Cocktail Corner: The Brunch Bunch

Posted on | November 19, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Brunch is naturally appealing, as it leaves food options fairly open: some from column breakfast, some from column lunch. Another reason brunch is so popular with the younger LDA crowd? Cocktails are not only acceptable, they’re encouraged. Brunch has come to be known for some old standards—Bloody Mary, Mimosa, etc.—but fortunately those templates are fairly easy to adapt.

When it comes to the Bloody Mary, the possibilities are truly endless in terms of the strength, spiciness and size (batches can be made). In the Johnsonville recipe below, the focus is on richness, with the addition of black coffee and a meat-and-cheese-heavy garnish. The Absinthe Mary is a departure from the original in strength and character, adding some herbaceous and aromatic notes.


Absinthe Mary

1 – 1½ oz Lucid Absinthe

1 oz Vodka

4 oz Spicy Bloody Mary Mix

4 dashes Worcestershire Sauce

Horseradish, Ground Pepper, Garlic Salt, Celery Salt to taste

Garnish: olive, pepperoncini, lime wedge

In a pint glass, Combine all the ingredients over ice. Shake and serve with an olive, pepperoncini, and a lime wedge.



 Beneath the Snow

By Shinya Yamao, Piora

The flavors of Calvados, maple syrup and Earl Grey tea in this cocktail provide a delicious and seasonal alternative to standard brunch cocktail fare.

1 oz Snow Leopard Vodka

1½ oz Apple Juice

2⁄3 oz Busnel Calvados

2⁄3 oz Earl Grey Tea

2⁄3 oz Maple Syrup

½ oz Hand-Squeezed Lemon Juice

Garnish: 2 Sliced apples

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with two slices of thinly sliced apple.


  Mexican Hot Chocolate

Most brunch cocktails tend to be iced, but a warm and spicy Mexican hot chocolate is a great alternative for a chilly late morning, when a luxurious cocktail is a brunch all on its own.

1½ oz Reposado Tequila

1 oz Galliano Ristretto

½ oz Bols Crème de Cacao Brown

1 pinch Cayenne Pepper

Hot Coffee

Whipped Cream

In a mug, combine the tequila, Galliano, crème de cacao, cayenne and hot coffee. Top with whipped cream and grated cinnamon.


Eye of the Hawk Bloody Mary

Courtesy of Johnsonville Sausage

1 cup Vodka

3 cups Bloody Mary Mix or Tomato Juice

1⁄3 cup Black Coffee or Espresso

¼ cup Corn Syrup

4 tsp Horseradish

4 dashes Tabasco

¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper

2 cups Ice


1 Johnsonville Smoked Polish Sausage, cooked

4 Pickled Mini Ears of Corn

4 Cubes of Blue Cheese

4 Skewers

In a shaker or pitcher, combine the first seven ingredients. Pour into four glasses filled with fresh ice. To assemble the garnish, assemble each of the four skewers with one piece of smoked sausage, one mini corn, and one piece of blue cheese.


  Salute’s Bellini

By Luciano Sautto, Salute

Like a Mimosa, a Bellini works off the fruit + bubbly equation, starting with Prosecco, of course, and using peach purée rather than orange juice. Inspired by the Italian roots of Chef Luciano Sautto of Salute in Las Vegas, this Bellini gets an extra dollup of sweetness from simple syrup, making it a good match for a spicy brunch entrée.

1½ oz White Peach Purée

¼ oz Simple Syrup

3½ oz Prosecco

Garnish: Sliced Peaches

In a mixing tin, combine the white peach puree and the simple syrup. Add ice and lightly shake. Add in the Prosecco, stir gently, and strain into a flute. Garnish with skewered sliced peaches.

November 2015 – Wine Buzz

Posted on | November 19, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Forget Boughs of Holly— ‘Light My Bottle’ Turns Empty Bottles into Art

This nifty new product—enjoying its first holiday season on the market—has “impulse buy” written all over it. Light My Bottle’s string of micro LED lights turns empty wine/liquor bottles into homey works of art. The string inserts easily into the bottle and a push-button with battery holder fits right on top. It takes three AAA batteries (not included). Perfect for the holidays, Light My Bottle is packed on a hanging card, with SRP $9.99. Wholesale pricing: $5.55; $4.95 each for 12 pieces, or $4.50 each for 48+ pieces.



McWilliam’s Captures Complexity with New ‘Cool Climate’ Range

McWilliam’s Wine Group Ltd., a sixth-generation family owned company and makers of the highly awarded McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate range, has just announced the U.S. introduction of a new line of high-altitude, cool-climate wines. Grown at elevations between 650 and 1,700 feet in the region of New South Wales, the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 Shiraz and 2014 Chardonnay have been produced from vines with reduced yields that translate into excellent flavor intensity. SRP $14.99.





Moët Hennessy Boosts Wine Portfolio with Smoke Tree Wines from Sonoma 

Smoke Tree Wines is the first brand to be launched by Moët Hennessy this century (the last being Terrazas de los Andes). Bearing a Sonoma County appellation, the wines are made from Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley and Carneros fruit and are overseen by Joel Burt, the winemaker responsible for Chandon’s still wine program. He has been very involved in production at Newton Vineyard as well. Smoke Tree will be available initially in NY, MA, PA, DC, TX, IL, FL and CA; there are 15,000 cases each of 2014 Pinot Noir (SRP $24.99) and 2014 Chardonnay ($19.99).




Dark Horse Extends Line with two new Varietal Wines

When E. & J. Gallo launched Dark Horse in 2014, the anchor Big Red Blend combined grape varieties from not just different regions but three continents (Malbec from Argentina, Tempranillo from Spain; Cabernet from California). Winemaker Beth Liston’s penchant for unconventional blending continues with the release of two new Dark Horse varietal wines, both from California. The 2014 Pinot Noir is 81% Pinot, plus Grenache, other reds and 3% Gewürztraminer. The 2014 Sauvignon Blanc includes 16% Semillon, 3% Albariño and 4% select white varieties. Dark Horse is line-priced at $9.99.

November 2015 – The Find

Posted on | November 19, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Jack Daniel’s Salutes a ‘Century’ of Frank Sinatra

The relationship between Frank Sinatra and Jack Daniel’s is legendary. First recommended by friend Jackie Gleason, the Tennessee whiskey quickly became Sinatra’s signature drink. During performances he kept a bottle on a nearby stool on stage; and in 1998, he was buried with a flask of Jack Daniel’s in his pocket.

Jack Daniel’s Distillery has announced their latest collaboration with the Sinatra family—Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Century—to celebrate what would be the Chairman of the Board’s 100th birthday. Only 100 barrels of the limited-edition expression are being made available in individually numbered 1L bottles.

The whiskey was made from barrels hand-picked by Master Distiller Jeff Arnett; tasting his custom selections with the Sinatra family, he sought a bold, refined flavor befitting Sinatra’s legacy.

