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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Dinner with Piedmont Winemaker Gianpaolo Manzone

Posted by Gabe on May 14, 2014

Gianpaolo Manzone represents the sixth generation of his family involved in the wine business in one aspect or another. His family has two plots of land that add up to 24 acres under vine. In addition to being the winemaker, Gianpaolo is also the vineyard manager for this property which sits is in two different town’s right in the midst of the Piedmont Region. I recently had dinner with Gianpaolo at Ristorante Morini in New York. The evening was fascinating for a multitude of reasons, but two in particular stood out for me. He was remarkably passionate about what he does; that love and intensity for his vocation comes rushing out of him in loud and descriptive bursts. Here’s a man who not only loves tending his vines and crafting wine, he loves sharing it with people and explaining what he does. The other captivating item was how differently he treats each wine he makes. An example would be the grape Nebbiolo. He uses it to make both a varietal wine and several Barolos. However, he has different production and barrel regimens for each. By treating each one differently he’s allowing the grapes in question to shine more prominently than they might otherwise. Over the course of the night we tasted nine wines including a couple of slightly older Barolos which helped form a mini-vertical. Read the rest of the story over at The Daily Meal

Posted in Barbera, Barolo, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

Dinner with Cuvaison Winemaker Steve Rogstad

Posted by Gabe on February 26, 2013

Cuvaison Winery has a history in Napa Valley that dates back to 1969. However they were reset in 1979 when the Schmidheiny family from Switzerland purchased the property. A decade ago they built a new facility in Carneros under the stewardship of winery president Jay Schuppert and winemaker Steve Rogstad, who both joined on in 2002 and are still onboard. Previous to that the wines were made in Calistoga where they still own a facility and a satellite tasting room. Last week I had the opportunity to have dinner with Steve Rogstad at Tocqueville. We tasted through the core releases as well as a couple of wines made from the Brandlin Estate on Mount Veeder. My thoughts on my favorite wines from the evening follow.

The Cuvaison 2011 Estate Chardonnay Carneros is their flagship offering. It makes up roughly 75% of their total production which varies between 40 and 50,000 cases from one vintage to the next. The fruit for this wine came from 44 distinct blocks within their Estate. Each lot was picked and vinified separately. This Chardonnay was barrel fermented and aged in French oak for 8 months; 20% of the barrels utilized were new. This widely available wine has a suggested retail price of $25. This is a gorgeous Chardonnay with clean and crisp flavors. Apple aromas lead the nose and carry on to the palate. Tropical fruit flavors join in as well with pineapple and guava of particular note. Spice, minerals and a little kiss of crème fraiche emerge on the finish which has nice length. It is classic example of well made Carneros Chardonnay that allows the fruit to shine brilliantly through. This wine is a very solid value at its price point.

The Cuvaison 2011 Kite Tail Chardonnay is produced each year from a single block. This block is planted to the Wente clone. The fruit was hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. It was fermented and aged in barrel over 15 months in French oak; 50% of the barrels utilized were new. This wine has a suggested price of $42. Hints of smoke and toast light up the nose of this Chardonnay along with bits of orchard fruit. The flavors here are more concentrated and have a greater intensity. Apple and pear are in strong evidence along with a bit of mango. Bits of toasted almond, and copious spices such as nutmeg and white pepper emerge on the finish which has substantial length. Tasting these two Chardonnays side by side is a tiny little window into how diverse this grape is. In this case multiple factors play in to the distinction. Both wines are delicious and interesting in their own right.

The Cuvaison 2011 Estate Pinot Noir Carneros was produced with fruit sourced from 20 distinct blocks within the Winery Estate. Each block was vinified separately. Barrel aging took place over 11 months in small oak barrels; 30% of them were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $38. Fresh red fruit aromas fill the nose of this Pinot Noir. Bing cherry and strawberry characteristics are at play on the palate along with a bit of cinnamon and black pepper spice. Raspberry emerges on the finish along with wisps of rhubarb and earth. As a counterpoint to the Estate Chardonnay this is an equally engaging and well made example of Carneros Pinot.

The Brandlin Estate Mt Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon is largely varietal (94%), with small amounts of Petit Verdot (4%), Malbec (1%) and Cabernet Franc (1%) blended in. This wine was aged over 22 months in French oak; 50% of the barrels utilized were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $55. Cuvaison purchased this property, which has been farmed by the Brandlin family since the 1870’s in the late 90’s. This is a historic Napa vineyard whose history they honor by name and in practice. Less than 40 of the 170 acres have been planted to vine. There’s a ton of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon in NapaValley. Personally I think some of the most compelling examples are made from mountain fruit. This selection from Brandlin is no exception. Black fruit aromas dominate the nose along with hints of toast. This is a young Cabernet and it’s a bit tight out of the bottle right now. It opens up nicely with some air and shows off blackberry and raspberry fruit flavors as well as hints of cocoa. Earth and black pepper emerge on the finish which has good length. This wine has firm, gripping tannins and solid structure. It’s tasty now but will be even better a few years from now. This is a nice example of Mt. Veeder Cabernet.

