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February 14, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): Happy Fu#%ing Vallentine’s Day

Aprille Goodman, Brian Quinn, Jonny Cigar.  The Noble Rot’s “Happy Fu#%ing Valentine’s Day!” Photo by Laura Huben.

“My funny valentine… sweet comic valentine… you make me smile with your heart…”

Indeed, good and lovely winos. In the spirit of love and wine, The Noble Rot hosted an event last night (Sunday) that made our guests smile with not only their hearts, but also with the wonders of wine, chocolate and 34-hour short ribs.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn we teamed up with the dynamic artisanal choco-fiend Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw along with Mike Lee of supper club Studiofeast to bring the perfect combination of food and dessert to an evening fueled by natural wines provided and presented by Pamela Govinda of The Natural Wine Company. Songstress Aprille Goodman sang her heart out and melted the room and some of the chocolate. Masseuse and Holistic Health Councilor Jessica Shepard shed tension with her holistic bodywork on willing guests, and believe me, all were willing… That’s right, we had a masseuse.


The evening begat with a rough start. Guests were forced into drinking sparkling rosé cave, while simultaneously indulging in strawberries and cheeses. We hosted The Noble Rot Talks, a series of interviews with our guest experts and artisans. The idea: through intimidation and embarrassment we reveal the necessary facts and realities of our idealistic collaborations. Mike Lee along with Derrick Yeun and Soomin Baik cooked up an incredible meal, which Mike Lee describes in his interview below. The chocolates, described by Sklaar, were exceptional and as Fine & Raw prepares their chocolate sans sugar, we were instead high on a coconut oil.

Check out this incredible sped up video of the event, by Studiofeast.

The Natural Wine Company provided very interesting an exciting wines and I’ve listed and scored them here on the Jonny Cigar Connoisseur Rating System (CRS):

*German Gilabert Cava Rosat (Sparkling Rose) CRS Rating: 450,000. Notes: Easy. Love the color: Ruby. Love the taste. Love, love, love.

*Binner Savuers Field Blend 2008 (Still White) CRS Rating: 56,456,700. Notes: Lees! Unfined, unfiltered heaven. Nose like you wouldn’t believe.

*Descendientes de Jose Paliacios Petalos 2008 (Still Red) CRS Rating: 47,983,234. Notes: Like a pinot but not screaming for attention. Clean. Well-mannered.

*Hochar 2003 of Chateau Musar (Still Red) CRS Rating: 23,498. Notes: You gotta love Bret to love this wine, but it is certainly integrated well. Very well. And it’s from Lebanon where they’ve been making wine since the bible has been churning out stories. Very interesting and worth a try because you may love the horse out of it.

*Schola Sarmenti Roccamora 2007 (Still Red) CRS Rating: Honorary Infinity. Notes: Why a perfect score? It’s fresh, indulgent, talks back but speaks in lyrical poetry. Tastes like chocolate and then like berries and turns you into a better writer than Hemingway. And the best part: $14.99. Beat that Opus One.

For your audio listening pleasure …THE NOBLE ROT TALKS/ INTERVIEWS:


Jonny Cigar Intro and reading from Les Fleurs Du Mal (2:34)

Pam Govinda of The Natural Wine Company (4:54)

Pamela Govinda (photo not from the event, as Pam somehow eluded our camera all evening! A real pro.) Photo courtesy of Pam’s Facebook page. The Natural Wine Company: “Great Wine. Minimally messed with.”

Pam discusses the evening’s wines (7:12)

Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw (4:07)

Jonny talks with Daniel Sklaar of Fine & Raw. Fine & Raw: “We’re particularly fond of creatively intoxicating your palate by crafting raw cacao with other raw discoveries.”

Mike Lee of Studiofeast (3:09)

Jonny talks with Mike Lee of Studiofeast. Photo by Studiofeast. Studiofeast: “is an invitation only culinary collective that focuses on creating new gastronomic experiences. Our events are a platform for new ideas in dining and we express ourselves through our food and social gatherings.”


