Helfrich: White Wines from Alsace

Elegance is the word that comes to mind when sipping the wines of Helfrich. A limited selection of white wines from the family-owned winery in Alsace, France are now available in the United States.

Helfrich winesThe Helfrich Cremant d’Alsace Brut demonstrates that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a high quality French sparkling wine. Made entirely from Pinot Blanc, it has notes of fresh lemon, white grapefruit, white flowers and toast. Click here to see a full article on the Helfrich Cremant d’Alsace.
$20, 12.1% abv

The grapes for the 2012 Helfrich Pinot Blanc come from the Couronne d’Or (Golden Crown), an association of vineyards and winemakers in the middle of Alsace. Tart citrus aromas introduce flavors of lemon custard, white grapefruit and subtle orange blossom, with notes of white flowers that expand as the wine warms in the glass. Pair the Helfrich Pinot Blanc with salads, shellfish, white fish and Asian dishes.
$15, 12.96% abv

The grapes for the Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru and Gewurztraminer Grand Cru come from the Steinklotz vineyard, one of only 51 vineyards in Alsace that has the Grand Cru designation. It is located at the northern end of the Alsatian wine trail and is one of the oldest vineyards recorded in Alsace.

Helfrich Grand CruThe 2011 Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru offers a great balance of sweetness and acidity. The nose and palate are dominated by stone fruit – apricot, white peach and lychee are layered with gardenia, orange blossom honey and a subtle hint of smoke. It is a touch less sweet than the Gewurztraminer. Pair the 2011 Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru with baked ham, roasted chicken and seafood dishes.
$20, 12.5% abv

Ripe fruit and delicate floral notes make the 2009 Helfrich Gewurztraminer Grand Cru a real treat. The nose is wonderfully fragrant with honeysuckle, gardenia and apricot aromas. Lush flavors of orange blossom, tangerine, wildflower honey and gentle minerality culminate in a finish with lingering candied orange and ginger. The Helfrich Gewurztraminer is excellent as a dessert wine, or can be paired with lobster, scallops, spicy Asian dishes and soft and aged cheese.
$20, 12.61% alcohol

More White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

A New Take on Tomato Ketchup

Looking for a new way to add flavor to your burger? Trade in your traditional ketchup for California Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup from Traina Foods.

Traina ketchupYou’ll notice the difference in taste from your first bite. The vine-ripened sun dried tomatoes add a delicious, more intense flavor. It’s sure to add a gourmet flair to any backyard barbecue.

Sixteen pounds of fresh roma tomatoes are needed to make one pound of sun dried tomatoes — that means each bottle of ketchup has the equivalent of around four pounds of tomatoes.

It’s not just for burgers. Try Traina’s Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup on eggs, tacos, meatloaf, sausages, steak and more.

Traina California Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup costs approximately $5 for a 16 oz. bottle. Click here to find out where it is sold in your area.

Disclosure: The Amateur Gastronomer received a complimentary sample.

Midtown Restaurant Week 2013

Mark your calendars for the return of Midtown Restaurant Week!

Midtown Restaurant Week 2013Now in its 8th year, the week of dining deals offers Atlantans a great opportunity to dine at a variety of Midtown restaurants.

From Saturday, September 7th through Sunday, September 15th more than 45 restaurants will be offering three course prix fixe lunch, brunch and dinner menus. The menus cost $15, $25 or $35 per person. Tax, gratuity and alcohol are not included.

To see a list of participating restaurants and their menus visit mrwatlanta.com.

Reservations are suggested and may be made by calling the restaurants or by booking online at Open Table.

Midtown Restaurant Week, September 7 through September 15, 2013.

image from mrwatlanta.com

It’s Time for Wine: Napa Valley 2013 Harvest Report

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers Association Reports on the 2013 Harvest

By Monty and Sara Preiser

Most of those receiving our column do not have the opportunity to read press releases periodically sent out by the varying industry trade associations. One of the most interesting groups on an ongoing basis is the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. Rather than babble and self- congratulate like some other associations, the NVG puts out facts that keep us reading and instruct us on the state of the vine, so to speak. Below are excerpts from the August 7, 2013 press release as sparsely edited by us, but only for ease of reading.

Diamond MountainGeneral:
The Napa Valley harvest, which is now underway, is forecast to be of average yield but high quality. Medium rainfall levels, a warm spring, and a heat wave in late June/early July, are producing smaller berries and loose clusters – signals of high quality. Valley-wide, harvest is taking place 10 to 14 days earlier than 2012.

Though rainfall has been average for the season, minimal rain and a warm spring forced grape growers to use a variety of viticultural practices to mitigate heat damage, including:

• Early spring irrigation and, during the heat wave, afternoon watering. The latter was accomplished by micro-sprinkling and pulse watering to allow careful water management.
• Less canopy management (allowing natural shade and dappled sunlight), and the use of shade cloth to protect the grapes in their early growth stages.
• Early “suckering” (a “sucker” is a clone of the mother plant that grows from a root far from the plant’s base) to remove unwanted growth.

July 2013 was the warmest Napa July since 2003.

April 2013 was seven degrees warmer than 2012. It was almost as warm as 1997, which produced a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon vintage.

The weather helped cause much uniformity throughout the growing season (uniform bloom and uniform harvest), which is key to a good vintage.

Demand for Napa Valley Grapes:
2012 harvest value was over $650 million.
2012 average ton was valued at $3,500.
2012 average ton of Cabernet Sauvignon was valued at $5,000.

There is a worldwide concern following the discovery of “Red Blotch,” a virus that appears to reduce the Brix levels of infected vines. Napa Valley grapegrowers, ever vigilant (our comment) test for the virus before planting to ensure they are planting “clean” vines.

Current replanting echoes the replanting of the 1980s, forcing a decrease in supply in the short term.

Demand for Napa Valley grapes, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, remains high. All 2013 grapes have been sold.

Many vineyards are equipping vineyard managers and supervisors with iPads, which allows broad sharing of information, once held only by vineyard senior staff and the winemaking team; the iPad’s camera to send immediate, geo-tagged photos of areas of concern, which then allowing immediate action; and fun pictures, like a major brand delivery truck getting ‘stuck’ in a vineyard.

There were minimal shortages this spring. In fact, labor shortages are being eliminated since grape growing is now a nearly year round enterprise.

Napa is the only county in California to assess all growers. The money raised has been used to build three farmworker centers, where individuals benefit from lodging, meals, laundry, and recreational amenities.

The Napa Valley Grapegrowers Farmworker Foundation (the only one of its kind in the nation) has educated over 4,000 farmworkers through programs stressing quality in the vineyard, safety, and personal success tools such as financial advice and information on various community services.

Our final comment: Everyone out here is already salivating over the 2012 vintage, and it looks as if we may get a stunner right on its heels.


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 and Sonoma, the most comprehensive guides to wineries and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

Dining Atlanta: Week of August 12, 2013

It’s the return of Dining Atlanta, a round up of news and events from the city’s chefs and restaurants, organized by neighborhood.

Have something to add to the next Dining Atlanta? Email tips@amateurgastronomer.com.


Alma Cocina is adding a little spice to the regular work-week lunch with Tamale Tuesdays. Every Tuesday beginning at 11:30am Chef Chad Clevenger will park Tamale Tuesdaysthe restaurant’s food cart in front of Alma in the atrium of One Ninety One Peachtree Tower to sell his award-winning pork and veggie tamales. The vegetable tamale is made with mushrooms and zucchini, smoked tomato sauce, crema and charred corn salsa. The pork tamale includes braised pork shoulder, bacon-corn masa, green chile sauce, crema and pico de gallo. Tamales are sold individually for $7 or as a combo with chips, salsa and a beverage for $8.50. The tamales are only made in limited quantities, so once Chef sells out, he packs up the food cart until the following Tuesday.
191 Peachtree Street NE, (404) 968-9662. www.alma-atlanta.com


Diners looking to get closer to the culinary action at King + Duke can now reserve a spot at the new Chef’s Counter. Seated in front of the 24-foot open hearth, diners can enjoy a special five-course tasting menu created by executive chef Joe Schafer and his team. The cost is $75 per person and the menu changes daily. Reservations are available nightly at 6pm and 8:45pm Each seating can accommodate two parties of two. The restaurant will note any dietary restrictions at the time the reservation is made.
3060 Peachtree Road, (404) 477-3500. kinganddukeatl.com

Seven Lamps is introducing a couple of new dining specials. Mondays through Fridays from 5pm to 7pm enjoy $1 oysters and $3 “champagne” (Miller High Life beer-tails). To end the weekend check out the new chicken and waffles dinner special. Every Sunday from 5 to 10pm executive chef Drew Van Leuvan will serve juicy fried chicken, cheddar waffles plus a side, which will change each week. A half chicken portion is $16 and a whole chicken is $28.
3400 Around Lenox Road, (404) 467-8950. sevenlampsatl.com

Inman Park

The Albert is now serving weekend brunch. The menu, created by executive chef Shaun Whitmer, features traditional brunch dishes with a southern twist, light and healthy options, and more, complimented by a new signature cocktail menu. Patrons can enjoy dine-in or take-out brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm.
918 Austin Avenue NE, (404) 872-4990. www.thealbertatlanta.com


Cucina Asellina has a new extended happy hour. Monday through Friday, 5pm to 7pm enjoy $3 draft beers, $6 drinks and $5 select light bites.
1075 Peachtree Street, (404) 793-0141. www.facebook.com/CucinaAsellina

lobster boilLure will be offering a special limited-time-only lobster menu. From August 19th through 23rd Lure will offer the $60, 3-course, prix fixe lobster menu in addition to the regular dinner menu. The meal will include a chilled lobster salad with champagne vinaigrette; boiled 1 ½ lb lobster dinner with boiled potatoes and corn on the cob; and blueberry buckle with vanilla buttermilk ice cream for dessert. Reservations are suggested.

Additionally, Lure will bid aloha to summer from Lure Luau2pm to 4pm on Saturday, August 31st with a unique luau experience. Guests will be greeted on the patio with a lei while the sounds of the ukulele fill the air. The patio will be decorated with tiki torches and tropical flora. Boozy Hawaiian punch, Singapore Slings and Blue Hawaiians will be flowing. Executive Chef David Bradley and his culinary team will prepare traditional Polynesian dishes including Ahi Tuna Pole Lettuce Wraps, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Pork Lau Lau Steamed Buns, Whole Roasted Fish, Hawaiian Potato Salad, Coconut Rice, Coconut Cream Pie and a Fresh Fruit Mountain. A limited number of tickets are available and cost $45 each, including tax and gratuity. Click here to purchase tickets online.
1106 Crescent Avenue NE, (404) 817-3650. www.lure-atlanta.com

Park 75 Lounge at the Four Seasons Atlanta is offering a taste of “Southern Summer” with food and drink specials daily during August. From 5 to 7pm Park 75 Lounge will offer Southern-Fried Okra for $5 and Arnold Palmer cocktails for $6. The cocktail incorporates vodka into a mix of lemonade and iced tea.
75 14th Street, (404) 253-3840. www.fourseasons.com/atlanta

West Midtown

Bone Lick BBQ will be celebrating its first anniversary on Saturday, August 24th. The all-day bash kicks off at 12pm and features live music, DJs, a dunk tank, classic arcade games, drinking and eating competitions and more. Free to attend. Bone Lick’s full menu created by award-winning pit master Mike LaSage will also be available throughout the day and night.
1133 Huff Road, (404) 343-6574. www.bonelickbarbecue.com

Congratulations to The Optimist, which was named one of the top 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appétit magazine. Click here to read the article.
914 Howell Mill Road, (404) 477-6260. theoptimistrestaurant.com

Outside Atlanta


No. 246 is hosting a Backyard BBQ on Sunday, August 25th and has invited some nearby establishments to join the fun. Sous chef Andrew Isabella and Colin Miles of Leon’s Full Service will be roasting pork on a Big Green Egg. There will also be beers from Decatur’s Three Taverns Brewery including Single Intent (a lighter-bodied blonde ale) and A Night in Brussels (a Belgian-style American IPA). The new craft brewery takes an open-minded American approach to Belgian-style beers. The Backyard BBQ is from 4 to 7pm and will feature live music from Jason Pomar starting at 5pm. The cost is $15 per person. Reservations are not available.
129 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Decatur, (678) 399-8246. no246.com


Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint, a fast casual pizza chain with locations in six states, will have an opening party for its new Marietta location on Saturday, August 17th. The East Cobb County location is the 18th Uncle Maddio’s. The the Uncle Maddio'srestaurant will serve free 9-inch, three topping, fully-customizable pizzas to all customers in line from 11am to 2pm. One patron in line will be awarded free pizza for a year. The opening party will include face painting, balloon animals and a bounce house. Uncle Maddio’s pizzas are customizable, made-to-order and served up in just seven minutes for under $7. Uncle Maddio’s offers four sizes, three types of crusts including gluten-free, six sauces and nearly 50 fresh toppings, many vegan, organic, and hormone-free.
4101 Roswell Road, Suite 1100, Marietta, (678) 324-3590. www.unclemaddios.com


Aqua blue Restaurant & Bar is turning 12 years old with a week-long celebration featuring a special three-course menu. From August 14th through 21st, the menu costing $20.01 per person will includes a tasting plate, Aqua blueentree and dessert. Throughout the anniversary week the restaurant will present each table with a thank you card containing surprises such as 10% off, free appetizer, free entrée and $50 gift cards. On Wednesday, August 21, Aqua blue will host an anniversary party with live music from band Open the Skye, plus complimentary cake and a champagne toast. Every guest will receive a raffle ticket that evening for a chance to win free dinner for a year. In addition to its anniversary, the restaurant is also commemorating the recent start of weekday lunch service and longtime chef Kien Sam becoming an operating partner.
1564 Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell. (770) 643-8886. aquablueatl.com

Discover Georgia Wine During Dahlonega Wine Trail Weekend

Haven’t been to North Georgia wine country or are looking for the perfect time to visit? Head there the weekend of August 17th for the Dahlonega Wine Trail Weekend.

On Saturday, August 17th from 12pm to 5pm and on Sunday, August 18th from 12:30pm to 5pm, five Dahlonega wineries will offer guests tastes of their award-winning wines. A passport to the wineries costs $25 per person and includes a souvenir wine glass.

Each winery will offer music or other unique entertainment. Food will be available for purchase at some stops.

The participating Lumpkin County wineries are:

Cavender Creek Vineyards & Winery

Live music, and weather permitting, the winery’s donkey mascot will be posing for photographs. Light hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Frogtown Cellars

Offering a complimentary Frogtown Cheesebox as well as Frogtown Paninis for $12.50 (which includes tax and gratuity).

Montaluce Winery & Estates

Enjoy your choice of four Montaluce wines plus a taste the unreleased, award-winning 2013 Wild Meadow Mead.

Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery

Visitors will be treated to a taste of five wines. On Saturday jazz and soul will be presented on the Crush Pad Deck by Moose & Squirrel and on Sunday there will be Americana and Old Time Bluegrass by The Buzzard Mountain Boys.

Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery

Visitors can enjoy an a la carte lunch on Saturday from 12pm to 3pm in the café and brunch on Sunday with seatings at 12:30 and 2:30 (reservations required for food service).

Passports for the Dahlonega Wine Trail Weekend may be purchased in advance at www.Dahlonega.org. Click on the Dahlonega Wine Trail logo and click the “Buy Now” button. Then, on the day of the event, stop by Will Call at the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Visitors Center on the Dahlonega Public Square (13 South Park Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533) to pick up your passport, souvenir wine glass and maps. Passports can also be purchased at any of the participating wineries.

Visitors are encouraged to begin the event at the Visitor’s Center where maps, visitor guides, and other helpful information are available. For information on overnight accommodations and other local attractions visit www.Dahlonega.org.

Dahlonega Wine Trail Weekend, Saturday, August 17th from 12pm to 5pm and Sunday, August 18th from 12:30 to 5pm.

Noosa: Australian-Style Yoghurt Now Available in Atlanta

Say g’day to Noosa Yoghurt. From Colorado by way of Australia, the all-natural yoghurt is now available at supermarkets in the Atlanta area.

The yoghurt gets its name from the Noosa region on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. It’s an area with sandy beaches, fresh rivers and lush rainforests – and where the yoghurt recipe was created.

Noosa YoghurtHow did the yoghurt cross the Pacific and end up in the Colorado foothills? The founders of Noosa Yoghurt were inspired by the similar culture – the people and the natural landscape – to introduce the Aussie-style yoghurt culture to the United States.

If you’re a fan of Greek yoghurt you’ll want to give Noosa a taste. Like Greek varieties it is set and not strained, giving it a wonderfully rich and creamy texture.

Noosa Yoghurt is made at Morning Fresh Dairy, a family owned and operated farm in northern Colorado. It is made with whole milk, and is gluten and hormone free. The infusion of Colorado clover alfalfa honey adds a gentle sweetness to the tangy flavor.

In addition to Honey, Noosa comes in a variety of flavors including Strawberry Rhubarb, Peach, Mango, Blueberry and Passion Fruit. The fruit purees are made with fruit picked at their peak ripeness.

Look for Noosa in the dairy section at Whole Foods, Kroger and Target.

For more information on Noosa visit www.noosayoghurt.com.

Disclosure: The Amateur Gastronomer received complimentary samples of Noosa.