St. Patrick’s Day Pairings for Snooth

My latest article for Snooth is up… Switch Things Up: St. Patrick’s Day Wines. I have a lot of fun with these wine and food pairing pieces for them. I take a lot of the wine samples I’ve tried recently (or some that are theme-appropriate) and check out interesting combinations at local restaurants that don’t have wine lists and employ a friendly BYOB policy. It’s fun...

Jurassic Park & Jurassic Wine

Say Jurassic Park and you instantly conjure images of being chased by voracious dinosaurs. But Jurassic has another, much more benign connotation, especially for wine lovers. The wines from Jura are called Jurassic, because the origins of the soil can be traced to the Jurassic era. Some people would even say that Jura wines-at least the traditional, oxidative wines- are a kind of a dinosaur that have...

2013 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier

Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier is an Australian winery founded by Anthony J. Terlato and Michel Chapoutier based on a friendship that goes back to the 1980s. I’ve said it many times before, but Viognier does such a great job of softening the edges of Syrah/Shiraz in the style of Côte Rotie. Not to say that the latter grape is harsh, but it’s a pairing that works so well and in such...

Celebrating Chardonnay in Cote de Beaune – Meursault, Montrachet & Santenany

Our Group in Meursault at Caves Ropiteau Freres (Wed., May 21, 2014) The remainder of the day was dedicated to exploring the homeland of Chardonnay, so we headed south out of Beaune to the famous villages of Meursault, Puligny Montrachet and Chassange Montrachet. The first stop was lunch in Meursault where everyone came to realize that you can’t rush a meal in France. So though we were a...

Monkeys, Beaches, and More Touring Nevis

I slept well after a full day that had included an amazing snorkeling trip on a catamaran. After dressing casually I took a stroll down to the beach to meet my friend and fellow travel writer, Sue Campbell, for breakfast at Nisbet Plantation in Nevis. Coconuts is the name of the beachfront restaurant at the resort. It was once again a beautiful day to enjoy the view of the turquoise sea while we...

A Tasting of Wines from Yarimada Winery in Azerbaijan

Wine Tasting at Art Garden Restaurant January 2015 – Several days after arriving in Baku, I received an email invitation from Ibrahim Abdulrahimov, the Commercial Director of Yarimada Winery. He invited me to a private wine tasting and lunch at the Art Garden Restaurant in the Old City of Baku. Ibrahim was kind enough to pick me up from my hotel, and as we drove to the restaurant, he...

Chula Vista Fun in Wisconsin Dells

It was day two of my first trip to the Wisconsin Dells. I had brought along my friend Paul and his kids to stay at Chula Vista with me and enjoy their facilities – mainly the indoor waterpark. I had a meeting with Bianca from the Wisconsin Dells tourism board and they had gone ahead and hit the waterpark without me. It didn’t take me long when I returned to get my bathing suit on and go down...

Tasting the Wines of Savalan from Aspi Winery, Azerbaijan

Tasting with Timur & Jahid of Savalan Wines January 2015 – Before visiting Azerbaijan, I did an Internet search for Azerbaijani wineries and discovered that Aspi Winery (http://aspiwinery.az/) is one of the most sophisticated in that they have a website in four languages. The other wineries either didn’t have websites, or they were not in English. Furthermore I was distressed to...

Ancient Wine in the Land of Fire – Azerbaijan

Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre January 2015 – It had been 18 years since my first visit to Azerbaijan in the Spring of 1996, when I was working for Amoco Oil. My memories were of a black city covered in grimy oil and soot, dinners of caviar and sturgeon, and sweet reds wines along with gritty white sparkling wine. Arriving again in Baku for 10 days from Dec. 26, 2014 to Jan. 4, 2015 was...

English Wine: “It’s Not a Joke Anymore”

Heathrow, London. Here we are waiting to board our flight to Italy and the established wine destination of Piedmont. England is not so fortunate; very few people acknowledge that English wines deserve ranking as among world class regions. As our guide at Denbies (Surrey) commented, “English wines are not a joke anymore.” Ridgeview Vineyards It has been an eye-opening visit and a confirmation...