Sinatra Century, at 100 proof, is the second Jack Daniel Distillery’s offering to commemorate Frank Sinatra. The first was Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select (90 proof) introduced in 2013. This one-time, limited release is housed in a luxury gift box that also offers a selection of previously unreleased Sinatra tracks, entitled “Sinatra Live at the Sands in 1966.” SRP: $499.99/1L.


Jameson and local Brewer Join Forces for Jameson Caskmates 

It’s nice to see that the unquestioned leader of the Irish Whiskey subcategory is not letting up on the innovation throttle, releasing Jameson Caskmates—the result of a neighborly collaboration between the high-powered distiller and a local Irish micro-brewery.

The concept began in 2013—hatched by Dave Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science at Jameson, and Shane Long, Head Brewer at Franciscan Well—over drinks at a pub. First, Jameson shared some of its proprietary oak whiskey barrels from the Midleton Distillery with the brewery, which created a unique Irish stout aged in Jameson barrels. Returning the gesture, those barrels were sent back to the distillery and refilled with Jameson Original.

As a result of its time spent in the stout-seasoned barrels, the now-bottled whiskey has the triple-distilled smoothness of Jameson, but now with new added notes of coffee, cocoa and hops. Jameson Caskmakes is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks in order to truly appreciate the flavors that the stout-finishing brings. It also makes a perfect accompaniment to stout beer. 80 proof; SRP $29.99.


Limited Edition Ketel One Celebrates 325 Years of Nolet Family Distilling

To commemorate 325 years—and 11 generations—of the Nolet family’s distillery in Schiedam, Holland, a limited-edition 1L bottle of Ketel One Vodka launches November 1st in the U.S. The bottle is dressed in copper matte plating as a nod to the important role copper pot distillation plays in creating their spirits. Coins decorate the sides of the bottle, representing each of the generations of Nolet family distillers. An ironwork-inspired design represents the real-life ironwork above the main entrance to the distillery, and the Nolet family crest is naturally included. SRP: $32.49/1L.






John Dewar & Sons Announce The Deveron Single Malt 

Macduff Distillery sits near the mouth of Scotland’s River Deveron, just before its cool waters join the briny North Sea. This spot has seen the creation of the Deveron malt whisky for many decades, and now that malt is gaining a global audience, introduced by John Dewar & Sons in three expressions, aged 10, 12 and 18 years, all 80 proof. Emanating from five small copper pot stills and horizontal condensers that gently coax extra character from the spirit, The Deveron is an approachable dram which has a signature tang of coastal air. The 10 Year Old (as of now only available in France) offers toffee, crisp apples and creamy oak. The 12 Year Old (SRP $45) has notes of toasted grain and apples, with seaborne spice, and the 18 Year Old (SRP $110) has deep fruity and nutty notes, perfect for drinking by a fire.

November 2015 – New Products and Promotions

Posted on | November 19, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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New from Spain: Deshora Cava, Bubbly For Any Occasion

The wines of Bodegas Aranleón are created with care in Valencia, Spain. The organic Deshora Cava Brut, 50% Chardonny and 50% Macabeo, is designed to be enjoyed “a deshoras,” at any time. The pale yellow sparkling wine has vivid greenish reflections, intense aromas of pear and apples with notes of lime, and well-integrated acidity and floral notes on the palate and long finish. Marketed by Bronco Wine Company.

SRP: $21.99 |


New from South Africa: Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky is a single grain whisky crafted by Master Distiller Andy Watts at South Africa’s James Sedgwick Distillery. Bain’s is double matured: after three years in bourbon casks, it is transferred to a second set of casks for 18 to 30 more months. The warm, rich whisky is characterized by aromas of toffee and vanilla, and a slightly spicy flavor softened by the sweet undertones of oak. Currently in IL, MN, MS, WI, IN, NY and MA. 86 proof.

SRP: $30-$39



New Package & New Expression for Russell’s Reserve Line

Renowned father-son distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell have released a versatile and robust Single Barrel Rye designed to shine in cocktails and on its own. The release coincides with a new look for the full Russell’s Reserve line. Based on single barrels selected only from the “center cut” locations of the rick houses, it is not chill-filtered in order to capture all the flavor rye provides. This new release offers a balance of spicy pepper, vanilla and caramel on the nose and palate.

SRP: $59.99






A Holiday Tradition: Limited Edition from Nicolas Feuillatte

In keeping with recent history, Nicolas Feuillatte has launched a limited edition Champagne for Q4. The Land of Wonders Brut Reserve, adorned in deep amber with a dusting of golden powder, features a delicate design that pays homage to the agricultural heritage of the Champagne region. Harmonious fresh aromas of apple, pear and peach as well as curry and tumeric lead into ripe fruit character, with delicate bubbles imparting freshness through the finish.

SRP: $36 |


Sweet Citrus Plus a Spark of Heat: Captain Morgan Cannon Blast

Catapulting into the shots category, Captain Morgan has launched Cannon Blast, an “intensely delicious shot” based on Carribean rum and natural flavors. As a shot, the liquid delivers sweet citrus on the front end, then a warming but not overwhelming sensation of heat on the finish. 70 proof; also available in 1L and 50ml. 

SRP: $15.99/750ml |






Glenfiddich 14-Year-Old Single Malt Tips a Cap to America

Glenfiddich honors the American whiskey industry with Glenfiddich 14 Year Old, a new permanent addition to the core range celebrating the American oak ex-bourbon barrels that are the backbone of the single malt Scotch industry. The rich, vibrant malt delivers complex flavors of woody spices combined with ripe summer fruit. Inspired by the Kentucky state flag, Glenfiddich 14 Year Old is presented in a deep navy blue case embossed with Glenfiddich’s gold stag. 86 proof.

SRP: $49.99 |





Pino Cellars: ‘No pretense,  Just Great Wine!

From Pino Cellars comes a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Gris, perfect food wines sourced from select Oregon vineyards and crafted in small lots. Winemaker Bob Stashak notes that the 2013 growing season ended cool, magnifying the Pinot Noir’s fruity aromatics while keeping the alcohol moderate. This combination led to an elegant wine full of fruit flavor and finishing long on the palate with silky tannins. Marketed by Bronco Wine Company. 

SRP: $19.99






Get a Kick Out of Punching Mule

The perennially popular Moscow Mule cocktail, based on vodka and ginger beer, is getting a new format: a 12oz can. The lightly carbonated canned craft cocktail uses Elevate Vodka (made with water from the Colorado Rockies), zesty natural ginger root flavor, lime and real sugar for a touch of sweetness. Punching Mule is gluten free and contains 7% ABV. Sold in four-packs; currently available in CO, WI, CT and RI.

SRP: $10.99/4-pack |





The Glenlivet Adds ‘Founder’s Reserve’ to Core Range

The Glenlivet has re-introduced the world to its founder, George Smith, with the U.S. release of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, using the time-honored distillation methods that were introduced almost 200 years ago. The result is delicate aromas of citrus fruit, and palate notes of oranges, pears and toffee apples. Enjoy neat, or with a splash of water or ice cube. 80 proof.

