19 April 2015

Interview with Susannah Gold

Susannah Gold works in New York City in the public relations and marketing world of wine for Vigneto Communications. In addition she blogs at Avvinare, named for the Italian verb that means rinsing your glass and preparing it for wine service.

I first met Susannah during the Snooth PVA Awards weekend two years ago in Manhattan. We didn't spend a lot of time together, though I apparently got too loud during the Ribera del Duero presentation while we were arguing about kosher wine and there was a memorable moment with a Brazilian Tannat at the Saturday night party. I was a little overwhelmed during that trip, but have developed a lot of great friendships and professional relationships with many of the people I met that weekend, and since then it's been great to get to know Susannah better and learn about her fascinating history.

BWR: Tell me a bit about working as a financial reporter in Italy. If you were in Milan in December 1996, we may have briefly crossed paths 
near the Duomo or Galleria.

Susannah: I was in Milan in December 1996 in fact, a period of time I remember very well. I lived in Milan for 10 years and was a reporter for 4 of those years. I loved being a reporter in Italy because I am very interested in Italian politics and economics. It’s a very complicated country in many respects and there are so many layers of it to understand and analyze. Everything about Italy interests me, truth to tell.

BWR: Everyone that I know who has spent some time in Italy has a magical 
food moment, something that clicked and let you know that you weren't
 in Kansas anymore. Hot crespelle in a café, seared octopus on the 
Ligurian coast, or even a few roasted chestnuts from a street vendor.
 Did you have such a transformative experience?

Susannah: I have had many food moments in Italy that have been outstanding, starting from my first pizza on a side “street” in Venice overlooking one of the canals when I was 15 and with my parents but my real ah moment was when I was 20, living in Dijon, France and visiting Italy with my Mother, a sculptor and Art Historian by trade. I fell asleep in the train and when I woke up I was looking out at the Borromean islands rising in the mist from Lago Maggiore. That was the beginning of my real love affair with il bel paese.

BWR: We talked a bit about biodynamics in NYC with fruit days, but I'm
 curious to hear your four favorite seasonal wines, what you crave in
 spring, summer, fall, winter.


Susannah: Yes we did have that conversation about the biodynamic calendar. In the Spring I tend to crave white wines or a good French or Spanish rosé while in the Summer, Vermentino is always a favorite as is sparkling wine which I crave and drink all year long. Fall I like to drink wines with more body that pair with great fall foods like pumpkin, squash, turkey, etc. In winter, I am interested in a heavier red largely to pair with meat dishes or root vegetable ones. Again, sparkling wines are a passion in winter too. I also really like a touch of sweet wines throughout the year.


BWR: Was wine a part of your family dinner table growing up? If so,
 what was poured and what did you like?

Susannah: Wine was part of my family life growing up. I don’t remember when we started but during that trip as a 15 year old, I was most certainly already interested in wine. My Dad made wine in the basement of our house with our next-door neighbor who was Sicilian. He also once bought the contents of a liquor store that he owned as a real estate investment. We drank Louis Jadot, Ruffino, Chianti, Macon Village. I also remember a lot of Lancers and Mateus in the house. I liked it all if memory serves.


BWR: What is the one bottle or the one region that you've always wanted 
to try but have not yet had the opportunity?

Susannah: There are so many regions I would love to visit that I haven’t yet, in many countries, but if I had to pick one, it would be Pantelleria and the night harvests at Donna Fugata. I love Ben Rye that they make there and that is an experience that I haven’t yet had. I would also love to visit Salina again and see the CapoFaro resort of Tasca d’Almerita

BWR: Congratulations on the birth of Niccolò! A dear friend of mine
 recently had a baby and I was wondering if you experienced any changes 
of sense of smell while pregnant--a lot of experiencing wine involves 
training your nose with non-wine items: sniffing lime peels and
 jasmine blossoms and things like that. Has anything changed in what
 appeals to you, or what you can now discover in a glass

Susannah: During my pregnancy I was very good about alcohol of course but you are right you have a heightened sense of smell and can really pick out aromas that you might not have otherwise. When I was pregnant the wine I missed most and that appealed to me during that time was sparkling wine. I’ve always had a predilection but it was even more pronounced during pregnancy.

BWR: I'm also curious how you plan to introduce your son to wine, since
 it will be part of the family business. When he's old enough to start
 having a sip with dinner, what would you like for him to try first?
 Are you planning on setting aside anything like Madeira or Barolo for
the long haul?