The connective tissue with the wines Steve Rogstad is making for Cuvaison and their Mount Veeder Property Brandlin is proportion. These are lovely, vineyard-driven wines that pair well with a wide array of foods and quite frankly life in general. Each wine is distinct yet it’s clear the guiding hand and winery principles employed at Cuvaison have led to the creation and maintaining of an impressive portfolio that leads with their property in Carneros and the beautiful grapes that are grown there. Add to that the rugged Cabernet and other Bordeaux varietals of Mt. Veeder and the picture of a producer that lets their properties speak through the bottle emerges. It’s always a pleasure to taste wines alongside the person who shepherded them into existence. When the winemaker is one like Steve Rogstad with his wealth of experience in the business in general and at his length of tenure at his current Winery, its all the more interesting and informative.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

Henry’s Drive – 2010 Morse Code Chardonnay

Posted by Gabe on June 14, 2011

A number of years ago I first ran across a bottle of Pillar Box Red. This Australian blend was well priced and tasty. Since that time I’ve gone back to it on numerous occasions, recommended to people and had the opportunity to taste it alongside its winemaker. Most compelling for a wine in its price-point is how consistent its quality and general flavor profile has been from year to year. This isn’t often the case with wines around the $10 mark. Last week I had dinner with Henry’s Drive winemaker Renae Hirsch and Winery owner Kim Longbottom. We tasted through much of their current portfolio, including classics like Dead Letter Office and Parson’s Flat as well as The Scarlett Letter a Sparkling Shiraz that’s new for them. Across the board the Henry’s Drive wines are well made and appropriately priced for the quality they offer at each level. In many cases their wines over deliver. One of the wines that really outperforms its price-point is The Morse Code Chardonnay. This is one of the few wines we tasted that night which I had not sampled previously.

The Henry’s Drive 2010 Morse Code Chardonnay was produced using fruit sourced in the Padthaway region of Australia. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. A small amount of oak was used in the production of this wine. 5,600 cases of the 2010 vintage were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $8.99.

Ripe orchard fruit aromas leap from the glass of this Chardonnay. A host of both tropical and continued orchard fruit flavors are present on the incredibly pleasing palate of this wine. Pear, pineapple, apple and a hint of papaya are all in evidence along with a core of spices such as nutmeg, clove and vanilla bean. The finish is crisp and refreshing with terrific acidity and good length. This wine is delicious on it’s own but will pair well with lighter foods.

The bottom line for me on the Morse Code Chardonnay is that it’s a steal. This wine is loaded with Chardonnay character. The subtle amount of oak used, adds some complexity as it should, but never detracts. You’re going to be hard pressed to find a Chardonnay for less than $10 that provides as much varietal character, purity of fruit and just sheer delicious drinkability as this wine. If you need a house white wine for the summer a case of Morse Code Chardonnay is a great bet.

The Henry’s Drive Wines provide quality, distinction and value at every price point. Whether you’re spending $8.99 on the Morse Code Chardonnay, or $49.99 on the Reserve Shiraz you’re going to get value for your money. And with them continuing to push the envelope adding new and exciting releases like “The Scarlett Letter,” a delicious Sparking Shiraz, the folks at Henry’s Drive always have something compelling for wine lovers to sample. Buy their wines with the confidence that they are one of Australia’s best and most consumer friendly producers. If you’re a fan of Australian Wine, there’s no doubt in my mind their portfolio has something you’ll be interested in.

Posted in Chardonnay, Events, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

Reconsiderng a Napa Valley Legend; Robert Mondavi Winery

Posted by Gabe on March 7, 2011

Genevieve Janssens

As we’ve grown precipitously as a wine drinking nation over the last couple of decades our choices have also increased. The number of outlets selling wine is way up and the options we have once we go there are in sharp contrast to what was available a number of years ago. The temptation in our culture is also to chase the new hot thing. Sometimes that leaves little room to reconsider or reconnect with something we already love. In this case that something is the Robert Mondavi Winery. There was no greater ambassador for both California wines and the importance of wine on our tables in this country than Robert Mondavi. Napa Valley and perhaps the entire US wine industry would look radically different today if not for the chances he took and the advances, in quality and more, that he championed. In the sea of wine that’s out there it’s easy to forget that. Recently I had the opportunity to taste through some current and older releases with winemaker Genevieve Janssens.

