Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Over at Brooklyn Winery, we recently launched a new wine list that features New York state wines that I’m particularly fond of (and luckily for me, so are our customers). This was my first time working as a consultant for a wine list, so, if you feel like it, check out some of my thoughts at the Brooklyn Winery blog on what when into planning the list: an angry rant on NYC wine bars that don’t feature New York state wines.

CLX-brooklyn-winery_mdn

My class this week at Brooklyn Winery is on wines from the film Sideways. I thought I’d share some of my experiences traveling through “Sideways Country” at the Brooklyn Winery Blog. I hope to sip pinot with some of you in class …

Toronto to London by Train

Aside from the usual gigs and deadlines, a new place has kept me from the blog for a minute: Brooklyn Winery. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to work in the restaurant industry as a passion project, and to enhance my critical skills as a wine, food, and restaurant reporter. Brooklyn Winery was advertising part time positions of which wine knowledge was more important than experience carrying a tray, so I went for it and they haven’t kicked me out yet!

I joined the team at Brooklyn Winery — an urban winery and wine bar — back in April, and since then I’ve gained valuable knowledge in many areas: service, wine making, New York’s wine regions, distribution, and yes, carrying a tray (not as easy as my colleagues make it look!). I’ll have a feature in Wine and Jazz Magazine this fall on Brooklyn Winery wine maker, Conor McCormack, and I continue to devote my attention to the wines of New York, Michigan, and Ontario. I hope you enjoy this story on some of Toronto’s restaurants which are highly devoted to their countries wines.

As wine shops go, it’s not much to look at, just a mid-sized store with a Walmart-like plastic toy aroma. There are shelves of spirits, beer, and wines separated by region.

But browsing here at Toronto’s LCBO (Liquor Control Board Ontario) on King and Spadina, with its fine selection of Canada’s VQA wines, and Crush Wine Bar’s Monday night one-dollar-corkage-fee just down the street, gives me a warm feeling: I’m about to share an experience with my good friends Julien and Jia, who are new to Toronto and Ontario’s wines. And Crush Wine Bar has one of Canada’s finest sommeliers, Mark Moffatt, authoring their list each week with well-balanced wines full of finesse from all over the old world. But we won’t have any of those.

Toronto is hip. Its fashion district, enhanced by models and celebrities – a by-product of Toronto’s film industry – gives it electricity akin to the more lime-lit cities of New York, London, or Paris. But a country’s fine wine industry also adds sex appeal to their largest city’s culture. So while Canadian vintners continue to search for their identity in both the wine regions of British Columbia, with a climate similar to Washington state, and Ontario, a pen pal of New York’s Finger Lakes, eventually the latter will primarily focus on cooler climate varietals (pinot and gamay noir, chardonnay, riesling). And that’s mainly what we focused on.

I arrived on Sunday, the third of July and just two days after Canada’s independence day, to many closed restaurants with the weekend’s festivities still going strong. But my friends’ building in the entertainment district has its own restaurant, Canteen, with a nice by-the-glass list.

Jason Bangerter, formerly of Auberge du Pommier, is the executive chef of Canteen and its fine dinning counterpart, Luma, of Oliver and Bonacini restaurants. Canteen, on the ground floor of the new TIFF Bell Lightbox building (a Toronto film festival venue), is a casual café, market, and bakery — perfect for a downtown power-meal. We began with a still rosé from Featherstone (a winery on the Niagara Escarpment). With mellow acid, fresh strawberries, red licorice and cherries on the finish, it was fitting for our evening of summer sidewalk dining.

We ordered various pastas and poultries, so we went with what Jancis Robinson affectionately calls “liquid chicken,” pinot noir. The 2009 pinot noir from Mission Hill – a massive Berringer/Mondavi-like operation — in the Okanagan Valley, is dark ruby with a bouquet of tart raspberries, balanced with minerals and flavors of bacon fat on the mid palate, and finishes with a medicinal fruit feel. While dessert was served, I opted for one last glass: the 2009 Malivoire gamay, from its vineyards along the Beamsville Bench sub-appellation. I have long been a fan of the Niagara gamays. Beaujolais in style, this complex gamay has a tangy smoke on its bouquet, with a jammy thickness in body, and mint on the finish.

