Monthly Archives: August 2013

Long Island’s Harvest East End draws New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo

The scene at Harvest East End viewed from the Library Wines tasting area

The scene at Harvest East End viewed from the Library Wines tasting area

Long Island’s wine industry had its biggest ever blast.

Harvest East End, the industry’s annual celebration of itself, a charity tasting festival for consumers, took place Aug. 24 under a billowy, soft-purple-lit tent 4 at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue.

Throngs of tasters – 1,300 tickets were sold – reveled in the enormous tent as they had at the past three events, sipping from among the hundreds of wines available from 42 local producers and nibbling on the edibles provided by 32 mostly local food purveyors. High-energy music pounded from the loudspeakers.

This year’s Harvest East End was markedly different than those in past years.

It marked the 40th anniversary of the planting of Long Island’s first modern day commercial vineyard with the organizers honoring Louisa Hargrave, who with former husband, Alec Hargrave, established Hargrave Vineyards in Cutchogue (known today at Castello di Borghese Vineyard). Photos from the industry’s early days decorated a fence surrounding a seating area in the center of the tent/

Also honored was restaurateur John Ross, who in 1973 established Ross’ North Fork restaurant in Southold, which soon became an early booster of local wines and locally grown food – long before today’s farm-to-table movement was a popular notion.

Significantly, for the first time, Harvest East End was held on the North Fork, where most of the region’s wineries are located. In past year, the fest was held in the Hamptons.

Gov. Cuomo addresses the crowd at Harvest East End

Gov. Cuomo addresses the crowd at Harvest East End

The festival also brought Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an advocate of  New York’s wine producers since taking office. Cuomo presented the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation’s “Winery of the Year” award to Russell McCall, owner of McCall Wines. The award was announced earlier this month.

McCall Wines, the governor told the crowd, was an example of the “many world-class wineries that have become a mainstay of Long Island’s fast-growing wine industry.”

Cuomo called the North Fork wine region “one of New York’s hidden treasures” and he credited East End legislators, Sen. Ken LaValle and Assemb. Fred Thiele, with helping to “develop industries we believe we can nurture. The wine industries are those industries in New York.”

“We have invested in it and promoted it,” the governor said. “The industry is taking off like a rocket.”

A 30-second TV commercial promoting New York’s wine industry premiered at the event. The spot is expected to run this fall throughout the region.

“Put tourism together with the wine industry, and they can grow an entire region,” Cuomo said. “And that’s what you’re seeing here on the North Fork of Long Island.”

“Our wines have gained stature and quality and are now highly rated in top publications,” said Ron Goerler Jr., president of the Long Island Wine Council. “Similarly, with the bounty of our local farms and waters, the East End of Long Island has attracted world class culinary [experts].”

Indeed, with so many wines available in one place to taste it was impossible to sample them all, let alone take notes. Vibrant whites from the 2012 vintage and just-released and unreleased 2010 reds dominated the offerings.

Among the whites, I was taken by the refreshing, grapefruit juicy Sauvignon Blanc from the region’s newest winery, Kontokosta Winery, in Greenport and an elegant 2012 Chardonnay from Coffee Pot Cellars.

A 2010 Malbec from Peconic Bay Winery stood out among the reds for its elegant French-like soft style.

Nevertheless, for me some of the best wines at the event were to be found in the VIP library wines tasting table, which demonstrated once again for me the age worthiness of the region’s reds.

Jamesport CFTops among them was Jamesport Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2002, a Chinon-like rendition, which at 11 years of age was remarkably fresh with a crisp, red cherry and earthy character and lively acidity.

To be sure other wines also shined.  Pellegrini Vineyards Reserve 2005 was a lush, dense red blend from a terrific vintage, still with lively fruit notes at 8 years of age (the 2007 currently is available at the winery for $70). Old Field Vineyard’s Commodore Perry Merlot 2007 (just released at $40) was chewy and redolent of mushroom and earthy notes. Shinn Estate Vineyard’s intense Nine Barrel Reserve Merlot ($43) offered soft tannins and notes of black pepper.

