Dining Atlanta: Week of December 26, 2011

By Eric Harvison

Dining Atlanta spotlights what is opening and closing around the city. Check in at the beginning of each week to find out what is changing in your neighborhood.

Click here to read earlier columns

Atlantic Station

FOX SPORTS GRILL will close effective January 1st.

Berkeley Heights

Asha Gomez’s CARDAMOM HILL will open a week from Saturday, 1700 Northside Drive.


Inman Park’s SAVI URBAN MARKET has opened a second location at 1380 Dresden Drive.


EAST VILLAGE GRILL alumna Amanda Fore announced plans to open EAST PACES TAVERN early next year, serving up Mexican/Southwestern/California cuisine at 322 East Paces Ferry.


MELTON’S APP & TAP confirms via their Facebook page that they will reopen for business at 4pm on December 31st. The decades old neighborhood favorite has been closed since early November because of the rat bastards (pun intended) at Pet Supermarket next door.


The owners of the now closed MAX LAGER’S WOOD FIRED GRILL & BREWERY are planning to reopen the space as WHITE OAK KITCHEN & COCKTAILS. **Correction: Max Lager’s has not closed. White Oak will open in the previous All Star Café space, 270 Peachtree Street.

Little 5 Points

Owner Bob Sandage has taken over the Brewmaster responsibilities at WRECKING BAR BREWPUB following the untimely departure of the pub’s original Brewmaster, Chris Terenzi.


Chef Jose Rego has reportedly left the kitchen at EL ESCORPION, the second chef shuffle in the restaurant’s six month life. SOTTO SOTTO’s Adam Waller is filling in on an interim (?) basis.


Tyler Williams will move over from BACCHANALIA to become executive chef at ABATTOIR, relieving Cliff Harrison who has been temping in the role since the recent departure of Joshua Hopkins.

HOP CITY is expanding their tap selection, adding a “Growler Wall” in January that will bring their total to 70 beer taps.


Eric Harvison’s Dining Notes began a few years ago as a sporadic e-mail exchange with a friend, sharing restaurant openings and trying to satisfy that vague urge to dine “somewhere new.” That friend started forwarding Eric’s messages to some of her friends, several of them food industry professionals. They in turn began passing along bits of restaurant news and gossip that they would come across. These exchanges became more frequent and took on a viral life of their own that has evolved into what you read today.

Aside from the occasional editorial comment, Eric won’t attempt to review these restaurants. There’s plenty of others better qualified, with much more refined palates — probably you. Rather, this is an attempt to help you keep up with the constantly changing Atlanta dining scene, for better or worse.

Sparkling Wines from the New World

Ring in the new year with a New World sparkling wine!

These sparkling wines are produced like their European counterparts, either by Méthode Champenoise (also called the traditional method), or the Charmat method. Champagne, Crémant, Cava and Franciacorta are produced by traditional method, and Prosecco is produced by the Charmat method.

Click here to read how sparkling wines are produced around the world

Both in quantity and quality, the United States is a dominant producer of New World sparkling wines. California is a sure bet for great bubbly, but there is so much more to discover beyond the west coast of the U.S.

Toast to 2012 with these New World bubbles:

Wolf Mountain Blanc de Blancs Brut

Sparkling wine from Georgia, United States ($26)

Yes, it is possible to get an excellent sparkling wine in the southeast U.S. — and Wolf Mountain Vineyards proves it. The family owned and operated winery is located in the foothills of the Southern Appalachian Mountains in Dahlonega, about 60 miles north of Atlanta.

The Blanc de Blancs Brut is made from Chardonnay grapes and is produced by the same traditional method as Champagne. The sparkling wine is pale yellow in color with a light and engaging taste. Notes of citrus and golden apple are rounded out with a hint of spice. The bubbles give the sparkling wine a nice fullness in the mouth, with crisp acidity making for a refreshing finish.

