Introducing Seven Lions 


I am pleased to announce Seven Lions as the name of our new upcoming restaurant with my partners Matt Fisher and John Ward at 130 S Michigan Avenue (corner of Michigan and Adams in the former People's Gas Light and Coke Company). Construction is underway and we hope to open late 2014/early 2015. There are lions surrounding the property but the name is a tribute to my late grandmother who had an incredible influence on my life and love of food. Singh is derived from the Sanskrit word for Lion and my grandmother referred to her seven children (my beloved aunts and uncles) as her lions. 

You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for continued updates on the opening.


Grape Harvest Soiree 



As wineries around the world are under way with the annual grape harvest, The Boarding House welcomes you to celebrate with a tasting of their past vintages. Sip your way through ten wines from Italy, Spain, United States, South America, France and more paired with a selection of passed appetizers and pizza. I'll be offering a brief lecture on what signals a good vintage and how to select the perfect wines for the upcoming entertaining season.

Thursday September 26th ~ 6:30-8:00 pm

$45 per person

Click here for Tickets


Sommelier Smackdown! 



Spiaggia Sommelier Jason Carlen and I are hosting the inaugural Spiaggia Sommelier Smackdown on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 at Spiaggia Private Events. Ten amazingly talented Chicago sommeliers and wine experts will be joining us to educate guests on creating the perfect pairing while in friendly competitive atmosphere - yes there will be a healthy dose of smack-talking but all in good fun. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Cancer Research Foundation in memory of Henry Bishop, the first sommelier of Spiaggia and a mentor to many in the food and wine community.

The event begins with a reception featuring holiday wine recommendations where guests will be afforded the opportunity to interact with the sommeliers and have any and all wine questions answered. The evening continues with a five-course menu prepared by Spiaggia chefs. For each course, two sommeliers will battle “head-to-head” and offer up their best pairing for that dish, following a theme of Old World vs. New World wines. Guests will taste the dish with the two wines and then vote on their favorite pairing. At the end of the night, five sommeliers will be named the night’s victors and champions of the inaugural Spiaggia Sommelier Smackdown.

We have an incredible lineup of Sommeliers for the event:

  • ·       Chad Ellegood – NoMi
  • ·       Arthur Hon – Sepia
  • ·       Shebnem Ince – Henri, Gage
  • ·       Rachael Lowe
  • ·       Tona Palomino – Trenchermen
  • ·       Dan Pilkey – Hilton Worldwide, Chicago Hotels
  • ·       Jeremy Quinn – Telegraph
  • ·       Aaron Sherman – Girl and the Goat
  • ·       Jean Tomaro – Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar, Au Cheval, Bavette's Bar & Beouf
  • ·       Jason Wagner – Nellcote, RM Champagne Lounge

The Spiaggia Sommelier Smackdown begins at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2012 at Spiaggia Private Events located at 980 North Michigan Avenue, third floor.  Tickets are $195 per person, with $50 donated to The Cancer Research Foundation in memory of Henry Bishop, the first sommelier of Spiaggia. To reserve, please call 312.280.2750 or email

Let's get ready to stumble!


At the end of the Winebow 

Quite often, it’s the little things that people do that make the biggest impression. Freddy Brown ends his emails with “Peace”. It’s a small gesture yet it represents so much about him. I recently told Freddy that I could never see him working with a wine company if he didn’t truly appreciate and love the selections in his portfolio. For Freddy, it’s not just about selling but rather, he enjoys sharing the stories of the people and history behind the wines. When you enjoy what you do, you’re at peace and it’s only natural for you to want to pay that sentiment forward.

Freddy represents the wines from Winebow, Inc., an importer of premium Italian wines in the United States, and a major importer and distributor of wines, spirits and sake from around the world.

We went through a few selections from the portfolio and here are my notes. It was a very hot afternoon so we focused solely on sparkling and white wines.

NV Zardetto Rose, Veneto, Italy -- Located in the heart of the famous Prosecco territory between Conegliano and Valdobiadene, Zardetto has been making sparkling wines for more than 40 years. Raboso is a red grape variety grown in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. The name is thought to derive from the Italian rabbioso, or angry, presumably in reference to the taster’s reaction to the high acidity and rough tannins that characterize the grape. Light pink in color with  flavors of strawberries. Sweet and cotton candy like on the palate.