Edibles included the usual array of chowders, gazpachos and ceviche found at past events (understandable when you’re feeding 1,300 people).

But some chefs went a step further.  There were the generously stuffed meatloaf sliders from Jeannie Morris of Bonnie Jean’s Casual American Eatery, smoked meat and fruit salsa tapas from Kevin Judge of Maple Tree BBQ; piquant meatball shooters from David Plath of Grana Trattoria Antica bites of spicy marinated McCall Ranch beef and bites of spicy marinated McCall Ranch beef from Gerard Hayden of The North Fork Table and Inn. Meanwhile, Erich Lomondo of Kitchen A Bistro turned to pig for his offering—a crisp fried Tete d’Cochon.

Fresh briny Pipes Cove oysters on the half shell were available from Noah Schwartz of Noah’s, while Bobby Beaver of the Frisky Oyster served piping hot Widow’s Hole Oysters Friskafella

The most inventive dish of the event had to be the rich, sweet, custardy duck egg crème brûlée from Paolo Fontana of Mirabelle served in the shell.

Harvest East End was organized by the Long Island Wine Council, the industry’s trade group, and sponsored by Wine Enthusiast magazine with support from Merliance, the Long Island Merlot Alliance.

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Bipartisan legislation offers excise tax relief sought by U.S. hard cider makers

American producers of hard cider have been seeking to level the tax playing field with their competitors in the beer industry. Relief may be soon at hand.

Congressmen from Portland, Ore., and New York’s Niagara region earlier this month introduced legislation in the House that would ease the excise tax burden on America’s small, but growing hard cider industry.

Chris COllins

Chris Collins

Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Chris Collins (R-New York)  introduced the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation (CIDER) Act, H. R. 2921, which would have the federal excise tax on cider structured more like the tax on beer, which is 22 cents per gallon. New York Sen. Charles Schumer reportedly is planning to introduce similar legislation in the Senate.

When the alcohol content exceeds 7 percent, cider is taxed as wine, based on a sliding scale that goes as high as $1.07 per gallon for producers making more than 100,000 gallons a year. Cider makers must pass on the higher taxes to consumers or absorb them.

The tax on cider varies, depending on its alcohol and carbon dioxide content, which vary from harvest to harvest based on weather and small changes in production techniques.

jim silver

Jim Silver

“Even under normal harvest circumstances, dessert apples like Fuji and Gala, which we use, can easily ferment beyond the 7-percent-alcohol threshold that breaks the tax barrier and turns cider into “apple wine,’ ” said Jim Silver, general manager of the Standard Cider Co., producer of True Believer and True Companions Ciders, on Long island’s North Fork. “In the worst case scenario, the cider maker is now compelled to put a garden hose into the tank to assure himself that the finished product will be under that threshold – obviously not an ideal situation, especially if that producer wants to make the best cider possible.”

Because of the narrow way that hard cider is currently defined in the tax code, these small variations can lead to cider being taxed at a rate 15 times higher than what the law intended, according to a press release issued by the congressmen.

The Blumenauer-Collins bill would broaden this definition to include pear, as well as apple cider and to greatly reduce the chance that improper taxation would occur.

“Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science,” said Blumenauer.  “As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans’ developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden.”

Collins added. “This bill will help spur growth in the American apple industry by allowing it to be more competitive on an international level.

Cider makers, who have been pushing for the changes, cheered the bill.

“This bill bravely and wisely cuts a path to ensuring cider gets a real chance to succeed,” said Silver.

“We are very pleased that Congressmen Blumenauer and Collins are working to assist cideries not only in our part of the country, but nationally as well,” said Sherrye Wyatt, executive director of the Northwest Cider Association, which represents producers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia.  The changes proposed by the congressman “will update the existing federal definition of cider to better reflect the industry and keep American cider competitive in the international marketplace,” she said.

