the waters”. Bordeaux vines benefit from the mild and balanced weather provided by the Gulf Stream-warmed ocean and three large surrounding rivers. The waters are aided by the pine forests to the south and west which block potential frosts, cold snaps, and summer storms.

Both red and white Bordeaux wines are usually a blend of two or more grape varietals in order to get the more complex flavors associated with the Bordeaux region. Not all grapes blend well together, but Bordeaux seems to have had the best blending techniques and recipes all figured out for quite some time!

80% of the wines produced are red. There are 5 red grapes used that are usually blended: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The two main red grapes used are Merlot (fleshy and round) and Cabernet Sauvignon (structured). Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon balance each other nicely, and the tannins of the cabernet sauvignon help act as a preservative, which is why Bordeaux wines can age for a long time.

White Bordeaux can be a blend of Muscadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Ugni Blanc. The main grapes blended are Semillon (dry and heavy) and Sauvignon Blanc (crisp and floral). Semillon is known as the “soul of white Bordeaux” and when aged can becomes creamy with a hint of honey. The Sauvignon Blanc is the opposite of Semillon: wild and zesty. Together they create a beautifully balanced and complicated white wine.



MacNeil, Karen. “Bordeaux.” The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Pub., 2001. 118-23. Print.


An Interview with The Wine Philospher

Posted By: | In: Dated: February 3, 2016 | No Comments »


I have had the pleasure of working closely with the man known as The Wine Philosopher, Steve Carrizzo.  An active yogi, wine aficionado, and all around great guy, Steve brings a depth of spirituality and love of history that is rarely found in conversations about wine. I was lucky enough to grab a moment of his time for my questions. Please enjoy his answers – I surely did!

What’s your wine story?

I have been enjoying and collecting wine for over 35 years.  My career in the wine industry developed out of my love of wine and its history, culture and relationship to the earth. Having been fortunate enough to visit and do business with wineries in France, Italy, California, New York State, Oregon and even Greece, has deepened my understanding of wine and the people who make it.

My work in the wine trade encompasses experience at many levels: retail, wholesale, winery, and the importing segments of the business. I also provide consulting services to restaurants, organize wine and food pairing dinners, teach classes and lead tastings for retailers, charitable organizations and private parties.

Another personal quest of mine has always been to understand the meaning of life, or the lack of meaning in life. This quest has lead to the study of western and eastern philosophy, the practice of Yoga, and lots of soul searching, so friends and family started to call me The Wine Philosopher.

Favorite wine?

I would have to say that my favorite wine changes from night to night depending on what I am eating but in general wines from Burgundy and Piedmont are my favorites.

Favorite wine fact?

Besides changing an ordinary meal into a special event it stimulates good conversation and philosophical thought, just ask the Greek philosophers: “In Vino Veritas”.

Favorite Region?

Almost all vineyards are located in beautiful places and there is so much good wine out there that it is hard to pick just one but if someone held a gun to my head I would have to say Burgundy, not so much for breathtaking vistas because other regions are more spectacular, but because there is an underlining spiritual vibe in Burgundy that I feel is still lingering from when the Monks tended to the vines and made the wine.  They believed that the attributes of a wine from a certain vineyard was a message from God and God’s messages were revealed through the terroir of each vineyard. This is why they used one grape (Pinot Noir for red and Chardonnay for white) instead of a blend because they felt a blend would muddle the message while a single grape especially Pinot Noir or Chardonnay would keep the message pure.

Favorite food/wine pairing?

There are so many good parings out there but one of classics comes to mind first and that is Chablis with oysters on the half shell.

Next wine trip you’d like to take?

Looks like my next trip will be to Burgundy to source more wines for our Cellarage Portfolio.

What wines would you serve at a party?

That depends on the people at the party, but in general it is good to have a well priced sparkling wine like a Prosecco from Italy or a Cava from Spain.  For still wines I would choose a California Cab or Merlot because they are softer than many European reds and work better for sipping as opposed to a wine for a sit down dinner.  As far a white wine I would go with a nice Pinot Grigio or a Macon instead of an oaked Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc.

