Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chateau de la Maltroye 2004

Wilfried Sentex is born in Bordeaux, France and for sure his passion for wine comes from his home country. At present he is working in New York at Bar Boulud, Daniel Boulud Wine bar. For more information you can reach him at"

Winery: Chateau de la Maltroye

Vintage: 2004

Appellation: Santenay 1er cru "la Comme"

Varietal: Chardonnay

Winemaker: Jean Pierre Cournut & fils

Oak: French oak

Average Price: $25.00

Tasting notes: This wine has a brillant lemon-straw color. On the nose you will find some mineral (from the limestone soil), but also some butter, peach, to finish with some hazelnuts scents. As the palate it is a round wine, a typical taste of the style of wine from the cote des Beaunes in Burgundy, with a creamy texture, some lemon and stone fruits to finish with a light nuts (hazelnuts).

Food Pairing Suggestions: The medium acidity and the creamy texture makes this wine delicious with a sauted dover sole in a brown butter sauce and serve over a risotto. But I think this wine served to you at a temperature of 59°F while you are seated on a sidewalk in summer with some kind tapas (pork or salmon rillettes over some toast) will be wonderfull.

General rating: 89

Friday, January 30, 2009

Small in size, big in quality!

“David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa valley. In addition to consulting and wine writing David made wine for his own label “Bellum Cellars” in 2008. E-mail for more information.

Winery: Radio-Coteau

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: Sonoma Coast

Vineyard: Terra Neuma

Varietal: Pinot Noir

Winemaker: Eric Sussman

Average Price: $75

Winery Notes: Radio-Coteau is small in size yet big in quality. Eric Sussman believes in a more hands off Burgundian style of winemaking that helps instil a real sense of place in his small lot wines from the western Sonoma coast.

Tasting notes: A powerful and perfume filled nose with aromas of fresh cherry, ripe strawberry and intriguing hints of wood spice and vanilla. On the palate more of the fresh red fruits are kept in line by a stunning, well refined tannin structure. Just the right amount of acidity to give the wine an overall freshness and lift. A long and well rounded finish complements this exceptional Pinot Noir.

Overall rating: 91 points

Food Pairing Suggestions: Radio-Coteau is blessed to have a cellar master who is also a chef. There are many great recipes located on their web site For this Pinot Noir I recommend trying a slow roasted pork loin or seasoned squab.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Organic wine & food matching: Gemtree Shiraz & Korean style barbecued shortribs

Randy Caparoso is an award winning wine professional and journalist, living in Denver, Colorado. For a free subscription to Randy's
Organic Wine Match of the Day, visit the Denver Wine Examiner. Contact Randy anytime at

left, Gemtree's Melissa Buttery & Mike Brown

While organic or biodynamic wines coming out of Australia have been far and between, the movement does exist Down Under; and certification agencies such as Australian Certified Organic (ACO
), Demeter in Australia’s Bio-Dynamic Research Institute (BDRI), and National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) have recently stepped up activities, with a number of leading producers (such as Henschke, Burge Family, Elderton, Noon, Wirra Wirra and M. Chapoutier Australia) making the transition to chemical-free, sustainable grape growing as we speak.

In the meantime, a perfectly delicious, biodynamically grown Australian red – the 2007 Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz (about $16) – has been popping up in markets across the U.S., and it has all the deep, black, bouncy, lush fruitiness Shiraz lovers look for in their reds; including an intense nose, suggesting raspberry liqueur, boysenberry jam and a veneer of vanillin oak, plus a soft medium-full body underlined by easy tannins, allowing the Shiraz fruit to gush forth and pleasure the palate.

The intensity of the Gemtree Shiraz is part and parcel of its McLaren Vale terroir; and indeed, for many years the stellar grapes from this 330 acre estate went into cuvées bottled by top brands like Rosemount. The transition from grower to producer started in 1994, when Melissa Buttery, daughter of founders Paul and Jill Buttery, joined the family business as a viticulturist, followed a few years later by Melissa’s boyfriend-turned-husband, Mike Brown, who happened to be an accomplished winemaker.