2008 Biltmore Estate Château Reserve Blanc de Blancs

Sparkling wine from North Carolina, United States ($29)

This dry sparkling wine is made from grapes grown at the Biltmore Estate, a popular attraction in Asheville, North Carolina and the home of George Vanderbilt. While the estate and gardens date back to the late 1800s, the vineyards are more recent and were planted in the 1970s. Today the Biltmore Estate is the most visited winery in the U.S., welcoming more than one million visitors each year.

The Blanc de Blancs is made from Chardonnay grapes grown in North Carolina. It is dry and elegant, with flavors of tart lemon, white grapefruit and pineapple. A hint of toast rounds out the palate, and the finish is clean and crisp.

Santa Julia Brut Rosé NV

Rosé sparkling wine from Mendoza, Argentina ($13)

Santa Julia is part of Bodega Familia Zuccardi, one of Argentina’s largest family owned wineries and a leading exporter of Argentine wine. The vineyards are located in Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes Mountains.

The Brut Rosé is made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes and produced using the Charmat method. Vibrant pink in color, the sparkling wine has a fresh and aromatic nose of red berries. The taste is soft, ripe and lively, with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rose. Small bubbles and a touch of sweetness make this wine fun to sip.

Yellow Tail Bubbles Sparkling White

Sparkling wine from South Eastern Australia ($10)

The recognizable Australian wine label has brought its friendly approach to sparkling wine. This white sparkling wine is made with a blend of Semillon, Traminer, Viognier and Trebbiano grapes and produced using the Charmat method.

Extremely fragrant, the Australian bubbly has slightly sweet citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Notes of Meyer lemon, tangerine, guava, white peach and honeysuckle come together for a clean, refreshing finish.

What is interesting about the Yellow Tail sparkling wine is that it is sealed not with a traditional mushroom-shaped cork but with a “Zork” — a plastic cork. After removing the foil you remove a coil of plastic from the neck, then press the button at the top of the Zork to release it from the bottle. The Zork still makes that satisfying pop sound when the bottle is opened (and you still feel the force inside the bottle pushing it out), with the bonus that it can be used to reseal the bottle.

Graham Beck Brut Rosé

Cap Classique from South Africa ($17)

Cap Classique is the name for sparkling wine produced in South Africa using the traditional method. Graham Beck has been producing Cap Classique in the Western Cape province since 1991, and had the honor of serving their Brut at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in 1994.

If you’re a fan of rosé sparkling wines, you must give this a taste. Pale peachy-pink in color, this is rosé at its prettiest. The wine is a blend of Chardonnay (55%) and Pinot Noir (45%) from estate vineyards in Robertson, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Pleasantly sophisticated in flavor with hints of raspberries and cherries, this is an upbeat mix of fun and finesse.

Simply Italian: Tasting Notes from the Italian Wine Tour

By Maxine Howard

Italian winemakers and their representatives took over the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco earlier this autumn for the Simply Italian great wine tour. With stops in Chicago and Las Vegas, the tour offered the chance to share the wide variety of magic Italian winemakers weave with their grapes.

More than fifty wineries from all over Italy poured their best wines at seminars and the grand tasting. While some were established labels, others came to the United States to find importers for their brands.

Seminars highlighted the range of grapes grown and the full gamut of wines produced all over Italy. At one session fourteen wines took participants on a fascinating tour. We started with non-vintage Prosecco from Carpenè Malvolti that demonstrated the fruity aroma yet dry finish of this sparkling wine.

Moving through a procession of increasingly complex whites, we continued to some remarkable reds. The 2005 Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio from Cantine Giorgio Lungarotti, a blend of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo, was one of the most complex of the tasting with notes of dark cherries and silky tannins. The 2006 Mille E Una Notte (meaning 1001 nights) from Donnafugata was another spectacular red blend. This contained 90% Nero d’Avola and 10% of “the best grapes harvested at Contessa Entellina in 2006.” The aroma was of dark fruits and the taste had a great balance of fruit and earthiness with a slight tannic finish.