NV Meyer Fonne Cremant d'Alsace Brut Extra -- Félix Meyer is the third generation in his family to make wine since his grandfather founded the domaine in the late 19th century. He is considered a rising star in Alsace. Even though he has modernized the winemaking process, Felix still believes in the old way of doing things. He ages his wines on the lees in large, older foudres, as is the customary tradition in Alsace. Blend of 60% Pinot Auxerrois 20% Chardonnay 15% Pinot Blanc
5% Pinot Noir.  Pale green color. Aromas of crisp green apples, lime zest, citrus notes. High percentage of Chardonnay in the blend. Tart and tangy on the palate. Would be good with crispy chicken.

NV Spiropoulos Ode Panos Brut Organic, Mantineia, Greece -- According to Apostolos Spiropoulos, “Mantineia should easily be the Champagne region of Greece. It’s not surprising that the other great sparkling wine, Domaine Tselepos’ Amalia Brut is also a Mantineia [moschofilero].” Made from 100% Moschofilero. Pale straw color. Muscat like floralness in the nose. Cotton candy like quality with sweetness on the finish.

NV Szigeti Gruner Veltliner Brut, Austria -- Modern day Szigeti (pronounced ZIG-it-ee) was born when brothers Norbert and Peter Szigeti returned to their hometown of Gols in 1990 to take over the family business. They make sparkling wines using the traditional method. Aromas of green apple, soft petillant like quality to the mousse, citrus zest and earthy notes.

NV Philipponnat Royale Reserve Brut Champagne -- Philipponnat is owned by the Boizel Chanoine Champagne group, run by influential Champagne businessman Bruno Paillard, which also controls the Lanson and Besserat de Bellefon brands. After Paillard acquired the property from French spirits company Marie Brizard, Charles Philipponnat and his family were able to restore control of the house, whose most revered asset is the steeply sloped Clos des Goisses, a south-facing riverbank parcel in Mareuil-sur-Ay that produces some of Champagne’s most boldly structured and longest lived wines. The Royale Reserve is Philipponnat’s entry level NV Brut. Pale gold color. Aromas of toast, roasted nuts, dried caramel and brioche. Palate shows a more oxidative style with flavors of buttery brioche.

NV Fleury Carte Rouge, Champagne -- Fleury was founded by Jean-Sebastien’s great-grandfather in 1895 and is located in the Côtes de Bar, in the south of the Champagne region. In 1929, during the depression, grape prices were so low that Robert Fleury decided to take the then unusual step of bottling his own Champagne. Champagne Fleury’s conversion to biodynamics in 1989 was at the hands of Jean-Sébastien’s father, Jean-Pierre. They were the first in the region to do so. 100% Pinot Noir. Aromas of marzipan and toasted almonds. Nutty but fresh on the palate with a distinct earthiness on the finish. Vibrant acidity.

2010 Domaine de la Quilla Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire Valley -- Gerard and Daniel Vinet run the well-known estate of Quilla in the village of La Haie Fouassiere. Domaine de la Quilla is made from an assemblage from their entire property. They also produce a single vineyard Clos de la Houssaie. Pale straw color. Fresh green apple aromas with almonds, honeysuckle and crushed minerals in the nose. Light but softly layered on the palate with notes of almonds and fresh melons. Aged sur lie for 8 months.

2011 Chateau Les Arromans Entre-deux-Mers, France
-– Jean Duffau founded this estate in 1965.  Made from a blend of 50% Semillon and 50% Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw color with green hues. Aromas of green bell pepper, fresh herbs and lime zest. Fresh, simple and clean on the palate.

2010 FX Barc Complices de Loire Touraine Sauvignon Pointe D'Agrumes, Loire Valley -- Francois-Xavier Barc partnered with winemakers who share his philosophy and passion for wine to create Complices de Loire and to highlight Loire Valley appellations such as Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgeuil, Bourgeuil, Chinon, Saumur-Champigny and Touraine. Pale straw color with green hue. Aromas remind me of NZ Sauvignon Blanc with notes of passion fruit and grapefruit. Fresh, bright and clean on the palate with flavors of lime zest, green herbs and minerals. Moderate+acidity.