Sun, Fun and Snorkel in Nevis and St. Kitts

I woke up to palm trees swaying and a light ocean breeze. I didn’t take me long to remember I was a Nisbet Plantation in Nevis, a boutique slice of paradise. After some light yoga, I walked down to the beach for breakfast. My cottage was one of the first ones so it wasn’t that close to the beach, but close enough so that the sense of the waves instantly relaxed me. Coconuts is the restaurant...

Live from Piedmont: Days 1 & 2

Everyone arrived safely at our rendez-vous in Malpensa for the 2 hour bus ride to Alba, our home for 6 days of wining and dining. Just outside Alba we stopped for a visit at a torrone producer to find out torrone how this confectionary is made-and for some samples of course. After our welcome dinner which included two truffle dishes, we settled in for the evening. (To add truffles to a dish this...

A Few Bumps on the Road to Beautiful Nevis

I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy trip when my friend and fellow travel writer, Sue Campbell, invited me to join her on the island of Nevis, but it sounded like an ideal way to spend a week during the winter. Nevis Tourism booked my flights and I was set to leave Champaign in the morning for a flight to Chicago, then onto Miami, for a flight to St. Kitts. I would then take a ferry to the...

Hidden Wineries in the Steep Hills Above Nice – Visit to Chateau Bellet de Cremant in Bellet AOC

Zia at Chateau Bellet (Summer 2014) Another afternoon during our two week stay in Nice to attend a French language school, we visited Chateau Bellet de Cremant in the steep hills above Nice. It was actually only a 10 minute drive from our gite that we rented in the hills, and is about 20 minutes from downtown Nice. The Bellet AOC is the second smallest in France, after Chateau Grillet in...

In Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir in Cote de Nuits at Dufouleur, Vougeraie& Trapet-Rochelandet

Tasting in the Cellars of Dufouleur (May 22, 2014) – As the day before was devoted to chardonnay, it was only fitting that our third and last day in Burgundy was devoted to pinot noir. Therefore, we headed north of Beaune to the famous Cote de Nuits where the largest percentages of Grand Cru pinot noir vineyards are located. First stop, at 9am, was Domaine Dufouleur in Nuits St....

Our last day: Barolo with a Bang

Sunday in Piedmont during the truffle fair: let’s start the day with a visit to one of the top Barolo producers and lunch at the winery. Oreste Brezza is a visionary winemaker: long before Barolo was on the map, he made it easy for bus travelers to visit his winery by encouraging the bus company to put a stop near his winery. Then he added a few rooms, then a small restaurant and over the years...

February Events Blenheim Vineyards

Blenheim has some fun upcoming events in February: Sunday, February 8th:  Art show and cheese & wine pairing. 1-4pm: Art show Bolanle Adeboye! Bolanle Adeboye is a designer/maker determined to find and appreciate the exquisite in the mundane.  She is very often stunned by beauty lurking in the most unlikely places. She lives and works in Charlottesville. Wish Wish Charlottesville Wine Tours...

Lean Manufacturing for Nomacorc

Many people wonder what I do for a living when I’m not trying wine and food together, and while I don’t go into specifics due to media policies at my employer, I can talk a bit about the concepts of quality assurance in an article for the synthetic cork factory called Nomacorc: Getting the Muda out of Your Gemba: Lean Manufacturing at Nomacorc The title of the article sounds cryptic but...

Exploring Lake of the Ozarks

I started the day at Country Club Hotel and Spa in Lake of the Ozarks the best way possible, with a morning massage. My friend Jaimee and I had plenty of time to relax in our spacious junior suites before heading out for our first appointment. We had lunch and cocktails on the water at Dog Days (look for my story in the spring issue of Midwest Living). We had a free afternoon for exploring...

Lombardy: A Different Interpretation of Nebbiolo:Day 1

We’ve started our Lombardy tour after a welcome dinner in Como at the city’s oldest restaurant: L’Angolo del Silenzio. Our menu: Antipasto of soufflé di verdure, sfogliantina ai funghi, cotechino con fonduta, frittatina alle verdure; 2 primi: risotto in forma alla parmigiana and pennette with rabbit sauce; two main courses: stinco di vitello and tagliata di manzo alla senape; semifreddo...