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Tasting Bordeaux Wines and Chocolate

An invitation to a guided tasting of Bordeaux wines with artisanal chocolates from one of France’s top chocolatiers is a welcome treat. And that’s what led us downtown to Danny Meyer’s Manhatta restaurant on November 7.

chocolates

The tasting and discussion was one of the daylong activities hosted by the the Bordeaux Wine School. Founded in 1989 (yes, celebrating 30 years!) the Bordeaux Wine school educates more than 85,000 people each year through its global network of over 250 accredited instructors. Classes are taught both at the school’s center in Bordeaux City and online around the world, offering courses in multiple languages. There is also a mobile app.

Master of Wine Mary Gorman McAdams, an accredited Bordeaux Wine School instructor, teamed up with Pierre -Antoine Bollet of Maison du Chocolat. The duo had conducted rigorous tastings beforehand to select the wines and chocolates for the session which started with an historical overview and a discussion about the commonalities of both Bordeaux wines and chocolates.

Grapes and Cacao Beans: Similarities

Just as wine is made from varieties of grapes, chocolate is made from different types of cacao beans grown. Terroir plays an important role in cultivating both grapevines and cacao trees. Cacao flourishes in tropical climates; over 70 percent is grown in Africa and 16 percent in Latin America.

Dark chocolate must be made with 43 percent minimum cacao, and milk chocolate is a minimum of 30 percent cacao. White chocolate has no cocoa powder (a heated form of cacao) and is 20% cacao butter and 14% milk. Technically, it is not chocolate. Cru chocolates, like wine, are sourced from single estates.

Both wine and chocolate contain tannins and (red wine) are rich in resveratrol, flavonoids and polyphenols. Both can be good for heart health when enjoyed in moderation. Chocolate contains caffeine, so be careful consuming large quantities at night.

Mary Gorman McAdams and Pierre -Antoine Bollet at Manhatta

 

Bordeaux & Chocolate: Three Key Elements to Consider

Gorman McAdams and Bollet explained that fruit flavored chocolate brings out acidity, and wines usually pair best with bittersweet and dark chocolate (with a higher percentage of cacao). They underscored three key elements to consider when pairing wine and chocolate:

Structure

  • Acidity, sweetness, astringency
  • Bitterness (phenols/tannins),
  • Alcohol, sourness

Texture

  • Light / delicate
  • Rich / dense

Flavor

  • Fruity, herbal, smoky, nutty, earthy,
  • Spicy

The pairing included one wine with two types of chocolate. The first misconception that went out the door was thinking it’s all about pairing red wine and chocolate. One of the best pairings was a Clos Floridene, Graves 2016 with a dark chocolate ganache with lemon cream and zest (“Andalousie”) from the South of France.

The experience was palate opening and generated an enthusiastic response among attendees.  Second helpings, anyone?

What we tasted

Clos Floridiene Graves

Clos Floridene, Graves, 2016

  • Andalousie: dark chocolate ganache with lemon cream and zest from South of France
  • Akosombo: Chocolate Bar with 68% cacao

Comment: The Graves with the ganache with lemon cream left us ready  to try more white wines with chocolate.

 Château Bourgneuf, Pomerol, 2015

  • Extreme Chocolat: dark chocolate ganache, perfect balance between the acidulous character and bitterness of pure cocoa
  • Salvador: dark chocolate ganache with raspberry pulp

Comment: The consensus in the room was mixed as to which paired better. We were partial to the dark chocolate ganache with raspberry with the plushness and deep tannins of this wine.

 

Château Fonbadet, Pauillac, 2016

  • Noir de Cassis: dark chocolate ganache with cassis
  • Quito: bittersweet dark chocolate ganache
  • Coro: Chocolate Bar with 100% cacao

Comment: Hands down the winning pairing was the Noir de Cassis, proving how well tannic wines can balance out creamy ganache.

 

Château de Cérons, Cérons, 2009

  • Maracuja: dark chocolate ganache with passionfruit pulp and juice

Comment: We initially thought this pairing would be overly sweet, but to the contrary, it was a nice balance.

