A lesson in carpe diem
We all have those special bottles that we are just waiting to pop for that “right” occasion, but when is that “right” occasion going to arrive? I think that many people are reluctant to open those special bottles because they don’t want to waste them on just an “ordinary” day. Well, I say that everyday is special!
Even I am guilty of saving that bottle for the occasion that never comes. There is no time like the present and we should take advantage and make the best out of every second we have, for we do not know what tomorrow holds.
We save these bottles so sacred in our cellars that we look past the things that are really sacred in our lives: our family, our friends and our health. Every day that we can be healthy and happy is the perfect excuse to pop that Granbussia, Sassicaia or Quintarelli. (This picture shows seriously vintage Montevertine Pergola Torte–I’d even open that!)
The bottom line is this: if we keep waiting and waiting, the ones that we would want to share those bottles with may not be around.
So cheers to health, family, friends and of course our mothers on this wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. Let this be the weekend you open that special bottle!
Handicapping with winning style
It’s Derby Week! My family has always had roots deep in the bluegrass of Kentucky, and I myself spent the better part of ten years in Louisville, so the first week of May has always been a very special time for me. From Thunder over Louisville to the Derby Ball and the steamboat race on the mighty Ohio, the city takes on a flavor of its own as festivities and parties abound, leading up to one of the most exciting two minutes in sports. The dogwoods are blooming, the forsythia shoots streaks of bright yellow in swatches; the weather generally is absolutely heavenly. Seeing the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs never fails to send a shiver down my spine.
With the excitement of Derby Week swirling in my consciousness, it occurs to me how many similarities there are in the ways we talk about wines and the way handicappers describe their horses. To explore this connection, I’ve studied up on the 2011 contenders thought it might be fun to pair a selection of exceptional wines with my choice horse picks on the Derby. Here’s what I’ve got:
Horse: “Dialed In.” Hands down the best horse in the race and most likely to be the betting favorite. He’ll sit way back running light and comfortable and then close like a freight train down the final stretch — simply awesome to watch.
Wine: Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino 2004. Sangiovese Grosso. With proper decanting the ‘04 Valdicava showcases everything Brunello is supposed to be. Powerful but elegant, complex and perfectly balanced, this wine is the odds on favorite for a spectacular finish.
Horse: “Archarcharch.” This is a big, tough, strong horse. He can take a licking and keep on running, which is crucial in the roughest race he’ll ever run. With great patience off the pace and tactical speed that he can turn on whenever asked, he’s my top long shot (if he doesn’t get bet down to lower odds).
Wine: Le Pupille Saffredi 2006. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Alicante. This wine is enormous, a textured explosive experience boasting considerable depth and richness of dark fruit, flowers, and minerals. It’s going to need considerable more time in bottle in order to offer its best drinking, but in a word, much like Archarcharch, the ’06 Suffredi is formidable.
Horse: “Master of Hounds.” The lone European in the field with the absolute best pedigree. From the “Raise a Native” line, this horse shares his genes with 11 of the last 18 Derby winners. He just finished a close second in the Dubai Derby at 1 3/16 miles. No other horse in this race has even run that far. He should come out of the gate at decent starting odds.
Wine: Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate Le Coste 2005. Nebbiolo. Traditional and exclusive, the ‘05 Brunate Le Coste shows all the pedigree of the Master of Hounds. Profoundly expressive aromas of balsamic and perfumed dark fruit unfold stunningly in the glass. Special and shows every time, this wine has superb weight and density in a finely textured but powerful style. The tannins are firm but yet incredibly refined.
Horse: “Pants on Fire.” Come on! Who doesn’t want to see this name forever inscribed in the Churchill Downs paddock? A super long shot bet –- and there’s an awesome female jockey aboard too — it would just be cool to see. I’d say this horse has just as much of a chance as anyone with a good post and a clean trip.
Wine: Dagueneau Didier Pouilly Fumé Buisson Renard 2002. Sauvignon Blanc. A gorgeous expression, flinty in style, this Buisson Renard is round, age-worthy and perfectly balanced, thanks to the year’s perfect climate of sunny days and cool nights that helped preserve the ripeness of the grapes. From the village of Saint Andelain, this wine is feminine and captivating. Expect to be enthralled and to enjoy enthusiastic cheering from the stands.
I personally will be betting the race two ways: $20 on Archarcharch to win and then a $3 exacta box on Dialed in and Archarcharch. No matter what, I will be drinking the winner come Derby Day.
Spending an afternoon in delight and instruction
IWM hosts educational and delicious tastings in our Union Square location every Saturday afternoon. From 1:00-3:00 each Saturday, a group of thirsty and hungry folk gather in our Studio Del Gusto to sample wines from the great regions of Italy paired with the delicious food creations from our talented kitchen staff. I often work in our showroom on Saturdays, and I love watching the big smiles of anticipation turn into even bigger smiles of satisfaction. Our event staff does an excellent job as in planning these events so that they can both delight and instruct both Italian wine newbies and those who have a connoisseur’s palate.
