Robert Foley Vineyards

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June 15, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Jonny on Selling New York (HGTV)

JC on Selling New York (HGTV)

I had the privilege of hosting an exclusive wine tasting in Emeril Lagasse’s townhouse for the Kleier’s – the stars of Selling New York on HGTV. (See a little mention on Curbed!) See some screen shots below that I grabbed from my fancy flat-screen TV!

I wanted to feature two of my favorite wines, both of which happen to pair perfectly with Emeril’s house and style.

2007 Swanson Vineyards “Alexis” Cabernet Sauvignon. The Swanson’s hail from New Orleans – sixth generations of New Orlenians! Hence an absolute perfect pairing given Emeri’s creole cooking heritage. The wine is made by Chris Phelps who hails from Dominus and Caymus and got his start making wine under Christian Moiex at Chateau Petrus. Bam!

2009 Robert Foley Vineyards Merlot. This is a wine that tastes as good as Emeril’s townhouse looks. The multi-story UES house is laden with marble floors and elegant moldings, perfectly accentuated furniture, spiral staircase, beautifully designed kitchens — on and on – this wine had the guests feeling like they were the proud owners of such an exclusive and amazing property. Now, that’s terroir! Bam!

JC on Selling New York

Swanson and Robert Foley Vineyards on Selling New York (HGTV)

JC in Emeril Lagasse’s Kitchen on Selling New York

Swanson on Selling New York

Robert Foley Vineyards on Selling New York (HGTV)

Box ‘O Robert Foley Vineyards during setup for Selling New York

JC setting up for Selling New York

SellingNewYork JC Pouring (unmistakeable vest!)


February 3, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

From Slow Wine to Speed Tasting

Slow Wine 2012 NYC

“No thank you, I think I’ll have a beer,” said my shadow to me. “Six more weeks of winter,” I said to no one there.

This particular week, the wine trail has lead me to Over-Done-It-Land, but in high fashion! Beginning with Slow Wine, a movement by the Slow Food folk to showcase wineries they “particularly like for the way it interprets Slow Food values (sensory perceptions, territory, environment, identity).”

All the vintners featured at the Slow Wine Tasting were Italian and so it was at the Metropolitan Pavilion on Monday, January 30th that I tasted my way through Piedmont, Chianti and Chianti Classico. I’m a tried-and-true lover of California wines, but the young Nebbiolos and Chiantis gave my west-coast palate a run for its money. Many of these wines were showing clean, bright noses with complexities that will most certainly develop with more time in the bottle. I was particularly struck by the lack of “animal” or “barnyard” qualities in many of the Piedmontese wines. It’s no secret that Italy has had to clean up its act.  A little over a decade ago it was next to impossible to fine consumer magazines talking up “good value” and “Italian” in the same issue. The tides have changed.

Reality check: the Slow Wine event was similar to other pavilion-tasting extravaganzas, done many times over year after year. Trade, press and consumers show up, get checked in and bounce around the room often without much care for any linear narrative tasting. I’ll say this: from a consumer standpoint, there’s great value if you’re a connoisseur studying to achieve the title of Sommelier through an accreditation. Suddenly there’s 400 wines for you to taste through and develop sense memories for. If you’re a retailer it might be a good opportunity to discover a new brand. If you’re press you might find that undiscovered vintner or client if you’re on the other side of press. However…

I really have to ask: what’s in it for the winery? They commit to many of these tastings, often paying to participate and supplying wine. I have yet to see the right balance of value + reasoning at events like this. Perhaps I need to organize one of these pavilion tastings, eh? Show everyone how it’s done! And make it worth a vintner’s time. Keep your eyes and ears pealed for a Noble Rot inspired airline hanger tasting extravaganza.

Slow Wine aside, I enjoyed one of the best chicken dinners of my life with an avid connoisseur who lives in a princely palace in DUMBO. We’re not talking BBQ chicken or herb-roasted spit-fire grilled chicken, we’re talking his own classified, “transvestite” chicken. Don’t let the name deter you. It was one of the best chickens I ever did eat. And, dang, I can’t remember how he prepared the bird – which was likely his intention as he poured, glass after glass of these absolutely brilliant wines:

PNX is a label that only members of the Mondavi club receive. #sogood

Robert Foley's "The Griffin" one of my favorite wines.









Abe Schoener, winemaker extraordinaire! 500ml, fanciness.

And more Abe...Chuey it was and served at cellar temp, just right.









And Wednesday, I had the privilege to audit a tasting group of some of NYC’s top Sommeliers (from Oceana, Eleven Madison Park, Corkbuzz, Del Friscos, etc) as they practiced for the advance certificate exam. Because these chaps typically work lunch service or have to prep for dinner service at their perspective haunts, the group meets at 9:00am most Wednesdays. And proceeds to blaze through 12 wines. The test goes like this: in front of you are six glasses of wine; three white and three red. You have 25 minutes to run through every detail of then you can, from color, clarity, a laundry list of criteria about the nose, the wine on the palate to the final test: Name That Wine! + the region and the year from whence it was born unto fermented grape juice!