“Blumenauer and Collins’s cider bill comes at a crucial time for the small but quickly growing cider industry,” said James Kohn, owner of Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Ore. “The current excise tax for fermented ciders does not capture accurately the ciders we produce or most of the ciders in the U.S. And this is very confusing to current producers and the growing number of new cider producers in Oregon and the Northwest. This Cider Bill will end this confusion and ensure ciders are taxed consistently.”

Mike Beck, president of the U.S. Association of Cider Makers, called the introduction of the legislation “a critical first step towards making the United States hard cider industry more competitive internationally and treated more fairly under the tax code.”

Sales of domestically produced cider more than tripled in 2012 from 2007, climbing to $601.5 million, according to IBISWorld, a market research company.

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Long Island wineries celebrate 40 years at Aug. 24 Harvest East End festival

McCall's vineyard on the south side of Main Road, Cutchogue. (Photo by Shelley Wax)

McCall’s vineyard on the south side of Main Road, Cutchogue. (Photo by Shelley Wax)

It’s time once again for Long Island’s biggest wine celebration, the Harvest East End tasting fest.

This year’s event, which takes place Aug. 24, marks 40 years of winemaking on Long Island. And, it’s the first time that the event, established four years ago, is taking place on the North Fork, where most of the East End wineries are located. Previous fests were held in The Hamptons. This year’s site is McCall’s Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue, recently honored as New York State’s Winery of the Year.

The event, presented by the Long Island Wine Council, Merliance  and Wine Enthusiast magazine, will prove attendees with the opportunity to taste wines from such great vintages of 2010 for the reds and 2012 for the whites.  “It doesn’t get any better than that,” said wine council vice president  Roman Roth,

Roman Roth at 2011 Harvest East End

Roman Roth at 2011 Harvest East End

who is winemaker and partner at Wolffer Estate Vineyard. He says there will also be barrel samples of the 2012 reds, offering a “first glimpse of the fantastic ’12 vintage.”

Josh Wesson

Josh Wesson

The main event, which runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. will be emceed by sommelier Joshua Wesson, who is theformer CEO of Best Cellars . The will honor Louisa Hargrave, the Long Island winemaking pioneer and author, and chef John Ross, author and father of the North Fork’s farm to table cuisine.

More than 40 Long Island vineyards and a restaurants and purveyors of gourmet eats will be showcasing their wares.

All proceeds from the event are to donated to East End Hospice, Group for the East End, The Peconic Land Trust and The Long Island Farm Bureau Foundation. Last year’s event raised $46,000.

Tickets to the event at $150 per person and available online until Aug. 23, 10 p.m. (eastern time).  A VIP ticket, which includes early entry, is $250. Tickets will, however, be available at the door.

The wineries include: Anthony Nappa Wines (Peconic), Baiting Hollow Farm VineyardBedell Cellars (Cutchogue), Bouké (Mattituck), Brooklyn Oenology, Castello di Borghese (Cutchogue), Channing Daughters Winery (Bridgehampton), Clovis Point (Jamesport), Coffee Pot Cellars (Cutchogue), Comtesse Thérèse (Aquebogue), Croteaux Vineyards (Southold), Diliberto Winery (Jamesport), Duck Walk Vineyards (Water Mill), Gramercy Vineyards (Mattituck), Harbes Family Farm & Vineyard (Mattituck), Jamesport Vineyards, Jason’s Vineyard (Jamesport), Kontokosta Winery (Greenport), Lieb Cellars (Mattituck), Macari Vineyards (Mattituck), Martha Clara Vineyards (Riverhead), Mattebella Vineyards (Southold), McCall Wines (Cutchogue), Merliance, Old Field Vineyards (Peconic), One Woman Wines & Vineyards (Southold), Osprey’s Dominion (Peconic), Palmer Vineyards (Riverhead), Peconic Bay Winery (Cutchogue), Pellegrini Vineyards (Cutcogue), Pindar Vineyards (Peconic), Raphael (Peconic), Reilly Cellars (Cutchogue), Roanoke Vineyards (Riverhead), Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard (Peconic), Scarola Vineyards (Mattituck), Sherwood House Vineyards (Mattituck and Jamesport),  Shinn Estate Vineyards (Mattituck), Sparkling Pointe (Southold), Suhru Wines (Mattituck), T’Jara Vineyards (Mattituck), Waters Crest Winery (Cutchogue) and Wölffer Estate Vineyard (Sagaponack).