Prior to arriving in Toronto, I reached out to my colleague at Wine and Jazz Magazine, the Canadian wine writer Natalie MacLean, asking about restaurants that would have extensive VQA wine lists. Her response brought us to lunch the next day at Starfish Oyster Bed and Grill. As an aperitif and initial accompaniment to our oysters, we sipped a sparkling rosé, the Henry of Pehlam Cuvée Catherine Brut Rosé: crisp, dry, and it lured my friends Julien and Jia directly to the LCBO after lunch to purchase some for their home. Julien and I went for mussels next, and I chose a chenin blanc from Cave Spring Cellars, of the 2008 vintage. Golden straw in color, with vanilla and green beans on the bouquet, this medium bodied white has a honey-weight to it, with a delicate sweetness of candied almonds on the finish.

While Julien and Jia purchased their sparkling rosé, we decided then that dinner would be with Crush Wine Bar and their one-dollar-corkage-fee. I chose the 2008 pinot noir from Cave Spring. Glasses of sparkling wine always begin a meal (sometimes even breakfast), when Julien and Jia are at the table, so we stuck with Cave Spring and their 2006 Dolomite Sparkling Brute. With lots of bubbles on the eye, and a thick texture of yeasty-bread and sea salt, the wine drank beautifully but was a touch too warm – always a risk when ordering by the glass, though it shouldn’t be. Charcuterie, Bison Tartare, and main courses accompanied the pinot noir, with its sneezy white pepper and red fruits on the nose. If you have ever doubted that Niagara can produce pinot noir, I can assure you this wine from Cave Spring is an Oregon-dian success.

I left Julien and Jia at Toronto’s historic Union Station the next morning and departed for Bayfield, via London, by train. Bayfield is a 19th century Victorian resort town and home to my friends Ted and Kathleen McCintosh, sommelier and chef respectively, and passionate philanthropists of all things Canadian-food-and-wine.

I’m not sure why, but many colleagues and friends involved in the New York City wine industry act as if they wish the wines from places like Canada would fail in comparison to their old world darlings. But perhaps I’m equally as guilty of having a bias in wanting the wines to succeed when I taste them. Alas, all I can do is leave you with this final paragraph, and ask that you consider this image when you taste wine from not just Canada or other up and coming regions, but from anywhere.

During my afternoon in Bayfield, Ted poured a rosé from Tawse and a reserve pinot noir from Flat Rock (Niagara), followed by a reserve pinot noir from Le Vieux Pin (Okanagan B.C.). I make it to Bayfield only a few times a year to visit with Ted and Kathleen, and cherish the time we spend sharing wines from the U.S. and Canada. We sat outside on the patio of their gastro-pub, the Black Dog. We talked about wine, food, cities, sports, music, work. The wines of course had acid levels, alcohol levels, stem contact, color, weight, body, oak age, tannins, long finishes, all of which you may fully understand, but ultimately don’t matter. And if you have to ask what does matter, then you’ll never understand wine.

"Brix," of Bowers Harbor Vineyards (photo courtesy of savoringsarah.com)

“Great Lakes, Great Times,” the highway signs promised on the way into Michigan from its neighbors — Indiana, Ohio, and in certain places even from the south, Canada — for most of my life. For the last few years, and perhaps more appropriately, “Pure Michigan,” has been the state’s motto. Because while the lakes remain great, the times have been better. But one thing that has never been better are the wines of Michigan.

We are all familiar with the heartbreaking tragedy that is Detroit. Less well known is Michigan’s bustling wine industry, which, I can only hope, might one day help stimulate the state’s economy through increased oeno-geekism, while simultaneously providing an elixir to Michiganders during the darker times.

“I’ve always wanted to go to Michigan,” wrote Eric Asimov, wine critic for the New York Times in a 2010 Diner’s Journal blog entry. “It has what I imagine to be a thriving wine country.” And while Mr. Asimov’s thoughts were focused on the award-winning rieslings of the Old Mission Peninsula AVA, don’t ignore the red wines of the mitten state, including those of Bowers Harbor Vineyards.

As you pull up to Bowers Harbor Vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula, near Traverse City in the north western part of the state, Brix, a 110 pound Berenese Mountain Dog, will give you a friendly greeting and may even rest at your feet while you sip wine. The tasting room is a rustic old horse barn turned winery, and the people of Bowers Harbor are eager to teach you about their wines and Michigan wine country.