SRP: $44.99 |





Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coconut Rum Cream Reaches Shore

The new treasure from Brinley Gold Shipwreck is a blend of sweet coconut, rich cream and rum, crafted using all-natural ingredients. The new Coconut Rum Cream rounds out the Brinley Gold Shipwreck portfolio including Coconut, Vanilla, Coffee, Mango and Spiced expressions. It contains no preservatives and is certified Kosher. Currently in CT, DE, FL, MD, NJ, NY, VA and DC, with more states added soon. 30 proof.

SRP: $25/750ml; $2.50/30ml |





Mionetto Gives German Bubbly Henkell a Timely Makeover

No stranger to bubbly success, Mionetto USA has re-launched Henkell Blanc de Blancs in a fresh new bottle. Debuting in the Northeast just in time for the holiday season, the new “White Edition”—which is painted, not wrapped—will roll out nationally in 2016.  Made from all white grapes, the bubbly is dry with a fruit-forward character, lending it to being best served chilled or even over ice.

SRP: $13 |





Teeling Irish Whiskey Expands with Single Malt Expression

The Teeling Whiskey Company Irish Single Malt was recently named World’s Best Irish Single Malt at the 2015 World Whiskies Awards. This is the distillery’s third release, joining Teeling Single Grain and Teeling Small Batch. It consists of malt whiskey aged up to 23 years old that has been matured in five different wine casks—Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon—a combination never used before in Ireland. 92 proof.

SRP: $65 |







Year of Discovery

Posted on | November 18, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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With fascinating wines coming from the unlikeliest of places, 2015 has become the Year of Discovery in wine, with retailers in the vital position as gatekeepers between curious drinkers and bold new regions and grapes.

By Christy Canterbury MW / Kristen Bieler / W. R. Tish



A funny thing happened on the way to 2016: Buoyed by two decades of steady growth in wine consumption, Americans are—finally(?)—getting it. After decades of wine suppliers, merchants and critics alike exhorting people to “drink what you like,” people are doing just that.

Consider some of the most dynamic wine-category upswings of late—Moscato, Malbec, Prosecco and Red Blends. What they have in common is simple, pure and powerful: they are being driven by consumers’ tastes. Not by critics’ ratings.

Sure, Cab and Chard are still ringing up sales, but so many other grapes and regions have entered Americans’ comfort zone. In Italy, think Sicily, Alto Adige and Campania. In France, the Loire, the Rhône and the South of France are stirring more emotions than Bordeaux. In Spain, Garnacha has jumped in recognition. Wines from New Zealand, Greece, Austria, South Africa and Portugal are on the tips of wine drinkers’ tongues. In California, blends and offbeat varietals are what have drinkers buzzing, as well as regions outside Napa and Sonoma; and Washington, Oregon and New York’s wine industries continue to hum.

Nailing wine trends to a specific year can be tricky, but we believe 2015 is a watershed year for American wine culture: Consumers’ curiosity, interest and open-mindedness on one hand are converging with wine’s incredibly vibrant and creative supply side on the other. The result is that 2015 is revealing itself as the Year of Discovery.


Making The Connection

America’s embrace of wine has never been more adventurous. And in turn, the Retailer has never been more vital. Wine merchants select and present wines from the fast-morphing global market, communicating the relative style, value and merit of all those new grapes, places and brands. Simply put, they connect that ever-expanding universe to those increasingly open-minded wine drinkers.

To mark this Year of Discovery, this article aims to capture how and why some of today’s most exciting wines are emerging from the least expected places—from Central and Eastern Europe to pockets in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, even from established regions where new techniques are in play.

Eager to expose their wines to a wider audience to carve out a niche in the global wine market, these producers have teamed up with a growing tier of inspired, specialty importers. While distribution is limited, and many of these wines may always reside in the realm of “esoterica,” they are important puzzle pieces for a comprehensive understanding of our global wine tradition. They are ideal for adding fresh appeal and differentiation to a wine program, and in many cases represent unparalleled value. These wines won’t be appearing on supermarket shelves any time soon—all the more reason that independent merchants should seek them out now, ahead of the curve.



Macedonia, a country the size of Alabama, has made wine for over 400 years, but its sprint to modern-day fame began just 15 years ago.

The winery Bovin, established in 1998—seven years after the country’s split with Yugoslavia—changed the paradigm. Bovin pushed high quality to the bleeding edge and then charged six times more than average for its wines. Almost astonishingly, wine lovers paid up. Encouraged by the prospects of the quality-profit combo, more wineries started appearing. Today, there are about 60. Interestingly, wine export has always been a focus for Macedonia; 85% to 95% of production is exported. That’s quite a bit of juice, considering Macedonia is the world’s 25th largest producer, making approximately half the wine as New Zealand does.

Indigenous varieties are where it’s at. The black grapes Vranec and Krastosija and the white grapes Smederevka, Zilavka and Temjanika are the highlights. Leading the pack is Vranec, whose name means “Black Stallion.” It makes seriously dark wines with mouth-watering acidity and structuring tannins that help it age well. Krastosija, kin to Zinfandel and Primitivo, is jet black with gobs of viscosity. Both grapes can easily attain 15-17% alcohol, but they have other structural elements to keep their wines in balance. Similarly, the dominant white, Smederevka, can be heady, too, though it’s often not noticed given the wine’s racy acidity. The citrusy Zilavka (Furmint in Hungary) and floral Temjanika exude charm in any of their variations, from crisply dry to lightly sweet.

Important Producers: Bovin, Chateau Kamnik, Stobi, Popov, Tikves and Vinar



Corsica is surely better known as Napoleon’s birthplace and for “Europe’s Hardest Hiking Trail”, the GR 20, than for wine.

However, this staunchly proud Mediterranean island that makes but 1% of France’s production boasts 264 producers and 104 independent wineries. Quality has been on the rise for years, and with that the trend to look outside the island’s built-in market of thirsty tourists has grown. It’s not just the terrain (rugged granite, limestone and schist slopes) but also the climate that creates such fine-tuned wines. The mountain slopes are cold at night, drastically contrasting the summer sun, and the Mediterranean winds can be cooling, too, as long as they don’t shoot north from Africa.

Corsica stands by its local grapes, especially for the mid- to high-end wines; 55% of the island’s production is rosé and 30% is red. The red Nielluccio, whose DNA resembles Sangiovese, is one of the most popular. Another top black grape is Sciacarello, meaning “irresistible.” Vermentino, also known as Malvoisie de Corse, makes aromatically compelling whites. Southern French varieties like Grenache, Syrah and Carignan feature prominently, too. One particularly pleasant characteristic of Corsican wines is that the producers let the wine shine through, never the new oak.

Important Producers: Clos Venturi, Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Domaine d’Alzipratu, Etienne Suzzoni, Domaine de Torraccia, Domaine Saparale, Yves Leccia, Domaine de Vaccelli, U Stiliccionu, Clos Nicrosi


Brought to the world stage by the charismatic, late Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar, Lebanese wine has developed rapidly since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990, burgeoning from only five wineries then to over 40 today—all making very good wines.