Simply Italian might be a misnomer, as the variety of grapes, wines and regions was anything but simple. Among the variety of interesting wines here are several that stood out:

Perla Del Garda is a small producer from Lonato, a town in Lombardy in northern Italy. Coming from generations of farmers, this brother/sister team started releasing their own wines only a few years ago. Their white wine, Perla 2009, comes from the Lugana region within Lombardy. It is produced from Trebbiano grapes. Very tasty, the wine was crisp and flinty with a slightly smoky touch. Their red, Terre Lunari, is a blend consisting of 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. It showed nice fruit, tempered by the earthiness of the Cabernet Franc and soft tannins.

From the island of Sardinia came Argiolas with flavorful, distinctive wines. The 2010 Costamolino is a white wine made from the Vermentino grape. It had notes of tropical fruit with a slight sweetness reminded me of a Riesling. The 2008 Perdera comes primarily from Monica grapes. It had a gorgeous deep red color, with dark fruit flavors culminating with a peppery finish. The 2005 Turriga is 85% Cannonau grapes with 5% each of Carignano, Bovale Sardo and Malvasia Nera. This medium bodied, food friendly wine was one of my favorites.

Valentina Cubi brought a great range of wines using basically the same grapes from the Veneto region in northeast Italy. I was impressed at the different tastes that are all called Valpolicella (the name of the region within Veneto). The 2009 Iperico was a lighter red with nice flavor. It was made from 65% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 10% Molinara. The 2004 Morar was a well made, full bodied wine of greater complexity. It was composed of 70% Corvina, 25% Corvinone and 5% Rondinella. The third Valpolicella, a 2005 Arusnatico, had the same composition as the Iperico but tasted altogether different. The distinction is that the Arusnatico undergoes a second fermentation on the stems in February. This treatment produces a deep red, well-structured wine that is both fruity and spicy. It fills the mouth and finishes with silky tannins.

For a wine lover constantly in search of new tastes, this mini tour of the varieties of Italian wine beyond Pinot Grigio and Chianti was quite a revelation. I recommend trying bottles from different grape varieties to compare with your old standards for a fresh experience.


Maxine Howard is the West Coast correspondent for the Amateur Gastronomer.

Dining Atlanta: Week of December 19, 2011

By Eric Harvison

Dining Atlanta spotlights what is opening and closing around the city. Check in at the beginning of each week to find out what is changing in your neighborhood.

Click here to read earlier columns


In case air travel doesn’t already give you indigestion, THE VARSITY is among the list of restaurants receiving the tentative nod for new concession contracts at Harstfield-Jackson International Airport. Interestingly, SOUTH CITY KITCHEN and MANUEL’S TAVERN were among the unsuccessful applicants.

Barbecue seems to be among the secret ingredients to selection with contracts awarded to ROLLING BONES BBQ, SHANE’S RIB SHACK, and MICHON’S SMOKEHOUSE. Other local restaurants soon appearing on a concourse near you include VARASANO’S PIZZA, PASCHAL’S, THE REAL CHOW BABY, TWIST, and THE PECAN. Also selected were a host of the more traditional airport purveyors including (partial list) CARRABBA’S, PINKBERRY, CHIPOTLE, WILLY’S, QDOBA, BAJA FRESH, PAPPADEAUX SEAFOOD, EINSTEIN BROS BAGELS, GOLDBERG’S BAGEL CO, FATBURGER, FIVE GUYS BURGERS, LONGHORN, LA MADELINE, WIENERZ GRILL, JEKYLL ISLAND SEAFOOD CO, GOLD COAST DOGS, JERSEY MIKE’S SUBS, and DUNKIN’ DONUTS.

Avondale Estates

Recently rebranded HAIL MARY, the former JAMES JOYCE PUB has reverted back to previous JAMES JOYCE ownership of Denise Gerard and is currently operating under the name AVONDALE ARMS, although Gerard informs The Patch that the name is only temporary. The pub will ultimately adopt a name more closely aligned with Gerard’s other pub, THE BREWHOUSE CAFÉ in Little Five Points.


