Wine | A Continuous Lean.

The ACL Guide to Thanksgiving Wines.

Nov 27th, 2013 | Categories: Al James, Americana, Wine | by Al James

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR I/AID & COMFORT

Arriving to Thanksgiving dinner with a well-chosen bottle of wine is simply the right thing to do. It’s doesn’t have to be pricey or geeky, just take a little extra time to pick out a bottle that will work well with the food. No matter who’s cooking, the staples that make up a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, gravy, stuffing, potatoes, green bean casserole, etc – all land on the salty end of the flavor spectrum. Even when piled high on a plate, they don’t have the wherewithal to stand up to a big red wine (Cabernet, Merlot, Barolo, Chianti, Shiraz) which all contain significant tannins and high alcohol levels. In this case, bigger is not always better. What the savory flavors need, particularly in the case of turkey, is acidity and crispness to balance out the saltiness and brininess. Luckily there are lots of ways to achieve this balance with both New World and Old World wines that are widely available. I like the way food and wine blogger BrooklynGuy  approaches his wine picks for the holiday, “Keep it refreshing and lively, try to keep the alcohol to a minimum.” His logic being that family gatherings can already be teetering on the edge, no reason to pour gasoline on the fire.

Comments Off




The Butcher.

Nov 26th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Italy, Wine | by Michael Williams

Dario_cecchini_05

Dario Cecchini is not a butcher, he’s the butcher. He’s unlike anyone I have ever encountered. As part of our whirlwind one-day adventure in Tuscany, Fontodi owner Giovanni Manetti took us for lunch in Panzano at Dario’s place, a lunch on a warm Italian afternoon which ended up being a life changing event. The butcher shop is forever changed after an afternoon with Dario Cecchini.

Dario’s shop is actually three places in one: a butcher shop on the ground floor, a steakhouse upstairs and a casual terrace restaurant out back. The whole place has to be Panzano’s most significant tourist attraction. It’s a destination for hospitality, a dose of Dario’s legendary energy, and of course, a temple for red meat. If ever you find yourself in Chianti, your presence is required at Dario’s table. Trust me, you’ve never seen anything like this before.

Upon arrival Dario —who is probably the world’s most famous butcher thanks in part to his appearance in Bill Buford’s Heat— proceeded to instantaneously grab (read: pick up into his arms) Giovanni like he was a long-lost friend. It looked like they hadn’t seen each other in years, but it had only actually been a few days since they celebrated Giovanni’s 50th birthday together. I know this because they were talking about the massive steaks that Dario butchered and cooked for the party. A second later an iPad mini appeared with Dario holding two of the most massive chunks of beef that I have ever seen.

dario Dario_cecchini_08

Dario_cecchini_14





Feeling Super Tuscan | A Visit to Fontodi.

Oct 24th, 2013 | Categories: Food, Italy, Wine | by Michael Williams

Fontodi_Tuscany_15

When people think about the food in Italy, it’s probably safe to say that steak is not the first thing people would call out. Though, the pleasure of Bistecca Fiorentina and a bottle of Super Tuscan are rarely out shined.

The massively thick chunk of rare meat paired with a delicious wine is a meal that I enjoy roughly twice a year in Florence if I am lucky. And while I only get to enjoy this meal a handful of times, it’s something I constantly crave it throughout the year. Every New York steak house is blunted by my desire for super thick and rare beef with crispy edges. No matter how good the steakhouse, no matter how delicious the bottle, nothing compares to having the real thing in Italy.

On my most recent trip to Italy, I decided that the best way to spend my last day would be to make the roughly hour drive from Florence to Chianti Classico near the town of Panzano to spend the day at the Fontodi winery with its owner Giovanni Manetti. A visit to Fontodi was a recommendation by the respected Italy-based food writer Faith Willinger. She extolled Fontodi as both an excellent producer and also an estate that is known to be extremely beautiful. Both of these facts were quickly confirmed. Looking back, Faith couldn’t have suggested a better place to visit and it would be difficult to find a vineyard that is more hospitable.

Situated in some of the best grape growing land in Tuscany, the area is referred to as “Conca d’Oro” (the golden shell), due to the way it is situated to receive extended exposure to the sun. Fontodi is best known for Flaccianello, its excellent Super Tuscan. The flagship wine is made using a delicate process that has been refined and masted over several generations by the Manetti family. The family is also a long-time maker of terra cotta and many of the orange tiled roofs of Florence have been made by the family for hundreds of years.

Fontodi_Tuscany_19





The Wine Trade: Carla Rzeszewski

May 1st, 2013 | Categories: David Coggins, Drinking, The Wine Trade, Wine | by David Coggins

Master of her domaine: Carla Rzeszewski in The John Dory. Photo by: Lauren Mowery

This is the first in a series about people working in the wine trade.

