Friday, October 20, 2006

Fall Open House at Franciscan Winery in Napa

Napa - Celebrate the Harvest Season on October 28: Fall Open House at Franciscan Winery.

Franciscan is one of my favourite wineries in Napa - I've been a member for years and one of the great things about being in their wine club are the other brands that are also owned by their parent company - Constellation Brands. Which includes; Robert Mondavi, Simi, Columbia, Estancia, Ravenswood, Veramonte, Ruffion, Mt. Veeder, Tintara and Drylands. So you get to taste a wide varieties of wines in one club. The library is a beautiful room for parties.

Here is the invitation for the open house:

Everyone is welcome to join us for the complete Franciscan experience. They will be pouring thier current releases, special library selections, and offering barrel samples all paired with culinary treats created by our own Chef Morgan Robinson.

Discover what our Sensory Evaluation and Art of the Blend seminars have to offer and taste grapes fresh from this year’s harvest. Catherine Bergen joins us to sign copies of her new cookbook Gourmet Every Day and will be preparing delicious samples from her new book.

This is your opportunity to enjoy a wonderful afternoon during our favorite time of year! 12pm-4pm. $10 for Wine Club Members, $20 per person for guests/non-members. No Reservations Necessary
Learn More About Our Open House
Check out the Fall Foliage and enjoy some great wine. Hope to see you next weekend!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Award Wining Wine List at West Bank Cafe

New York - One of the nice things about living in Hell's Kitchen is the close proximity to Broadway and the Theatre district.

For over 7 months I've walked by this restaurant and said "I need to try this sometime..." Well sometime finally arrived last week and I ventured into The West Bank Cafe on 42nd Street to check out the menu.

First thing I noticed on the menu was an award from Wine Spectator for their wine list.
The Maitre de tells me that the wine list at West Bank Cafe has been a source of pride and passion from owner Steve Olsen and his love of California bottles. They were one of the first to offer only West Coast Wines way back in 1978. (Back in the day when I was only legal for few months before they moved the drinking age back to 21 and when taste buds were attuned to Stroh's and Old Style in the Midwest)...but I regress...

Wow - another NY restaurant with a great selection of California Reds. The impressive wine list has several hundred labels including some big Chateaus and the big names including Cabernets, Pinot and some big names like Heitz, Far Niente, Opus, Pine Ridge, Joseph Phelps and more.

OK I'm in...Oh yeah what about the food? Let's just do the tasting menu and get a sample of what they do best and bring me the wine list, I'm looking for the best taste for the price.

Here it is...a Meritage disguised as a Merlot the 2001 Pine Ridge Crimson Creek Merlot a Bordeaux Blend of 76% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc and 2% Malbec. Yes if they wanted to pay the price they could call it a Meritage it has 4 of the 5 noble grapes and no one grape is more than 90% of the blend. So we're drinking a Meritage at Merlot prices!

The chef starts us off with a Shaved Winter Salad. Second course was one of my favorites and a repeat - Peppered Shrimp Salad with Florida Grapefruit. On to the main courses - Grilled Halibut (that was amazing) and the sliced Duck was also a repeat. To top it all off...another bottle of Pine Ridge and the Chocolate Trio desert.

Have to say this has been one of the best meals I've enjoyed in Manhattan and is walking distance from the apartment.

The West Bank Cafe is busy 'til 8pm like most restaurants in the Theatre District. So one of the best times to visit is between 8 - 10pm. After the pre-Broadway crowd and before the post-Broadway crowd.

For Contemporary American Food with an award winning wine list check out the West Bank Cafe at 407 W. 42nd Str. 212-695-6909

I'm finding them one by one...add this to your list of NY restarants with great California wine - I'll have to compiled the my whole list on a seperate blog.

This restaurant will be in regular rotation and don't forget on how to get the Meritage at Merlot prices!


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The End of an Era in Northern California

It's the end of era for me in San Francisco's East Bay.

For over 11 years I went to weekly wine tastings and traveled up to Napa, Sonoma and Livermore wine country a few times a month.

My house just sold, so with great sadness I'm back in Cali to pack up the remaining items at my ranch styled house.

But I'm ahead 0f schedule so why not one more trip to Napa.

I always love to go up through Silverado Trail and have always wanted to stop by the new tasting room at Paraduxx, a high end wine from Duckhorn that features two ducks on the label. Get it - pair of ducks. This wine is Zinfadel & Bordeaux Blend. The tasting is $10 and features a 3 year vertical tasting. One of most beautiful tasting rooms in Napa.

Friday is packing day - I pick up the U-Haul and head over to the house. Going to take a bunch of my stuff down to Southern California house. Patio Furniture, Weber Grill, Fountain, tools and more misc. items. Looking through things I decide not to haul all my gold records back to New York. So a quick trip to "I Sold It" on EBay and they agree to sell them - the collection includes Sting, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Guns & Roses and Milli Vanilli - collector's item.

My good friend Gary comes by later with a six pack to help me finish and he was a big help getting the patio furniture in the truck (after 4 beers for him & 2 for me) and I'm finished just in time to shower and head over to my old haunt - the weekly wine tasting at Wine Thieves - They Steal Wine so You Don't Have Too!.

Wine Thieves has two locations now - the original on Mt Diable in Lafayette and new location in Clayton on Clayton Road.

Tastings now are $1.00, but theirs a great tasting - and had to educate the distributor to pronounce "Meritage" like heritage - The Robert Young Meritage was a good value under $30. I'm exhausted so I head back to the hotel. Good news at the bar the corkage fee is only $15 dollars, so I run to the car and grab a bottle from yesterday's trip to Napa. A 2000 Mt. Veeder Reserve - delightful. And it went well with their brick oven pizza from Grissini's at the Concord Hilton.

Urggh - its early Saturday morning and its time to drive down to LaQuinta, a suburb of Palm Springs. Luckily I've brought my XM satellite boom box to listen to college football.
I'm listening to Michigan State - Illinois - hoping its a better week thant the ND disaster last week. MSU starts strongs, falls behind, ties it up and ILL kicks a game winning field goal with seconds left in the game. Oh well from the other scores I'm doing well in this week's football pool.

Finally make my way down I-5 to 210 E to 10 and there they are - the windmills, which means I'm close...just a few exits to go. The desert is hot, but so beautiful. It still surprises me that I love the area so much because I'm a water person.

My place looks great - time to put some shorts and t-shirts on and un-pack. It's so Hot. But unpacking goes a lot faster. Wow - ahead of schedule again...

And a weekend trip to the desert isn't complete without a trip to TREASURES OF THE VINE A brand new wine shop on the corner of Highway 111 and Washington

They have free wine tastings Friday night and all Saturday. And their selection is amazing.
You'll be greeted by Dustin Miller – the buyer/manager of this hip new spot. The owner Lance and often his lovely wife Shannon will be there too for their Saturday tasting Noon – 9:00pm.

Stop in and say Hi to Dustin, Shannon or Lance during your next visit to the Palm Desert-Point Happy LaQuinta Area it’s a great location next to another hot spot Okura Robata Grill - which is where I choose to have dinner - its a frantastic Sushi Bar and of course before I head back it Las be Casuelas Mexican food.

Sunday morning - up at sunrise for 18 at the LaQuinta Mountain course - wow its been two weeks since I've played, but start off with a bogie, par #2 the par 3 over water - 3 iron 190+ yards and its going to be a great day - final result 85 with only 30 putts - Tiger would be proud of my putting effort.

More unpacking - then a quick trip up to the main pool at the LQ Resort & Spa - couple of Modelo's and a Chicken BLT some suntanning and its back to unpacking.

Ahead of schedule again - I get a chance to do some random things to the house in preparation of the busy season. Thanksgiving to May is very busy in the desert. Snow birds, LA hipsters, Movie star and Canadiens - Eh?

It's been a productive trip, but sadly the end of an era for BT in the East Bay of San Francisco.
But I'll be back - often! Cali is in my blood...or is that the wine?