By Jonathan Cristaldi

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September 21, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Top 7 Photos I’ve Been Meaning to Share

This was Cabernet Day 2012.

The man on the left is Matthew Kaner. He is a genius. We drank Covenant with some high, holy folks. They were wildly impressed.

This is Amanda about to rehearse at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA for the official debut of LA Dance Project, the official reason we moved West. She likes to drink wine. Good wine.

This we drank along with Mr. Benjamin Millepied sitting and talking about LA Dance Project. Yum.

Checking out Santa Ynez and Lompoc, we stayed at the Montecito Inn where Charlie’s posters are a dime a dozen.

How I wanted to steal! But did not. Within them there is Piedrassasi.

Saw this and had no idea they were making wine in Paso then!

September 5, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Winetology Wednesdays on

Holy Smokes! Holy Corks! Is it true?! My most recent post was June 15th? Faithful Winetologists hear me out:

I moved to Los Angeles mere days after the post below. I’ve just returned from a short trip to NYC to participate in #CabernetDay and that event was chronicled quite well by the lovely and talented Michelle Young of Untapped Cities – here.

About a month ago I began writing a  bi-weekly column on The Bloggery at My inaugural post is here and the second post, about #CabernetDay is here.

I hope you enjoy and you may begin once more to check here regularly for writings on all things wine, wine likely on wine. I’ll also begin writing about wine and will occasionally touch upon wine and wine culture and wine drinking and tasting and rating and likely will showcase winemakers who make wine. For now, enjoy this short video on how NOT to saber delicious bubbly:

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!)


June 13, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot: East Met West (St. Francis & Millbrook Winery)

Left to Right: Nissa Pierson (Ger-Nis), Katie Madigan (St. Francis), Chef David Santos (Um Segredo), Jonathan Cristaldi (aka Jonny Cigar of The Noble Rot) and Paul Gatti (Millbrook Vineyards & Winery).

On a recent Wednesday in June, The Noble Rot hosted an evening featuring two wineries separated by 3,000 miles of U.S. Terroir. A six-course meal set the stage for a pairing of three east-coast wines with east-coast inspired cuisine alternating with three west-coast wines paired with west-coast inspired food. The Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center, run by Nissa Pierson is a true gem in the Park Slope (4th Ave and Union Street) area. The space is a beautiful professional kitchen, outfitted for shoots or dinner parties for up to 40. Nissa hosts classes and the center is meant to evoke conversation, revelry and discovery – all the ingredients important to a successful Noble Rot affair.

Photos of the evening, courtesy of Guest of a Guest can be viewed here.

The winemakers in house were Katie Madigan of St. Francis Winery (Sonoma, California) and Paul Gatti the assistant winemaker at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery (Hudson Valley, New York State). Hit em up on TwitterLand: @millbrookwinery @stfranciswinery

Katie’s path to winemaking came from her love of science and a desire to apply her skills toward a hands-on profession, and nothing is more hands-on than winemaking! She started her wine industry career at St. Francis and has since worked her way up to winemaker. She’s particular to Burgundian style wines, and so under her direction St. Francis’s Chardonnays and being re-routed away from the typical California chardonnay we all know and love/hate. Katie’s Chardonnays are cleaner, less oaked and present a more fruit-forward style of wine. You will be surprised. I also want to say that it’s only a matter of time before we no longer can refer to Chardonnay that’s undergone malo and been given the full oak treatment as “typical” to California. Nearly every time I sit down to write about Chardonnay from California my sentences begin something like, “Straying from the typical California Chardonnay style of oak and butter…”

Then there is Gatti: Paul Gatti. No relation to the crime family, (note the spelling difference) though I pried him for information. Paul hails from Westchester where his father was making wine in the family garage – a true garagiste! Paul’s early child-hood experiences around his dad’s renegade production inspired him to pursue a professional full time career in making wine. He landed at Millbrook under the direction of John Graziano, who has been making wine at Millbrook for 27 years and is arguably the most knowledgeable person about Hudson Valley terroir and growing seasons – only second in authority to John S. Dyson, the proprietor of Millbrook.

It was a pleasure to host both Katie and Paul – both passionate professionals who have different styles and approaches to the process. Paul’s interest in the technical, factual aspects of the wine were evident as he talked about bric levels and temperature swings in harvesting whereas Katie’s science and passion blended into conversations about style and her efforts to enforce night picking (because the flavors are more concentrated in the cooler, harder evening-set grapes).

