Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Fellow Swirl-girl Carly and I spent last night at Bridge Urban Winery (http://www.bridgeurbanwinery.com/) trying 11 North Fork (of Long Island) wines for a little research…just one of the perks of the job. The love our wine guy, Isaac, had for Bridge's wines was palpable. But was it enough to convince someone who was "raised" on California wine? We concluded that North Fork wines aren't better than CA wines, just different; a bit leaner and generally more minerally. It's still a young industry and the climate's drastically different, but the rise and evolution of a relatively new wine region is exciting to observe. Bridge Urban Winery is a great place to experience it while listening to local musicians (a friend of Isaac) and chatting at the bar with the Bridge crew (winemaker, designers, carpenters and all.)
Our favorite wines from the evening were:
Bridge '07 Chardonnay <http://www.bridgeurbanwinery.com/>- reminded me of banana laffy taffy in a good way. A sweet, tropical nose with a crisp citrusy palate, easy drinking and light bodied. A Chardonnay to challenge the "Anything-But-Chardonnay drinkers. FOOD PAIRING: Salads w/vinaigrette dressing
Paumanok '04 Merlot - <buy here> an aromatic wine chock full of baking spice on the nose. Gentle tannins and a nice dose of acidity make this a balanced wine perfect for food (which can't be said of many, many CA Merlots.) FOOD PAIRING: Savory baked vegetable dishes, game meats
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
I recently made another giddy appearance on the Martha Stewart Radio show to talk about wine perfect for the big Thanksgiving feast (a holiday devoted to food and football, what's not to love. And oh yes, gratitude as well.) The host, Mario Bosquez, is as lovely as you could imagine. And unlike many other radio shows, this place has its act together. Not surprising for a Martha venture, is it? That got me thinking - what wine would the demi-goddess herself be? I liken Martha Stewart to a Bollinger 1996 RD Extra Brut Champagne (buy here) I recently had the pleasure of tasting. Like anything Ms. Stewart touches, it's made to perfection. This hand-crafted labor of love has a rich creaminess that's balanced with sharp acidity. There's an intensity in this wine that Martha's famous for, both in front of the camera and off. Even with its powerful flavors, the wine shows off its delicate flavors and complexity. And other wannabe Marthas watch out - like this Champers with it's unbelievable freshness (due to its "RD" recently disgorged status), this lady and her personified wine will be around for a long, long time.
Monday, November 24, 2008
My last taste of Jordan Cab was the 1997, a superb year for wine. The 2004 is another story. It just goes to show you, ala the Bushes, that just because the first was ok doesn't mean the next will be even tolerable. In the often intimidating world of wine and politics, we often look for a brand name to assure us and believe that through osmosis, the positive qualities will always seep through to the next of kin. I was fooled with the Jordan, as I'm sure some our public (or at least Florida) was with the Bush, Jr.. Like "Still-President" George, the 2004 Jordan Cab lacked depth and had little concentration of flavor. I kept thinking it would evolve over time and give me more, but instead, I got more of the same superficiality. There must be hope somewhere in the near future. Yes we can…find a better bottle of wine. And we did. More on that next.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I talked about Thanksgiving tradition earlier in the form of dishes from family members. This year, add a tradition that will be welcome by all and bring the same excellent wine year after year. Pick a starting point vintage and bring the subsequent vintage annually. An excellent pick that will stand the test of time and not break the bank is the Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon ($42) from the Margaret River area of Australia. A deep, dark, beautiful Cabernet that has great aging potential is a good option for a traditional wine. This one has lots of dark berry flavors and some vanilla notes due to the new oak aging. And just how much wine should you bring? Budget one glass of wine per person, per hour. You can 4-6 glasses per bottle, depending on how generously you pour. And since it's Thanksgiving, shouldn't we all be generous?
Monday, November 10, 2008
The Classic red wine to have with Thanksgiving Dinner is a Zinfandel. Another point of clarification, this is WAY different from “White Zinfandel.” This is a rich, zesty, peppery wine which is also often very fruity and goes well with the richness of the food on the table. And again, since this is an American holiday, celebrate it with one of the only wines that originates in the US. If you don't want your strange Uncle Eddy to get uncomfortably cozy too soon, make sure to get one that isn’t completely toppling over with alcohol which is often the case with Zins from California. My favorite which is also widely available is the Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel ($35) from Sonoma County in CA. It’s a lush, sensual and elegant. Lots of black pepper and spice on it, and check out the color – nearly inky opaque. This wine is a stunner.
