Monthly Archives: May 2012

An Italian evangelist in New York showcases Piedmontese wines

Fiorenzo Dogliani and his Gavi

Italian vintner Fiorenzo Dogliani has been an evangelist for his Piedmontese family’s Barolos and other wines seemingly forever. He introduced the wines of Beni di Batasiolo to New York in 1979 and he’s still at it today at the age of 68.

Dogliani, president and managing director of the family owned Beni di Batasiolo, stopped in New York recently to showcase his wines. New York is one of Batasiolo’s biggest markets, he says, admitting, however that China is becoming quite important, too. The wines are exported to 68 countries.

Over lunch at Il Postino, a charming eatery near the United Nations, he told me about Beni di Batasiolo, one of the largest privately owned wineries in the Langhe-Barolo region of Piedmont and the Dogliani philosophy used in the production of 5 million bottles annually.

Headquartered in La Mora Cune, Beni di Batasiolo — beni means property in a rural Piedmontese dialect, owns 345 acres of vineyards in nine sites and four growing regions: Barolo, La Morra, Monforte D’Alba and Serralunga D’Alba. It’s one of the largest farming operations in the Langhe.

The Dogliani family has been making wine in the Piedmont for four generations. They started with just 7 1/2 acres of Nebbiolo vines in Barolo. Their business, originally called Fratelli Dogliani, was renamed Beni di Batasiolo in 1978.

The youngest of 10 siblings, Fiorenzo Dogliani entered his family’s wine business at a young age, learning winegrowing and winemaking as the business grew. As a young man, he led the winery beyond the borders of Piedmont, marketing his family’s wines to restaurateurs in nearby Milan. His early efforts helped raise visibility for the company’s long-lived Barolos and Barbarescos. By 1979 he was traveling to New York, introducing the trade and consumers to Nebbiolo in an effort to steer American palates, more familiar with sweet, fizzy Lambruscos, to dry, sophisticated Italian wines. America now is a key market, in part, he says, because of America’s affinity for Italian food.

Dogliani, who does not speak much English, was accompanied by Ricardo March, the winery’s North American director, who is based in Miami and who translated during our luncheon.

Beni di Batasiolio’s vineyards are planted 70 percent with Nebbiolo, which goes into making Babaresco and Barolos.  The other 30 percent are planted with Arneis, Barbera, Brachetto, Chardonnay, Cortese, Dolcetto,

Moscato Nebbiolo, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc. In addition to Barolo, Batasiolo produces other sparkling and still wines, including Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba, Moscato d’Asti and Gavi, as well as a number of grappas.

Batasiolo’s flagship wines are its four single-cru Barolos: Corda della Briccolina and Boscareto, both from Serralunga d’Alba; Bofani from Monforte d’Alba and Cerequio from La Morra, each with a different elevation and exposure.

For Dogliani, wine making starts in the vineyard. “One of the most important things to us is the exposure of the hills – the elevation,”  he says as we taste his wares.

We start with a straw-colored, aromatic Gavi di Gavi DOCG 2010, produced from Cortese grapes, a white variety that Batasiolo grows at an attitude of 100-200 meters. It offered up a floral nose and peach-citrus palate with hints of minerality. Its crisp acidity made it a refreshing starter.  “Acidity is the most important thing in this wine,” said Dogliani. “It’s dry, but not too dry.” It retails for about $19 a bottle.

Batasiolo Sovrana

Our next wine, Barbera D’Alba Sovrana DOC 2009, was made from Barbera grapes grown on 55-year-old vines in Barolo and La Morra at altitudes of up to 450 meters with a southern and southwestern exposure. Its big perfumed nose hits you immediately. On the palate it’s fruity, full-bodied, soft and round with just a touch of heat from the 14 percent alcohol. A baby now, this a wine to age. And, says Dogliani, it can be drunk with anything. $23.



Batasiolo Barbaresco

We followed with Barbaresco DOCG 2008, a 100 percent Nebbiolo wine, grown in a hilly area. Aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in the bottle, this wine has a concentrated nose, hints of anise, black fruit and good tannins  “Barbaresco is the wife of Barolo,” says Dogliani. $36.

Batasiolo Barolo

Time for a big wine: Batasiolo’s Barolo DOCG 2007, also 100 percent Nebbiolo and also aged in Slavonian oak — but for two years. This $40 bottle was ready to drink and offered up notes of red, black and dried fruits, spice and a touch of tobacco and leather. With 15 percent abv, it seemed a tad hot at the finish.

