Thursday, December 19, 2013

The World of Pinot Noir marks its 14th year at its new venue in Santa Barbara California.

 At this time of year we start thinking of spring. Over the years we have had the pleasure of attending many food and wine events and a few stand out at that time of year. We have visited the World Of Pinot Noir on many occasions and has to rank pretty high as one of our personal favorites.  This year marks the 14th year for the World of Pinot Noir ,  a fun ,  2-day event celebrating that special varietal . This year’s event will be held February 28-March 1, 2014 at the Bacara Resort and Spa in beautiful Santa Barbara California. 
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Previously, World of Pinot Noir was held in Pismo Beach.  This year’s  new venue is not only a luxurious feast for the senses, but also recognizes Santa Barbara County’s wine country as a place that introduced many to Pinot Noir, as 2014 will be the tenth anniversary of the iconic movie Sideways.
“It’s hard to believe it has been a decade since Sideways came out”, muses Norm Yost of Flying Goat Cellars and this year’s World of Pinot Noir President. “Having our event at the Bacara Resort and recognizing the effect of the movie is exciting! We look forward to welcoming those who join us each year, as well as newcomers to our 14th celebration of Pinot Noir.”
The effect of Pinot Noir on film and vice-versa will be explored via a panel comprised of participants from Sideways as well as a more recent wine-related film, Somm, in a Saturday seminar titled “Hollywood & Wine”. The main focus of the event, however, revolves around the people and places of Pinot Noir.  The world’s most important wine-growing regions will be represented at seminars, dinners and Grand Tastings. California’s coastal appellations will be well represented, joined by winemakers bringing their Pinot Noirs from Oregon, British Columbia, New York’s Finger Lakes, Spain, New Zealand, Australia and more.
The epicenter of Pinot Noir is of course, Burgundy France who will be well represented at the 2014 event. Maison Louis Jadot’s winemaker, Frédéric Barnier will pour a selection of wines from the Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules Vineyard tasting seminar on Friday, as well as hosting an intimate dinner on Saturday evening.  WOPN guests can explore the Insider Wines of the Cote d’Or on Saturday with French Wine Society educator Don Kinnan, who will lead participants through a tasting of wines from that hallowed region.
In addition to these intimate events, attendees at the World of Pinot Noir are invited to “taste the world” at two Grand Tastings, which include wines from hundreds of international and domestic wineries. You won’t go hungry with tasty bites from Chef David Reardon’s culinary team, including an internationally themed dinner on Friday evening.
 Friday, February 28, 2014:
Jump right in the first day with Burgundy and Oregon: Parallels in Latitude: a Look at 45º North.  Exploring the wines of Oregon’s Willamette Valley and Maison Louis Jadot’s Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Ursules vineyard.  Moderated by Katherine Cole. The seminar pairing is followed by a 3 course lunch, paired with the wines. Then enjoy Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tasting - A tasting of Pinot Noir from more than 100 world-wide producers, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and complemented by wine country appetizers and a full array of cheeses from C’est Cheese. As the evening approaches don’t miss the International Dinner. Chef David Reardon and his Bacara Culinary team will team up with Pinot producers for an incredible internationally focused 5-course meal complemented by the exemplary wine service always provided by a team of sommeliers. Or join highly allocated Sea Smoke Cellars Dinner in the Miró Cellar. This will be an intimate dinner featuring the wines of Sta. Rita Hills’ Sea Smoke Cellars. And if you are a movie buff, the event will feature screenings of Sideways and Somm throughout the day in the Bacara theatre.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
After a very busy first day, stop in at The Insider Wines of the Cote d’Or. Enjoy boutique producers of the Cote d’Or region including a look at the mountain of Corton, the greatest expanse of Grand Cru vineyard acreage presented by Don Kinnan, followed by a 3-course lunch complemented by many of the wines presented earlier. A very entertaining event will be Hollywood & Wine. Panelists will explore why Pinot Noir has become such a Hollywood star.  It’s Sideways vs. Somm!.  Lunch will be provided by non-other than Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post II restaurant (as featured in the film) and moderated by Sara Schneider.
After the seminar enjoy Pinot Noir by the Sea Grand Tasting that features a different roster of wines than Friday’s Grand Tasting and more than 120 producers.  Guests will enjoy wine country appetizers, worldly cheeses and a terrific view of the Pacific from the Grand Ballroom’s terraces. A full day of lovely events and it’s not over yet. Dine at the Mason Louis Jadot Dinner in the Miró Cellar. Only 36 guests will dine with winemaker Frederic Barnier in the beautiful wine cellar with Grand Cru wines, a 6-course gourmet dinner and legendary wine service. End the event in grand style at The Gala . Guests will enjoy a gathering of friends old and new along with winemakers, chefs and sommeliers to close the 14th year of this renowned event. Get your tickets now. They are sold on a first-come, first-served basis with full details on the World of Pinot Noir website:www.worldofpinotnoir.com
See you there.

Friday, December 13, 2013

In Las Vegas This Holiday Season ? MGM Resorts Has A Tasty Line Up For You .

