Savvy in the Sky: Defying the paradox of poor wine drinking at 30,000 feet in the air

by Simone Zarmati Diament


Paradoxically, as airlines pack in as many passengers as an aircraft can possibly handle by reducing the space allotted to each traveler, they are investing more and more money into their wine offerings.

However if they deliberately disregard the passengers’ comfort, they unwittingly ignore the fact that wines taste different in a pressurized cabin at 30,000 feet in the air.

It appears that pressure can numb the senses of taste and smell just like a head cold would, and that the constant din of the engines ebbs the perception of salty while enhancing the sense of sweet.

As a result, wines that are perfectly delicious and well-balanced on the ground can taste more tannic and acidic at a high altitude. What a quandary for the increase numbers of sommeliers hired by airlines to select the wines on board.


Photo: Terry Peabody in the cabin of his his private jet, a gorgeous and luxurious Dassault Falcon 7X.

This facts don’t seem to frazzle Terry Peabody, who sells a good percentage of the two million bottles he produces each year at hisCraggy Range Winery in New Zealand to airlines.


“The Emirate airlines is our largest single customer followed by Singapore airlines, and we are getting orders from more airlines… ” Mr. Peabody told me that morning, aboard his private jet, a gorgeous and luxurious Dassault Falcon 7X.












Photos: Kobrand's Jennica Ossi and Catherine Cutier, 2015 Craggy Range Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Martinborough, New Zealand; Simone Diament, editor

To prove that not all wines are alike - meaning that his do not falter when flying at high altitudes - Terry Peabody, the founder of Transpacific Industries and owner of Craggy Range Winery in New Zealand, had invited a group of journalists and wine trade members from Miami to sip his Craggy Range wines in the air while hopping over for lunch at the Ritz Carlton in the Grand Cayman. 

“We can go anywhere in the world with this plane and we invite journalists from London, Stockholm, Oslo, Geneva, for a day to another country to give them the opportunity to taste our wines in mid-air,” he said as he explained his program  "Savvy-in-the-Sky". That is when he is not flying to Canada or the USA on business trips relating to his multi-million dollar company.










Photos: Veronica Litton, chief wine buyer at Crown Wine & Spirits with master sommelier Virginia Philip, wine director at the Breakers Palm Beach, owner of The Virginia Philip Wineshop & Academy; Jorge Mendoza, wine director of the Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne; a view of Cuba (the jet's New Zealand registration allowed us to overfly the island.) 

Right after take-off, the complex floral, mineral, herbal aromas of the 2015 Craggy Range Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, from Martinborough, New Zealand ($21.00), hand-harvested from the estate-owned TeMuna Road Vineyards, filled the air, overpowering the smell of gasoline and of the jet’s new leather upholstery.

Mr. Peabody proved his point. The wine’s complexity of aromas and tastes – fresh green apple, honeysuckle, kiwi and more, its acidity, and its fragrant and lingering finish were all there. “Wait till we land and you sip it with food,” he said with a mischievous smile. He was right!









Photos: Terry Peabody on the Beach of the Ritz Carlton, Gran Cayman; a copious buffet; delicious callalloo soup, all foods superbly paired with the wines.  













While he lives in Australia and conducts his international business there, Mr. Peabody who is American by birth (he was born in Guam and raised in continental USA) was attracted by the affordable price of land and the uncharted spirit of New Zealand’s burgeoning wine industry. Harnessing the expertise of  New Zealand viticulturist and Master of Wine, Steve Smith, and partnering with him, he set out to find the best sites, the best clones, and the top wine people, to help him make great wines.

Craggy Range Winery was founded in 1997 with vineyards on the stony soils of the Gimblett Gravels District of Hawke’s Bay– a land owned by the cement cartel, and later on Martinborough, and now, with two winemaking facilities located in Hawke’s Bay, the winery produces Bordeaux red blends (from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot), Pinot Noir, Syrah, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé.

Craggy Range produces three lines of wines: The Family Collection, the Limited Editions – from single-varietal, single-vineyard estate grapes from parcel specifically planted for that purpose -  and the Prestige collection – a range of single varietals and blended wines from berries sourced from the Gimblett Gravels and the Te Muna Road vineyards.  

“Our Bordeaux blends can be aged for 40 year or more. We only produce single estate grown vineyard wines,” said Terry Peabody as he extolled the glory of his Pinot Noirs, light-bodied yet packed-full of complex and delightful flavors, and wished he would live a life as full and a long as his Le Sol,  “and we reduce our production by 50% to maintain the quality we want.”

The Craggy Range Winery wines we tasted:


2015 Craggy Range Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Martinborough, New Zealand ($21.00)

2014  Craggy Range Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Martinborough, New Zealand ($21.00)

2011 Craggy Range Kidnapper’s chardonnay, Hawke Bay, New Zealand ($22.00)


2011 Craggy Range Te Kahu, Merlot dominant Bordeaux Blend, Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ($22.00)

2012 Craggy Range single vineyard Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand ($45.00)

2013 Craggy Range Sophia, Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ($75.00) – Prestige collection

2009 Craggy Range Syrah, Le Sol, Gimblett Gravels Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand ($75.00) – Prestige collection

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A Hong Kong company has joined the ranks of Chinese wine estate owners in Bordeaux after securing a deal for cru bourgeois property Château Tour Saint-Fort.

Hong Kong company Long Fait International is believed to be only the second Chinese investor in the Bordeaux appellation of St Estèphe with its deal for Château Tour Saint-Fort.

The 14-hectare cru bourgeois property, formerly owned by Jean-Louis Laffort, is in the northern part of St-Estèphe near to Châteaux de Pez and Le Tour de Pez.

A price was not disclosed, but average vineyard prices in St-Estèphe were €350,000 per hectare in 2014, according to the latest data available from France’s Safer land agency.

