New wines coming this week: Taste them Saturday April 28,2012 at the shop

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The bottle on the right is a red table wine from the Carinena region of Spain in Aragon  south of the city of Zaragoza. Just as Aragon is the birthplace of Grenache (Garnacha) Carinena is the birthplace of the grape known as Carignan in France and Sardinia. In Spain it is more commonly called Mazuelo. They also grow plenty of Tempranillo, Grenache and other reds as well as Viura, Moscatel and other whites.
The climate is continental with long hot summers and cold winters and the grapes are under heavy stress from drought. These hardships for the grapes make for great wines for us. Hey you gotta suffer if you want to sing the blues. This wine  is called Virgen del Aguila Senorio del Aguila Gran Reserva 2001 after the Sierra de la Virgen mountain range and the majestic golden eagle (aguila) found in the region. It is a blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon aged 24 months in oak and 36 months in bottle before release. It is an impressive wine who’s youthful density and fruit belies its age. It is also a great deal.

The bottle on the left, that would be the brown one, is a “sticky wine” made of Pedro Ximenez juice with an average age of 30 years! Though the winery site doesn’t say so explicitly, they refer to hand blending and I strongly suspect it is blended in a solera system of barrels where a stack of barrels are fractionally blended from top to bottom. As they  like to say the old wine educates the young wine. It is the way sherries are blended. Anyway this produces an average age of 30 years. The Pedro Ximenez variety is actually one of the sherry grapes and they like to call it “the cream in cream sherry” It is a rich concentrated raisiny wine with all sort of flavors from the long slow aging and slow oxidation. Definitely a treasure and a great deal as well.

Visiting Channing Daughters: Chris, Larry, Debbie & Remy

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Channing Daughters Vineyards and Winery
this place is great. We were greeted by Remy the winemaker’s labradoodle and served by Debbie at the tasting bar and we tasted through some of their exciting wines. We also had a nice chat with Remy’s dad, Chris Tracy and Larry Perrine, CEO and Guru at Channing.
Here are the highlights:

2009 Envelope (Orange Wine) As far as I know the category of “orange wine” is unique to Channing. This is a white wine made with prolonged skin contact so the wine picks up the little bit of pigment that exists as well as some structure and tannin from the skins. It is a white grape wine made the way a red is made. The name “Envelope” refers to the phrase “pushing the envelope” which is exactly what they are doing.

2011 Rosato di Refosco (Pink Wine) They made 8 different roses in the 2011 vintage! of the 2 or 3 I tried (the memory is a pink haze now) I liked the Refosco the best. Made from a Northern Italian grape called Refosco it is so fresh with strawberry, cranberry and raspberry notes, not too fruity but not austere either with really nice balance.

2007 Mudd (Red Wine) This is a red blend of mostly Merlot with Syrah and about 20% of blaufrankish, dornfelder & cab franc. I love that even their big reds, like this one, is moderate in alcohol at only 12.8%. Believe it or not, this wine is actually foot trodden! Yes like that episode of I Love Lucy only I think they wear fishing waders.
The aromas of berry fruit berries simmer below the surface with overtones of earth, spice and some cocoa flavors. The tannins are nicely resolved and it is drinking great right now. We had this wine with an excellent strip steak we got from Shagwong in MTK.

These were my faves from the wines we tried in the tasting room, at Mora’s we carry:
Channing Daughters Blaufrankisch Sylvanus Vineyard 2010

Channing Daughters Cuvee Tropical 2008
Channing Daughters Due Uve 2010
Channing Daughters Pinot Grigio 2010

Tasting with Karen: notes on Paumanok wines from April 21, 2012 tasting

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Paumanok Festival Chardonnay 2011
Festival Chardonnay is a blend of several lots of Chardonnay and 2% Sauvignon Blanc and 1% Chenin Blanc
I liked it a lot but that dollop of Chenin and Sauv Blanc really changes the Chardonnay flavor, it shows how assertive Sauv Blanc can be. It is very crisp and refreshing, definitely good for lots of seafood. You don’t get the apple and pear tree fruit you expect in Chard, more peach pit and citrus with a floral note. Its hard to believe the extra grapes are only 3% of the blend.

Paumanok Riesling Dry 2010
“This wine was fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks to preserve the Riesling varietal character. Really lovely with crisp steelly acidity and lots of
white flower, dandelion acacia  scents along with some citrus and a little mineral note.

Paumanok Dry Rose 2011
I love the color, just the right shade of pink, actually almost matches the color of crystallite raspberry iced tea. the blend is  and it has crisp clean aromas and flavors of rspberry and cranberry with a nice dry finish. It will be great for the summer time.