June 7, 2010 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): WAR: The Noble Rot vs. New Zealand

One of the Man O’ War vineyards on Waiheke Island, New Zealand

It was a Friday, June the 4th, when The Noble Rot waged war on New Zealand. Armed with five courses of food, our course of attack was to pair them with five wines that originate from Waiheke Island, a small piece of pristine land situated in the north-east of New Zealand. The idea was to showcase wines exhibiting characteristics from “micro-terroir” sites. Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf, Man O’ War Vineyards is spread across 4,500 acres of rugged coastal farm-land. Their location and varying terrain results in pockets of different soils, temperature, and elevation (a.k.a. “micro-terroirs”) and with 150 acres of vines planted, Man O’ War Vineyards boasts multiple grape varieties and a dedication to the “Old World” style (circa the Jackson-Five).

Okay: so, in a loft space on Bond Street in Manhattan, graciously offered up by a friend and vinophile, we tasted through these six wines:

  • Man O’ War Pinot Gris ($16) to wet the palate
  • Man O’ War Sauvignon Blanc ($16), paired with Raspberry, Trout Roe, Lime, Coriander
  • Man O’ War Valhalla Chardonnay ($20), paired with Confit Tuna pickled compressed fennel, arugula,
  • Man O’ War White Label Bordeaux Blend ($19), paired with Braise Oxtail Ragu, fennel tagliatelle with crème fraiche
  • Man O’ War White Label Syrah ($19), paired with Lavender Smoked Lamb Loin, Sautéed brussel sprout leaves
  • Man O’ War Black Label Syrah “Dreadnought,” ($33) paired with Blue cheese, strawberry black pepper jam, dark chocolate and toast

In solidarity we marched upon the Man O’ War with shouts of joy and threats of cork taint as our guests reveled in the delights of this wine. Joining us from the vineyard was Bronwyn Skuse, Ambassador to MO’W. Bronwyn tactfully handled all of my accusations and exclamations: “This wine is in the New World! (Crowd cheers!) But this wine is made in the Old World Style! (Crowd Cheers!) What do you say to that?!”

Bronwyn: I say you are correct! (Crowd Boos!)

JC: Shut up! Shut up! (Suddenly pies are thrown across the room and into all our faces).

New Zealand is a land The Noble Rot had yet to conquer, and the wines we tasted were to our surprise, elegant and refined. The three white varietal-offerings were bright, crisp and simply mouth-watering, particularly the Pinot Gris—say, you’ve just returned from working the hay-fields (like I do most weekends). You’re parched. You reach for a glass of water, but there’s no “bouquet.” And situated amidst bails of freshly packed hay, you see an ice cold bottle of Waiheke Island Pinot Gris. No corkscrew necessary–it’s got a twist top–and you pour the bright liquid vino down, down, down…returning home from the fields, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and Valhalla Chardonnay awaits. The SB is typical of New Zealnd, less grassy, more fruit-forward, and is best sipped while surfing. The Valhalla says, “I was made in the Burgundian style,” and you shout, “Lies!” The sun sets, and we turn our heads to the reds and scene in New York City.

Scene: A dinner party on the UES. The players: MOW White Label Bordeaux (a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv), MOW White Label Syrah, and Dreadnought (grown on one mother of a steep hillside). The Bordeaux blend delights each guest, dredging up fond child-hood memories of Fruit-By-The-Foot and late night bike-rides in parking lots. The Syrahs go at it, as if players in a Shakespearean play from before Shakespeare’s time. Dreadnought, smooth and peppery declares its love for you, while the White Label Syrah teases and plays hard-to-get. End scene.