2010 Domaine de Reuilly Reuilly, Pierres Plates, Loire Valley
–- When tasting the wines of Denis Jamain, it is clear that the appellation of Reuilly, in the eastern Loire, is experiencing a renaissance, moving far beyond its former status as the “poor man’s Sancerre.” Reuilly is an ancient winemaking village that today has only about 300 acres in vines.  The Pierres Plates is from a specific vineyard with Chablis-like soil full of chalk, fossils and sea shells. This Sauvignon Blanc based wines shows aromas of mango skin, tropical fruit notes with green apples. High acidity with limestone minerality – would be delicious with ceviche or shellfish platters.

2010 Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio Titulus, Le Marche Italy -– comes packaged in an emerald green, amphora-shaped bottle. Titulus meaning very simply "title" in Latin remains Fazi Battaglia's most popular wine. This 100% Verdicchio is crafted from fruit grown in a large estate vineyard that is subdivided into 12 distinct parcels based on their elevations and expositions. Pale straw color with green hues. Fairly neutral in the nose but fresh, clean and vibrant on the palate. Quaffable and clean with moderate + acidity.

2011 Gai’A Wild Ferment Assyrtiko, Santorini –- Having had an opportunity to visit this winery a few years ago, a soft spot remains in my heart for the wines of Gai’A.  Gai’A is well known for their stunning Assyrtikos. The Gai’A’s Assyrtiko Wild Ferment uses strictly wild yeast that lives naturally on the skin of the grapes and in the vineyard. Once fermentation takes its course, 20% of the wine is aged in a blend of wood (oak, acacia, etc…) and then blended with 80% stainless steel fermented Assyrtiko. Pale gold color. Aromas remind me of Burgundy – yellow apples, hazelnuts, caramel, crushed rocks and vanilla. Slight nuttiness on the palate but still very lively and vibrant with moderate acidity.

2010 Le Pupille Poggio Argentato Maremma IGT, Itay -- Fattoria Le Pupille, located in the Tuscany region of Italy, is a small estate owned by Elisabetta Geppetti. This wine takes its name from the exposure of the vineyards, which face the Argentario promontory. Once an island in the past, it is now connected to the Tuscan coast and forms a rocky, but scenic peninsula that serves as a symbol of the Maremma. Made from a blend of Traminer and Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw color. Aromas of ruby red grapefruit, mandarin oranges and citrus oil. Slight pithy, bitter quality on the palate with additional grapefruit flavors. Moderate+acidity, crisp and light bodied.

2010 Mastroberardino Sannio Falanghina, Campania, Italy -- Established in the 1750s by winemaker Pietro di Mastro Berardino, Mastroberardino is Campania’s most renowned winery. Located in the town of Altripalda, the Mastroberardino family’s holdings are spread across several parts of Irpinia. Pale gold color. Aromas of banana skin, smoke and yellow apples. Crushed minerals on the palate with moderate+acidity. Would be excellent with a charred crusted pizza and calamari. Distinct smokiness.

2010 Chateau Grand Traverse Whole Cluster Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan -- Chateau Grand Traverse is a Michigan winery located in the Old Mission Peninsula AVA around Traverse City. The winery was founded by Edward O’Keefe Jr. and is notable for having the first large-scale planting of vitis vinifera in Michigan. Chateau Grand Traverse's primary focus is Riesling grapes, with many of the winemakers in the winery's history descending from prominent German wine-producing families in the Mosel and Pfalz regions. Pale gold color. Petrol in the nose, off-dry on the palate with a light bodied texture. Additional flavors of crisp green apples and limes.

2009 Prager Riesling Federspiel Steinriegl, Wachau, Austria -– Franz Prager, now retired, was a co-founder of the Vinea Wachau association in 1983. His son-in-law, Toni Bodenstein, ushered in a sweeping change at the Prager winery. Bodenstein, a biologist, geologist, historian and, at the time, aspiring winemaker, took an analytical approach and began to identify the effects of different soils and climate conditions on vines. As a result of his work, Prager vinifies Riesling from 8 different vineyards and Gruner from 7. The soil in the Steinriegl vineyard is white silicate marble. Pale gold color. Powerful aromas of tropical fruits, slight flintiness, smoke, bergamot and white flowers. Dry on the palate with moderate+to high acidity, mango skin, honey, green apples and flint.