 For more information on the Bordeaux Wine School, visit: https://www.bordeaux.com/us/

Listen and learn more:

Mary Gorman McAdams, MWIn this episode of The Connected Table SIPS, Mary Gorman McAdams, MW discusses The World’s Best Bordeaux Wine School

Bordeaux is one of the world’s most renowned wine appellations with more than 6000 producers. For 30 years, the Bordeaux Wine School has been the premier education source for learning about Bordeaux. Located in Bordeaux City and online, the school educates more than 85,000 people annually through its global network of over 250 accredited tutors. Master of Wine Mary Gorman McAdams discusses the Bordeaux Wine School’s curriculum for both wine professionals and consumers. www.bordeaux.com

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Cookbook RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Chef Marc Murphy- Global Citizen & Family Man

Marc Murphy

Chef Marc Murphy has one of the most eclectic bios we’ve ever read. First, he’s a nationally recognized chef whose restaurants have included Landmarc and Ditch Plains, each with two locations in New York. Second, he is a regular judge on The Food Network’s wildly popular “Chopped” shows in their various renditions. But there’s much more to his story than what people see on screen and read in media.

 

 

Dig deeper and you learn that this devoted husband to wife, Pamela Schein Murphy, and father to Callen and Campbell, has a little international man of mystique about him. A few examples:

Before the age of 12 he’d lived in Milan, Paris, Villefranche, Washington DC, Rome and Genoa, and he is fluent in four languages. His parents live in Monaco and, get this, Prince Albert was his babysitter! He is still a dual citizen of the United States and France.

He originally wanted to be a race car driver but switched gears (literally) because he didn’t have the money to buy a car. Instead, he decided to become a chef and enrolled in the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). He still loves and rides motorcycles. Melanie once road down the FDR Drive on the back of his Ducati after an event.

He is a fan of opera, the ballet, classical music and hip hop equally. Between jobs in the 1990s, he worked with the choreographer, Jerome Robbins. He believes good scotch should be serve with one ice cube and all meals should be served in the company of good wine and great company.

He is author of Season with Authority: Confident Home Cooking his debut cookbook which was released in April 2015 and continues to be a top seller. Yet, he confesses he can’t spell and battled dyslexia as a young boy.

 

Buy Marc’s book on Amazon.

 

From Hotshot Young Chef to Global Citizen

He was opening chef at Cellar in the Sky at Windows on the World, so having him join us on September 11 is particularly poignant. He later was recruited uptown to serve as executive chef for La Fourchette. Former New York Times Restaurant Critic Ruth Reichl awarded the restaurant two stars, writing that Marc has an “open desire to transform food [so that] in his hands, even a simple green salad … Looks like a ruffled hat in a painting by Renoir.”

In 2012 Marc joined the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, where he takes part in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the United States. He has traveled to Italy, China and Turkey as part of this program.

Melanie and Marc Murphy at Citi Taste of Tennis in New York City August 22

Marc is also involved with numerous industry and charitable organization. He is the President of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, both a board member and Food Council member of City Harvest, and a member of the Food + Finance High School’s Industry Advisory Board. He sits on the Leadership Council for Share our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and has been a national spokesperson for Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry initiative.

Marc has been a friend who was delighted to offer a supportive blurb for Melanie’s debut book, Getting Things Off My Chest which she wrote after surviving breast cancer. As high as his star has risen since we first came to know Marc as a young, motorcycle-riding, hotshot chef, as humbled and grounded he has remained as a caring father, husband and community citizen. We’ve celebrated many occasions at Marc’s various restaurants and are delighted to spend time with him September 11 on The Connected Table LIVE!

Chef Marc Murphy
Chef Marc Murphy

 

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Secrets of the Southern Table with Virginia Willis

Our August 14 edition of The Connected Table LIVE comes with a southern drawl and a discussion about food that left listeners (and us) drooling, courtesy of  Virginia Willis, author  of "Secrets of the Southern Table" and southern food chronicler.

The South is a delicious hodgepodge when it comes to its culinary heritage and it is one of the most fascinating places to visit because of it. Many customs are rooted in traditions that blend diverse cultures: Irish, Scottish, English, French, African, Hispanic, Vietnamese and Greek, just to name a few. In fact, the upcoming Les Dames d'Escoffier International Conference October 24-27 in Nashville has a seminar focused on sorghum and honey and another on the culinary influence of immigrants past and present in the state of Tennessee. Diversity is the fabric of the south, and it's delicious. Hopefully this unique cultural heritage will endure and achieve greater appreciation.


In Secrets of the Southern Table (Houghton Mifflin), Willis introduces us to the farmers, producers and fisherman who supply the foods many of us enjoy at the restaurants throughout the south. Some are multi-generational families; others are (relatively) newer enterprises born from the dedication of immigrants who settled in pockets of the south. It’s a culinary tour that runs the gamut from sweet potatoes and grits to gospel birds and game birds to sweet shrimp and sausages. Throughout the book you can’t help but ponder about what truly defines “heritage” in the new south. It’s a richer place today thanks to the many cultures you find there. We should never take that for granted.