Still, the generously warm Mediterranean climate sometimes seems to mask true greatness, even if the wines are delicious and distinctive. What is incredibly impressive is that this quality-focused industry has developed in such a testy sliver of the world. In fact, part of the Musar story is about harvesting grapes surrounded by shelling and gunfire.

Local grapes are more likely to star on the plate in warak enab bil zeit (stuffed grape leaves) than in the glass. However, a few determined wineries are making a go with two local white varieties, Obeideh and Merweh, which are usually destined for Arak production. Reds dominate production and most are blends. Typical components include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and Syrah, often blended à la Bordeaux meets Rhône. Cinsault accounts for one-third of all production and has been grown there for over 150 years. In contrast, whites tend to be varietal, and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc lead the pack.

Important Producers: Château Musar, Domaine St. Thomas, Château Ksara, Domaine Wardy, Château Kefraya, Domaine des Tourelles, Massaya, IXSIR, Château Ka



Turkey is entering a modern golden age of winemaking, despite its government’s relatively new but viscious anti-alcohol campaigns.

Since the beginning of this century, a number of small producers have diversified the landscape formerly dominated by previously (and usually large but equally quality-driven) wineries to create a unique wine culture reinforced by oenotourism, winery hotels and fine restaurants. In the spirit of Ataturk, Turkey’s founder who decreed the re-establishment of wine production post-Ottoman Empire, these wineries persist in their work. Yet, today they are turning more and more to markets abroad given the touchy attitude toward wine at home.

Turkey hosts over 1,200 indigenous grapes; 50% are genetically unique. While only about 20 account for 95% of wine produced today, several producers are striving to change that. Narince is the luminary white. It is highly versatile, capable of producing all sorts of sparkling, still and sweet wines with finesse, depth of flavor and – in some cases – age-ability. Three black grapes dominate the red category. Kalecik Karasi is a pale-ish, lighter red that masquerades between Pinot Noir, Gamay and Syrah depending on how it is made. The grape Öküzgözü translates into “big black eye of the bull” because it is unusually large for a winemaking grape. It offers baking spices, dark color and relatively supple tannins, so its wines are easy to appreciate. Finally, there is Bogazkere, named “throat scratcher” for its dense, even fierce, tannins. Concentrated in black fruit flavors and highly structured, it can age gracefully as well.

Important Producers: Vinkara, Suvla, Urla, Kavaklidere, Corvus, Sevilen, Likya, Pamukkale, Doluca, Yazgan, Kayra, Selendi


Crémant de Bourgogne

Made with the same varieties and on the same soils as the legendary wines of Champagne, Burgundy’s sparkling wines are well-positioned today to become the next “hot” bubbly.

While the sparkling wine frenzy focuses on tank-fermented Prosecco today, the high-end game remains focused on traditional method wines. Champagne prices often keep those wines just out-of-reach for many consumers. Tuned-in consumers turn to Italy’s sparklers from Franciacorta and Trentodoc, yet Burgundy’s bubbles remain undiscovered. One reason is that sparkling wines have not been a focus until recently. However, in the last decade, crémant production has boomed from one to eight percent. Sometimes ringing in as low as half the cost of a bottle of non-vintage Champagne, these wines deliver serious value and can parade as Champagne look-alikes.

The wines are primarily composed of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Technically, these two grapes, along with Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, must make up at least 30% of the cuvée. In reality, the latter two, along with Aligoté, Sacy and Gamay, tend to be added in dashes and pinches. Many of the grapes are grown on limestone and exceed the minimum nine months on lees in the bottle, creating profoundly flavorful and textured wines.

Important Producers: Bailley Lapierre, Parigot & Richard, Louis Boillot, Caves de Lugny



Slovenia—wedged between Italy, Hungary, Austria and the Balkans—benefits from a mash-up of cultures, and is emerging as a source for racy, fresh whites and as a global leader in the “orange” wine movement.

Winemaking here dates back 2,400 years, predating France or Spain. Yet the communist government, which took power in 1948 and created Yugoslavia, turned all wineries into state-run cooperatives. Slovenia has been playing catch-up since the Iron Curtain fell in 1989.

Luckily the land is blessed. Primorska and subregions Vipava, Istra and Brda border Italy’s Friuli region and feature mineral-rich soils, ridiculously steep hills, and the Adriatic’s influence. Some red wine is made (from Teran and Refošk—Italy’s Refosco—as well Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir; Santomas and Movia make some of the finest), but this is primarily white wine territory. Even inland regions, Posavje and Podravje, are better known for whites. They work with many of the same grapes as their neighbors: Malvazija (Croatia); Sauvignon Blanc and Sivi Pinot (Pinot Grigio in Friuli) and Rebula (Ribolla Gialla); Chardonnay, Welschriesling and Sipon (Furmint in Hungary).

Two main styles have emerged. The first is fresh and zippy, and the focus of a number of newer wineries, including Pullus and Puklavec and Friends (P&F). The value is compelling, says George Milotes, MS and Beverage Director for The Capital Grille and Seasons 52: “I can pour a stunning Sauvignon Blanc that is half the price of an Italian bottle. Slovenian Pinot Grigio is less expensive than Italy’s, plus it generally has more character and flavor.”

Edi Simcic and son Aleks—considered among Slovenia’s best winemakers—champion a different style, aging their wines for long periods in oak which imparts an almost Burgundian profile. Other artisanal producers innovate with biodynamics, a range of different oak casks and amphorae and extended skin contact—the recipe for “orange” wines, a niche category which has captured the imagination of many wine professionals. Movia is a pioneer, with their rich, chewy, honeyed wines.

Important Producers: Movia, Edi Simcic, Pullus, P&F, Tilia, Santomas, Batic, Kabaj



Georgia is considered by many to be the cradle of wine, with over 8,000 unbroken vintages under its belt. Granted, not all of those were great. “Between the destruction of the Soviet period plus the Georgian Civil War in the 1990s, the wine industry didn’t resurrect and privatize until the 21st century, so they were extremely late to the game,” says Lisa Granik, MW Director of Export Strategy for Georgia.

In spite of the hardship, Georgia had one lucky break: Most Soviet countries were forced to rip out native vines in favor of international grapes, yet some speculate that because Stalin was Georgian, the nation retained its (over 500) indigenous grapes. Today this treasure trove of fascinating varieties—Rkatsiteli, Kisi, Khikhvi, Tsolikouri, Mtsvane and Saperavi—is the cornerstone of Georgia’s revival.

Modernization has ushered in a range of fresher styles, yet Georgia’s gift to the world of wine is the centuries-old tradition of the qvevri. Underground clay vessels where wines ferment and age, qvevris (not to be confused with amphora) are catching on in various interpretations throughout the globe by many famous producers. Combined with the common practice of extended skin maceration, Georgia is a world capital of “orange” wines. “I promote them as white wines for red wine drinkers,” says Granik.

Quite unintentionally, Georgian wines dovetail nicely with many of today’s wine drinking trends: They are not over-oaked (“Mostly because this is a poor country and oak is expensive, so it’s never been central to their winemaking,” shares Granik) and they are lower in alcohol—most around 11.5-12%. Granik feels the momentum: “The wines are better every year, and exports are up 61% this year. Today what I see is promise.”