Two new restaurant/pubs are under construction in the Town Brookhaven development — OLDE BLIND DOG PUB and THERE will open soon. Sembler president Jeff Fuqua told the Atlanta Business Chronicle that the development is still seeking a full-line Mexican restaurant, a gourmet burger place, an Italian concept and a fine Indian restaurant.


OLDE TOWNE TAVERN & GRILLE, with locations in Kennesaw, Lawrenceville and Suwanee will open early next year on Pharr Road in the former SASKATOON restaurant location. In addition to an excess of vowels, OLDE TOWNE looks to offer basic burgers, pizzas and salads with the addition of several wood grilled meats.


CHIPOTLE opened a new location on Oxford Road adjacent to the Emory Campus.


FRENCH AMERICAN BRASSERIE a.k.a. FAB quietly closed its doors on Saturday night. Reportedly owners Cindy Brown and Fabrice Vergez want to focus their efforts on their soon-to-open Buckhead restaurant F&B.


A little more details revealed regarding CAMPIGNOLO, the restaurant coming to 980 Piedmont early next year. The cuisine will be Italian with Mediterranean influences, and the previous restaurant space has been expanded to incorporate additional seating. CAMPIGNOLO will be open for lunch and dinner and offer brunch on weekends. Believe this will be part of the Peasant Restaurant Group (in fact, CAMPIGNOLO translates to “peasant”), so perhaps they will bring the needed expertise to succeed in this long cursed venue.

TIERRA restaurant owners Ticha and Dan Krinsky have announced that they will close the Piedmont Road eatery early next year, ending 13 years in business. Last day of service will be Friday, February 17th. Dan Krinsky has already assumed a teaching position at Le Cordon Blue College of Culinary Arts and Ticha will hold down the operation for the final two months.


BURGER TAP opened last Wednesday on North Highland in the onetime CARAMBA CAFÉ location. Burgers and beer.

Old 4th Ward

Reported that DANCING GOATS COFFEE is the first lease signed for the PONCE CITY MARKET (Sears Building) development.

Poncey Highland

The colorful KING OF POPS mural that graced the wall of the adjacent launderette at Buddy’s gas station was painted over on orders from “The Man.” If I follow the rationale, now that The King is no longer a tenant at that address the mural ran afoul of local sign ordinances.


Eric Harvison’s Dining Notes began a few years ago as a sporadic e-mail exchange with a friend, sharing restaurant openings and trying to satisfy that vague urge to dine “somewhere new.” That friend started forwarding Eric’s messages to some of her friends, several of them food industry professionals. They in turn began passing along bits of restaurant news and gossip that they would come across. These exchanges became more frequent and took on a viral life of their own that has evolved into what you read today.

Aside from the occasional editorial comment, Eric won’t attempt to review these restaurants. There’s plenty of others better qualified, with much more refined palates — probably you. Rather, this is an attempt to help you keep up with the constantly changing Atlanta dining scene, for better or worse.

Cremant: France’s Alternative to Champagne

There’s so much more to French sparkling wine than just Champagne. Sparkling wine is produced all over France using the same traditional method (and often same grapes) as Champagne. Called Crémant, the sparkling wine can be of the same high quality as Champagne, though typically costing much less.

Click here for Champagne facts and figures

There are seven appellations which include this designation in their name: Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Bordeaux, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Die, Crémant du Jura, Crémant de Limoux and Crémant de Loire.

Crémant is not limited to the three grapes of Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Instead it may be made from one or a blend of each region’s native grapes, which can produce a range of flavors not found in Champagne.

Don’t limit yourself to Champagne – the variety of Crémant produced in France guarantees you’ll find several that you love.

Click here to read about sparkling wines produced around the world

Here are some Crémants to try:

Crémant de Bordeaux

Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut Crémant de Bordeaux ($19)

This sparkling wine is made entirely from Semillon, one of the two main white wine grapes in Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc is the other). This Crémant is aged on the lees for 24 months.