Tasting both new offerings and an older Cabernet Sauvignon really showed off the quality of winemaking that is still going on at this venerable Napa Valley house. A particular standout was the 2007 I Block Fume Blanc. This wine is made in tiny quantities (207 cases) and sourced from a specific block of the To Kalon vineyard. It was one of the more impressive Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted in quite awhile. At three plus years old it’s fresh and vibrant and still has plenty of life ahead of it. It’s only available through the winery (SRP $75) and well worth the extra effort to get it.

The event took place at Hearth Restaurant in New York and this allowed us to taste these wines as they are meant to be consumed; side by side with food. I sampled the 2008 Napa Valley Chardonnay with a rotating cast of different appetizers. This wine was produced with fruit sourced in Carneros (58%), East Napa foothills (29%), Sonoma County (10%), other Napa vineyards (3%). 69% of the juice was fermented in barrel; 13% of them were new. The balance was fermented in stainless steel. This Chardonnay which is widely available has a suggested retail price of $20. Orchard fruit aromas fill the nose of this wine along with a hint of spice. Golden delicious apple, pear, pineapple and guava all make their presence know through the palate. Minerals, apple pie crust and baker’s spice are each part of the finish which has impressive length for a Chardonnay in this price category. The use of oak here was judicious and it adds to the complexity, as opposed to some Chardonnays where it becomes a distraction. The bottom line is that this wine pairs well with a wide array of different foods and also drinks beautifully on its own. It’s one of the work horses in the Mondavi portfolio and it’s well worth trying if you haven’t had it in awhile.

Two vintages of the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon were impressive for different reasons. The 1996 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is an excellent example of the age worthiness of good Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. Most (79%) of the fruit for it came from Oakville; much of it from To Kalon. When Robert Mondavi spoke of comparing Napa wines to his French counterparts it was wines like the reserve Cabernet that I bet he had in mind. This wine still has plenty of fruit on it, but it’s also become earthier and softer. It’s a pleasure to drink both with food and without.

The Robert Mondavi Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was made entirely with fruit from Oakville and 93% of it from To Kalon. This wine is bigger, bolder and a bit brasher today. It has firm tannins that need some time in the bottle or some aeration to soften a bit. The elements which make the 1996 so drinkable today are also there in the 2007. It’s simply loaded with fruit and spice flavors that are accented by the time spent in barrel. Just less than 10,000 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $135. Ultimately, the 2007 has the hallmarks of a wine that promises to be an even more impressive effort than the 1996. The question after purchasing it is if you have patience. It’s very enjoyable now, particularly with full flavored foods. However if you give it 5 or 10 years of proper storage you’ll be rewarded with a slightly mellower, more resolved wine that will just knock your socks off. You really can’t go wrong either way, it depends which experience you prefer.

Tasting these wines and several others with food, over a leisurely evening made a couple of facts crystal clear. Most importantly if you haven’t had wines from the flagship Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley for a while, it’s high time to revisit them. Their releases still showcase some of the best that Napa Valley has to offer. This was apparent both in widely available wines like the Chardonnay and Cabernet as well as small production items like the I Block Fume Blanc. The other point is that as much attention as the To Kalon Vineyard gets, it should probably get more. The wines that were sourced there show off a tremendous sense of place and are simply impressive efforts. Genevieve Janssens who has been making the wines at Robert Mondavi Winery since 1997 (she worked at Opus One previously) is doing an impressive job shepherding the philosophy of Mr. Mondavi into the future. The best way to thank her for that effort is to taste these wines.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Dining, Events, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | 1 Comment »

Tasting Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz

Posted by Gabe on May 25, 2010

I recently had the chance to taste wine, over dinner, with the Shirvingtons. The namesakes of this Australian Winery were in the United States for the first time in many years showing off their wines. Lucky for me they brought quite a treasure trove of goodies to share.

Lynne and Paul Shirvington started down the wine road in 1995. Their aim was for a simpler existence as farmers, and thus they decided that growing grapes would provide the life they were looking for and the challenges they craved. Between 1996 and 2001 they purchases 3 parcels of land. Their vineyard manager Peter Bolte has been with them since 1997 and their winemaker Kim Jackson since 2004. Starting with the 2001 vintage they have made wines that have garnered significant attention and acclaim. I was quite curious to sample their wines as I had not previously done so. It’s generally instructive to do so with the folks responsible and the Shirvingtons were no exception. In addition to founders Peter and Lynne their son Mark was in attendance as well. Their pride in their wines was clear as was their hospitality and charm.

In total we tasted five vintages of Shiraz and four of Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit was sourced from their own vineyards. So the first step in consistency is controlling their source. Of course there is plenty of vintage variation between them. Tasting the wines side by side was an eye opener into their winemaking style and their track record as a producer. So while there was plenty to differentiate the wines I was struck by the positive attributes they have in common. There is a trio of things that most impressed me about the Shirvington wines as a whole.