I recently tasted the 2896 Langley: a blend of 65% cabernet franc, 32% merlot, and 3 % cabernet sauvignon, from the 2007 vintage. (Langley is the single vineyard designated to wine maker/proprietor Spencer Stengenga’s grandfather, and 2896 is the address of Bowers Harbor.) With a complex bouquet of strawberry preserves, licorice, ginger, mint leaves, and tasting of spicy green pepper notes on the mid palate, this midwestern American wine could easily be mistaken as old world — perhaps a byproduct of French oak barrel aging and the studying of French wine-making by Mr. Stengenga.

While 2006 proved to be an elegant vintage for Bowers Harbor, tasting room manager Kristy McClellan assured me that 2007 has been their best vintage to date for reds:

“We don’t make this wine every year, but 2006 and 2007 were great. We individually taste each barrel and come up with the wine after a few blending trials. The 2008 vintage will be the first time the blend has been predominantly merlot.”

The 2896 Langley can be found in the $40 to $50 price range — not an easy sell to those looking for value, but well worth it to experience the potential that is Michigan’s red grape terroir. Bowers Harbor also produces a pinot noir from Dijon clones, and a sweet red table wine called Red Wagon Red. But if you want to try excellent wines at recession prices, Michigan can deliver with its whites. Bowers Harbor produces a variety of chardonnays, dessert wines, a gewürztraminer, a rosé made from cabernet franc, and of course, rieslings.

At $14 the BHV Estate riesling from 2009 is a beautiful golden color, with green apples, melon, petrol, and figs on the nose, with a syrupy thick body, though not without great acidity. Well balanced lime and cilantro flavors make up the finish. Northern Michigan’s climate is ideal for a number of different styles of rieslings.

“The fruit doesn’t ripen too quickly because of our cool nights, so we get a wonderful quality while maintaining superior levels of acidity,” said Ms. McClellan. “Lake Michigan’s surrounding water extends our growing season for the late harvest styles, but for the BHV Estate riesling we pick on the earlier side to keep its bright fruit characteristics.”

The Bowers Harbor gewürztraminer, also from 2009, is straw fading to green in color, with tropical fruits and floral aromas on the nose: banana, pineapple, roses. It’s an off-dry, low acid wine on the palate, with a bitter back end of citrus peels to balance it out.

“Our gewürztraminer is very popular. We’ve made it more on the dry side in the past, but to be honest, the ones that balance with a little sweetness seem to better please our costumers,” Ms. McClellan tells me.  “Telling them to pair it with Thai or Chinese dishes helps them put an image in their mind as far as a use for such a unique wine.”

It’s still tough to find Michigan wines outside of Michigan, but that is changing. A recent night out at the New York City wine bar Castello Plan, in Ditmas Park Brooklyn, confirmed it: the Blue Franc (100% lemberger), from Shady Lane Cellars, a Michigan winery from the Leelanau Peninsula, is featured on the menu. “We used to serve it by the glass too, and it sold great,” bartender Justin Walsh told me.

I remember the first time I saw a sparkling wine from Gruet of New Mexico on a menu and thought, “huh?” Gruet is now served in close to 5,000 restaurants across the country. I’m not asserting the same will happen for Michigan wines, but with wineries like Bowers Harbor Vineyards producing well balanced red and white wines full of finesse, I can at least feel confident telling people that Michigan does indeed have great lakes and great wines.

Check out my new post at the Wine and Jazz magazine blog on Peconic Bay: a Long Island winery with a very cool live music series. This coincides with my new project to feature wines from Michigan, Ontario, and New York. (Below are some photos of some summer concerts at Peconic Bay.)

I’m off to France tomorrow — Paris and Dijon, and maybe a mystery location yet to be determined. I’ll definitely have some cool stories to share from my time in both Paris and Burgundy, with none other than It’s About That Time contributor,  hot shot sommelier Anthony Minne!

IATT

Critiquing the Critics

Wine Critic Antonio Galloni

Wine critic Robert Parker’s assignment of Antonio Galloni to cover new vintages of California for the Wine Advocate has the whole internet wine world blabbing. It’s About That Time reader Raja Elachkar shares his view below of Eric Asimov’s New York Times response to the news:

Asimov is so full of it. Parker’s influence has waned? People are less interested in Bordeaux? Nobody told me that. Is this why prices of Bordeaux continue to soar higher?