Always the keen environmentalist, it was Melissa who turned Gemtree towards organic and biodynamic viticulture. Not stopping there, in 1998 she initiated Gemtree Wetlands: taking twenty-five acres in the middle of the property and establishing it as a wetlands preserve in joint venture partnership with the nonprofit group, Greening Australia (South Australia). This arduous, long term project has involved the planting of some 20,000 native trees and shrubs, and the building of six interlinking dams to help regenerate the region and establish a haven for native frogs, birds and animals, while contributing to the self-sustaining aspects of the vineyard.

Korean Style Barbecued Shortribs (Kalbi)

The biggest plus about a good, sturdy, juicy Shiraz is that its dense fruitiness always lends itself to Asian style barbecued meats like no other wine can. A perfect match every time, for instance, is the Korean style of barbecued beef shortribs known as kalbi. In Hawai’i, where I grew up, no self-respecting hibachi homeboy or local take-out joint can make it without mastering the art of Korean barbecue. The good news is that it’s not that difficult, it can be done anywhere, and the fact that this toothsome cut of beef, in moderately sweetened, garlic and sesame seasoned, soy sauce based marinades, tastes absolutely delicious with a lusciously spiced Shiraz.

Everyone in the Islands has his/her own variation (or “secrets”) of kalbi, but here is a good, basic recipe to start with:

3 lbs. English cut (thick) beef shortribs, scored

½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
3 stalks green onions, minced
2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over shortribs in zip-lock plastic bag (or in shallow Pyrex sealed with plastic wrap); marinate overnight in refrigerator. Broil (or grill) 8-10 minutes on each side until desired doneness.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

“The Young Connoisseur”…part 1

“David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa valley. In addition to consulting and wine writing David made wine for his own label “Bellum Cellars” in 2008. E-mail for more information.

In this life we are blessed with many talents, gifts, opportunities and moments of joy. Unfortunately the world we live in is not a perfect Utopia like so many of us pray and hope for. Our blessings are both unique to each individual and shared with many others. We all must do our best to cherish these blessing, hold them dear to our hearts and find ways to bring about more of them to our every day lives. Often, these blessings are in disguise, and it’s not until much later that we realized just how great they were and how much of an impact they had on our lives. I can pinpoint the exact moment that would eventually lead me to one of the most positive choices of my life - the choice to dedicate my life to wine, food, people and of course the pursuit of happiness.
I found myself at the age of 19 in the middle of a controversial war. The date was January 2005 and as a tanker in the U.S Army I had just began what would prove to be more difficult and life changing than I could ever imagine. During one of my first missions in Baghdad my vehicle convoy came under attack by a road side bomb and a few snipers. No one was seriously wounded that day but I can remember very clearly the profound effect this had on me. I’ve always said it felt as if I learned a lifetime of lessons in a single moment, and I stick to that statement. On that day, back in my barracks I made a promise to myself that I have never broken and one that I never will. I promised myself that if I made it back home alive and got out of the Army that I would never waste one second of my life doing anything I didn’t really love to do. I made myself swear that I would never take one moment, not one breath for granted, and that I would use every minute of my life to better myself and the people around me. So how did I go from war to wine? Though the contrast of war and wine seems tremendous what is important to understand is that my love for wine, food and family began years before the military. As a child I grew up watching my father cook. He love to create flavorful dishes and always included me in the process. I would receive tastes of whatever he was preparing, and he would ask me if I thought it needed more spice or salt. It wasn’t long before I could accurately identify a full range of smells and flavors. Thus my palate was honed at a young age. I learned to savor a good meal and to appreciate flavor above all else. At dinner wine was often present, and if I was lucky I was able to procure a small glass, maybe an ounce at most. Wine always captivated me as a child. Growing up Catholic I learned that even Jesus enjoyed wine with his friends and family! Needless to say I had a good idea of what I enjoyed most in life by the time I did get out of the military, and I set out to follow that passion with steadfast commitment.

Part 2 will be posted next week...