Important Producers: Chateau Mukhrani, Jakeli, LaGvinari, Orgo, Schuchmann, Shalauri, Teliani, Vinoterra



Whereas Sicily has captured wine drinkers’ imaginations—as much as through stories of the Cosa Nostra as its physical beauty, hearty food and ever-improving wines—the wines of Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, mostly remain off the radars of wine consumers today.

Though often occupied by foreigners, Sardegna (as it is known in Italian) has never been conquered. So perhaps it is through this determined self-reliance and self-administered introspection that Sardinia has found its highly unusual route into the modern wine world. Post-World War II, Sardinian grape yield allowances sky-rocketed and jettisoned quality into an abyss. Today, as the rest of the wine world becomes more quality-oriented, yields there stay almost bizarrely high. That is easy to achieve considering many vineyards are in flatter areas. However, the best wines tend to come from the hills from far lower yields, and many producers have abandoned the DOCs to make IGT wines of gloriously distinctive Mediterranean character.

Sitting only 125 miles west of Italy, Sardinia’s wealth of vines surprisingly is composed primarily of Spanish grape varieties, with a heavy Catalonian accent. The most important reds are Cannonau (Garnacha), Carignano (Carignan), Monica and Bovale (Graciano). Vermentino is the star white grape followed by several types of Malvasia.

Important Producers: Argiolas, Capichera, Santadi, Sella & Mosca, Punica


Natural Wine

“Natural Wine” is the hipster these days, meaning its wines as popular as they are controversial.

Ardent fans of the category often prefer to drink nothing else. However, there are issues with the name. “Natural” can be defined strikingly differently—in a way that definitely matters to well-versed fans of the category—by the many possible steps a producer may take to do as little as feasible to a wine. And the potential for confusion is great, starting with the fact the label itself may not even declare itself simply as “natural wine.” Moreover, once the pluses and caveats are understood, one often never quite knows what’s going to come out of the bottle. For some, that’s awesome. For others, that’s annoying.

Natural wines can be made from any grape. It’s the style that counts. First and foremost, winemakers work with the principle to add little to no chemicals or additives. For example, many are made with little or no added sulphur, which can result in highly variable juice from one bottle to the next as sulphur acts to protect the wine and keep it in the same phase from the winery to the consumer. Also important to the natural winemaking philosophy is not to employ overly intrusive technological means during production. An extreme example going in the opposite direction are skin-macerated whites called “orange wines” (typically amber in color).

Important Producers: Nicolas and Virginie Joly (Coulée de Serrant), Gravner (Friuli), Lalou Bize Leroy (Burgundy), Marcel Lapierre (Beaujolais), Nikolaihof (Austria), Coturri (California), Cédric Bouchard (Champagne), Catherine and Pierre Breton (Central Loire), Movia (Slovenia), Lagvinari Krakhuna (Georgia), Paolo Bea (Umbria), C.O.S. (Sicily), Reyneke (South Africa), Cowhorn (Oregon), Thierry Puzelat (Central Loire)

7 Beer Blasts

Posted on | November 18, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Lower Octane Brews

Beers—craft beers, at least—aren’t as big as they used to be. Surprised? It’s a bit of a trick statement: While craft beer volume grows (up 10.2% while beer as a whole has risen only a paltry .6%) according to Nielsen, the style is moving away from big in intensity and alcohol. “I think there’s a bit of movement away from The high-gravity beers,” says Molly Gunn, co-owner of The Porter Beer Bar in Atlanta. So-called session beers—flavorful but moderate in alcohol so fans can drink more in a single sitting—are gaining, or regaining, their prominence in craft brewer portfolios.

It’s not just alcohol, but intensity, which can grow tiresome on the palate. For example, lightly sour Berliner-Weisse or Gose styles are featuring alongside the richer, barrel-aged sours that began surfacing a few years ago. “It makes sense that they’d try these styles; they are fresh and take less time to make,” says Gunn. A traditional Gose could have as little as 3-4% alcohol—eminently sessionable—and is gently seasoned with coriander and salt.

“We’ve been doing Gose for a few years now,” says Andy Hooper, Director of Operations at Anderson Valley Brewing in northern California, “and upped it to full scale two years ago. To make it larger scale took the course of a year to get it the way we wanted it, getting the salt level and sourness correct.” While these beers may not have the obvious bells and whistles of the extreme beers, they require just as much skill to make.

Lagers, too, pose great technical challenges, and today’s craft brewers are applying the skills developed stretching beer to its limits to these more subtle beers. “We launched the Helles Lager in 35 states and DC, and it’s being embraced at a brisk clip,” says Bill Covaleski, Brewmaster at Victory Brewing in Downingtown, PA. “There are two factors, palate fatigue and alcohol consumption. The Helles is 4.8%; a lot of beer is consumed on-premise, and people need to get themselves home.”


Soda: Taste of Nostalgia

Some of the brewers who are pursuing new “flavors” are looking to an alternative tradition: sodas. Small Town Brewery from Illinois hit the big time with its Not Your Father’s Root Beer, a beer spiced with sassafras, vanilla and anise, that took the brewery from nowhere to the sixth largest craft brewer in the U.S.; the beer was 3.3% of craft beer sales for the four weeks ending July 12th of this year, according to IRI. Success breeds imitation, of course. Sprecher’s, Rowdy Root Beer and soon Boston Beer Co.’s Coney Island Hard Root Beer are following in Not-Your-Father’s wake. MillerCoors is also diving into the alcoholic soda category with its Henry’s Hard Orange and Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale.


3 Mexican Magic?

Among the mass-market lagers (the beers that led craft brewers to pursue ales as an alternative a few decades ago) those from south of the border are thriving; Mexican beer is the only category keeping pace with craft beer in terms of growth. Corona Extra dominates, but Dos Equis as well as Negra Modelo are growing faster. Imports from elsewhere are seeking new footholds by diversifying.


4 Seasonals & Then Some

Newcastle started offering seasonal beers aside from its flagship Brown Ale a few years ago—to wit, the UK brewery, steered by the adept marketing hands at Heineken, fleshed out a lineup of Summer Ale, Winter IPA, Werewolf (red ale) and Founder’s Ale. Now Guinness has expanded their offerings as well. “Guinness has been making beer for 260 years,” explains Diageo Beer Director Emma Giles, “Arthur Guinness actually started with ales.” Guinness created the Brewers Project to explore that heritage, and the Blonde Lager, brewed using the same yeast strain as the flagship Stout, moved over a million cases after its introduction last year. The 1798 Ale will follow up on the 1759, an amber ale that also came out last year, and in September Guinness will also introduce a Nitro IPA, parlaying the company’s long experience with nitrogen draft systems. “We were looking at the IPA category and wondering what we can do with it that’s classically Guinness and different. It’s got that creamy mouthfeel and it’s made with five varieties of hops.”


