• Corks have been popping in Italy ever since the Azzurri victory over France in the World Cup final last Sunday. It's been one long party, with red, white and green flags everywhere, late-night street parades and, of course, endless TV shows examining every detail of the historic match, head butt included. Joining the party spirit is Distilleria Bottega, a Veneto-based distillery that produces the Alexander line of grappas. Bottega's soccer-fan president, Sandro Bottega, produced a 24-bottle special-edition grappa in anticipation of the victory, one for each member of the victorious squad (plus one for coach Marcello Lippi), in a unique bottle that integrates the Italian flag. A bumper 3-liter version was made for the winning penalty scorer, Fabio Grosso. Looks like the party's set to continue...or will end really quickly since, after all, it's grappa.
|"Who you callin' 'little'?"|
• How many times have you heard this: "Yes, waiter, my date would like a glass of the Valvin Muscat, while I'll try the Noiret/Corot Noir blend"? Never? That's because Valvin Muscat, Noiret and Corot Noir are all brand-new grape varieties, hybrids introduced this week by Cornell University professors Bruce Reisch, who specializes in grape breeding and genetics, and Thomas Henick-Kling, the head of the enology department. People have been crossing grape varieties for centuries to create stronger flavors, disease resistance and weather tolerance. Modern hybrids, which tend to be popular in areas that struggle to grow fine-wine grapes, are often the products of several generations of parents from various European vinifera and American grape varieties. Reisch and Henick-Kling were aiming to offer growers in the eastern United States grapes that were better suited to cold weather but tasted more like popular vinifera varieties. Wines made from Valvin Muscat are supposed to taste much like vinifera Muscat wines, while Noiret and Corot Noir offer better tannins than previous red hybrids, along with appealing red berry, tobacco and pepper notes. Henick-Kling says the pair is working hard on new hybrids that will be completely resistant to mildew and bacteria, eliminating the need to spray the vines with chemicals. But that could be years away--these three grapes were tested for 10 years in experimental vineyards in New York and the Midwest. For now, Unfiltered is eagerly awaiting the first bottle of Corot Noir.
|You can support by sipping.|
• It's hard to get a decent pastrami sandwich or a bagel with a schmear in Napa Valley. Nevertheless, dozens of Napa vintners are of Jewish descent, and many of them turned out to support the newly formed Napa Valley Center for Jewish Culture at its inaugural weekend of food, wine tasting and fundraising. The event, which ran from June 23 to 25 and drew 250 people, was called L'Chaim, of course. "The event was about meeting other people, one on one, and to enjoy the vintners directly," said co-chair Ona Marks. L'Chaim honored pioneering Diamond Creek Vineyard founder Al Brounstein, who died recently at age 86, and his son, Phil, was on hand to give a touching tribute. In addition, the event included an auction that raised $62,000 for a number of charities, including the Jewish Historical Society. Next year's L'Chaim is scheduled for June 22 to 24, and if there's pastrami flown in from Katz's Deli, we are so there.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions