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Celebrate: Gilroy’s Sarah’s Vineyard turns 40
Drink, eat and sleep around Healdsburg’s square

Hungary’s Tokaji: The Oldest of the Old World Wine

Furmint vineyards at Disznókó winery in Tokaji.
Furmint vineyards at Disznoko winery in Tokaji.

In the wine world we talk about the old world and the new world.  The old world is basically Europe – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc.  The new world is just about everywhere else – The US, Australia, South America, South Africa. 

I am standing in the oldest of the old world.  My travels have brought me to Tokaji, Hungary, a two and a half hour drive east of Budapest. You may not realize wine is made in Hungary.  You may be surprised to learn that the area called Tokaji is the oldest delimited, or defined, wine region in the world, established by royal degree in 1737.  The most famous wine here is the sweet wine known as Tokaji.  It is called “the king of wine and wine of kings.”  This golden to amber nectar has a long storied history, going back to the Middle Ages. Royal fans included French kings Louis XIV, Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour and Russia’s emperor Peter the Great.

The Uncookbook Cookbook: The New Napa Cuisine

Lena Creel
Lena Creel

Every once in a while a cookbook comes along that disrupts the conventional wisdom of what a cookbook should be.  That’s clearly the case with The New Napa Cuisine by Christopher Kostow, executive chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley.  This is the first book by the three Michelin-starred chef and it’s more an essay on his personal journey as a chef since taking over the reins at Meadowood in February 2008 than it is a collection of recipes from The Restaurant’s menu.

Women of the Vine Global Symposium: A Gathering in Napa Valley

Courtesy Women of the Vine
Women of the Vine Grand Tasting 2014. Courtesy Women of the Vine

Deborah Brenner is a connector. She wrote the book “Women of the Vine” in 2006 about women’s roles the wine industry, and ever since, she’s been bringing women together to further their careers in the wine world.

“The theme of the book was about breaking the glass ceiling in the wine industry,” says Brenner, who left a job as a marketing executive to pursue a passion for wine. She wrote about the inspiring women she traveling through wine country, a who’s who of winemakers including Gina Gallo, Heidi Peterson Barrett and Merry Edwards. They all shared the stories behind their own labels and the trials encountered on their way to the top.

Discovering The Essence of Wine

lychee horizontalWhen you put your nose in a glass, you may love what you smell, but how often are you at a loss to describe that essence, that bouquet?

Ah, the mystery of our sense of smell. It is powerful and we can’t really control it. When we smell something, our response is direct and primal. Sniff something and the response is immediate because the sensation goes directly to our limbic system, the part of the brain connected to memory and emotions. If you’ve ever had the experience of smelling something that immediately takes you back to your grandmother’s kitchen, an old lover or a long forgotten destination, this is why. But our language function operates in a different part of our brain and that’s why we are sometimes at a loss for words to express what we are smelling.

The Bitters Truth

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A jigger of rye, a pour of coffee liqueur — Stephen Shelton mixes it up at Los Gatos’ Lexington House, concocting a smoky libation called Cocktails & Cigarettes. He stirs, he pours and then, with a flourish, Shelton adds that final explosive touch, a few dashes of Workhorse Rye’s Coffee Rye bitters.

In today’s cocktail world, bitters are the “it” ingredient. It’s a trend so hot, craft bitters are even called out by name on cocktail menus.

Meet Georges Duboeuf, the Champion of Beaujolais

duboeuf grape collective

Georges Duboeuf is a modest man. He is modest in stature and rather reserved, in an elegant, French way. He is extremely modest about his contributions to the international wine world, of which championing Beaujolais — the region and the wines — will be his legacy. He is also modest about his success with promoting Beaujolais Nouveau, even though it has become a an overhyped caricature of itself.

The WineFashionista Guide to the Best Wine Holiday Gifts

‘Tis the season and time for holiday gift recommendations.  What to get the wine lover in your life?  Not the same old same old.  I’ve been looking all year for the coolest, most unique – and yes, stylish presents for you to give — and a few you might want to keep for yourself!  Cheers and happy holidays. Chill Out.  Forget chilling a whole bottle of wine, go by the glass.  Keep the Napa Wine Chiller, a shiny silver sphere, aka “balls of steel” in the freezer until you’re ready to pour a glass or two of wine.  Takes about 2 minutes or so to completely chill one glass of wine, and it works for at least two glasses. Does not hit your mouth when you sip.  When you’re done, rinse, dry and refreeze.  Tip:  really only works with wide mouth glasses and bigger glasses that allow you to swirl even with…

WineFashionista’s Beautiful Holiday Gift Guide

When I’m not drinking wine, I’m obsessed with makeup, lotions and potions and of course, perfume.  I’ve been a product junkie ever since I can remember, and my bathroom cabinets are overflowing with skin and hair care and all sorts of beauty products. This year I’ve tried and tested many a cream,  and dabbed and spritzed all sorts of fragrances.  I’ve come up with a list of my top 12 beauty products that really work — and make great holiday gifts to boot. 1. Beauty DNA.  I’ve tried just about every beauty subscription out there.  I usually end up with a pile of unwanted stuff.  So I was skeptical about Beauty DNA’s claim to make a perfect match for you every month.  I signed up for the $25 per month subscription.  My first delivery was the SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF — a full size which sells for about $150.  Then I…

Indie Wines – The Paso Garagiste Festival 2014

GT WIde
Photo by Tom Lake

I recently returned from two days at the Paso Garagiste Festival.  This is the event’s fourth year, and it has grown leaps and bounds since I wrote about the inaugural event in 2011.  That year, 44 wineries participated in a one-day event; now it is a four day event.  This year 60 wineries alone poured on Saturday, November 8 at the Grand Tasting; another 19 wineries participated in The Opening Round on Friday night.  In all told, 79 wineries pouring over 150 wines.  The garagiste movement is strong.

Attendance that first year was nearly 700 people; this year more than 1,000 consumers attended.  The event also moved from a quaint horse stable at Windfall Farms to the larger Paso Robles Fairgrounds.  Perhaps not as elegant, but winemaker and lighting designer Bill Powell (who was also pouring his wines at Powell Mountain Wines) did a nice job of transforming a cavernous room into something cool.

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