Paumanok Festival Red 2009
“A blend of 44% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 12% Petit Verdot. Not so excited about this one. A little light for me
I’m looking forward to the 2010 which should be excellent

Paumanok Merlot 2007
87 Points – Wine Spectator, April 2011.  Between the Cab and the Merlot, I liked the Merlot better though they are both good and I think sales were  about even so they were equally popular. the cab has warm spicy plum and mulberry flavors with a hint of mineral and wood and nicely resolved tannins which give the wine density rather than astringency. Very good, deserves a better score from WS

Paumanok Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. Also verg good and very varietally correct. A textbook cab with a lot of the characteristics of the Merlot but a little lighter bodied and a little weedier with a hint of green bell pepper.

My choice for leftovers to take home were the Rose and the Merlot. Great tasting, great weather, great crowd and its always a pleasure to have Karen
visit us.

Coming Saturday April 21: Taste Paumanok wines with Karen and find out what’s cooking

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I got this little profile (and cool recipe) on Karen from a newsday interview, we’ll have this celebrity at the shop Saturday, smiling and pouring great Paumanok wines!

KAREN KANKEL A wholesale representative for Paumanok Vineyards

When did you start cooking? When I was little my mom would let me crack an egg, mix a meatloaf. When I was 6, I learned to make pancakes. When I was a teen, I worked at restaurants.

How do you decide what to cook? It really depends on the season. This time of year I’m really looking forward to spring vegetables — baby carrots, spring peas, asparagus.

How do you like to entertain? For years, every summer I’ve thrown a party . . . it’s gotten so big I ask people to bring food, too. One thing I love is bread salad. We grow cherry tomatoes, so I put in those, parsley and add fresh baked bread and avocados. I make salmon canapés; I do cheese from The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck. I make a heart attack on a plate: kielbasa with bacon in a semi-dry Riesling reduction.

What’s special about this recipe? This is one of my favorite unions of land and sea. These scallops are from Braun Seafood in Cutchogue. They’re not as sweet as Peconic Bay scallops, but I added some sweet cipolline onions in the cream sauce. The greens and herbs come from Sang Lee Farms in Peconic.

Which wine might you serve with this dish? Two great wine pairing suggestions are Paumanok 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and Shinn Estate Vineyards Coalescence. Both wines have great, sharp acidity and citrus aromas to stand up to the spicy raciness of the arugula and pair beautifully with the tender scallops.


12 slender dried chiles (such as arbol)

½ cup flour

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons

chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cipolline onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

16 sea scallops, rinsed and drained

For salad:

8 ounces arugula

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Garnish: Chives and lemon wedges

1. Wearing gloves, cut the chiles lengthwise with a paring knife and remove seeds. Put chiles in a food processor and finely chop, about 1 minute.

2. In bowl, whisk a pinch of fine chile powder with flour, 2 teaspoons sea salt, 2 teaspoons thyme and pepper. Set aside.

3. In a saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil; add garlic and onion and saute 2 minutes. Add butter and melt, then add wine, parsley, thyme and chiles. Simmer to reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Strain into a medium saucepan and stir in cream. Simmer until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Dredge scallops in flour mixture, shaking off excess coating. In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sear scallops in batches until golden, about 2 minutes.

5. Combine arugula with remaining ingredients; divide among 4 plates and top each with 4 scallops; drizzle with chile reduction. Garnish with chives and lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Mora’s Single Malt Scotch Tasting & Seminar with Karl duHoffmann Friday May 11th

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7pm, at the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Mora’s first single malt Scotch event back in January was such a success we are planning an even bigger and better one for May to be held May 11, 2012, Friday night at 7pm. Attendees must reserve at the shop so either buy tickets online or contact the shop in person, by phone, email or carrier pigeon to reserve.

Our very knowledgeable and very spirited spirits expert, Karl DuHoffmann will guide us through a tasting of a nice crossection of his single malt Scotch whisky catalog in the Sail loft room at the Village Center overlooking lovely Port Jefferson Harbor. Food will be catered by Bliss Restaurant of East Setauket.