This season the culinary all-stars of MGM Resorts International are celebrating the season with festive cuisine at Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, The Mirage, New York-New York, Luxor, Excalibur and Circus Circus in Las Vegas From signature dishes to holiday classics and seasonally inspired cocktails, these offerings are sure to bring cheer to all.
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Chef Michael Mina will unite his signature cuisine with exquisite delights at MICHAEL MINA Bellagio by offering the renowned Lobster Pot Pie with seasonal vegetables and brandied-lobster cream followed by a dessert of Pumpkin Tart with whipped Chantilly cream. 




Jean Georges Steakhouse at ARIA presents Christmas Day guests with mouthwatering Lobster Bisque with pearl onions, smoked paprika and herbs followed by an Apple and Pecan Sticky Bun for dessert.
 In the spirit of the season, Fiamma Trattoria & Bar at MGM Grand will feature a winter butternut squash soup with velvety crème fraiche and crispy speck, an authentic Italian bacon, as well as Wild Mushroom Ravioli lathered in warm parmesan fondue.
For a more casual celebration, The Pub at Monte Carlo will prepare a delicious menu including dishes such as Roasted Chestnut Soup and Warm Gingerbread Cake with vanilla ice cream. Traditionalists will love the classic Yams with butter and brown sugar sauce at MORE The Buffet at Luxor. Nine Fine Irishmen at New York-New York will be serving up a prix fixe menu beginning with a hearty Winter Harvest Salad and closing with Irish Bread and Butter Pudding with whiskey cream. \
Those looking to spend the holiday at a classic steakhouse will enjoy The Steakhouse at Camelot at Excalibur where hungry guests have the choice between a juicy Oven Roasted Free Range Turkey Platter complete with mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, seasoned asparagus, sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce, Roast Prime Rib of Beef or Grilled Atlantic Salmon.
The Steak House at Circus Circus will present a holiday menu including tender Mesquite-broiled Petite Filet Mignon and succulent Australian Lobster Tail, served with chef’s fresh vegetable of the day and guest’s choice of garlic mashed potatoes, baked potato or wild rice blend. A festive Eggnog Crème Brûlèe French Toast with spiced rum and cinnamon butter is the perfect toasty treat available at THEcafe at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.
To top it all off, holiday treats can be found at Roasted Bean at The Mirage where guests can indulge in Chocolate Candy Cane Parfaits or a traditional Yule Log dessert. Sweet delights also may be found in liquid form at several bars and lounges at Monte Carlo including Hit Lounge, Ignite and Score. The Hot Buttered Rum is full of winter flavors made from Pyrat XO Reserve rum, Monte Carlo’s house-made hot buttered rum mix, warm apple juice, fresh whipped cream and a hint of ground cinnamon to round out the perfect holiday drink.
Happy Holidays and enjoy

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wine Review : Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 Trinidad Vineyard , Maipo Valley Chile

 Before we look at the wine we took a look at the vineyard history, the region and the people behind it. Ventisquero began making wine in 2000. Unlike other wineries in the area they are led by a young, creative team of entrepreneurs whose mission is to create distinctive, high quality wines. In a word, this young eager team strives challenge the status quo, always searching for unique and different ways to accomplish their goal to create great wines.
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Under the guidance of head winemaker Felipe Tosso, the winery was built in the Coastal Maipo Valley, Casablanca, Leyda and Colchagua . Felipe Tosso is the craftsman behind GREY, involving himself in every detail of production. He works the vineyards, selects the fruit, controls fermentation, and oversees the 18-month ageing regimen for each of the wines. Single Blocks from Maipo Alto, Casablanca and Apalta make GREY a rarity in the world of wines.
After looking at the winemaking it was now time for the panel to get to work and put the wine to task. The Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 is interesting in that only 50% of the grapes are crushed. A pre-fermentive maceration is carried out at 8C for 5 days. The Carmenere is aged 18 months in French Oak barrels, 33% of them new and 66% second and third use.  The wine is then bottle aged for 8 months.
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In the glass the wine showed hues of purple to garnet and medium bodied.  On the nose, blueberry and black cherry are prominent giving way to wet earth and spice. On the palate, big flavors of blueberry and cherry tantalize the palate followed by pepper, earth and slate, ending in a long finish with light feminine tannins. This Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 is a beautiful blend of 97% Carmenere and 3 % Petit Verdot and nicely balanced acidity.
Felipe Tosso
Felipe Tosso

Drink the Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 now or age 10 years when it will become more complex over time.  Look for this Carmenere , at $23.99 it is affordable and enjoyable.


Cuisineist Tasting Panel Score (Dec 2013) Vina Ventisquero Carmenere 2011 Trinidad Vineyard , Maipo Chile
 93 Points 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tony Hsieh Makes Life Beautiful for Thousands in Downtown Las Vegas

 Life was certainly beautiful at the first Life is Beautiful event at the continuing evolving downtown area of Las Vegas.

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Arriving at the VIP kickoff event we really did not know what to expect. Our first hint of what we would be experiencing that evening were tantalizing aromas of proteins on the grill, light white smoke summoning us to explore with our palates what our nose was already telling us.
Chef Hubert Keller , Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris
Chef Hubert Keller , Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief Elaine Harris


This downtown extravaganza showed off the musical talents of 70 bands and DJs that drew standing room only masses of dancing, peaceful, fun-loving fans of all ages. Two Ferris wheels and Cirque du Solei performances kept attendees busy all day and into the night .