A Cure for Pain

Tom Gannon is the playwright in residence at Rothmann's Steakhouse in New York City. He is also the sommelier and serves as America's Host.

Recently, I met with Sofia Thanisch, the owner and proprietor of Wwe. Dr H. Thanisch-Erben Thanisch to taste her 2007 Rieslings. Thanisch is one of the top producers in Germany and the main vineyard, Berncastler Doctor, has been held up as the German equivalent of Romanee-Conti. It could be considered the most expensive piece of vineyard land in the world (yes, more than Le Montrachet) based on the price paid the last time any land was sold within the vineyard (1908) when 100 gold Deutche marks were paid per SQUARE METER when vines were planted one to the square meter. The label may be the most iconic in all of Germany. The vineyard itself overlooks the Mosel facing south-southwest and at more than a sixty degree slope making harvest a difficult almost dangerous proposition. These wines are made in varying quantities every year between 100-700 cases depending on the ripeness of the grapes both from the Berncastler Doctor vineyard and the surrounding Bernkastler Badstube. Just a quick comment on the "c" versus the "k" in Berncastler...the vineyard labels for Berncastler Doctor were registered in 1904 hence the "c" versus the true German "k" both in Berncastler and Doctor. This is why you see variation when the wines are written up using "k". Thanisch uses a "k" in Bernkastler Badstube. Again, German wine labels are easy...

The legend of the vineyard originates in 1360. The dying Archbishop Boemond II of Trier drank two bottles of wine made from the vines on this steep hillside after his doctor had told him there was no hope for recovery. This being a legend, Boemond not only survived but was restored to full health. Pair this wine with scarlet rubella.

One thing to note about the property is that there was a split between the family in 1988 over (what else?) the direction of the winery and the standards to which it should be held. Sofia Thanisch is not much for compromise. German wine and our thirsty nature are better for it. Her wines are consistently the best expression of the Berncastler Doctor vineyard and the continuation of the family tradition since 1884 of a woman running the winery (the significance of the Wwe. on the label, named after the widow Katharina Thanisch, Sofia represents the fourth generation to do so) This is also true on the other side of the family but again, Erben-Thanisch is consistently better than Erben Muller-Burggraef. Erben-Thanisch is a member of VDP -Verband Deutscher Pradikats- und Qualitatsweinguter, an association of wineries devoted to strict standards and outstanding quality (apologies for the distinct lack of an "oomlat" key, I missed a few back there) while Erben Mueller-Burggraef is not. The VDP was founded in 1910, look for the black eagle clutching a cluster of grapes on the capsule of the bottles of member wineries (black eagle in Germany, black chicken in Chianti).

The wines are rare but surprisingly affordable if you can find them. This is easier in larger markets. For example, Bruce Sanderson of Wine Spectator lists the 2007 Berncastler Doctor Spatlese as Not Available- not imported into the U.S. this is not entirely true as Sofia told me, they show the wines in a few markets to gauge how much should be shipped to their U.S. importer. James Molesworth of WS confirmed my suspicion that WS will list a wine as not imported if they can't get a rough estimate on the number of cases to be imported . With the hype of the 2007 vintage I can't say I blame them, since the demand far exceeds supply.

If you are not familiar with German wine classifications, it seems complex but is actually very user friendly and efficient. A quick search on the internet with "German wine laws/classification" will bring you up to speed on some of these terms- "Y'all hear that? We using code names..."


And so, the wines made by Olaf Kaufmann...

Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch Riesling 2007
Light apple with a bit of spice and peach on the nose. A lot of minerality is present and has an impressive finish for QbA. Classic Mosel. 700 cases.

Wwe Dr. H. Thanisich Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Kabinett 2007
Bright green apple and limey nose with stony aromas and minerality dominating. A friend compared this to a hangar steak, the tasty bits surrounding the classic cuts...700 cases.

Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch Berncastler Doctor Riesling Kabinett 2007
Minerality and stone dominate with lime and peach kernal popping out. Long mineral finish. 300 cases.

Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkastler Badstube Riesling Spatlese 2007
Peachy, fresh bright apple a lighter wine that keeps going because of the structure and acidity. Showing well. 300 cases.

Wwe. Dr. H Thanisch Berncastler Doctor Riesling Spatlese 2007
Peach, apple and lime, with wet stone, the minerality shines so well and the fruit is succulent and clean because of the balance. This wine will age beautifully. Worth searching for.
250 cases.

Wwe. Dr. H. Thanisch Berncastler Doctor Riesling Auslese 2007
This is stunning. Like Prince, all peaches and cream. Rich apple, a touch of clove in the mid-palate with the minerality, sweet fruit and acid almost perfectly balanced. An incredible example of Auslese. One to cellar if you can...150 cases.

So of the wines listed above I had a few choices. These are not traditional "steakhouse wines", nonetheless, we are not exactly a traditional steakhouse. The long haired sommelier may tip you off to that fact. What I decided to do is not necessarily a novel idea but I think an interesting opportunity for me and any guest who wants to try this out. I ordered (for delivery sometime in March) one case of the Doctor Kabinett, one case of the Doctor Spatlese, one case of the Doctor Auselse in half bottles and one case (6 bottles) of magnums of the 2007 Berncastler Doctor Spatlese of which they only made 70 bottles. This way, when the weather warms up and we open our sliding accordion doors onto 54th street, you can sit, watch the scene and be taken through three different levels of ripeness in the Berncastler Doctor vineyard in a classic vintage. And they will not be that expensive on the list- around $85 for the Kabinett, $115 for the Spatlese and $90 for the half bottle of Auslese. The magnums are just so rare, age so well and look so good...had to have at least six (even though the price hadn't really been settled).

These wines obviously pair well with Thai and other Asian dishes, try any of the Spatlese from Thanisch with Goong Cha Nam Pla (the Thai answer to ceviche) or even pork dishes. I would also just have them on their own, low alcohol levels and the balance of the wines make them ideal for drinking before a meal. These are some of the most versatile wines in the world when it comes to pairing.

If you have any interest at all in German wines or the riesling varietal, these are a good place to start for benchmark comparisions. As far as price to quality ratio it is difficult to beat Thanisch. It can be found. Good for what ails ya. Happy hunting.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Organic wine & food matching: Thevenet Morgon & eggs in balsamic butter

Randy Caparoso is an award winning wine professional and journalist, living in Denver, Colorado. For a free subscription to Randy's Organic Wine Match of the Day, visit the Denver Wine Examiner. You can reach him at

Ah, 2009… I’m already feelin’ it getting better. Maybe it’s because of the wine and meal I had yesterday, when I was still feeling the previous day’s bloated repasts, nevertheless in need of sustenance, physically and spiritually: a Beaujolais with eggs in balsamic vinegar and butter.

Then again, the 2006 Jean-Paul Thévenet Vieilles Vignes Morgon is a wine that would make any jaded wine dude feel that way. This is real wine, and I’m not just blowing smoke. First, it’s red, which is a good start. Second, it tastes the way it’s supposed to; meaning:

1. Morgon is a Beaujolais grand cru, a village producing richer, broader, denser styles of reds than “regular” Beaujolais (which are usually light, limp, almost watery).

2. Yet it’s still a Beaujolais, made from the Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc grape, which will give a softer, rounder tannin feel than, say, most Pinot Noir based reds, even in the higher ranked Beaujolais crus.

3. It’s a vieilles vignes – from “old vines” (averaging 70 years, as it were) – giving this particular Morgon a deep, succulent, lip smacking raspberry and cassis-like aroma and flavor backed by earthy, organic notes of rustique, almost belying the wine’s flowing, fluid, youthful qualities.

4. The overall sensation is of a wine that doesn’t hold back… everything, from the natural taste of the grape to the sticking sensations of terroir, plopped right on the table for you to savor (preferably from big, balloon shaped Burgundy glasses).

