Thursday, May 21, 2009

Austrian Design Spinn Off Party

On Monday night (5/18/09) I traveled down to NYC for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair's (I.C.F.F.) Austrian Design Spinn Off party @ the XAL Showroom on 394 Broadway. The event was sponsored by XAL-XENON Architectural Lighting, D'Apostrophe, Oval Vodka, and Darcy & Huber Selections, who provided a selection of Austrian wines.

The party had a huge attendance of mostly Austrians (all gorgeous & hip), who danced to great techno, feasted on Austrian fare, and sipped cocktails and wine. I stuck with the ever-refreshing Martinshof Grüner Veltliner for most of the night. Check out that cool label.

The location of the XAL Showroom was perfect. The party itself was held in the basement (less scary than it sounds), where most people congregated to talk (and dance), or you could mingle upstairs in the showroom and check out the gorgeous Austrian furniture on display. This canopy/hammock/nest bed was my favorite piece. I could just picture my cat Dennis sleeping the day away in it. Or me, of course.

The upstairs showroom also had a fiberglass walkway/bridge through which you could peer into the party. Here's a view of the bartenders hard at work. Those pink lights changed colors every minute or so creating a different atmosphere and mood throughout the night.

And here I am with my co-worker Amber who was there to promote Oval Vodka. I just couldn't stay away from that bed I guess.

Many thanks to the Austrian Trade Office for bringing this Austrian soiree to NYC. Surrounded by so many Austrians I felt as if I was in the heart of Vienna, and not downtown NYC.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Winning Wines: Go Austria!

Women's Day magazine recently published an article by Kimberly Fusaro entitled, "Ten Winning Wines Under $15," which can be found here.

The wines selected are described as Women's Day's "picks for the finest affordable sips," and the article includes delicious food-pairing ideas for gourmet summer meals. Each wine spotlighted has a corresponding recipe or two, which is a neat addition to a wine review.

Of the ten wines featured, three are Austrian and of those three, two are widely-grown varietals in Austria: Grüner Veltliner and Zweigelt.

The Austrian picks were Grooner Grüner Veltliner (pictured here), Zull Lust & Laune Rosé, and Loimer Zweigelt Fred.

I noticed in the comments section of this article that two readers asked why Yellow Tail was not listed, especially considering most are value-priced. Personally, I welcome the fact no Yellow Tail was included on this list. For example, featuring those Austrian wines opens the door of an entirely new wine region to many people. Women's Day reaches a huge audience. Inexpensive wines don't always have to be Yellow Tail or similar. Believe me. I love their Cabernet-Merlot blend. But I think it's more interesting to try something else occasionally and experience the beauty of another wine's terroir.

What's best about the Women's Day article is that the wines presented are affordable, so readers might be more willing to step outside their Australian comfort zone and visit the the Austrian wine world of Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt and other delightful varietals.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Austrian Samples & Swing

On Thursday, May 13th my boss Steve Raye and I headed back to New York for the "Austrian Samples & Swing" party at the Austrian Consulate General on East 69th street in Manhattan. Prior to the event we needed to make a stop at MHW, Ltd. in Manhasset, NY. MHW, Ltd. is an importer and distributor of wine, beer, and spirits. We were there picking up several cases of Oval Vodka, which is a luxury vodka from Austria. Since we had a bit of time to spare before our pick-up we stopped in at Young's Fine Wines & Spirits, which was just down the street.

We introduced ourselves to two staff members, Robbie Sandor and Brad Haskel, of this gigantic, yet personal wine shop. Robbie is an incredibly nice, older gentleman who once worked on his Grandfather's vineyard in his native Hungary. Later, he worked in the international airline industry, and traveled to many different wine regions.

Brad is a certified Sommelier and extremely knowledgeable about wine. He conducts wine tastings and teaches wine education classes at the store. You can read more about his wine consulting business here.

Here I am looking through their impressive selection of Austrian wines.

Here are Brad (on the left) and Robbie. They were both great hosts and tour guides.

And here's a cool shot of the Austrian wines available for purchase. It's the largest collection I've seen in a retail store to date.