Tasting includes  Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from: Isle of Skye Isle of Arran, Ardbeg  Mortlach, Braeval and Kilchoman

Lucky attendees will win prizes of Scotch & tasting glasses at the event

Lecture & discussion by Karl on all the whiskies tasted and on malt whisky in general

Karl is managing an exciting portfolio of spirit brands, many new ones, and has been sharing his appreciation of spirits for many years as an educator for aficionados as well as members of the wine and spirits trade.  We will focus on the whiskies of Scotland and become acquainted with a few of the different regions and their characteristic styles. Traditional style of whisky as well as more innovative approaches will be represented. Their are literally tens of thousands of separate bottlings of single malt Scotch whiskies out there and the flavor profiles are so unique and varied that a whole new tasting vocabulary is needed to fully describe them. We hope  our  seminar helps to make sense of the Scotch universe as well as leads you to an appreciation for the whiskymaster’s art:

Distilleries represented: We will feature Scotch whiskies from Isle of Skye, Kilchoman, Isle of Arran,
About independent bottlers: As at our last event we will feature whiskies from an independent bottler, Ian Macleod distillers and bottlers. These firms have long term relationships with a large number of individual distilleries and purchase aged barrels or put up and age their own barrels of whisky then bottle it themselves indicating the distillery source as well as their own name. Some, like Macleod may also own their own distilleries and do their own blending.
Whisky education sites: Hear are some good sites with basic information on whisky and whisky tasting. independent bottler, distiller and blender

Free Tasting Saturday April 14th 4 Corners Tasting: New Zealand, France,South Africa & Italy

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We’re all over the map this week which means no rythme or reason but the good news is everyone should find something they like. I’ll let you which are good and which are not so good in case you can’t make it. See you Saturday starting at 3pm

Lobster Point Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011



Rich’s Ratings on Saturday April 7 Tasting of: Cool California Wines with Paul from Opici

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Hey we actually have a themed tasting this weekend! All the wines are from California. We have a nice line-up of excellent values that are good canidates for Lamb, Ham, brisket, nothing for the latkas but I’d recommend Champagne, Riesling if you use apple sauce. We start at 3 with Paul and you know there will be some extra credit wine(s) to try. See you Saturday

Sebastiani Chardonnay Sonoma County 2010
88 Points – Wine Spectator, Web Only 2012
imho: It is done half in steel and half in oak and has a nice creamy feel with a touch of oak spice. It tends a little toward the sweet but all in all a nicely balanced wine in a very popular style.

Schug Carneros Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2009
89 Points – Wine Enthusiast, December 2010
imho: I loved it, the Schug recieves some lees contact and some rest in neutral oak which gives the wine an creamy texture without tasting like it wants to be a Chardonnay. The wine shows nice grapefruit and a hint of herbs upfront balanced by the nice roundness from the little bit of barrel age. Very complex and intriguing for a California Sauvignon Blanc

Sebastiani Merlot Sonoma County 2007
87 Points – Wine Enthusiast, March 2011 
imho: Better than I expected, it has some guts and grip and actually needs a little air to tame the tannins. It has lots of structure for such an inexpensive California Merlot. Sebastiani is a high quality value brand in my book. Highly recommended

Vina Robles Cabernet Sauvignon Huerhuero Paso Robles 2008
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast, August 2011
I think Steve Heimoff (at the Enthusiast) missed the mark. I was a little disappointed, a little to fat and fruity for me, I’m thinking Paso is a little too hat for good Cab. It was popular and sold well at the tasting but was not my cup of tea.

Badge Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills 2006
A relatively new Pinot Noir  by Kris Curran (former winemaker at Sea Smoke) and Bruno D’Alfonso (former winemaker at Sanford). I loved it. The color is a little pale but the wine has lots of stuffing. It opens up with about a half hour to breathe. The nose is powerful, very important with Pinot with fresh berry notes but underlying qualities of brush and some dried fruits like currants. It has developed those secondary characteristics of a Pinot with  a little age that people like to call Burgundian. For me the Schug Sauv Blanc and the Badge Pinot stole the show!

Got Red Wine: Here’s a great Leg of Lamb Recipe

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     We’ve had this dish several times with serious red wines. It is  a stuffed boned leg of lamb  filled with a mix of dried fruit almonds, cassis, herbs and spice and coated with lots of fresh garlic, rosemary, thyme salt & pepper, this is finished with a dark sauce made of reduced balsamic with figs, butter and honey.

