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Friday, August 28, 2009

The French Wine Society has teamed up with TheWineHub


Bonjour!

The French Wine Society has teamed up with TheWineHub to give you a sneak preview of the types of questions you’ll find on the French Wine Scholar exam.
Starting on September 2, 2009 and running for five consecutive Wednesdays, www.thewinehub.com will be posting a special French-themed quiz in addition to its regular weekly 10-question wine world challenge.

The content for these questions is taken from the French Wine Scholar study manual, a 250-page, full-color, spiral-bound book of study written and researched by the Washington D.C.-based French Wine Society and vetted and endorsed by Viniflhor (the National French Wine Office).

The manual is linked to the French Wine Scholar certification program, a program designed to validate proficiency in the wines and wine regions of France for members of the wine trade. The inaugural exam will take place October 5, 2009 at the French Embassy on the first day of the French Wine Society annual conference.
The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. Those candidates that pass the exam with a score of 75 or higher will earn the French Wine Scholar (FWS) post-nominal. Those that pass the exam with a score of 80 or higher will be qualified to teach the program.

For more information on the exam and conference log on to www.frenchwinesociety.org
The French Wine Societ y will gift a free study manual and exam sit (worth $250) to TheWineHub wine professional who scores the highest on this five-week pre-conference French quiz series. The winning candidate can sit the French Wine Scholar exam this October or opt to defer to next year.
To sign up for the FWS quizzes log onto http://www.thewinehub.com
Good luck! Bonne chance!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

CELLO WINE BAR....229 East 53rd...NYC

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Media Opening of the newest Wine Bar in Manhattan.
CELLO Wine Bar is located in midtown (229 East 53rd) (917-475-1131) and is close to everything.
The small space is utilized to the max, with Chef Marco Varela's kitchen in full sight of the candle lit seating area. The wine bar is under the direction of Wine Director Michael St. George, who has chosen wines that are of superior quality....I tried at least two dozen and all the choices tasted like RP 90+ wines.
Wine by the glass (YES, real Wine Glasses...the type you would have at home) costs $9-$15 per glass. Bottles are sold, as well...
Wine choices run the gamut from sparkling to Sauvignon Blanc; Fume Blanc; Chardonnay; Alberino; Merlot; Cabernet Sauvignon; Malbec; Syrah and Zinfandel.
The setting reminds me of being in a wine cave, rustic and charming with wood barrels, aging wine bottles and brick.
Chef Varela's small Italian plates pair perfectly with the wines. I recommend the classic fondue, artisanal cheeses and aged meats as a starter. Follow that with Italian Empanada, Italian meatballs al Diavolo and shrimp and chorizo bruscetta. What a meal!
What I missed were the panini's and homemade pizza.
If you have a sweet tooth, fresh peach pizza and cheese fondue are for you. Pair it with a dessert wine and you will be in heaven...
I highly recommend visiting this 'gem of a wine bar' in the Big Apple.
Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com

New PBS Wine Show: "The WINEMAKERS'


Everyone's wine dream is turning into reality. A new reality show, "The Winemaker's", first season ( Six 30 minute episodes) has been shot and will air beginning in September on PBS.
"The Winemaker's" deals with a group of twelve spirited wine enthusiasts from all walks of life.
The goal is to be chosen to create and launch your own wine label (production 150,000 bottles)
nationwide.
The series is shot in Paso Robles, California, where the contestants compete through elimation to bring the grape from the vine to bottle to your local wine store. We viewed a segment of the series and believe the show will be an easy hit.
Produced by Kevin Whelan and Doc City Productions, this South Carolina production company of SCETV is a signifigant supplier of wine educational films for public television.
Next year's series will be shot in the Rhone Valley of France and will have sixteen contestants.
Judges for "The Winemaker's"are Mark Oldman, author of 'Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine'; Leslie Sbrocco, known for her book, 'The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide' and personalities, Lettie Teaque from Food and Wine magazine and Doug Frost, Master of Wine.
This looks like a breakthrough for all of the wine geeks of the world...a series about the true trials and tribulations of a Winemaker.
Our hostess for the evening was Hanna Lee of Hanna Lee Communications (212-527-9969).
Feel free to contact her about the series...and how to become a contestant...
You never know!!!
Philip S. Kampe
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com

Life is good!