The menu was prepared by the rising alternative dining star, Chef David Santos (Um Segredo Supper Club), a former Per Se and Bouley alum. The 35 guests who attended were inspired by the marriage of wine and food and made sure to say so, loudly and with mouths full of east+west-inspired brilliance. The menu and pairings looked like this:

May 21, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Wines of Brooklyn Winery Winemaker Conor McCormack

This is all you need to know about the winemaker at Williamsburg’s very own Brooklyn Winery:

“Making wine wasn’t on my radar until I saw a craigslist posting for a harvest intern in 2003 while hunting for a job post-college. It was serendipitous, but once I got into it, there was no stopping.”

Left to right: John Stires, Conor McCormack, Brian Leventhal

That quote comes from Conor McCormack’s bio on the Brooklyn Winery website. It’s nearly a verbatim-repeat-quote of what he told a group of about 40 of us this past Thursday, the 17th of May, 2012, just before we got into a four course wine and food pairing of Conor’s latest bottlings.

Prior to making his home here in the east, his wine-country experience is fruitful and spans stints from Napa to Washington State and looks like this: Crushpad SF, Rutherford Hill Winery, Brehm Vineyards, Audubon Cellars, and White Salmon Vineyards. Pretty fabulous places.

Conor’s serendipitous rendezvous with the art of making wine, now into it’s ninth year  and laden with cellar stellar experiences establishing his “vine-street-cred” should impress you – but honestly, stop reading this blasted blog and go to Brooklyn Winery and have a few glasses of his wine. Treat yourself to a marvelous sensory experience. And since you asked my opinion so kindly I’ll give it: try the Pinot NoirAhem. The Carneros Pinot Noir. Think about this: the fruit was picked in Carneros and shipped east, fermented and aged at Brooklyn Winery. When you nose this wine, it is so distinctly Carneros that it should take everything within to remember that after enjoying a glass you are in Brooklyn and have to get on the subway to go home, not in a car to drive north to Napa or south to San Francisco. The simple fact that Conor has been able to maintain the integrity a Pinot that is so distinctly of another place from fruit shipped across the country, fermented in Brooklyn and aged in used barrels, is a testament to his winemaking skill, cleanliness and philosophy.

The Brooklyn Winery has become a hub for amateur and serious wine enthusiasts excited to be near barrels and tanks and to taste wine made on-site. It’s also become a go-to for events – lots of events – especially weddings. Lots of weddings. And lots of weddings means lots of brides. Brides asking, pleading, demanding and suggesting that the space, the physical space (where tanks and barrels and winemaking equipment resides) be arranged and rearranged to fit the perfect vision of their impending marriage. And with weddings comes the wedding train and all its glory and pomp and circumstance a.k.a. a nightmare for a winemaker. I’m not suggesting that BK Winery entertains foolish requests, or that they rearrange the crucial areas where wine is racked and fermented, but when a winery is beholden to events, it is often the winemaker who must make sacrifices – sacrifices in quality control. Whatever Conor’s urban winery fate, he has managed to maintain the quality he knows his wines deserve and as a result is producing wines worthy of some serious attention.

The evening’s food pairings by Executive Chef David Colston looked like this:

Scallop Ceviche with Cantaloupe, Chorizo, Basil and Lemon Verbena. Paired with:

BKW Riesling (two glasses: one aged in stainless steel and one in neutral oak! Yes, neutral oak!)

Spicy Seafood Risotto with Monk Fish, Lobster, Squid and Heirloom Tomatoes. Paired with:

BKW Chardonnay aged in Stainless Steel.

Long Island Duck Breast with Mini Yorkshire Puddings and SPring Vegetables. Paired with:

Paired with BKW Pinot Noir - MY FAV and the one bottle I didn't grab a shot of. That's a glass of it. Aged in 20% French and 80% Neutral Oak.

Cheesecake with New Jersey Strawberries and Rhubarb. Paired with:

BKW Rose of Zinfandel, aged in Stainless Steel.

The good and loyal readers here at Winetology know that I don’t like to give descriptors of wine. (It’s not because I don’t have a certification and am incapable of using good wine descriptors, okay?) I find it to be a foolish thing, since no two noses or palates are the same. And you don’t need me to tell you what kind of Jolly Rancher I get out of the rose either (watermellon). Decide for yourself and imagine that these photos are scratch and sniff (just don’t send me a bill when you ruin your iPad). Or better yet, head to Brooklyn Winery and say to the winetender, “Winetender! Jonny says I want a glass of Conor McCormack’s Pinot Noir!” And when he gives you the Chardonnay, don’t make that face and tell him you don’t drink Chardonnay. Drink it, be surprised, and then order the Pinot.   By then, I’ll be sitting next to you draining my cup dry.

"A Wine & Food Pairing" at the Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg.


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