Browsing articles in "wine festivals"
Nov 21, 2014
Terri Judson

Calvert commissioners support eight legislative requests







The Calvert County Board of County Commissioners has put its support behind eight legislative proposals for state delegates and senators to consider during the 2015 legislative session.

During the BOCC’s Tuesday meeting, 11 requests were presented by county attorney John Norris and various department officials. Of those 11 original requests, three were not fully supported, but proposals gained support from the commissioners on issues such as beer/wine festivals, public comments and review of the budget, and imposition of a water infrastructure excise tax.

The BOCC decided to defer action pending more information on a request that would require an amendment to the state constitution: granting authority to condemn property for road construction and widening by the power of quick take, the use of private property for road construction projects.

Additionally, the vote was split on whether to support a request from the health department to allow civil penalties for the sale of tobacco to minors rather than permitting only criminal arrest. Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R) and Commissioners’ Vice President Steve Weems (R) abstained, Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter (R) opposed, and commissioners Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) and Susan Shaw (R) voted in favor, so the motion did not pass.

A statewide proposal to initiate enforcement for the unauthorized use of electric vehicle parking spaces will proceed without the commissioners’ approval or disapproval. This idea was based upon a public comment received, Norris said.

The eight requests the commissioners support are:

• A proposal from the Department of Finance and Budget to amend local laws to reflect current naming of the department; revise the process for adoption of a budget to include a Staff Recommended Budget; provide that the record be left open at least 10 days after a public hearing regarding the budget; and provide that the public hearing draft of the budget would be available for public inspection at least two weeks prior to the public hearing.

Originally, this request proposed that the draft of the budget be provided at least one week prior to the public hearing but was amended to be two weeks.

“Giving the people less time to see it is not making it more transparent,” Clark said.

Shaw amended the motion from one to two weeks.

“What happens so often is that these documents get so complex that people come to the public hearing to learn what’s in it,” Norris said. “Even if they had three weeks to read it, it would be too cumbersome to understand … and that’s why the 10 days after for written comments was included.”

The commissioners deliberated for a while how this proposal could make the budget process both more transparent and easier for the Department of Finance and Budget. Currently, the law says the department must provide the budget to the public three weeks before the public hearing, but the department has not been able to meet that deadline in the past.

• A proposal from the Department of Public works to authorize imposition of a water infrastructure excise tax added to the annual property tax bill of each improved lot not connected to public water and sewer.

This proposal was suggested because the costs associated with hydrants for fire suppression are incurred fully by those who pay for public water and sewerage service, but even those on private systems benefit from the county’s fire suppression system, Norris said.

Slaughenhoupt opposed the proposal, saying, “adding another tax on people is not the way to go,” and that taking money out of the general fund is better than adding a new tax. Shaw said taking money out of the general fund means the customers on the public system pay for the cost of the fire suppression system twice because the general fund consists of taxpayer dollars.

Roughly 50 percent of residential properties are not connected to the county water system, said Mark Willis, deputy director of enterprise fund operations for the Calvert County Department of Public Works.

“Those properties … have the same benefit of that fire suppression system that my water and sewer customers pay for,” Willis said. “They pay for it in its entirety. It’s a very minimal fee, and it’s one that will I think pull Calvert County’s water and sewer out of what I believe to be the Stone Age, because it hasn’t really been updated in 30 years, and will move us to the future.”

The additional funding would allow for routine five-year renovation and maintenance on hydrants, which have not happened as a true renovation ever, Willis said. Only property owners not connected to the public system would pay the fee, he said.

• A proposal from the Department of Finance and Budget for bonding authority for capital improvement projects.

• A proposal from the Department of Finance and Budget to extend the distribution of the state admissions and amusement tax on electronic bingo and electronic tip jars to the Boys Girls Club of North Beach, the Town of North Beach, the Town of Chesapeake Beach and the Calvert County Youth Recreational Opportunities Fund from fiscal 2016 to 2019.

This proposal extends by several years the time funding would be given to the county from this source. The expected revenue will pay for the $2.7 million cost of purchasing the new Ward Farm Recreation and Nature Park, plus an additional expected $2.3 for development, said Julie Paluda, capital projects analyst.

• A proposal from the Department of Community Planning and Building to require all sellers of real property located in whole or in part in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area in Calvert County to provide the purchaser the Calvert County Critical Area brochure.

Requiring the distribution of the brochure “takes away the argument ‘I didn’t know,’” Clark said, and makes potential homeowners in the critical area aware of the regulations to which they will be expected to adhere.

Slaughenhoupt said this proposal puts the burden on the seller of the property when, in reality, critical area regulations are from the state, so it is a statewide issue and should be treated as such.

Shaw said perhaps the commissioners should request that the legislature look at it as a statewide issue. The commissioners voted to support this proposal, with Slaughenhoupt opposed.

• A proposal from the Department of Public Safety to lower the age of eligibility for volunteer firefighters/EMS to receive length of service awards program (LOSAP) payments from 55 to 52 and to increase the additional payments after 25 years of service from $4 per month to $10 per month for each year of qualified service, as well as to remove the provision that the maximum benefit per month be $500.

Tim Hayden, director of finance and budget, said the LOSAP program is the second least-funded retirement program in the county, after other post-employment benefits (OPEB).

• A proposal from the Board of License Commissioners, or liquor board, to expand the county’s special wine festival license to be a special beer and/or wine festival from one per year in the county to four per year per applicant. Originally, the proposal called for four allowed festivals per year in the county but was changed to four festivals per applicant. The commissioners voted to support this proposal with Clark and Weems abstaining.

• A proposal from the Liquor Board to resubmit an earlier passed bill to prohibit bottle clubs to carefully restrict just bottle clubs.

The bill passed to ban bottle clubs in Calvert County during the 2014 legislative session caused confusion for businesses, and Calvert County State’s Attorney Laura Martin declared the new law unenforceable.

Beth Swoap, liquor board chair, said the new proposed language still does not make it legal for a beauty salon to offer complimentary alcoholic beverages to customers because they are selling other services. To make this legal, there would have to be a salon license. No one has expressed interest in this, Swoap said. Clark said requesting the ability to grant salon licenses opens up a realm of more possibilities like art gallery licenses and realtor licenses.

The commissioners voted to support this proposal with Clark and Weems abstaining.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Recognized Animal Control Officer Craig Dichter as Employee of the Month for November;

• Made appointments to the Ethics Commission and Tourism Advisory Commission;

• Approved easements for the Prince Frederick Boulevard/Route 231 intersection improvements project and for Dowell Road widening improvements;

• Declared November to be National Hospice and Palliative Care Month in Calvert County;

• Approved a budget adjustment of $68,004 from capital contingency to complete the purchase of 4885 St. Leonard Road because of variations in appraisals for open space funds;

• Approved a budget adjustment of $60,000 in commissioner contingency funds for increased costs associated with the operation of the Safe Harbor shelter;

• Approved a budget adjustment of $97,000 from unassigned fund balance for the furnishing of and additional electronic equipment for a new courtroom; and

• Awarded contracts for the purchase of vans for the Division of Water and Sewerage, for fencing at the Huntingtown compactor site, for lube tanks for the Division of Solid Waste and for concrete overlay and related construction items for 10.8 miles of roadwork throughout the county.

sfleischman@somdnews.com


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Nov 20, 2014
Terri Judson

Texas Reds festival ends up in the black

The Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival had no shortfall this year for the second time since it began in 2007, according to a report by the Downtown Bryan Association given to council members at their Tuesday workshop.