I had a T-bone steak for dinner last night with a bottle of Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage "La Chapelle" 1998. Life is good!!

The wine was excellent. Complex. Floral bouquet. Ripe red fruit and lots of spices on the palate. Very Meaty - or was it the steak? :) - A long smoky finish with notes of tobacco and pepper lingering for a long time in the mouth.


Here is the recipe for the steak (cooked by chef Nanci Bergamo):

PEPPERED MUSTARD PORTERHOUSE STEAKS

2 cloves of garlic
4 tps. Dijon mustard
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. coarse salt
4 (1-lb) T-bone steaks
Red pepper strips (optional)

Enjoy!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ALDEA......THE ROAD TO LISBON AND THE EUROPEAN WINE BLOGGERS CONFERENCE


WINE BLOGGERS to the right of me; WINE BLOGGERS to the left of me....WINE BLOGGERS everywhere....with a MAC in hand and WINE on their mind, this group of forty or so RADIO-FACED, NEW-AGE JOURNALISTS descended upon VINI PORTUGAL'S (http://www.viniportugal.pt/) and Ryan and Gabriella's CATAVINO (http://www.catavino.net/) pre-European Wine Blogger's Conference get together at the newly opened and much anticipated (May 2009) Portuguese restaurant, Aldea (31 West 17th Street, NYC).

THIS EVENT WAS FOR THOSE WINE BLOGGERS IN THE KNOW.

The setting was surreal...ALDEA is a Portugese restaurant that is somewhat traditional and modern at the same time...it presents itself like Frank Lloyed Wright in a tuxedo meets Martha Stewart in a housedress. This brand new restaurant smelled like the interior of a hot new sports car that was driven through a chorizo factory.

Chef George Mendes's (Google him...he is nearly famous) food makes you experience the moment. Rooted in the past, combined with a flair for Portuguese spirit, Chef Mendes's innovative cerebral fancy food is not about conceptual flavor, but rather, taste, which lets you know you are in Portugal.

The food served (too many to list) and paired with wines are all found on Aldea's website: http://www.aldearestaurant.com/. Yes, the cornucopia of food and wine was great and unfortunately beyond most aspiring cook's abilities.

George Mendes's sights are set on the next meal before he has even digested the last.

To satisfy my curiosity, I returned to Aldea the next evening for a meal. Not only was my curiosity satisfied, but my food and wine fantasies were met beyond expectation.

George Mendes and his creation, Aldea, are the real deal. He creates memorable food with enduring tradition.

George's culture and heritage are a tribute to what is in store for all of the bloggers who plan on attending the European Wine Blogger's Conference in Lisbon on October 30th through November 1st.

The conference's main sponsor is Vini Portugal, whose mission is to promote Portuguese wines (in our case), brandies and vinegars to international audiences and to provide strategic support for the Portuguese wine sector.

Portugal is now on the radar screen in the wine world and is headed toward a bull's eye.


A short quiz:
WHAT DO THE FOLLOWING RED AND WHITE GRAPES HAVE IN COMMON?

Alvarino Arinto Encruzado Fernao Pires Loureiro Aragones Baga Touriga Franca
Touriga National Trincadeira

Answer:
THEY ARE ALL FROM PORTUGAL.

Portuguese wines are hip because they are the result of winemaking traditions introduced by ancient civilizations dating back to the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Carthginians.

Facts:
The Portuguese originally exported wine to Rome during the reign of the Roman Empire.

In the 12th Century, Portuguese wines were the talk of England.

In the 14th century, Henry the Navigator brought the Moscatel and Malvasia grape to the newly discovered island of Madeira.