In addition to the music and other events, Life Is Beautiful teamed up with Wirtz Beverage to feature wine tastings, a beer garden with live music and an Alchemy Village where mixology experts poured creations from their very talented beverage team.
Iron Chef Cat Cora
Iron Chef Cat Cora








 The Culinary arts were a big part of the multi-day celebration the culinary village was located in the heart of the festival and ground zero to many world’s best chefs and restaurants. These chefs and over 50 restaurants provided gastronomic delights that made palates dance from the incredible dishes served all day and into the evening hours when renowned band’s tunes filled the air.
Chef Scott Conant
Chef Scott Conant

Over two incredible days, 20 of the most highly regarded chefs in the world showed their culinary skills live on a Sub-Zero Wolf, Westar Kitchen & Bath stage. These demonstrations featured celebrity Chefs such as Scott Conant, Johnathan Waxman, Hubert Keller, Cat Cora, Jet Tila ,Todd English and the two hot tamales themselves Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken as well as  others who shared their kitchen secrets with eager guests.


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Chef Johnathan Waxman and Elaine Harris

Tony Hsieh, over the past few years has transformed downtown Las Vegas into a vibrant community abuzz with boutiques, locally owned restaurants, bars and of course the Zappos headquarters. The good news for the area is the inaugural event sold 40 percent of tickets to Las Vegas residents, most of whom have not spent much time downtown. After attending the festivities, we have no doubt Las Vegas residents will be spending much more time exploring what the area has to offer.


Chefs Carla Pellegrino and Rick Moonen
Chefs Carla Pellegrino and Rick Moonen
Overall, for an inaugural event, Life is Beautiful was a success.15 blocks of music, food, celebrity chefs and art showed off the new downtown that is Tony Hsieh’s on going vision. We look forward to the continued evolution of downtown over the next year 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Venetian / Palazzo Resorts Launch their Annual Winter in Venice Festival 2013.

 venetian-resort-hotelThe weather is changing and the holiday season is fast approaching.  There are worldwide celebrations and positive energy is contagious most everywhere you look.We have been fortunate to attend one winter celebration since its inception in Las Vegas.The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas are home to their Winter in Venice celebration on the Las Vegas Strip, this year’s theme is "A Gift of The Venetian."This third celebration of music, food and culture will feature 49 days of seasonal experiences throughout both resorts running Nov. 18, 2013 through Jan. 5, 2014. 
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 The 2013, a schedule of events include a nightly winter parade, tree-lighting ceremonies, a stunning 3D light projection show,an elaborate Winter in Venice fantasy scene in The Palazzo Waterfall Gardens, and a romantic skating rink above The Venetian's romantic outdoor Grand Canal.
 "The holidays are such a magical time for everyone and Winter in Venice offers the perfect place to truly enjoy this special time of year,"said John Caparella, president and chief operating officer of The Venetian, The Palazzo and Sands Expo.
"Winter in Venice finds its inspiration in the folklore and tales that generations of Italians have grown to know and love,"said Caparella.“Those stories have filled the imaginations of generations of Venetians with the experiences of festive holiday seasons coupled with the long-treasured spirit of giving and sharing.Within these tales are the characters that exemplify the good will, the fun and the excitement of the season."
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The Venetian's front exterior facing the Las Vegas Strip will be adorned in winter schemes reminiscent of the city of Venice.Thousands of festooned lights will hang over a majestic ice skating rink as large snowflakes, ranging from 48 to 72-inches in diameter, surround the façade of The Venetian. 



 This extravagant celebration will kick off with the Celtic Woman: Home for Christmas,The Symphony Tour, at 8pm on Nov. 22-23 and Nov. 27-28The 90-minute show features music from the all-female music ensemble's second Christmas album, Home For Christmas, including holiday favorites "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Silent Night."
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 In addition to the daily events there will be two specialty weekends that are definitely a reason to visit and enjoy.First up is La Cucina Italiana Weekend, with Chef Mario Batali and Buddy Valastro (Dec 6-8): In conjunction with Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada, La Cucina Italiana magazine will feature a three-day event celebrating the epicurean traditions of Italy. La Cucina Italiana, the undisputed expert on Italian food, wine and culture worldwide, will feature a weekend of food demonstrations, wine dinners, and other culinary-centered activities to keep your palate in the holiday mood.
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The exciting Culinary Clash Weekend, with Chef Emeril Lagasse is (Dec 13-14): Guests can witness the best Chefs of the resorts compete to see who will be named winner of the second Culinary Clash Master Chef Competition. The competition, which unfolds over the weekend, is open to all chefs at the food and beverage venues located inside The Venetian and The Palazzo.These chefs will vie for the prestige of THE VENETIAN CULINARY CLASH AWARD. 
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It is not all about Italian gastronomy at Winter in Venice,a mixology cocktail competition will feature scheduled appearances by Tony Abou Ganim, Francesco Lafranconi and Dale de Groff, each recognized as being among the greatest mixologists in the country.
 Over this culinary extravaganza, a seasonal Winter in Venice cocktail menu, including holiday-inspired spiced cocktails such as Gondolier Blanco, will be available throughout the resort lounges, including The Bourbon Room, Zebra Lounge, Bellini Bar, Fusion Mixology Bar and Laguna Champagne Bar.
 Certainly to join in the spirit of the season, Holiday-themed prix fixe menus and specials will be offered by select world-class restaurants throughout the holiday including Aquaknox, B&B, Bouchon, Canaletto, Canyon Ranch Café, Delmonico, FIRST Food & Bar, Grand Lux Cafe, Pinot Brasserie, Postrio, Table 10, and LAVO Italian Restaurant.
 What more can you say but hop a train, plane or drive to The Venetian / Palazzo resorts and enjoy 49 days of true culinary and artistic bliss. See you on the rink at Winter in Venice.
 For more information on Winter in Venice  please visit   thttp://www.venetian.com/winterinvenice.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Paso Robles CAB Collective Predicts a Remarkable Vintage. Association members share thoughts on the 2013 harvest.