As a winemaker, Jean-Paul Thévenet is among Beaujolais’ now-legendary “Gang of Five” – a group of defiant vignerons who believe wine should always be produced in the “old” ways, long before Beaujolais became a jillion dollar industry. Essentially: fermented on natural yeasts (none of the “super” yeasts that mainstream Beaujolais vintners utilize to exaggerate the Gamay grape’s blue-purple color and grapey, strawberry fruitiness); and then bottled unfiltered, unfined (so this wine is technically vegan – all grape!), and completely without the use of sulfites (so it tastes pretty much the way it would taste right out of the barrel).

As a grower, Thévenet practices la lutte raisonnée ("the reasoned struggle"): basically, sustainable grape growing, shunning the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides in as much homage to the past as for preserving the health of vineyards for future generations.Like good Pinot Noir, the soft tannins of grand cru Beaujolais make them ideal reds for fish (especially salmon and tuna). Me, I prefer the gastronomic ideas learned long ago from the legendary Berkeley importer, Kermit Lynch. I still keep one of his newsletters from back in 1990 (now bound together in a book, Inspiring Thirst), prescribing, in Lynch’s words:

These eggs take no more than a few minutes to prepare, and you need not be a genius to succeed. THIS IS NOT BREAKFAST! First, you pour yourself a glass of Beaujolais… then you fry fresh eggs slowly in butter, covered, until the whites are firm and the yolks remain runny. Salt and pepper, then slide them onto a warm plate.

Deglaze the pan with two tablespoons red wine vinegar. Reduce by half, thicken with a slice of butter, and pour over the eggs. You will want bread or toast for sopping up the sauce… you will also want another glass of Beaujolais!

Although Lynch says this is fast, you can’t rush it: slow frying sunny-side-up (no one will see if you scramble it) over low heat with the lid is key; both the butter and cracked peppercorn keep the balsamic eggs in balance with the wine’s mild tannin and full-ish body; and being from Hawai’i, my eggs go right over a generous mound of steaming white rice, which tastes luscious when it absorbs the winey sauce.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Neudorf Chardonnay 2006 Nelson

Rasmus Amdi Larsen is a 21 year old sommelier. He is currently working as head-sommelier and Restaurant Manager at the restaurant Le Sommelier in the centre of Copenhagen. Administrating the 1600 bottle wine list, one of the largest in Denmark, this young sommelier is showing a lot of potential. Rasmus is also educating at the Hospitality College in Copenhagen, competing in sommelier competitions - and in the limited free time, golfing is a huge interest. To get in touch with Rasmus email him at

Here's a review on one of my top wineries of New Zealand. Stay tuned for more reviews from this label.

Winery: Neudorf

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: Nelson

Varietal: Chardonnay

Winemaker: Judy & Tim Finn

Oak: 30% New French

Average Price: €27

Tasting notes: Classic young Chardonnay with light yellow colour. The nose reminds pretty much of a French Chardonnay. Think of a Puligny-Montrachet with its fresh mineral tones combined with pear, ripe apples, and hints of coffee, and a tiny bit of vanilla. The palate shows an amazing depth, this is one amazing new world Chardonnay.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Since this wine isn’t so heavily oaked, it compares to a wide range of food. Shoulder of pork with baked apples, roasted potatoes and calvados sauce. Cream Celery soup with shellfish (why not lobster) or how about fried mullet with Foie Gras sauce and French lenses? Since this is not a very heavy Chardonnay, I would avoid the toughest stuff like Bouillabaisse etc.

Winery Notes: Neudorf is among my absolute favourites New Zealand wineries. They are very famous for their Chardonnay Mouterre which is this wines ‘bigger brother’. This is the ‘bottom line’ on the winery’s range of wine which also includes Pinot Noir, Riesling, Late Harvest Riesling, a Rosé and a Pinot Gris. Both this Chardonnay and the Mouterre compares with way higher priced French Chardonnay’s, so you simply have to try this winery out. I will later be adding some of the winery’s others wines – so stay tuned.

Vintage Overview: The 2006 is a very good vintage in all of New Zealand. Nelson suffered a little rain in end September, but there were no problems during harvest.