Willis has written cookbooks covering everything from single subjects (okra and grits) to the complete southern table with Bon Appetit Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all. And then after filling us all up with rich delicious recipes, she taught us how to “Lighten Up Ya’ll” with a tailored approach to preparing southern dishes. - trimming the fat without losing the taste. Her  articles and recipes can also be found at her  "Cooking with Virginia" column in Southern Living magazine.

Read more about Virginia Willis on her website and blog: www.VirginiaWillis.com

Listen to The Connected Table LIVE with Virginia Willis here. Click image below:

 

Buy Secrets of the Southern Table Here. Click Image below.

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The Connected Table SIPS creates custom content and generates guaranteed coverage to share your brand or campaign story or message.

Attention importers and wine and food companies and the talented people who work with them. Let us help you spotlight your brands and programs this Fall and beyond through custom podcasts on The Connected Table SIPS on iHeart Radio and more.

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The Connected Table SIPS on iHeart Radio are easy- to-record podcasts that offer a turnkey way for you to get your message out to the people you want to reach.

All our SIPS broadcasts can be found on multiple podcast platforms, including iHeart.com/iHeart App, Apple Podcasts, Spreaker, Stitcher, among others. You can also find us at The Connected Table page on Sante Magazine, one of the food and beverage industry’s leading digital trade magazines.

Please show your support by taking a SIP (or a few) with us. Sign up for a custom podcast series and let us share your special story. Email: melanie@theconnectedtable.com and david@theconnectedtable.com (also the email to schedule all show bookings)

We’re about to start our Sixth Year at The Connected Table LIVE October 1.

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Sipping with Stefano Chiarlo, Michele Chiarlo Wines

Home to some of the world’s most sought after wines including Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and Moscato d’Asti, Piedmont is regarded as one of Italy’s great wine regions.  Michele Chiarlo Wines, founded by Michele Chiarlo and now run with the help of his sons Alberto and Stefano, has been a leader in the region since 1956.

Alberto, Michele and Stefano Chiarlo

Always family owned and operated, Michele Chiarlo owns vineyards in three of Piedmont’s most important growing regions: Langhe, Montferrato, and Gavi, and focuses exclusively on making single vineyard wines. Their vineyard in Cerequio, in the heart of Barolo, is considered one of the finest plantings of Nebbiolo in the region and is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The same is true for La Court, the Chiarlo Vineyard in Barbera, which also caries the UNESCO moniker.

Cerequo vineyards

Purists at heart, the Chiarlo family creates their wines exclusively from indigenous grape varieties including Barbera, Cortese, Nebbiolo, and Moscato, and over the years has helped lead Piedmont’s quality revolution in both winemaking and farming practices in through leadership, innovation, and dedication to their craft. “Preserving this land for the future is vey important to us,” says Stefano Chiarlo, who oversees wine production, “therefore we helped establish standards of quality for the DOC winemaking laws in Piedmont, and spearheaded green harvest practices, for all of Italy, in 1984.”

Never comfortable to rest on their laurels, The Chiarlo family is constantly working to find the next big wine and as such has heavily invested in the region’s new Nizza DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Italy’s highest level of quality for wine), in order to build that new winemaking appelation’s reputation for quality in the marketplace.

Michele Chiarlo Barolo Vineyards

 

The following selection of Michele Chiarlo wines are a good way to get to know this iconic brand, which is imported into the United States by Kobrand Wine & Spirits.

Le Marne Gavi DOCG: Made in the Gavi region, and area known for its white wine production from the Cortese grape variety, Le Marne shows citrus and mineral notes and jumps on the palate with lively acidity. A perfect white to pair with food.  SRP: $19.99

Cipressi Barbera Nizza DOCG: Grown at Le Court, the Chiarlo estate in Barbera, this 100% Barbera wine is shows classic notes of ripe cherry and red fruit through a lush, yet elegant palate. A perfect wine for lighter meats and pasta dishes. SRP: $29.99

Tortoniano Barolo DOCG: 100% Nebbiolo from Piedmont’s pre-eminent wine region, the Tortoniano Barolo spends 2 years in barrel and one year in bottle prior to release. A highly structured wine, yet also quite approachable at an early age, this wine is a wonderful food wine perfect for pairing with meats, pastas, and aged cheeses. SRP: $59.99

 

Listen to The Connected Table SIPS with Stefano Chiarlo. Click this image and stream:

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Exploring AOC Costières de Nimes, Rhône Valley

Costières de Nîmes was a pleasant discovery for us, far from the more heavily visited areas of Provence to the east. The Rhône Valley’s southernmost wine region sits on a plateau that stretches north from the Camargue delta region 50 kilometers to the south. From some hilltop vineyards, one can see Arles and an outline of the Frank Gehry-designed The Luma Arts Foundation complex, which has turned that ancient Roman city in Provence into a contemporary arts destination.

