Wine Review

Nero 2014

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NERO.
Vineyard: Castellargo
Varietal: Nero d’Avola
Region: Sicily, Italy
Year: 2014
Price: $11
Retailer: Le Grand Triage

Nero. Need I say more?

I’m keeping this short yet deep because that is exactly what this wine is. The most profound label I’ve ever seen because of its simplicity. One word, one color, and a twist off? 

I’ve been on a Nero d’Avola kick lately. Why? I’m not entirely certain. Maybe because the weather is starting to get a bit nicer and I taste it as a transitional wine from winter to warmer winter, to spring? Not sure, but what I am sure of, is this NERO! It’s almost as if this label is giving you a glimpse into the wine. It screams very dark RED. Through the label and floating in the glass but more specifically on the palate. It’s super fruit forward, in a good way. Meaning? Lots of dark cherry and blackberries with slight tannins at the finish making it super smooth and easy to drink. Want more? It’s only $11! This is a ridiculously good value for Nero.

To conclude, try it on a Friday night on the couch with Sicilian pizza (preferably from Brooklyn's finest, L&B Spumoni Gardens) and a binge on Netflix. Finish with a dark chocolate and sea salt treat (we love Swanson's Clarke's Bark)

And, don’t forget to place right in your Chic Chablis wine bag to obtain its optimal temperature from the wine fridge. (Not red wine should be stored at 62º – 68º F).

Wine Review

Swanson Vineyards "2007 Alexis"

2007 Alexis
Vineyard: Swanson Vineyards
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon 
Region: Oakville, Napa CA
Year: 2007
Price: $59
Retailer: I found a few left at Benchmark Wine Group

“Swimi, Swammi, Slippy Slappy, Simmons, Somens, Swenson, Swanson?” Yes that’s it, Swanson – and you will never forget it.

Just off of highway 29 on a dirt road there is a little place called Swanson. Much more than just a ‘winery’ Swanson is an experience that I discovered about 6 years ago (I feel old) when looking up ‘boutique’, ‘elegant’, ‘charming’, ‘unique’ vineyards in Napa. It is a truly magical place and a nice change up from other blockbuster vineyards in the area.

I could go on and on about the winery, but you just need to visit yourself to experience it’s true magic of caviar & chips, silver platters, victorian chandeliers and their stunning take on RED. Instead, let’s discuss this very special bottle of the 2007 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon we opened up over the weekend. We usually try to open up a nice bottle and have it be our ‘weekend’ wine, if it lasts that long ;). 

I think this was our first trip to Swanson and first Alexis bottle purchased so of course when we popped it open this weekend the cork broke (whoops), but it still tasted heavenly. I described it on my insta story as tasting like a delicious bar of dark chocolate with dark cherry hints, but to be fair it was more like I was biting into a dark chocolate bar and bursts of dark fruits came pouring our from the inside (just to be a little more descriptive). In that moment, I felt that if this was the last sip on earth, I’d. Be. Ok. With. it. Ok, slight exaggeration but I think by now you get my love for this wine.  What makes this wine so special and so 'signature' is that it’s made up of 90% Cab Sauv and 10% of Merlot (The Clarke Swanson Special). Meaning? It has a surprisingly smooth finish as opposed to super bold with lots of tannins like some of the other cabs where you are just dying over a piece of cheese or a filet to cut the harshness. So needless to say, while a food pairing would make this wine even more exceptional, it is truly remarkable on its own, which not all Napa cabs are.

Finally, bring this wine to your next dinner party of four and wrap it up in  The Avant-Garde Réserva wine tote to make a dramatic entrance with this exceptional wine.

Épernay Wines and Spirits: Not Your Average Wine Store...

On the Island of Nantucket just outside of town located on 1 North Beach Street, lies a magical entryway to a fantastic boutique wine shop Épernay Wines and Spirits.  We had the pleasure of doing a trunk show in store a few weeks ago during their weekly wine tasting (occurs every Thursday).  As the only sommelier owned wine store on the island and with their carefully curated weekly wine tastings, this is a wine lovers shop not to overlook.  Because we can't get enough, we sat down with Jennie Benzie, Owner and Advanced Sommelier to dive deeper into all that is Épernay!

(WF): How did you get started in the wine business?

(JB): I graduated from college and was wait listed for grad school, so I thought I would do some domestic travel.  I got a job waiting tables at a ski resort in Montana and loved the whole wine aspect of the job.  Eventually I got a job at Caneel Bay Resort on St. John in the USVI and was hoping to be a bartender on the beach.  I ended up as a wine steward instead and the rest is history.