Friday, November 7, 2008
'RECESSIONISTA' SEEMS TO BE THE NEW WORD ON THE STREET and that applies to us wino-s as well. Here are some of Swirl Savvy's favorite cheap 'n chic wines:
My fall fave, the Monte Velho Red from Alentejo Portugal. At $8, it's a steal. Which brings me to a winner strategy on picking value wines - look for lesser known regions. Everyone knows Napa and Bordeaux, but Alentejo? Only the luck. Buy it online here or locally in NYC, find it at 67 Wine @ Columbus & 68th. Another strategy, look for a cheaper wine from a great importer like Michael Skurnik like this Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda from Mendoza, Argentina for $10. Argentina is FULL of great value wines and this Bonarda tops my list. It's that inky, brooding, deep dark wine I long for on nights when I huddle under my alpaca throw. Buy it here locally at my favorite NYC wine show, Frankly Wines. On the white wine front, check out this more edgy wine, the Gruner Veltliner, which tends to get high marks from my hipster friends who like to try that something just a wee bit off the beaten path, and scoop up values at once. A classic Gruner is from Berger. Also, a Michael Skurnik selection available at Frankly Wines for $13. You get a whole lot of flavor while getting a bit in the know.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The 2006 Green Point Pinot Noir Rosé from Victoria, Australia is the wine you start to sip and can't put down. It's the Rachael Ray of wines - full of flavor, slightly effervescent, and makes you want to whip up a quick meal since it's super food friendly. She's the chef-next-door and the Green Point Rosé is clearly a wine you want to have to take your everyday meal up a notch. This bright cherry pink wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It has the delicate nature of a white wine and the flavor and kick of a red. The high altitude of Victoria lends to cool nights and dry days bringing about a complexity of flavor. If you close your eyes, you almost feel like it's summer again with the aromas of red cherries and farm-fresh strawberries. And don't make me get on my soapbox and expound how rosés aren't just for summer. The same fruit flavors leap up on your palate in addition to delicate floral notes and a surprising dry finish. It may not be the wine to take over the food world as it seems Rachael is set to, but it surely looks pretty in your glass and even more yum-o to taste.
Friday, October 17, 2008
If I were a wine, I'd be this wine, a Merlot-based Bordeaux blend that
likens itself to the Pomerol of California. Like me, it wants to capture
your imagination and take you on a sensory journey. It makes you
smile and close your eyes as you take another sublime sip. It's a wine
that loves a celebration and sharing with friends. You turn the bottle
around to read more about it, because you know this wine has a
lot going on under its approachable surface. It's smooth and
full-bodied with soft, round flavors. And hopefully like the rising wine
entrepreneur I strive to be, this wine is successful in what it's
ambitiously trying to accomplish.
This is the number one question I'm asked at my events, and I understand why. Unless you have friends over, or are really 'thirsty', it's hard to finish a bottle of wine in an evening. Before Mr. SwirlSavvy entered my life, I would hesitate before opening a bottle of wine on a weeknight because I knew the rest could go to waste. But how long will your wine last? That's a tricky question with no standard answer. Your wine starts transforming once you open it. Sometimes wine will last one day, and some will be fine for several, like the Esporao Reserva Branco of Alentejo, Portugal. This wine started off lush, with tropical fruit flavors and the body of an American Chardonnay without the overly buttery/oaky feel. On Day 2, it seemed to open up even further to expose floral notes, but the alcohol did seem to poke through a bit more. It was still drinkable on Day 3. That's a wine with longevity. To prolong the life of your wines (and avoid weeping as you dump wine down the drain), try these two methods:
1) Suck the oxidizing air out through a Vacu-Vin Wine Saver. Use the stopper they provide.
2) Refrigerate your wine - red or white. This truly helps! Just let your reds get to the right drinking temperature by pulling it out of the fridge 20 mins before serving. I do the same for white wines, but 10 minutes before serving.
Although I've been told many times that each of the 50 states produces wine, I still got taken off-guard when I tried the Kluge "Simply Red" wine from Albemarle County, Virginia. But in a sip, sublime took over surprise. This wine reminds me of the Reese Witherspoon, a Southern herself, who, as of late, has taken everyone by surprise. The wine is a "Bordeaux blend," i.e. a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Like Reese, it has a lot of complexity. Not only can it pull of a delightful "Legally Blond" easiness to drink, but it also manages to surprise us with a "I'm with Jake Gyllenhall" edginess and structure. Reese speaks her mind and doesn't let anyone think she's anything but a strong woman. This Kluge doesn't mess around with its origins, boldly stating "Albemarle" on its label. This is a wine I'd like to sip on a crisp fall evening, wrapped in a blanket on my wraparound Southern-style porch--preferably with my version of Jake closeby.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The 2005 Montinore Estates, Parson's Ridge Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon is good for the planet and still so luscious - it's the Leonardo DiCaprio of wines. Like lovely Leo, this wine has definite depth to it. Layer after layer is slowly revealed starting with the dark berry and dusted cocoa aromas. Dark berry balances the leather and chocolate flavors while the taste of baking spices lingers in your mouth. And our environmentalist celeb Leo would approve of the biodynamic (think holistic & organic) farming Montinore practices. Like Leo, this classic is sure to please for generations.
Friday, September 5, 2008
got fresh notebooks from Muji and folders from See Jane Work (they have the best bright colors worthy of display in my home office/living room).