View from a Costières de Nimes vineyard

Vines have been cultivated in Costières de Nimes since the days of Ancient Greece. The area was also occupied by the Romans after they conquered Egypt during the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. The region and its namesake city, Nîmes, display the imagery of a crocodile tied to a palm tree, from the pavement to street signs and a few whimsical sculptures positioned here and there. The crocodile represents Egypt, and the palm tree is the Roman symbol of victory.

You can find the crocodile and the palm tree throughout the city of Nîmes.

Winemaking began to flourish in Costières de Nîmes during the Middle Ages, and the region’s wines became the preferred selection of the 14th century Papal Court when it occupied nearby Avignon. A boost to the viticultural economy occurred in the 20th century with the construction of both Pierre-Paul Riquet’s Canal du Midi and Philippe Lamour’s Canal du Bas-Rhone which facilitated transportation from the region.

An AOC since 1986, Costières de Nîmes‘ production is red wines (55%), rosés (40%) and whites (5%).  Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah are the dominant red varieties (80%); Carignan and Cinsault are also used.  Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussane are the three main white grapes, followed by Bourboulenc, Clairette, Vermentino and Viognier. The reds are sultry and juicy with dark blackberry and raspberry notes; the whites are aromatic with a touch of salinity thanks to the region’s proximity to the sea and the soil. The climate is classic southern France – Mediterranean Sea breezes mixed with cool mistral winds from the north and more than 200 days of sunshine.

Rockin the vineyards with Jérôme Castillon, Château L’Ermitage, AOC Costières de Nîmes, Nimes, Rhône Valley

Our first visit was Château L’Ermitage. Owner Jérôme Castillon took us on a bumpy open-air Land Rover ride through the hilly vineyards to shows us the rocky terrain covered with garrigue, a particularly herbaceous Mediterranean brush that contributes to the earthy herbal character of the wines. Thanks to the proximity to the Rhône River, the soils are alluvial with many large pale pebbles, called galets.

More rocky vineyards with Costières de Nîmes vignerons, Anne and François Collard, Château Mourgues du Grès

Later, we visited more, even steeper and stonier vineyards at Château Mourgues du Grès with proprietors François and Anne Collard. At their winery, which was formerly a convent, a few other local producers joined is to present their wines along those from  Château Mourgues du Grès, including: Maison Gabriel Meffre (Anthony Taylor), Mas des Bressades (Cyril Marès), Château de Valcombe (Nicolas Ricome).

A tasting with Costières de Nîmes vignerons. (left to right): Nicolas Ricome (Château de Valcombe), Cyril Marès (Mas des Bressades), Anthony Taylor (Maison Gabriel Meffre), Ann Collard, François Collard (Château Mourgues du Grès)

In the evening, we had dinner in Nîmes at the Museum of Roman History (Musee de la Romanate. This is a newer addition to the city of Nîmes. It’s a large modern edifice with a rooftop garden and panoramic views. We read in this article that the architect, Elizabeth de Portzamparc, was inspired by a Roman toga. We’re not sure we get that, but we did get – and enjoyed -the wines we tasted during our meal at museum’s on-site restaurant, La Table du 2 Brasserie by Michelin Star-rated Chef Franck Putelat. The producer was fourth generation vintner Fanny Boyer, Château Beaubois.

Maison Carrée (“square house”) is a perfectly preserved Roman temple in the heart of Nîmes

If you visit the region, seeing Nimes is a must. It’s filled with history and is nice for strolling and spotting crocodile and palm tree imagery. Among the many sights of historical note, two include the giant ancient amphitheater that now serves as a performance space and the Maison Carrée,  a completly preserved the ancient Roman.  More on visiting Nimes here.

We also recommend this article in The New York Times Style Magazine

Domaine des Clos was formerly a winery. Now it is a lovely hotel restored and owned by Sandrine and David Ausset.

