Pinot Days 2015


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This past Sunday afternoon I attended the 4th annual Pinot Days wine event. Part of a Pinot Noir wine tour which was billed as the “largest gathering of Pinot Noir producers in the world”. The tour will also make stops in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. At this event in New York, 40 wineries from California, Oregon and New Zealand poured their selections though most of the wineries were from California. The event was held at City Winery located at 155 Varick Street in Manhattan and was open to the public.

The icy conditions that Sunday afternoon made for a smaller crowd than last years event as well as fewer wineries attending this time around.

At the beginning of the tasting I decided to focus on the small producers I wasn’t familiar with. Some of the highlights:


2012 Mansfield-Dunne Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands). This producer only makes two wines topping out at about 300 cases for each wine. Brick in color with a nice perfume of earth, smoke and black cherry and was tight and tart.

2012 J. Wilkes Winery Pinot Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Another small lots producer, medium red with earth and black cherry on the nose with juicy fruit and acids on the finish.

2009 Clos de la Tech Pinot Noir “Domaine du Docteur Rodgers” (Santa Cruz Mts.). Some tech guys decided to start a winery, today they poured a trio of their ’09’s, this one was medium to dark red in color with dusty and floral notes on the nose and was dusty and silky with a big hit of chewy tannin at the end. Some heat.

2012 Landmark Cellars Pinot Noir “Overlook” (California). Sourced from three appellations, medium red with floral dark chocolate on the nose, juicy with cinnamon spice on the fruit with good balance.

2012 Thomas Fogerty Winery Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mts.). Medium red with dried herbs on the nose, tart bright fruit with some earth notes on the finish.

2012 Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noir “Russian River Selection” (Russian River Valley). Light red in color with toasty cherry on the nose, silky dark cherry fruit with nice balance.

2012 Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noir “Bacigalupi Vineyard” (Russian River Valley). Light red with damp earth and mushroom on the nose with vanilla and cinnamon notes on the tight finish.

2013 Sojourn Cellars Pinot Noir “Rodgers Creek” (Sonoma Coast). Light red in color, closed nose of dark berries, tight, bright fruit with chocolate notes on the crisp finish.

2012 Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir “Horseshoe Bend” (Russian River Valley). Medium red with mushroom and earth on the nose with herbs and damp earth on the moderate to long finish.

2012 Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir “Soul Patch” (Russian River Valley). Medium red with a stinky nose, silky dark fruit with bitter chocolate on the long and balanced finish.

2011 Saintsbury Winery Pinot Noir “Stanly Ranch” (Carneros). Medium red with warm, dusty chocolate on the nose, juicy with mint notes on the balanced finish.

2011 MacPhail Family Wines Pinot Noir “Pratt Vineyards” (Sonoma Coast). Medium red with dried herbs on the nose, juicy and dusty with firm tannin.

2011 MacPhail Family Wines Pinot Noir “Sundawg Ridge” (Russian River Valley). Medium to light red in color with earth notes on the nose with earthy and dusty fruit and great balance.


2012 Van Duzer Vineyards Pinot Noir (Willamette). Medium red with toasty, floral notes on the nose, dark cherry fruit with big acids on the finish.

New Zealand

2011 Pyramid Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir “Earth Smoke” (Canterbury). There was one table of Pinot from New Zealand, I asked for the most “stinky” wine and this is what I was given. Cloudy light red in color, with, yes a stinky nose and was tight and tart.


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Italian Wine Merchants Tasting


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This Saturday afternoon I attended a wine tasting at Italian Wine Merchants wine shop which not surprisingly, specializes in Italian wines. The store is located on 108 East 16th street in Manhattan. They host a wine tasting every Saturday afternoon and since I know they pour good juice I decided to treat myself and attend. It was their “mini grand tasting” and the event was open to the public.  A walk-around tasting featuring seventeen wines from Italy, France and Spain. As usual, they served excellent bread, cheeses and salumi to nibble on.

Sparkling & Whites

2011 Raventós I Blanc Brut Rosé De Nit (Penedes). I always start with a glass of something sparkly and I like cava, this was pale copper in color with a floral and light earth on the nose with strawberry fruit on the crisp finish.