Batasiolo Moscato

We weren’t done, however. Sr. Dogliani had two sweet wines for us to try.   Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2010, produced from Moscato Bianco grapes grown in hilly Serralunga,  was a lip smacker with only 5.5 percent abv. It could pass for a wine cooler, but of course, much better with its bright aromas and flavors of pineapple; melon and hint of oranges. Much more character than many of those Moscatos you find selling in pretty blue bottles. It’s light and sweet without being cloying.

Batasiolo Moscato Spumonte Rose Dolce

Our last wine, also was dolce.  It was a Moscato Spumante Rosé 2010, made from a blend of Moscato Bianco and Moscato Rosa grapes (from Trentino, which is outside the Piedmont.  This salmon hued, off-dry bubbly wine is tank-fermented using the Charmat method. It’s an easy quaff with fresh strawberry notes. $17.

Batasiolo’s wines are distributed in New York state by Southern Wines & Spirits.


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Shanghai, China wine outlet will showcase New York wines

Thirty New York  wines will be showcased beginning in July at a Shanghai, China, wine exhibition.

The Shanghai New York State Wine Outlet will combine the functions of exhibition, promotion, trade and sales services. The wine selection was curated by Empire State Cellars, the wine-tasting room/retail store at the Riverhead, NY Tanger Outlet Center, which markets 500 New York alcoholic beverages under its farm winery license. Empire State Cellars is a satellite tasting room owned by Peconic Bay Winery.

In October, James Silver, Empire’s general manager, intends to travel to China to represent this selection of luxury New York wines to distributors in Shanghai. Silver, also general manager of Peconic Bay, is a former high-end restaurant sommelier

The Shanghai showcase will feature bottlings from Anthony Road Wine Co. and Shaw Vineyards in the Finger Lakes; Hudson-Chathem Winery in the Hudson Valley and Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Jamesport Vineyards, Medolia Vineyards, Paumanok Vineyards, Peconic Bay Winery and Shinn Estate Vineyards, all on the East End of Long Island.

“We know about the tastes of China’s emerging middle class, and this new consumer demands authenticity and quality,” Silver said in a statement. “That’s why ESC is delivering some of the greatest names in New York winemaking – well made, hand-crafted products from smaller family-owned and operated wineries.”

The Shanghai outlet is expected to conduct promotional events, wine education classes, coordinated professional trade shows and wine sales and matchmaking events for distributors and buyers.

It’s not the first time Long Island wines have found their way to China. In 2010, Peconic Bay and six other East End, Long Island, wineries combined to ship seven pallets, each 56 cases, of wines to a Bejing-based marketer.

China is considered an exploding wine market and wines from California, Australia, South American and Europe can be found on the menus of high-end restaurants in China. Wine sales in China are expected to rise by 17 percent per year over the next five years, according to a recent forecast by the market research group Euromonitor International.

According to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the statewide trade group based in Canandaigua, less than 15 percent of New York’s wine production is exported.

The Shanghai program resulted from a cooperative efforts of the New York State Small Business Development Center, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, the New York State Department of Economic Development and the China International Exhibition & Trading Center of Wine & Beverage, in the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone in Shanghai.

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Black is now fashionable in beer

American black ales from across the U.S.

Black has always been fashionable. Now, it’s also true for craft beer.

American black ale, also called American black IPA or Cascadian dark is a beer style that has soared in popularity. Will it be a passing fad or a lasting hallmark of brewing?  My bet is the latter.

I have to admit I’ve only recently become aware of these brews, noticing them as they began to appear on the shelves of retailers on Long Island and on tap at area bars. Some commentators suggest they’ve been around as long as 10 years. Among the first to gain popularity was San Diego-based Stone Brewing’s 11th Anniversary Ale, released in 2006-2007. Now it’s called Sublimely Righteous Ale. Want to gauge the style’s popularity? Check out and you’ll find a mind-boggling 520 entries for American black ales.

Not surprisingly, America black ale began as a West Coast phenomenon, but brewers across the country joined the parade. American black ale, generally, is a tongue-tingling celebration of Pacific Northwest hops, which play a key flavor role alongside a malt character.   These brewers are deep-brown-to opaque black, light-to-medium bodied, and more reminiscent of an IPA in body rather than a porter or stout.  There typically are piney, citrus and resiny hop aromas and flavors and little to no roasty character or bitterness. I’ve found they finish long and dry, some offering a delicious lip-smacking character.