In the past, the festival has cost the city as much as $194,469, even after the city allotted funds from hotel and motel occupancy taxes to cover some costs.

Although the event didn’t raise enough to cover its cost of $251,909, it ended in the black thanks to two grants and $127,000 in hotel occupancy taxes from the city.

But the event could be more expensive next year if some of the changes DBA Executive Director Sandy Farris suggested to council on Tuesday go into effect.

The main beef many had with the festival was the lack of steaks, which the Steak and Grape festival stopped offering in 2013.

“If we’re going to keep that name, we’re going to need to find a way to bring the steak back,” Farris said. “That is an expensive proposition, which means we will be coming to you in early 2015 and the budget we present will reflect that addition.”

Admission to the festival will likely continue to be free, but Farris said the association would look into changes with the cost of the wine packages, the cheapest of which was $25. Although the price was in line with what other festivals charge, some residents felt the pricing was too expensive, Farris said.

While Texas Reds has never generated enough funds to cover its own expenses, proponents say it’s not supposed to. The goal, said Councilman Chuck Konderla, is to benefit the city as a whole, including businesses in the downtown area.

“This isn’t supposed to be a money maker,” Konderla said at the workshop. “This is about building community.”

Tiffany Serrazas, the front desk agent at the LaSalle Hotel, said the hotel was full the week of the festival and about half the occupants were in Bryan for the festival.

“It’s kinda the same every year,” she said. 

Jonathan Guerrero, a general manager at the Proudest Monkey, also saw an increase in business during the festival, although this year wasn’t as busy as other years.

“It was very beneficial for Proudest Monkey,” he said. “But past Texas Reds had more business,”

The number of attendees this year was estimated at 10,000, less than half as many who attended in 2013. However, since it was the Downtown Bryan Association’s first year managing the festival, the sharp drop in turnout could be a result of differences in how it was calculated by groups in the past.

Even if the event isn’t breaking even, it’s coming into its own, said Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery.

“We participate in statewide festivals and having something like that locally that has momentum is important for the local economy,” he said, “In terms of size, I would say it’s in the top five wine festivals in the state.”

Also on Tuesday:

• The council approved $10,000 for a Civil War Memorial at the Brazos Valley Veterans Park.

• The council swore in both Councilman Greg Owens for a second term and Mike Southerland for his first term as the councilman for District 4.

“I know we don’t all have the same mind,” Southerland said shortly after taking his seat behind the dais. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t come to some agreement.”

Council members and staff also honored Mayor Pro Tem Ann Horton for her seven-and-a-half years on council.

Horton doesn’t know if she’ll return to politics, but she will be spending more time helping the homeless in El Salvador with the nonprofit organization her husband founded.

“It’s been an honor to serve,” she said. “It’s been a blessing. It’s been a joy.”

A taste of Texas

The 8th annual Texas Reds Steak Grape festival kicked off Saturday. Thousands of people turned out to see 50 bands on five stages, along…

Texas Reds wraps up

The two-day Texas Reds Steak Grape Festival wrapped up Sunday with a performance by Grammy-nominated artist Ruthie Foster. The 8th annua…

Recommended Reading

Nov 19, 2014
Terri Judson

Texas Reds festival ends up in the black for first time – Bryan

The Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival had no shortfall this year for the second time since it began in 2007, according to a report by the Downtown Bryan Association given to council members at their Tuesday workshop.

In the past, the festival has cost the city as much as $194,469, even after the city allotted funds from hotel and motel occupancy taxes to cover some costs.

Although the event didn’t raise enough to cover its cost of $251,909, it ended in the black thanks to two grants and $127,000 in hotel occupancy taxes from the city.

But the event could be more expensive next year if some of the changes DBA Executive Director Sandy Farris suggested to council on Tuesday go into effect.

The main beef many had with the festival was the lack of steaks, which the Steak and Grape festival stopped offering in 2013.

“If we’re going to keep that name, we’re going to need to find a way to bring the steak back,” Farris said. “That is an expensive proposition, which means we will be coming to you in early 2015 and the budget we present will reflect that addition.”

Admission to the festival will likely continue to be free, but Farris said the association would look into changes with the cost of the wine packages, the cheapest of which was $25. Although the price was in line with what other festivals charge, some residents felt the pricing was too expensive, Farris said.

While Texas Reds has never generated enough funds to cover its own expenses, proponents say it’s not supposed to. The goal, said Councilman Chuck Konderla, is to benefit the city as a whole, including businesses in the downtown area.

“This isn’t supposed to be a money maker,” Konderla said at the workshop. “This is about building community.”

Tiffany Serrazas, the front desk agent at the LaSalle Hotel, said the hotel was full the week of the festival and about half the occupants were in Bryan for the festival.

“It’s kinda the same every year,” she said. 

Jonathan Guerrero, a general manager at the Proudest Monkey, also saw an increase in business during the festival, although this year wasn’t as busy as other years.

“It was very beneficial for Proudest Monkey,” he said. “But past Texas Reds had more business,”

The number of attendees this year was estimated at 10,000, less than half as many who attended in 2013. However, since it was the Downtown Bryan Association’s first year managing the festival, the sharp drop in turnout could be a result of differences in how it was calculated by groups in the past.

Even if the event isn’t breaking even, it’s coming into its own, said Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery.

“We participate in statewide festivals and having something like that locally that has momentum is important for the local economy,” he said, “In terms of size, I would say it’s in the top five wine festivals in the state.”

Also on Tuesday:

• The council approved $10,000 for a Civil War Memorial at the Brazos Valley Veterans Park.

• The council swore in both Councilman Greg Owens for a second term and Mike Southerland for his first term as the councilman for District 4.

“I know we don’t all have the same mind,” Southerland said shortly after taking his seat behind the dais. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t come to some agreement.”

Council members and staff also honored Mayor Pro Tem Ann Horton for her seven-and-a-half years on council.

Horton doesn’t know if she’ll return to politics, but she will be spending more time helping the homeless in El Salvador with the nonprofit organization her husband founded.

“It’s been an honor to serve,” she said. “It’s been a blessing. It’s been a joy.”

A taste of Texas

The 8th annual Texas Reds Steak Grape festival kicked off Saturday. Thousands of people turned out to see 50 bands on five stages, along…

Texas Reds wraps up

The two-day Texas Reds Steak Grape Festival wrapped up Sunday with a performance by Grammy-nominated artist Ruthie Foster. The 8th annua…

Recommended Reading

Nov 19, 2014
Terri Judson

Skiing, Wine, and Good Food: Perfect Event Combination for Fun this Winter in …

As the temperature plummets and the cold weather sets in, it can be difficult to resist slumping into full fledged winter hibernation. Luckily, we live in one of the best places for fun, winter events, such as the Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival, to be held Janurary 16th until the 25th, 2015.