NV De Concilis “Selim” Spumante (Campania). Don’t see too many sparklers from Campania, a blend of Fiano and Aglianico it was pale yellow with rubber band notes on the nose with cotton candy on the finish. Not my favorite.

2011 Raffaele Palma “Puntacroce” Bianco (Campania).  From grapes grown on the Amalfi Coast DOC, gold in color with floral notes on the nose with balanced floral fruit and nice balance. Moderate to low acids.

2011 Antinori Castello Della Sala (Umbria). A Chardonnay based wine with some Grechetto thrown in, light gold with notes of mango and pineapple on the nose with tropical fruit flavors on the moderate to long finish.

2012 William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru “Valmur” (Burgundy). Light gold in color, dry with a flinty finish.

2012 Domaine Chavy-Chouet Puligney Montrachet                                                “Les Enseignères” (Burgundy).  Gold in color with toast and mango on the nose, tight with a good mouthfeel and nice acidity on the finish.


2011 Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune (Burgundy). Purple brick in color with a very nice perfume of earth and dark fruits, tight and silky with moderate to light fruit and a long finish. One of my favorites of the afternoon.

2012 Francois Gay Aloxe-Corton (Burgundy). Purple to brick in color with herbs and red cherry on the nose, silky red fruit with firm tannin at the end with moderate to low acids.

2012 Domaine Gallois Gevrey Chambertin “Le Combe Aux Moines” (Burgundy). Purple with dried herbs and some smokiness on the nose with dusty fruit and moderate tannin and acids at the end.

2010 Nicolas Rossignol Pommard 1er Cru “Fremiers” (Burgundy). Light red with toasty, cooked fruit on the nose with bright red fruit.

2010 Quinto Chionetti Dolcetto d’Dogliani  “San Luigi” (Piedmont). Dark brick with slate and red berries on the nose, dusty and juicy with some earth and black licorice notes with good balance and finish.

2012 Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso (Tuscany). A Bordeaux blend, dark purple with a closed nose of ripe toast with big silky fruit and mint on the firm finish.

2007 Cupano Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany). Brick in color with a perfume of red roses and sweet tar, in my notes I have “yummy fruit” with great balance and a long finish. Delicious.

2007 Renzo Seghesio Barolo Riserva “Pajana” (Piedmont). Brick with an amber robe, uncharacteristic nose of mowed grass and charcoal with graphite notes on the fruit.

2011 Raffaele Palma “Montecorvo” (Campania).  From the cliffs of Campania’s Amalfi coast, medium red with juicy red fruit on the nose, fresh herbs, licorice on the juicy fruit and firm tannin at the end.

2007 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva (Rioja). Dark red in color with fresh rosemary on the nose, dark and concentrated with dark chocolate notes on the firm finish and nicely balanced. Another favorite of the day.

2001 La Rioja Alta Grand Reserva “890” (Rioja). A cooperative of growers, medium brick with sour mint on the nose and red cherry fruit.



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Tree Trimming Party At Refinery

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Wine tasting events at this time of year usually get put on the back burner while the holiday parties are in full swing. Last Saturday afternoon I attended another one of those holiday parties, a holiday social at the Refinery Hotel located on 63 West 38th Street in Manhattan. The event took place at the rooftop bar which is an event space I’ve never been to before. Brick walls and an outdoor seating area with a great view of the Empire State Building. This afternoon the customers got to trim a real live Christmas tree out on the deck. It was a casual afternoon of ornament hanging, appetizers and the drinking of seasonal beers, eggnog made with Window Jane Distillery Bourbon and mulled cider with rum, bourbon or apple brandy (my favorite). Of course there was  a fireplace and mistletoe.



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Saveur Holiday Social

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This past Saturday afternoon I attended Saveur magazines holiday social, “a one day fête to get you into the holiday spirit”. The event took place at the Astor Center at 399 Lafayette Street in Manhattan. The event featured one room full of foodie gifts that were available for purchase while the other room was dedicated to food tastings of which my favorites were handmade garanelli pasta with urbani mushrooms in a truffle sauce and tacos de carne asada with pomegranate guacamole. There was also a bar serving holiday inspired craft cocktails, beer and wine. The cooking and cocktail seminars of which I attended took place in the back kitchen and lecture hall.