American black ale is recognized as a style by the Boulder, CO-based Brewers Association, the industry’s trade group. In its revised January 2011 style guidelines, the BA renamed the style that formerly had the oxymoronic moniker of American black India pale ale.  Really, can a beer be black and pale simultaneously?

Here’s what the BA’s guidelines state: “American-style black ale is perceived to have medium high to high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content, balanced with a medium body. Fruity, floral and herbal character from hops of all origins may contribute character. The style is further characterized by a moderate degree of caramel malt character and dark roasted malt flavor and aroma. High astringency and high degree of burnt roast malt character should be absent.”

Recently, I sampled several American black ales. As might be expected, they varied widely.

Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA, which weighs in at 6.5 percent alcohol by volume (abv), an original gravity (OG) of 16 and 64 international bitterness units (IBU), was my top pick. Round, smooth and balanced with a resin, fruity nose, notes of toast and caramel, this brew from Portland , OR had a long. dry finish. $2.99 for a 12 oz. bottle.

Stone’s Sublimely Righteous Ale, despite its higher alcohol–8.7 percent ABV–and bitterness — 90 IBUs, was dangerously easy to drink with its piney nose and mouth-coating, lip-smacking palate. $7.99/22 oz.

Back to Black, an entry in the black ale sweeps from San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery (brewed and canned under contract by Cold Spring Brewing Co. in Cold Spring, MN) also is a smooth quaffer with a winey nose, sweet malt in the mouth and a lasting finish. $1.89/12 oz.

Boston’s Harpoon Brewery Black IPA demonstrates this is not just a West Coast phenomenon with its 7 percent ABV brew. From its resiny nose, due to diverse additions of Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, Citra and Athanum hops, to its bittersweet palate with hints of chocolate and spice, this is a soft, dry brew. $6.49/22 oz.

Another New England entry, Clown Shoes Lubrication American Black, is a contract brew made by Mercury Brewing in Ispwich, MA. This opaque brew, which claims an addition of orange peel, seemed more stout-like than others with its roasty nose and expresso palate, which overpowered any hop character that might have been there. $4.29/12 oz.

The geographic diversity is evident in  RJ Rockers Brewing Co.’s Black Perle IPA from Spartanburg, S.C.,  a boozy opaque monster at 9.5 percent ABV.  No Northwest hops here. Instead, German Perle hops were used in the 90-minute boil. A low hop nose, a touch of astringency and some cocoa nib character on the palate made me wonder if this was indeed, a black ale or, perhaps, a mis-named imperial stout.  Points, however, for a great package with its midnight blue label and drippy blue wax-coated seal. $12/22 oz.

And there’s also Ithaca Beer Co.’s Excelsior Fourteen, which I sampled on draft at Tap & Barrel in Smithtown, NY. It’s an opaque brew with some ruby tones, some roasty flavor, earthy bitterness and a long dry finish. $7/12 oz.

I’m happy drinking on the dark side. Brew it black.



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Long Island wineries plan June 2 Nassau County tasting event

‘The East End of Long Island is moving west – at least for a day.

The Long Island Wine Council, a winery trade group, is sponsoring a paid public tasting event in Nassau County on June 2 with 30 wineries participating.

The event, called “A Taste of Summer,” will run from 5-7 p.m. with entry an hour earlier for those who purchase VIP tickets. It will take place in the Fairgrounds Barn at Old Bethpage Village Restoration at 1303 Round Swamp Road in Old Bethpage.

In addition to the wineries, who’ll be pouring new releases and summertime wines, Catapano Dairy Farm, a goat cheese producer in Peconic, and Mecox Bay Dairy, of Bridgehampton, which makes cow cheeses, will be sampling their wares. Also, Long Island celebrity chef Tom Schaudel, co-owner of Jewel in Melville and owner of Coolfish in Syosset, A Lure Chowder House in Southold and aMano Osteria & Wine Bar in Mattituck, will be serving his signature snacks.

This is the first time the wine council has held an event in Nassau. Most of its previous events have been on the East End or in New York City. More than a decade ago, a group of East End wineries particpated in a charity food and wine event at the Carltun in Eisenhower Park and more recently many of them poured samples at a tasting at Post Wines in Syosset.