Long Fait International joins Yi Zhu & Hongtao Yu, who bought Château Vieux Coutelin in St-Estèphe in 2013.
The deal also follows closely after Alibaba founder Jack Ma bought Château de Sours and serial Bordeaux investor Peter Kwok acquired Château Le Rey in Castillon.

Château Tour Saint-Fort was almost entirely destroyed during the World War Two. Previous owner Laffort recreated the property in 1992 by bringing together Cru la Tour du Château Pineau and parts of Château Saint-Estèphe. These parts were owned by the Calon family in the 18th century.

Eddie Yuan, of Langan Consulting, the agency responsible for the sale, told, ‘The purchaser has employed a former director of a Grand Cru Classé estate in St-Emilion to run the château. He intends to continue the current sales system with one third sold direct in France, one third through Bordeaux merchants and one third sold in China.’

Yuan also confirmed that Long Fait International wants to enlarge the estate to between 25 and 30 hectares and is in the process of looking for other St-Estèphe vines to purchase.

There are also plans to renovate the cellars and vinification buildings to assure a reception capacity for 30 hectares of vines. Lafghan Consulting was also responsible for the purchase of Château Loudenne by the Group Moutai in 2012.


The Quiet Man Irish Whiskey was just released in the U.S. in January. According to Luxco’s press release, The handcrafted Quiet Man is produced through Luxco’s partnership with Niche Drinks in Derry, Ireland, and is the first Irish whiskey bottled and blended in Derry in almost 100 years, since the Watts Distillery closed in 1921.



quietman3As for the story behind The Quiet Man whiskey, I naturally associated the whiskey’s name with the eponymous movie starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara (1952). But it is not just a marketing device. Actually, The Quiet Man brand is the creation of Ciaran Mulgrew, managing director and co-owner of Niche Drinks, and founder of The Quiet Man, who decided to create a whiskey to honor his father, John Mulgrew. “In more than 50 years behind the bar, my father saw and heard it all, but like all good bartenders, John Mulgrew was true to the code and told no tales. He was ‘The Quiet Man,’ or as they say in the pubs of Ireland, ‘An Fear Ciuin.’” Ciaran Mulgrew said.


 The Quiet Man is a selection of hand selected traditional Irish whiskey pot stills matured in oak barrels and recasked in first-fill bourbon casks, creating sweet and spicy notes.


Quiet Man BlendedThe Quiet Man is available in two varieties: The Quiet Man Traditional Blended Irish Whiskey and The Quiet Man 8-Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey, both bottled at 80 proof and sold in 750ML bottles.  

Just released in the U.S., The Quiet Man is currently available in Germany, South Africa, Canada and Ireland. Suggested retail price is $39.99 for the blended variety and $49.99

Quiet Man Whiskey – Traditional Blend 2016 - Proof: 80 $39.99

There is definitely a lightness of being in this Whiskey; from its pale gold color to its structure. A blend of grain whiskey and malt whiskey it has 40% alcohol and has been aged in old bourbon barrels.  

On the nose, it has floral, powdery vanilla and lightly toasted cereal notes with echoes of baked apples, figs and honey, white pepper, spices and oak on the palate. It mellows in the mouth into a light and pleasantly aromatic baked apple finish.

I had it neat right after pouring it with a Vinturi device, and again after it aired for fifteen minutes, which is when I enjoyed it best.  Having it on the rocks added complexity and helped open the flavors and roundness.  I can imagine it doing well in cocktails.


Cocktail Recipe: The Blarney Stone
* 1 ½ oz. The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Whiskey
* Ginger Beer
* 1 Lime
Optional: Copper Mule Mug
* Fill glass or mug with ice.
* Pour the juice of 1 lime and The Quiet Man Traditional Irish Whiskey over ice.
* Top off with ginger beer.
* Garnish with a lime slice.

Quiet Man Single MaltThe Quiet Man 8 Year Old Single Malt – Proof 80  $49.99

Light-bodied, pale gold and creamy, The Quiet Man 8 Year Old Single Malt was aged for 8 years in old Bourbon barrels, which explains the prevailing sweet and spicy aromas.

Its nose of spicy oak and flowery vanilla winds its way into notes of toasted spices, cedar wood, tropical fruit, vanilla and some citrus in the palate. It develops into a pleasant peppery ginger and honey finish.

I poured it through the Vinturi aerator which mellowed the whiskey in my glass and enjoyed it neat, at room temperature, which is when the flavors are more pronounced. I tried it on the rocks but preferred it straight.  

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, The Quiet Man - true to the code and telling no tales - is definitely something to toast with.

Thinking about Thanksgiving? There is nothing better than the gathering of family, friends, a delicious meal and great bottles of wine over the long weekend. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and this year it’s all about being prepared for the big moments.

Here is a list of wines, red and whites, recommended to pair with a wide range of foods at the ideal price point  or around or under $15.00. These wines are great for both a large dinner table with lots of guests and to have by yourself, at dinner or as an aperitif. All are great quality and value for the price and would definitely compete with higher priced wines in a blind tasting.


Antinori’s 2011 Tormaresca Neprica, Italy ($11)A silky, full-bodied ruby-red blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and SantacristinaCabernet Sauvignon thus the wine's name NePriCa from the Puglia region (the heel of the boot)  in Southern Italy. Intense notes of red fruits, black-cherry  and violet on the nose and on the palate it is soft and juicy with velvety tannins, balanced acidity and a long finish. It is called Tormaresca for the many towers that line the coast along the Adriatic.

Santa Cristina 2014 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT, Italy ($12)If you are looking for a lighter option to pair with a diverse group of dishes, this lively yellow wine has a delicate bouquet of orange blossom and tropical fruit. It is refreshing and versatile with delicate fruit aromas and excellent minerality. A remarkable and lively dry white, it pairs well not only with pumpkin but with a variety of poultry and seafoods as well as fresh salads and vegetable dishes.