Serious wine buyers ask only one question: What is the RP rating? That’s it. But many critics like Asimov continue to take shots at him.

Asimov covers dozens of wines a month. The bloggers do the same, maybe a few a week (most of them with a different agenda — to sell wine, or advertisement typically). In the Wine Advocate, you get extensive coverage of about 1000 different wines per issue, or every other month (no promotions, kickbacks, or any wine to sell, etc). Only pure, unbiased opinions. It’s time for the NYT to get rid of Asimov and get somebody more relevant.

Incidentally, Parker will continue to cover CA; Galloni will provide more coverage of CA, and together they will cover more wine in CA. Below is a copy of the letter I received from eRobertParker.com:

Dear eRobertParker.com Subscriber:

I am thrilled to announce that Antonio Galloni will have expanded responsibilities for The Wine Advocate and www.eRobertParker.com as of February 1, 2011. I would like to take credit for my powers of persuasion over recent years in trying to convince Antonio of the virtues of covering additional wine regions, but if truth be known, the writing was always on the wall that his enviable talents and passion for this field would ultimately prevail, and the beneficiaries are the world’s wine consumers.

Antonio will continue to focus on the wines of Italy as well as Champagne, but two new areas of responsibility for Antonio will include the red and white Burgundies of the Côte d’Or as well as the crisp white wines of Chablis, and the wines of California. These vast regions will benefit from the increased depth of coverage, as will all the major wine regions of the world.

Additionally, sectors that merit dramatically more attention but have not had sufficient coverage, including Beaujolais and the Mâconnais (now economically as important as the Cote d’Or and Chablis) will be put under a microscope by David Schildknecht, who will continue with his other areas of responsibility but will be freed from covering the Cote d’Or and Chablis.

I will turn to something I have long played around with in The Wine Advocate but have rarely had enough time to do. Older readers may remember the vintage retrospectives called “What About Now?” With Antonio turning his attention to California, I am going to begin a series of horizontal and vertical tastings of perfectly stored California wines that will give readers insight into how they are developing. It has been a long-term ambition of mine to include more reports on older vintages, and this change will allow me to do this not only in California, but also to increase the older vintage reports for Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley.

In all other respects, the staff assignments at The Wine Advocate remain identical. I hope all of you share our great enthusiasm for the fact that Antonio Galloni has finally taken the plunge and will be devoting most of his time to his wine writing career, a job for which he seems particularly well-suited and sure to excel.

All the best in wine and life,
Robert M. Parker, Jr.

P.S. The Wine Advocate writer assignments are:

Robert Parker – Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, older vintages of Bordeaux, Rhône and California wines

Antonio Galloni – Italy, Champagne, Chablis, Côte d’Or, California

David Schildknecht – Germany, Loire, Beaujolais and Mâconnais, Eastern U.S., Austria,
Eastern Europe, Languedoc-Roussillon, Jura

Jay Miller – Oregon, Washington, South America, Spain

Lisa Perrotti – Brown – Australia, New Zealand

Neal Martin – Critic-at-Large overlapping all areas, plus specific reviewer of South Africa

Mark Squires – Bulletin Board supervision and occasional articles on Israel, Portugal, and Greece

And the NYT headline gives you the impression (perhaps Asimov’s hope) that Parker is retiring. My interpretation of Parker’s eNews letter (the same one that Asimov read) is that he is praising Galloni by giving him more work. Parker will be covering more older vintages of CA and Bordeaux. I did not get the impression at all that he will be working less or retiring (from one end, he will cover less CA, on the other end he will cover more older vintages of CA and Bordeaux). I for one am very excited to see this: how the older wines will develop and what the new ratings will be (as in last year with the 1990 Bordeaux vintage).

People like Parker never retire (I see it in businesses all the time), the ones that are truly passionate about their work never walk away.

Raja Elachkar

IATT

Announcement

New York Finger Lakes Wine Country

Two weeks of touring the east coast with the Hot Club of Detroit, two conferences, and multiple video and print assignments for Wine and Jazz Magazine have helped me to stay warm so far in 2011, but I’m glad to be back at the blog. And I want to share with you an idea for a project I’ve begun that I’m particularly excited about.

Readers of this blog know that I like to drink local. Over the holidays, I sipped the 06 Chardonnay from Wyncroft — a Michigan winery — while dining at Michael Simon’s “Roast,” in downtown Detroit. It was there that I came to the decision to turn my focus on wine at this blog, Wine and Jazz Magazine, and any other publications that may welcome my writing, to the wines and the people behind them from the much talked about regions of Michigan, Ontario, and New York.