Regettably, if you’re looking for two of Long Island’s top wine producers, Paumanok Vineyards (Aquebogue) and Lenz Winery (Peconic), you won’t find them here, because they are not members of the Long Island Wine Council. Still, there will be plenty of good wine available.

Participating eateries and food purveyors, from Long Island and New York City, include: A Lure (Southold), A Mano (Mattituck), A Taste of the North Fork (Southold), Bistro 72 (Riverhead), BLT Prime (New York City), Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill, Blue Duck Bakery, Bonnie Jean’s (Rocky Point), Claudio’s (Greenport), Comtesse Thérèse Bistro (Aquebogue), CoolFish Grille & Wine Bar (Syosset), Cuvée at The Greenporter Hotel (Greenport), First and South (Greenport), Fresh (Bridgehampton), Gourmet Sorbet by the Sorbabes (Bridgehampton), Grana Trattoria Antica (Jamesport), Jedediah Hawkins Inn, Jewel (Melville), Kitchen A Bistro (St. James), Le Maison Blanche (Shelter Island), Love Lane Kitchen (Cutchogue), Madison and Main (Sag Harbor), Main Restaurant & Oyster Bar (Greenport), Maple Tree BBQ (Riverhead), Mirabelle (Stony Brook), Noah’s (Greenport), North Fork Chocolate Co. (Calverton), North Fork Table and Inn (Southold), Scrimshaw Restaurant (Greenport), Stonewalls Restaurant (Riverhead), The Frisky Oyster (Greenport), The Riverhead Project, Touch of Venice (Mattituck), Vine Street Cafe.

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Finding rare Scotch whiskies among Edinburgh’s tourist traps

The little shop on Cannongate: Cadenhead's Edinburgh

The little shop on Cannongate: Cadenhead’s Edinburgh

A trip to Scotland would not be complete without a whisky stop.

However, my itinerary was far too short during a recent journey for a stopover at one of the country’s many distilleries. One possible alternative: a visit to the Scotch Whisky Experience, close to historic Edinburgh Castle and my lodgings. I quickly ruled that out after a consult with various online travel forums. No need for a Disneyesque ride explaining the whisky making process.

Hope remained.  About a half mile from of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Castle is Wm. Cadenhead, a tiny outpost of Scotland’s oldest and largest independent bottler of spirits, which is based in Campbelltown in the Speyside.

Until the mid-20th century there were many small firms that bottled and sold the pure product of Scotland’s distilleries. Cadenhead, among them, has been doing this for about 130 years. A loss of public interest caused the small producers and bottlers to close and today only a small handful of distilleries remain in the ownership of their founding families and even fewer of the bottling companies remain active. Others indy bottlers include Compass BoxGordon & McPhail and the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, the name a few.

The shop at 172 Canongate on the Royal Mile, a touristy stretch of pubs, souvenir shops and store upon store selling cashmere scarves, is a tiny affair. No more than a half dozen people could fit into the small shop. Inside you’ll first see a display of fairy usual whiskeys.  Cadenhead casksTo the right, a chalkboard lists the store’s large cache of rare, aged whiskeys. To the left, just inside the store’s window, are several spigotted wooden casks, each containing a cask-strength expression of one of Scotland’s whisky producing regions—and a cask of rum.  It’s from these barrels that the shop sells bottles — 30cl, 35cl and 70cl — of whiskeys for takeaway.