From Argentina:


Argentina is a wine country in transformation. Much has changed in recent years. New grape varieties are discovered or introduced, traditional varietals are used to produce fabulous wines.  The wines of Nieto Senetiner, located at the foot of the Andes in the famed Vistalba Valley and the estate of Lujan de Cuyo known for low rainfall, high altitudes, vast temperature swings that develop the highly concentrated flavors of its generous wines:

Nieto Senetiner Camilla 2014 Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina. ($10) Deep red in color with aromas of ripe plum and berry jam, it has elegant and balanced flavors with soft tannins and a long, clean, finish.

Nieto Senetiner Camilla Cabernet Sauvinon 2013, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina ($10).Intensive ruby color with ripe red fruit and a hint of spice that extend to the palate, accompanied by soft and elegant tannins and a long, juicy finish.

Nieto Senetiner Torrontés 2014, Cafayate, Salta, Argentina ($15)  This white wine is king in the southern hemisphere and Cafayate is the only terroir in the world that produces this quality of grape.   Intense aromas of citrus, white flowers and rose petals mingling with notes of  ripe pear and white peaches with an expressive acidity and vibrant minerality ideal for any meal, from start to finish.

Try these as well:

Nieto Senetiner 2013 Bonarda  Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina ($13) Bold flavors of blackberry, cherry, plum and spice.

Nito Senetiner 2014 Pinot Noir, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina ($13)

Nito Senetiner 2013, Cabernet Sauvingon, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina ($13) 

Nieto Senetiner 2013 Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina ($13)

Don Nicanor 2012 Malbec, Lujan De cuyo ($19)

From Chile :

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Chile  ($12)

Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile ($12)



CaMontiniFrom Italy, Balanced and elegant :

All well under $15, the following wines taste as if they were expensive. Most come from single vineyards and are the result of a FarmersOfWine Pugliaproject intended to showcase different outstanding wine regions of Italy.

Ca' Montini Pinot Girgio, Terre di Valfredda, Trentino, North of Italy ($12) Hand harvested graopes from single vieyard area called Valfredda, this wine is vinfied by one of the best winemakers in Italy, according to Wine Spectator. The wine is well-structured and elegant, crisp and vibrant with notes of apple and citrus on the nose and palate with nicely balanced fruit and acidity.  It pais with a wide variety of dishes from seafood and fish to soup and egg pudding. 

Farmers of Wine Italian Red Blend, Puglia, Italy ($12) To the farmers who grow Negroamaro, Primitivo in the centuries-old tradition of Puglia, this wine is the quintessential red. Deep ruby color with intense bright aromas, a Fruity flowery bouquet and a fat jammy mouth-filling body, this is an ideal wine for any meal.

Voga Prosecco, Conegliano, Treviso, Italy. ($15) Made from 100% glera, this easy going prosecco is crisp, clean and refreshing, with a fruit nose and glavors of ripe apricots and peaches. Great on its own, with antipasti and aperitifs mixed with cocktails as well as cakes and desserts

Voga Italia Red Fusion, Salento, Campania, Italy ($13.99) A blend of Primitivo (the old world's Zinfandel) and Cabernet Sauvignon, this big red bursts with blackberry, cherry and raspberry flavors, with hints of mint and herbs and a touch of oak. Fabulous with heartier fare, from Turkey  and stuffing to meats and chocolate cake.

Voga Italia Pinot Grigio, delle Venezie, Italy ($13.99). A lush Pinot Grigio is rich with crisp and fresh aromas of green apples and ripe pears. It pairs with seafood and poultry - your turkey - as well as pastas and Asian foods.VOGA RedFusion

VOGA PinotGrigio

VOGA Prosecco

Blue Point Brewing Company, a small brewery crafting a large selection of beers in Patchogue, Long Island, wins kudos at 19th Annual Great International Beer & Cider Competition, Providence, Rhode Island.
Six hundred eighty (680) beers and ciders from breweries and cider houses across the U.S. and from around the world entered the 19th Annual Great International Beer & Cider Competition held one day before the 22nd Annual Great International Beer Festival competition. One hundred-twenty (120) professional brewers, beer industry professionals and beer journalists acted as judges in a blind-tasting format. First, second and third place awards were presented.  
The no. 1 winner in the Lager Category:  Wet Hop Pilz - Blue Point Brewing - Patchogue, NY; no. 2 -Lagerhaus - Fort Hill Brewery - Easthampton, MA
The no. 1 winner in the Amber/ Dortmunder Lager Category:  Toasted Lager - Blue Point Brewing - Patchogue, NY; 2 - Red Flag - Fort Hill Brewery - Easthampton, MA; 3 - Saranac Adirondack Lager - FX Matt Brewing - Utica, NY
At a Beer and food pairing at the restaurant and bar 3030 Ocean in Ft Lauderdale-- the last of Seafood and Suds tour, beer/food pairing dinners across the United States with sophisticated and delicious dishes prepared by Chef Paula Da Silva and hosted by Mark Hegedus, President of Blue Point Brewing Co Blue Point Brewing Co beers from Patchogue, Long Island – Blue Point oysters quivering in their shells, lip puckering ceviche, tuna tartare, corn chowder, hog fish tacos and desserts with luscious dark beer, prepared by chef Paula Da Silva paired superbly with Blue Point Brewing Co.  brews like Mosaic Session IPA, Toasted Lager, Wet Hop Pilz ,Summer Ale, Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout, Hefeweizen, Old Howling Bastard,,Winter Ale.and more....  
Mark Hegedus, President of Blue Point Brewing Co. was at hand to present the award-winning brews of his company, operating in Long Island since 1985, now a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch.
Address: 161 River Ave, Patchogue, NY 11772 a block south of the Long Island Rail Road tracks.
Hours: Hours for brewery tours and for the tasting room are 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Tours and tastes are free. Half-gallon jugs  of all brews and six-packs of Toasted Lager are available.
Information: (631) 475-6944 or at   


















When Grand Marnier’s Master Distiller Patrick Raguenaud came to Miami to promote Grand  
Marnier’s the Grande Cuvée Collection
he threw a cocktail reception followed by a Grande Cuvée Tasting paired with American Cheeses at Crown Wine & Spirits, on Coral Way.

Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge ($40) is a aromatic orange-flavored cognac liqueur created in 1880 by Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle. It is made from a blend of Cognac from the six different crus regions of Cognac; Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires, --Grande Champagne being the best and the most prized cru in Cognac--, distilled essence of bigarade, a bitter orange especially imported from groves in the then French colonies like Haiti as well as in Curaçao, and sugar from canes and beets.

marnier4 “It is all in the dosage of distilled orange liqueur and the blend of cognacs” went on Mr. Raguenaud whose family has owned vineyards in the region of Cognac since the 100 year war (1337 to 1453).

“The oranges are picked green, like bananas,” explained Mr. Raguenaud, “Only the skins are used to extract their oil which is in turn distilled to a formula that never changes in order to maintain the constant characteristics of Grand Marnier.”

Aside from Cordon Rouge, the Grand Marnier Grande Cuvée tasting line included Cuvée du Centenaire ($200) – a blend of refined XO cognacs from the best crus of Grande and Petite Champagne aged up to 25 years created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the House of Marnier Lapostolle;  Cuvée 1880 ($350), a distinct blend of cognacs from Grande Champagne aged up to 60 years in a Belle Époque-inspired bottle; and Quintessence ($900), a blend of the most precious cognacs from the private reserves of the Marnier Lapostolle family, aged up to 100 years.

All of the Grand Marnier liqueurs can be consumed "neat" as a cordial or a digestif, and can be used in cocktails and desserts such as Grand Marnier frozen soufflé (Chef Anne-Sophie Pic), Crêpes Suzette and "crêpes au Grand Marnier". César Ritz (1850–1918) reportedly came up with the name "Grand Marnier" for Marnier-Lapostolle, who in return helped him purchase and establish the Hotel Ritz Paris.




                                                              Read more in:
Wine is increasingly becoming a major priority for flyers (CNN dubs them “oeno-flyers”), and airlines are investing more and more time and money into hiring expensive sommeliers to curate their wine offerings.
But it’s not as simple as good wine on sea level = good wine at altitude. Sommeliers need to rethink their methodology in selecting wines for planes.
Delta’s Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson gave us some insight as to what it takes to curate wine selection for 30,000 feet in the air — which, among other things, involves taste testing at altitude.
“Your senses are dulled at altitude, making it difficult to appreciate the complex scents and flavours wine has to offer,” she said. “In addition, the lower atmospheric pressure — versus tasting on land — means those flavour molecules are jetting past your sensory receptors so fast, you miss a lot.”
Much like having a cold, the pressurised cabin and its dry air numbs your taste buds, and compromises your sense of smell by drying out your nose. Since flavour is a combination of both (in fact, almost 80% of taste is based on smell) things taste different on a plane. Apparently, our sense of salty and sweetcan drop as much as 30%on a plane.
A new studyalso found that loud noise, like that of an aeroplane, can affect taste as well, making some flavours more intense, and dulling others, like sweetness. It’s one of the reasons that tomato juice is a flyer fave: the umami taste of tomatoes is said to be enhanced by the cabin noise.
Wines have a tendency to taste more acidic and tannic at altitude. According to Robinson, “strong, gritty tannins don’t show as well. Whites with a tart flavour profile also aren’t as appealing at altitude as more opulent styles.”
This means that sommeliers must select fruity wines that are low on both acid and tannin, and this minefield of flavour and perception changes is why airlines hire professional sommeliers. Robinson must navigate the changes altitude and noise cause in our palates to select wines that will remain balanced in the face of these unsteady conditions.
Robinson conducts taste tests — both on the ground and at altitude — to find varietals and blends that perform well. According to her, red wines with bottle age are good at altitude but the trick is finding the right vintage. She says that while most customers enjoy a red Bordeaux with pedigree, she looks for Bordeaux back vintages “that show more generous fruit, fragrance and harmony at altitude than the current vintage.”
Other reliably tasty wines at altitude include Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva wines.
“Bottle-aged flavours in reds show really well — such as the leathery-mushroom-y notes of aged Bordeaux, Burgundy, Spanish Rioja and Rhone varietals. Also the smoother, resolved tannins on bottled-aged reds and on Pinot Noir work well in the drier cabin environment,” Robinson explained.
However, once a wine has been identified that works well at altitude, Robinson must ensure that wineries can supply Delta with enough bottles — no easy feat considering that Delta served 2.8 million bottles of wine on board in 2014.
A safe bet? Sticking to Bloody Marys.


mionetto.rose2Sparkling rosé is the third fastest growing sparkling wine category and has seen 11.3% growth over the 52-weeksmionetto.rose period ending July 18, 2015, according to Nielsen.

And Mionetto, one of Italy’s foremost Prosecco producer for over 125 years, with a reputation for quality, tradition and innovation has stepped up to the market’s demands. This year, the winery, founded in 1887 by Francesco Mionetto in the small village of Valdobbiadene in the heart of the Prosecco region north of Venice, is including the Gran Rosé to its Prestige Collection.

"The expansion of our Prestige Collection is not only a response to the market request," states Enore Ceola, Managing Director of Mionetto USA, "but demonstrates our innovation as an Italian sparkling producer."