Why?

Because I feel a connection with those regions: I was born and raised in Michigan, my family has a summer home in Ontario, and I currently live in New York. It feels natural for me to want to drink and learn everything I can about these wines and their regions. I’m sure many of you will agree that these emerging wine regions are exciting to watch develop, but at the same time you may feel the wines lack value for what they are. But, would you order a bowl of minestrone in New England because it was a little cheaper than the clam chowder? No, you’d order the chowder. And you could probably find a low priced wine from Chile or the Southern Rhône Valley while dining at a restaurant in Napa, but would you really choose that sleeper of a wine over a locally produced gem to save a few bucks? Not if you’re at my table.

(I know I just basically, like, compared Michigan to the Napa Valley, but I don’t care.)

“The best Michigan wines are among the finest in the country,” wrote wine educator Kevin Zraly in his book, American Wine Guide. And, in my opinion, the same goes for the best wines from New York, and our neighbor to the north.

And the enthusiasm for this project from the producers I’ve reached out to from these regions has been overwhelmingly positive. Check back soon for reviews of wines from Peconic Bay, a Long Island winery; Heron Hill, a Finger Lakes Winery; and Wyncroft, a Michigan winery whose wines have made their way on to the menus of Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s, and Iron Chef Michael Simon’s Roast.

I have trips planned to visit each of these regions this summer, and look forward to reporting on the wines and culture I experience while there. And by no means will I totally abandon reporting on wines from the rest of the world. Next month I will be speaking at a jazz conference at the University of Burgundy, and traveling with me will be my friend and colleague, sommelier Anthony Minne. He and I will be sure to share our wine-and-music-trouble-causing-adventures from Paris and Burgundy with you.

In the mean time, I urge you to seek out the crisp, mineral driven red and white wines from Michigan, New York, and Ontario. And if you do try one, drop me a line at paulbradymusic@gmail.com, or leave a comment here to let me know how you liked, or hated it.

“No one questions New York’s jazz intensity,” my friend Patrick Jarenwattananon over at A Blog Supreme aptly stated in regards to this weekends attention-surplus-disordered New York Winter Jazz Fest: a two day event that showcases around 200 of the planet’s most creative jazz musicians. The same could be said about eating and drinking in New York. And the same could even be said about eating and drinking in the West Village, home to the five venues of Winter Jazz Fest, and a mecca for foodies and boozies.

As a music, food, and wine writer for Wine and Jazz Magazine, and as a former resident of the West Village, instead of listing my top music picks for Winter Jazz Fest, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite places to eat and drink in the area. Because you’ll likely at some point be standing in the back of a venue with an obstructed view, hungry, thirsty, sweating but having already shed all your layers, so let the temptation of countless West Village dinning and drinking spots win you over for a portion of the weekend.

Wilfie and Nell

Beer/Cocktails

Forget beers at the Blind Tiger (the last time I went no one was in sight to take my order, the only visible person appeared to be a maintenance employee changing a light bulb, and what was featured on the menu as being on cask was not available) or cocktails at Little Branch (the wait alone could be the length of an entire set), and head to Wilfie and Nell (228 West 4th Street) for stellar drafts, cocktails — designed by owner Simon Gibson — and a locavore menu.

The drafts can’t compete with the nearby Blind Tiger in numbers, but their selection is always stellar with, among others, Vicotry Prima Pilsner, Bitburger, Brooklyn seasonal, Chimay Rouge, and passionately poured Guinness. It fills up fast on the weekends but all it takes is a quick glance at a bar tender to get a drink.

Wine

The serious oeno-geek will want to make the trek to Anfora over at 34 8th Avenue. But for something closer to the action check out ‘ino (21 Bedford Street) for small Italian plates and bottles, carafes or glasses of Italian wines.

Dinner

For those who want to try to fit in a serious, sit down dinner, Lupa (170 Thompson Street) is the little brother of Iron Chef Mario Batali’s Babbo. Lupa accepts walk-ins and I’ve always been able to sit and eat at the bar right away.

Coffee/Dessert

Rocco's Pastry Shop

Open until 1:30 A.M., Rocco’s Pastry Shop (243 Bleeker Street) has lots of space with tables, and cases and cases of pastries. For coffee drinks to-go, walk in and head right to the Barista’s counter to order.

