Three tastings, four days, one birthday, one pre-wedding celebration and a wedding

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's been awhile since I wrote, and for the most part, I have been uninspired. It's not that I haven't been drinking any wine, and haven't found any interesting ones, I just needed a rest and recharge, and have been pushing some energy towards my own wine and spirits focused creative agency and a wine and food television show. Oh, and we are doing all of this by the seat of our pants and with almost no money whatsoever!

There are the basic trials and tribulations of life and also talking with friends and associates who are all going through it; I normally recommend to them a good bottle of wine! But outside of that, let's get down to what has been happening.

The first good thing was the Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd. Annual portfolio tasting which happened on the twelfth of this month. It was at a lovely restaurant called Guastavino's located at 409 East 59th Street in New York City. I attended the same event either the prior year or two years before.

I started off with going to the Hugel et Fils table to sample their latest offerings. I had met the owner, Etienne, about a decade ago at an industry tasting in Philadelphia and reconnected with him three years ago. This year, one of his sons was running the table. After that, I headed to the Pol Roger champagne table to which I sampled everything that they had. I loved the Blanc de Blancs and the Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; great stuff. Now, this tasting was the only one in which I will normally try French wines, and they did not disappoint.

The first floor was composed of wines that were from other countries and the second had domestic wines. I tasted a nice Reccioto de Soave (one of my favorites), an Amarone, and some wonderful wines from Spain and Portgual. I met the vivacious Barbara De Rham, who represents a number of wines from Italy. And I got to taste a bunch of the Churchill Ports.

On the second floor, I ran into an old acquaintance, Andrew Quady, who along with his wife Laurel own Quady Winery, fine producers of black and orange muscat wines, some other dessert wines, and some Vermouths. I have been trying to work on a tasting of his muscats for years now in Philadelphia, and if he still carries it here, I have the perfect restaurant to do it in. The second floor also has vaulted ceilings and I used the acoustics in this place to woo people over to the table of The Four Graces, which produces some lovely wines out of Oregon. I definitely had Rebecca Oliver, the Eastern Sales Manager, and her mother entertained. I also met Tim, the owner of Axia Taverna in Tenafly, New Jersey, and Al and I will have to come up there on a Monday this fall.

Oh, and also on the ride up, I was blessed to meet Sara Rosenberg, who started a company that produces women's handbags, and she has deals with a number of colleges, the NFL, NHL and the NBA. You go girl! I still have to email her.

The next week consisted of two days of tasting for the 23rd Annual Vintners' Harvest presented by Winebow. I attended the previous year just for one day, but really had a wonderful time. This year, on the first day, my name tags had two errors. The first was that the initial tag had my first two names, and under that the name of my favorite drinking spot (sorry Bill). The problem with that is that some people assumed I was the buyer for that restaurant, but for several years, some of the reps and what not have all put me under that account when giving me access to the tastings. When I discovered the tag had my just my first two names, I went and got a second one with my last two.

Now, one day one, I chose to just focus on white and sparkling wines. While I met a ton of people, and flirted as well, I did come across Peter Szigeti, who along with his brother, produce some very nice sparkling wines (Sekt) in Austria. I also saw the lovely Marilisa Allegrini, whose family is a vaunted producer in Italy, making one of my favorite Amarones. I got to taste the wines of Juve y Camps, which are some lovely sparkling wines from Spain and reconnect with Mario Neves, considered the godfather of Portuguese wine. I also met a couple gentlemen who own several restaurants in Carlisle, PA that I have to visit as well. Oh, and I ran into Philip Kampe, the man behind The Wine Hub; we met at a Vino New York one year at a tasting and had a wonderful time.

On day two, I figured that I would only drink reds and dessert wines, but some sparkling wines still got me. On deck were some lovely champagnes, and someone reminded me that last year was at their table surrounded by four tall blondes; that sounds like me. I hobnobbed with the woman behind Fat Bastard wines, and then connected and reconnected with some folks in the industry, whether producers or reps, whom I met before. This day was the day of confusion, as Bill was up for the tasting and some folks were like, I met someone from your restaurant yesterday (again, sorry Bill). He had to straighten it out, and when he thought he saw me, I was headed out to lunch at a local restaurant that I used to go to when my employer was based in New York (I didn't find out this until the next tasting which was the following Monday).

After coming back to Philly, I then drove down to Tomatoes in Margate, New Jersey to hang with someone else for their birthday; they have a great wine list, including about fifty wines by the glass. I reconnected with one regular whom I met there years ago, met some new folks and had a blast.

Now, the following day would be taking my best friend, Edwin Pace, out for drinks prior to his wedding; don't even ask what happened to the bachelor party. We hit what I call my “four corners” which were Positano Coast, La Famiglia, Panorama and Revolution House. At Positano Coast, Andreas and Ulysses are great bartenders, and Pace and I started reminiscing about the past sixteen years that we have know each other. Ulysses mastered Pace's concoction of Sambuca and cranberry juice. At La Famiglia, Angela, the bartender, introduced Pace to Black Sambuca and made me an authentic Kir Royale; I believe that I had two. Guiseppe came in and sat with us for a minute and had a round with us; those two have been kindred souls since I brought Pace in for drinks on his birthday a couple of years ago. Panorama was great and then we matriculated back over to Revolution House, where Luca Sena, Jr. is the chef. That was time for more eating and drinking.

Saturday was the wedding, and while it was small, it was filled with a ton of love, laughter and mirth. As not everyone drank wine, I bought my own bubbly, and for those of us that made up the group “Past, Present and Future Best Friends of Edwin Pace” shared a bottle of Mailly Grand Cru Brut Reserve Champagne. The rest of my libations consisted of Mateus Sparkling Rose, Gruet Blance de Noirs and Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc di Blancs. For the wines this time, I went to Total Wines over in Cherry Hill, NJ. Aside from a smarmy employee there who said that he drinks “more wine than I could fathom” – oh yes, you know I had to shut him up on that one – I also picked up a bottle of the Black Sambuca and also a bottle of Cassis Liquer for making my own Kir Royales.

And the final drinking was on Monday; the annual portfolio tasting for Capital Wine and Spirits. While not as big as the other two, I did get to try some nice wines, including Tommasi Amarone, which is one of my favorites, and try more wines from Sonoma-Cutrer. It's interesting when people try to ply you with their spiel in regards to what they are carrying when they don't think that you know. In this case, it was someone trying to convince me of how much Middle Sister brand wines were all that. Really?

So anyway, it's time to start cracking again. I am building a website for me and Chef Al Paris under our other partnership banner, another website which will hopefully raise some funds for development and bankrolling the television shows and creative agency, meeting with a video editor to use some of our footage and put it out there and finally revising the database that powers this and several other websites. The past two weeks have been very interesting, and with some contacts made, the next year could be very rewarding as well as the travel exciting. There are some tastings coming up over the next few months, and I hope to be in Italy next April again, if not there sooner.


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