Damian Gutierrez of Cabriniwines.com was on-hand to help pour, waltzed with me to “Che Syrah, Syrah, Whatever Will Be, Will Be” (played so fantastically by our musical guest Miwa Gemini) and offered discounts on purchases of the wines to those in attendance. Brian Quinn offered up one well-timed and humorous joke by nights end, then disappeared into the ether. In the kitchen, were three superstars who perfectly executed the menu, designed by A Razor, A Shiny Knife: Eugene Edele, a personal-chef-extraordinaire (who is available for your dinner party needs, so if you might be interested, send us an email to info@thenoblerot.com and we’ll put you in touch), Christine Wells, student at the French Culinary Institute who destroyed minds with her perfectionist attention to detail in the kitchen, and Mike Lee of Studiofeast, who showed up because he “works nearby” and wanted to get dirty serving it up. An amazing team, and we are grateful to them as well as to Bronwyn, Damian, to our friend Andrew who lets us light his apartment on fire, and to Keith Regelmann for loading a 4GB camera up with photos of the event. Please enjoy his handiwork, and know that color photos are coming… so check back in tomorrow for that:

Mike Lee, Christine Wells, Eugene Edele in the Kitchen- photo by Brian Quinn

Bronwyn Skuse, Ambassador to Man O’ War – photo by Keith Regelmann

Man O’ War – Syrah – photo by Keith Regelmann

Our friend Katarina taking matters into her own hands! – photo by Keith Regelmann

Jonny Cigar talking “Micro-Terroir” to the winos – photo by Keith Regelmann

Can you spot our friend Angelina? – photo by Keith Regelmann

Damian pours – photo by Keith Regelmann

Eugene, Mike, Christine, plating away – photo by Keith Regelmann

An attentive crowd – photo by Keith Regelmann

In battle, Jonny attempts to steal a bottle of Man O’ War while Brian who bet on Bronwyn to overcome watches in horror – photo by Keith Regelmann

Our friends Travis and Josh sipping the eau-de-vino – photo by Keith Regelmann

Miwa Gemini and band! – Photo by Brian Quinn

Oh, Valhalla, milady, Valhalla (Chardonnay) – Photo by Brian Quinn

April 20, 2010 4 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): Saké

UPDATE: Keith Wagstaff of the Village Voice wrote up one fancy, noble, delectable article on said Sake event. Read it here.

Brian Quinn & Jonny Cigar drink their way through Sake. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Hello Good n’ Faithful Winos:

This Saturday of last The Noble Rot hosted an affair focused on the truly dynamic drink known in the modern and ancient world as Sake (酒) and known in Japan as Nihonshu (日本酒). Well, then, here’s the goods:

Our aim: dispel the myths of sake and explore sake as an approachable and understandable beverage as opposed to an innacroachable one (Gertrude Stein’s word, not mine) and to discover the many varieties and grades of sake while pairing them with mouth-watering delicious food that befits deep friers and more tuna than is likely necessary.

The sakes presented ran the gambit of an array of flavor profiles, colors (an aged sake called Miyagi was deep amber in color), one was reminiscent of Amaretto without the harshness, one golden like a wine from Sauternes and one like an old mule, tired after years of plowing potato fields in upstate New York.

Who was involved? Only the most renowned sake expert this side of the Shinano River, Monica Samuels, Sake Ambassador to the world! (of Southern Wines & Spirits). Also in house was Mike Lee of Studiofeast butchering up an incredible menu, which is listed below the photos. And to add injury to insult we had a surprise musical guest, the remarkably talented Michael Daves, who performed two sets of bluegrassy spectacularness.

Before you are indulged, good Winetology reader, with photographs of the event, please enjoy a bit of sake education:

Look for the word “Ginjo” on the bottle, whether it is alone or bunched together as in “Daiginjo” or “Junmai Ginjo” or “Junmai Daiginjo” because “Ginjo” refers to super premium sake (as in the top 7 percent of all sake produced). And:

  • Sake is best served chilled.
  • Drink sake out of a wine glass lest you care not for the aromas, the color, the clarity, the cloudiness, the full experience that sake has to offer. Drinking in the Masu boxes is not ideal if you are hoping to truly taste and experience the sake. Drinking in tiny glasses most-often served in Japanese restaurants will do nothing other than encourage shooting your sake or pouring for your friends every 30 seconds.
  • If you’d really like to know more about the acidity, the sweetness, the impact, the color, the many grades of sake, the rice sake is made from, different yeast strains affecting taste and flavor, please visit www.sake-world.com and read what John Gauntner has to say (Monica studied under him and he’s essentially the most revered sake expert on both sides of the Mississippi).