Scotch whisky display at Cadenhed's

Scotch whisky display at Cadenhed’s

I explained to a gent who asked how he could help that I wanted to find a whisky that I could not find in America. I listed some of my favorites from the Speyside and The Highlands and the flavors I seek in a bottle, i.e. chocolate, spice, candied fruits, etc. He took a tiny plastic cup and poured a taste from a bottle next to a cask labeled Campbelltown. No details except a proof statement: 59.7—that’s 119 percent abv, a drink that must be cut with water. I’m told its been aged 15 years and that it’s a Springbank, which like Cadenhead, is owned by J & A Mitchell & Co. Ltd. Springbank Whisky is lightly peated and twice distilled. It’s smooth and offers up chocolate and dried fruit nuts.  Just right for. I’ll take 35cl.

Can I sample the Highland malt? I’m poured a taste. It’s sweeter than the Campbelltown as well as smooth. All the flavors I’m fond of in whisky are here. I’m told its origin is Glenfarclas and its age is about 10 years. Another bottle to go home.

Not a long shopping expedition, but enough to satisfy my whisky desire.  Next stop, Heathrow Duty Free.




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Germany’s Paulaner opens 1st U.S. brew pub in New York City’s Bowery

Bh_NYC_Logo-Portrait_RGBPaulaner International  Bavaria’s biggest brewer, has opened its first U.S. microbrewery restaurant in New York City, the first, it says, of others planned for across the county. It operates 25 worldwide. It’s called Paulaner Brauhaus & Restaurant NYC.

Located in The Bowery at 265/267 Bowery, it occupies a building once known as Sammy’s Bowery Follies,  a popular cabaret in the 1940’s and 50’s. The new beer hall features house-brewed beers – including the brewery’s classic Hefeweizen, Munich Lager and Munich Dark, and such seasonal brews as Salvator, Oktoberfest and Maibock. The food is described as contemporary, artisanal Bavarian cuisine.

The 9,800-square-foot industrial-style space, designed by New York-based Morali Architects, showcases its copper and steel brewing tanks in the center, and features seating for 240, exposed brick walls, 14-foot ceilings and a design, the company says was inspired by both Paulaner’s Bavarian heritage and the Bowery area’s history.

Paulaner master brewer Andreas Heidenreich is overseeing the on-site microbrewery, which features customized brewing equipment designed by Caspary. The 8.5-barrel brew house will produce about 1,700 barrels of beer annually. The equipment includes two 10 HL cylindro-conical wheat beer tanks, one 20 HL fermentation vessel, two 20 HL flat conical storage tanks and three 20 hl cylindro-conical universal tanks. Total fermentation and storage capacity will be 140 HL. Five 10 HL dispensing tanks will connect directly to taps at the bar.

Rudy Tauscher, president and founder of Paulaner Brauhaus & Restaurant NYC, a native of Southern Germany, previously was the general manager at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.   After over 20 years in the hospitality industry, he decided to become an entrepreneur and partner with Paulaner to bring the microbrewery and restaurant to New York.

“I spent my summer vacations working in my father’s brewery so it’s in my DNA,” said Tauscher. “With Paulaner, everything came together. They wanted to launch a flagship brewery and restaurant in New York – I know the brewery business and I’ve opened two successful hotels in Manhattan as a general manager.”

Paulaner, under the umbrella of Paulaner Bräuhaus Consult GmbH, operates more than 25 microbreweries worldwide.

Paulaner may be the first foreign brewer to open a brewery in New York City, but it is not alone in operating its own beer hall.  Hofbräuhaus, another Bavarian brewer, operates Hofbräu Bierhaus NYC, an Americanized version of the Hofbräu Haus in Munich, near Grand Central Terminal at 712 3rd Ave., at E. 45th St. Also, Belgian Beer Café, franchised by Belgian brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, is expected to open later this year at 220 Fifth Ave. at 26th Street. Another Belgian Beer Cafe is at Newark Liberty International Airport.






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