The Okanagan Wine Festival is expected to offer something for everyone with exquisite B.C. wine, food, and skiing. The festival is unique to Canada and offers a wide selection of culinary festivities at the height of the winter ski season.

The ski resort located near Kamloops has established themselves as the second largest in Canada. Combining the beautiful and picturesque delight of skiing in the Okanagan valley with some of the most delectable culinary inventions and scrumptious wines from the region, this wine festival is expected to offer Canadians and tourists a fantastic winter getaway.

“The Sun Peaks Winter Okangan Wine Festival is truly a quintessential British Columbian Festival to start your new year. After a fantastic day of skiing at one of the world’s best resorts, the idea of relaxing to delectable B.C. wine and cuisine is proving to be very popular,” said Blair Baldwin, general manager Okanagan Wine Festivals Society.

“It’s the perfect way to embrace winter in an intimate environment with the tastemakers behind our award-winning wines and food. And with advance sales looking their strongest ever in 17 years before the mountain has even opened for the season, this great winter party will definitely please the après ski gods.”

Tickets range from $29 to $130, with packages including accommodation starting at $149 per person, per night. Early bird pricing are available until November 22nd, with a 10 per cent discount off two and three night packages. For complete event listings, go to their website.

“Inviting dozens of B.C. wineries and hundreds of wine festival guests to explore our winter playground is a highlight here every winter,” said Brandi Schier, media specialist with Tourism Sun Peaks. “This year, we are looking forward to the inclusion of three of Kamloops’ newest wineries as well as guests discovering our new and challenging terrain in-between some of the exciting new events and traditional favourites.”

Several different B.C. Wineries are participating in this year’s event including, Bartier Family Vineyards, Bella Wines, Dirty Laundry Vineyards, Fort Berens, Wild Goose Vineyards, and much more.

“We love participating in the Winter Okanagan Wine Festival! We get to connect with guests in a casual and fun environment and Sun Peaks Resort is such a beautiful venue. I can’t think of a better midwinter getaway,” said Jane Hatch, general manager, Tantalus Vineyards.

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Nov 19, 2014
Terri Judson

Texas Reds festival ends up in the black – Bryan

The Texas Reds Steak and Grape Festival had no shortfall this year for the second time since it began in 2007, according to a report by the Downtown Bryan Association given to council members at their Tuesday workshop.

In the past, the festival has cost the city as much as $194,469, even after the city allotted funds from hotel and motel occupancy taxes to cover some costs.

Although the event didn’t raise enough to cover its cost of $251,909, it ended in the black thanks to two grants and $127,000 in hotel occupancy taxes from the city.

But the event could be more expensive next year if some of the changes DBA Executive Director Sandy Farris suggested to council on Tuesday go into effect.

The main beef many had with the festival was the lack of steaks, which the Steak and Grape festival stopped offering in 2013.

“If we’re going to keep that name, we’re going to need to find a way to bring the steak back,” Farris said. “That is an expensive proposition, which means we will be coming to you in early 2015 and the budget we present will reflect that addition.”

Admission to the festival will likely continue to be free, but Farris said the association would look into changes with the cost of the wine packages, the cheapest of which was $25. Although the price was in line with what other festivals charge, some residents felt the pricing was too expensive, Farris said.

While Texas Reds has never generated enough funds to cover its own expenses, proponents say it’s not supposed to. The goal, said Councilman Chuck Konderla, is to benefit the city as a whole, including businesses in the downtown area.

“This isn’t supposed to be a money maker,” Konderla said at the workshop. “This is about building community.”

Tiffany Serrazas, the front desk agent at the LaSalle Hotel, said the hotel was full the week of the festival and about half the occupants were in Bryan for the festival.

“It’s kinda the same every year,” she said. 

Jonathan Guerrero, a general manager at the Proudest Monkey, also saw an increase in business during the festival, although this year wasn’t as busy as other years.

“It was very beneficial for Proudest Monkey,” he said. “But past Texas Reds had more business,”

The number of attendees this year was estimated at 10,000, less than half as many who attended in 2013. However, since it was the Downtown Bryan Association’s first year managing the festival, the sharp drop in turnout could be a result of differences in how it was calculated by groups in the past.

Even if the event isn’t breaking even, it’s coming into its own, said Paul Bonarrigo, owner of Messina Hof Winery.

“We participate in statewide festivals and having something like that locally that has momentum is important for the local economy,” he said, “In terms of size, I would say it’s in the top five wine festivals in the state.”

Also on Tuesday:

• The council approved $10,000 for a Civil War Memorial at the Brazos Valley Veterans Park.

• The council swore in both Councilman Greg Owens for a second term and Mike Southerland for his first term as the councilman for District 4.

“I know we don’t all have the same mind,” Southerland said shortly after taking his seat behind the dais. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t come to some agreement.”

Council members and staff also honored Mayor Pro Tem Ann Horton for her seven-and-a-half years on council.

Horton doesn’t know if she’ll return to politics, but she will be spending more time helping the homeless in El Salvador with the nonprofit organization her husband founded.

“It’s been an honor to serve,” she said. “It’s been a blessing. It’s been a joy.”

A taste of Texas

The 8th annual Texas Reds Steak Grape festival kicked off Saturday. Thousands of people turned out to see 50 bands on five stages, along…

Texas Reds wraps up

The two-day Texas Reds Steak Grape Festival wrapped up Sunday with a performance by Grammy-nominated artist Ruthie Foster. The 8th annua…

Recommended Reading

Nov 16, 2014
Terri Judson

Small Talk: Toasting the good life

By: Suktara Ghosh

Small Talk with B Shankarnarayan

Gourmand B Shankarnarayan is on a mission to make wine festivals in the region bigger and better

His phone is ringing off the hook as vintners and vendors call to make last minute arrangements. Organising a wine festival, after all, is no mean feat and the ongoing Bandra wine festival has been keeping B Shankarnarayan busy. Not to mention the upcoming wine festivals in Pune.

But it’s all in a day’s work for the man, who had quit his mundane but travelling Dubaibased job in the building material sector — it took him to the best hotels and restaurants around the world — at the age of 42 to come back to India and start the Pune Gourmet Club, the Pune Wine Festival as well as the country’s first Carnatic classical music label, Koel Music.

Not only has he taken the wine festival to Mumbai — the Bandra wine festival is now in its fifth edition — but he also has plans to make the festivals bigger and better. “Apart from the annual wine tasting festival that happens in Rohi Villa in Koregaon Park in December, we’re also planning to organise neighbourhood wine tasting festivals every weekend from the end of November. These will be held in different pockets of the city in multiple venues, often simultaneously,” says the man, who has put Pune on the fine wine and gourmet trail. He is even planning some Maharashtrian tapas to go with the wine and cheese at a possible venue on FC Road for one of the festivals soon.

“Unless they taste wine, people are not going to become wine lovers. And it’s important to develop the palate of the Indian consumer. Unless you taste 20 different sauvignon blancs, you will not know which one you like,” explains the 62-year-old.

Shankarnarayan, who spearheads Punebased Monsoon Winds, the organisation behind these festivals, is also feverishly planning different ways in which the festivals can be made more appealing to consumers.