Best wine out there for someone on a budget?

Right now some of the best buys for quality wine at reasonable prices are coming from Southern Italy, Portugal, Chile, the Cote du Rhone and the Languedoc region in the South of France.




A Visit to Chateau Latour-Martillac

Posted By: | In: Tags: , , | Dated: August 6, 2012 | No Comments »

With Tristan. Empty white wine Barrels waiting for 2012 vintage

On August 2, 2012, I visited Chateau Latour-Martillac in Pessac-Leognan  for a tour and tasting with Tristan Kressman, one of the principals of the Chateau, the other being his brother Loic. The Kressman family has owned and operated the vineyard since the 1930’s.  The Chateau first appears to be a fairly compact physical structure with the singular exception of a large “Tour” or tower at the front.  From this vantage point,  the interior of the Chateau grounds and production facilities are hidden from the eye.  As one rounds the structure and turns into the interior courtyard , a much larger production/warehouse facility or “chais” is revealed.  It is a charming spot on a slope with a nice look-out to the Pessac hills sloping toward the river.

Chateau Latour-Martillac is one of my favorite Chateau because their wines represent to me the essence of the Pessac-Leognan terroir at a reasonable price.  The reds display the classic Pessac flavors of cedar, charcoal, cigar-box and powerful dark fruit.  The whites are often  flinty and tightly wound but are bound up in wonderful melon and fig fruit flavors and aromas.  In top vintages, the  whites have the structure to age up to 20 years.

The wines have not found a huge press or consumer following in the U.S. and this has helped keep the prices down to earth.  It is a friendly and welcoming Chateau with a  very nice visitor’s area that features the history of the Chateau and sells the wines to visitors.  The wine is made under the direction of the two Kressman brothers, a full time oenologist (Valerie Vialard)  and Denis Dubordieu.  Dubordieu was the white wine consultant for Chateau Latour-Martillac for ten years and is now involved with the red wine as well since the 2006 vintage. Annual production of the grand vins is about 15,000 cases  from 42 hectares.  80% of this production goes into the red wine and 20% into the white wine. The red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.  The white is usually about 65% Sauvignon Blanc and the rest of the wine is made with Semillon.

After the tour, we tasted a vertical of the red and the white. Below are my notes and few Parker numerical scores.

Grand Vin Rouge

2001 Chateau Latour Martillac Secondary flavors of cedar and cigar now becoming more pronounced in this wine. Ready to drink now.

2005 Chateau Latour Martillac Still displaying the brute force of the vintage.  Mouth tightening concentration and tannins envelope this wine in a package bound for long-term development.

2006 Chateau Latour Martillac Pleasingly concentrated and well put together for the vintage.  The first vintage under Dubordieu.

2008 Chateau Latour Martillac Excellent freshness and concentration.  A value vintage since it was released during a difficult economic environment.

2009 Chateau Latour Martillac A beauty.  Sweet and perfectly integrated tannins bound up in glorious fruit.  A great wine from this estate and meant for long term cellaring. RP 94

2010 Chateau Latour Martillac Bottled in May and showing it.  Has the fruit  concentration of 2009 , one  will have to see if the tannins and oak round out as nicely as the 2009. RP 90-92

Grand Vin Blanc

2005 Chateau Latour Martillac Blanc Just coming out of its shell now.

2008 Chateau Latour Martillac Blanc Powerful acid and fresh fruit but  less complete than the others whites.

2009 Chateau Latour Martillac Blanc Packed with great fruits characteristics and framed in wonderfully intense acid. Will age for a long time. RP 94

2010 Chateau Latour Martillac Similar to the 2009 but with perhaps a touch less fruit.  Also build to age. RP 90-93.

-Lars Neubohn


Champagne Coquillette : Quite a Charmer

Posted By: | In: Tags: , | Dated: August 2, 2012 | No Comments »