Modern trade with England began in 1703 after the Methuan Treaty was signed.

From the North to the South, Portugal has a wealth of still wines, apart from the Port and Madeira.

At the EUROPEAN WINE BLOGGERS CONFERENCE, we will have first-hand opportunity to both visit the vineyards and taste the wines that we write about.

The conference has many seminars that are geared to help our blogging skills.

If you are into tech, you can take Basic Blogging 101; Video Blogging; Tech Tools and Gadgets; and Social Media (Twitter, Ablegrape, etc.) Blogging.

If your interest as a blogger is marketing, the following sessions are offered to help your blogging skills: Wine Tourism and Social Media; Winery and Wine Blog Relations; Wine Blogging Ratings and Monetizing the Social Wine Brand.


The DOURO BOYS, with the help of the sponsors, have arranged a memorable grand wine tasting and dinner for all of the bloggers.

The conference will address "THE FUTURE OF THE SOCIAL WINE BRAND." The conference is unique, as it is 100% participant created. It is about you, the wine blogger, the wine maker, the wine importer and distributor and the wine retailer.

Since the conference is 100% participant created, the pricing is fair (thanks to the sponsors), unlike other profit-driven wine conferences and tastings most of us have encountered.

For $150 (the deal of a lifetime) wine bloggers can attend the October 30th-November 1st Conference in Lisbon that includes:
1) A day of visits to three Portuguese wine regions
2) Two dinners and two lunches (wine included, of course)
3) Grand tasting featuring Portuguese wines
4) Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday (hopefully, wine is included)
5) Live blogging sessions, where you will try and rate wines presented by vintners
6) Conference participation including keynote speakers, breakout sessions and networking opportunities
7) Sponsor related events
8) Discounted hotel rates

All of this plus, if you want to stay a couple of extra days after the event, many vineyards are willing to host your visit.

This is a no-brainer!

There is no reason not to attend the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Lisbon.

Without the sponsors, the cost of the event would be enormous. As a blogger, we must thank and support the sponsors, who are making this trip affordable and essential for us to attend.
Catavino
Wine Conversation
Vini Portugal
Douro Boys
Vinhos Do Alenteio
Amorim
Doc DMC
Enteco De Belem
Herdade Do Esporao
Wine Blogger
Adega

Lisbon is the place to be...Nightlife, cuisine that will knock you out, architecture that will transcend you to another era and wines made for kings and queens.

This is the event of a lifetime and truly an event where you can learn from others.

An event where you can make your voice heard!

PHILIP S. KAMPE
philip.kampe@thewinehub.com
Posted by PHILIP.KAMPE@TheWineHub.com

Friday, August 7, 2009

True or false? (#9)


Yes, it's been a long time... but for those of you who are familiar with my "True or False?", this is the second one produced as a varietal... :)
"There's no really bad wine anymore, but a lot of less very good wine. Things are becoming normalized - the rules swamp expression"
Gerard Chave, Hermitage

I would love to hear your opinion.

Cheers, LA

Thursday, August 6, 2009

TheWineHub T-Shirts



Next week we are going to be available for sale the limited edition of the first two "TheWineHub T-shirts" with the two most voted quotes in our contest.

And the two winners were...

1) Small people talk about things, average people talk about ideas, and great people talk about wine. – Peter Lanberg

2) Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them and Champagne makes you do them. - Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

If you liked the quotes, please don't take too long to buy them...


Cheers,
LA

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What’s your VICE?

Martini’s are one of those timeless classics – like Gone with the Wind is to movies or the plays of William Shakespeare are to live theatre. In recent years, bartenders have started to experiment with the traditional recipe and have created many delicious, sometimes interesting, cocktails to entice their clientele. Everything from Cosmos to Appletini’s to Icewine Martini’s can be found on Martini lists throughout Canada these days. So, now I have a question to pose to you…

Have you ever had an Icewine Martini?

