Swanson Vineyards – My Obsession!

How fabulous are these bottles of wine!?  A great gift for your next dinner party! I have not yet been, but Swanson Vineyards is on my list to visit the next time I am in Wine Country, CA!   Swanson adds a pleasant ‘girly sophistication’ to all of their bottles and products which makes them prominent and striking to the eye!  A great example of a winery taking the reins on their creative vision and bringing it to life in a very expressive and extremely unique way!  Click on the bottles to see the winery come alive!

About Swanson Vineyards 

Founded in 1985, Swanson’s Napa Valley winery crafts wines that elevate and glorify any occasion. Every bottle of their Oakville Estate wine charms the senses with velvety, luscious and distinctive character.
Fun Fact: Today Swanson Vineyards is one of the most recognizable and reliable Merlots, known for making a “Cab lover’s Merlot,” respectably priced!

Wine & Spirits Magazine Presents The 3rd Annual Top of the List Tasting

An amazing NYC wine event for all of my wine lovers and yet ANOTHER reason to sign up for a free newsletter from BlackboardEats.com to get the best deals on food and drink! Should be fun!

From BlackboardEats (exclusive discount):

Wine & Spirits Magazine is holding its 3rd Annual Top of the List Tasting on Tuesday, May 10, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC. This top-notch walk-around wine-and-food tasting event features great vino from more than 99 wineries (wineries listed below) and bites from 10 hot restaurants, including ABC Kitchen, Ai Fiori, and Ciano—plus oysters from Grand Central Oyster Bar, cheese from Artisanal, chocolate from La Maison du Chocolat, and lots more.

Tickets, normally a bargain at $65 per person, are being offered for to BBE subscribers exclusively for 30% off. And the ticket price even includes a one-year subscription to Wine & Spirits Magazine! But you have to act fast, as the discounted tickets are limited in quantity, and a passcode does not guarantee a ticket or discount!

List of Participating Wineries:

Acacia Vineyard
Alexander Valley Vineyards
Beaulieu Vineyard
Belle Glos
Beringer Vineyards
Brancott Estate
Cakebread Cellars
Castello Monsanto
Charles Krug
Chateau St. Jean
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Chehalem Winery
Craggy Range
Domaine Drouhin
Domaine Ramonet
Domaine Serene
Domaine Spiropoulos
Duckhorn Vineyards
Elk Cove
Evening Land Vineyards
Ferrari-Carano Winery
Fournier Père & Fils
Frank Family Vineyards
Freemark Abbey
Frog’s Leap Winery
Gai’a Wines
Groth Vineyards
The Hess Collection
J. Lohr Winery
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Joseph Phelps
Kendall-Jackson Vineyards
Kim Crawford
La Crema
Le Salette
Livio Felluga
Luigi Bosca
Maison Joseph Drouhin
Maison Louis Jadot
Marchesi Antinori
Marchesi di Barolo
Marqués de Cáceres
Merry Edwards
Nicolas Feuillatte
Nickel & Nickel
Obsidian Ridge
Orin Swift Cellars
Quinta do Noval
Ramos Pinto
Ridge Vineyards
Roederer Estate
Rombauer Vineyards
Santa Margherita
Silver Oak Wine Cellars
Simi Winery
Smith Woodhouse
Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards
St. Innocent
Stags’ Leap Winery
Sterling Vineyards
Taylor Fladgate
Trefethen Family Vineyards
W. & J. Graham’s
William Fèvre

Italy – A Lost Wine Generation?

In my previous post about the Italian wine region I was upset to stumble upon findings on what wine drinking in Italy has become… Wine drinking is losing its popularity amongst the younger population which has been apart of Italy’s tradition and  heritage for a VERY long time.

According to The Independent – Stats from the recent ‘Vinitaly’ show that ‘while 69 percent of Italians over the age of 65 say they drink wine every day, that statistic drops to 13 percent among Italians between the ages of 16 and 35.’  This is disappointing.  I may be jaded since now the US has the highest consumption rate in the world, but we need to help change this as wine is an essential when living and breathing Italy!  Maybe just my opinion but I feel it is a symbol of elegance, class, and relaxation in life for the Italians – wine could even be considered an institutional practice within Italy’s heritage!  It is that perfect pairing to perfect their meal that they take so much pride in… You can’t just stop tradition and quit wine!!