2011 Rudi Pichler Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau, Austria –- The Pichler Family has been making wine in the village of Wosendorf since at least the late 19th Century. In the early days, Rudi Pichler was often confused for or overshadowed by the other Pichlers in the area but he has steadily built a reputation for his big powerful wines with concentrated fruit and solid structure. Sourced from selected vineyards in the valley and hillsides throughout the Wachau.  Pale straw color, green hue. Aromas of honey, white pepper, asparagus and lime zest. Dry on the palate with moderate+to high acidity. Lean and racy with limey citrus flavors, crushed minerals and white pepper.

2010 Wieninger Herrenholz Gruner Veltliner, Vienna, Austria -– The Wieninger winery was founded as part of the traditional Viennese heurigen (wine bar) system established in the 18th century. The current owner, Fritz Wieninger, works with classic as well as international varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir). More recently, he has led the revival of varietal field blends (Wiener Gemischter Satz). Fritz is also particularly well known for his red wines. Pale straw color. The sandy vineyard site, Herrenholz is named after the surrounding forest. The soil has a high content of sand and limestone, amounting to low grape yields and slow growth for these thirty year old vines.Aromas of mango skin, flint, citrus oil and peaches. Dry on the palate with notes of spices, white pepper, citrus and moderate+to high acidity.

2011 Wieninger Gemischter Satz, Vienna, Austria –- Gemischter Satz can be made from as many as 13 different varieties at one time, yet here the most significant contributions are made by Grüner Veltliner, Weissburgunder, Welschriesling, and Chardonnay.  Hints of spice and floral aromas derive from the small contributions of many other traditional grape varieties in the blend -- Riesling, Rotgipfler, Zierfandler, Sylvaner, Traminer, Neuberger and others. Pale straw color. Aromas of pineapples, vanilla, tropical fruits and peaches. Dry on the palate with juicy vibrant acidity. Flavors of apricots, peaches and white pepper.

2011 Mas des Bressades Blanc, Vin de Pays du Gard, France -- Mas des Bressades is considered by many as the top estate in Costières de Nîmes, located 35 miles southwest of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, on the western side of the Rhône. It is run by Cyril Marès and his lovely wife Natalie Blanc, who owns the adjacent estate, Mas Carlot. This wine is made from roughly 55% Viognier and 45% Roussanne which is aged completely in barrel; 80% new oak and 20% 1 year old. Pale gold color. Aromas of candied ginger, pineapple and nutmeg. Moderate acidity on the palate with brown spices, quince, baked apples, ginger and pears. Would be excellent with roasted root vegetables or Asian dishes.

2010 Clos La Roquete Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, France -- In September 1986, René Laugier wanted to retire but had no successors to take over La Roquette so he sold the domaine to Daniel and Frédéric Brunier of Vieux Telegraphe. The Brunier brothers farm the La Crau plateau, which boasts some of the most challenging vineyard terrain and most pedigreed soils of Châteauneuf. La Roquète’s three largest vineyards are all situated on prime real estate along the Piélong plateau. This is a blend of 35% Clairette
, 30% Grenache Blanc, 25% Roussanne, 10% Bourboulenc. Pale gold color. Aromas of yellow apple skins, white flowers, lemon curd, toasted chestnut and brioche. Moderate acidity on the palate with a richly layered texture and flavors of crushed minerals. Lots of savory umami flavors.  

2009 Laurent Kraft Vouvray, Loire Valley -- Domaine des Lauriers has belonged to the Kraft family for 7 generations now. Laurent Kraft took over the 3.5-hectare estate in 1992, and now owns 19 hectares, planted on the banks of the Loire River, where Laurent practices sustainable agriculture. 90% of the vines are between 30 and 90 years of age. Pale gold color. Aromas of lime zest, honeysuckle, green apples and straw. Moderate + acidity, dry on the palate with flavors of yellow and green apples.


An Afternoon with Novovino 

Prior to starting Novovino Wine Company, Robert was a wine consultant at one of the finest wine shops in Munich, Germany named Feinkost Kafer. He built the original wine program at Park Hyatt's Nomi Restaurant, here in Chicago, which is where I first met him. I remember when he told me he was leaving the floor to start his own distribution company and I was absolutely thrilled for him. The beauty of Robert’s portfolio is that it reads like a wine list and his selections very much reflect a sommelier’s perspective: wines that you’ve discovered and can’t wait to share with your customers. Robert often visits wine regions to seek out what’s new and interesting. He has somehow developed a knack for sweet talking wineries with already precious case productions into allocating a few cases for him to bring to the Chicago market. Needless to say there’s a sommelier camaraderie at work here and I look forward to featuring Robert’s selections at The Boarding House.

