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April 14, 2015 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Champagne for Fools with Matthew Kaner

Pour it up, people: Champagne should be an all-the-time drink. But it’s especially appropriate this time of year, as everyone bops from holiday party to holiday party. Time to get some expert advice on the sparkly stuff, and Matthew Kaner, wine director and co-owner of Los Angeles’ Covell, has all the right answers. He debunked a few myths and threw out surprising insights, from the correct glassware (hint: it’s not a flute) to why popping a cork should be like passing gas…keep reading on

[This article first appeared on on December 12, 2014]


March 29, 2010 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): A Luxurious “Bubble” Bath

Luxury Suite – Parlor (Pamela Martinez at the Harp) Photo by: Brian Quinn

There is but one word to describe this most recent Noble Rot soiree: CHAMPAGNE. Where better to explore the drink of high ceremony than amidst a setting befitting princes, presidents and kings? Indeed, The Noble Rot recently commandeered a luxury suite in one of New York City’s finest hotels. We sipped seven different sparkling wines and champagne before turning to a cocktail hour with one of our good friends from Little Branch, Vito, who whipped up French 75’s (champagne, gin, lemon, simple syrup) and Royal Gold Rush’s (Champagne, bourbon, lemon, honey syrup).

The menu:

  1. Kluge (a sparkler from Virgina)
  2. Benoit Lahaye Champagne Brut Rose de Maceration
  3. Crémant de Bourgogne “Extra Brut”, Clotilde Davenne – NV
  4. Crémant d’Alsace Brut Reserve, Baur – NV
  5. Touraine Rosé Sparkling “Méthode Traditionelle”, Sarl – NV
  6. Ayala Champagne Zero Dosage Brut Nature (NV)
  7. Charles Gardet Champagne Selected Reserve NV

Pamela Martinez performed on her harp. And here’s what it all looked like:

The lovely Ladies and dapper Gentlemen have arrived. Photo by Brian Quinn.

Amanda Wells in and on the fringe (taking photo). Photo by Laura Huben.

“That’s right, I called security. They’ll be taking Mr. Cigar back to Brooklyn any minute now.” Photo by Laura Huben.

Bubble Bath in the Marbled Bath. Photo by Nora Leah.

Bubbles in the glass. Photo by Nora Leah.

Jonny Cigar is pouring his heart out. Photo by Brian Quinn.

This bedroom couldn’t be happier. Photo by Brian Quinn.

Pamela Martinez sings a cappella – beautiful! Photo by Nora Leah.

A little harp music. Photo by Brian Quinn.

Back to the music of the bubbly as Brian Quinn pours. Photo by Amanda Wells.

The Magnificent Nick Gray. Photo by Laura Huben.

Jonny sits at his desk to write a letter. Photo by Amanda Wells.

Take a look at those feathers. Photo by Amanda Wells.

Within the foyer. Photo by Laura Huben.

Mayur, Lucina, Nora dressed to kill (in the bedroom). Photo by Laura Huben.

Jonny Cigar opens the last bottle of Champagne for the evening. Photo by Brian Quinn.

Cocktail Hour is underway, in the Marbeled Bath with Vito making magic. Photo by Nora Leah.

Cats in the Boudoir. Photo taken with Nora Leah’s camera.

2:00am. Photo by Brian Quinn.

Jonny Cigar and Brian Quinn, blurred by the blazing fire. Photo by Amanda Wells.


October 5, 2009 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot (event): Harvest Party

We reaped a Harvest, indeed.

Photo by Brian Quinn (of The Noble Rot)

Photo by Brian Quinn.

At 2pm EST there was a 20 percent chance of rain predicted, and in NYC 20 percent typically means: I doubt it. Right around 3pm EST, torrential down-pours engulfed the five borrows. By 6pm it was sunny, again. However, we had already made the call to switch locations from an impeccable rooftop in DUMBO, to a secret loft location in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

And we celebrated Harvest like it was 1999. For you see, good wine-reader, the Napa Valley is in the throes of Harvesting their grapey cash-crops. In honor and celebration of their work, we drank excellent examples of California wine from fairly recent vintages. The lineup looked like this:

  • 2005 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc
  • 2006 Calera Pinot Noir (Central Coast)
  • 2005 Rombauer Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2007 Robert Foley Charbono
  • 2004 Girard Winery “Artistry” Bordeaux Blend

Grapes were strung about the loft and were to be harvested, however the good host, myself, Jonny Cigar, was indulging in the tasting with perhaps more gusto than was necessary, and hence was in no shape to harvest the lot (read: not enough spitting, too much sipping and it would have been a bad idea. Therescore, and unfortunately, my Dumbo Cuvee crop was lost and I’ll have to wait until next year to bottle. Good mannered Noble Rot counter-part Brian Quinn kept the evening in order, but also had his fill.

Playing fantastic blue-grassy inspired music throughout the eve were the Wylie Toms pictured below: Owen (Piano/Banjo/Vocals), Adam (Saxophone/Clarinet), Evan (Guitar/Singing) and Carly (Singing):

The Wylie Toms

The Wylie Toms (

Being harvest time (and coincidentally the Korean Thanksgiving) we provided the most-ever-delectable sandwiches: Seasoned turkey betwixt baguettes from Blue Ribbon Bakery smothered in a butternut-and-orange-rind squash puree, replete with caramelized shallots reduced in a scrumptious red-wine reduction (by Danielle Florio of The Whisk & Ladle Supper Club – check out her blog: saucylittledish) and the tastiest mouth-watering Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies, and Mexican Wedding Cookies by Amanda Wells of SweetWells.

So look, okay, the evening was great. I presented a Harvest Play, with Brian Quinn playing the role of President Nixon (relevant to the Schramsberg story) and I played myself. People ate turkey and brownies and cookies and drank some power-house California wines… so let’s talk about the wines. Our good friend, Jesse Salazar, of Union Square Wines consulted with me on the wines to serve.

The Schramsberg was my favorite. I rate wines through my Connoisseur Rating System (CRS) from -350 to Infiinity. The 2005 vintage produces delicate bubbles prompting me to consider a new bubble-bath formula that effervesces and makes you feel tipsy after your bath. CRS Rating: 18,456,777,444,444,345,543,123,321,678,000.

The Calera was the crowd-pleaser. The winemaker, Josh Jensen, worked at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, among other impressive places in and around Burgundy and had found some limestone in the Central Coast—which is where the Pinot grapes that produced this wine are grown within. CRS Rating: A bunch of 9’s strung together.

Mighty Rombauer was mighty tannic, and we all agreed this wine would be amazing in five more years. Lots of fruit like: Pumpkin and Rosemary, Shallots and Butternut Squash, Powdered sugar, and—–wait—-that was my mouthful of turkey, brownie and cookie. Let’s call it a blend CRS Rating: Five 10 Millions.

Monsieur Foley. His wines exude these chocolate and dark black cherry aromas and flavors, and one hopes it will never end. In fact, I still detect hints of it in the recesses of my mouth—talk about a finish, it’s still going days later. CRS Rating: Honorary Infinity (Because I like the label so much).

And then… this “little” bottle of delightfulness:

2004 Girard "Artistry" - signed by the winemaker

2004 Girard “Artistry” – signed by winemaker Marco DiGiulio

This three-liter Jeroboam (double-magnum) was the highlight of the night. Very exciting pour action, as I demanded everyone line up and come to me for a taste rather than my going to them as had been the case throughout the evening.

When everyone in the room had the Girard elixir in their glass we practiced our final Kevin Zraly inspired “60 Second Wine Expert” experience: First, sip the wine, swallow to remove any other tastes. Then smell the wine three times. Then, take a good mouthful and swirl around for 3-5 seconds, swallow and think about the wine for 60 seconds. “Shut up!” I exclaimed, “Think about what you’re experiencing.”

And surely we were all experiencing a spicy, fruity, elegantly smooth Bordeaux blend that did indeed take us out with a bang. The wine changed in the glass after some time, opened up to reveal a plethora of flavors. I had visited Girard’s tasting room in Yountville back in early September and the wonderful Erin Luby, who runs ship at the tasting room, worked with me on selecting a big bottle that would certainly make a show for this event. Luckily, the day she shipped the wine, winemaker Marco DiGiulio was present and signed the bottle. Opening a bottle that size was a first for most everyone in the room. It’s the final bout of rapid-fire fireworks at the end of every skylit fireworks celebration, and helped end our Harvest Party with enough of its nectar to go around the room a couple times.

We at the Noble Rot wish we could be in Napa harvesting alongside the men and women who make this country grape. The evening can be summed up by resident Whisk & Ladle bartender, Nick Bennett, who said: “Dude, I’m telling my mom about this.” And I hope he does. I hope everyone tells their mom about the Noble Rot, because we don’t fool around. You like to fool around? Call us and we’ll tell you all about how we don’t fool around. In fact, we don’t fool around so much that we pretty much only fool around. The Noble Rot. It’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone about this, except for your moms and your friends and everyone you may or may not know.

Fun links:

Host - Jonny Cigar

Host – Jonny Cigar

Danielle and a few remaining Turkey's......

Danielle and a few remaining Turkey’s……

Christine, Amanda Wells (SweetWells), Paul

Christine, Amanda Wells (SweetWells), Paul