The article also stated:

“The drop was attributed to a number of factors including the fragmentation of Italian traditions, the cost of wine, and health reasons.”

“Italian families have become more and more fragmented in the last 10 years. They’re not eating meals together and so wine is no longer a form of food. Wine no longer has a nutritional function,” Giovanni Brunetti, a spokesman for market research firm Unicab, told the magazine.

The study also found that 30 percent of Italians no longer consider wine to be a symbol of national gastronomy.”

Over all, it’s sad to think that wine consumption in the youth of Italy is slowly dying.  I don’t believe it will fully die out however, it is important to keep up with your heritage and not forget traditions and what it means to sit down with your family for a meal and a glass of wine.  Not only does wine make you feel good, it is also a symbol for pleasure and communication!  Think about it, you enjoy wine and you inevitably talk about it with friends and family, you usually pair it with a meal and you talk about it… It almost serves as another form of communication that links us all… So let’s figure out how to get the youth of Italy back to where it was – consuming wine!  I will gladly go to help out! :)


Wine Essentials – Class # 3 – Italia

We finally took a glimpse into a remarkable wine region where one of my favorite wines is made (Montepulciano). It is one of the most popular wine regions, the most romantic, and most intriguing winemaking areas in the world… ITALY!  Italy is an extremely powerful region due to its heavy wine influence not only in the industry but through its loyal people.  A large part of it’s credentialing is due to its vast history in wine making, it’s picturesque towns and vineyards, and proud countrymen known for drinking A LOT of wine especially to complement every meal since Italian food is so irresistible and succulent.  In fact, it’s a great thing that Italy is known for their bold and deep bodied red wines since most of their food is pretty heavy and need a sturdy wine to balance out the taste.  If you want a nice and heavy chardonnay or Pinot Grigio – go to France however, Italy does make a great sparkling wine from Prosecco!

Like France, Italy also has a classificaiton system that standardizes and enhances the overall qualities of the wine.  This will also help you choose a bottle when going into a store and most certainly will dictate the price…

Italy’s Classification System:

- Vino da Tavola – Table wine made from a local winery with little to no standards; The Italy wine you find in jugs

- I.G.T – Denotes wine from a specific region in Italy; higher quality than table wines

- D.O.C – More defined than table wine and IGT; grapes are more specifically defined

- D.O.C.G – Similar to D.O.C the main difference is the DOCG needs to pass a blind taste test!

Tastings (wine’s I liked BOLDED)

Piemonte, Campari – Retails $22 (1st used in 1860 as medicine/tonic/digestive drink)

  • Notes: Smells citrusy; flavored alcoholic beverage with a distinct bitter flavor
  • Pairings: Usually mixed with soda water, grapefruit juice etc. sipped before dinner to gain an appetite or after dinner with a nice hard cheese – I will definitely serve this before dinner at a dinner party!

Fiano di Avellino, Feudi di San Gregorio 2008 – Retails $22 (Campania, Italy – Fiano Grape)

  • Notes: Smells very fruits almost like rich fruit juice; tastes stoney, with fruity long lasting finish, Bright and fruity with lemon
  • Pairings: Since it’s a medium bodied dry and elegant wine you could drink it with any sort of Mediterranean dish!

Orvieto Classico, ‘Poggio Calvelli’, La Carraia 2009 – Retails $20 (Umbria, Italy – Grechetto, Trebbiano, Chardonnay Grapes)

  • Notes: Smells of apple and bright citrus; tastes light with acid, green apple, bitter, stoney and a very refreshing white wine
  • Pairings: Great with an assortment of medium tasting cheeses – not too intense

Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Le Rote 2009. – Retails $14 (Toscana, Italy – Vernaccia Grape)

  • Notes: Old apple, floral and crisp smell; tastes sort of like a good Cali Savu. Blanc, very acidic with over ripe fruits and a woody taste
  • Pairings: Delicious with grilled chicken, assortment of medium-heavy cheeses

Dolcetta d’Alba, ‘Madonna di Como’, Marchesi di Barolo 2009 - Retails $25  (Piemonte, Italy – Dolcetto grape: lightest Italian grape) **Alba = Truffle region!