I recently visited Robert and his associate, Jillian Dowd, at their offices where we tasted through an extensive array of wines, including an interesting assortment from Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia.  Here are my notes:

NV La Maison du Cremant Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc, Burgundy -- More than a century of knowledge and experience has made La Maison du Cremant one of the leading producers of Cremant de Bourgogne. Vincent Sauvestre (Chartron et Trebuchet and Domaine Vincent Sauvestre) took over running of the company in 2003. Made from a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. Pale gold color. Crisp and clean on the palate with notes of honeysuckle and toast, good value. Moderate + acidity.

NV La Maison du Cremant Cremant de Bourgogne Rose, Burgundy – 100% Pinot Noir. Pale rose pink.  Aromas and flavors of raspberries, strawberries and slight earthiness comes through. Touch of orange rind, brioche and cassis.

2005 Louis Barthelemy Saphir Champagne -- Founded in 1923 as Baudry Lebrun by Russian Princess Baudry, this Epernay hosue was purchased in 2002 by the Chancel Family (owners of Chateau Val Joanis in the Rhone Valley). The names was changed to Louis Barthelemy. The family produces five different cuvees, each named after a precious stone. 96% Chardonnay, 4% Pinot Noir. Saphir means “Most gorgeous thing” in ancient Greek. Very youthful style, notes of jasmine, stone fruits and toffee. Moderate + acidity, tart green apple and lemon zest, very fresh and youthful.

NV Louis Barthelemy Rubis Brut Rose Champagne – Blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir (sourced from Grand Cru vineyards in Bouzy). Aged on the lees for 3 years. Brilliant rose color. Aromas of strawberry, watermelon and juicy red fruits. Fresh and vibrant on the palate with flavors of tart red apples.

NV R.H. Coutier Tradition Grand Cru Champagne – Champagne R.H. Coutier has been in the grand cru village of Ambonnay since 1619. In 1946, Rene Coutier’s father became the first to plant Chardonnay in a village that has become well know for its Pinot Noir. Blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.  iPale straw color. Aromas of lemon & lime, crisp green apple, slight toast. Crisp and lemony on the palate with laser crisp acidity & toasty richness.

NV Agrapart Blanc de Blancs Les Crus 7 – Located in Avize, Agrapart was founded in 1894 by Arthur Agrapart. The fourth generation of Agraparts – Pascal and his brother Fabrice – took over in 1984 and now control every aspect of their 10-hectare estate by emphasizing natural viticulture and the expression of terroir. The Agraparts’ vineyards are spread over 62 parcels, the majority of which lie in the grand cru villages of Avize, Cramant, Oiry and Oger. The 7 Crus is made from a blend of vineyards in Avize, Oger, Oiry, Cramant, Avenay Val d’Or, Bergeres les Vertus and Mardeuil, which translates int0 70% Grand Cru and 30% Premier Cru fruit. Straw gold color. Notes of green apples, lemon zest, roasted hazelnuts and minerals. On the palate, the flavors are somewhat like charcuterie (mortadella & salumi) with a salty mineral component. Refreshing green apple acidity.

2011 St Urbans-Hof Urban Riesling -- St. Urbans-Hof is named after the patron saint of German winemakers, St. Urban, and Hof (the German word for estate). Located on a hill in Leiwen, it was founded in 1947 by Nik Weis’ grandfather. Fruit was purchased from growers in Mehring where Weis is now a landholder through his wife’s family. Pale straw color with green hues. Off-dry on the palate, green apple, honeysuckle & tropical fruits. Quaffable and juicy with high acidity.

2011 St. Urbans-Hof Riesling QbA – pale straw color with green hues. Roasted pineapples, citrus oil, and smoke. Fresh and well balanced with off-dry sweetenss and additional flavors of apricots and wet stone.