“Every year, we try to do something new. We introduced salsa workshops, which was a huge hit with the young crowd. This year at the three-day Lavasa festival, we introduced line dance based on Anthony Quinn’s iconic steps in Zorba the Greek. We are repeating that in Mumbai,” he says. And though Monsoon Winds has 17 shareholders, Shankarnarayan has become its face as he handles all the logistics, with the help of his phone and the Internet, from Pune.

Also in the lineup are wine walks with experts, sangria-making challenge, cookery competition and demo, and even a championship grape stomp. The grape stomping challenge — said to be the first in the country — has 35 teams with four members each competing to extract the most juice from five kilos of grapes each. The winners get a bottle of sparkling wine each.

“The festival is growing. While the first Pune festival in 2006 saw a footfall about 700, now it’s around 2,000,” he says.

When he had suggested to the Nashik Winery Association back in 2006 that they rent stalls and organise a free wine tasting festival for the public, Shankarnarayan had been laughed out of the meeting. But the vintners soon saw reason.

“I told them that if they didn’t give tastings for free, nobody would buy their wine. If people have to pay money for tasting, they will only go for known brands. They will not put money on brands they know nothing about. And this is where lesser known brands and small wineries lose out because they cannot afford much promotion,” he says.

Shankarnarayan is visibly proud of the shape the wine festival has taken. “There are quite a few festivals happening now but no one matches our standard. We promote new wineries. And we do not serve pav bhaji or samosas along with wines,” he says. In fact, he handpicks even the food court vendors. From crumb seafood to falafel to kimchi — he makes sure gourmet grub lovers are not disappointed. Not to mention the cheese.

“We get special cheese from Kodaikanal for the festivals. There’s feta, gouda, smoked mozarella, Gruyere, Emmental. Each guest is offered around 100 gm cheese along with free tasting of nine varieties of wine — all included in the Rs 500 entry,” says Shankarnarayan, adding he had ordered 100 kilos of cheese for the Bandra festival.

He is also bringing the focus back on the Pune Gourmet Club — he’s a founder member — by planning meets every month. Formed by a group of 14 friends (now there are 100 members), who missed authentic gourmet food in the city, the members usually meet and cook in each other’s house. “We have now decided to focus on a chef at every meet rather than the cuisine. Last month, we cooked recipes by David Lebovitz and paired them with Chilean and Indian wines. It was fantastic!” he smiles.

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Nov 16, 2014
Terri Judson

Top chef Rick Bayless dishes on next restaurant


Rick Bayless at a glance

• In 2009, Bayless won the title on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters,” beating contenders Hubert Keller and Michael Chiarello.

• He recently finished filming the 10th season of his public television series, “Mexico: One Plate at a Time”

• He’s the author of several cookbooks, and a James Beard Award winner for best international cookbook of the year in 2001 for “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.”

• His Chicago portfolio includes Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, Tortas Frontera (O’Hare International Airport) and Frontera Fresco at Macy’s stores and Northwestern University. Frontera received the James Beard Award for outstanding restaurant in 2007.

• He sells a line of Frontera salsas, cooking sauces and organic chips in Target and Whole Foods Market stores.

– Compiled by Manny Frausto and Nancy Luna, staff writers

One week, Rick Bayless visits Japan’s world-famous Tsukiji fish market. The next he could be shooting a television special or cooking alongside Mexico’s rising star chefs, acting in a dazzling interactive culinary play.

Globetrotting comes with the territory for the award-winning Chicago chef and “Top Chef Masters” champion, who is credited with elevating Mexican cuisine beyond the average diner’s combo plate preconceptions.

“The general public has really accepted the fact that it is not all tacos,” said Bayless, owner of Frontera Grill in Chicago and menu collaborator for Red O restaurants in Newport Beach, Los Angeles and, in the future, Santa Monica.

On a recent whirlwind Friday, I caught up with Bayless at Red O in Fashion Island, one of the mall’s busiest restaurants. Bayless, 60, was in town to help kick off the inaugural Newport Beach Wine Food Festival, a star-studded event with a host of guest chefs, including Rick Moonen and Richard Blais.

But the festivals’ emphasis on showcasing local chefs – Jamie Gwen, Scott Brandon, Craig Strong, Pascal Olhats, Alan Greeley – persuaded Bayless to carve out time from his busy schedule to make an appearance.

“That’s the one thing about a lot of food and wine festivals – they bring all these people from out of town, and they forget about the local chefs,” he said. “That’s not a good thing. It’s really nice to support the local guys.”

After all, that’s exactly what Bayless did when Red O opened a year ago in Newport Beach. He picked steak and seafood expert Keith Stich, former chef at Wildfish Seafood Grille and Mastro’s Ocean Club, out of a lineup of heavy hitters, despite the chef’s inexperience with Mexican cuisine.

“He’s very talented at understanding things and picking them up fairly quickly,” Bayless said.

During our interview, Bayless talked about the Red O experience, his plans for a “live fire” restaurant, his acting chops and the latest culinary trends out of Mexico.

On choosing Keith Stich as Red O chef:

“We brought the final candidates in, and we had them cook dishes for me that they thought would somehow fit. He (Keith) never cooked this kind of food before. There were some really talented chefs who had a deep background in this kind of food that just fell flat on their faces because they tried to do too much, and tried too hard.

“Keith said, ‘I’m going to show you the few things I do understand.’

“His flavors were very clean and simple. I didn’t have to try and dismantle. They were so beautifully executed that I said, ‘This is the guy I want to work with.’ ”

On Red O’s first year:

“I think the response to Red O has been so great. It’s been very successful. I’m super happy about that. I’m not an owner, but I run the kitchens, and I work with the chefs here.”

On Midwestern vs. Southern California palates:

“Honest to God, the tastes are more alike than different. The kinds of dishes really popular here are generally popular there. People in the Midwest tend to really like spicy food.”

On Chicago’s restaurant vibe compared to Newport Beach’s:

“Midwesterners tend to be a little more reserved. One of our regular customers (in Chicago), I knew him by his face. I didn’t know he was the fourth richest person in the United States. I had no idea. No one knew anything about this guy. He would sit at the counter in the back. He ate there once a week, and we didn’t even know who he was. That’s the way people are in Chicago. People are low-key. That (glamour vs. modesty) translates to the plates, too. Our plates are not quite as dynamic as what Keith does here. He does beautiful food.”

On Red O flavors matching Chicago menus:

“Our flavors are based on the flavor profile of central and southern Mexico, so lots of roasted tomatillos, more complex chili sauces. That’s what we’ve become known for in Chicago, and that’s what we brought out here. I just ate lunch here. (Yellowtail aguachile ceviche, Milanese chicken torta). I was blown away. I could close my eyes and be back in Chicago with those flavors.”

On performing in his play “Cascabel” – in which the audience enjoys cuisine prepared by a mysterious cook, played by Bayless:

“I’m really into theater. The audience eats the meal along with the actors. They get the whole experience. It is told in this magical realism style (similar to) ‘Like Water for Chocolate,’ so people’s reaction to the food is bigger than life.”