  • Notes: Smells of light cherry and berries; tastes have tannin, light berries, sour cherry, bright clean red wine similar to a light French red
  • Pairings: This medium bodied wine that is very well balanced would go with a simple pork dish

Aglianico del Vulture, Pian del Moro, Musto Carmelitano 2007 – Retails $35 (Campania, Italy – Aglianico Grape)

  • Notes: Smells smokey, earthy, dark cherry, plum; tastes a little chewy, tannins, rich dark wood and cedar, dried plums and smoking cherry stand out most
  • Pairings: This wine would go amazing with chocolate and hard cheese, big meats

Chianti Classico, ‘Aziano’, Ruffino 2008 – Retails $17  (Toscana, Italy – Sangiovese Grape) – 13% Alcohol

  • Notes: Smells of black cherries with a hint of chocolate; Taste is a light simple red wine with astringent tannin
  • Pairings: Amazing wine with pizza, simple pasta with tomato sauce – great price for a everyday well balanced wine

Brunello di Montalcino, Cantine di Palazzo, Altesino 2004 – Retails $53 (Toscana, Italy – Sangiovese Grosso Grape)

  • Notes: Smells very woody, rich with dark fruits; considered an “ambassador” of top quality Italian wines – tastes very rich in dark fruits, full of tannins with a balance of acidity
  • Pairings: A great pairing with rich dishes such as beef stew and barbecues

Valpolicella Classico Superiore, ‘Campo Santa Lena’, Villa Monteleone 2007 – Retails $16 (Veneto Italy – Corvina Grape)

  • Notes: Smells of dark fruits, dark cherry; Tastes very rich, dark fruit with a long lasting after taste, tannin that is strong and young in taste
  • Pairings: Hard italian cheese for an after dinner bite

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, I Saltari 2001 – Retails $60 (Veneto, Italy – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Molinara Grape)

  • Notes: Rich smells of dried plums and dried out grapes; rich in taste, earthy, oaky, dried fruit
  • Pairings: Great with an assortment of hard cheeses
Barolo Riserva, Borgogno 1996- Retails $72 (Piemonte – Nebbiolo Grape)
  • Notes: Brandy in smell, old dry gentle fruit; Tastes full of tannin, raisin, plumy
  • Pairings: Pairs well with veal or a stew

Bocca di Bacco… Wine on Tap!

Bocca di Bacco…. My go to wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen.  With an amazing atmosphere resembling a traditional and authentic italian wine bar, this diamond in the rough attracts the trendy West Villager’s along with the sophisticated Upper West Sider’s…  With wine barrels hanging from the wall, bottles of wine outlining every corner, and dim lighting, Bocca di Bacco is a great after work, relaxing wine spot where sitting at the bar splitting dishes and a bottle of wine is VERY enjoyable and casual!

At the bar the bartender was lovely and very helpful!  There are about 40 wines to choose from here (all italian) with small complementing assorted bites from an array of cheeses, meats, olives, and nibbles. They have an incredibly extensive Italian wine list where you can order many by the glass of 1/2 glass.

What I really love about BdB is that the majority of their wines are on tap which makes it easy to taste wines before ordering and always promises a fresh glass – you never risk getting a ‘corked’ glass! Phew!  I actually had a corked glass the other night, I thought I wouldn’t realize it even if I did… but I did – you can’t help but smell that strong moldy/corky smell in your glass – if this should happen – this is a case where you send your glass back without feeling bad about it!

So overall, a simple yet classic wine bar that is worth the venture over to Hell’s Kitch for!

Easter Wines – Happy Easter!

For all those celebrating Easter this Sunday, be sure to add a great bottle of wine that complements your meat filled feast.  We’ve been good about no meat on Fridays now let us indulge!  From Food and Wine Magazine see below!

