Anthony Nappa Frizzante 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013- It’s so hot today even the bottle is sweating!

It’s hot. It’s humid. I want something light and refreshing that will cool me off and relax me, not that I’m that un-relaxed. Enter Anthony Nappa’s sparkling Frizzante. A member of their wine club, this was a new one that came in our latest shipment that we haven’t seen until now. I’m sure you’ve read about Anthony Nappa in the blog before. He’s the creator of the Winemaker’s Studio on the North Fork of Long Island. I’m a fan of many of their wines, and was pleased to receive another I haven’t yet tried. I don’t drink sparkling wine regularly, as it goes to my head a bit quickly. But right now, it fits the bill, and is tasty with some cheese and crackers.

It is a blend of Pinot Noir (78%), Riesling (10%) and Gewürztraminer (12%). It’s made by a secondary fermentation in bottle and aged on the lees to add depth and body like a Champagne. It’s not filtered so does give a slightly cloudy appearance but keeping on the lees is to it’s benefit. It’s dry but has many of the aromas you’d expect in the Riesling and Gewürz like flowers, peach, and apricot and these continue on the palate. It goes for $20 and can be easily found in the NYC metro area. Bottoms up!

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Célèbrating with Dr. Konstantin Frank Célèbre Rosé NV

Dr. Konstantin Frank Célèbre Rosé

Dr. Konstantin Frank Célèbre Rosé

Wow… after all that snow, we’ve got some spring-like conditions and I’ve got some pink Finger Lakes sparkling wine from the one and only Dr. Kontstantin Frank, some fresh Gruyere Surchoix and Vermont common crackers to celebrate a fun little milestone. The wine is called “Célèbre” and today it is for a celebration of both warm air, sunny skies, and my new membership in the Wine Century Club.

In case you didn’t know, Dr. Konstantin Frank was a German man who came to the region in his 50s and was the first to grow and promote the culture of growing Vinifera vines in Central New York State, in the early 1960s. The New York wine industry was happy growing local varieties and remaining relatively obscure internationally. Dr Frank’s persistence and a new position in researching and experimenting with the old-world European varieties eventually put this region on the world wine map. He had a degree in viticulture and agronomy, experience as manager of a large vineyard in the Ukraine, and an ongoing interest in cold-climate viticulture. All of these helped land him a job at the Cornell Agricultural Experiment station in Geneva, New York. Despite much resistance to the idea that Vinifera could grow successfully in the climate, he succeeded in making believers then, and now. The region is now a blend of great wines made from Vinifera (particularly Riesling in many styles old and new) and many local stars like Cornell’s weather-resistant hybrid Cayuga, ice-wine star Vidal, Niagara and grape-juice-friendly Concord.

The Dr. Konstantin Frank winery has won about 79 gold medals since its inception, as well as awards for pioneering wine-making in the region.  The property, and the wine room are located on a gorgeous plot on a hill above the western coast of Keuka lake. The vineyards are now over 50 years old, making them some of the oldest vines in the country.  They are also the only winery I know to make the ancient varietal Rkatseteli —a racy, dry, peach-pear and honey-laden medium-bodied white.

In the glass, this lovely méthode Champagnoise rosé is a rich pink color with some orange hues. The bubbles are small and refined as a sparkling wine made in this method would display, with a nice consistent fizz stream. On the nose, wild strawberry and raspberry notes abound and on the palate these continue in the flavors therein. It is light and crisp, yet fruity. It also pairs very nicely with the dry hard cheese and the salty crackers. This sparkling wine is made with Pinot Noir and Petit Meunier — no Chardonnay here. I sipped this happily last July when visiting (more on Dr Frank here…) New York’s Finger Lakes region for the first time. I’m not a big bubbly drinker as it goes to my head too fast, but there is an occasion now and then that calls for it and I am enjoying this one again… which of course is why I bought it in the first place.

The Wine Century Club is a wonderful organization with many international chapters that celebrates the exploration of grape varietals. There are thousands out there, and while many of us have tried several, this encouraged me and the other members to go out there and try as many as possible. To fully explore the diversity and potential of the grape. There are several levels, with the initial application and membership beginning at 100 varietals. I am now working on level 2, “Doppel,” and eventually “Treble,” “Quattro,” and “Pentavini.” A few of my fellow favorite wine-bloggers are members and through their writings I discovered the club and began my quest. There are nearly 1,400 members around the world. I might just have to buy the t-shirt.

Next weekend I am heading back to the North Fork of Long Island for another anniversary celebration. I will be sure to review some wines I am yet to discover.  Can’t wait!

Cooking with Blueberry “Champagne”

Renault Winery Blueberry "Champagne"

Renault Winery Blueberry “Champagne”

I first mentioned Renault Winery and Resort’s NV Blueberry “Champagne” last summer when I paid a visit on my way home from Atlantic City – a mere 20 miles away or so. That entry is here.  New Jersey is known for excellent and abundant blueberry crops and hence this spin on sparkling wine was born. It is made by the Charmat (tank) method associated with larger bulk sparkling wine, but what’s nice about this one is it’s not overly sweet and the bubbles are fine enough for it to not taste inexpensive or give you a headache. The 100% blueberry juice is added before the fermentation, not after, so it is fully integrated and convincingly so. The blueberry is present, but not overwhelming. Fruit-sweetened wines can be sickeningly sweet in my opinion, especially when consumed in large amounts. But this one is not, as I learned yet again while enjoying the ‘leftovers’ of the bottle in the cooking process. Cooking you say? Yes…

The suggestion was made at the winery that one could make pancakes by replacing the liquid (water) in the batter with the blueberry sparkling wine. They provided a recipe but in fact we misplaced it so we looked up a similar one which gave us the crucial clue we needed. We then added a few other spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon to our base of Bisquick pancake mix, as the original batch needed a little added sweetness. It turns out that you can also find their recipe on page 63 of the “Wine City Cookbook,” a collection of local recipes from Egg Harbor City, New Jersey where the winery is located. The area became a booming wine region almost from the get-go, as vines too were cultivated here with much success starting in the mid 1800’s. This winery was one of the originals in the area, if not THE original (I’ve found many wineries make a claim to fame of being the first winery or vineyard in a given state or country, so I take it with a grain of salt.) It was started in 1864 by French ex-pat Louis Renault who made his first successful sparkling wine here in 1870 after a short stint in California. Renault fled France in 1855 to start his own vineyard in the USA when Phylloxera was ravaging most of the vines in Europe.

Blueberry "Champagne" pancakes

Blueberry “Champagne” pancakes

As if the smell of the pancakes wasn’t enticing enough, the wonderful added aroma of cooking blueberry champagne wafted throughout my home. To be fair, my wife did the cooking here so that I could tell you all about it. It was a real crowd-pleaser for the whole family. Said my sister-in-law “I didn’t think blueberry champagne pancakes would taste much different but they really do.”  I would say the only thing missing in our attempt was the addition of actual blueberries but I’m sure that was in their recipe, and will be in ours next time.  At $16.99 a bottle, its easy to try yourself. You can buy it on site or in a few local retailers. It also won a silver medal at the 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine competition.  Also worth mentioning again, is their amazing wine glass and historical artifact museum on the premises.

Visit them at

Renault Winery, Resort and Golf
72 North Bremen Avenue,
Egg Harbor City,
New Jersey 08215
(609) 965-2111