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Banner-ArroyoSecoAVA-v2a3_0
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We have visited Paso Robles for more than 10 years and are very familiar with the AVA.  Known  for Zinfandel and Rhone varietals the unique AVA also produces fabulous  Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals  that  unfortunately  don’t get the respect they deserve. There is one group of renown winemakers that are changing that .

  Formed in 2012, the Paso Robles CAB (Cabernet and Bordeaux) Collective (PRCC) is an independent collaborative effort of leading Paso Robles growers and producers of Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals specific to the Paso Robles AVA in California. The group strives to promote the full potential of the Paso Robles region in producing superior quality, classic and age-worthy Cabernet and Bordeaux varietals .
Members of the Paso Robles CAB Collective (PRCC)  recently joined fellow vintners and growers across California in praising the virtues of the 2013 harvest.  At the top of the list are an early start to the growing season, long hang-time and near-absence of inclement weather.

“The climatic conditions on our mountain during the growing season contributed to smaller berries and fewer berries per cluster,” said Daniel Daou, Winemaker and Owner at DAOU Vineyards. “These conditions have allowed us to generate phenolics in our wines that are, on average, thirty percent greater than in previous years. This means darker and more intense wines that will age well.  A great year for Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties.”

Also commenting on the harvest was Michael Barreto, Winemaker at Le Vigne Winery. “An early and warm spring got the growing season off to a quick start. Some cool stretches in the summer allowed varieties like Merlot to coast a bit and be ready for harvest around the same as an average year. However, for us, Cabernet Sauvignon came in around two weeks earlier than normal. Our harvest size was about average with nicely-sized clusters that should provide nice flavor and concentration.”
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Calcareous Winemaker, Jason Joyce shared, “All in all, at this earliest of stages in the wines’ life, I could not be more enthusiastic about this vintage.  It may not be until 2016 that these wines are ready to taste, but if there is enough patience to let natural aging run its course, this vintage has all the requisite fundamentals for the production of remarkable Bordeaux varietals.”

With more than 25 Paso Robles harvests under his belt, Jeff Meier, Director of Winemaking for J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines added, “Given the phenomenal quality of our fermentations so far this harvest, and the color numbers we are recording, I’m reminded of the legendary 1997 vintage. While every vintage is unique, 1997 and 2013 were very similar in that we had ideal moderate weather from veraison onward with no significant heat events, factors that have contributed to the remarkable color of our red wines. This is especially true for our Cabernet Sauvignon, which is showing the voluptuous black currant and cherry flavors we love from warmer vintages. The fact that I’m even thinking about 1997 right now is a testament to how excited I am about this vintage.”


This prestigious group  seeks to improve awareness among consumers and retailers worldwide regarding the distinctive attributes of Paso Robles Cabernet as well as other Bordeaux varietals. Current members include: ADELAIDA Cellars, Ancient Peaks Winery, B&E Vineyard, Calcareous Vineyard, Chateau Margene, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Eberle Winery, HammerSky Vineyards, Hunt Cellars, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Le Vigne Winery, Jada Vineyard, JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery, L’Aventure, Parrish Family Vineyards, Record Family Wines, Robert Hall Winery, Sextant Wines and Vina Robles.

The next time you are in the area , stop in to one of these wineries and sample a world class Cabernet Sauvignon than can stand against any on the world stage.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A evening of classic dishes and iconic wines with Sirio Maccioni at Sirio Ristorante in the Aria Resort .

Long one of Manhattan’s most celebrated restaurateurs, Sirio Maccioni has wined and dined high society in New York for nearly half a century. In March of 1974, Maccioni opened Le Cirque in the Mayfair hotel. Le Cirque was the first privately owned hotel restaurant in the city and quickly became the hub of café society in New York.
 Sirio Maccioni
Sirio Maccioni