Mionetto prosecco Prestige Gran Rosé Extra Dry is now available in the USA in two sizes: 750 ml - $14 and 187 ml - $5. 

Mionetto Prestige Gran Rosé, Valdobbiadene, Italy (750 ml - $14 and 187 ml - $5). This tasty, refreshing Prosecco, 11.5% alc., with a gorgeous pink hue, inside out (the label is pink too), offers persistent bubbles and notes of pink grapefruit, pomegranate and black currant, with a hint of wild floral rosé and aromas of golden apple and  white peach.  A well-balanced acidity provides a fresh and lively mouthfeel with a clean dry finish.

A perfect aperitivo, it definitely meets the market’s demands for rosés to pair with richer foods, from appetizers to grilled fish and fowl.

sancerreSaget la Perrière is a 9th Generation family owned and managed winery in the Loire Valley and has belonged to the Saget group since 1996. Under the leadership of brothers  Jean-Louis and Christian, the company which owns 99 acres of Sauvignon Blanc and 10 acres of Pinot Noir in the AOC Sancerre,  strives for the best expressions of Sauvignon Blanc – Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé – and Pinot Noir.

Their domaines in Verdigny-Sancerre spread out in the most prestigious and most beautiful appellation in the Loire, renowned for both its terroir, its wines and for the magical site where the winery stands and where the vineyards are grown.  Magical because the wines are aged in a 200 million years old cave where generations of troglodytes thrived before history even began, and which can be visited today.  

For their Vin de France designation  utilized for the La Petite Perrière, Saget sources grapes from their estate vineyards in Touraine as well as from multiple regions in France, notably the south of France.  The fruitiness of the varieties grown in the south balances perfectly well the acidity of their northern  (Loire) counterpart. 

Domaine de la Perrière Sancerre 2013  $25.99 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the 106 acres of the estate’s Sancerre vineyards, located in the flinty soil districts of Bannay, Verdigny, Saint-Satur, Crézancy and Vinon, natural fermentation  and three months aging in fine lees results in a pale yellow color wine with green hues. On the nose there are grassy and floral aromas mixed with citrus fruit. On the palate, a stark minerality is balanced with freshness and depth with an exquisite ending of white flowers and lemon zest. Pairs perfectly with seafood and shellfish, ceviche, sushi  and Asian cuisine.  Alcohol: 12.5%

Le Domaine Saget Pouilly Fumé 2012 - $ 28.99 A well rounded wine, powerful and elegant;  crystal clear with pale gold highlights, with floral notes mixed with tropical fruits on the nose and a well- balanced acidity in the palate with luscious aromas of mango, lychee, pear, and white peach.  Its long and lovely finish ends on an exquisite fresh note. Alcohol: 12.5%

sancerre.roseLa Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc 2013-  $12.99. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the best selection of vines from Saget Perrière’s own estates vineyards in the Loire Valley and their long-term partners in the South of France. Straw gold with green highlights it has an intense nose of fruits, flowers and spices with a mineral background. On the palate, it is lively with a vast range of aromas from honey and mint to pear, peach and summer fruit.

La Petite Perrière Pinot Noir 2013-  $13.99.  100% pinot noir grapes sourced from the estate vineyards in Touraine (Loire Valley) and from the South of France.  A bright and intense burnished garnet, this wine has a typical “Pinot Noir” nose with cherry, plum aromas and a hint of violet, a well-balanced structure between acidity and silky tannins and a mouthful of red stewed fruits and spices.  Great with fowl and grilled meats as well as cheeses and some desserts.  

La Petite Perrière Rosé-  $13.99 100% Pinot Noir.  Beautiful pale salmon shade this wine is intense and elegant on the nose with floral and fruity notes accentuated by the fragrance of rose petals.  On the palate it is fresh with a lively acidity and a wide array of summer aromas of  raspberries, strawberries, red currants and violets. Pairs well with all types of food, best enjoyed young. Alcohol: 12%


This is a "Casatiello", made with ham, cheese and bread dough, studded with eggs. A typical Easter bread in Campania. It was baked specially to host us journalists - participants of the Campania Stories 2015 - by Rossana Lonardo, wife of Sandro Lonardo, owner and winemaker of Cantine Lonardo, Contrade di Taurasi, in the heart of the DOCG appellation of Taurasi, in the hilly volcanic region of Irpinia in Campania.

On a visit to the Lonardo's house on a wintry day in March, the bread, a hearty bowl of pasta and veal grilled on the chimney coals, were a foil to the superb
Contrade di Taurasi is a family-owned five-hectare farm that the Lonardo Family cultivates organically on a volcanic soil with a low yield per hectare.  

Professor Alessandro (Sandro) Lonardo, a retired teacher of Latin and Literature, returned to his birth place in the ancestral family estate established in the heart of Taurasi for umpteen generations, and with his wife’s encouragement began planting vines in the rich volcanic agricultural land that had seen history, cultures and powers come and go, thrive and shrivel like seasonal fruit.  The brand “Contrade di Taurasi” was born in 1998.
But being a teacher by trade and the father of two academicians: one daughter is a scientist, the other an archeologist, Sandro was convinced that wine, like people, can be brought to higher levels of quality and performance through work, research and hands-on experimentation.   Sandro knew he could work hard, but he also realized that he had so much time left to grow good vintages.  
So he tapped unto the knowledge and experience of departments of oenology at The Federico II University of Naples and the University of Palermo, to improve on the traditional vine-growing technique and the new agronomical and oenological techniques while maintaining a strict organic philosophy both in the fields and in the cellar. 
The result are gorgeous, elegant handcrafted wines,  with a purplish hue, a nose of cherries and prunes and a silky mouthful of ripe fruit with hints of tobacco, leather, red underwood fruit  and wild herbs, tannings tempered by a lively acidity and a long, long finish.  The grapes are all sourced from the Lonardo estate, and the wines earn highly-prestigious medals and awards, nationally and internationally.
Aglianico is the most important native grape variety in Taurasi and at the core of the Taurasi DOCG appellation and produces hisAglianico, the  Taurasi Riserva, which is only produced on peak harvest years (I had the privilege of tasting the phenomenal Taurasi Riversa 1999) , the table wine Aglianico Irpinia DOCand the incomparable single vineyard  Vigne D’Alto, which I also had the privilege to taste with Sandro and his wife.
But The Grecomusc’ is in its own league and deserves a special word.  