Champagne Stéphane Coquillette Carte D’Or Premier Cru Brut

With such a charming name, it may be hard to turn down a chilled flute of Stéphane Coquillette’s NV Carte D’Or Premier Cru Brut $45/btl. Located in Chouilly, a Grand Cru classified village in the Cote des Blancs, Champagne Coquillette is run by fourth generation winemaker Stéphane Coquillette. Stéphane’s grandparents established Champagne Saint-Charmant (see, it’s all about the charm) in 1930, which Stéphane’s father, Christian, then took over in 1950. When it came for Stéphane’s turn, his father sent him off to start his own brand, hence, Champagne Stéphane Coquillette.

To fully appreciate and understand Champagne Coquillette, it is crucial to go back to the roots…literally. The vineyards are planted in limestone soil and chalky rock, stretching tens of meters deep. This type of rock, called “roche mère” is capable of soaking up water in order to supply the vines with adequate hydration during dry spells. This particular soil is key to contributing specific aromas and flavors of the wine.

Coquillette offers several excellent champagnes, but our favorite is the NV Stéphane Coquillette Carte d’Or Premier Cru Brut, a blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru Pinot Noir (about two thirds) and Chardonnay (one third). This pale yellow bubbly exhibits citrus-rich aromas of lemon and grapefruit, blackberry fruit and hints of smoke and vanilla. Some of the lemon and citrus notes carry on over to the palate which brings a refreshing flavor to the taste buds. Also present are floral notes, which carry through to the energetic and pleasant finish.

The great thing about champagne is that in can be enjoyed in accompaniment with almost anything: various appetizers, desserts, cheeses, or nothing at all! For Coquillette’s Champagne, we have chosen a stellar match: crab cakes topped with a mango salsa. This duo is one you don’t want to miss out on, so check out the simple recipe above and grab yourself a bottle of NV Stéphane Coquillette Carte D’or Premier Cru Brut to charm away any dinner party!


Vincent Dampt Chablis: A Cool Companion

Posted By: | In: Tags: , , , | Dated: July 20, 2012 | No Comments »

Chilled Chablis: you can’t go wrong!

Picture this: you are sitting outside; it’s hot but not unbearably humid. You have a chilled glass of white wine in your hand which reveals an occasional sweat bead dripping down the smooth crystal of the glass. What do you have in your hand? A fabulous Chablis. More specifically, Vincent Dampt’s 2008 1er Cru Chablis Vaillons $25/btl.

When you give this glass of Chardonnay its first little swirl to lift those aromas to your nose, you get a fresh and cool bouquet with florals, spice and some earthy tones. Now take a sip. There is balance and purity in the wine showcasing lemon zest notes, with the finish lingering in a pleasant mineral explosion.  Hopefully, as you are sitting outside with that glass in hand, you just happen to have some pan-seared scallops, pepper and garlic marinated prawns, or oysters with a fresh shallot sauce. Really, any type of shellfish is quite a treat with this Chablis.

The origin of this wine and its namesake, is the famed Burgundy town of Chablis. Vincent Dampt’s estate, producing solely Chablis wines, makes up slightly less than 3 hectares and lays along the left bank of the Serein River. The vineyards are planted in Chablis’ famous Kimmeridgian soil; a mix of clay, chalk and marine fossils which provide the wines with their beautiful minerality.

Born into a family of winemakers, Vincent developed an interest in the wine industry at the young age of 14, when he enrolled himself into a Beaune wine school. Vincent was able to broaden his wine knowledge by training in the Jura, working with Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet, and travelling overseas to work in New Zealand’s Marlborough region. He then returned home to France and began producing wines with his father in 2002, until 2004, when he inherited some pieces of land. At that point, he began producing wines under his own name, Vincent Dampt.

Getting back to the glass that you are ideally still holding, I would like to pass on several tasting tips particular to Chablis wines.