A note on where we stayed…We loved our two nights at Domaine des Clos, a boutique apartment-hotel with spacious grounds and very good food (we had three meals there- breakfast, lunch and dinner). Owners Sandrine and David Ausset, both native to the region, left their corporate jobs in Paris to spend years renovating this abandoned 18th century wine estate. Sandrine is passionate about ayurvedic health and offers special retreats.

We came; we saw; we tasted- and enjoyed- the wines of Costières de Nîmes, Rhône Valley

Our trip was arranged by Inter-Rhône which has very helpful information on the Rhône Valley on its website www.vins-rhone.com. We also recommend www.costieres-nimes.org

Listen to The Connected Table SIPS with Anthony Taylor, Maison Gabriel Meffre, who discussed the region and styles of wine produced in Costières de Nîmes.

Ir’s considered Good Luck to touch the nose of the crocodile in Nimes.

 

 

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Lavender Fields Forever: Sipping Luberon Rosé in the Rhône Valley

When July rolls around we’re longing for Provence and the chance to see first-hand the lavender fields in bloom. It’s still on our bucket list; we are not there, yet, despite having spent many lazy, late summer days visiting friends with a house in the Luberon, usually end of August.

Lavender fields in bloom in the Luberon during summer The wines have timeless appeal year-round.

But we did have the chance to visit the Luberon in May for a wine tour of  the southern Rhône Valley.  The weather was warm and dry, and the buses of tourists were still thankfully sparse. May is a great time to visit before the summer crowds descend. While no lavender was in bloom, there were other blooms a’plenty. Numerous bright yellow wildflowers and orange-red poppies dotted the fields, and orchards were filled with blooming cherry and apricot trees. 

We’ve always been fans of Luberon rosé and tasted several during our visit. The styles of rosé in the Luberon can range from crisp and dry to fresh, floral and fruity. Rosé wines make up 52 percent of the wines produced in AOC Luberon  which was established in 1988. Vines are cultivated on both sides of the Luberon mountain range at altitudes of 200 to 350 meters above sea level, which adds to the wines’ freshness and purity. The primary red grapes are Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault. Soils vary from limestone to clay and red sand. The climate can range from Mediterranean warm to very cool nights.

It was a busy market day when we visited the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin du Luberon in Ménerbes to taste a few wines with three producers:  Lionel Bourgue, Domaine de la Citadelle,   Nathalie Margan, Chateau La CanorgueChristian Ruffinatto, Domaine Ruffinatto –  and Thomas Montagne Chateau de Clapier.

At Maison de la Truffe et du Vin Menerbes with Christian Ruffinatto, Domaine Ruffinatto; Nathalie Margan, Chateau La Canorgue and Thomas Montagne, Chateau de Clapier

Later in the afternoon, we visited Château la Canorgue, a 200-year-old family-owned estate in Bonnieux and the first organic winery in the Luberon.  The winery is run Jean-Pierre Margan with his daughter, Nathalie, who represents the fifth generation of winegrowers. The wines are recognized around the world.

Vineyards at Château la Canorgue in Bonnieux.

Visitors may recognize Château la Canorgue from Filmmaker Ridley Scott’s “A Good Year,” with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. The estate was a setting for the movie. The Margans remain nonplussed when tourists arrive to snap fan photos. While at Château la Canorgue, we sat down with Nathalie Margan to discuss  styles of AOC Luberon rosé, which range from a light pink grapefruit citrus squeeze to an embrace of fresh wild strawberries.

AOC Luberon Rhône Valley rosés possess terrific minerality, complexity and freshness. These are not one-size-fits all rosés; a sense of place is evident from the first sip. You just want to reach for a salad chèvre chaud, fresh grilled seafood with vegetables drizzled with local olive oil.

 

Simple, fresh-grilled vegetables are perfect with Luberon rosé wines

 

Listen to our visit with Nathalie Margan on The Connected Table SIPS. Click image below or visit iHeart.com at this link

For more information on AOC Luberon and its wines, visit: www.vin-luberon-fr

 

 

We love the Luberon! With Nathalie Margan at Château la Canorgue

 

 

 

 

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Sipping with Susana Balbo, Argentina’s First Woman Winemaker

Susana Balbo, Founder of Susana Balbo Wines, has a career history of firsts: The first Argentinian female winemaker, first Argentinean woman to become a global wine consultant and first Latin American woman to chair the W20 Summit. She has served as a member of Argentina’s parliament representing the Mendoza region, and she served three terms as President of Wines of Argentina during which time Argentinian wines gained global recognition and achieved record export growth.