The Lonardos are the only winemakers producing this amazing white wine!  It comes from native ungrafted vines, taller than man, with gnarled branches, thick trunks, and roots that burrow as deep as time into the many layers of lava and clay. 

It tastes like no other wine and every drop of the yellow greenish wine draws from ancient times. An ample nose of passion fruit and citrus gives way to a deep minerality and sulfurous whiffs. In the mouth, it deploys in all in richness with a lively, young acidity and complex tannins.  This wine can stand to any food, from rich boar to delicate pear tart!


Organic farming makes for delicious wines especially when grown in the superb Chianti Classico terroir of Bibbiano,

Castellina in Chianti, overlooking the medieval city of Siena and the fabled towers of San Gimigniano. The estate grapes - Sangiovese, Colorino and Sangiovese Grosso - are hand-harvested and vinified in stainless steel, cement vats and French oak. All are DOCG.
Bibbiano Chianti Classico 2013 Sangiovese 95% and Colorino 5%. Surprising and delicious nose, unmistakably Chianti with fruity notes and aromas of red fruit;well-balanced, fresh and versatile on the palate with all the chianti characteristics. Another surprise: fermentation and maturation were in cement vats, followed by 3 months on the bottle. No wood whatsoever!

Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva Montornello 2012 . 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard: Montornello. Elegant, mineral with lots of fruit and spicy notes of black pepper, tobacco and cocoa. Sweet tanins tempered by a lively acidity. Long finish in the mouth.  Maceration on the skins followed by fermentation in French oak for 18 months and 4 months in the bottle.

Bibbiano Gran Selezione Vigna del Capannino 2011 - 100% Sangiovese Grosso. This wine represents all that the winery stands for: elegance, purity, intensity and deep and complex flavors. Barrel fermentation for 24 months and in the bottle for 6 months give this ruby red, full-bodied wine an intense nose of black and red fruit with spices, tobacco, cocoa and some minerality.  Well structured and elegant with silky tannins and plenty of complex fruit and minerality.
The wines pair superbly with food, from antipasti, pizza, risotto, grilled meats and fish to desserts as proven at a winemaker's luncheon at Cecconi's, Miami Beach. 
Simone Diament's photo.

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SNAKE RIVER VALLEY, Idaho - It is Idaho's fastest-growing agricultural industry, bringing millions and millions of dollars into the state every single year, and it is not potatoes. It's wine. Also, the changing climate elsewhere could drive more winemakers to Idaho.
Business Is Booming
Right now, at Koenig Vineyards along the Snake River near Marsing, workers are busy, and cramped.
"We're just constantly trying to make room for more wines," says owner Greg Koenig.
Koenig built their current facility a few years ago. But, thanks to his business and the overall demand for Idaho wine growing so quickly, he's already outgrown his building. "The good news is that people are really starting to get excited about Idaho wines."
The Bad Old Days
But, it wasn't always that way. In fact, a few decades ago, Idaho wine was part of a famous joke in "The Muppets Movie," where Steve Martin (playing a waiter) spits out "One of the finest wines of Idaho," sparkling muscatel.
As you might imagine, executive director of the Idaho Wine Commission, Moya Dolsby, doesn't think that's too funny, "Isn't that awful? People are still talking about it. Justin, stop talking about it!"
I will. Because, there's been serious growth in the Idaho wine industry. As Dolsby points out, "Idaho is more than just potatoes."
From 2008 to 2013, the number of Idaho wineries has increased from 38 to 51. The number of wine jobs has grown from 625 to 1,226. And, the industry's economic impact in the state has more than doubled, from $73 million to $169.3 million. But, it's not just about the amount of wine being produced. The quality is also improving.
Koenig says, "We talk about 20 years ago as being the bad old days when we couldn't even get people to try our wines. Now, people are coming to us and asking."
Dolsby says, "Now, I feel like I don't have to beg restaurants to try wine."
Koenig is the first Idaho winery to score a 90-plus rating from Wine Spectator, and they did it on three different wines. In fact, wineries across the state are winning big awards.
Things like that get Dolsby excited. "That's awesome. That's huge. That's like, 'Yes! We're doing it!'"
Warming Up To Idaho Wine
But, what about Idaho is helping vineyards grow? And, what's drawing other winemakers to Idaho? Dolsby says, plenty, "It's something different, new... resources, water, land, it's more affordable."
"Wine is all about soil and climate," says Koenig. "The modern Idaho wine industry is here only because of the climate for what people can grow. There are only a few places in the world where you can grow good wine grapes."
And, those places are changing, because their climates are changing.
"Idaho, like much of the Northwest and the globe, has warmed just over a degree fahrenheit over the past century," says John Abatzoglou, PhD. and climatologist at the University of Idaho.
A degree may not sound like much. But, Dr. Abatzoglou says that has allowed perennial crops, like wine grapes, to better survive the Winter in Idaho. He also says it's increased the growing season by two weeks, opening Idaho's doors to more types of crops, "That includes a lot of the crops, such as wine grapes, and other sorts of fruits."
Meanwhile, the same climate changes in America's most highly-regarded wine region, Northern California, could make it too hot and dry for some varieties of grapes down there. Dr. Abatzoglou says that means, growers could bring them to Idaho, "It's possible that many of these crops will be able to take refuge in the Northwest, including parts of Idaho by the mid 21st-century."
Unlimited Potential
The climate, along with Idaho's soil and affordable land, is why Idaho's wine industry is poised to continue to grow, ripen, and pour into other areas of the state.
Koenig says, "The potential for Idaho wine is really unlimited at this point."
Also, June is Idaho wine month. That features Savor Idaho, event where hundreds of people will gather at the Botanical Gardens to taste Idaho's finest wine and also some food.