 

(WF): Épernay, has such nice ring to it, how did you come up with the name of your store?

(JB): Épernay is one of two main towns in the Champagne region.  I bought the store several years ago and that was the name from the original owner who had honeymooned there. I liked the sound of it and we do sell a lot of bubbles, so we kept the name the same.

 

(WF): It seems like you love wine as much as we do, in three words, describe your love affair with wine?

(JB): Champagne, Chablis, Rosé

 

(WF): At WINEFARER, we love hearing about the unexpected journeys that stem from wine.  Can you share you favorite wine journey with us?

(JB): While there are many amazing wine journeys, here is just one...

I spent a month by myself in Spain traveling via car to tour as many wine regions as I possibly could in that short amount of time.  It was my first time to the country and I made it clear to my host wineries that it was important to me that I see some cultural sites as well.  The first winemaker I visited (who was 6 months pregnant at the time) drove me over an hour each way to see the windmill's of La Mancha in Consuegra that were written about in Don Quixote.  Even though she had grown up in the area, she had never been and thanked me for the opportunity to make that happen.  

Blind Tasting and A Board Game? so much YES!

Think you can taste the difference between a $40 vs. a $20 bottle of wine? Think again with Bottle Bracket. We stumbled upon this extraordinary concept that's bringing back the old fashion board game paired with a new way of thinking about wine and we cannot wait to test out our wine tasting skills!  Bottle Bracket is an interactive wine club centered around a wine tasting game, where members taste wines with friends and rank them by price in a tournament-like competition. The catch? The labels are covered. But before we dive into the fun, we wanted to get an exclusive preview from the founders themselves.

(WF): Wine and a board game? Seems like a brilliant combo. How did you come up with this amazing dynamic duo?

(BB): Two of our founders, Natalie and Emily, were out to dinner with two non-wine drinking friends (yes, we have some of those). One of them bet that Natalie couldn’t tell the difference between a $5 and a $50 bottle of wine, and the challenge was on. We created a blind wine tasting game inspired by a tournament bracket (we love sports) and started playing often. Emily came up with the idea to turn the game into a wine club - and Bottle Bracket, blind tasting conveniently delivered to your door, was born!


(WF): I’m sure there have been some pretty funny and unusual stories from playing, do you have a most memorable?

(BB): When we first developed Bottle Bracket, we feared that seasoned wine drinkers wouldn’t be adequately challenged by our game. So we organized a game where we played against 2 master sommeliers in training. These guys had been studying wine for years.

Bottle Bracket is a price-based blind tasting game, where you use only your taste buds to determine which wines you believe are more expensive. We knew that price and label heavily impact people’s enjoyment and perception of wine, but we had no idea just how much. Needless to say, the look on the 2 somms’ faces when they found out the results were priceless (they lost!). They were shocked to find that wines in every price range can be just as well made, complex, and delicious as ones that cost twice as much.

It was validating to know that loving wine truly has nothing to do with a price tag or an expert rating. It’s all about finding what you love the most. We’ve found that both experts and wine novices learn a lot (and have fun!) when they play Bottle Bracket.

 

(WF): It seems like you love wine as much as we do, in three words, describe your love affair with wine?

(BB): Discover, don’t discriminate.


(WF): At WINEFARER, we love hearing about the unexpected journeys that stem from wine.  Can you share you favorite wine journey with us?

(BB): Bottle Bracket is all about discovery - discovering wines you love, especially ones you’ve never tried before. So many wine clubs these days try to narrow your preferences, while we want to do the opposite.

One of our favorite wine journeys involved a trip to wine country with our technical team, one of which is a self-proclaimed white wine-only drinker. We were sourcing Petite Sirah at the time, literally the exact opposite of white wine, and she tasted a young Petite Sirah straight out of the barrel from one of our favorite wineries, Page Mill. Her reaction was priceless. “This is Petite Sirah?! I love it! I now like red wine.” Someone who would have snubbed red wine in the past just ordered a glass with me over dinner the other night - paired perfectly with some charred brussel sprouts. That is the education and discovery Bottle Bracket provides.

 

Stay tuned for more fun with Bottle Bracket SOON!

Essentials for a ‘Tasteful’ Bar Cart!