Late Night Pizza

John’s and Joe’s have the reputations but give the guys at Bleeker Street Pizza a chance (69 7th Avenue, on the corner of Bleeker and 7th). Try the Nonna Maria slice and thank me later.

Yours truly DJing at La Pomme D'Eve, Paris, France, 2001

Happy 2011! By now you’ve probably read enough annoying “Best-Of-2010″ lists that even the amount of champagne you drank last night wouldn’t make them any more tolerable. So, I thought I’d wait and give you my annoying 2010 recording-of-the-year choice to complement today’s annoying hangover. And for those of you who had to work early today, I hope you didn’t use the New Years Day-iPhone-bugged-clock as your alarm like my roommate (though he conveniently works at the Apple Store so he was off the hook). Continue Reading »

Jazz Guitar Sommelier

Jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson (photo by Ian Gitler)

The Jazz writer David Adler cited jazz guitarist Anthony Wilson’s “furiously smoking nonet at Smalls,” as one of his live music highlights of 2010. I have to say, I agree. I caught up with Anthony in New York City a few weeks ago to chat about wine — the dude is the most knowledgeable non-industry oenophile I’ve ever met — and some of his latest projects. Check out the full article at the Wine and Jazz magazine blog.

Jazz bassist Matt Pavolka brought his quartet to Barbès, in Park Slope, Brooklyn, this past Monday.

 

“You’re a very punctual audience,” the bassist Matt Pavolka said as he took his band stand shortly after 7:00 P.M. on Monday at Barbès.

Pavolka knows how to move an audience with an aggressive, post modern approach to what some might call Brooklyn Jazz. His compositions are mostly groove based and usually climax mid way through, but not without delicately structured expositions and codas. Winding down his first set, he dug hard into his double bass during an unaccompanied solo, patiently creating melodies in the upper register, seemingly in no hurry to take that break. Continue Reading »

Andy Rothman, Gerald Clayton, Diane Rothman, and John Clayton

As a follow up to JazzTimes’ October article on house concerts, I interviewed Andy Rothman — a Detroit area home-concert promoter — on his own jazz series: the Detroit Groove Society. Andy is possibly the most passionate jazz fan I have ever met. Earlier this year we hung out in New York when Andy and his wife Diane flew in (during the dead of the winter) on the day of pianist Gerald Clayton’s debut/opening night at the Village Vanguard. We met for a quick beer after the concert, and they headed back to Detroit first thing the next morning. Now that’s hardcore. The article was written for the blog at Wine and Jazz, and the full interview with Andy appears below. Continue Reading »

 

Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY.

 

If you’re like me, then this is your favorite time of year. And here in Brooklyn, the weather is still warm enough to guzzle your favorite white wine after a long walk with the fall colors. Check out my latest post at Wine and Jazz on late summer/early fall wines.

From the Road

Again, I find myself on the road, swamped with gigs and deadlines! In the mean time check out the current issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine, in which I gave an interview and talked about the most recent Hot Club of Detroit recording. And if you can’t pick up the magazine, look for the article attached to my Facebook page. The next few weeks will take me to Minneapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, and Los Angeles. I look forward to reporting back on lots of new wines, music, and adventures from the road. For jazz fans, I recently sat down with jazz historian Dr. Lewis Porter to give him a blind folded listening test. Check back here for the transcription of that and more in the coming weeks.   

I realize that the blog has been pretty wine heavy lately. One reason is that I’m engrossed in a music editing project for Cengage Learning by day, so it’s kind of nice to dive into wine research by night. But I have some cool music articles on the horizon for the jazz heads especially. In the mean time, I hope some of you will seek out these wines and let me know what you think.

People in the wine industry tend to go through phases: an anti Parker phase, an anti Spectator phase, an anti new world phase, an anti ratings phase. But many share common ground when it comes to which wines fascinate them the most.