The first is the balance and restraint both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz showed across each of the vintages. While these are by no means small wines, their heft is quite reasonable. The flavors are mouth-filling, even a bit relentless in their attack at times, but never over the top. Despite alcohol levels well over 15% on almost every offering, not a single one belied any discernable heat. Considering all the disproportionate wine from the world over, that is certainly no small feat.

The second thing that made me really take notice in these wines is their persistence and duration of palate. From the first whiff of the expressive nose through what is an above average finish on each of them, they’re profiles are notably lengthy

Age ability is another other quality about the Shirvington wines that stands out above most others. These wine have the legs to last quite awhile. The oldest wines we tasted were from their second vintage, 2002 and the youngest from 2008. The oldest wines were amazing; particularly in how much fresh fruit they still showed. It would have been very difficult to pick up that the Shiraz was an 8 year old wine. It speaks really well to the small lot, terroir driven approach they employ to make their wines. The older Cabernet was also very good, but showed more of the hallmark signs of an offering with some age on it. It’s hard to say precisely how long these wines will go but at 8 years old now they surely have a couple years more left to go, at the very least. The younger wines which benefited from additional aeration over the course of the evening have the same overall structure and characteristics to indicate that they will have a similar shelf life; perhaps even more as the vines gain age and they learn more and more about them over time.

It’s important to note, as I referenced above, that while there are many qualitative similarities between these wines, the vintage rules they day. The Shirvingtons are keen about making wines that speak very specifically about their place of origin in McLaren Vale. And even that very specific spot has different things to say each year. Weather is of course a huge factor and there have been some vintages affected to different degrees by drought. The Shirvingtons are extremely committed to overall quality; in fact if the fruit isn’t up to their standard they simply won’t make the particular wine that year.

The proof is in the bottle. For me the bottom line is the wine, and it’s clear when it comes to that they’re making all the right decisions. These are world class examples of Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon respectively. Current vintages have a suggested retail price of $66.99 (Shiraz) and $59.99 (Cabernet Sauvignon). Whether you pick some up to knock your friends out today or you want to lay down some wine for the next decade, the Shirvington offerings are selections you should strongly consider.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

The Current Release Wines of Tinto Figuero

Posted by Gabe on February 23, 2010

The other night I had the chance to taste through the wines of  Tinto Figuero with two of the winery principals. The setting was Solera in Manhattan. Spanish wine and food are enough to get any reasonable person excited; I know I certainly was. Part of the excitement was that I’d never before had the Tinto Figuero wines. As I was explaining to someone at this very dinner, given the choice between a wine I know I love and one I’ve never tasted I’m going to go for the wine I never tasted at least nine out of ten times.

Tinto Figuero is a family operation run by three brothers, their brother in law and their father who keeps his hand involved in the winery he started with his wife. Originally grape growers dating back some generations, they eventually turned their attention to starting a winery and producing their own wines. The goals at Tinto Figuero are to make premium wines that are consistent from vintage to vintage, express the sense of place imparted by their spot in the Ribera del Duero, and to make wines that the people who have had them before will know is a Figuero the moment it hits their lips. Those goals are simple, straightforward and lofty all at the same time.

At dinner we tasted through four of their wines. These offerings make up the bulk of their portfolio and are their most widely distributed releases. Each of the wines is 100% Tempranillo, and sourced from their own vineyards in the Ribera del Duero. Grape selection and oak treatment are the major differences in how each wine is produced. My impressions were as follows:

Tinto Figuero – 2007 Roble Four Month In Barrel. Just fewer than 6,000 cases of this selection were produced. As the name indicates, this wine spent 4 months in oak. The suggested retail price is $19.99. Fresh, crushed raspberry aromas mark the nose of this wine. The fresh berry theme continues through the palate and onto the finish which features mineral notes and subtle hints of earth. This is Figuero’s everyday wine. It provides lots of bright, vibrant flavors and will be a good match for casual finger foods such as an assortment of tapas.

Tinto Figuero – 2005 Crianza Twelve Months In Barrel. Just over 20,000 cases of this offering were bottled. Fruit was sourced from vines with 20-20 years (80%) of age and the remainder (20%) over 50 years. Oak aging occurred over 12 months in a combination American (90%) and French (10%) oak. The suggested retail price for this wine is $28.99. Red raspberry aromas billow from the nose of this wine. Wisps of vanilla follow; the palate is a couple of steps up in intensity and complexity from the Four Month, Sour blackberry jam notes emerge on the finish which has good length and excellent acidity. A grilled steak would be an excellent match for this wine.