Argentina’s Susana Balbo is woman of many firsts.

Balbo believes to lead is to set an example for future generations. Interestingly, her original dream to study abroad and become a nuclear physicist in the 1970s was discouraged by her parents. She told us at the time, things were different politically in Argentina, and her parents wanted her to stay closer to home in Mendoza. Instead, Balbo studied viticulture and became the first woman in Argentina to earn an oenology degree. Initially, she worked in her family’s viticultural business and then spread her wings and expanded her credentials by working with Michael Torino Winery, Martins and Catena Zapa and then consulting for numerous global wine brands in South America, Australia and Europe.

Susana Balbo Wines in Mendoza

After 20 years producing and consulting for other wineries, she founded Susana Balbo Wines in Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza. Balbo said her vision was always to make high-quality wines  with beautiful fruit and elegant balanced finish, approachable when young but with promising ageabilty. Today, Balbo runs her eponymous winery with her daughter Ana, a graduate of University San Andrés in Buenos Aires, and son José, a graduate of Unversity California at Davis.  www.susanabalbowines.com

Luján de Cuyo is a cool, mountainous sub-region in Mendoza known for its Malbec

Balbo spends much of her time on the road. We were lucky enough to catch a few minutes with her to share her vision on leadership and mentorship for women on The Connected Table SIPS. Balbo discussed why she chose to embrace both the role of entrepreneur and public servant, holding a position in Argentina’s parliament and leading the W20 Summit, whose mission is to create a more sustainable business and civil environment for women in South America and beyond.

A portion of this sponsored podcast was donated to Les Dames d’Escoffier’s Carol Brock Scholarship, in recognition of the Founder of this prestigious organization of leading women in food, fine beverage and hospitality. www.ldny.org  www.ldei.org

Click this image to listen on iHeart. Also available on iTunes, Spreaker, Stitcher and “The Connected Table Page” at Sante Magazine.


The U.S. importer for Susana Balbo Wines is Folio Fine Wine Partners. Here area few selections we tried:

Brioso 2016. A blend of 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc, 16% Malbec, 7% Petit Verdot. Aged 15 months in 100% new French oak barrels. It shows sweet red and black fruits, subtle oak and a great backbone of tannins and elegant grip over florality from the Cabernet Sauvignon. Great aging potential.

 

Brioso Signature White Blend 2017 45% Semillón, 30% Torrontés, 25% Sauvignon Blanc. 4 months in 60% first use French oak barrels and 40% second use. An aromatic wine with floral and citrus notes combined with touches of fresh grass, white fruits and orange.  Its finish is mineral and persistent. Great potential for aging.

 

Nosotros 2013 – 100% Malbec aged 16 months, 80% in new French oak and 20% in second use French oak. This is Balbo’s iconic wine, vibrant. intense and elegant, a balance of dark fruits and spice. Great aging potential.

 

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Access Meets Awesome- Sipping with Wine Access

When you choose a nice bottle of wine to drink, what are you looking for besides balance and structure? How about Authenticity and a touch of Awesome? And if you are selecting a wine to sell, would you stake your reputation on it? That’s the thought process behind the team at Wine Access (www.wineaccess.com) whose management team say they take the guesswork out of selecting wine.

Wine Access offers a selection of curated wines from around the world from both established producers and new discoveries, as well as a selection of sakes. Wine Access  also features a selection of proprietary wines created in partnership with top winemakers and sold exclusively through their online platform.

Launched 20 years ago initially as a web hosting platform for brick and mortar stores and wine publications, Wine Access has grown to become one of the leading direct to consumer wine companies in the United States. Wine selections are offered both online and through a daily email offers.

The Connected Table sat down with Joe Fisch, Wine Access CEO/CFO, and Vanessa Conlin, Head of Wine, to discuss how Wine Access works and what sets it apart. Fisch and Conlin were quick to address their #1 priority- offering their customers access, expertise and ease when it comes to buying wine.

Recording The Connected Table SIPS! podcast with Joe Fisch and Vanessa Conlin, Wine Access, at Colangelo & Partners offices in Manhattan. Wine Access has offices in Napa and San Francisco.

“Wine Access is all about going the extra mile. For example, we won’t just post a short description and photo of a wine bottle; we’ll share the brand’s story in a 500 to 1000 word write up. We also produce informational content through video and articles that help inform our customers about different wine regions, styles of wine, buying and cellaring and other features,” said Fisch. “We also leverage our relationships in the industry to offer our members a selection of proprietary wines that we make in collaboration with some California’s top winemakers such as French native and in-demand wine consultant Julien Fayard.