Us ‘winefarers’ love home entertaining and we believe nothing makes more of a statement at an intimate gathering than the bar experience.  This is because it’s not just a place to make a cocktail or pour a glass of wine, but a time when you are interacting with other guests and can ‘make a drink’ and even a personal connection.  How many times have you said, “Another glass of bubbly?”  I’m sure plenty.   Your bar is your chance to show off your personal style and since it is the center focus of your party, wouldn’t you want it to be spectacular?

So, since your bar cart is an essential part of entertaining, here are a few ideas on prepping your bar for your next soirée.

Photo by @DesignsbyCeres

 

Essentials for creating a ‘Tasteful’ bar!

  1. Always have Pellegrino glass bottles

  2. 2 bottles of nice champs (Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart, Moet etc.)

  3. Add fake limes in a nice dish

  4. A pop of color can add a nice touch to your bar. Try adding a colorful flower in a vase

  5. Incorporate some sort of interesting glassware

  6. Throw a few fab crystal wine stoppers on for decoration or slices of geode coasters {here} in a fun color to go with flowers

  7. Come up with a theme and make sure everything complements each other. I love working with metallics, such as gold with a bright pop of color of fuchsia or cobalt blue.

 

 

 

To get started, Elle Decor {here} has an amazing list of unique and inspiring bar carts you can use as a blank canvas!  Let your creativity flow and your personal style shine!

XOXO,

Heather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gettin' Lucky with @roseseason

We all know that roses and rosé are a way to a girl's heart on Valentine's Day so we've partnered with instagram famed Sarah Billstein from @roseseason to see what fabulous things she is doing to get busy this Vday! 

1. How did you start your wine journey through Rosé Season?

I started Rosé Season in June of 2014 on my way back from the Hamptons one weekend.  The joke of the weekend was "it's rosé season!" as rosé was literally everywhere I went.  However, it was quickly apparent to me that this was not a joke, and rosé season was more than just a fad - it is a lifestyle.  I saw a huge opportunity to spread the word and make it a thing, and it is happening.  I have grown my follower base by over 700% in the last year, with over 15K followers across all social media platforms and continue to see increased engagement.

 

2. In three words, describe your love affair with wine (or rosé specifically)

Rosé all day

 

3. What are the top 3 rosé’s to gift to impress this Valentine’s Day?

1.  For a fabulous Provence rosé, I would go with Chateau D'esclans Rock Angel rosé.  This is the same winery behind the ever-so-popular Whispering Angel.  Choosing this over the more commonly known option would show me there was thought that went into the selection.  And, this is my personal favorite of the Chateau D'esclans collection.  

2.  If you want some bubbly and are willing to splurge a little, there are some great rosé champagnes out there.  I choose Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque rosé.  As a gift that keeps on giving, you can re-purpose the bottle as a vase - with one of your roses from Valentine's Day of course.  It's too pretty to throw away!

3.  If you want to support a good cause as well as enjoy rosé, I choose ONEHOPE's El Dorado rosé.  They donate a portion of their proceeds to a variety of charities, and each bottle is affiliated with a different cause.  I end up feeling guilty that I didn't buy one of each!  But you can't go wrong with supporting ovarian cancer, which is where your money will go with this rosé.

 

4. Where are you dining this Valentine’s Day?

That is a GREAT question.  Currently accepting offers from the highest bidder!  Come on guys, don't be shy... :)

 

Now for some quick fire ‘speed dating’ questions!

1. Salty or Sweet?

Sweet.  I have been known to have chocolate for breakfast.

 

2. Victoria’s Secret or La Perla?

La Perla.  Let's go fancy.

 

3. Domaines Ott or Miraval?

Domaines Ott.  Sorry Brangelina.

 

4. Chocolate or Candy Hearts?

Chocolate.  

 

5. Boxers or Briefs?

Either - if you look good in them, they'll be coming off anyway.  ;)

 

6. Light, Medium or Full Bodied?

For rosé, light bodied.  For red wine, full bodied.  (Yes, I love all 50 shades of wine!)

 

And there you have it. From all of us at winefarer, wishing you a steamy Valentine's Day filled with your favorite rosé’s

Your 2016 (Wino)vation!

To go along with the ‘New Year, New You kick', one of my favorite wine writers, Matt Kramer wrote an inviting one pager that will make you want to expand your wine horizons in the New Year. I smiled, was stimulated and felt the immediate need to share highlights from “Is This the Year That You…?” to inspire you to make a vow and make things happen in 2016.

“…Decide that higher cost doesn’t equal better wine?”

There are so many reasonably priced wines in the market today that still maintain the same quality as higher priced wines - Kramer suggests that these wines are the “game-changers.” Key descriptors to look for? Technology, Diversity, and Abundance

So what does that mean exactly?  