On food trends spotted while in Mexico:

“You know, there’s this huge movement right now in Mexico City – all these young chefs that are doing a completely new perspective on Mexican food. It’s phenomenally exciting. I just finished filming my 10th season of ‘Mexico: One Plate at a Time.’ It’s all focused on these young chefs changing the way people look at Mexican food. It’s all market-driven cuisines. They all have their own gardens. They are really influenced by tradition but also the modern kitchen. There’s a strong relationship between Mexico and Spain. A lot of these young chefs have gotten training in Spain, and they bring those (modernist) techniques back and they are applying them in the Mexican kitchen.”

On the young chefs to watch in Mexico:

“Enrique Olvera, Daniel Ovadia, Eduardo García, Josefina Santa Cruz, Jorge Vallejo.”

On altering Mexican food perceptions:

“When you’re trying to change a general public’s perception on something, it is always going to go in small steps. We have now changed from people thinking that Mexican food was just Mexican American – a la the chain restaurants – to saying, ‘Oh, there’s more to Mexican food that than that.’

“And, now they are at that stage that they know that the food in the north is different than the south, and throughout Yucatan is different than Veracruz. They’ve gotten that.”

On Mexican cooking achieving the same respect as French:

“The language of the kitchen is always going to be those French techniques. No matter where you are in the world, all chefs speak the same language, and it’s all French. We’ll never surpass that because the French were the ones that codified professional cooking, and they really helped us understand how to be more professional in the kitchen. So we bow down to them for that.”

On plans for expansion:

“We are probably going to open another restaurant in Chicago, but we haven’t really secured what it will be like. We found a location. I’m really into live-fire cooking. Here (at Red O), we cook over wood fire, and at every one of our places. I grew up in a barbecue restaurant, so to me the best food in the world is food cooked over fire. So we are going to do one that is going to be focused on live-fire cooking, but we’re not quite sure what direction it will go.”

On what the cocktails might be like at the new place:

“It’s amazing how in Mexico City, especially the young people are not drinking tequila at all. They are drinking mezcal. The mixologists are creating drinks with mezcal. And that’s a fun thing for us to explore. The availability in the U.S. is great. I think we are going to go down that path.”

On switching to non-Mexican cuisine:

“I love Mexico so much – I don’t need to. We’re going to keep going down the Mexican road.”

Contact the writer: nluna@ocregister.com

Recommended Reading

Nov 14, 2014
Terri Judson

Shop & Dine

Trade shows can be fun, but they can zap your energy with endless hours on your feet or days bogged down at a booth. One way to pamper yourself is by eating out at a chic new restaurant or hitting the shopping trail. Here are a few suggestions on new restaurants and boutiques that might make life a little easier when traveling to those trade shows.

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Faith Flower

Los Angeles

FAITH FLOWER

705 W. Ninth St.

(213) 239-0642

www.faithandflowerla.com

On the fringes of the Los Angeles Fashion District is a new restaurant that is receiving a lot of ink from national magazines and local critics.

Faith Flower opened this spring but has already been hailed by Esquire as one of America’s top new eateries for its all-encompassing menu, which flirts with Latin, Asian and American flavors.

The new hot spot should also get an award for its interior design by New York–based AvroKo, which blends a touch of Manhattan sophistication with California cool. Think of darkly lit New York bars offset with hedge-lined breezy patios that soak up the California sun.

The main forces behind the eatery are David Bernahl and Robert Weakley of Coastal Luxury Management. They are the same people who organize the food and wine festivals in Pebble Beach and Los Angeles.

The man in charge of the kitchen is Michael Hung, whose last cooking gig was in San Francisco at the French restaurant La Folie, which earned a one-star rating from the Michelin guide. He has the unusual distinction of being able to say he was a chef consultant on the animated film “Ratatouille,” the tale of a little Parisian rat who just wants to be a master chef.

The menu at Faith Flower has something for everyone. In the raw bar there are oysters, kanpache ceviche and littleneck clams. Two stand-out main dishes are the oxtail agnolotti and the thick-cut wheat noodles served with cumin-braised lamb, chili and garlic cilantro. Because this is California, there are two kinds of pizzas to select from. And what lunch menu wouldn’t be complete without a grilled-cheese sandwich or a hamburger?

The swank bar has a host of exotic drinks that will make you forget your worries for the day. The Negroni is a blend of gin, vermouth and Campari aged for 12 weeks in a bourbon barrel.

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AltHouse

ALTHOUSE

761 S. Main St.

(213) 488-1374

www.shopalthouse.com

For years, Jennifer Althouse was a buyer for the small chain of trendy stores under the American Rag flag. So it only seemed natural that she would eventually open her own store.

She did just that in October when Althouse moved into a historical space in the heart of hipster downtown Los Angeles, where the retail buyer is taking her love for design and matching it with her ability to pluck trendy pieces that will appeal to her average consumer, who is 25 years old and up.

She has 35 directional brands, including Suno, Alasdair, Kimem, Rachel Comey, Grey Ant, J Brand and Rodebjer. She is also debuting her own label, called Alt. The Alt brand offers a high-waisted skinny jean and mid-rise jean, which retail for $235, and a clean leather jacket, which retails for $750.

Althouse noted that her pursuit of fashion was drawn from great designers of the 1960s and 1970s. Her store is a reflection of that era, with an eye toward the future.

Althouse’s 1,650-square-foot space is only a few blocks away from the California Market Center and the other showroom buildings in the Los Angeles Fashion District. It is also in an area dotted with up-and-coming retail stores with an indie vibe, such as next-door neighbor Skingraft.

The outpost has 20-foot-high ceilings, flooring with restored tiles installed in the 1920s, vintage furniture and black-and-white portrait photographs of country-music stars.

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Tosca Café

SAN FRANCISCO

TOSCA CAFÉ

242 Columbus Ave.

(415) 986-9651

www.toscacafesf.com

The historic Tosca Café got a major makeover when renowned New York–centric chef April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman last year acquired the 1919 dive bar, which is the epicenter of anything hip in the North Beach area of San Francisco.

Not only does the café now serve up some spectacular dishes, but it has made the tunes on its iconic jukebox free so you can listen to all things Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, plus more.

The booths have been reupholstered in red leather and the murals restored to give the space a fresh but historic look. It goes well with the modern Italian menu, which serves up items such as house-made pasta.

Bloomfield and Friedman are the restaurant forces behind The John Dory Oyster Bar and The Breslin at the Ace Hotel in New York as well as The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village. But Bloomfield spent a stint working at Chez Panisse in nearby Berkeley and still has a penchant for Northern California.

Bloomfield applied her cooking talents to developing a succinct menu that has no more than three main courses, which consist of Mt. Lassen trout, a skirt steak served with charred eggplant and grilled scallions, and a roasted chicken for two served with ricotta and pine nuts.

A bevy of salads and vegetable sides are available such as broccoli di cicco and a pumpkin smash made with brown butter, nutmeg and pomegranate. There are a number of pastas, which include lumaconi with prosciutto and lemon breadcrumbs and linguini with clams.

The dining room can seat 40, and the bar is a bit heftier with 45 seats for those waiting to get a table at this popular spot, which hadn’t served food since 1953.