-Temperature: For a Chablis Premier Cru in particular, the ideal serving temperature is 50-53 degrees Fahrenheit.

-Opening the bottle: Make sure to cut the cap under the ring of the bottle neck so that the wine does not touch the cap when it is poured.

-Glassware: Serve the wine in a specific Chablis glass which has a tulip shape with a narrower opening. This shape will allow the wine to access the palate in the perfectly precise way so that the flavors are enhanced to their maximum potentials.


Makeover at Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet

Cote-de-Beaune Vineyard

Cote-de-Beaune Vineyard

Le Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet first saw mediocre success under the ownership of poet-vigneron Roland Thevenin in the 1950’s and during the 30 or so years that followed.  In 1985, he sold the property to the Chablis firm Laroche, which several years later passed on the estate to Credit Foncier, a subsidiary of Caisse d’Epargne, who produced commercially-popular wines. Then, in 2002, BNP banker Etienne de Montille took over as director of the estate and the makeover ensued. His first major move was to transition to organic and biodynamical viticulture, which he successfully achieved by 2005. Additionally, under Etienne’s reign, the Domaine has grown from 15 to 21 hectares (37 to 51 acres) of healthy, fruitful vineyards. Not only did he work deliberately at transforming this estate, he also began taking a more active role in his family vineyard in Volnay, Domaine Hubert de Montille.

The Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet estate covers 23 appellations in the Burgundy region including some prestigious ones such as Chassagne-Montrachet and Nuits-St.-Georges.  Most of the production consists of Chardonnay wines, although 7 out of the 20 hectares are dominated by the noble Pinot Noir. The 2009 Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet Bourgogne Blanc Clos du Chateau $24/btl is a product of 4.5 hectares (slightly more than 11 acres) of vineyards in the heart of le village of Puligny-Montrachet, one of the best Chardonnay-producing areas in the world. The “Bourgogne” title, whether rouge or blanc, covers wines that are produced in locations that do not have specific appellations and can be produced from grapes in one or more of 300 communes.

With the first swirl of this lightly golden wine, wafts of lemon verbena, straw and ripe citrus first awaken the nose. On the palate, floral notes and minerality are present with slight acidity and a long finish to bring an overall harmonious presentation in the mouth. Grab a bottle to see for yourself!


To Mercurey and Beyond

Bottle of Faiveley’s Mercurey Clos Rochette 2008

It’s not often that you get the chance to taste a Chardonnay from Burgundy’s Cote-Chalonnaise village of Mercurey, given that 90% of the village’s output consists of vin rouge. Citrus and fruit aromas are the first to tingle the nose on this Joseph Faiveley Mercurey Blanc Clos Rochette 2008 $25/btl followed by a light smokiness and wet stone. On the palate, notes of minerality and florals are distinct and crisp. The silkiness that ensues in the mouth gives it an extremely smooth finish, bringing along with it notes of pineapple and sweet apples.

At $25 per bottle, this Chardonnay is a great pick for a warm summer night dinner or barbeque, and pairs nicely with a variety of seafood dishes. Below you can find a grilled shrimp kabob recipe from Chef Billy Della Ventura to pair with this gem. All you need to do is fire up that grill, assemble your kabobs and pop a bottle of Faiveley’s Clos Rochette to enjoy a wonderfully paired and simply delicious meal.

Shrimp Kabob recipe

Now for a little background and a brief history lesson…

Domaine Faiveley was founded by Pierre Faiveley in 1825.The Domaine’s reputation took hold in the early 19th century when many Burgundian wine producers began traveling to Northern Europe to trade their wines for textiles.Today, the Domaine rests in the hands of seventh generation Erwan Faiveley.The family owns vineyards in some of the most prestigious appellations such as Pommard, Gevrey-Chambertin, Volnay and Puligny-Montrachet, among others. Several climats are owned exclusively by the family including Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos des Issarts, Beaune 1er Cru Clos de L’Ecu, and the Corton Clos des Cortons Faiveley Grand Cru. Not bad, right?