              This funky dish complements wine really well, recipe follows. The drink on one occaision was Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot.  What a great meal. The other time we had it was with the great Ateca Armas and a good El Puntido Rioja. Two awesome wines that showed very well with this pairing. 
Recipe Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Balsamic-Fig-Basil Sauce
from Allrecipes prep time 50 minutes, cooking time 1 hour, serves 6

Stuffing: 0.5 C coarse chopped prunes, 0.25 C currants, 1 shot creme de cassis

Rub: 1.5T fresh minced rosemary, 1.5T fresh minced thyme, 0.5t ground coriander, 1t each salt & pepper

1 (4lb) boneless leg of lamb, rolled and tied
0.5C chopped, roasted and salted almonds, I give them a little toast in a hot skillet
2T fresh chopped mint, 3cloves garlice each cut into 3 little garlic spears, 2T olive oil

Finishing sauce: 0.5 C good balsamic vinegar, 5T butter, 3T honey, 0.33 C thin sliced & stemmed Calimyrna figs
5t fresh chopped basil

Garnish with 6 mint leaves and 6 basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Combine the chopped prunes and currants with the cassis in a small bowl and set aside.  In another small bowl combine the rub ingredients also set aside.
3. Untie and unroll the lamb, lay it out flat on the work surface.  Trim off exess fat, and cut any thick parts open so that is is evenly thick and somewhat rectangular in shape.  Sprinkle half of the herb mixture over the lamb.  Mix the almonds and chopped mint into the prune mixture;  spread evenly over the lamb.  Roll up staring at one of the short sides,  and tie with kitchen twine in 1 inch intervals.  cut 9 slits about an inch deep into the top of the lamb and insert a slice of garlic in each. Rub with olive oil,  and sprinkle with the remaining herb mixture. 
4. Place lamb seam side up on a rack set in a roasting pan.  Roast in the preheated oven to desired done ness. For medium-rare, a thermometer inserted into the center will read about 140F remove lamb from the oven and tent with foil.  allow to rest for 15 minutes while proceeding with the recipe.
5. While the lamb is resting, bring the balsamic to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat.  Boil and reduce by about half, should take about 5 minutes.  Once reduced, stir in the honey, butter and sliced figs.  Stir until the butter melts and take off the heat.  Stir in the chopped basil and set aside.
6. To plate, remove twine and carve lamb into 0.5 inch thick slices, arrange on a platter, drizzle with the fig sauce and garnish with remaining mint and basil leaves.

Local guy living the life of the Vigneron

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     This is a story about a very interesting local wine guy (NOT me) which I’d like to share so you can be jealous of him too. I’ve known many esteemed and not so esteemed members of the wine trade but few with the passion for wine and vitality that he has. Mike Affatato’s love for wine sprang forth after embarking in a successful career in  the advertisaing field. During a trip to Napa when he had his wine epiphany and figuratively immersed himself in the subject.

      When we met in the early 1990’s he was a  wine newbie, shopping at my store and learning as much as he could about his new love. He learned fast and founded the Brookhaven Wine Lover’s Society which put together some amazing tastings. Mike went to the source and visited most of the “First Growths” in Bordeaux where he met his future wife at Chateau Latour! After that he worked his way through several major New York City wine shops as well as a stint with a major distributor of fine wines and finally ended up in the employed as an executive at Maison Chapoutier of the Rhone valley in France.

       Then it gets interesting. in 2002 Mike’s wife Helene Fenouillet (remember La Tour?) received a “gift” of a neglected Bordeaux vineyard which together with La Gatte, a 17th century Chateau they acquired  in 2003 cast them in new roles as full time vignerons making Bordeaux wine from their 28 acres of grapes and managing a successful B&B at the Chateau. So manic Mike is now busy running a winery, a B&B, doing sales and marketing and raising a family all at the same time! Since then he’s lessened his direct involvement at Chateau La Gatte and has embarked on yet another venture marketing french wines from small passionate producers who really care about their wines. We will be showcasing this portfolio Monday April 16th at a French wine dinner. Get dinner details

Vino Casino: High card wins the wine

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We were chatting with a  friend of ours from the east end wine biz at one of our tastings and he taught me a new way to have fun tasting wines with your friends. Its a game called “Vino Casino” which I haven’t tried yet but sounds pretty cool. Here it is:

1.invite 6-10 people or couples

2.Pick a theme, it can be very general like “red wine” or specific like “California Cab”. Put a cap on the price, $20 is usually good but you can make the stakes whatever you want.

3.Each person or couple  brings two identical bottles. All bottles are in paper bags to be tasted blind. one of each bottle is opened and the other is put into the pot.

4.The wines are tasted blind over the course of the evening. Notetaking and scoring is fine but the main thing is to rank the wines in order of preference.

5. At the end of the tasting the rankings are compared and the owner of the number one ranked wine wins the “wine pot”

This could be fun or it could be disastrous but I like the idea.