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Amour Vert

AMOUR VERT

437 Hayes St.

(415) 800-8576

www.amourvert.com

The Amour Vert collection of clothing, which embraces sustainable fashion with a certain Paris cool, set up a pop-up store last spring in Hayes Valley.

The concept went so well that the company’s owners decided to make it a permanent affair in the same neighborhood, which has become one of the trendiest places to shop in an area that thrives on an indie vibe.

Everything produced for the relatively new line is done domestically—primarily in California, where fabrics are often sourced in Los Angeles and garments are assembled in Oakland.

The full collection can now be found in one place—at the compact store whose hardwood floors, white walls and a plant-oriented living wall designed by Lily Kwong inject a modern vibe.

The essence of Amour Vert, which means “green love” in French, is that everything should be made of sustainable fabric, such as organic cotton, ponté made of wood pulp, linen, silk, Tencel or recycled polyester. The company’s carbon footprint should be as minimal as possible.

With that in mind, the clothing line’s founders, Christoph Frehsee and his wife, Linda Balti, even devised a way to capitalize on trucks delivering wine from Northern California to Los Angeles. The trucks were filled on the trip south but empty coming back up. So Amour Vert uses those wine delivery trucks to pick up its fabric made in LA mills.

Amour Vert’s fashions are sleek and not overwrought with embroidery or trim. The designs, devised by Balti, who recently was admitted to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, are fresh and easy to wear with retail price points ranging from around $70 to $200.

The world of fashion and retail is a far cry from what the founders were doing when they met at a trade show in Abu Dhabi. Frehsee’s company, MineWolf Systems, which he sold a few years ago, made mine-clearing machinery. Balti developed fighter-jet simulators for the French defense giant Thales Group.

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DB Brasserie

LAS VEGAS

DB BRASSERIE

The Venetian

3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

(702) 430-1235

www.dbbrasserie.com

For four years, famed French chef Daniel Boulud was absent from Las Vegas after closing his restaurant at the Wynn hotel. But he’s back in a very French way.

This time he has partnered with The Venetian to open a French-American eatery called DB Brasserie. Boulud, who is based in New York, where he has seven restaurants, has developed a menu that has a strong accent on French cuisine with an injection of North African dishes and American-style burgers for those who like their red meat served between a bun.

Executive Chef David Middleton is in charge of the kitchen, where he and his staff are serving up such French specialties as onion soup, escargots, pâté, and a press of duck and foie gras, as well as seared scallops and salmon with cabbage. Tunisian lamb with couscous and curried lobster also find a place on the menu as do steak and swordfish.

Of course, with DB Brasserie being a French restaurant, there are some killer desserts and pastries, such as a molten chocolate cake with verbena ice cream, a chocolate hazelnut mousse tart and freshly baked madeleines.

No French restaurant would be complete without a wide selection of wines from France, which in this case means they come from the Rhône Valley, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, the Loire Valley, Provence, the Languedoc and Roussillon. A host of wine offerings also come from California.

The décor is heavy on dark wood and wall mirrors, which is a must for all brasseries, French or not.

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Fred Segal Collective

FRED SEGAL COLLECTIVE

SLS Las Vegas

2535 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

www.slslasvegas.com/shop

For decades, the Fred Segal brand of stores were only available to Los Angeles–area shoppers who often wandered over to the nameplate’s two locations to rifle through the racks of carefully curated designer duds.

But that all changed in August when seven stores under the umbrella of the Fred Segal Collective opened at the SLS Las Vegas, formerly the Sahara, at the northern end of the Strip.

Each store, scattered throughout the new hotel and casino, represents a different category of merchandise. The categories are She, He, Jeans, Shoes, Jewels, Play and Goods. Combined, the seven stories encompass 10,000 square feet.

Each store carefully selects its luxury-oriented merchandise, carrying up-and-coming labels as well as well-known designers that serve up a taste of Los Angeles fashion. The Jeans store carries denim for men and women, the Play store sells lingerie, and the Goods store is a gift and lifestyle center.

In 2012, New York–headquartered Sandowacquired the worldwide rights to the Fred Segal brand, with intentions of expanding its stores globally. A Tokyo Fred Segal is scheduled to open in 2015.

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White Street

NEW YORK

WHITE STREET

221 W. Broadway

(212) 944-8378

www.whitestreetny.com

If this place is good enough for President Obama, well, it should be good enough for the rest of us.

White Street had barely opened its doors in September when one month later Obama and his entourage were hosting a fundraising reception there.

The décor is perfect for influencing friends, family and campaign contributors. There are marble floors in the lounge, massive chandeliers, exposed red-brick walls, tufted black booths, hardwood floors and tall ceilings. It all conjures up the feeling of New York in the early 20th century.

The man behind the menu is Executive Chef Fred Cardoz, who partnered with restaurateurs Dan AbramsandDave Zinczenkoas well asBondSt General ManagerChristine Cole to open this spot with an American and Continental-influenced menu.

The list of appetizers is abundant, with offerings such as crab-meat cocktail, New Jersey burrata with walnut bread, Long Island fluke ceviche and stuffed quail.

Fish, fowl and beef are well represented as main dishes. There is North Atlantic sea bream served with broccoli and tamarind glaze, bouillabaisse with cockles, shrimp, swordfish and linguica sausage, and lamb with local beans and mint.

The restaurant has been well received and totally different from its predecessor, the Churrascaria Tribeca, a Brazilian steakhouse that closed earlier this year.

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Dover Street Market

DOVER STREET MARKET

160 Lexington Ave.

(646) 837-7750

www.newyork.doverstreetmarket.com

The Japanese woman behind the famous French-named label Comme des Garçons has been putting her personal touch on the retail scene with a burgeoning chain of multi-level concept stores that have a well-edited edition of contemporary high-end labels.

Rei Kawakubo launched Comme des Garçons 45 years ago out of her native Tokyo, but the woman with the artistic eye never rests. She started her first Dover Street Market in Tokyo 10 years ago, then London, and late last year she put down roots for her New York outpost. It is in a seven-story building where the wide mix of clothes and accessories creatively displayed has been described as shopping insanity.

On the first floor is a café to get you revved up with caffeine to take on the shopping adventure on the upper floors. The store stocks labels such as Prada and Supreme. There is a number of rotating pop-up stores of notable brands and a look at new designers.

Kawakubo has said she wants to create a market where various creators from different fields gather together and encounter each other in an ongoing atmosphere of beautiful chaos.

That can be seen in the store’s displays, which borders on concept art. Large dark-gray upholstered shapes frame hanging racks that jut out from the exposed red-brick walls. Towering black loops of metal perched on wooden crates serve as another venue for racks of jackets.

Some of the labels carried at the retail mecca include Comme des Garçons, of course, as well as Victoria Beckham, Jil Sander, Aganovich, Thom Browne, Mark Cross, Moynat and Yang Li.

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DALLAS

SAN SALVAJE

2100 Ross Ave.

(214) 922-9922

www.sansalvaje.com

The interior design of the new San Salvaje restaurant in the Dallas Arts District gives you an idea where this eatery is going. With bright, festive colors, such as vivid-orange upholstered chairs and banquettes, multi-colored wooden face masks and white Mexican crosses attached to the walls, the overall theme embraces everything that is Latin American. San Salvaje is Spanish for “Wild Saint.”