Tinto Figuero – 2004 Reserva Fifteen Months In Barrel. 8,333 six bottle cases of this wine were produced. Fruit was sourced from vines with more than 50 years of age. Barrel aging was achieved over 15 months in a combination of American (95%) and French (5%) oak. The suggested retail price for this wine is $53.99. This 2004 Tempranillo opens with a nose so intense, so inviting, and so appealing that it’s almost absurd to try and describe it. More than one person at the table would have likely jumped into the glass to get closer to this wine if that was possible. Kirsch Liqueur is one of the more prominent components of the nose, but that only begins to describe an aroma that is the very embodiment of the term intoxicating. It took me quite awhile to taste this wine as I couldn’t get past the nose to actually focus on tasting it. Once I did sip it, the wine greeted me with wave after wave of intense berry fruit flavor. And if the flavors weren’t quite as intense as the nose, they were certainly well more than adequate. Hints of vanilla and oak emerged at mid-palate to complement the fruit and lead to the finish which was as impressive as the nose. This wine lingers for a good long while. Everything about this selection is delicious. While it’s excellent now it will certainly improve over time in the bottle.

Tinto Figuero – 2004 Noble. 1,166 six bottle cases of this offering were produced. Fruit for this selection was sourced from vines with more than 70 years of age. Oak aging occurred over a period of 21 months. The first 15 months was spent in American oak followed by 6 months in French oak. An additional 15 months of bottle age was allowed before release. The suggested retail price for this wine is $130.99. First and foremost this wine is still a baby. It was decanted for 3 hours before we started to taste it. While it was certainly opening up this wine was still tight. Fresh cherries, leather and cigar box aromas mark the nose. Raspberry, blackberry and huckleberry flavors are all present in the layered palate. Dusty dark chocolate emerges around mid-palate and continues through the prodigious finish which is also marked by hints of chicory and cedar. This offering features chewy tannins, balanced by fine acidity. This is the epitome of a special occasion wine. Tinto Figuero 2004 Noble is the sort of selection you want to grab a couple of to lay down in your cellar and forget about for 5-10 years. If you have that sort of patience, you will undoubtedly be rewarded. If however you plan to drink this in the short term, decant it for 4-5 hours at minimum. Either way this is a terrific wine.

While this was my first experience tasting the wines of Tinto Figuero it certainly won’t be my last. Each of these releases is impressive in its own right and perhaps more importantly achieves the goal it sets out for. There are both substantial differences in these wines as well as a commonality of both house style and a common thread that ties them all together. In speaking to them and tasting their wines the commitment to sustained quality is evident. It’s going to be interesting to follow them over the years and see it play out.

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Posted in Dining, Tempranillo, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

2010 New York Wine Expo Is Around The Corner

Posted by Gabe on January 19, 2010

The 3rd annual NY Wine Expo is coming next month. I’ve attended the first two and found it to be a large scale wine event worth attending for wine lovers. Read my review of the 2009 edition here, and 2008 here. Readers of this site can save $10 on either Friday or Saturday tickets by using the code: GABESVIEW. Specific event details follow:


The 3rd Annual New York Wine Expo is February 26 through 28 at the Jacob Javits Center. In all, the Grand Tasting offers attendees a chance to sample more than 600 wines from over 170 winemakers from around the globe. Seminar presenters include Gloria Maroti Frazee, who oversees Wine Spectator School, and Leslie Sbrocco an award-winning author, and Founder of “Thirsty Girl” a brand new multi-media company focused on wine, food and travel.

New York Wine Expo Hours
Friday, February 26, 6:00 – 10:00 PM; $75, prior to Feb. 19
Saturday, February 27, 2:00 – 6:00 PM   $85, prior to Feb. 19
(Sunday is for trade professionals only)
Go to for tickets and additional information or call 800-544-1660.

Posted in Events, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Win 2 Tickets to ZAP !!!

Posted by Gabe on January 9, 2010

ZAP, the organization devoted to Zinfandel is having its 19th Annual Festival in San Francisco this month. And as a reader of Gabe’s View you have the chance to win two free tickets for the Grand Tasting on Saturday January 30th. All you have to do to enter is send me an e-mail and tell me what your favorite Zinfandel is. Use the “Contact Gabe” form at the top of the page to e-mail me. Make sure you include your e-mail address and name. The contest ends at 11:00 PM Eastern on Sunday January 24th, 2010. I’ll randomly pick a name from all the entrants and get in touch with you to arrange the tickets the week of January 25th. Cost of the tickets is $59 per ticket for non ZAP members. Good Luck! If you want a second chance to win (a different set of tickets), you can enter at Drink Dry Creek too, using the “e-mail Gabe” form there. What follows is ZAP’s press release about the event:

2010 Zin in Paradise features celebrity chef Beverly Gannon

Rough & Ready CA, January 2010—-The 19th Annual Zinfandel Advocates & Producers Festival takes place January 28-30, 2010, in San Francisco. The Festival will ‘headline’ Chef Beverly Gannon, one of the founders of ‘HAWAI`I regional cuisine.’ Chef Gannon is the proprietor of Maui’s world famous Hali`imaile General Store and possibly the most well-known chef in Hawaii. She will develop the “HAWAI`I regional cuisine” menu for Dinner With The Winemakers as well as prepare a signature Hawaiian dish for Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing; she will also be visible throughout the three days of the Festival and her new cookbook, Home Style Meals at The Hali`imaile General Store, will be for sale. To order tickets call 877/772-2545; tickets can be purchased online at
“Meet” Chef Gannon in a series of Skyped-video chats now online on ZAP’s website. Bev explains the magic of Zinfandel from her perspective and gives you a few hints about the Festival.
Chef Gannon’s dinner menu for Evening With The Winemakers will consist of Asian Duck Tostada; Blackened Ahi With Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, Wasabi Micro Greens, Tobiko, Mashed Potato In Filo Cup; Smoked Salmon Pinwheels With Chipotle-Chili Fresh Fruit Salsa; Kalua Pork And Goat Cheese Won-Tons With Mango Chili Sauce; Terrine Of Foie Gras, BBQ Eel, Potato Pineapple Compote, Vanilla Syrup And Spicy Micro-Greens; Lamb Shank Cannelloni With A Poached Fig Demi-Glaze Double-Cut Lamb Chop, Lavender Honey Glazed Baby Carrots and Chocolate Macadamia Nut Tart ( and for Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing, she’ll be preparing her Signature Crab Cannelloni with Saffron Cream Sauce and Joe’s Favorite Meatloaf with Hawaiian Sweetbread Roll from the Hali’imaile General Store (more at
The ZAP Festival will include more than 200 Zinfandel-specialist wineries from all across California pouring their barrel samples and new releases for over 10,000 enthusiasts during three days at four separate events.  There will be silent auctions during three events – Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing, The Grand Zinfandel Tasting, and Evening with the Winemakers; proceeds support ZAP’s Heritage Vineyard projects.
Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing takes place on January 28, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Fort Mason Center (Marina Blvd. at Buchanan, San Francisco 94123). Approximately 50 restaurants will pair with wineries. Tickets for non-ZAP members are $125; for ZAP members, $95. A list of the participants and matches can be found at Some tickets may be available at the door, but it is recommended to buy tickets in advance. 
Chef Bev Gannon’s Crab Cannelloni with Saffron Cream Sauce, Chef Gannon’s Meatloaf With Hawaiian Sweetbread Roll, Filet Mignon Tartare, Curried Goat with Mango Chutney, Duck Strudel, Sweet Potato Timbale Filled With a Trio of Cheese, Wild Boar Sliders with Caramelized Red Onion Marmalade, Lamb Lollipops, “Great Balls of Fire” and more….Some of the Good Eats participants are Acorn Winery/Alegria Vineyards with Zin Restaurant & Bar; Alderbrook Winery; Artezin Wines with Knickerbockers’ Catering; B.R. Cohn Winery with Preferred Sonoma Caterers; Barefoot Cellars with Sonoma Cake Creations; Barefoot Cellars ‘2;’ Barnard Griffin Winery; Blaauwklippen Vineyards with Radio Africa Kitchen; D-Cubed Cellars; Deep Purple Winery; Dogwood Cellars; Dry Creek Vineyard with The Peasant & The Pear; Edmeades Winery; Four Vines Winery; Gnarly Head Cellars; Grgich Hills Estate; Guglielmo Winery; Hartford Family Winery; J. Rickards Winery & Vineyards; John Tyler; Klinker Brick Winery; Marr Cellars; Mounts Family Winery; Outpost Estate Wines with Mustard’s Grill; Murphy-Goode; Peachy Canyon Winery with Hali`imaile General Store; Peirano Estate Vineyards; R& B Cellars; Rancho Zabaco Winery; Ravenswood; Ridge Vineyards with Lark Creek Steak; Rockwall Wine Company with Angela’s Bistro; Rosenblum Cellars with Miss Pearl’s Jam House; Saddleback Cellars; Sausal Winery with EOS Restaurant & Wine Bar; Scott Harvey Wines; Sextant Wines; St. Amant Winey with A Chef For You; St. Francis Winery & Vineyard; Terra d’Oro-Trinchero Family Estates with Taste; Three Wine Company with Hali`imaile General Store; Tin Barn Vineyards; Van Ruiten Family Winery; Z-52.
Flights: A Showcase of Zinfandels, a seated tasting with in-depth seminars focusing on limited-production Zinfandels, takes place on January 29 from 10:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., at The InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel’s Peacock Court (1 Nob Hill, San Francisco, 94108, 415/392-3434). Topics will include the role of blending in the world of Zinfandel. Tickets for non-ZAP members are $80; for ZAP members, $65. Tickets are available only in advance and not at the door. Flights will focus on the history and heritage of Zinfandel, also delving into the latest Zinfandel trends and the timely topic on the art of blending. Five top Zinfandel winemakers will each present a quintessential Zinfandel: Eric Baugher (Ridge Vineyards), Matt Cline (Three Wine Company), Jeff Cohn (JC Cellars), Steve Hall (Robert Biale Vineyards) and Morgan Peterson (Bedrock Wine Company). Each panelist will also feature a proprietary Zinfandel-based red wine, blending other grapes with California’s heritage wine, to produce wine styles with flavors from casual to sophisticated. A buffet lunch will follow the tasting.