Global total volume growth remains subdued for a second year running, setting it up to be among the three lowest in the last decade, writes Spiros Malandrakis, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International.

The global drinks market is subdued and uneven, but craft beer and non-Scotch whiskies are performing well.

Beyond the usual Western European patient that ended the year flat-lining, the Chinese slowdown – at just 1.2% growth – is now the most sobering growth figure coming out of the country since the 90s.

Russia’s on-going macro and geopolitical travails – culminating in a nigh apocalyptic decline of 6% for 2014 – weigh heavily on the global landscape.

But as the seemingly unstoppable emerging market engine begins to stutter and stall, North America shifts back into focus with total volume growth for the year at 1%, up from a poor 0.3% in 2013, if still some distance from the exuberance of the past.

Winners and Losers

Geographic diversification – or lack thereof – remains one of the defining factors determining top line success or failure. It is within that context that categories like Cognac and vodka suffered disproportionally due to their over-reliance on a single market or region, with China and Russia exerting their immense gravitational pull to drag their global growth rates lower.

With Cognac registering total volume growth of just 0.4 % and vodka declining by 5%, it was second-tier markets beyond their core strategic bastions that provided, or could yet provide, some respite. For example, Cognac’s belated shift of focus towards the US and mass market varieties has already planted the seeds of an American renaissance for a category otherwise trapped in a gilded cage of luxury and nouveau rich extravagance.

On the other hand, the on-going pivot towards brown spirits and select varieties within the whisky stable underscores the still untapped opportunities even in otherwise terminally mature markets.

Heritage, authenticity and craftsmanship solidified their position as key drivers for whiskies but some fared better than others. Bourbon, Irish and Japanese whiskies – witnessing spectacular total volume rates of 5%, 8% and 7% respectively – stole the limelight from Scotch, which was eclipsed in terms of innovation and relevance to the millennial demographic alongside key Scotch distillers’ overoptimistic assessment of the emerging market mantra.

There were winners and losers across all categories.

In beer, beyond the ever-rising tide of craft offerings across the globe, imported premium lager, ale and non-alcoholic variants proved to be the star performers at the same time that imported mid-priced lager suffered the most – a reiteration of the relevance of polarization, craftsmanship, diversification and exoticism as the key drivers across the alcoholic drinks landscape.

Drinks and cocktails

Cider, seemingly insulated by recessionary forces, macroeconomic volatility or even evolving drinking patterns, continued enjoying solid total volume growth of nearly 9% on a global level, as the western European core markets gradually take a back seat to the skyrocketing North American success story.

Lastly, RTDs reiterated their dominant position over retreating high-strength premixes. Even though Bud Lime-A-Rita’s explosive trajectory in the US got inevitably reacquainted with gravity, strong growth in Asia Pacific secured an overall healthy performance of 2.7% for the overall RTDs/high-strength premixes category.


audrey b3


Young, talented and passionate, Audrey Braccini’s slender fingers seem to play a sonata on an invisible instrument as she describes the ineffable complexity of the Pouilly Fuissés she crafts, parcel by parcel, at Domaine Ferret since 2008.

Situated in the heart of Fuissé in the heart of southern Burgundy's prime Chardonnay territory, Domaine Ferret has been a producer of top Poulli-Fuissé cuvées since the end of WWII when owner  Madame  Jeanne Ferret, a stickler for detail,  decided to bottle and label the wines produced by her estate grown grapes as “unofficial  crus” in the Pouilly-Fuissé appellation.

The matriarchal Domaine Ferret had been managed since 1840 mostly by the women in the Ferret family until the line stopped at Jeanne’s daughter Colette and the domaine was purchased by Louis Jadot in 2008.

In equal measure muse and wizard to Pouilly Fuissé, Audrey -- who grew up in the cellar of her aficionado winemaker father in Lorraine, studied winemaking in Montpellier and excelled in Gamay vinification in Beaujolais – farms sustainably and vinifies each one of the domaine’s  45 parcels separately to extract the utmost truth and potential from a terroir of different soils: granite, sand, clay, marl and limestone.

She has an uncanny certainty of how much sun must caress each cluster and when the grapes are just about ready for harvest for the results she wants to achieve: Fresh wines with lively acidity, elegant minerality and subtle and engaging fruit with a long, lasting finish that enhance dishes from seafood and poultry to game and even desserts.

Photos: SFG - At a luncheon a Juvia, South Beach, the wines stood up and complemented from ceviche and tuna causa croquette with aji amarillo sauce to chicken curry and chocolate desserts.



audrey ceviche

audrey fd chick

The wines:audrey food

2013 Domaine Ferret. A blend of the best parcels from Fuissé’s 10 to 30-year-old vines, the pale straw-colored wine shows freshness and elegance, minerality with layers of subtle fruit and a long and spicy finish.  It is “the ambassador of Pouilly-Fuissé”, Ms. Braccini says of this wine, half of which is aged in lined concrete tanks and half in older barrels,  to stress the importance of understanding the characteristics of the wines of this appellation before tasting the single vineyards cuvées.

audrey tournant2012 Domaine Ferret Les Clos Single Vineyard Rich golden colour, and a lovely mineral and earthy nose,  with a creamy feel due to malolactic fermentation and hints of apples and spices  

 2012 Domaine Ferret, Pouilly-Fuissé Hors Classe "Les Ménétrières" Single vineyard.   Pure limestone soils and low yields deliver a golden color wine with a closed nose,  plenty of character in the mouth yet delicately complex with hints of mint and flowers and layers of orange, ripe fruit and spice.  Only 900 bottles were produced.