Gary Vaynerchuk once said on an episode of Wine Library TV that Riesling is the favorite white wine of the industry. I find there to be some truth to that. When talking with folks from many sides of the industry, our conversations have often been dominated by the wines of Alsace, Germany, and Austria: the Riesling powerhouses. And when it comes to reds, nearly every industry person I’ve met says they’d fill their desert island cellar with Pinot Noir from Burgundy. Continue Reading »

Check out my article on Ontario wines and Canadian sommelier Ted McIntosh, at Wine and Jazz. The Niagara wine region is a fantastic place to go taste for a few days for those of us across the country from the west coast. And Bayfield Ontario, home of Mr. McIntosh and his pub the Black Dog, is a beautiful Lake Huron resort town with some great restaurants, and definitely worth getting away to if you’re within driving distance. (See the complete interview with Ted McIntosh below.)

Oh Canada

 

Kathleen Sloane-McIntosh and Ted McIntosh

 

I’ve noticed lately that many of us in the blogging world are on vacation. The last couple weeks I’ve been sort of off the grid too, either touring with the Hot Club of Detroit, or relaxing with my family on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. But the latter has resulted in some cool research on Canadian wines, and people in the Canadian wine world. Check out my article on Ontario wines, and the Canadian sommelier Ted McIntosh, which will appear soon at wineandjazz.com. The full interview with Ted — a must read for any young sommelier — appears below here at It’s About That Time.

Paul Brady: How did you become interested in food and wine?

Ted McIntosh
: I always bar tended at night. And standing in front of all the alcoholic beverages I thought, I’d better learn something about this. If you want to be a salesman, you better know your product. So then I started out with the wine appreciation course I in Toronto at Sheraton College. Then I came out of that with even more questions so I moved on to course number II. Then that led me to the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) sequence, and I did a couple levels of that. And then in 1995 I decided to take the Sommelier program at George Brown. And I always worked full time too; I was a letter carrier for 27 years and I tended bar at night. Then wine sort of evolved into single malts; I had my own single malt importing business. And my wife Kathleen has been a food writer for 25 years. She does a lot of writing for Wine Access, and she’s done a cookbook, “The Wine Lover Cooks,” which is wine driven instead of food driven, with Tony Aspler, the wine writer in Toronto. Continue Reading »

 

Gary Vaynerchuk and Paul Brady (photo by Kells Nollenberger)

 

I get star-struck. Since moving to New York City I’ve spotted Tara Reid, Mickey Rourke, and the popular comedian Louis C.K. Well, friends pointed them out, but I thought it was cool!

I’m probably more likely to recognize a moderately known wine critic, or an even lesser known jazz musician walking the streets of New York City than, say, Alexander Rodriguez — not that I wouldn’t care, it’s just not who’s on my radar. So when I finally came face to face with wine industry heavyweight Gary Vaynerchuk, the Robert Parker of my generation, kind of, I had no words. Well, almost no words. Five, to be exact. Continue Reading »

Wine and Jazz

I’ve just begun contributing to another great blog with a similar mission: Wine and Jazz. Wine and Jazz is also a full color magazine, and will be available nationally in stores and on news stands this November. Read more at http://www.wineandjazz.com. My first piece for them, posted today, is on some cool places to eat, drink, and hear jazz in New York City. Check it out!

Bar Culture

After what could only be considered a smooth move of apartments from the West Village to Park Slope, I’m back with a new article on some of my favorite bars from over the years.

All seemed right last week on a beautiful Tuesday evening. The sun was going down, the temperature cooled, and we had a great table near the window at Wilfie and Nell on West 4th Street. Then it hit me: this would be my last beer at my regular bar as a resident of the West Village, and I immediately became bittersweet.

By “we” I mean my mom and I. Mom was in town to help me make the move from the West Village — where I had been for two energetic years — to Park Slope. She suggested that I blog on Wilfie and Nell, which gave me the idea to write on all my regular bars over the years. Continue Reading »

Multireedist James Carter at the resting place of Django Reinhardt

15 years after his album Conversin’ With The Elders was released, James Carter continues to musically communicate with those who have inspired him the most.

I often think the multireedist James Carter is able to telepathically channel the creative spirit of the passed musicians he admires. He has paid tribute to many through composition or even full length albums, among them Eric Dolphy, Billie Holiday, and Django Reinhardt. In the case of Reinhardt, and possibly others, the reason for Mr. Carter’s telepathy may be that he has taken it upon himself to visit the final resting place of the original jazz guitar hero, for a first and final musical conversation. Continue Reading »

Anthony Minne and Paul Brady

As sommelier Anthony Minne and I began a blind tasting of an Italian Pinot Noir he’d been raving about, with a 2006 red Burgundy, my sister, Melissa King, observed that readers might like an outsider’s view of what really goes on at one of our tastings. Melissa is a freelance writer in the Detroit area and has done some reporting on wine and music.