Back in 2002, Allan Schmidt, President of Vineland Estates Winery, was on a business trip in Alberta staying at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. One evening he had the opportunity to speak with their Food and Beverage Manager and commended him on the significant increase in sales of the Vineland Estates Winery Vidal Icewine. He wasn’t quite sure how they were managing to do it but definitely was not going to complain. The Food and Beverage Manager thanked him for his praise and then said, “Do you want to know how we do it?” So, it was on that night, in 2002, that Allan enjoyed his first Icewine Martini. Although this would normally be considered to be more of a female drink – the way so many of the martini cocktails are – Allan enjoyed it enough and was intrigued by it enough to want to develop it further. So, after seven years, and several nights of “perfecting the recipe”, Allan, Jim V Degasperis and the rest of the team developed VICE. The name VICE is the natural combination of Vineland (Estates Winery) and Icewine – Canada’s signature wine – and as Angela Aiello’s review on the VICE website says:

“The ratio of vodka to Icewine is perfect and it tastes absolutely delicious. VICE comes in one pre-mixed bottle and no additional prep is required. Chill and serve. My dreams have come true."

The tasting notes that were circulating around the release party on Thursday, July 30th suggested serving it chilled with half a grape as a garnish. It was not a bad combination but if you are looking to jazz up the appearance in the glass a little, what about trying a lychee garnish as there was a powerful lychee flavour in the drink. Depending on how you like your martini’s there are two ways of drinking this cocktail. If you like sweeter tasting cocktails, serve VICE straight up but if you tend to like the crisp cleanness commonly associated with Vodka martinis serving it on the rocks brings out the heat of the Vodka in a noticeable way. So, how about food? Well, like most martini’s you could enjoy this on its own very easily or, as was evidenced by the delicious food provided by Mark McEwan’s One Restaurant, VICE does pair well with a wide variety of foods. Chicken skewers were an excellent pairing; the grilled veggie flatbread pizza was great as well. Initially, I was not sure how the spicy Spring Rolls would go but the spiciness of the food added an extra dimension to VICE as did the veggie samosas.

Have you seen the commercials on TV for Bacardi’s Mojitos? Have you seen the shelves of your local liquor store filled with premixed cocktails like Vodka Mudshakes, Bloody Caesars or Strawberry Daiquiris? Well, once VICE hits the shelves of our local stores, it will be another one in the lengthy list of available products. It will be the first premixed Icewine Martini on the shelves and it is a very good example of what an Icewine Martini should be but one question I have been hearing the last few days is how does it compare to one made from scratch? In a lot of cases, the premixed versions always seem to come across as sweeter than a homemade version but, in all fairness, they are trying to appeal to a broad range of palates. They are trying to find the middle road in an effort to get the largest number of people to buy the product over and over again.

On Thursday, when I first tried VICE I did enjoy it. My preference was definitely straight up over on the rocks but, incidentally, that is how I like all of my martinis. It has been several years since I have had a made from scratch Icewine Martini and my one recollection of it was that I could definitely make a better version myself if I had both Icewine and Vodka at my house. At the time I didn’t have any Vodka around and when I did I never did test the theory but, after trying VICE, my interest was renewed in seeing if a made from scratch Icewine Martini would taste better than one made at a chain restaurant or a premixed version bought in a store. Luckily, I have a boyfriend who does private bartending on the side, loves to be creative with the drinks he makes and enjoys making me a martini on the weekend. I am sure you can imagine what the challenge for him was this weekend since I was on something of a mission to test my theory. To be fair, I had already decided that I was going to try the Icewine Martini made from scratch in both straight up and on the rocks versions. Luckily, I have a decent selection of dessert wines in my cellar so it was just a matter of choosing a Vidal Icewine from Niagara and then pairing it with an appropriate Vodka.