Susannah: I imagine like most novice drinkers, he will probably appreciate something with a bit of sweetness like a moscato. I am thinking a lot about what I want to lay down for him. I have also toyed with the idea of buying futures from this vintage, 2014. Madeira is a good idea as is Barolo.

Many thanks to Susannah for participating in this interview series. You can follow her at Avvinare.

01 April 2015

My April Fools' Day Posts

Folks, just a quickie to let you know I'm still here and busy as ever freelancing. In honor of the holiday, here are six of my April Fools' Day pranks from previous years:

Have fun!

25 March 2015

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 a peculiar way. Just a little splash of the white wine and you've got a lovely and different red.

Though made in Australia, this Chapoutier collaboration includes his standard Braille labeling in honor of a friend and family member who found purchasing wine difficult while sight-impaired.

2013 Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier
Victoria, Australia
95% Shiraz, 5% Viognier
$18, 14.5% abv.

Light cherry and violet aromas with delicate red stone fruit flavors. On the palate it shows medium tannins with a lovely finish. This is a tremendous bargain and I'd serve it with a pork tenderloin, stuffed with walnuts and apricots and lightly seasoned. It's one that doesn't need too strong of a food pairing so as not to miss the lighter elements.

Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.

17 March 2015

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 to share with friends and staff and recommend local wine shops where they can find these bottles. Always happy to make converts and get people excited about trying wine in new ways.

Check it out--there's more of a connection between wine and Ireland than you may have first thought! Sláinte!

11 March 2015

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 a big part of Lean Six Sigma and related efficiency philosophies is that you start learning some Japanese and begin integrating the phrases into your everyday conversation.

03 March 2015

NV Cooper's Hawk Meritage "Lux"

You don't really think of Chicago as a winemaking region, but back during Prohibition it was second only to New York City as a market for California grapes. Most people don't know that you could legally make 200 gallons of wine a year for home use during that time, with other exemptions for religious consumption. According to When the Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America's Wine Country by Vivienne Sosnowski (which I reviewed in 2009), lots of west coast fruit made it to the Windy City via train:
Chicago, California's second most important grape market, took 7,000 cars of California wine and table grapes in 1924. Nearly one-third of Chicago's inhabitants were foreign born, including 138,000 from Poland, 112,000 from Germany, 59,000 from Italy, 30,000 from Austria, and 5,000 from France. On one day alone--October 20--289 cars of California grapes arrived in the city, most of them destined for wholesalers on South Water Street.
Cooper's Hawk is a winery and restaurant based out of Orland Park, a suburb of Chicago. Sourcing grapes from California, Oregon, and Washington, they make wine at the main facility and distribute it to their restaurants in Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin, as well as through their website.

The company has recently launched a green initiative involving recycling wine bottles. From the press release:
In 2012, founder and CEO Tim McEnery installed a state-of-the-art wine recycling line (the only one in the US) that de-labels and sanitizes up to 2000 wine bottles per hour. This year alone, Cooper’s Hawk has saved over 215 tons of glass from landfills and 1 of every 5 bottles is reused again for upcoming vintages.

Cooper’s Hawk other ‘go green’ initiatives include reduced energy consumption, increased recycled component usage their wines and reduced water consumption. The winery also tries to make socially-responsible investments, whether by purchasing a Bottle Recycling & Sanitizing equipment or investing in smarter technology.
NV Cooper's Hawk Meritage "Lux"
59% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Malbec
American (sourced from multiple states)
$40, 13.9% abv.

The blending makes it difficult to determine the age of this wine, but on whole this release presents as relatively young. It shows firm tannins with dominant aromas of plum, and black cherry. Dark fruit flavors follow through with a long finish. While a great steak wine at the moment, it will definitely show some improvement in the next five years as the bold body softens.

Note: This wine was provided as a sample for review.

24 February 2015

North Carolina Winemaking for Nomacorc

My latest post is live on the Nomacorc Blog:

Stomping Grapes with the Tar Heels: Regional Spotlight on North Carolina

It was fun interviewing the winemakers remotely, which is why the only North Carolina wines I've tried have been from The Biltmore Estate.

P.S. Check out Wine Turtle for a roundup of the 103 Best Wine Blogs. Your humble correspondent plus a bunch of other friends and great writers are represented!