Evening With The Winemakers: A Benefit Live Auction & Dinner, takes place on January 29 beginning with a reception-tasting at 5:00 p.m., at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco (1 Nob Hill, San Francisco 94108, 415/392-3434). Tickets are $260 for non-members and $210 for ZAP members, available only in advance and not at the door. Participating wineries are Alderbrook Winery, Artezin Wines, Cakebread Cellars, Charter Oak Winery, D-Cubed Cellars, Dogwood Cellars, Edmeades Winery, Four Vines Winery, JR Wines, Mazzocco Winery, Peachy Canyon Winery, Ravenswood, Ridge Vineyards, Robert Biale Vineyards, Rosenblum Cellars, Saddleback Cellars, St. Francis Winery, Starry Night Winery, Terra d’Oro-Trinchero Family Estates and Three Wine Company. Continuing updates are at
The reception will include the opportunity to taste, for the first time, the 2008 Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel (made from ZAP’s experimental vineyard by Tom Mackey of St. Francis Vineyards & Winery). Guests will then enjoy a feast prepared by ZAP’s celebrity chef, Beverly Gannon; guests are seated with a winemaker host at their table. Proceeds from the silent and live auctions benefit ZAP’s Heritage Projects, preserving the historical and viticultural significance of America’s heritage wine. 
The 19th Annual Grand Zinfandel Tasting takes place on January 30 from 2:00 until 5:00 p.m. at the Festival and Herbst Pavilions at Fort Mason (Marina Blvd. at Buchanan, San Francisco 94123). Tickets for non-ZAP members are $59; for ZAP members, $49. Over 200 wineries will pour their wines; a list of participating wineries can be found at There will be a silent auction based at the Festival Pavilion from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., benefiting ZAP’s Heritage Projects. Participating wineries listed at
A ticket to all four events for a ZAP member is $419; for a non-member, $524. A VIP package (for 2) is available at $995—this consists of tickets to all events plus a number of additional benefits including a bottle of The Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel.
“The world of Zinfandel is full of surprises and out-of-the-box thinking,” says Rebecca Robinson, ZAP’s Executive Director. “Since Zinfandel lovers are always looking for new adventures, we anticipate that Chef Gannon’s headlining the Festival will energize wineries and attendees alike,” Ms. Robinson adds.
More about Ms. Gannon:
Continuing updates on events as well as ticket purchasing at
Visit, to join in the enormous online world of Zinfandel lore and socializing or join that conversation at Twitter (, Facebook (Facebook/ZAP-Zinfandel.
The Association of Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) is a non-profit, educational 501(c)(3) organization. ZAP is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel and its unique place in our culture and history. Winegrowers, winemakers and wine enthusiasts combine to form the membership. The common focus is the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as America’s heritage wine. ZAP’s membership includes approximately 300 winery-members, 6,000 advocate-members and 50 associate members.

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Bordeaux Matchmaking at Cipriani

Posted by Gabe on December 10, 2009

This is a guest column. I was unable to attend this event. thankfully a friend of mine did make it and he wrote this account which I’m sharing here at Gabe’s View. I look forward to attending a future event of theirs as this sounds like a lot of  fun. I hope you enjoy reading it.


I stood outside of Cipriani on Wall Street waiting for my party companion. They had set up a tent in front of the entrance lined with tables, and women sitting about 3 feet from each other with lists of guests in alphabetical order.

Another woman stood at the entrance to the tent greeting older men wearing impeccably tailored tuxedos and the women in ball gowns who accompanied them. I was there for the Bordeaux Matchmaking event – an event organized with the intention of reintroducing Bordeaux wines to America as a more casual, affordable wine. Two thoughts came to mind as I watched a group of men emerge from a black Bentley – 1) I’m grossly underdressed, and 2) this crowd isn’t doing anything to positively help the bold, expensive, and unattainable image of Bordeaux wines that we’ve grown to know.