This new restaurant by Stephen Pyles replaces his more Asian spice-route eatery, Samar, which received high praise from food writers. But when the building underwent a renovation, the restaurant owner also decided to do a little renovation.

The result is Latin cuisine at its best, borrowed from countries such as Peru, Mexico and Cuba. The 70-seat space with purple wooden tables is slightly different from the other Latin American– and Mexican-influenced eateries in the city.

Pyles, who has been traveling to South America since the 1980s, is partial to the Inca-influenced cuisine of Peru, seen in his interpretation of causa Limeña, an exotic concoction. In the San Salvaje version, a tower of mashed potatoes is spiced with a delicate aji amarillo sauce of Peruvian chile and then topped with a quail egg and shrimp.

Other dishes include a variety of ceviche, one with octopus and shrimp, and arepas, or a corn griddle cake so popular in Colombia and Venezuela. Then there are the fried squid tacos smothered in ancho chile–cayenne mayo. In a nod to Brazil, one of the main dishes is the Brazilian stew called feijoada, filled with beans and slivers of pork cheeks.

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Melissa Benge Collection

MELISSA BENGE COLLECTION

2823 N. Henderson Ave.

(214) 821-1777

www.melissabengecollection.com

Walking into the Melissa Benge Collection is a little like visiting the Paris flea market. There are shabby-chic couches and side tables, reclaimed and repurposed goods, and uniquely designed jewelry guaranteed to make buyers look twice.

Melissa Benge is an artist and conceptual designer who loves putting her personal imprint on her stores. (She has two other retail spots in the Texas Hill Country.)

But for this eponymous boutique, which covers 4,000 square feet, there is a bit of everything. Home goods such as furniture, candles and soap sit side by side with Boho and Western cowboy boots, turquoise jewelry, casualwear, gypsy scarves and a wide selection of hats with a Western influence.

Benge works with a select group of designers to create looks that can only be found in her store. She stocks a wide array of men’s and women’s clothing that gravitates to informal looks that work well in the big wide-open spaces of Texas.

Prices range from moderate to expensive. A Marrika Nakk flamenco camo skirt will cost you $525, but then a red-and-cream print dress will carry a $48 price tag.

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Oolite Bar Restaurant

MIAMI BEACH

OOLITE BAR RESTAURANT

1661 Pennsylvania Ave.

(305) 907-5535

www.ooliterestaurant.com

The menu at the recently opened Oolite Bar Restaurant takes a food trend coursing through the United States and runs with it. The entire menu is gluten-free, which sounds oh so Californian.

Chef Kris Wessel decided he would embrace the concept and fashion his menu around the fact that many people can’t eat wheat, the main ingredient in most breads and pastas. Wessel went gluten free because his youngest daughter is allergic to gluten. After devising different recipes for her, using corn flour for pasta and wheat alternatives for bread, he is now using them in his new restaurant not far from the pedestrian mall of Lincoln Avenue.

Oolite seems like an odd name for an eatery, but Wessel felt the name, which refers to the porous limestone rock that forms much of the foundation of Miami, was appropriate for his healthy regional menu, which also focuses on Florida and tropical cuisines.

The large space, which seats 200 people, also has a sizable bar and nightclub and is decorated with bits of oolite and other native rocks.

Wessel, who was a James Beard Foundation nominee for best chef in the South in 2010, has a few vegan dishes to complement the gluten selections. There are such things as fried tomato arepas and Brussels sprouts with goat cheese.

Main courses have a wide array of beef, seafood and chicken. Wessel is known for his signature BBQ shrimp, which he has kept on the menu. Other seafood offerings include grilled Atlantic swordfish and a coconut conch chowder that is like a tropical seafood stew.

All the desserts are gluten-free, such as the avocado pie made with a crust of pumpkin seeds and oats. Other pie choices include a mango pie and a key lime pie, a must in Florida.

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Atrium

ATRIUM

1931 Collins Ave.

(305) 695-0757

www.atriumnyc.com

The Atrium in Miami Beach is always garnering tons of praise for its incredible selection of designer labels and wide array of swimwear.

After all, head buyer Janet Wong is one of the founders of the relatively new Cabana trade show, held during Miami Swim Week.

The spacious store on busy Collins Avenue has a clean look, subtle lighting, and racks and racks of men’s and women’s clothing with brands such as Blk Dnm, Helmut Lang, Nudie Jeans, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Rag + Bone and Public School as well as J Brand and Comme des Garçons.

The store garnered the “Best Coed Store in Miami” award this year by Racked.com, which should know.

The original Atrium was launched by Sam Ben-Avraham in New York City in 1993. The small chain’s flagship store is still there in Manhattan with another location in hip and happening Brooklyn. But for Ben-Avraham, the founder of the Project trade show, Liberty Fairs and co-founder of Cabana, Miami was a natural next stopping-off spot for retail.

Recommended Reading

Nov 14, 2014
Terri Judson

Top 25 Finest Box Wines Of India




Rojita Tiwari

Rojita Tiwari

Rojita Tiwari is a writer and consultant in the fields of wine and spirits, travel and hospitality. She is a WSET-certified wine professional and is listed as one of the Top 10 Women of Wine in India by the Indian Wine Academy. With over 11 years experience in the industry, she is now busy tasting, traveling, writing and curating the first ‘Selection of India’s Finest Wines’ list. She tweets @rojitatiwari.

 

Finest_Wine_Main.jpg

The table was set for the blind tasting of 82 Indian wines from 16 wineries across India (Maharashtra and Karnataka) at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, Mumbai on October 16. The jury consisting of 8 well-known wine experts, was just debating about the seating arrangement which could help them discuss and analyse any particular wine, if need be, during the tasting. Eventually this short stint with the Indian wines turned out to be an ultimate learning experience even for the connoisseurs. This was the first ever attempt to blind taste such a large number of Indian wines under one roof by an esteemed panel. I was honoured to curate this and also to be a part of the jury.

 

“Oh, what is that smell? Seems the winemaker forgot one of his socks in this one!” Muttered one of the jury members known for his witty and candid remarks, as we were halfway through the tasting. “Wow, could this wine possibly be made in India? This could easily pass on as a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc”, said another panelist during the tasting of flights of Chenin Blanc. The anecdotes during the first day’s tastings were lurid, while on the second day, as we started tasting the reds; the jury was sometimes shocked, surprised and most of the times amused. In the end, it was established that great wines always shine through.

 

Finest_Wine_1.jpg

 

This is what blind tastings do. This is why it is important to taste wines blind, once-in-a-while. The first ever “Selection of India’s Finest Wines” is a noble initiative to create an unbiased, prestigious and competitive list of finest wines of India. The event, which is going to become an annual affair, aims to create a dream list of the TOP 25 and gradually TOP 50 Finest Wines of India. As the years go by and there will be more number of entries with more wine companies vying for the top spot, the numbers in the list will increase. So will be the quality, consistency and image of Indian wines in India and abroad. “Celebrating India’s Finest Wines”, is an initiative by the Mumbai Wine Club and the organizers of the well know Mumbai Wine Festivals, which are held across the city every year.