Dry, crisp and elegant, the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye has all the desirable characteristics you look for in a brut sparkling wine. It is extremely pale yellow in color, with round and fresh flavors. Ripe lemon, white grapefruit, white raspberries, almond and a touch of brioche are enhanced by small bubbles.
Click here to read a full review of the Jaillance Crémant

Crémant de Loire

De Chanceny Crémant de Loire Brut ($14)

This sparkling wine is made from 70% Chenin Blanc, 15% Chardonnay and 15% Cabernet Franc, all grapes grown in the Loire region. The grapes were hand-picked from 30 different families of growers, and the sparkling wine was aged for 18 months in cellars that date back to the 12th century.

The sparkling wine is pale straw yellow in color, as the juice from the Cabernet Franc grapes did not have contact with the color-imparting skins. The flavors from this red wine grape enhance the flavors of the two white wine grapes, adding a slight hint of white raspberry to the white grapefruit, lemon, pear and toast notes.

Crémant du Jura

Domaine Berthet-Bondet Crémant du Jura ($19)

Jura is perhaps the least well-known wine region in France, located just east of Burgundy. Its perched village of Château-Chalon (where Domaine Berthet-Bondet is located), is classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

This Crémant is made from Chardonnay and Savagnin, the two white wine grapes of the Jura. It is a lovely mix of citrus and white flowers. Flavors of lemon, white grapefruit and golden apple culminate in a dry and refreshing finish.

Crémant d’Alsace

Jean Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Reserve ($18)

This sparkling wine is made entirely from Pinot Blanc, a white wine grape that is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. Most Crémant d’Alsace is made from Pinot Blanc, though it may also be made from Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Jean Albrecht Crémant is pale straw yellow in color with small bubbles. Dry and delicate flavors of white citrus and toast plus a hint of sweet apricot make this sparkling wine really enjoyable to drink.

Crémant de Bourgogne

Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut ($10)

With Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being the main grapes of Burgundy (Bourgogne in French), this region produces sparkling wines that are very similar to Champagne.

The Blason de Bourgogne Crémant has flavors of pear, apple and toasted bread that culminate in a crisp finish that has a hint of toasted almonds. With its small energetic bubbles this sparkling wine is easy to drink and light on the tongue, with a price tag that’s hard to beat.


Sparkling Cocktails

Add some extra sparkle to your holiday celebrations with sparkling cocktails! Cocktail consultant, mixologist and author Jonathan Pogash (aka The Cocktail Guru) shared some tips and recipes for bringing even more excitement to bubbly.

“There are several reasons why I use sparkling wine in cocktails,” said Pogash.  “It’s festive, celebratory, refreshing and classic.”

With food writer Rick Rodgers, Pogash is the co-author of Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide: 75th Anniversary Edition. The update of the classic cocktail book has a chapter dedicated to sparkling cocktails.

When creating sparkling cocktails Pogash recommends using a sparkling wine on the drier side. “This is so that I can monitor the sweetness off the drink by adding additional ingredients, such as juices or syrups.”

With sparkling wine as a base, there are a number of cocktails you can create. “I love using high quality, flavorful liqueurs in the mix. Fresh fruit juices and purees, of course, add that extra touch to Bellini-style drinks.”

Sparkling cocktails naturally make for festive drinks at holiday parties. You can even involve your guests. “You can set up a Bellini bar and have various fresh fruit ingredients, like the classic peach, strawberry, pear, raspberries,” says the Cocktail Guru. “Keep it seasonal, use fresh berries in the spring and summer and pears, apples and cranberries in the fall and winter.”

The great thing about sparkling cocktails is that they are easy to pair. “Sparkling wine cocktails go with just about any types of food — hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza (really!), turkey, beef, fish, pasta . . . the possibilities are endless.”

For more about Cocktail Guru Jonathan Pogash visit cocktailguru.com.

Try these sparkling cocktail recipes courtesy of mixologist Jonathan Pogash and featuring Yellow Tail sparkling wine:

Cinn-Apple Sparkler

4 oz. Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine
1/2 oz. cinnamon schnapps
1 oz. apple cider

Directions: Add ingredients directly to a champagne flute.