Last month saw a very special sit down tasting titled “The Killer B’s” where six wines from Italy’s three most sacred wine regions—Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello—got the full IWM tasting treatment. As if just tasting these wines weren’t a big enough treat, an assortment of cheeses and cured meats from our in house salumeria helped ease the attendees’ palates from one wine to the next. Bookending the flight of wines with a Prosecco at the start and a Brachetto at the end made for one of the more memorable tastings in the past few months.
We also held a really intriguing tasting this past Easter weekend. Guests were given a blind tasting of several different Italian wines. After the wines were served blind, two of our sommeliers led a discussion and asked the guests to make their guesses on the varietals. The friendly contest had a clear winner, and everyone celebrated by revisiting the now un-masked wines. Garrett, the hosting sommelier, said the attendees enjoyed investigating the wines and the afternoon was very playful.
New York City never runs out of fun ways to spend a Saturday afternoon, but we never run out of exciting ways to explore, celebrate and enjoy wine. We love it when our clients choose to spend time with us, drinking the wine, that magical thing that brought us together in the first place.
A Billion Acts of Green can start at your table
On 22, April 2011, all the peoples of the world will come together to celebrate Earth Day, a day to appreciate our planet’s natural environment and to raise awareness of how our choices impact the Earth. The theme of this year’s Earth Day celebration is “A Billion Acts of Green.” The goal is to have a billion choices to live sustainably before the Earth Summit in Rio 2012.
Choices to live sustainably, or acts of green, are actions you can take every day such as recycling, reducing energy output, and choosing organically grown food and wine. In addition there are activities to get involved in to show your support such as “Earth Day in Time Square,” where a “runway show” of energy efficient cars will take place. In thinking green, why not make it your “act” to drink green?
IWM offers various wines that are organic and biodynamic. Several of the best producers believe in maintaining the naturalness of their terroir and the importance of pure earth, uninterrupted by the human hand. Two of my favorite biodynamic wines are the Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Barda and the Gravner Ribolla Gialla. The Chacra estate is located in Patagonia, Argentina and is the work of Piero Incisa della Rocchetta of Sassicaia fame, while the Gravner Ribolla Gialla is the work of Josko Gravner in Friuli. Josko believes in the essence of the earth and avers, “I am convinced that wine is a product of nature, not of man, whose role therefore is to accompany its maturation process while avoiding any artificial intervention.”
Both wines are a true expression of the earth. So think outside the box and drink green in honor of Earth Day
To every season…
In many religious traditions celebrations of spring afford us a chance to enjoy find rebirth and renewal in life. Thus is the story of Easter and its long lineage through human history that begins with its origins as a pagan holiday celebrating the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre through its current Christian celebrations of resurrection. It’s really a fascinating journey to see how all of these traditions joined hands, created barriers and commingled over the centuries, but too much to discuss in one blog post alone.
In the Christina faith, Easter follows 40 days of Lenten sacrifice, and given the privation that precedes it, Easter’s celebration would be incomplete without opening up the senses to delicacies. After a period of abstaining from those luxuries, our senses are heightened and attuned to those subtle nuances that we might normally miss in our day-to-day consumption of creature comforts. Two of the classic Easter foods that may seem far apart on the culinary spectrum are nonetheless united by being springtime treats — to be specific, veggies and peeps.
As every mom tells you, first you must eat your veggies. Maybe you’re planning to dine on some spring vegetables this weekend in the form of greens, asparagus, or artichoke. The freshness of spring vegetables means simple preparation; you can always sauté, simmer or mix any of these with a salad. The refreshing flavors, bright colors and nutritional content of these foods lend themselves to be paired with an exuberant wine. Try the semi-sweet taste of an Italian Riesling. The Frecciarossa Riesling Gli Orti 2008 is still dry white from Lombardia that will provide the perfect amount of light flavors to lend a helping hand balancing out some of the stronger vegetables. Plus, what better way to honor the old pagan feasts than with a celebratory libation? Grog is so 1011.
Easter holiday wouldn’t be complete without the very American tradition of gorging on chocolate bunnies and, most importantly, Peeps. Peeps, those cute little marshmallow chicks and bunnies of various colors, have joined the cornucopia in our Easter baskets since the 1950s. I’m thinking a dessert wine is going to be your best bet. Something from Toscana, like the Querciabella Orlando di Vin Santo 1990, which is a biodynamically produced sweet white with a mouth-watering streak of acidity, to help enhance your decadent experience.
So this weekend, if your family wishes to savor not only the food, but the experiences shared together as we enter a new season, try exploring and expanding the senses with complementary wines. And remember to have a very “hoppy” Easter!
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