Fact Sheet: Holiday Wines | Easter

10 Top Bottles


2002 Avery Lane Sauvignon Blanc ($7) From a Washington State producer with a remarkable commitment to value, this lively, medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc (in only its second vintage) has bright fruit and a well-integrated cut of citrusy acidity.

2002 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé ($27) A fruity but dry Provençal rosé is especially good with a salty ham. This bottling has the body of a red wine and the juiciness of a white.

2000 Museum Crianza ($14) This red from north-central Spain’s Cigales region is a lot like a lively, lightly aged Rioja. It’s medium-bodied with flavors of spicy black pepper and crushed plum.

2001 Potel-Aviron Morgon Château-Gaillard ($19) A fine Beaujolais may be the most flexible wine you can buy—able to complement heavy grilled meats but not so intense that it overwhelms lighter dishes. This elegant, fruity version is from dynamic Burgundy négociant Nicolas Potel.

2001 Le Serre Nuove di Tenuta dell’Ornellaia ($50) Grilled lamb is a Tuscan specialty, and this generous Italian red from the Tuscan region of Bolgheri is the meat’s perfect match—with soft, refined tannins and an appealing youthful suppleness.

An Intriguing Medicine Cabinet

I woke up this morning and received this fun email from my dad.  He’s been dying to contribute to winepugnyc and now’s his chance! Of course he sends through something that’s funny that relates to wine, however, I am obsessed with this wine cellar.  How amazing would this be in your home!  Something to strive for!! Enjoy!

“It has taken Doc many, many months of his retirement time, but he has just finished building our brand new Medicine Cabinet.  It is now complete.”  - Be sure to read the instructions too! :)

Disease Wine Daily Dose
Allergies Chardonnay de Pouf 1 glass
Anemia Graves 4 glasses
Bronchitis Bourgogne or Bordeaux (+ sugar and cinnamon) 3 cups
Constipation Anjou blanc electricity Vouvray 4 glasses
Coronary Arteries Dry Champagne 4 glasses
Diarrhoea Beaujolais Nouveau 4 glasses
Fever Champagne Sec 1 bottle
Heart Burgundy, Santenay Rouge 2 glasses
Uric Acid Gout Sancerre, Poully Fune 4 glasses
Hypertension Alsace, Sancerre 4 glasses
Menopause Saint Emilion 4 glasses
Depression Rhine 4 glasses
Obesity Burgundy 4 glasses
Obesity Rose Provence 1 bottle
Rheumatism Champagne 4 glasses
Excessive Weight Loss Chateau de Beaune 4 glasses

Moon Mountain Cabernet Franc – Delightful

My first pick from the Moon Mountain Vineyard Finest 2006 Reds Sample Case was a Cabernet Franc Estate Grown 2006 from Sonoma Valley.  I have never tried a Cabernet Franc by itself as I’ve always enjoyed the varietal blended in with a nice bordeaux.  I was extremely excited to open this bottle and was VERY pleasantly surprised!  The verdict – an amazing sipping wine that is casual yet very elegant in taste with it’s smooth finish and very luscious berries. Apologies for using the word “luscious” too often in this post however, it is the perfect word to describes the dark fruits that make up the taste of this wine.  Cab Franc – a great start to my exploration of Moon Mountain reds!


Smells of darker fruits plums, blackberries, and violets. In taste, plum, blackberry, smooth with tannins, very smooth mouthfeel. The luscious fruits most definitely stand out in this evenly complex wine. A very nice wine that you could sip on for hours.

Compared to a Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc has a slightly less tannic taste and tends to be much smoother.  Cabernet Sauvignon’s usually have a stronger finish with a much bolder taste.  Franc adds a nice balance of fruit and has that bold taste that is not too overpowering.

Notes from Wine Maker Carol Wilson:

High on the rugged Sonoma side of Mount Veeder, our volcanic soils, warm sun and cooling nighttime breezes are ideal for Bordeaux-style varietals.  They develop rich, complex flavors and deep color.  Cabernet Franc is ideally suited for out rocky hillside Estate Vineyard.  In the bright sunlight above the fog-shrouded valley, struggling mountain vines concentrate the ripe luscious flavors of each precious cluster.  We farm our Estate vineyard with intensive methods, producing the purest fruit to organic standards.

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