2011 Domaine Ferret “ Tournant de Pouilly “ Single Vineyard. A very hot July and August led to an early harvest (08/26) to keep the wine fresh and the level of acidity interesting. A little work from the winemaker – stainless steel fermentation followed by 1/3 in new oak barrels, 1/3 in 2year-old oak and 1/3 in 1-year-old barrels --  achieves a powerful yet complex and fruity wine

2010 Domaine Ferret, Pouilly-Fuissé Tête de Cru "Les Perrières", "The most beautiful vintage of the last 10 years " said Audrey. Gold yellow, with a rich nose of summer fruit and almonds, it becomes creamy, juicy and plush on the palate with hints of pears, apples and vanilla tempered by a young and fresh acidity. A long and lasting finish.

inedit 1 

With its gold sheriff star and its red bottle-neck ring with letter fonts that look borrowed from a Wanted poster in a Far West town, Inedit Damm’s bad boy looks belies its contents.

Inedit, the beer designed by world-renowned El Bulli-famed Chef Ferran Adrià, sommeliers Ferran Centelles, David Seijas from Barcelona and brewed by Estrella Damm brewmasters, is intended to complement the flavors of modern gastronomy, especially citrus-based sauces and vegetables like artichokes and asparagus which are difficult to pair with wines.

Even though I missed the bitterness of hops I like in a beer, I enjoyed it with foods, whether pedestrian, traditional or modern.

The softly carbonated beer with 4.5% alcohol content is crafted from a blend of barley malt, wheat, hops, coriander, licorice and orange peel, it has a pale gold color and is slightly cloudy in the glass. The aroma is quite unique: opening with a floral spiciness it develops into an intensely aromatic yet creamy and fresh brew with rich notes of yeast and citrus that follows through in the aftertaste.

The packaging  suggests serving it chilled in a white wine glass, filling it only halfway to fully appreciate its intensity and aromatic complexity.

Only recently released in 4-pack 11.2 oz bottles across the country for $9.99, it was created in 2008, as an alternative to wine.

For more information log on to


photo: southfloridagourmet 




lyn farmer

icon 2Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on Garnacha from Carinena; the next great grape 

Mangoes have dazzled palates across the globe for centuries with their aroma, taste, texture, and seemingly endless shapes, sizes, and colors. In Miami alone there are over 250 varieties. Miami-based writer, critic, poet and educator Jen Karetnick is the award-winning author of nine books, including three this year alone: the recently published book Mango and two volumes  Prayer of Confession and Brie Season about to be released.
Jen’s nickname, Mango Mama, could not be more appropriate! Jen lives on the last acre of a historic mango plantation with her husband, two children; three dogs; four cats; and fourteen mango trees!  By the time July comes around, Jen uses mangoes in the most unexpected ways, in just about everything, cocktails, smoothies, savory and sweet dishes.
Along with her own recipes which she has developed over the years, the book Mango features recipes from a group of Jen’s buddies who happen to be Miami's most celebrated chefs.
From smoothies to cocktails, from mango blintzes to jerked grouper with mango-fig chutney, and mangozpacho (mango-infused gazpacho)--this book is  the ultimate book on Mango. It is delightfully written, based on serious research and highlights  all those chefs and mixologists who are striving to use our local products in their cuisines.
Click here for Jen’s recipe for frozen mango sangría, or “Mangría,” 

 Just when we thought there was little more to discover in terms of wines and new wine regions in Spain, enters Cariñena from Aragón, Spain.

While it is one of the oldest protected growing areas in Europe, and the second oldest in Spain since the DO or Denomination of Origin was created in 1932 , it remained promotionally and operationally shy, selling most of their production to better known, more media-oriented appellations, until recently. 

The 1990s was a period of rapid development as small producers joined forces to become cooperatives, striving to adapt the robust wines to a more modern palate. As a result, exports have quadrupled since 1995 and it is now poised to burst unto the world markets with jazzy labels and consumer friendly flavors.

Lyn Farmer, wine director of the iconic wine event Veritage and a renowned wine writer has just returned from Cariñena to tell us all about this old and new wine region located in  the historic province of Aragón, North East of Spain, South of the Pyrennées, in the transitional area between the Iberian System and the Ebro Valley.  Cariñena vineyards – viticulture has been practiced there since 50 BC -  are located between Madrid and Barcelona,  about 50 km southwest of Zaragoza, on a plateau known as the Campo de Cariñena.


The image that Cariñena  projects today, with its system of coops,  is that of “the next great grape, Garnacha from Cariñena.” The region is the source of the French Carignan grape, which is also grown in Italy, California and several other New World regions.

Listen as Lyn Farmer explains the difference between Cariñena and Garnacha or Grenache and why “Cariñena is the most intriguing combination of old-fashioned and traditional with the rabidly modern.”

Lyn Farmer walks us through a tasting of young and aged wines, Garnacha varietals and blends vinified  in the region, and conjures the image of the red, arid soils swept by hot winds and frozen in cold nights that produce the next iconic wine on America’s tables. 

Listen as Lyn Farmer talks about the wines of Carinena, Aragon, Spain 


Uvaggio's owner Craig DeWald and sommelier Heath Porter set up for the Carinena Wine Tasting and Seminar, in Coral Gables

uvaggio carinena

heath uvaggio carinena





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