“We have so many loyal customers throughout Long Island that make the trip east to see us. We’re thrilled to be able to offer them as well as those who may not yet have tried our wines an opportunity closer to home,” said Ron Goerler, Jr., president of the wine council.

“I’m excited to be a part of the Taste of Summer event because the winemakers will have an opportunity to show just how far Long Island wines have come in such a short period of time, and I get to try to pair dishes that will live up to that quality,” Schaudel said in a press release.

General admission for the event is $75 and VIP tickets are $100. Wine country visitors who completed tasting by June 2 will be entitled to get one ticket free for each ticket purchases. Passport holders need stamps from 10 different participating wineries to be eligible. For information about the passport program,  click here.

For more information about the “A Taste of Summer” event, call (631) 722 2220 or email To purchase tickets,  click here.

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Brooklyn Brewery’s Hindy gets LI Beer Week lifetime achievement award

The Long Island Craft Beer Week Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Brooklyn Brewery co-founder and president Steve Hindy.

The award, presented as part of the second annual Golden Tap Awards held May 15 at The Boulton Center for Performing Arts in Bay Shore, NY, is given to an individual who has made exceptional contributions of outstanding significance to the field of brewing or beer.

Brooklyn Brewery celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and recently was ranked No. 13 on the Brewers Association 2012 list of Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies.

Hindy was chosen for the award because of his commitment to craft brewing and his local community, the awards organizers said.

The Long Island Craft Beer Week awards honor Long Island’s beer innovators and pioneers. Some of the winners were selected through a People’s Choice-style online vote.

Blue Point Brewing Co., of Patchogue, was named Best New York State Brewery. The winner was selected by online public poll. Established in 1999 by Mark Burford and Peter Cotter, the Patchogue Brewery now is the 34th largest in the U.S. Other nominees were Fire Island Beer Co., Great South Bay Brewing, Long Ireland Beer and Greenport Harbor Brewing.

The Long Island Beer of the Year Award was presented to Blue Point for its Toasted Lager, the brewery’s flagship brew. Nominees for this category were selected by Long Island brewers and brewery owners and the winner was picked via online public voting.

The Best New Beer of the Year Award went to Blue Points White IPA, an unfiltered European-style white ale with a fresh American IPA finish. Brewed with malted and unmalted wheat and west coast hops, the 6 percent ABV beer is fermented with German yeast. Nominees for this category were submitted directly by Long Island brewers and brewery owners.  Only beers released in 2011 were eligible. The winner was selected by online public vote.

The award for Best Brewery Sales Rep went to Sean Nolan of Bay Shore’s Great South Bay Brewery. The award recognizes a local, hard-working sales rep who works directly for a Long Island brewery selling into the Long Island market.  The winner was selected by a vote of local business owners, including restaurants, bar owners and beer retailers.

The Best Long Island Bar Award went to TJ Finley’s in Bay Shore after an online public vote. The bar offers 26 tap, one on cask, 48 bottles and 4 cans. Other nominees were Bobbique in Patchogue, Tap & Barrel in Smithtown, The Good Life in Massapequa Park and Croxley’s Ale House in Farmingdale.

Best Long Island Brew Pub Award was won by Brickhouse Brewery, of Patchogue, which was established in 1995. The winner chosen through online voting.  Other nominees were Black Forest Brewhaus in Melville, John Harvard’s in Lake Grove and Southampton Publick House.

The Pioneer Award went to Michael Deinhardt, founder of the Brewer’s East End Revival (BEER) home brewing club, which he and others established in 1996 and now has more than 80 members. The award recognized Deinhardt’s commitment to beer education, which directly had an impact on the growth of the local beer community, the organizers said.

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Long Island Craft Beer Week early start


Dan Burke and Greg Martin of Long Ireland Brewing and Great South Bay's Greg Maisch at Croxley's Craft Beer Week preview party.

Long Island Craft Beer Week for 2012 got underway today—for most folks.

For me, this 10-day celebration of Long Island brewers and beer purveyors (May 11-20) got underway a day early at Croxley’s Ale House in downtown Farmingdale, where four local brewers poured limitless cask-conditioned samples of their brewers’ art in a crowded back part of the bar’s dining room, and a parade of servers carried in trays of boneless hot wings all night. I was disappointed I didn’t get to try the promised sldiers, bacon sticks, crab cakes and the like. Gone, perhaps, just two hours into the five-hour event or never served.

But never mind, We were there for the beer. And there was plenty of that.