The event was open to the public and was soon crowded with party goers for most of the afternoon. My drinks of the day were the 2011 Grgich Hills Chardonnay and The Pallini Thyme Out which was a refreshing cocktail made with lemoncello and fresh thyme.

Workshops & Seminars

The Art of Transforming Ingredients with Bethony: Beet Milk Punch

I’ve never had a Milk Punch before, milk-based cocktails with spirits and sweeteners as a way to preserve milk. The cream is curdled and strained resulting in a clear liquid. At this workshop, the Somm from Bethony restaurant made a milk punch from goats milk, beets and gin. The milk was curdled and infused with the beets and strained through a fine sieve several times. It turned out clear and bright red and didn’t taste half bad!

A Classic Reinvented: Beef Wellington by Chef Florian Wehrli of Triomphe.

The reinvention part is from the use of Bison instead of Beef tenderloin in the recipe. The Bison is leaner than the Beef and the dish was very tasty.

His and Hers Wine Tasting from the Nomad and the Breslin

A flight of six wines from the husband and wife Sommelier duo of Thomas Pastuszak and Jessica Brown.

2008 Domain e Rolet Crement du Jura (Jura) Light yellow with a greenish tint with crisp, green apple fruit.

Savart L’overture NV (Champagne) Light gold in color with bread dough on the nose and yeasty, tart finish.

2013 Ravines Wine Cellars Dry Riesling (Finger Lakes) Light yellow with an oily and toasty nose and petroleum and shale on the fruit and a toasty, crisp and tart finish.

2013 Venica & Vencia Collio Sauvignon (Friuli) Light gold with a sweet nose of honeydew, dried flowers and earth on the fruit and nicely balanced.

2012 Tyler Winery Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara) Medium red with red dried herbs and red candy on the nose, cola and green stems on the light fruit.

2013 Tami Frappato  (Sicily) Light to medium red in color, bright nose of cherry and forest, dry and tight with mouth-watering acids at the end.



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Fest Of The Best

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This past rainy Saturday afternoon, I attended Thrillist’s  Fest of the Best event, “celebrating NYC’s finest dining establishments from 2014″. The event was held at Villian, a warehouse space at 50 N 3rd Street in Williamsburg near the river’s edge.

It was a consumer event. There was no wine poured, only beer and cocktails made with Grey Goose vodka who was one of the sponsors. The event space was smaller than I anticipated and it soon became crowded with the young  hipsters who live in the area. Things didn’t start off on the right foot when a half hour into the event, the venue ran out of the sponsored spirit. Fortunately a shipment of Grey Goose finally arrived to the relief of the patrons and I was able to indulge in my drink of the day, a Moscow Mule which was made with Grey Goose melon vodka and ginger beer. There were several local restaurants serving their signature dishes and we were to vote on our favorites.

My favorite dishes:

Crave Fishbar: Shetland Island Salmon Crudo

Bacchanal: Confit Lamb Shoulder with Mint-Olive Caper Relish

The Monarch Room: Seared Octopus with Fennel and Citrus

Other restaurants at the event

Seoul Chicken: Next day Fried Chicken with Habanero Honey

Horchata: Guacomole De Calabaza with House Made Tortilla Chips

Two Hands: Avo Toast with Smashed Avocado, Olive Oil and Sea Salt

French Louie’s: Snails Merchand De Vins

The Randolph: Warm Grain and Kale Salad

BLT Fishshack: Oysters on the half shell



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Autumn Wine Fest 2014

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On Saturday November 22 I attended the 2nd annual NYC Autumn Wine Festival. Last year I attended the first annual Autumn wine fest and had a surprisingly good time so I was looking forward to this event. For a consumer tasting some interesting and good juice were poured at a cool venue in Battery Park. This years event took place at a different venue, the Broad Street Ballroom near the Stock Exchange downtown. It’s another one of those former banks with plenty of marble and mosaics that have been reinvented as an event venue, it’s a much smaller space than the Conrad Hotel where the event was held last year. Another more important difference was the quality of the wines served at the event. Nowhere near the quality of juice served at last years event, though a bit better than last weeks Brooklyn Crush (run by the same company). I was disappointed. There were two sessions and I attended the afternoon session and they got a good crowd.