In 1998 he opened Circo and Le Cirque in Las Vegas’Bellagio Hotel.Then In 2009 Maccioni along with his sons opened their third Las Vegas restaurant, Sirio Ristorante at the Aria Resort and Casino here in Las Vegas.
No stranger to accolades , Maccioni has received numerous honors and accolades including the coveted James Beard “Restaurant of the Year” award, the Impresario dell’ Anno (Entrepreneur of the Year) award at Affreschi Toscani, a festival in Tuscany and being selected Father of the Year in 2002 by the National Father’s Day Committee.
We have received many invitations to dine in our years as journalist from tops in their fields, when we were asked by Sirio  Maccioni to join him at Sirio Ristorate ,humbled b y the prospect we accepted . Walking into a very busy Sirio  Ristortate were were greeted by the always pleasant General Manager Carlo Cannuscio and his staff.
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A few feet away, sitting in a chair poised like a king on his throne ,there he was ,the man ,the legend, Sirio Maccioni waiting with a smile and an outstretched hand of greeting . Sitting at the Chef’s table overlooking the pristine kitchen “a buzz “with activity we began a culinary expedition of epic proportions.
After opening a lovely bottle of GAJA we began with our appetizer , Carpaccio Di Manzo .This traditional tasty dish of beef carpaccio ,lemon oil dressing ,fried capers and a shaving of parmesan cheese was the perfect way to start. The suggested Vermintino , Rocca Di Frasselino , Sirio, Tuscany 2011 was a nice touch , picking up on the richness of the dish.
, Carpaccio Di Manzo . Beef carpaccio ,lemon oil dressing ,fried capers and a shaving of parmesan cheese
, Carpaccio Di Manzo . Beef carpaccio ,lemon oil dressing ,fried capers and a shaving of parmesan cheese

Seeing a antipasto and squash soup we just had to indulge as we listened intently to Siro recount his culinary pedigree from hotel training programs in Paris and Hamburg , apprenticeships in Montecatini and Paris and  a variety of positions at hotels and restaurants in Italy, France, and Germany.




A bottle of Rosso , Rocca Di Frassinello , Sirio, Tuscany 2009 signaled the beginning of yet another delight from the kitchen. Of course, being at Sirio, our treat of Pici Toscani Al Ragu, Di Carni was a must. This mouthwatering hand rolled spaghetti with three meats ragu was a gastronomic delight.
of Pici Toscani Al Ragu, Di Carni .Hand rolled spaghetti with three meats ragu
of Pici Toscani Al Ragu, Di Carni .Hand rolled spaghetti with three meats ragu








Sirio kept us entertained with his one-of-a-kind sense of humor as Carre’ D ‘ Agnello arrived at our table. A succulent Roasted Rack of Lamb with creamy potato fennel gratin and garden vegetables was a perfect example of why Sirio and his world class restaurants have been at the top of their game for decades.The exemplary Chianti Classico, Castellare , Tuscany , 2011 married with the layers of flavors of the dish  that will soon not be forgotten.
 Carre’ D ‘ Agnello  Roasted Rack of Lamb with creamy potato fennel gratin and garden vegetables
Carre’ D ‘ Agnello Roasted Rack of Lamb with creamy potato fennel gratin and garden vegetables
Gastronomically satisfied by signature dishes, classic wines and a renowned host, we settled back a little as Sirio engaged us in a lively conversation.






When asked about retiring, he smiled, leaned back in his chair and said “Me, retire? I am too busy to retire”,  we could not have been happier to hear that. Sirio has always been “hands on “and has no plans to stop. He still has fiery passion even after all these years.
Panna Cotta Tricolore
Panna Cotta Tricolore
Our experience would not be complete without a Panna Cotta Tricolore and house made Berry Cello 2013.Enjoying a cappuccino as Sirio singed his namesake book “Sirio Maccioni” made the evening one we will remember for a very long time.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WINE OPINIONS RESEARCH SHOWS U.S. TRADE READY TO EXPLORE AUSTRALIA’S REGIONALITY, DIVERSITY AND PREMIUM VALUE.

 Wine Australia’s ‘Next Chapter’ Research Project Results

Wine Australia’s ‘Next Chapter’ research project funded by The Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation of Australia, is pleased to announce the results of a major U.S. trade survey conducted by Wine Opinions following outreach to Importer, Distributor and On/Off Premise account respondents earlier this year.

