Tag Archives: wine tastings

One Incredible Lady from South Africa…Wendy Appelbaum

On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to meet the dynamic Wendy Appelbaum of De Morgenzon Estate in South Africa during Legal Sea Foods wine dinner featuring her.  A woman who is serious about winemaking, Appelbaum had a dry sense of humor with hints of feistiness that entranced me immediately.  Her voice had the deep guttural sound that reflected years of cigarette smoking (something she admitted to after a few coughs), and what she had to say that to her audience about winemaking in South Africa was smart, concise and fascinating.   Her outward appearance was as meticulous as her speech.   This woman exuded intelligence, stateliness and a frankness that was refreshing to listen to.  Thankfully, she patiently waited to talk about her vineyards while Sue and I frantically took our seats.

I admit it.  We were late.  Sue and I missed the hor d’oeuvres because we were also at the First Republic Bank’s Grand and Premier Cru Burgundies tasting.  We sipped on outstanding white and rouge Burgundies from Christie’s auction house in preview of the auction that benefits Hospices de Beaune.  Despite knowing that we had a wonderful dinner in front of us it was indeed hard to tear ourselves Corton-Charlemagne, Mersault and Mazis-Chembertin.  Thankfully though, we were not the last to arrive.  A couple of people walked in directly after us.  Whew…

I was happy to learn that De Morgenzon farms organically and bio-dynamically.  Considering that Bauer has a growing Organic Section and an ever growing clientele looking for Organic wines, I was pleased that I could add these wines to the list.  They dedicate themselves to the philosophy that a bio-diverse and an ecological sensitive environment produces infinitely better grapes.   Applebaum said with a smile, “If you get a headache tonight, it won’t be from my wines.”  Sure enough, she was right.  No headache for me later that night.

Part of their organic philosophy was to plant wildflowers in between their vines so they can rely on natural pollination and yeasts.    They describe their vineyard 91 hectare garden with 55 hectares of carefully tended vines and flower beds surround the entire farm.  In the background there are purple mountains and a blue sky overhead, the kind of picturesque scene a city dweller like me only dreams about.   Could it be that natural aspect that makes Appelbaum’s wines so delicious?  Well, that and the fact they pump Baroque music throughout the vineyard to make both the vines and farm workers happier.  Yes, Baroque music is best and Rock is the worst for vine happiness.  Twenty-four hours and day, seven days a week you will hear the likes of Bach, Mozart, Handel, Richter and others played through strategically placed speakers around the vineyards.  The Appelbaums believe that sound energy from the Baroque music has a positive effect on plant growth and the soothing sounds encourage the vines to grow faster and healthier.

Music, the surrounding gardens, happy farm workers, the majestic scenery, and loving owners like the Appelbaums, it is all working to make wonderful wines out of South Africa.

Pictures of the dinner:

Pistachio & Caper crusted Salmon

Short Ribs with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and local apples

A Day in the Gilded Age Tasting Wine

What does the most perfect setting to taste food and wine look like to you?  Well, for me it would be under a silken white tent with a backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Marble House mansion on the other side.  The sun would be shining bright and mixed with the ocean breezes; you could only think it to be the perfect temperature.  Mix in some sailboats out on the horizon and admiring people walking the Cliff Walk and suddenly I was a Vanderbilt.  Yes, on Sunday, I got to know what it would be like to be a shipping and railroad magnate during the Gilded Age relaxing in my backyard while imbibing on scrumptious food and drink.

Marble House

The View

The Newport Mansion’s Food & Wine Festival was this past weekend and while the mansion was closed, we still felt princely.  The restaurants that were present set up a regal feast for everyone.  Some that stood out were the Castle Hill Inn’s sandwich that consisted of a rice bun with lobster salad AND sliced steak.  Finally…someone read my mind.  Hudson Valley’s Foie Gras’ duck bacon, velvety foie gras and duck liver pate were something my taste buds will never forget.

The Chinese Tea House on the lawn

Alexian Pate served a pheasant liver pate with rosemary that was outstanding.  The rosemary was just perfect and balanced out the pheasant pate. The country style Pheasant Rosemary paté offers a unique flavor profile, and a palate combination of spices and port wine, which is highlighted by rosemary herb. These flavors are revealed slowly with each bite, making it an intriguing tasting experience – especially for those who aren’t familiar with paté or the taste of pheasant.

Other highlights in the culinary department are a King Crab Salad, a crab salad that was served with cucumber pearls (cucumber puree with all the air squeezed out-amazing taste).

Now…the wines…

As I gazed out to the Chinese Tea House, I sipped the 2008 vintage of Justin Vineyards “Isosceles,” a Bordeaux blend from (Paso Robles) California modeled after the left bank Bordeaux’s of Margaux and Paulliac.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, Isosceles had deep, rich raspberry aromas.  The taste had layers of ripe fruits, brown spice and black currants that only intensified after each sip.

I also had the great pleasure of sipping on some 1999 Nicholas Feuillatte Palmes  d’Or Champagne.  The fine and delicate bubbles opened up to a lively effervescence.  In my glass, there was a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that had aromas of white flower with acacia and honey.  Hints of toffee and anise run through the flavors with coffee, pastry and candied orange peel flavors in this supple Champagne with a smoky note echoing on the finish.  Heavenly delicious and drinking quite well if you can find a bottle of the Palmers d’Or.

The Pinot Noir that stood out in the crowd of fine wines was the Bergstrom Vineyard Pinot Noir.  The rich crimson color emphasized my stately surroundings.  The deep and complex nose was a swirling mixture of toasted bread, incense, Asian spices, blueberry and black cherry, roses, violets, wet volcanic rock and Bresaola (dried beef.)  The flavors were mainly driven by cherry and red rock minerals.  This is one of those wines that can be drunk young or aged.

Overall, this was a spectacular day and I am so glad I took the time to go.  The weather had everyone in a great mood and it seems that the exhibitors were excited to be there as well.  Stella Artois had a tent there and as you can see from my picture below, they were giving us full pourings of beer from Stella Artois, Leffe, and Hoegaarden in glasses to keep.  What a way to refresh my palate after all those red wines.

Claiming my Stella glass