Below are tasty photos from the event.

Jonny Cigar’s bow-tie. Photo by Steph Goralnick www.flickr.com/sgoralnick

Danny Zlobinsky, Brian Quinn, Mike Lee, Jonny Cigar, Derrick Yuen. Photo by Steph Goralnick

Monica Samuels talks Sake, Jonny listens, Joseph (white glasses) admires the scene of his apartment. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Some new Noble guests take in the food, the sake, the delectable evening. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Michael Daves destroyed the scene with his sound. (http://www.michaeldaves.com) We were thrilled to have him. Photo by Steph Goralnick.

Make em laugh…. make em laugh… Look at how the famed Nick Bennett, bartender extraordinaire du Whisk&Ladle raises an eyebrow while his award-winning mustache remains in its award-winning pose. Photo by Laura Huben.

For the cocktails we mixed a sake called TY KU that came in a rather Vegas-inspired-bottle. Check ’em out: www.trytyku.com

TY KU – used for our Noble Rot cocktail hour. We used their blue bottle “Soju” which is made from 100% premium barley and pure spring water. And their Sake in the black bottle, a refined, smooth sake with peach on the nose and spice in the pan. (The green bottle lights up!)

The Menu by Mike Lee, paired by Monica and us Noble Rottens for your salivating pleasure:

Assorted Japanese Pickles


Tuna, Avocado, Onion Salad
Raw, soy marinated tuna, lightly vinagared onion


paired with
Toyo Bijin Ohkarakuchi Junmai Ginjo, Yamaguchi
‘ohkarakuchi’ is a category of sakes that are extremely dry.  Sakes in this style often tend to be a little one dimensional; Toyo Bijin, on the other hand, has an extremely complex aroma laced with ripe fruit yet has a

Daikon, Pork, Miso
Dashi braised daikon, minced pork, miso, scallion, ginger

paired with
Isojiman Junmai Daiginjo, Shizuoka
Isojiman has definitely achieved cult status in Japan, well known for their unique style of fermentation to achieve aromas of juicy tropical fruit, still maintaining great balance and versatility.  Long finish, very lively mouthfeel.

Soy Sauce Chicken Chicken, braised in Soy, Brown sugar, cinnamon, star anise, scallions


paired with
Hojyun Biden Yamahai Junmai, Fukuoka
Very smoky, earthy style of sake with aromas of cocoa and mushroom.  This sake is excellent chilled or at room temperature, which enhances the savory sweet qualities of the sake.  Yamahai refers to a yeast starter that has no lactic acid added, instead relying on changing the temperature of the water to create natural lactic acid.

Corn Kakiage, Hot Pepper
Deep fried corn fritter, Fried serrano pepper


paired with
Murai Family Nigori Genshu, Aomori
Highly concentrated, intense cloudy sake.  Vanilla and confectionary aromas give way to a rich, slightly earthy finish.  This sake is undiluted and approaches 21% alcohol, creating structure and cutting through the initial sweetness.  Great with spicy foods, cheese, and chocolate.

Beef Tendon, Yuba, Turnip
Beef tendon stew, yuba (tofu skin), turnips, rice


paired with
Katsuyama Genroku Aged Junmai, Miyagi
Deliberately aged to achieve a rich brown color and a flavor reminiscent of cognac.  Higher concentration of sake rice and koji to enable faster aging.  Aromas of coffee and roasted nuts, sweet and salty butterscotch finish.

Mochi Ice Cream

paired with
Kakurei Junmai Ginjo Ume-Shu, Niigata
Junmai Ginjo sake that has been soaked with locally grown plums for three months.  Aromas of apricot and almond, slightly sweet with mouthwatering acidity on the finish.

Menu written by Mike Lee of Studiofeast (www.studiofeast.com)

Sake paring by Monica Samuels (Southern Wine & Spirits)

Auction? Who knows. Photo by Steph Goralnick.



TY KU Sake Black

Rye Whiskey
Orange Curacao



TY KU Soju
Applejack Brandy