2011 St. Urbans-Hof Ockfen Bockstein Riesling Kabinett – 9.5% alcohol and much richer than you would expect from a Kabinett. 38% Residual sugar. Straw color. Powerful aromas of peach, ripe apple, cream, spice and an underlying toasted caramel note. Sweet on the palate with moderate+acidity, rich and lush texture with notes of smoked peaches.

2011 St. Urbans-Hof Ockfen Bockstein Riesling Spatlese – Pale gold color. High toned aromas of white flowers, petrol, green apple, lime and peaches. Richly lextured and luscious on the palate. Sweet with moderate+acidity.

2011 St. Urbans-Hof Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese – Pale gold color. Tropical fruit bomb in the nose with pineapples, mangoes and passion fruit. Rich & luscious on the palate with vibrant acidity, unctuous and sweet but still juicy.

2009 Cave Spring Cellars Chenin Blanc, VQA Niagra Peninsula
-- I visited this winery a couple of years ago on a trip to the Niagra wine region and I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of wines from them, especially the Rieslings. More than three decased ago, the Pennachetti family helped to pioneer the cultivation of noble European varietals on the Niagara Peninsula with the planting of their first Riesling and Chardonnay vines at the Cave Spring Vineyard. Overlooking Lake Ontario, the Beamsville Bench has proven ideal for cool-climate viticulture. The Chenin Blanc originates from a single 1 ha block of 7 year old vines at Cave Spring Vineyard. Pale gold color. Aromas of  mango nectar, passion fruit, crushed minerals and pineapple juice. Off-dry on the palate with a limey mineral component. Excellent pairing for Asian dishes – especially with sweet/sour components.

2011 Brunn Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal -- Weingut Brunn is a small family owned and run winery in the Kamptal region, situated north of the Danube. This is packaged in 1 liters. Pale straw color with green hues. Notes of green apples, white pepper, stone fruits and minerals. Varietally correct Gruner Veltliner in terms of flavor. Light-bodied, crisp with moderate + acidity.

2011 Anne Amie Cuvee A Amrita Oregon
-- Anne Amie is the baby of Robert Pamplin, Philanthropist, Author, Minister, Environmentalist, Educator, and much more. He purchased Chateau Benoit in 1999 in Willamette Valley and hired winemaker Thomas Houseman. They kept one vineyard with Muller Thurgau, and pretty much replanted, grafted and generally changed everything else. Anne Amie would, appropriately, focus on the 3 Pinots. L.I.V.E. and Salmon Safe practices were instituted, and Anne Amie was eventually certified. The Amrita is made from a melanges of white grapes (Riesling, Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Roussanne, Marsanne, Pinot Auxerrois and Vermentino). Straw color.  Aromas of juicy fruit gum, peaches and apricots. Light bodied and crisp on the palate but finishes dry. Another good match for Asian food.

2011 Kozlovic Malvazija Istra, Croatia -- Istra is the most northern and the largest peninsula on the Croatian Adriatic, bordering Friuli region of Italy. Kozlović family has been making wine in Istra since 1904 and currently has 17 hectares of vineyards, planted 60% with Malvazija grape, 20% Muškat and the rest is Teran, Pinot Noir and few other varietals. Most of the vines are over 40 years old and sustainable viticulture is practiced in their vineyards. Pale gold color. Aromas of tropical fruits, pineapples, white flowers. Crisp, fresh, dry on the palate and easy to drink with pear fruit notes.

2010 Crna Posip, Korkula-Croati
a -- Pošip is a white wine grape that is primarily grown in the Dalmatian region of Croatia on the island of Korčula. The island of Korcula is Dalmatia’s most populous island and is the historic birthplace of the explorer Marco Polo. Pale gold color. Aromas of yellow apple skin, pineapples and spinach. There’s an interesting green, leafy quality to the flavor. Moderate plus acidity.

2010 Pullus Pinot Grigio, Slovenia -- The producer of Pullus, Ptujska Klet is the oldest winery in Slovenia, its underground cellars dating back to 1239. Since Slovenian independence in 1991, the winery has adapted modern practices of international winemaking and now produces premium wines from grapes that are harvested from the terraced vineyards around Ptuj. This Pinot Grigio underwent ML, lees aging and 10% barrique maturation. Deep Sauternes like gold color. Very ripe in the nose with aromas of peaches, apricots, honey and white flowers. Dry, crisp and vibrant on the palate with a medium rich texture that reminds on more of Friulian Pinot Grigio from across the border. 