NV Juve Y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut

2012 Alta Alella Privat Cava.

2013 Lusenti Pinot Grigio Frizzante “Fiocco di Rose”

2012 Lepage Bourg Cote St. Jacques Gris

2013 Bricco del Sole Chardonnay

2012 Pesquie Cuvee des Terrasses Blanc



2010 Pyramid Valley “Calvert Vineyard” Pinot Noir

2012 Foxglove Zinfandel Paso Robles

2013 Mortilla Frappato “Sephora”

2010 Rouge Bleu Delletent Rhone Blend (Biodynamic)

2013 Monteforche Lo Sfuso di Collina

2012 Vallana Barbera

2011 Kermit Lynch Cypress Cuvee Cotes du Rhone

2011 El Enmigo Cabernet Franc

NV Lini Rosso Lambrusco

2012 Mohua Pinot Noir

2009 Marques de Caceres Reserva

2010 Cybele Rhone Red Blend Paso Robles.



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Two Night Tastings

This week I was able to attend a couple of night tastings after work. These tasting are always fun, usually a good crowd enjoying whatever wines are being poured.

Monday night I attended a night tasting of wines from Costieres de Nîmes sponsored by StarChefs and Bethony restaurant where the event was held.


2013 Chateau de Campuget White. A blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne, medium yellow with sweet candy on the nose and was tart and lemony with some green herbs on the finish.

2013 Chateau Guiot Rosé. A blend of Grenache and Syrah, cherry red in color with bright red cherry and fresh thyme on the fruit.

2009 Chateau Guiot “Numa”. At 95% Syrah, dark red with a big nose of smoky roasted meat, concentrated with notes of mineral and bacon fat on the crisp finish. Some food toned down the acids nicely.

2011 Michel Gassier “Nostre Pais”. A Rhone blend of several varietals, dark red with a subdued nose of dried herbs with juicy sweet cherry fruit with black licorice notes on the finish.

nimes 3

On Wednesday night I attended a tasting sponsored by Wines of Portugal which was held at Corkbuzz wine bar in Union Square. I’ve attended many tastings at this venue and the nibbles they put out to accompany the wines were excellent as usual. I normally look to Portugal for good value wines, but the wines poured this evening were higher end. Many dark, concentrated and balanced wines that would have made a California wine drinker smile. Some nice juice.


2012 José Maria da Fonseca Reserva Tinto (Peninsula de Setubal). Medium red with dusty bacon and red licorice on the nose with medium to long fruit, nicely balance, very drinkable.

2008 José Maria da Fonseca Domini Plus Tinto (Douro). Dark red with violets and black cherry on the nose (reminded me of a Chianti), chewy with mint, minerals and silky tannin on the finish. Very nice.

2011 Casa Ferreirinha Quinta da Leda Tinto (Douro). Black with tar and violets on the nose, big and concentrated with dark chocolate on the balanced fruit, big wine.

2013 Casa Ferreirinha Papa Figos Tinto (Douro). Dark red with crushed dark berries and bacon on the nose, dark juicy fruit with chocolate on the balanced finish.

2009 Quinto de Lemos (Dão). 100% Alfrocheiro. Dark red with leathery, sweet cherry fruit, chewy with dried herbs and leather notes on the excellent finish.

2009 Quinto de Lemos (Dão). 100% Tinta Roriz. Dark red to black in color with black licorice on the nose and dark fruit, tight with manageable tannin at the end.

2009 Quinto de Lemos Dona Georgina (Dão). Dark red to black with fresh herbs on the nose, silky with creamy black fruit, balanced with a long finish.

2009 Quinto de Lemos  Dona Santana (Dão). Dark red to black with fresh herbs on the nose, chewy with concentrated bright fruit and some heat at the end.

2010 Julia Kemper Touriga Nacional (Dão). 100% Touriga Nacional, black in color with crushed stone on the nose, silky and dusty, dark fruit with great balance.

2010 Luis Pato Vinha Pan Tinto (Beiras). 100% Baga. The guy pouring this said this producer was looking to make a Barolo style wine in Portugal and it smelled and tasted like one. Dark red in color with cigar box on the nose and tar notes on the silky fruit and tannins, great balance.



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