© Chelsea Morse
© Photo Adventures with Ed.com
Joe Campanale at the 2009 NYC Marathon
Had a great time on Today yesterday with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, talking about spooky beers and wines for Halloween parties. The clip is here if you're interested, but I also thought it would be worthwhile to run through the wines in Tasting Room, and add a few extra for fun. Halloween's still a few days away, so there's time left to shop.
2008 Spellbound Chardonnay ($16) Rob Mondavi, Jr. (of those Mondavis) makes this juicy, eminently drinkable Chardonnay with fruit primarily from the Lodi region. (find this wine)
2007 Bogle Phantom ($20) This is a juicy, dark-fruited blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre. Plus, it's got an eerie label that looks like a haunted forest at night, though I suspect it's actually gnarled old Zin vines. (find this wine)
2006 Flora Springs Ghost Winery Cabernet Franc ($40) Flora Springs will be doing a "ghost winery" release every year on Halloween (or just before, so it can be shipped in time to arrive for Halloween). This year's is an appealingly aromatic Cab Franc with good tannic bones. So to speak. (find this wine)
2008 Edmunds St. John Bone-Jolly ($18) Gamay, the grape of Beaujolais, vinified by the talented winemaker Steve Edmunds: it's a great combination, resulting in a wine that is much more full of life (and lively red fruit) than the skeletons on the label might suggest. (find this wine)
2009 Owen Roe Sinister Hand ($24) Why not pour a wine on Halloween whose label happens to have a blood-dripping severed hand on it? Especially why not, when the wine is a peppery, berry-bright, Washington State Grenache blend like this one. (find this wine)
Last week, Laura Catena of Argentina’s famous Bodega Catena Zapata stopped by the Food & Wine office with her new book, Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina. I was seriously contemplating buying a plane ticket to Buenos Aires as I flipped through the dreamy photos of vineyards in the Uco Valley and enormous asado feasts.
I’ve yet to visit Argentina, but Catena’s guide is an essential primer with fascinating stories of the region’s pioneering winemakers and immigrant history, cultural observations on the Argentine lifestyle, and great travel tips on everything from where and what to eat and drink to asking a local friend to book your hotel (some hotels have special rates for Argentines). In the last chapter, Catena even maps out her perfect 14-day luxe wine country itinerary; she includes maps in the back of the book. I won’t be able to squeeze in a trip this year, so instead, I tried to transport myself by cooking a recipe from the book—spicy emapanadas salteñas from Argentina’s Salta province—and pairing them with Catena’s gorgeous Alamos Torrontés, a white made with grapes from Salta’s high-altitude vineyards.
© Courtesy Dom Pérignon
© Courtesy Dom Pérignon
Now, in a tribute to the pop-art legend, Dom Pérignon has teamed up with Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London for a limited-edition collection of three Andy Warhol–inspired bottles, vintage 2002. The labels, in red, yellow or blue, recall Warhol’s bold use of color and graphics.
© Joshua David Stein
Andrew Zimmern and Michael White in action at Carts in the Parc
*Sommelier Showdown – On Saturday morning, the country's best (and it would seem most hungover) sommeliers, plus some adventurous wine fans, congregated at Del Posto for a superfun blind-tasting contest, complete with elimination rounds, performances by new wine-rapping star Justin Warner and a big win by Bar Boulud’s Michael Madrigale.
*The Cosmopolitan After Party – Yes, I was excited for a late-night party from the opening-soon Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (I’m partial to any party that has the prefix "after"). And this was pretty much the kind of party I dream about — superb sushi from Blue Ribbon, no line and great drinks at the bar, good DJ, sweet rooftop option and an old-school photo booth that let you choose black-and-white or color (always b&w).
*Carts in the Parc – Andrew Zimmern, F&W’s new favorite TV food star, played host to a genius afternoon party at the very cool, just opened FoodParc and invited 24 of his favorite food trucks to park there. In less than five minutes I managed to eat a killer tongue slider from chef Michael White, a Biryani Cart superspicy kati roll and a Treats Truck peanut-butter cupcake. Eater’s Joshua David Stein has more hilarious highlights.
© Jen Murphy
Hippes use the back door at Foxen's new tasting room.
Last week I blogged about my best food finds in Santa Barbara. Here, my hit list from wine country:
*The uber-modern new Terravant Wine Co. in Buellton is shared by 30 local wineries. Its tapas and wine bar, Avant, overlooks the tanks and serves pizzas, duck confit-and-spinach salad and snacks like marcona almonds and albacore-and-artichoke bruschetta. A cuvinet dispenses wines from the more than 30 producers that use the facility for production. Don’t miss live music Friday nights.
*After barrel tasting at Terravant with Frank Ostini, we joined him for dinner at his restaurant The Hitching Post 2. The place still gets a ton of Sideways fans, but locals go Monday through Wednesday for killer burgers and Wednesdays for the smoked pulled BBQ pork sandwich (both served only at the Sidebar). Wine to try: The Hitching Post Highliner.