Garnish: floating red apple slice

Blackberry Fizz

served at Madison & Vine, NYC

2 large fresh blackberries (or 1 oz. blackberry puree)
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. Yellow Tail sparkling wine
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
1 oz. Gin

Directions: In a mixing glass muddle the blackberries (or add the puree), along with the lemon, simple, Lillet, and Gin.  Then add ice and shake well.  Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top off with the sparkling wine.

Garnish: blackberry on rim of glass

Ginger-Passion Sparkler

served at Bookmarks Lounge, NYC

1/2 oz. ginger liqueur
1 oz. passionfruit juice
4 oz. Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine

Directions: Add ingredients directly to champagne flute.

Garnish: candied ginger on rim of glass

image of Jonathan Pogash from thecocktailguru.com.

It’s Time for Wine: Introducing Shadowbox Cellars

Our Own (plus our partners) shadowbox cellars to Make its Debut

By Monty and Sara Preiser

We were chosen as the “inspectors” for an election the other day, meaning that we watched the counting by both sides to be sure all was accurate and there were no shenanigans. There were a number of candidates, and we were astonished to see that one person did not mark the ballot for himself. Not surprisingly, he did not win, but in O’Henry like irony, he lost by only one vote. It made us think about grade school, where kids (at least of our era) did not commonly vote for themselves, as well as about later realities when one learns that if you don’t have enough confidence in yourself to cast in vote in your own favor, you shouldn’t be running in the first place.

Well, that lesson sort of carries over to this column. We are always happy to write about and review the wines we taste and enjoy, so today we are proud to announce the debut of our own line of wines – shadowbox cellars, making premium Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Owned by Monty and Sara Preiser of Boynton Beach and Napa, Ira and Eydie Holz of Boca Raton, and Justin and Stacy Preiser of Napa, shadowbox is following a bit of a different business model than most wineries in an effort to put truly fabulous wines in the bottle. And the effort has, at least for now, worked spectacularly.

For quite a while, we have been fortunate to live five months a year in Napa, and our son Justin has lived there full time running our comprehensive wine and restaurant magazines (The Preiser Key to Napa and The Preiser Key to Sonoma) for almost seven years now. This has allowed us some pretty good insight into what vineyards produce the best fruit, what winemakers excel at crafting certain varietals, and what flavor profiles are desired by consumers who, like us, want outstanding quality at prices that do not border on the insane. With the addition of Ira, a financial and business expert, we put together a team of people on the production and business sides who all contributed something positive and important to every varietal we make. Our wines are, if we do say so ourselves, beautiful in every way, and properly priced for consumers.

When the owners gathered to taste our wines for the first time out of the bottle we were of course apprehensive. Under a past and different label, we (Monty and Sara) had refused to distribute one vintage of a wine many years ago because it did not meet our standards. We are ecstatic to report that such a problem did not exist with shadowbox. Below is what we found.

2010 Orchard Vineyard Oak Knoll Napa Chardonnay
Made by winemaker Mike Drash (late of Far Niente and Luna, and now owner of Tallulah), this is a wine of immediate impressions – a golden straw color to the eye, a powerful medium to full body on the palate, and a fruit-to-dry finish that seemingly lasts forever. Yet there are many other characteristics belonging to this layered and balanced Chardonnay. The nose gives off scents of brioche, grapefruit, and Crenshaw melon, while the mid palate is consumed by caramel, apples, and a hint of ripe banana. Overall, the wine is bright enough to accompany light meats, salads, and fish, while suggesting a long period of ageability. The Oak Knoll grown fruit is next door to the famed vineyard that produced the grapes for the storied 1976 Paris tasting. Ours is even better. It is ready now, and should continue to improve for many years to come.
85 cases available. $40

