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.

Italiano!

Kabinetto!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chardonnayo!

Meursaulto!

 

Saumur Champignyo!

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

Fooled by Foley: Why Caring For Your Glassware is Paramount

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Robert Foley Vineyards 2005 Merlot

Two days ago, I uncorked a Robert Foley Vineyards 2005 Merlot from Napa Valley. To my 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—instead, in its place, swirling around my glass was a cantankerous, nefarious liquid, dusty and insipid with moldy carpet-like aromatics and an astringent character that might have served to disinfect all of Spanish Harlem. First, anger set in—surely I was sold bad bottles! Then, panic took over—perhaps it was my glassware, and I had ruined the $50-merlot now clustered around my kitchen sink (I had poured several bottles out into various glasses, decanted, double-decanted, dashed much of it down the drain in anger, etc, etc, etc) and was at that point confused: was the wine in fact corked or was it fine? Had my sense memory failed me? There was only one way to find out.

I had purchased six bottles from Cabrini Liquors, a retail shop situated on the corner of 181st street and Cabrini Boulevard in far-up Manhattan. The wines were shipped to me in February. The first two bottles proved to be as delectable as any sentence in The Great Gatsby. So what happened to the other bottles?

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 I began to wonder if somehow it was all the carpet’s fault. Thinking on that I nearly tore the carpet to shreds and was prepared to curse out my landlord for not installing a temperature-controlled room in our three-room apartment. Alas!! I refrained from both tactics. 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 from the whole affair.

The trip 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 was angry and sympathetic twoard the people that he swindled. I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to accuse someone—of something, anything…for ruining my wine! I was prepared to accuse the good people at Cabrini of trying to put one over on me—I mean, they’re practically 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). 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 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? Had they corrected themselves? I was despondent. Damian explained that 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, he said. Well, I had decanted it, I told him, a bit defensive.

“Where do you keep your glasses,” asked Damian.

LIGHT BULB. That was it. My glasses hung upside down in my kitchen, not far from my stove. All the days and weeks of cooking—a lot of cooking for New York—all those particle aromas, wedging themselves in the microscopic pours of my glassware, ultimately impacting the wine! The merlot showed brilliantly in Cabrini’s cared-for glassware, and as we talked more about the wine, the glasses, the cooking, I started to recall feeling similarly about a lot of wine I’ve had in recent weeks—all seemed a touch on the volatile side. Well…

Wine is indeed 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—order beer.

The silver lining: Damian graciously provided me with two new bottles, to replace the ones I had… unintentionally ruined. Like the last scene in Casablanca I thought to myself…”This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”