2008 Pullus Traminer G, Slovenia – Gold color. Fully aromatic tropical nose of pineapples, apricots and honey. Crisp yellow apples on the palate with a fresh and vibrant finish.

2011 Szőke Mátyás, Irsai Oliver, Matra, Hungary -- The Matra wine region, marked by the Matra mountain range, is located approximately 80 km from Budapest and is next to the famous Eger wine region. Mátra is Hungary's second largest wine region and the country's largest exporter of Hungarian wine with approximately 40% of total exports. Szoke Matyas set up his family-owned winery in 1990 in Gyongyostarjan about five kilometers northwest of Gyongyos. The former machinery designer researched market trends and has built his name on fruit forward style reds and whites. In Budapest alone, his wines are served in over 100 restaurants. Irsai Oliver is a Eastern European cross of Pozsony and Pearl of Csaba and is strongly reminiscent of Muscat. It was originally developed as a table grape. Aromas of eucalyptus, geraniums, orange rind and white flowers – like drinking a dry muscat.

2011 Coca I Fito, Jaspi Blanc, Terra Alta, Spain -- The Coca i Fitó brothers (Toni and Miquel) come from a family of farmers from the Alt Penedès, literally growing up in vineyards. They started creating their own singular wines in 2006. Terra Alta – Spanish for “high land” – is the highest DO wine zones in the Spanish Catalonia. As in Tarragona to the east, winemakers are paying serious attention to the formerly maligned Garnacha Blanca grapes. The Jaspi Blanc is made from a blend of 70% Garnacha Blanc and 30% Macabeo. Pale straw color, aromas of white flowers, crushed minerals, green apples and savory herbs. Moderate + acidity, crisp green apples, lemony and vibrant.

2010 Weingut Garlider Sylvaner, Sudtirol, Italy -- Azienda Agricola Garlider is a husband & wife organic farmstead located in a tiny alpine village nestled in the northerly reaches of the Isarco valley, in the bilingual Alto-Adige / South-Tyrol region of Italy. Christian and his father Alois had been selling the estate-grown grapes to the local cooperative cellar for many years before making the decision to vinify the crop on their own in the year 2000.  Pale straw color. Fresh and clean in the nose with aromas of green herbs, lime zest and minerals. Vibrant and crisp on the palate with additional bright lemon notes. Would be a nice pairing for a savory turnover.

2011 Peirson Meyer Sauvignon Blanc Ryan's Vineyard, Napa Valley – From the creators of L’Angevin comes this companion label. Winemaker spent five vintages at Peter Michael Winery as well as two vintages as winemaker for Lewis Cellars. For 20 years, Alan Peirson was designing, building and managing what is now the Peter Michael Winery Estate. Aged in Chardonnay barrels. Aromas of Pina Colada with a nutty pineapple, coconut component. Moderate acidity, creamy lush texture.

2009 Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa – Ataraxia was founded in 2004 by husband and wife team Kevin and Hanli, in parternship with a few friends. The winery is named after the Greek word for a tranquil state of mind, free from worry or preoccupations.  Pale straw color. Aromas of fresh cut grass, green bell peppers, green herbs. Herbaceous, vegetal component with bright moderate+ acidity and a crisp aand clean finish.

2009 Ataraxia Chardonnay, Western Cape, South Africa – Pale gold color. Reminds me of white Burgundy in the nose. Roasted quince, hazelnuts, crushed minerals and lemon curd. Well-balanced oak on the palate with flavors of vanilla and more lemons and crushed minerals. Moderate+acidity.

2010 Eric Kent “Sangiacomo Green Acres Hill” Chardonnay, Sonoma – Kent Humphrey, his wife Coleen and sister Renee are behind this boutique operation. The feature emerging artists’ work on their labels. This wine was aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, which 40% were new. Pale gold color. Aromas of buttered popcorn, baked apples, baking spices and caramel. Ripe apple fruit notes on the palate with moderate acidity along with additional notes of toast and vanilla.