*Before exploring wine country we stocked up on snacks in Los Olivos at the Saturday farmers' market and picked up some beautiful olive oils at Global Gardens. The cute little shop, located at the end of town in a converted shed, sells extra-virgin first cold pressing olive oils as well as fruit-infused vinegars, spice blends and gorgeous tabletop pieces from around the world. Blair Fox Cellars, an ultra-boutique 500-case label, recently opened a tasting room next door.
*A long windy driveway leads up to dreamy Demetria Estate, where I fell in love with the Cuvée Papou while listening to live music on a terrace overlooking the vineyards. The winery recently started hosting movie nights in the vineyards.
*Foxen Vineyard’s new solar-powered winery and tasting room is Pinot heaven. We tasted the Julia’s Vineyard, Bien Nacido Vineyard-Block 8 and Sea Smoke bottlings.
A recent long weekend in and around Santa Barbara turned up some awesome food, quirky new tasting rooms and, of course, phenomenal wines. Here, my cheat sheet:
*Nothing makes me happier than a great breakfast (particularly after a morning surfing the 54-degree waters in Ventura). Locals hit Jeannine’s for the Stumptown coffee, eggs Benedict and a chance to potentially see star surfer Kelly Slater, who is known to drop by after a surf, and D’Angelo Bread for the most perfect triple berry scones.
* Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine Company is back at the helm of Wine Cask (he ran the wine shop–restaurant–wine bar from 1981 to 2007) with a new partner, Mitchell Sjerven, owner of Bouchon and Seagrass restaurants. The wine bar serves seasonal, local dishes like mushroom risotto, roasted beets and goat cheese and duck confit flatbread. There is, of course, an awesome wine list. Doug gave us a taste of a special Margerum M5 Wine Cask blend he’s working on just for the restaurant. The Wine Cask tasting room will most likely become a tasting room for Margerum wines.
*Emma and Justin West, the talented young husband-and-wife team behind the tiny two-year-old Julienne restaurant are getting a ton of buzz for their daring (by Santa Barbara standards) farm-to-table food. The restaurant uses all local seafood from boats out of the Santa Barbara and Ventura harbors; ranch-raised meats (they frequently butcher whole animals in-house) and local produce. Menu highlights include the braised lamb tongue with shaved radishes and roasted garlic; grilled squid with pickled French beans and radicchio, and abalone with potatoes, celery and onion in a saffron-sea broth.
Check back tomorrow for wine country highlights.
Anfora, the new wine bar from the team behind Manhattan’s L’Artusi and Dell’anima restaurants, has become my new favorite place for stepping out of my wine comfort zone and experimenting with more esoteric, edgy bottles. Sunday night, sommelier Joe Campanale hosted a casual tasting with Frank Cornelissen, a pioneering natural winemaker from Mount Etna, Sicily. “Mount Etna is one of the most interesting places right now for winemaking,” says Campanale. “There’s a lot of terroir-specific wine and a lot of very natural wine, which I get excited about. Wine should taste of a place.” Cornelissen was hesitant to label his wines as natural and instead referred to them as “territorial” wines.
I gravitated toward the MunJebel Rosso, made with Nerello Mascalese grapes from various vineyards and various years. Equally fascinating, though a bit too edgy for my palate, was Cornelissen’s Rosso del Contadino, a blend of local grapes—both red and white—from different vineyards.
Cornelissen’s MunJebel Bianco, a blend of Carricante, Grecanico Dorate and Coda di Volpe, looked and tasted more like a craft beer. Cloudy and golden and served at room temperature, it was pure funky-ness. This was Campanale’s favorite. “It has the smokiness from the volcanic soil and an umami quality to it,” he says.
For a taste, head to one of Campanale's restaurants or wine bar.
© John Margaretten
Korean tacos from Namu at Outside Lands.
This weekend I had a chance to eat, drink and see some phenomenal bands rock out in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park at the third annual Outside Lands music festival. Here, some highlights:
* Sampling insanely good food from the 34 stalls. Maverick went through 750 pounds of pig for its pulled-pork sandwiches! Other favorites included the barbecued oysters from Anchor & Hope and vermicelli noodles from Out the Door. Patrick Hallahan of the band My Morning Jacket was a fan of Namu’s Korean tacos.
* Cruising the Wine Lands tent with Outside Lands producer Rick Farman and Vintage Berkeley wine-shop owner Peter Eastlake, the wine director of Wine Lands. Eastlake lined up 25 top California wineries this year. There were 75 wines available by the taste or glass; my favorites included 2009 Wind Gap Trousseau Gris, 2008 A.P. Vin Kanzler Pinot Noir and 2008 Manifesto! Cabernet Sauvignon. (Kings of Leon were drinking Sinskey and Copain wines backstage.)
* Hanging with winemaker Jamey Whetstone (read more about him in the October issue of F&W). He was offering wines from his Whetstone and Manifesto! labels in Wine Lands, though he did manage to sneak away to see Social Distortion play.
* Watching Gogol Bordello while eating Hawaiian poke and Baja-shrimp ceviche from Pacific Catch restaurant.
* Checking out the on-site farmers’ market next to the stage where the Rebirth Brass Band performed.
* Going backstage after the Kings of Leon show for the late-night after-party, which included spiked hot chocolate and massive oatmeal-raisin cookies.