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John Gillespie, Founder and CEO of Wine Opinions further explained “We ran four online discussion groups, which included key gatekeepers in the critical tiers of the industry.  A common theme that emerged was growing trade recognition of the high quality and diversity of wines from regional appellations across higher price points, which may well be a ‘leading indicator’ of what the U.S. market might be seeing in the coming years.”
Which Australian wines are best positioned for growth on the U.S. market? What are the attributes of these wines that make them appealing to trade and consumers?
The overall objective of this study was to gain an understanding of the thinking and motivations of the U.S. wine trade in respect to Australian wines, and to explore barriers for developing premium Australian wine sales in the U.S. market.  For a full copy of the report, please contact Angela Slade, Wine Australia Regional Director, North America: angela.slade@wineaustralia.com
Keys:
·         Australian wines’ most promising attribute, identified by all tiers of the trade, is the variety of quality wines produced that express the terroir of Australia’s diverse wine regions.
·         The quality to price ratio Australia offers is still a top attribute.  Value at all price levels was believed to be a key market driver.  The trade believes that consumers today are looking for value in mid-priced wines where they feel more confident they will find quality.
·         The perception that Australia only produces “jammy” high alcohol wines is changing, as the trade is beginning to perceive higher quality wines in a different style coming from Australia that they believe are matching up with changing tastes in the U.S. among both the trade and consumers·
Trade respondents have very high regard for Australian high-end wines. They see Australia producing wines in styles unlike the “fruit bombs” on which their reputation was built.
·         Inventories of Australian wines are now slowly rebuilding after reaching a comfortable level through forecast accuracy, reducing “safety stock,” dropping unsuccessful Australian wines and purchasing less.
·         New product introductions, sweet wines and new blends from Australia, have boosted inventory.
“These survey results demonstrate a very exciting validation of the trade’s recognition for – Australia’s premium, regional offerings” stated Angela Slade, Wine Australia Regional Director, North America.
 “This very important research further substantiates the growing interest, support and genuine feedback we have received directly from Wine Australia’s community of importers, distributors, restaurateurs and retailers” Slade continued.
Building on this positive sentiment, Wine Australia just concluded its inaugural ‘Savour Australia’ – the biggest and most comprehensive Australian wine forum ever undertaken.  Held from September 15 – 18, 2013 in Adelaide, the event was a complete immersion into the Australian wine industry with business sessions presented by some of the world’s most-renowned authorities on wine, consumer trends and retailing; themed lunches and dinners prepared by some of Australia’s top chefs; a Grand Tasting featuring 170 Australian wineries; plus Landmark wine tastings presented by Australia’s leading winemakers and international personalities showcasing Australia’s ultimate wine offerings from the past, present and future.
Savour Australia attracted more than 750 attendees including 75 participants from North America many of whom contributed as Savour Australia guest speakers and panelists.
“With an improved sentiment shift in the US and increasing recognition of quality Australian wines, the time is right to remind the U.S. wine trade and consumers about our innovative and high quality wines” stated Wine Australia’s General Manager, James Gosper.
“On top of that, Tourism Australia’s new food and wine focus, which was announced at Savour Australia 2013, will help forge a strong identity in the marketplace about Australia’s incredibly diverse, unique and top quality wine and food experiences” commented Gosper.  “This is an exciting new era in the promotion of our food and wine.”
Wine Australia’s upcoming actions for the U.S. market will be based on the key learning’s of this research project, and will feature multiple retail and restaurant trade promotions as well as a new consumer outreach effort in partnership with Tourism Australia.
Trade education will continue to play a major role in Wine Australia’s activities. Wine Australia Education Director, Mark Davidson is offering customizable and tailor-made education programs for importers, distributors and trade, each crafted to accommodate the varying needs of small, mid-size and large wineries.   For more information on Wine Australia’s education programs please contact Mark Davidson, Wine Australia Education Director:  usa@wineaustralia.com.

Join us for “Grills & Guitars” as it commences festival weekend with live music, 16 well-known chefs and flamed-kissed fare that will satisfy all the senses on Friday, October 25, 2013

 

Life is Beautiful Festival has l released more details about its kick-off party featuring musical performances by Dawes and Todd Rundgren. On Friday, October 25, 2013, from 8pm – Midnight, 16 celebrity chefs will come together to participate in “Grills & Guitars,” a celebration of the beloved backyard barbecue combining creative open flame cookery with craft brews, artisanal wines and original cocktails created by some of the country’s finest mixologists.

Participating chefs, including Clayton Arakawa, Bruce & Eric Bromberg, Kim Canteenwalla, Scott Conant, Cat Cora, Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, Rick Moonen, David Myers, Aarón Sánchez and Jet Tila, will serve dishes like Whole Roast Goat Enchiladas, Shrimp and Sugar Cane Skewers and Whole Hawaiian Pigs smothers with Big Island Hearts of Palm. Special appearances will be made by chefs Tom Colicchio, Nancy Silverton and Michael Symon.



Celebrated Chef Jonathan Waxman will be honored with the first-ever commemorative award at the event for his dedication to educating and mentoring many of today’s top toques including all of the chefs in attendance.“Waxy’s approach to life is mirrored by the way he cooks,” says Bruce Bromberg, Blue Ribbon Restaurants and Head of Life is Beautiful Festival’s Culinary Advisory Board. “Respect, compassion, confidence and humility are at his core and his unwavering love of life and food evoke huge smiles from even his casual acquaintances so you can imagine what it’s like to be called his friend.”
Tickets are available for purchase here; Price: $175, VIP $225 *Does not require purchase of a festival ticket, must be 21 or over.

Tickets for the Life is Beautiful Festival Culinary Programs are available for purchase at www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com
Regular Two-Day General Admission & VIP Tickets for the 2013 Life is Beautiful Festival are available for purchase at www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com
 


        Tickets:
        Regular Two-Day  GA: $159.50
       VIP Tickets:   Two-Day VIP Ticket: $349.50


VIP tickets include: Exclusive VIP lounge with shade, lounge seating, activities and more; Viewing Areas at Main Stages; VIP restroom facilities; Access to special VIP food concessions; Access to special VIP beer, wine and spirits concessions; Commemorative Poster and more.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Caesars Entertainment Restaurants Earn 2013 Wine Spectator Awards,Restaurant Guy Savoy renews its Grand Award; Old Homestead garners its first Award of Excellence.

 It’s all about the wine! , Restaurant Guy Savoy and Old Homestead at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas have been honored in Wine Spectator’s 2013 Restaurant Wine List Awards. Restaurant Guy Savoy has successfully renewed its coveted Grand Award, Old Homestead earns the Award of Excellence for the second time and Gordon Ramsay Steak is proud to be a new recipient of the Best of Award of Excellence.

Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Wine List Awards are earned based on the wine list’s selection, its pairing with restaurant cuisine and the general appeal to wine lovers. Wine lists are judged on a variety of criteria including vintages and appellations for all selections, complete producer names and the presentation and appearance of the list.
The Grand Award winners, representing the program’s top echelon, typically offer 1,500 or more selections and feature a serious breadth of top producers, outstanding depth in mature vintages, large-format bottles, superior organization, presentation and wine service. Best of Award of Excellence winners carry over 400 selections with superior presentation and a broad selection. Restaurants that win the Award of Excellence offer wine lists with at least 100 selections from quality producers and match the menu in price, style and theme.
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Six-time winner of the Grand Award, Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace offers gourmet dining from French Chef Guy Savoy in his only U.S. dining establishment. The two Michelin star and Forbes 5-star restaurant features amazing prix-fixe menus and a la carte options including signature dishes like the silky artichoke and black truffle soup and the decadent colors of caviar complimented by an impressive wine list and dessert cart. Restaurant Guy Savoy is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
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The Best of Award of Excellence winning wine list at Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas is led by Sommelier Jeff Eichelberger. Open just over a year, the restaurant’s initial wine list was straight forward, conservative and developed slowly as the wine team observed the seasonal menu changes and the interests of guests. The list is focused on wines that interest guests and work well with Ramsay’s menu. The menu is a blend of established vintners with wide appeal and wines of highly limited allocations allowing constant development. Using this approach, the wine list has practically tripled in size since opening, swelling from 225 selections to 600 currently with a special emphasis on growing the fine and rare sections while maintaining choices in a wide array of price levels. Gordon Ramsay Steak opens at 5 p.m. nightly; to make a reservation, call (877) 796-2096.
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Award of Excellence winner for the second year in a row, Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace, is one of New York City’s most historic restaurants. A classic eatery known for its quality steakhouse selections and legendary history, Old Homestead features mouth-watering dishes from the classic New York menu. Robb Report named the restaurant’s signature 26-ounce bone-in, 30-day dry-aged Gotham rib one of Las Vegas’ seven best steaks in its August 2012 issue. Boasting more than 16,000 square-feet, the space features a total of 250 seats with a full dining room, private dining room, lounge and bar. Old Homestead Steakhouse is open daily from 5:00 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.

Arroyo Seco Celebrates 30 Years as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) .

With world-renowned terroir ideal for producing complex and concentrated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Monterey County’s Arroyo Seco district celebrates its 30th anniversary as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) this fall.
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One of the first areas in Monterey County to be distinguished as a unique winegrowing region, and one of the smallest in California, the Arroyo Seco AVA had already been recognized for growing outstanding wines – Chardonnay in particular – since the 1960s.  Factors such as a cool climate influenced by nearby Monterey Bay, well-drained rocky soils, extreme winds, and experienced growers have combined to make wines from the Arroyo Seco AVA some of the most sought-after and awarded in the country.
“As one of the pioneers of Monterey County, Jerry Lohr planted his first grapes in the Arroyo Seco in 1972 knowing that the region was destined for producing high quality Chardonnay and Riesling,” said J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines President and COO, Jeff Meier.  Since that time, Jerry Lohr’s passionate efforts to instill farming practices that bring out the best from the terroir have prompted his namesake and family owned company to expand varietal programs with Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Valdiguié. “Celebrating thirty years as an AVA is a milestone for the region and we at J. Lohr look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead for all of us who will continue to have a presence in the AVA over the next 30 years.”
“There just are not many places in California – or the world – where all of the elements that make Arroyo Seco unique can exist,” said Rich Smith, owner and founder of Valley Farm Management, one of Monterey County’s pioneer wine producers.  “We began growing the forty-two acres of vines at Cobblestone Vineyards in the Arroyo Seco area in 1975, and have added about eleven-hundred acres of vines over the past thirty-five years on four other properties in Arroyo Seco. If imitation is the best compliment, we obviously believe in complimenting the Arroyo Seco.”
Fourth-generation winegrower and Chief Executive Officer of Wente Family Estates, Carolyn Wente, recalls how her father, Karl Wente, came to plant vineyards in the Greenfield area of Monterey County in 1963. “He was attracted to the unique soils and climate he found along the Arroyo Seco river and bench lands, and became an advocate for others to plant in the region.  At that time, there were no other vineyards in the area, which was widely planted to vegetables and row crops such as sugar beets.”

Wente went on to describe how additional winegrowers gradually purchased and planted in Arroyo Seco, learning how different rootstocks, clonal selections and varietals excelled in the region with the experience of multiple vintages.  Eventually, it came time for recognition of the district’s excellence.  “My mother and I drafted first the Monterey and then the Arroyo Seco appellation petition and championed them with other vineyard and winery owners in the early 80s. Since then, our belief in the unique attributes of the appellation has only strengthened with the outstanding quality of the wines produced through the years. This AVA is clearly a hidden gem in the coastal winegrowing valleys of California!”
In 2007, the Arroyo Seco Winegrowers & Vintners Association was established to promote the district’s distinguished terroir and wines.  Headed by Michael Griva of F&G Vineyards, the association has made great strides in defining and celebrating what makes this district so special.  “I grew up among the greats of the Arroyo Seco AVA,” said Griva, “people like Karl Wente, Rich Smith and Jerry Lohr.  It’s been a pleasure to promote their vision for what makes Arroyo Seco stand out, and to support their legacy of incredible wines grown by people who are passionate about its terroir.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Interesting Wines featured in an evening of cuisine, Wine,Books and Angels with Iconic Chef Charlie Palmer.