Idiosyncrasy is one of Wine Access’s proprietary wines produced in collaboration with some of California top winemakers. This Cabernet Sauvignon (2016 vintage) is from Atlas Peak in Napa. Its winemaker is Julien Fayard, who is recognized for making 99-point Cabernet Sauvignon wines for Purlieu and Le Pich

The Wine Access tasting team consists of a Master Sommelier, two Master of Wine candidates and other seasoned industry wine professionals. Conlin noted that the wine team at Wine Access regularly travels to scout out wineries and meets weekly to taste and evaluate wines. “Of the thousands of bottles, the team tastes, only around one percent are accepted. We have to all agree unanimously on a wine before adding it as a selection. We each ask ourselves: ‘Would you stake your reputation on this wine?’” said Conlin.

The Wine Access tasting team: Eduoardo Dingler, Neil Mechanic, Vanessa Conlin, Robert Emery, Sur Lucero MS

But it is not only creative content and high caliber wine offerings that matter. The Wine Access team believes it’s important to engage its customers beyond online communications through experiential events.  Examples include private Château Margaux and Château Lafite Rothschild tastings for 25 VIP customers. That’s the “awesome” part, they say.

“Who wouldn’t want to experience those tastings,” said Conlin, “we are always looking for new ways to share experiences and stories about wine producers and places with our members. It’s about offering both access and authenticity to the world’s finest wines.”

www.wineaccess.com

We’ll drink to that!

Listen to our podcast with Joe Fisch and Vanessa Conlin here on The Connected Table SIPS. Click image below or click here

 

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A Visit with Bona Frescobaldi, Laudemio Frescobaldi

Bona Frescobaldi is a member of storied Frescobaldi family, whose history in Tuscany dates back over 1000 years and 30 generations, and whose wine estates are world-renowned. She serves as a global ambassador for the family to strengthen international relations. Frescobaldi has made it her life’s mission to support and preserve the art and culture of Tuscany, as well as its agricultural bounty, especially wine and olive oil.

Marchesa Bona Frescobaldi

In 1986, the family created the Laudemio Consortium, the first private Italian institution fully dedicated to expressing the art and terroir of Tuscan olive oil. The family has more than 300 hectares (750 acres) of olive groves and has been harvesting olives and producing olive oil since the 1300s. It wasn’t until 1989 when they produced their first harvest of Laudemio extra-virgin olive oil, a special cru representing the highest expression of terroir and quality.” In the Middle Ages, Laudemio was the name of the best part of the harvest, reserved for the “lord’s table.”

Much like picking grapes, harvesting olives takes place during a carefully monitored window of time in October to capture both the olives’ green color and fresh flavors. The olives are then pressed right after picking within 24 hours in a proprietary mill to ensure the ideal acidic composition and aromatic profile and optimum nutrients in the oil. Frescobaldi manages 100 percent of the entire production process, from plant-picking to packaging to maintain quality control.

Laudemio’s prestigious reputation even has a royal audience. During our conversation, Frescobaldi shared that HRH Prince Charles of Great Britain is a fan of Frescobaldi Laudemio extra-virgin olive oil drizzled over toast. She sends him bottles for his birthday.

 

In addition to her work in wine and olive oil, Frescobaldi is a member of the Friends of Florence, an organization dedicated to preserving and restoring Florentine artifacts; a cofounder of the Committee of the Friends of La Pietra, an association of New York University, whose goal is to maintain and improve relations between Florence and New York. She is also active in numerous civic and social causes around both the arts and women’s health.

What we tasted:

Laudemio Frescobaldi 2018 extra-virgin olive oil, a 30th anniversary special edition packaged in golden bottle that resembles a fine perfume. The olive oil has deep fruit and earthy aromas and flavors with a spicy finish and a deep emerald olive hue Just a few drops drizzled over crusty bread, salad, pasta or chicken is all you need. We even tried it drizzled in plain Greek yogurt for breakfast!

Listen to our SIPS podcast with Bona Frescobaldi on iHeart/iHeart App. Click here:

 

 

 

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Botas De Barro- The Story of the “Muddy Boots”

Nicola Thornton grew up in the U.K. but fell in love with Spain after attending university there. She moved and entered the wine industry. We first met Thornton when she was working for a well-known producer in Toro.  We’ve stayed in touch over the years and were delighted to spotlight Thornton in two podcasts for The Connected Table SIPS.