Then, it was on to the fun "work" accessories, which in the wine world includes a brand new corkscrew. My new fave is the Rosendahl Grand Cru due to its simple and clean design and because it requires minimal effort - key when you're opening 20 bottles back-to-back. Next on the checklist was a set of Laguiole's cheese knives. Sporting elegant handles and perfect strong blades, they also make it easy to figure out which cheese goes with which knife. If only there was such a things as a wine valedictorian; I'd be sure to get to the head of the class with these supplies in hand.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Kym Apota: During my four year tenure at Astor Wines, my love for wine appreciated as I had the opportunity to travel around the world meeting winemakers and tasting their wines.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The end of summer is approaching and that means it's time to GET - get to the beach, get to concerts in the park, get tan, and get out of town. But with the dollar in a major slump, not all of us can afford to vacation for a month in the South of France (or even Fire Island for that matter). That doesn't mean you can't GET the party going and bring the exotic locale to you. Throw an armchair traveler wine tasting party for all of your friends still in town. Pick one country and have everyone bring a corresponding bottle. Print out and laminate wine maps to use as place mats and scour vintage stores for old postcards to use as invites (or better yet, call the local embassy to see if they have anything you can repurpose)!
My pick is Argentina, where your dollar still gets you 3 pesos to 1, and subsequently amazing wine values. Argentina is known for its Malbec, the deep, delicious red that holds its own against a big, juicy steak. My favorite is the Ben Marco Malbec from Mendoza, the heart of Argentina's wine country. A bargain at $15.99, it's deep, inky purple color lends perfectly to the smoky, deep plum and fragrant berry flavors. It's a Javier Bardem to us. A bit mysterious and brooding but tempting to drink it in one big gulp. Another enticing, dark layer is revealed with each sip, which is why I LOVE Malbecs.
But don't be fooled by Argentina's darker side, it's brimming with fruit-forward, value-driven whites as well. My favorite is the organic Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes. Susana is the "it girl" when it comes to Argentinean wine and her Torrontes shows us why. A native Argentinean grape, the Torrontes immediately brings to mind Blake Lively.
It's light and lively with a heady aroma of wild flowers, but shows a surprising dry finish. It doesn't have a ton of substance, but it's perfect for an end-of-summer evening on the terrace. You might not have a view of the Andes foothills, but this armchair traveler is sitting pretty with an Argentinean summer sipper in hand.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Today I'm holding a charity Swirl Events wine tasting event for Sakhi, a fantastic organization that provides resources for South Asian women who are victims of domestic abuse. Organizing and running a fundraiser wine tasting for Sakhi was my initial inspiration for Swirl. But this post isn't about that. It's about how a lot of people (including myself very briefly) have the impression that starting and running a wine company is all glamour and fun. They think it's about waking up late, lounging and working in PJs, then spending the rest of the day sipping fine wine with winemakers. Admittedly, some of those things are true (namely working in my PJs). But glamorous--not so much.
This morning starts with washing 65 glasses. By hand. Then drying each of them. By hand. Then it's a quick zip over to a doctor's appointment. But on the way, I have to stop at Pour wine shop to say hello to the owner and drop off some Swirl postcards for potential clients. Next, I (try to) purchase the chocolates I'm pairing with the General Bilimoria Tempranillo. The chocolates aren't there. Or at my back-up spot. So, it's crazy creative time. But it works out. Now the website's down and may not be up till Monday. Blasphemy! Then it's a stop to pick up Drano for the shower. Did I mention the glamorous part yet? (and no, it's not the Drano.)
Well, the "glamorous" part thankfully comes now: I'm writing this while sipping on Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne. Huh?? Well, Carrie Bradshaw smoked cigarettes while writing her column, so me myself and I un-guiltily sip wine and nibble on a plate of Brillat Savarin, a decadent and sensuously creamy cow's milk cheese. And why--you ask--Champagne? I'm not one for saving Champagne for celebrations, but I did wait to open this gorgeous, zippy bottle for a true celebration--my very first bit of glamor.
Yesterday, I was a guest on the Martha Stewart Living Radio show. I spoke about weddings and wine for their Weddings Week. It was live and they give you zero prep. Thankfully, I knew I wouldn't throw up since my nerves prohibited me eating anything all day.
The craziest live listener question I got was whether running wine in a blender would aerate it faster. Hmmm...always something new in wine. But, as it happens, I love being on the radio and there's nothing that feels more natural. So, what's next? Bring me on the show, Martha! Or Oprah, or Rachael, or Meredith. (I don't discriminate when it comes to dealing with influential and powerful women.) I promise to put down the glass and get out of my PJs.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Orin Swift Cellar’s “The Prisoner” remains one of my favorite wines and will always be a George Clooney “smooth, suave and surprisingly complex.” And since the men disagreed with me, I give you the option of the Salma Hayek – lush and full-bodied.
To these I add the all-time favorite description for the Thabani 2003 Merlot –the Brittany Spears – starts off great but ends in disaster.
How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine
Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?
Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.
It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:
No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.
We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?
If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.
Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.
--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada
Visit http://www.riasbaixaswines.com for more info on Rías Baixas Albariños from Spain