Greg Martin and his partner, Dan Burke, of Riverhead’s Long Ireland Brewing Co., were easy enough to spot in their dark green tee shirts. They were serving up glassfuls of their original brew, Celtic Ale, a sweetish mild-tasting brew.

A few steps in and you tripped over one of the several brew crew members from Bay Shore’s Great South Bay Brewing Co.: Phil Ebel V, the brewery’s energetic director of sales, sales rep Sean Nolan, brewer Greg Maisch and assistant brewer Kevin Ryan. So many of them, but just two Great South Bay brews, the lovely, fruity and spicy Kismet Saison and the potent Massive IPA.

Barry McLaughlin of distributor Clare Rose / Long Island Craft Beer Specialists was there with a Blue Point Brewery team pouring the Patchogue’s brewery’s resiny, dry-hopped White IPA and its black IPA, Toxic Sludge, which is eminently more drinkable than its name would suggest.

And last, but certainly not least, there was Mike Philbrick of Port Jeff Brewing Co. with casks of his idiosyncratic White’s Beach Wit with lime zest and Schooner Pale Ale with cherries. The former packed a wallop of coriander, which became less noticeable as the level of the beer in my glass got lower, The latter offered just a hint of cherries, just a new accent for the brewery’s fine pale ale.

Enough beer, really for a few hours. As the hours ticked by I remarked to Philbrick that I had it. His response: “I’ve got 10 more days of this.”

A wide range of Long Island Craft Beer Week events will taking place across the region, including the Golden Tap Awards, a people’s choice awards competition that will honor Long Island’s best bar, brew pub, brewery, sales rep, new beer and overall beer. It will be held on May 15 at the Boulton Center for Performing Arts in Bay Shore. There will be plenty of chances to enjoy the local suds.

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Croxley’s Ales is expanding to Williamsburg and Smithtown

The owners of Croxley’s Ale House say two additional Croxley’s beer bars on the horizon.

The group behind Croxley’s, which now operates in three locations on Long Island and one in Manhattan’s East Village, is planning to open a Croxley’s in Williamsburg Brooklyn, and in Smithtown, Long Island.

Christopher Werle and Jeff Piciullo, partners in the original Croxley’s in Franklin Square, told me at their Long Island Craft Beer Week kickoff party that the planned Billyburg is awaiting licensing as they navigate the New York City bureaucratic maze. The New York State Liquor Authority web site identifies the location as bar at 63 Grand St.

The Smithtown bar, which I’m told will include an outdoor beer garden, is to be on West Main Street.  Werle said he can’t say exactly where until the deal closes in the middle of next week.

Croxley’s bars are known for their wide selection of brews.  There are 60 taps at its Franklin Square pub, 52 taps in Rockville Centre, 68 taps in Farmingdale, and additional  beers in bottles.

In addition to Franklin Square, there are Croxley’s in Rockville Centre and Farmingdale.  The group also owns Waterzooi and Novita Wine Bar and Trattoria in Garden City.




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Brewers from Germany, California and AB-ImBev win World Beer Cup awards

A small brewery in Germany, a mid-sized California brewer and international beer giant AB-ImBev each won top awards at the 2012 Brewers Association World Beer Cup awards, described by the group’s president as the “Olympics of beer competition.”

In all 284 awards were presented last week in San Diego, where the bi-annual competition was conducted just prior to the annual Craft Brewers Conference.

“It’s called ‘the olympics of beer competition’ for good reason,” Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association, the U.S.-based trade association, said in a statement.  The trade group has run the competition every two years since 1996.

“The event brings together great brewers from all corners of the globe. Plus, the awards are highly regarded,” Papazian said. ”A brewer who wins a World Beer Cup gold award knows that their winning beer represents the best of that beer style in the world.

A collection of 211 brewing industry professionals judged the competition, which drew 3,921 entries in 95 beer style categories.  The beers came from 799 breweries located in 54 countries and 45 U.S. states.

The big winners for champion brewery and brewmaster were:

Small Brewing Company
Brauerei Michael Plank, Laaber, Germany; Michael Plank

Mid-size Brewing Company
Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA; Matthew Brynildson

Large Brewing Company
AB InBev; Claudio Ferro

Small Brewpub
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Media, PA; Iron Hill Brewery Team

Large Brewpub
Pelican Pub & Brewery, Pacific City, OR; Darron R S Welch.

A complete list of all winners is available for download at the association’s site.

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