 

 

The first podcast discussed the expert set up called Spanish Palate. Thornton says she looks for independent producers that are “magical little gems with great stories,” giving them a voice and introducing them to international markets. Working with a largely female team, Thornton has helped over 100 wine producers from 20 different regions in Spain find their place in over 40 countries, al in under three years.  www.spanishpalate.es Facebook/ Instagram: spanishpalate

 

But that’s just the start of Thornton’s efforts. While working the business she said she became acquainted with local grape growers and aware of the hardships they faced.  She created Botas de Barro (named after the farmers´muddy boots) to help give them renewed hope and support, encouraging them to continue to nurture their low-yield, ancient vineyards, many over 100 years old. Grapes are sourced from small independent grape growers throughout Spain to produce its portfolio of wines. www.botasdebarro.com. Facebook: botasdebarro

 

Nicola Thornton with one of Spain’s many old vines

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This podcast is part of our special series recognizing women in wine and spirits. A donation has been made to Les Dames d’Escoffier, an organization to supporting women in the fine food and beverage industry through education and advocacy www.ldei.org . For information on featuring a dynamic women for this series, contact melanie@theconnectedtable.com.

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Sipping with Eileen Crane, CEO, Domaine Carneros

For anyone who’s ever visited California wine country, one of the of the most popular places to stop and taste is Domaine Carneros Winery, which is recognized for its méthode traditionelle sparkling wines, estate vineyards and breathtakingly beautiful château. Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by Claude Taittinger of the Champagne Taittinger family. Located entirely within the Carneros AVA, between Napa and Sonoma, Domaine Carneros comprises six vineyards on 400 acres. The château is inspired by the 18th century Château de la Marquetterie, the Taittinger family residence in the Champagne region.

Domaine Carneros sits majestically on a hill overlooking the vineyards/

To oversee management and production of its first méthode champenoise wines in the U.S.A. Taittinger tapped sparkling wine specialist Eileen Crane to be CEO and Founding Winemaker. Crane, who holds a degree in enology and viticulture from University of California Davis, as well as a master’s degree in Nutrition from University of Connecticut, had been working as winemaker and vice president at Gloria Ferrer since 1983, and prior to that at Domaine Chandon.

Eileen Crane has been called “The Doyenne of American Sparkling Wines.”

We visited with Crane on The Connected Table SIPS to discuss her approach to making sparkling wines in cool-climate Carneros, as well as what the visitors can expect when they visit the winery. Crane underscored that Domaine Carneros is all about delivering an exceptional tasting experience and offers a selection of wine and food pairings and settings to enjoy them.

Caviar tasting at Domaine Carneros

We’ve had the pleasure of tasting wines at Domaine Carneros when we visited in 2017 and most recently with Crane for our SIPS podcast. Here’s what we tasted:

Domaine Carneros 2015 Brut Cuvée – Made from Chardonnay 51%, Pinot Noir 47% and Pinot Gris 2%, an elegant wine with notes of key lime, honeycomb and lemon curd on the nose and baked pear, lime blossom and lemon meringue on the palate for a creamy, long finish.

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour – This sparkling rosé is named for Madame la Pompadour, paramour to French King Louis XV, who reportedly said, “Champagne is the only wine a woman can drink and remain beautiful.” Made from 100% Pinot Noir using the rose de saignée method, allowing the grape must and skins to macerate for a several days, after which a small amount of Pinot Noir wine is added to enhance the color, which is a deep salmon. Pair with roasted salmon or duck or even fresh berries for dessert.

Domaine Carneros 2012 Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs – Made from 100% Chardonnay, this tête de cuvée represents Claude Taittinger’s dream (rêve in French) to make one of America’s finest sparking wines, which it has been frequently named. La Rêve has notes of white flowers, Meyer lemon, poached pear and a touch of grilled grapefruit and a fresh, long palate that opens to honeysuckle and crème brûlée. Pair with delicate seafood dishes such as poached scallops, cracked crab or Dover sole, or with double or triple crème cheeses.

All photos courtesy of Domaine Carneros Info: www.domainecarneros.com

Hear more from Eileen Crane. Listen to this edition of The Connected Table SIPS on iHeart.com. Click image below:

This podcast is part of our special series recognizing women in wine and spirits. A donation has been made to Les Dames d’Escoffier, an organization to supporting women in the fine food and beverage industry through education and advocacy www.ldei.org . For information on featuring a dynamic women for this series, contact melanie@theconnectedtable.com.