5 Hi-Tech Drafting

Nitrogen draft systems are actually on the rise, according to Matt Meadows, Draft Beer Quality Chair at the Brewers Association and Director of Field Quality for New Belgian Brewing in Colorado. “Some people are into truly making a nitrogenated beer,” says Meadows, “some are not nitrogenating at the brewery, just putting it on a nitro tap. It takes a lot of work to do it the right way. A beer like the Left Hand Milk Stout is designed for nitro.”

On-premise, craft beer, nitro or carbonated regularly, is still a big draw. “The vast majority of our guests go for draft beer,” says The Porter’s Molly Gunn. “They’re searching for something they haven’t had before.”

Bigger brewers have driven a lot of innovation with draft of late. Heineken launched BrewLock, a 20L keg made out of recyclable plastic, in which the beer is stored inside an interior bladder. A small, customized air compressor exerts pressure in the area between the shell and the bladder, pushing the beer through the draught lines untouched, which keeps the beer fresh until the end and eliminates waste. BrewLock also made it simpler and cheaper for small restaurants to offer beer on tap without installing a full system.

Gunn notes that recyclable, single-use kegs like Key Kegs are helping build availability of rarer items, especially imports. “We have 50 draft lines and receive a good number of key kegs, but not more than 10%. We have recycling, so they just get crushed and go in recycling, and it’s easier not paying deposits [on returnable kegs].”


6 Grumbling About Growlers

Off-premise draft sales—that is to say, growlers—remain popular, even though many brewers have misgivings. “The growler is not the ideal way to consume beer,” says Meadows. “It’s a secondary vessel, and you’re losing carbonation and adding oxygen. It used to be brewers filling growlers; now it could be gas station attendants.” The Brewers Association has issued a two-page guide on how growlers should be used, and is pushing the industry to move to pressure-rated vessels to avoid accidents.


7 Quality Still Rules

Meadows says the big change in draft beer is not in beer selections, but in quality and consistency: “The Brewers’ Association Draft Beer Quality Manual was released in 2009; in the past six years we’ve seen a lot of progress.” The Manual was created by the Brewers Association together with the larger companies (including the recently conjoined AB-InBev and MillerCoors) and has set standards where before there were mostly opinions. Regulations in some states still make it hard for brewers to ensure their draft beer is served as they would prefer, but now the goal line is clear. 

Separate and Together

Posted on | November 18, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Working side by side in their new office, Winebow and Martin Scott Wines chart new territory in the fine wine wholesale game

David Townsend, The Winebow Group; Eric Celt, Martin Scott Wines; and Peter Ruggie, The Winebow Group

When Virginia-based The Vintner Group, which had purchased Martin Scott Wines in 2013, went on to merge with Winebow a year later—forming The Winebow Group— it meant that the two New York-based fine wine distributors would exist under one roof, figuratively. That cohabitation became literal over the summer when both companies moved into a brand new shared company headquarters in Manhattan’s Flatiron district.

“When the merger took place we had five separate offices between New York and New Jersey. There was so much wasted time traveling between them we needed to do something fast,” shares David Townsend, CEO, The Winebow Group.

Yet the conception and design of the organization’s new space aimed to do far more than simply create more room to fit employees. “While each company will remain separate, we can now share market intelligence and best practices,” Townsend explains. “Our new office allows us to be more creative, efficient and competitive. We now have the opportunity to take education to the next level, and to make our suppliers’ lives easier. You need to bring value to the relationship—it’s not just about a bottle of wine and a price.”

The light-filled, loft-like space is dominated by windows and features seminar rooms with audio-visual capabilities and moveable walls to host smaller or larger groups. A variety of open meeting areas and workstations are scattered throughout to accommodate impromptu meetings and the steady flow of people passing through. “It’s been revolutionary to have the brand management, marketing, sales and education teams all under one roof,” says Townsend, adding that the space is also a recruiting tool: “In this competitive environment, we need to have a cutting-edge space where people want to work.” Soon, The Winebow Group will also occupy an additional floor—11,500 more square feet—to welcome import and wholesale brand management as well as sales executives.


New & Improved Nerve Center

The move has been particularly transformative for Martin Scott Wines. “Our company now has a Manhattan presence for the first time—we had been in Long Island for 25 years,” says Eric Celt, Senior VP and General Manager, Martin Scott Wines. “Our 18 NYC sales reps stop by here often throughout the day, and it gives me a chance to hear what’s happening in the market and what our customers are saying. The constant feedback and communication are making our business infinitely better.”

David Kunicki, Vice president and Brand Manager, Martin Scott Wines (standing on left); Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière, proprietor of Domaine Bonneau du Martray (speaking); members of Martin Scott wines’
Brooklyn and Manhattan sales team

It’s a convenient hub for suppliers as well: “A lot of our producers fly all day to get here from overseas, and this is the first stop they make,” describes Peter Ruggie, Senior VP, The Winebow Group, Northeast. While Winebow’s prior office was just a few blocks away, it had limited usability: “We wanted a space that presented the proper image; a home away from home for our suppliers, where they feel comfortable and can even host meetings of their own.”

Customers and members of the press come and go, too, thanks to a crowded calendar of events and tastings. Celt adds, “We are raising the bar on tastings; we recently had buyers come to taste a range of Francis Darroze Armagnacs going back 50 years. This is something neither company could do before this move.”


A Merging—Not Melting—Pot

Before sharing an office, Winebow and Martin Scott Wines already had a lot in common. “We are both customer service-first organizations working with primarily family-owned wineries,” says Celt. “It’s empowering to come here every day and work with our peers at Winebow because we share the same values; this creates a super energetic environment.”

Being surrounded by an additional set of savvy wine professionals benefits every employee, adds Ruggie: “Not only do our reps gain a deeper understanding of the competitive landscape, they have increased access to the world of fine wine and craft spirits which makes them better sales people. Our employees love our products—sharing stories and experiences about wine is something they seek out on their own.”

The cross-pollination has gone both ways. Celt points to the software upgrades and enhanced selling tools, courtesy of Winebow, which have made a big impact. “We can now analyze information in a variety of new ways, and we are learning from Peter and his team how to work with this data,” he says. Ruggie credits the Martin Scott team with challenging Winebow to find better procedures for meeting NY compliance requirements, and to rethink the recruiting process. “Martin Scott has always done an excellent job of hiring great sales people and managing the subtleties of a fine wine culture—particularly with Burgundy,” he describes. “It takes a special person to have this sophistication and still have that sales gene to compete in the marketplace. Eric and his team have taught us a lot about this.”

Being in the same office space has ultimately strengthened both companies, Celt describes: “You leave here every day feeling that we are one company. Sharing this office has undoubtedly reaffirmed that position.”

Yet separate entities they shall remain, assures Townsend. Having a competitor in your midst—no matter how friendly—raises everyone’s game. “A lot of people were surprised that we really did want to keep the companies separate, but that we still wanted to be in the same space,” he says. “Each company has always had their own identity, and I want to keep that—we don’t want Winebow and Martin Scott to become the same.”


Rick Long, Senior Spirit Specialist, Winebow, New York State; Marilyn Krieger, Senior Director of Public Relations, The Winebow Group; Marko Babsek, Brand Manager, Winebow; Giuseppe Locascio, Vice President Portfolio Management, Leonardo Locascio Selections; Mike Esposito, Vice President and General Manager, Winebow, New York State

Pushing the Limits of Delivery

The company remains one of the few wholesalers in the business to own their warehouses and fleet of trucks. “It’s a huge advantage—our drivers are great, they interact with the customer almost as much as our sales reps,” explains Townsend. Winebow expanded their warehouse and added more drivers to accommodate the Martin Scott inventory—a huge upside for Celt and his team, who had always relied on third party warehouse and delivery. Even more critical was the extension of ordering windows by several hours. “In New York we used to cut our orders off at 3:00pm—at 1:00pm in Connecticut—and for many restaurants, this is just when they want to place orders, so this is a game-changer for our business,” Celt says.

Economies of scale have helped Winebow, too. “Bringing Martin Scott into the fold allowed us to expand to 38 routes in metro NYC, significantly build our upstate business, as well as offer Friday deliveries on the east end of Long Island,” says Ruggie. The move to accept Sunday orders for Monday delivery (Manhattan and Brooklyn only)—rare in the wine and spirits wholesale business—has exceeded even their most optimistic expectations. “We knew there was demand for this, but we did wonder how long it would take for this to become profitable, since it required a huge outlay in capital,” recounts Ruggie. “And it took just two weeks.”

Dispelling the Consolidation Myth

In addition to expanded delivery services and territories, the companies benefit from beefed-up marketing and PR outreach, and more education seminars. “People assume when they hear the word ‘consolidation’ that we would pull back on the things that made these companies unique and great, when in fact we are just building on and adding to that,” Townsend emphasizes. “A stronger sales force, more tastings, better delivery routes—these are the differentiators that make people want to do business with us.”

And this is just the beginning, he adds. Expect to see more value-creating innovation from The Winebow Group and its distribution houses: “In this business there are a lot of people telling you things you can’t do—I was told 20 years ago that distributors can’t go across state lines. Many said we couldn’t put Martin Scott and Winebow in the same office, or offer Sunday orders for Monday delivery. I want to be the company that knocks down barriers.” 


Everybody Loves Rosé Champagne

Posted on | November 18, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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With pink wine now soaring, rosé Champagne is gaining an edge on its peers.

It is now old news that rosé Champagnes (and rosé wines in general) are more popular than ever. The trend began around the turn of the century, and sales have been growing steadily since. My local retailer told me that 47% of the wines he sold this summer were rosés.

The reason? We have gotten over the “sweet” curse of white Zinfandel, and blush wines in general (these wines still sell, of course, to those people who prefer sweeter wines). One popular theory is that people started to realize that most rosé wines—particularly Champagnes—are not sweet, but dry, and not frivolous.

Going back a while, I can remember the time that a “real man” wouldn’t drink pink anything, especially Champagne; the myth was that “rosés are for ladies.” I never believed that trash, thank goodness, and have been enjoying rosé Champagnes for decades. I must admit, though, just from my own observation, that rosé Champagnes tend to be even more popular with women than with men.


A mere 15 years ago, rosé Champagne sales represented 2% to 3% of all Champagne sales. That figure has multiplied five-fold, with more than 10% of all Champagne sales now being rosé. And it seems to be increasing—despite the fact that rosé Champagnes are always more expensive than white Champagnes, at least $10 more, and often a lot more than that.

The price of fame can sometimes be costly. Or profitable, depending on how you view it. Let’s look at two Champagne houses that always championed rosé Champagnes, even before they were “in,” Laurent-Perrier and Billecart-Salmon. Pre-2000, Laurent-Perrier’s Cuvée Rosé Brut was the largest-selling rosé Champagne in the world; it retailed last century for about $35, sometimes less on sale. Laurent-Perrier’s style emphasizes fruitiness. When rosé Champagnes became hot, Laurent-Perrier for a while could not make enough; Rosé Brut became difficult to find. Nowadays, Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut retails for about $78 a bottle; its white non-vintage brut’s average price is $41, making that a $37 premium for the rosé! (Laurent-Perrier is no longer the largest-selling brut rosé; that honor goes to the largest Champagne house, Moët & Chandon, whose NV Rosé Imperial averages $58 retail).

Billecart-Salmon was the darling of so many rosé Champagne lovers, so much so that at one time an astounding 40% of this house’s Champagne sales were rosés (they normally produce at least 20% of their Champagnes as rosés, a very large amount compared to other houses). Its followers (including me, at that time) loved the light, delicate style of this salmon-colored rosé. It retailed for about $40 before 2000. Today, Billecart-Salmon’s NV Rosé’s average retail price is $87 (Billecart-Salmon’s NV Brut averages $57).

You might say that both Laurent-Perrier and Billecart-Salmon cashed in on the popularity of their rosés, big time, but they are the exceptions rather than the rule. For example, Moët’s white NV Brut Imperial averages $49; the NV rosé is just $9 more.

Surprising Value

Rosé Champagnes are more expensive than standard bruts not just because they are so popular. They always were slightly more expensive; it’s a costlier process making rosés compared to standard bruts. (The pink color of rosé Champagne typically comes from the addition of still Pinot Noir red wine, as opposed to red-grape skin contact; blind tastings have demonstrated the differences in taste between the two methods are negligible.)

Are they worth the extra money? My answer is a resounding “Yes.” Not only are rosé Champagnes delicious and really pretty to look at, but they also generally accompany food very well—better than most other Champagnes.

It’s no surprise to hear that the very best rosé Champagnes are quite expensive. But there are so many good rosé Champagnes being imported into the U.S now at multiple price levels—and the non-vintage examples recommended in the sidebar all fit into the $45-$80 SRP range, hardly a dealbreaker for consumers who have their sights set on the best of the best. (If you are looking for a sparkling rosé under $40, forget about Champagne. But Roederer Estate makes a really fine Brut Rosé in Mendocino County for under $30 SRP.)

Like other Champagnes, rosé Champagnes are made in different styles: they range from elegant and light, such as Billecart-Salmon and Perrier-Jouët Cuvée Belle Epoque, to full-bodied and powerful, such as Bollinger and Krug. My personal preferences lean toward light, subtle, floral and elegant. For example, I did not list Piper-Heidsieck’s Rosé NV Sauvage, which is intensely fruity; some people love it, but it’s not for me.

Note that there are far more NV rosés listed than vintage rosés; many Champagne houses do not bother to make vintage rosés because NV rosés are easier to produce.

There are still more fine rosé Champagnes out there, albeit often in small supply. Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Rosé 1999, for example, is over $100 and might be difficult to find at this point. If you can find it, you will love the 1999, but Charles Heidsieck’s 2006 Brut Rosé is readily available and excellent. Charles Heidsieck’s Rosé Reserve NV is a delight as well, a bit lighter and more floral than the typical robust style of Charles Heidsieck. Champagne Louis Roederer’s 2008 Rosé is one of the best Champagnes I have enjoyed in the past few years; lighter-styled than usual, it is an utterly delicious rosé.