Technology “now ensures that pretty much every wine from everywhere else is well-made.”

Diversity “means that wines now come from every imaginable country, district and climate – and often they’re really good.”

Abundance shows that “more producers keep emerging!”

 

“…Finally start a wine cellar?”

How timely, as Kramer suggests scoring a quality/affordable wine is possible!  Compile wines from your trips to Napa, Italy, Oregon, Washington and start that much sought after wine cellar!

 

“…Raise your wine game from “comfort” to “challenge”?”

I couldn’t agree with this more!  Through my wine journey, I have had the opportunity to meet winemakers and try a variety of wines from around the world.  I’ve gone from having a “Go-To Wine” to forgoing my ‘go-to’ (even when I’m lazy) and popping open a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir or a Tempranillo from Spain.  That’s the beauty of wine, isn’t it?  Stretch your knowledge in wine and try something new and remarkable in 2016.  Kramer suggests to “look to grower Champagnes, unusual grape varieties and emerging wine areas such as Hungary, Ontario, Tasmania, and newly revived spots such as Spain’s Ribeira Sacra, France’s Languedoc, and Sicily.” 

 

 “…Dine at home just a tiny bit more formally?”

Living in a New York City apartment, I am most definitely a culprit of keeping china and crystal we’ve received as wedding gifts in their gift boxes collecting dust pleading to only open them when we have a house where we can gracefully display things. But why!? Why not treat yourself once a week and take the time to have a meal on your finest china and your heaviest crystal and enjoy what you have– a beautiful home-cooked meal and an exquisite glass of wine.  Kramer suggests, “There is something to be said for just a skooch of dining formality in today’s rushed, crushed, gotta-go world.  It’s good for us, and surely so for our wines.”  Well said Matt, may we all dine a little more formally in more ways then one in 2016!

 

“…Stop fretting about when a wine is ready to drink”

I too, have many bottles just sitting in our wine fridge, waiting for the right ‘year’ to be pulled out.  But let’s face it; no ‘year’ will ever be the right year to pull out the right bottle at the right time.  So why wait? To Kramer’s point, “Buy interesting wines.  Store them in a cool space for up to five years. Then pop and pour.” I may just go pull out our 2007 Alexis Cabernet Sauvignon from my favorite winery Swanson Vineyards.

 

“…Start pulling the corks on all those special-occasion bottles?”

My parents still have their champagne from when they were married in 1971 and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from when my brother was born in 1981! That says it all right there. The more we wait around to open those ‘special’ bottles, the more time passes by where we rarely find that special occasion to open them.

 

So, when all said and done, come Friday night, I’m reaching for our gold rimmed champagne glasses, popping the bubbly and wrapping it in our Chic Chablis wine bag to keep the cool inside to celebrate LIFE!

Thank you Wine Spectator and Matt Kramer for a thoughtful and inspiring read on this wonderful Sunday evening.

 

Cheers!

Heather

 

Red Wine & Cheese Please!

The holidays are upon us and the temperate is dropping!  Nothing a little red wine and cheese party can't fix, right!? That being said, I have partnered with THE BEST cheese shop in NYC, Murray’s Cheese to bring warmth to you and your guests with a fabulous red wine and cheese pairing guide for your perfect Holiday soirée.  So tell your guests to bundle up and take a short cab ride to your place, because YOU are HOSTING the warmest and chicest holiday affair of the season! Cheers and wishing you all holidays filled with love and laughter.

Wine & Cheese Pairings (cheese pairings graciously provided by Murray’s Cheese, YUM)

  • Albarino -> Soft-Ripened, Cavemaster Reserve Torus $10.99/ea
  • Pinot Noir -> Washed Rind, Jasper Hill Harbison $23.99
  • Chianti -> Firm, Pecorino Ginepro $32.99/LB
  • Rioja -> Semi-Firm/Firm, Ewephoria $19.99/LB
  • Zinfandel-> Firm, Challerhocker  $31.99/LB
  • Cabernet Sauvignon -> Soft-Ripened, Cavemaster Reserve Hudson Flower $34.99/ea
  • Amarone -> Blue, Rogue River Blue $39.99/LB

BONUS (and not listed)

  • Merlot -> Firm, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar $24.99/LB
  • Champagne-> Soft-Ripened, Vermont Creamery Cremont  $11.99/ea
  • Port -> Blue, Colston Bassett Stilton $30.99/ea