2009 Anna Katerina Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
Strong, yet lovely, aromas of roses and violets are evident long before this wine reaches one’s nose. And the gorgeous dark color of ruby/garnet is the perfect sensory lead-in to distinct flavors of strawberries and raspberries. The fruit here comes from Donum President Anne Moller Racke’s private vineyard in Carneros, and is transformed into this luscious Pinot Noir by Donum and Auteur winemaker Ken Juhasz. It is smooth on the palate, evidences berries from start to finish, shows the perfect Pinot Noir medium body, and boasts soft, yet structure-providing tannins. The berries, white truffles, and Hen of the Woods mushrooms give way to traces of forest floor that take you to a lingering finish. If you seek terroir from your wine, here it is, and here it should stay for better than ten years.
65 cases available. $46

2008 Mountain Terraces Vineyard Sonoma Valley Syrah (SaraBec)
There is only a bit of this left, and it is under the name of our previous label “SaraBec,” which until we began this new venture was not offered for sale. Now the 2008 is available and the 2009 will be released in the spring under the shadowbox name. The fruit for the 08 comes from the top of the mountain separating Napa and Sonoma, and is influenced by the San Pablo Bay, which is actually in sight on a clear day. The winemaker is rising-star Ames Morrison of Medlock-Ames winery. Before you drink this huge wine, it needs a good two hours in a decanter. Only then will you experience the inviting tar and charcoal on the nose, the hints of graphite that pop up in various stages, the black plums that seem to frame the tannins, and the velvety/rose petal smoothness that takes over immediately and stays with you to the back palate. By that time the wine has danced around your mouth and transformed into notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, and purple fruit on the finish. Game or meat is the perfect accompaniment. Ready to drink now and through 2018.
10 cases available. $44

2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
The rich, alluring, and intense color of this full-bodied Cab only hints at the beauty of the wine in the glass. Supple aromas of caramel, Bing cherries, and toasted spiced nuts give way to a smooth, creamy, and layered mix of dark fruit, currant, and black cherries. A touch of Merlot assures drinkable tannins while a dash of Cab Franc enhances each sip. But this is Cabernet all the way, with a chocolate finish supported by zest of orange that simply sails on and on. Our choice to make this wine was Steve Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Family Wines, and famed for his Reds of all varietals. The fruit is from varying locations in Napa, including a healthy dose from the Annapurna Vineyard, acknowledged as one of the Valley’s finest. This Cab is fantastic now, but perhaps best enjoyed between 2012 and 2025.
40 cases available. $75

2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
It is no secret that the 2007 vintage is one of Napa’s finest ever. And this bell-ringer reflects the perfect growing season of that summer with its outstanding balance and multiple layers. Chocolate and mocha aromas are not only prevalent on the nose, they hover around on the taste buds throughout the entire sip of wine. Primary flavors of sweet black cherries, black plums, and currants fill the palate from start to finish. Tannins are surprisingly smooth for such a huge Cabernet Sauvignon, also made by Steve Reynolds, yet they allow one to enjoy the wine immediately, or lay it down for a generation or more. A long finish completes the picture.
Only 20 cases available. $78

Purchasing shadowbox Wines:
We are a small producer, as you have seen, and so our wines will be highly allocated and we expect them to sell quickly. Those restaurateurs and others who have sampled them have nothing but accolades for what we have produced, we are happy to say. We expect to be able to deliver around Valentine’s Day.

If you would like to be on our allocation list and have us get in touch with you about an order, or if you have any questions, please send an email to info@amateurgastronomer.com.

Thanks for reading, and we hope you will like what we have produced.


It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley, the most comprehensive guide to wineries and restaurants in the Napa Valley, published every March, July, and November. In fall 2011 the Preisers released the first issue of The Preiser Key to Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

AG Pick: Jaillance Cuvee de l’Abbaye Cremant de Bordeaux

If you love French sparkling wine but are turned off by the high price of Champagne, make Crémant your celebratory bubbly.

Crémant is the name for the sparkling wine produced in France outside of the Champagne region. Made in the same method as Champagne but typically costing much less, Crémant is the perfect blend of the finesse and flavors you look for in a sparkling wine.

The great thing about Crémant is that it is not limited to the three grapes of Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier). Crémant is made from each region’s native grapes, which can mean a wider variety of flavors than what you find in Champagne.