Prestige cuvées, by definition, are the best Champagnes a producer makes. Most Prestige cuvées are made in small quantities, especially rosés. For example, only 5% of the already small production of Cristal is its rosé. Prestige Cuvée rosés are expensive; some are over $300 retail; the Cristal Rosé retails for $500 plus.

Are they worth the price? For me, three of the ones I list in the sidebar are worth the price in terms of quality: Cristal, Krug and Dom Pérignon. But frankly, since Cristal white is half the price of the rosé, I would choose it over Cristal Rosé. And for the price differential, again about half the price, I would choose DP white over DP Rosé. Krug is a different story….




Recommended Rosé Champagnes

Listed alphabetically, with top favorites in bold face




Bollinger Rosé

Delamotte Brut Rosé

Deutz Brut Rosé

Drappier Brut Rosé

Drappier Brut Rosé Nature (Zero Dosage)

Duval-Leroy Rosé Prestige

Fleury Brut Rosé

Gosset Grand Rosé Brut

Alfred Gratien Brut Rosé Classique

Charles Heidsieck Brut Rosé Reserve

Henriot Brut Rosé

Lanson Brut Rosé

Lanson Extra Age Brut Rosé

Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Imperial

G.H. Mumm Brut Rosé

Bruno Paillard Brut Rosé

Première Cuvée

Pascal Doquet Brut Rosé Premiers Crus

Perrier-Jouët Blason de France Brut Rosé

Philipponnat Brut Reserve Rosé

Ruinart Brut Rosé

Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé


Bollinger La Grande Année Rosé 2004

Deutz Brut Rosé Millesimé 2009

Charles Heidsieck Brut Rosé 2006

Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2006 or 2004

Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2008

Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé 2004

Prestige Cuvée

Gosset Célébris Rosé Extra Brut 2007

Alfred Gratien Cuvée Paradis Rosé NV

Krug Rosé NV

(Moët & Chandon) Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé 2002

Perrier-Jouét Cuvée Belle Epoque Rosé 2004

Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2004 or 2006

Ruinart, Dom Ruinart Rosé 2002

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne  Rosé 2004 or 2005

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rosé 2004

NYC Wine & Food Festival Celebrates 8th Year

Posted on | November 18, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Southern Wine & Spirits Trade Day Tasting Highlights the Grand Event

The eighth annual Food Network/Cooking Channel NYC Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE once again paid homage to one of the greatest dining cities in the world by bringing together the world’s greatest chefs, winemakers, spirits producers and personalities to educate palates and entertain attendees in high style.  The four-day festival (Oct 15th – 18th) featured over 100 incredible, star-studded events from large format walk-around tastings, to sophisticated brunches, lunches, cocktail parties, late-night soirées, and intimate dinner experiences with world-renowned chefs, and wine and spirits pairings. The most important aspect, however, was the outcome. With over 55,000 attendees, 183 sponsors, 150 NYCWFF team members, and over 3,000 volunteers, the event raised over $1 million for their charities, Food Bank For NYC and No Kid Hungry®.  
“Southern Wine & Spirits of NY is once again honored to be the exclusive wine and spirits partner of this incredible event. This  partnership allows our supplier partners the gold standard integrated marketing platform to expose their exceptional wine and spirits brands to 55,000 attendees consisting of celebrities, award-winning chefs, sports icons, trendsetters, industry movers and shakers, restaurant and retail professionals and their clients, and passionate consumers from around the globe while supporting and maintaining Southern Wine & Spirits’ corporate and social core mission commitment of giving back,” said Rosalinda Secondini, Director of Special Events for Southern Wine & Spirits of NY.
And, indeed they successfully did. Throughout the entire weekend including Friday’s Southern Wine & Spirits of New York Trade Day Tasting presented by Beverage Media Group at Pier 94, suppliers had the exclusive opportunity to showcase their brands to 7,000 restaurant owners, managers, beverage directors, sommeliers, retail owners, trade media, and other hospitality industry professionals in one place.  “We are extremely grateful and proud of our supplier sponsors who generously stepped it up this year in every way possible to create our best show yet,” continued Secondini. “Their generous participation and sponsorship made the difference in the quality and successful outcome of this year’s festival.” 



Penfolds House Returns to New York City

Posted on | November 18, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Treasury Wine Estates’ Penfolds House pop-up in Manhattan unveils latest in the portfolio

Penfolds recently transformed the Stephan Weiss studios in Manhattan’s West Village for the second iteration of the Penfolds House on October 21st and 22nd and took guests on a journey through the history of Penfolds. The two-day take over included educational seminars, tastings of current and back vintage Penfolds Collection wines and the unveiling of the highly sought-after Penfolds Grange 2011 at an SRP of $850 a bottle.

Tim Irwin, Senior Penfolds Senior Marketing Manager, led an investment seminar with a variety of panelists, including Charles Antin from Zachy’s, Jennifer Williams-Bulkley, founder and wine advisor for AOC, and Steve Lienert, Senior Red Winemaker for Penfolds. The seminar provided an opportunity to discuss wine as an investment as opposed to choosing wines to drink now, and included a sample of older Penfolds Grange and Bin 389.

Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Wine-maker, led guests through the Penfolds Collection wines that had only released globally the week prior in Shanghai. “This year’s collec-tion again reminds our winemaking team of the magic and unknowns of wine,” said Gago. “There’s still so much that we don’t know. Our 2013 reds have sig-nificantly transformed in bottle—grown, complexed, fattened—call it what you will. These wines make us smile and re-mind us of why we do what we do.”

The Penfolds House also included a Penfolds Grange room, uniquely revealing the story of how Grange was created and featured a tribute to Max Schubert, Penfolds’ first winemaker and father of Grange. Guests uncovered hidden facts about Penfold’s history with a virtual interaction wall of “Bins,” whose significant photo or quote was “unlocked” with infrared flashlights.

To close out the week, Penfolds and GQ magazine revealed the winner of the 2nd annual Best Dressed Sommelier competition at a private reception. Kyle Ridington, Chef Sommelier from Piora Restaurant in New York City, was chosen as the dapper winner. 


1. DLynn Proctor, Penfolds Winemaking Ambassador; Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker, Lily Lane, Penfolds Senior Public Relations Manager; Steve Lienert, Penfolds Senior Red Winemaker; Timothy Irwin, Penfolds Senior Brand Manager; and Robert Ord, Penfolds Winery Ambassador

2. Peter Gago, and That 70’s Show actress Laura Prepon (recently seen in Orange is the New Black)

3. DLynn Proctor and Steve Lienert unveiling the Penfolds Grange 2011 vintage during the Best Dressed Sommelier event

4. Marcus Samuelsson, celebrity chef; Kyle Ridington, Piora restaurant; Brett Fahlgren, GQ magazine; and Rachel Roy, fashion designer

5. The Penfolds Grange room told the story of how Grange came to be; guests uncovered hidden facts about Penfolds history with a virtual interaction wall

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