I was humbled by the experience. The array of wine-speak vocabulary was overwhelming and impressive and the best part: they really know how to have fun and make fun of themselves. Favorite quote: “The wine is total schlunk!” and across the room: “I hate that I know what you mean when you say schlunk. I know exactly what you mean!”

I only captured the first six we tasted through, and I was allowed to sample the wines too while each candidate was administered the test exam. A great, great week for tasting some stunning wines and for reminding me why at the end of the day great winemakers prefer a cold brew.














Saumur Champignyo!

April 2, 2009 2 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Fooled by Foley


Robert Foley Vineyards 2005 Merlot

Two days ago I uncorked a 2005 Robert Foley Merlot. To mine shock and horror, the wine was not the smooth, silky, chocolaty nectar that I was anticipating – and I have come to revere this wine as a wine among wines, i.e. high on the mountaintop! Instead, in it’s place, swirling around my glass was a cantankerous, nefarious liquid, dusty and insipid with moldy carpet-like aromatics and an astringency that might have disinfected Spanish Harlem. I thought, perhaps, it is my glass! Perhaps there was some residue in the glass that is ruining my beautiful wine. Another clean and residue-free glass yielded the same life-flailing results. Perhaps by decanting the wine, I thought, this spell would pass, and still, an hour later, like a constant spitting of rain in the Scottish stratosphere, this wine spit snake venom at the receptors in my nose. Now let’s backtrack a moment…

I had purchased six bottles from Cabrini Liquors, online. Their store is located on 181st street and Cabrini Boulevard in Manhattan. The wines were shipped to me in February. The first two bottles I drank were as vibrant as a restless four-year, but a four-year-old in a double-breasted vest and wingtips.

What had happened? What scuffed the wing-tips and knarled the penache? The wines lay on their side in the coolest part of my apartment – due to the lack of “wine cellar” or “wine fridge” (and I’m working on changing that). The apartment is carpeted and when I first smelled the acrid Merlot I assumed it was somehow the carpet’s fault, and if it weren’t for my fiancée who is rational when I hath no rational, I would have torn the carpet to shreds and cursed out my landlord below for not installing a temperature-controlled room in our three-room apartment. Alas. After returning the wine to bottle from decanter, I stopped the bottles with rubber stoppers and sucked out any remaining air. I called Cabrini and arranged to bring the wine back on Monday evening, two days out.

The treck to Cabrini was a good hour-long subway ride, and in New York City the subway presents a good opportunity to catch up on reading. I brought along the last five New Yorkers. I read about the Madoff Ponzi scheme. I got angry for all the people that were swindled. I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to accuse someone… of something. I was prepared to accuse the good people at Cabrini of trying to put one over on me… I mean, they’re in the Bronx!

To my surprise, the store was an unexpected playground of rare and fine wines all priced well-below market-value, or at least, New York City Market Value. I was greeted by Damian, Cabrini’s wine-director. He led me to the “office” where dozens and dozens of bottles lay recently opened for tasting (they were planning a big event and had to “familiarize” themselves with the wines – tough job). After a brief introduction I retrieved my four bottles of remaining Foley Merlot, two unopened, two vacuum packed. We poured them into four glasses and I, Keith the photographer, Rami the blogger, and Damian the Director tasted:

“These wines are not corked,” said Rami, through perfectly aligned purple-stained teeth. “Very, very tight for a California Merlot,” said Damian. And by Jove, the bastards were right. What had happened in the course of the wine’s two day sleep-over in my refrigerator? I say “them” because I had opened a second bottle immediately following the first and experienced the same gag-reflex. Two wines in a row! How? Why? What had I done to the good Sheppard Bacchus? Damian explained that the wine is complex, alive, and as a small production can vary greatly in terms of bottling from barrel to barrel and bottle to bottle. The wine needed to decant. Well, I had decanted it, I reminded the three incredulous winos! Strange… strange. We’ll never know. But the fact remained that one bottle was slightly corked, while the other was tight, but that probably had something to do with the fact that it had been opened, decanted, re-bottled, refrigerated, transported, and then re-opened in 48 hours and still tasted pretty damn good.

“Where do you store you glasses?” Asked Damian.

Christ. That was it. Never occurred to me: my glasses hung, upside down in my kitchen, not far from my stove. All the days and weeks of cooking – and I cook a lot – all the aromas, wedging themselves in the microscopic pours of my glassware – and hence, affecting the wine. It made sense. The Merlot was great in the glasses from Cabrini – and again, a true testament to Foley, because of the trauma I put the wine through over the last 48 hours. And, come to think of it, recently, every wine I had been drinking tasted the same and seemed a tad on the volatile side. Well…

Wine is a living, breathing creature and reacts to its environment. So good people, sterilize those glasses and for heaven’s sake, even if they look nice, don’t hang them upside down on a rack in your kitchen. Same goes for ordering wine at a bar – if you see them storing their glasses as such – stick to beer.