In our straight up version, we used the Mountain Road Wine Company 2002 Vidal Icewine and Stolichnaya Vodka. Now, with VICE, it was – in all likelihood – a current vintage of Vidal Icewine (probably 2008) and it was a Canadian Vodka but similarities could still be drawn between these two drinks. The colour was completely different – with the 2002 it was a lemon yellow colour whereas with VICE it was closer to a white sand colour – but that is something that stems from the age in an Icewine. Colour deepens with age in most wines so the deeper colour is not unexpected for me. I would expect that if an older vintage of Icewine was used to create VICE that there would be a similar colour present in the glass. While there were differences in aromas and flavours to this Icewine martini, I do believe that if an older vintage of Icewine was used in VICE, it would be a comparable product. What I was looking for between the pre-mixed version and the made from scratch version was whether or not there was similarities in style of the drinks. Between the straight up version and the on the rocks version, with VICE, the straight up version showed more sweetness in the glass, equating to an appearance of more residual sugar. When I tried VICE on the rocks, the heat of the Vodka was much more apparent so, one has to ask, does the made from scratch version show similar characteristics? The answer is yes. When we tried it on the rocks, we switched the Vodka to a Canadian (in fact, an Ontario made) Vodka called Prince Igor Vodka instead of using the Russian made Stolichnaya Vodka. Prince Igor Vodka is produced by Kittling Ridge Estate Wines and Spirits in Grimsby, Ontario and, since VICE is made using Canadian Vodka, using Prince Igor Vodka in the made from scratch version gives a fairer representation of what VICE really is. Now, my theory on why the on the rocks version brings out the heat of the Vodka is that the coldness of the ice mutes (or dulls) the sweetness of Icewine. The reason why I call this a theory is because I am not a scientist, have never claimed to be, and do not really see myself ever learning that much about science simply due to a lack of time in my daily life.

After enjoying both VICE and a couple of Icewine Martini’s made from scratch, I do believe I have reached a verdict. While most pre-mixed cocktails are either too sweet or too bland with VICE, Vineland Estates Winery has found the perfect formula for a perfect Icewine martini. It’s not too sweet and not too dry and if you have a preference either way on how sweet or how dry you like your martini’s then either add ice or take it away. VICE is versatile, great to enjoy on its own or with a variety of foods and at $49 a bottle, a great value when you consider the average price of Icewine and Vodka bought in the LCBO is $43 and $36 respectively. If the quality is there, which I firmly believe is with VICE, why would you spend $79 to make Icewine Martini’s from scratch when there is a pre-mixed version available on the market? Now, I’m not advocating completely getting away from making an Icewine Martini (or any other cocktail) from scratch because, like the Slow Food Movement with food, I do believe made from scratch is the way to go. However, in a pinch, for when those unexpected guests drop by with next to no notice, a bottle of VICE will go a long way in impressing them. VICE is currently available at the winery and through their home delivery program. Check out your local LCBO this coming fall for a more local availability and, if you are not in Ontario, contact the winery directly at http://www.vineland.com to find out where you can pick up VICE in your city.

Awesome wine and food pairing in Sao Paulo, Brazil



Last Friday, Guilherme, Marcelo and I had a chance to visit the famous Churracaria Jardineira Grill in Sao Paulo, Brazil. You can check their website @ http://www.jardineiragrill.com.br. Unfortunately, at this moment, it's only in Portuguese, but you can get a feeling of the place with some of the images available.

Our intention was to match some delicious Brazilian food (who said meat?) with our wines (3 reds, 2 whites and 1 dessert). The results? Some incredible and delicious combinations! Picanha in garlic sauce with a 2001 Cab was probably the favorite... but there were so many other great matches that I don't want to be unfair with the other great dishes and wines that we had.

We will try now to get some of their recipes to post on TheWineHub site, but the Churrascarias are very protective of their secrets... we'll let you know if we succeed.


Excellent service at your disposal, but you can feast with some many delicacies at their amazing buffet.


“The crew” enjoying some delicious desserts. The winner of the day? Chocolate mousse with Tischida's Zweigelt Eiswein. Out of this world!
Our moto? It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it – and that’s us! TheWineHub.com



Bottom line: if you are ever in Sao Paulo, this is not to be missed.