For a wonderful taste of Crémant in general and Crémant de Bordeaux in particular, try the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut, AOC Crémant de Bordeaux. Made entirely from Semillon grapes, this wine has mouth-filling fruit flavors that will make you a Crémant devotee.

Semillon is one of the two main white wine grapes in Bordeaux, along with Sauvignon Blanc. The sparkling wine is produced by méthode Champenoise (also called the traditional method), with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle. The Cuvée de l’Abbaye is aged on the lees for 24 months.

Right away you’ll notice how pale the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye is — extremely light yellow, almost without any color. This seems in contrast with the round and fresh flavors you get in each sip. Ripe lemon, white grapefruit, white raspberries, almond and a touch of brioche are enhanced by small bubbles. Dry, crisp and elegant, the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye has all the desirable characteristics you look for in a brut sparkling wine.

A bottle of the Jaillance Cuvée de l’Abbaye Brut Crémant de Bordeaux costs $19.

12% alcohol by volume

Keep Your Wine Chilled with the Corkcicle

There’s a new way to keep your white or rosé wine chilled between pouring glasses. Introducing the Corkcicle, a reusable icicle that you stick inside the wine bottle.

Visually appealing and much smaller than an ice bucket (and less hassle than sticking the bottle back in the refrigerator between pours), the Corkcicle maintains the wine’s temperature without diluting its flavors.

The Corkcicle is filled with a reusable frozen gel and is BPA-free. Just freeze the Corkcicle for at least two hours, then stick it in the wine bottle after you’ve poured the first glass.

Handwash the clear plastic icicle once you are finished and put it back in the freezer so it’s ready for the next time you want to keep a wine cool.

Ideal for white and rosé wines, the Corkcicle may also be used with red wines to bring them down to a more suitable temperature for drinking.

The Corkcicle costs $22.95 and may be purchased online at Uncommon Goods.

image from UncommonGoods.com

Why Decant Wine?

The holidays are the time of year when you break out the good wine — and that often leads to questions about if and when you should decant a wine.

Decanters, while not essential to enjoying wine, are pretty handy tools to have. They can be used for both old and young wines.

So why and when do you decant wine?  Here are some tips:

In old wines (and full bodied younger red wines), decanting allows you to separate the sediment and residue from the wine. If you have a bottle that has been stored on its side, allow it to rest upright for 15 minutes before decanting so the sediment falls to the bottom. As you pour the wine into the decanter keep an eye on the sediment collecting in the bottle so that you don’t pour it into the decanter.

If you’ve stored the bottle in a cool place, decanting enables the wine to raise to a better temperature for drinking. A wine that is served too cold won’t be as flavorful.

Decanting allows the wine to breathe. As the wine has a chance to mix with the air its flavors will be enhanced. For younger wines decanting helps bring out flavors you would get if it were more mature.

After pouring the wine into the decanter allow it to rest at least 15 minutes before pouring into glasses. Just be careful with wines that have peaked in maturity or may be about to peak; once the wine mixes with air it could start deteriorating rapidly so you’ll want to drink it immediately.

A final reason for decanting wine — it looks cool. Decanting is part of the theater when you go to a nice restaurant and it adds a special touch to a get together with friends. Decanting makes any wine a special occasion, whether you’re enjoying take out or serving a less expensive bottle.

One tip when buying a decanter is to think about the cleaning. The twisting and turning decanter looks really nice but it will likely be a pain to clean. If you’re not a fan of careful washing by hand you’ll want to opt for a more simple decanter.

For younger wines aerators are great alternatives to decanters. These are tools that help accelerate the opening up of a wine. As you pour the wine it mixes with air, resulting in a more enhanced bouquet and flavors. Aerators like the Nuance Wine Finer double as pourers and are inserted into the wine bottle. Others like the Vinturi wine aerator are held between the bottle and glass.

image of Riedel “O” Magnum decanter from Riedel’s Flickr page
image of Nuance Wine Finer from WineEnthusiast.com