 

As a curator, while it was encouraging to get positive feedback from most of the Indian wine producers, I was also questioned about the necessity or intentions of creating such a list. I am glad to convey that the only objective of this effort is to offer a platform to the fine wine producers in India to reach out to a wider number of consumers, to endorse the image of wines of India and to establish the country in the wine map of the world. Here is the list of top 25 finest wines of India. Do not forget to taste them in the forthcoming Mumbai Wine Festivals this year and next year.

 

India’s Top 25 Box Wines

 

Indian_Wine_2.jpg

 

Sparkling Wine

  • Domaine Chandon India- Chandon Brut Rose (Pinot Noir, Syrah) 2013

 

White Wine

  • Seagram’s Nine Hills Chenin Blanc 2014
  • KRSMA Estates Chardonnay 2013
  • SDU Winery- SDU Deva Chardonnay Reserve 2013
  • Seagram’s Nine Hills Viognier 2012
  • Grover Zampa Sauvignon Blanc 2014
  • Charosa Vineyards Selections Sauvignon Blanc Charosa Valley 2013

 

Rose Wine

  • Sula Vineyards Rose (Zinfandel) 2014
  • Vallonne Vineyards Rose (Cabernet Sauvignon) 2013


Red Wine

Single Varietal

  • SDU Syrah Reserve 2012
  • Vallonne Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Classique 2011 (Reserve)
  • Charosa Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2012
  • Big Banyan Limited Shiraz (2010)
  • Fratelli Sangiovese 2013
  • Reveilo Sangiovese 2013
  • SDU Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
  • York Winery Shiraz 2012
  • Vallonne Vineyards Merlot 2012
  • SDU Shiraz 2013

 

Blended

  • Grover Zampa-Grover La Reserve (Cab Sauv, Shiraz) 2012
  • Fratelli Sette (Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc) 2010
  • York Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 2012
  • Grover Zampa-Zampa Chene Grand Reserve (Tempranillo, Syrah) 2012

 

Sweet Wine

  • Vallonne Vineyards Vin de Passerillage 2013
  • Sula Vineyards Late Harvest Chenin Blanc 2013

 

Note:

  • These are the top 25 wines as per the ‘Selection of India’s Finest Wines’ event curated by Ms. Rojita Tiwari and organized by the Mumbai Wine Club on 16-17 October 2014. The wines are not necessarily in the same order.
  • These wines were scored between 0-20 and wines scoring above 12.5 have found place in the India’s Finest Wines List for the year 2014. To see the top 50 high scoring wines please refer to the “Celebrating India’s Finest 50 Wines” list (TO BE OUT SOON).
  • This prestigious list will be updated every year and more wineries will have a chance to participate in the selection process.
  • The jury for 2014 consisted of Subhash Arora (Delhi), Alok Chandra (Bangalore), Sonal Holland (WSET Diploma holding wine educator currently with ITC), Sanjay Menon, Craig Wedge, Vishal Kadakia (wine importers), Shatbhi Basu and Rojita Tiwari (Mumbai).


More On Drinks Desserts

Recommended Reading

Nov 13, 2014
Terri Judson

A different point of view – an interview with visiting sommelier Chris Joyce

A different point of view – an interview with visiting sommelier Chris Joyce

at the Wine Rack

With Christopher Reckord

Thursday, November 13, 2014    

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The fourth staging of the Reggae Wine Festival was held at a new venue, Whitter Village in Montego Bay-at a new time of the year — October 18th. While the first event in 2011, held at the Rose Hall Aqueduct in Montego Bay in August, was promising, last year’s show at Secrets Resorts Spa was a disappointment. The event founder Carlos Daley hopes to build this into a viable show as October has fewer competing events. This year, sommelier, wine educator and wine maker Chris Joyce decided to take the trip from California and bring along a wide range of Napa wines with him to introduce to us here on The Rock. I caught up with him and we chatted about the wine business and what he felt about our market.

Christopher Reckord (CR): Is wine your full-time job?

Chris Joyce (CJ): No, I’m a purser with Delta Airlines. However, the airline has me involved with their wine programmes; specifically, I teach flight attendants about wine. I’m a co-developer of our “Sky Sommelier” programme, where we teach flight attendants all about wine, food pairings and wine service onboard our international business class. I’ve taught

new- hire flight attendants and pursers’ wine classes, and conduct wine tastings in various airline crew bases, so that our flight attendants can taste the wines we serve onboard (provided they are not working any flights that day).

CR: How did you get involved in the wine business?

CJ: I’m a former resident of Sonoma County and got interested in wine while living there, but it was not until Delta Airlines asked me to start working with Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, who chooses our business-class wines, that I became further involved.

CR: Did you have an aha moment, when you tasted a wine that made you say “I get it”?

CJ: After I completed and passed my Level 1 course with the Court of Master Sommeliers, I said to myself, “Okay, I can and want to do this!”

CR: What type/style of wine do you prefer?

CJ: I usually go for dry and food-friendly, crisp whites. Austrian Gruner Veltliners or dry German Rieslings…crisp Sancerre with a platter of fresh shucked oysters! Summertime, it’s all about roses, cabernet roses especially. I enjoy bold fruit and big structure in reds. A meaty Syrah with a steak…wow!

CR: What are your thoughts about the local wine scene?

CJ: I was surprised there was a big thirst for wine in Jamaica! Usually, one thinks that everyone in the Caribbean drinks tropical rum-based drinks, but I can see crisp, fruity whites becoming popular, and I’d like to see Jamaicans drink more roses, but dry to semi-dry ones…not sweet! Sweet wines tend to mask many fruit and floral flavour notes. At the festival, I had great comments and feedback from the guests, many of whom have never had Napa-style wines. More wine festivals for Jamaica!

CR: What suggestions do you have for our wine importers?

CJ: Introduce “out of the box” wines to restaurants!

CR: What suggestions do you have for our restaurants?

CJ: I looked online and in person at the wine lists in Jamaica, and saw a lot of what other somms call “retail” wines. I saw too much of Mondavi, Beringer, Casillero del Diablo, other Chilean or Spanish reds , Benzinger, Sonoma Cutrer and even…(gulp) Gallo..! Many are good wines, but they are too well-known both in brand recognition and consumers (guests) know their price points. Wine enthusiasts know how much a bottle of Beringer is at Costco, and he/she doesn’t want to pay for a bottle with a 40-60% or more mark-up. And everyone has an app on their phone, like Vivino, to compare prices. This is why I selected smaller, lesser-known wines to showcase in Jamaica… Pavi, Miner, Cook, Robert Turner, Midsummer Cellars, Von Strasser, to name a few. Amazing wines at affordable price points. I did see a Gruner on one of the menus. I believe it was at Round Hill resort and was very pleased to see that!

I was happy to experience the products that Chris brought for us to sample. With respect to the festival side of things, I believe the Reggae Wine Festival concept will continue to be a challenge for a while until the organisers can truly figure out the ideal target audience for these two diverse products — wine and reggae!

Christopher Reckord — Businessman, Entrepreneur Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to creckord@gmail.com. Follow us on twitter: @Reckord

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A different point of view – an interview with visiting sommelier Chris Joyce

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