Las Vegas has no shortage of celebrity chefs, perhaps one of the biggest names throughout the world is Chef Charlie Palmer. This renown Chef ,restaurateur , author and television host has collected a plethora of awards ranging from a James Beard award and coveted Michelin Guide stars just to name a few .
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Recently we visited with this iconic Chef at his Michelin award winning restaurant Aureole in the Mandalay Bay  Resort in Las Vegas. Charlie has been a fixture in this culinary epicenter for many years. Always keeping things fresh , He was in town to launch his new cookbook , Camp Cooking and to show off the new “wine angel “ costumes that are shall we say , pretty delightful to say the least .
Arriving at Aureole we were escorted to a private dining area where we were met by none other than the legend himself and settled into what would become an evening of signature dishes prepared by Charlie and a selection of wines that caused us to do some serious research on indigenous varietals  from Spain, France and Austria.
Elaine Harris, Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief and Chef Charlie Palmer
Elaine Harris, Cuisineist Editor-In-Chief and Chef Charlie Palmer
Chef Charlie Palmer has been known for years for his Progressive American Cuisine built on big flavors and surprising combinations with an infusion of classical French technique.Today, a big “buzz word” is farm to table cuisine. Chef Charlie Palmer explained that he was an early advocate of farm over factory food. In 1988, he made a commitment to creating dishes featuring regional American ingredients at his three-star Aureole Restaurant in New York City.
It was now time to enjoy some of this renowned cuisine prepared by Chef Charlie just for us. Our first course was a succulent Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Duo paired with Txomin Etaniz Txakoi, Hondarribi Zuri, Getariako Txakolina, Spain 2012.
Seared Loup de Mer & Stuffed Calamri a’ la “Setoise
Seared Loup de Mer & Stuffed Calamri a’ la “Setoise
Our second course featured a lovely Seared Loup de Mer & Stuffed Calamri a’ la “Setoise” joined by a very nice Moulin de Gassac, Picpoul de Pinet , Languedoc, France 2011.
Keeping the culinary hits coming, Charlie Palmer delivered a perfectly prepared Roasted Moulard Duck Breast  with sautéed dandelion greens,bing cherries and muscat jus paired with a Schloss Gobelsburger , Zweigelt, Kamptal , Austria 2010 that was a perfect marriage of cuisine and wine.



 Roasted Moulard Duck Breast  with sautéed dandelion greens,bing cherries and muscat jus paired
Roasted Moulard Duck Breast with sautéed dandelion greens,bing cherries and muscat jus paired
Three courses of gastronomic artistry and Chef Charlie Palmer still had one more treat for us. A beautiful Roasted Oregon Wagyu Beef Strip Loin with braised beef cheeks,barley and porcini mushrooms and a Chene Bleu Heloise, Syrah/Grenache/Viognier , Rhone Valley, France 2007.Pastry Chef Megan fished off our evening with a rich Roasted fig and Goat Cheese Cake with chicory ice cream and a Toro Albala,Don PX Gran Reserva, Pedro Ximenez,Montilla-Moriles, Spain 1985.



. A beautiful Roasted Oregon Wagyu Beef Strip Loin with braised beef cheeks,barley and porcini mushrooms
. A beautiful Roasted Oregon Wagyu Beef Strip Loin with braised beef cheeks,barley and porcini mushrooms
The evening was not just about great cuisine from Chef Charlie Palmer and his kitchen but also about his new cookbook, Camp Cooking.  This leather bound book complete with a Remington stamp is all about cooking and eating outdoors compete with selections from the Remington Arms Art Collection and is a must for any kitchen and lovers of the great outdoors.
Camp Cooking
Camp Cooking





Charlie Palmer is always keeping things fresh and his wine angles are no exception.The wine angles have been soaring for years overseeing almost 10,000 bottles of wine are stored in the iconic tower. The “angels” ascend and descend the climate-controlled, stainless-steel columns on mechanical hoists fetching wine for their guests.
Wine Angels
Wine Angels
They how have new uniforms that make them very hard to miss with new two-piece outfits outfitted with more than 100 LED bulbs. “We were often given feedback by our guests that they were hard to see in the tower, so we really wanted to make them shine, now they have a uniform that suits the excitement of their job “stated Charlie Palmer. The new uniforms are a creation of Las Vegas fashion designer Bunker Hill Bradley, who won a competition among local designers.The uniforms feature a progression of colors that symbolize the hues found in various wines and they made of recycled materials.
Chef Charlie Palmer
Chef Charlie Palmer

Charlie Palmer’s new cookbook and new wine angel uniforms show this iconic Chef is not afraid of innovation or invention which keeps him and his Charlie Palmer Group at the forefront of the culinary industry around the world.

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Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott