Category Archives: Wine

Rosé: A Wine for All Seasons, Finally Getting Some Respect

Photo: mrsraggle, Flickr. 
 

By Ron Blumenfeld

During the summer, wine drinkers are drawn to crisp, refreshing white wines, while avoiding the hearty reds that help fortify us against the winter cold.

A rigidly seasonal approach to wine drinking is in my opinion a mistake. Meanwhile, though, there’s another option—rosé. The once-disparaged wine has been steadily gaining respectability as a summertime choice. But it’s also a good wine to drink any time of the year.

Rosé is typically made by limiting the contact of red grape skins to fermenting wine. It’s the skins that are largely responsible for imparting tannins and color to reds. When making rose, the outer layer is removed relatively early in the fermentation process. It’s the winemaker who decides when that will be, which in turn depends on the desired style and the grape(s) that are used.

Rosé surfaced in the U.S. in the 1960’s with imports such as Mateus and Lancer’s and domestic brands like Sutter Home. Cloyingly sweet and flabby, that first glass of White Zinfandel can nevertheless lead drinkers to more sophisticated Burgundies and Barolos.

Today, Americans have discovered that rosés can be serious yet charming. What’s more, the blush-colored wines range from mineral-crisp quaffing varieties to bold, fruity ones that blur the line between rosé and standard red wine. Southern France turns out great rosés, with the Tavel appellation arguably setting the gold standard.

Some wine stores carry 100 or more rosés over during the summer. Rely on the staff to guide you, and try out a few different styles. Two favorites of mine are Wolffer Estates from Long Island and Bagnol Cassis from Provence. Wolffer Estates makes a copper-colored rosé with subtle and delightful red fruit flavors. Bagnol Cassis from Provence, a pricy but elegant dry rosé, is great on its own or with seafood or light meats—even in winter.

Ron Blumenfeld is part owner of French vineyard Domaine des Bories.

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Pick a Wine Store

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By Ron Blumenfeld

People have been making wine since they discovered that fermented grape juice was an appealing alternative to water.

It’s hard to know how wine tasted thousands of years ago. But the wines we enjoy today are usually quite drinkable and often delicious. And wine’s gone truly global, with a huge range of price points and styles.

The paradox: how to find wines you like amidst all this plenty. The fact is that most of us could use a little help, and wine stores can be one place to find it.

At one end of the spectrum are the wine supermarkets like the national chain Total Wine or the rapidly-expanding BevMo!, with outposts in California and Arizona. Both outfits offer massive choice and good prices. Still, generally, when it comes to choosing a wine that will suit your taste and pocketbook, you’re on your own. That’s fine if you know exactly what you want, or if the occasion calls for a well-priced “mass market” wine (like big beach parties or BBQ’s where wine is not a focus).

You’ll have a very different shopping experience at a place like West Side Wines, located on Columbus Avenue and 83rd Street. (West Side Wines stocks bottles Domaine des Bories; I’m a part-owner.). It’s just big enough for the owner, Andy Besch, to offer a personally-vetted international selection, favoring smaller producers, often from lesser-known regions. He devotes no floor space to mass-market wines, and isn’t influenced by wine ratings. He sells only what he likes, and loves to send customers home with wine they didn’t expect to buy.

Then there are stores that offer a little of both—some mass market selections and some hand-picked ones. You may be confronted with stacks of wine at the door, but further inside is often a more intriguing selection, and a wine geek who can’t wait to tell you about it.

Explore wine stores until you find one (or two) that you can call your wine home. Make yourself—and your wine tastes—known. Ask questions. Stick to your favorites, but from time to time, let knowledgeable salespeople guide you outside your comfort zone.

Ron Blumenfeld is part owner of French vineyard Domaine des Bories.

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How I Went From Doctoring to Wine Making

Domaine des Bories. Photo: Ron Blumenthal.

by Ron Blumenfeld

Ron Blumenfeld is our new wine columnist. Ron is a doctor, but these days, you’re likely to find him tending the vines at Domaine des Boires, where he’s one of the vineyard’s owners. Look for Ron’s column on the first Friday of every month. He’ll write about some aspect of wine—making it, tasting it, savoring the wine life.

How does a guy from the southwest corner of the Bronx end up tending grape vines in the southwest corner of France?

I thought about this as I stood on a remote hillside vineyard in the Madiran wine region, miles from any paved road—let alone the Grand Concourse. It was also a pretty unusual career move to make after spending 35 years as a Connecticut doctor.

But the answer was simple: Vincent Chabert, the man across the field, tirelessly tending our vines.

I first met Vincent, a Frenchman, at a Quebec ski mountain in the late 1980’s. Vincent was a ski instructor, but he was also maître d’ at a local inn. Over a decade, we became good friends.

Part of Vincent’s job at the inn was managing a 15,000-bottle wine cellar. Soon, he got the winemaking bug and went back to France to work at Chateau Bouscassé, a famous Madiran vineyard. In 2006, Vincent called me to say he was going to buy Domaine des Bories, also in the Madiran region. He asked me if I wanted to be an investor.

I loved wine—but did I love it that much?

Though not well-known to US wine drinkers, the wines from Madiran, an area dotted with roughly 40 vineyards, date back to Roman times. Domaine des Bories offers two blends (cuvées): “Tradition,” with 50-60% tannat, and “Vieilles Vignes (old vines),” with 80% tannat. Both blends are rounded off with cabernet sauvignon and/or cabernet franc.

These days, I travel to Madiran to perform exhausting agricultural labor. There’s not much time to enjoy its quaint villages and beautiful countryside. At this point, I’ve had my bleeding and callused hands in every stage of wine production, from vine to bottle, to promotion.

Do I love wine that much? Enough to sink my blood, sweat and money into a vineyard?

I do in fact love it that much!

Here’s where you can buy Domaine des Bories. Many of these shops will ship.

NY

West Side Wine 481 Columbus Ave. NY www.westsidewine.com

Rye Brook Wines 259 South Ridge Street Rye Brook www.ryebrookwines.com

CT

Grapes of Norwalk 10 Cross Street Norwalk www.grapeswine.com

Stewart’s Wines and Spirits 227 Elm Street New Canaan www.stewartswines.com

Harry’s Wines 2094 Post Road Fairfield www.harryswine.com

The Wine Thief 181 Crown Street New Haven www.thewinethief.com

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LIRR Wine Train Offers N. Fork Wines But Car Odor Mars Experience

Photo: Courtesy MTA.

It sounds like a great idea: a selection of North Fork wines on a specially designated LIRR wine train from Ronkokoma to Greenport.

Only one problem.

How can you drink wine when your gagging from the unappetizing odor wafting through the car from a deoderized restroom?

The wines are from North Fork vineyards (Macari and Duck Walk among them). But the car I traveled on about a month ago—I haven’t been back since so not every car may have this problem— emitted an intense, foul smell. It was eau de toilet mixed with a chemical stench. Long Island Railrod spokesman Sam Zambuto says the odor was caused by disinfectants applied to the lavatory that can seep into the ventilation system.

“Yes, unfortunately it would take away from the experience,” conceded Zambuto, who said the matter had been referred to the LIRR maintenance department.

“When a car is freshly serviced, it has a deodorizer in the rest room.” That scent can be picked up by a car’s ventilation system, he explained. “We’re looking into how this can be eliminated,” Zamputo wrote in an e-mail.

Launched this summer, the Wine Train runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Every week, six different wines are featured and an individual vineyard is showcased.

Assuming this, uh, unappetizing odor is corrected, you have to cheer on the railroad for its efforts on behalf of Long Island wineries. Once the offending stench is banished, it will be nice to sip some North Fork wines while traveling to the bucolic North Fork.

The North Fork Wine Train.

  • Fridays-only, Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day weekend.
  • The North Fork wine train is the 5:21 PM train from Ronkonkoma to Greenport (arriving 6:45 PM) on summer Fridays. Customers coming from NYC can take the 3:55 PM train from Penn Station to Ronkonkoma (arriving at 5:16 PM) and transfer at Ronkonkoma to the Wine Train.

The Wines and Vineyards

Six wineries/vineyards and 13 different wines that are featured each Friday. A different vineyard is featured weekly along with two types of wine from that vineyard.

Here’s a complete list of vineyards and wines:

Laurel Lake Vineyards

Red: 2007 Merlot

Intense flavors and full bodied.

White: 2009 Chardonnay

Unwooded chardonnay.

Peconic Bay Vineyards

Red: Nautique Esprit de Rouge

Three different grapes are blended across two different vintages.

White: Nautique Esprit de Blanc

Possesses aromatic qualities that are the result of blending.

Macari Vineyards

Red: Sette

A blend of 50% Merlot & 50% Cabernet Franc.

White: 2010 Early Wine (Chardonnay)

New Release made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.

Pindar Vineyards

Red: Pythagoras

This  red was first crafted to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

White: Peacock Chardonnay

Chardonnay with hints of pear and apple and vanilla.

Duck Walk Vineyards

Red: Cabernet Sauvignon

A red with notes of blackberry, currant, and cassis, with a hint of vanilla.

White: Southampton White

Our signature white wine.

Jason Vineyard

Rose: A  bouquet of strawberry, cherries and raspberries.

White – Golden Fleece: A  blend of Cayuga, Sylvia & Rewriter.

 

 

 

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Wine Bars Invade the Upper West Side

Wine Bottles. Photo: Tarallucci E Vino

Leslie Albrecht of DNA Info put together a great piece about the influx of chi-chi wine bars on the Upper West Side. Want to know where to go?  Leslie will guide you up and down the avenues.

Leslie called me to get my take on the trend. As I said to her: “They started out in the so-called cool neighborhoods and then business is good and they want to expand…. “Instead of going to Teaneck, [restaurants] go to the closest ‘burb, the Upper West Side.

Conventional wisdom among the city’s fooderati is that Upper West Siders singularly favor those old yiddishe standbys, lox and chocolate babka.

But maybe restaurateurs are waking up to the broader food tastes in the nabe. Food sophisticates do exist above 14th Street. Really.

What do you think? Is the Upper West Side becoming hip??

Here are some of the wine bars that Leslie singled out:

Tarallucci e Vino

The Tangled Vine

Bar Luna

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