Carla Rzeszewski is the wine director across April Bloomfield’s irreverent restaurant empire: The Spotted Pig, The John Dory and The Breslin. Those are disparate restaurants require a wine guru who fits their impressive profile. Indeed, in addition to being, at various times, an actress, a bartender and a nude model. Rzeszewski is sharp, capable, profane, and a strong advocate of sherry. We spoke recently over a beer, of all things, at her local in the East Village.

David Coggins: It’s funny that you suggested meeting at a bar specializing in beer. Does that mean that when you’re not working you’re a beer drinker?

Carla Rzeszewski: When I’m not working or if I’m just relaxing with a book, it’s always with a beer, i’s never with a glass of wine.

DC: So you’re a believer in wine with food.

CR: For sure. They historically have gone together, and they’ve been nurtured together.

DC: So when wine is tasted officially and there’s no food—

CR: It’s a joke. Quiet wines, wallflower wines have a beauty and complexity all their own. They don’t stand out in a huge lineup. Other wines have a broader structure and bully their way to the front.

DC: Then how do you, as a director of a wine program, introduce people to these quieter wines, especially if they haven’t heard of them before?

CR: Well the Dory serves more delicate food. Whites, for the most part, and light, low-tannin reds. A lot of those whites are too acidic on their own and yet with the food it works perfectly. Like the razor clam ceviche works very well alongside a Pigato, or even a Sherry. They need food and when they have food they begin to sing. The other day at the Dory I had this clam I’d never seen before. It’s got excess levels of hemoglobin so it’s bloody. It’s pretty but sinister. Alongside this basic Chablis, you put them together and it’s awesome. But the Chablis on its own isn’t as exciting—it needs the food to wake up a bit.





Sonoma’s Indie Scene | Scribe Winery

Mar 22nd, 2013 | Categories: Food, Wine | by Michael Williams

Scribe_Winery_11

Scribe_Winery_02 Scribe_Winery_03
Part I of II.

My hypothesis was that the grounds of Scribe Winery in Sonoma provide an exceptional setting for an enjoyable lunch in Northern California. To find out if my theory proved true I challenged myself to make the trip up to the two hundred acre farm to eat and drink with founder Andrew Mariani and the rest of the Scribe camp. It was a tough assignment, but I’m very committed to the truth so I made the trip. I can say with certainty, that after extensive testing of the various Scribe wines throughout the property, it is indeed an outstanding experience.

If you are interested in wine and good food, do yourself a favor and visit Scribe at some point. Take your better half and visit for the weekend. I can assure you that it is one of the better places you will ever discover. If you belong to the Scribe Viticultural Society (their wine club) you can dine with the Scribe folks when you pick-up your wine. Much of the Scribe production sells out, so joining the SVS is a smart move even if you don’t end up dining at the farm.

Scribe_Winery_14





Where to Wine in Paris.

Feb 27th, 2013 | Categories: Paris, Wine | by Michael Williams

LeGrand_Filles_fils07

Wandering into LeGrand Filles et Fils you can’t help but to be overcome by what has to be one of the best places to buy (and drink) wine in Paris. The front of the shop is the oldest portion of the operation and is by far the most aesthetically captivating. The visual symmetry alone is almost enough for me. Follow the space to the back and you will pass through a newer store area with even more wine related accessories and eventually you will find you in a comfortable tasting area with walls lined in even more wine, only now you’ve found the good stuff. That’s it, you need to pull up a chair and have a drink.

LeGrand_Filles_fils11 LeGrand_Filles_fils09

LeGrand_Filles_fils04





Where to Wine in Copenhagen.

Aug 13th, 2012 | Categories: Travel, Wine | by Michael Williams

Travel leads to long days of walking, which then hopefully leads to wine. In Copenhagen, you would be doing yourself a favor to stumble upon Ved Stranden, seeking out specifically isn’t a bad idea either. Regardless of how much time you spend walking around and discovering Denmark’s capital, this place is definitely deserving of your attention. Specializing in Austrian wines, Ved Stranden has a vast selection of interesting things to taste and a knowledgeable staff to help you find your way. Basically, it’s a sure thing.

Speaking of wine, this summer I have receded a bit from my 2011 obsession of rosé and have focused my efforts (mainly) on France’s Loire Valley and the wonderful delights of the Vouvray. The catalyst of this was Kermit Lynch’s book Adventures on the Wine Route (thanks Tony for that, by the way). Being a lover of wine and a neophyte on the subject, I have been doing two things to learn more and develop my palate: 1. focusing on regions and drinking all I can from that area. 2. Reading as much as possible about those specific regions. So far I have focused on northwest Italy, Napa and as I mentioned already, the Loire Valley. So long story short, I don’t know much about Austrian wine, but I was happy to take a little detour (into Austria as it were) and try something new at Ved Stranden. This plan worked out very well if you were wondering.