I am what my brother Paul calls “a recreational wine drinker.” Though I like to think this is said with some affection, the label is most often slung at me after I admit to some oeno-egregious offense such as drinking wine without food or asking him not to chew his wine in front of me (I can’t stand the noise). In short, I am not his first choice taster for a wine panel. Continue Reading »

Anat Cohen

Saxophonist/Clarinetist Anat Cohen claims making good music is all about being yourself.

I first discovered the music of Anat Cohen right around the time I moved to New York City through a 2008 article in JazzTimes. The article was titled New Visionaries, and featured profiles on Esperanza Spalding, Mathias Eick, Robert Glasper, Aaron Parks, Christian Scott, Marcus Strickland, and Cohen. I never thought that the above article would start a chain reaction which would put me in the kitchen of Cohen’s west village apartment drinking espresso last week. But I suppose the story of my coffee date with Cohen goes back even further to Chicago where I first met the guitarist Howard Alden.

Woody Allen’s 1999 film Sweet and Lowdown, about a fictional guitarist who worshiped Django Reinhardt, played a significant part in my becoming a jazz musician. I loved the film’s soundtrack and began taking jazz guitar lessons, while teaching myself Reinhardt’s style. Though it was Alden — who played the guitar parts for the film — who I first began to copy when I transcribed his solo from “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” which I then played pretty much note for note on my audition for DePaul University’s school of music. Years later in 2007 I was able to sneak backstage at Chicago’s Symphony Center where Alden was performing with Dick Hyman, to corner him for an autograph. A few months after, Alden would perform with the jazz group of which I’m a member, the Hot Club of Detroit, and I’m happy to say that we’ve enjoyed a working relationship, and a friendship, ever since.

It was at Alden’s New York City apartment where I first learned he had a performing relationship with Cohen, shortly after I had read the JazzTimes article mentioned above. The two of them have performed in a number of the same circles over the years, including their regular working duo. This spring, we featured that duo as special guests with the Hot Club of Detroit for a couple shows, and last Saturday we performed with Cohen at a jazz festival in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. Stopping by her place last week to drop off some music, I asked if I could come back the next day to pick her brain on the record making process, and talk about her latest album, “Clarinetwork: Live At The Village Vanguard.”

Brady: I think of your album “Notes From the Village” as a decisively modern jazz album, but it’s also just flat-out fun, which is what keeps bringing me back to that record. It makes me feel good. What was your philosophy going into making that record?

Cohen: I like that you say it makes you “feel good,” because that’s my philosophy in general. It wasn’t like that was my philosophy going into the studio; to make an album that makes you “feel good,” because basically it was a very rushed process. My second and third records, “Poetica” and “Noir”, were recorded in 2006, and suddenly it was 2008 and I had been playing all kinds of music with my quartet for a couple of years, and I wanted to capture that live feeling of what we had been doing on stage. So I checked to see if the guys were available, and if a studio and engineer was available, and I thought, wow, everyone is available, now I have to go into the studio and do it! I figured we would play some material that we had been performing live, and come up with some new stuff for the album. My compositions on the album were completed for the album. The idea was not to try to limit the guys with a certain number of choruses, or to over produce, or worry about the lengths of tracks, but to try to keep the freedom going. You know how some people have this whole concept that tracks on albums should be five minutes maximum, otherwise they won’t be played on the radio. But the truth is jazz won’t be played on mainstream radio anyway, and people who like jazz will play a track even if it’s 12 minutes. So it really doesn’t matter. I mean, it’s nice to have a couple of short tracks, but as far as the music, I wasn’t worried about the length. So we rehearsed, and added some repertoire. We talked about playing the Sam Cook song “A Change is Gonna Come,” and Jason (Jason Lidner, piano) and Daniel (Daniel Freedman, drums) went home together to one of their places, and they called me and said, “We got, we got it!” So they came up with some ideas too. It was very much group work. Jason contributed his arrangement for “Siboney,” by Ernesto Lacouna, which is really nice. It’s a Cuban song, but it has a lot of reggae, and a lot of different rhythms that are not really Cuban. So I think we captured some of the live spirit, and everyone plays excellent on the record. It was really fun. Continue Reading »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.