I came to find out that I was standing about 15 feet from where I should have been. Cipriani is a large restaurant with many entrances, and apparently plenty of room for more than one event. The educational wine tasting I came for turned out to be more of a dance party with plenty of great food, attractive and hip 20 – 30 somethings dancing, laughing, and of course tipping back their glasses of delicious and affordable Bordeaux wines. And by the time the saxophonist joined the DJ school was out, and Bordeaux dance party was in full swing. If this sounds atypical of a wine tasting, it is. The purpose of the event is to show that Bordeaux wines can and should be enjoyed casually is a hip, party atmosphere. The event certainly achieved this. Plus, the wines are quite good.

Among those I tasted were a Chateau de Fonbel – a red in dark, vibrant purple from the Right Bank of the region. It has hints of black currant, cassis, and according to the info on the table pencil shavings. I also tried a white, citrusy Mouton Cadet – very similar to a sauvignon blanc in its’ dryness, but also subtly sweet, a dark and bold Chateau La Bonnelle, and a sweet white from Chateau Lupiac. I detected a hint of horseradish in the nose, and again in the first couple of sips. The flavor eventually mellowed into a soft, subtle white which according to Mollie Battenhouse, wine director and advanced sommelier at Maslow 6 wine shop in Manhattan goes quite well with foie gras – a combination I will be sure to try. Battenhouse is also on as part of their Le Wine Buff video chats. All of the bottles featured were under the $35 price point – a number most people should be comfortable paying for what I found is extraordinarily great wine.

By 10:30 the wine was nearly gone, and the table hosts began packing up their stations. The party was hardly over, though as the music got louder and the crowd – at least the ones not dancing began to flock towards the bar. I took what was left in my glass and walked out onto the terrace, and gazed out the window watching the black town cars, limos, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce’s arrive in anticipation of what I came to learn was Platts Global Energy Awards dinner letting out. With my head slightly tipsy from the wines, and my stomach generously coated with the delicious hors d’oeuvres I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to have been at this party rather than the other one.

Could they have had nearly as much fun as I did? Doubtful. I only wished I had the means to attend the remaining two events in Chicago & Miami. And with that I went back inside – this night was just beginning.

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Tasting Trapiche With Winemaker Daniel Pi

Posted by Gabe on November 2, 2009


Daniel Pi

I recently wrote about some of the Trapiche Wines. The Extra Brut and Torrontes here at Gabe’s View and the varietal Malbec in a recent column for Bullz-eye. I had a second look at those wines and several others recently when I had occasion to taste them with Winemaker Daniel Pi.

Trapiche hosted a luncheon at BLT Burger in Manhattan and a number of their wines were served. The NV Extra Brut served as an excellent welcome wine. In addition to setting a celebratory mood, tasting it again underscored what a terrific value in sparkling wine it is. Next up was the Torrontes and it was paired alongside a spicy appetizer that featured potato, cheese and jalapeno among other ingredients. The counterbalance of these flavors is the sort of sweet spot folks dream of when they think up wine pairings. And again as I detailed in my earlier review, this wine is an excellent value.

Daniel Pi has been the winemaker for Trapiche since 2002. As we tasted through the wines, his exuberance and passion screamed through. Trapiche being an Argentine producer, Malbec is of course a major focus. The first was the 2008 varietal Malbec. With the amount of flavor it provides at its price point this offering should be a contender for anyone looking for a house wine to open without guilt any day of the week. The Trapiche 2007 Broquel Malbec is a a few steps up in complexity from the varietal Malbec. For several dollars more you’re getting a more intense experience. This wine is made in a cuvee style by sourcing fruit from all over Argentina. The Broquel served as a great comparison to my favorite wine of the day, the Trapiche Single Vineyard Malbec Viña Federico Villafañe 2006. This offering was delicuous, complex and yes singular. More importantly than that it showcased the fact that site specific Malbec can be as compelling and important as other varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon which often get much more attention for single vineyard efforts. This is no small thing. Vineyard specific wines are often the selections that compete so to speak on the grand stage as the best in the world. Malbec deserves a place on that stage and efforts like this pave the way for Malbec to not only be a hot varietal (it is) but to also get more and more serious and deserved critical acclaim.

BLT Burger was an excellent choice to show off the Trapiche wines. The starters, side dishes and procession of 6 different burgers with a variety of preparations and toppings suited these wines well. The diversity of the burgers demonstrated how versatile these wines are and how they pair with the sorts of foods many Americans eat on a day in and day out basis. Burgers were the order of the day, but the red wines would just as easily paired with a slice of pizza, dish of pasta or Thanksgiving Dinner for that matter. Trapiche makes a wide range of wines at different price points. The commonalities are quality and value. Whichever of their wines you choose to try, you’ll be getting a good deal with Trapiche.

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