2011 Chateau Routas Rouviere Rose, Provence
-– Founded in 1992 by Philippe Bieler, the estate was purchased in 2005 by Scottish entrepreneur Sir David Murray, former Chairman of the Glasgow Rangers Football Club.  Day-to-day operations are handled by former Domaine Ott enologist Jean-Louis Bavay and Vineyard Manager Philippe Saraciva. The rose is made from a blend of 55% Cinsault, 23% Syrah, 14% Grenahce and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pale pink color. Juicy and vibrant on the palate with flavors of red berries. Delicious rose with some texture to it.

2009 Routas “Wild Boar” Cabernet Sauvignon, Provence – Named for the boars that roam the forests of the Routas Estate. Black cherry color. Aromas of green bell peppers, black olives and cassis. Distinct herbaceous note on the palate with moderate tannins and moderate acidity.

2011 Rosa del Golfo Rosato, Salento, Italy -- The Calo Estates were founded two centuries ago in Salento area, where Leopoldo Calo owned a small farm producing grapes and olives. In 1963, Rosa del Golfo developed a rose wine from Salento, which soon established such a high reputation it inspired to the company its name accordingly in 1988. Mino Calo was one of the first producers in the Salento, the ’heel’ of Italy’s boot, to believe in the quality potential of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, and his wines were already showing well in the 1980’s. 90%  Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera. Vibrant pink color. Aromas of Frango mint, strawberries and other red berries.

2009 Rosa del Golfo Scaliere, Salento -– In the Salento dialect, Scaliere refers to the person who made the first furrow in a new vineyard. 90% Negroamaro and 10% Aglianico del Vulture. Black plum color with garnet edge. Aromas of raisins, figs, dark plums and animal. Additional funky leathery notes on the palate.

2009 Ayoub Brittan Vineyard Pinot Noir, Dundee Hills -- After a long and careful search to find the best site possible to plant Pinot Noir, Mohamad “Mo” Ayoub found the land he dreamt about nestled in the Dundee Hills. The volcanic jory soils, south-facing slopes and fertile land made it an easy decision to plant four prized acres of vines in 2001. The Ayoub wines were an absolute revelation for me. Stunning, gorgeous and magnificently delicious Pinot Noir! Black cherry color. Mix of exotic spices in the nose along with lavender and roasted beets. Complexity continues on the moderately concentrated palate with more spices, black cherry liqueur and fresh turned earth. Very well balanced structure with so much going on.

2009 Ayoub Estate Pinot Noir –- Not as concentrated as the Brittan Vineyard and more elegant in nature. Flavor spectrum includes cloves, allspice, licorice, red cherries and vanilla. Beautiful wines!

2008 Demetria Cuvee Constantine, Santa Ynez Valley
-– This is the old Andrew Murray property that was purchased by John Zahoudanis in 2005. Blend of 67% Grenache, 27% Mourvedre and 6% Syrah. Black plum color with garnet edge. Aromas of black plums, dried herbs and black pepper. Surprising amount of tannins on the finish as the wine is juicy and silky upfront.

2009 Lindstrom Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag’s Leap District
-– Each year, Lindstrom produces a single, estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon from their four acre, hilltop Nicali Vineyard. Celia Welch (Scarecrow, Corra, D.R. Stephens and Staglin Family Vineyard) is the winemaker. Blackberry color. Aromas of dark berries, cassis, violets, spice and vanilla. Well structured on the palate with blueberry fruit flavors. Dense, rich and chewy with moderate+tannins. Reminds me of Shafer Vineyards.

2008 Culler La Palette, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – After graduating from UC Davis in 1984, Karen Culler started a 6 month internship at Robert Mondavi Winery in their Research Department which turned into two years when Robert Mondavi purchased Vichon Winery. Karen decided to move up the Oakville Grade to Vichon as Assistant Winemaker in 1986 and in 1989, she became Winemaker.  Karen decided to keep her roots in Napa Valley started her own label, Culler Wines, with the harvest of 1997.  She also consults as winemaker to various other wineries in Napa Valley, such as Wolf Family Vineyards, Ladera, Renteria and Rivera. I am a huge fan of Karen Culler’s wines and have been selling her them since 1995. For me, she can do now wrong. La Palette is her Bordeaux inspired blend. Black plum color. Aromas of black cherries, blueberries, cocoa and vanilla. Additional blue fruits on the palate with cassis, firmly structured but soft and elegant. Simply delicious!