Later we drove into Manhattan for the "Austrian Samples & Swing" event, arriving at about 6 o'clock. Here I am with my acquaintance Laura, who is half-German and half-Argentinian. She is an aspiring wine maker. I met Laura about a month ago at the Darcy & Huber portfolio wine tasting. She's super nice and is doing masterful job at learning the English language. As an aside, why are non-Americans usually so hip looking?

The event had a huge attendance, as you can see below. There were wine critics, authors, journalists, restauranteurs, and more in tow.

Below is the view from the Winemonger Imports table. The Winemonger site has a blog and you can purchase their wines, they specialize in Austrian wines, from the site. I tasted their Manfred Weiss, Grüner Veltliner Eiswein 'Fahrenheit 19' 2005. Eiswein means "ice wine," which is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The Manfred was sweet and refreshing.

And below is the view from the Michael Skurnik Wines table. Pouring the wine is their brand manager Jeremy Schwartz. There I tried my first Austrian rosé, Hofer's 2008 Zweigelt Rosé. I'd like to buy this wine to share with others as soon as possible. It's a lovely, summer wine.

The other wine importers at the event were Darcy & Huber Selections, Monika Caha Selections, Inc., Prescott Wines, Inc., and Vin Divino, Ltd. Monika Caha Selections were just mentioned in a Slate article about wine importers you can count on. Read more about it here. At Vin Divino's table I was able to try Kracher's 2007 Pinot Gris Illmitz, which was quite good, but my heart is still stuck on one day tasting a Kracher dessert wine. I'll schedule that during my trip to Austria this June!

Overall, it was an exciting day. The Austrian Trade Commission and the Austrian Wine Marketing Board produced an excellent event. Austrian wine, delicious Austrian hors d'oeuvres, and snappy Jazz music by the Hayes Kavanagh Jazz Sextett. We had a fine time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Screw-Cap Pride

I think most people, some of my friends and family members included, adhere to the misinformed notion that screw-capped wines = cheap, mass-produced wines à la Arbor Mist. The reality is that many high-quality wine makers use screw caps because they believe caps protect wine better than cork stoppers. There is scientific evidence to support this belief.

The greatest problem associated with corks is cork taint, which is caused by 2,4,6-trichloranisole (or TCA), a compound which develops in a small percentage of all corks produced. TCA affects the taste of wine by imparting a distinctive musty aroma similar to wet newspapers or cardboard.

Mmmm...wet cardboard...arghghghghgh.

It only affects about 5% or more of all bottled wine, and the casual wine drinker might not even recognize it. But to the serious wine drinker it could potentially affect the enjoyment of their favorite wine.

Austrian wine maker Fred Loimer, his Grϋner Veltliner LOIS is pictured, makes many a fine screw-capped wine. The LOIS retails online for $13.99, not too expensive, but not cheap either.

Another wine maker, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards in Santa Cruz, CA, ONLY uses screw caps on his wines.

Visually-speaking I'm a cork girl. It's a classic look. Shiny glass bottle, with a ruby-tinged or crisp-smelling cork. Still, no more will I look down upon a wine based on the type of stopper used.

I also need to stop apologizing or explaining when I give or order a screw-capped bottle of wine. Stop saying, "Please ignore the cap. This is good wine. Really." And start saying, "Hey, let's unscrew this wine and get to toasting!"


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Belated Notes on an Austrian Wine Tasting

On April 22nd, I joined my boss Steve Raye for a wine tasting at the Austrian Cultural Forum in NYC, which was produced by the wine importer Darcy & Huber Selections.

Darcy and Huber's mission is "to find exclusive, authentic wines from Austria and introduce them to the American market." They believe in "authentic," "hands-off," wine that should "taste like where it's from." (Hello, terroir!)

I counted ninety-six wines listed in my tasting notes booklet, but I only tried about forty of them. Of those my absolute, darling favorite was the 2008 Weingut Christ Gelber Muskateller. These were my quick notes: "Scent of flowers & fruit. Jasmine. Lychee. Powdery scent. Pretty." This particular wine is made by the vinter Rainer Christ of Vienna.

Other gorgeous selections were the 2004 Weingut Esterhazy Beerenauslese and the 2006 Weingut Esterhazy TrochenBeerenauslese. Both are noble, sweet dessert wines from Burgenland and taste like liquid honeysuckle.

While at the tasting, Steve and I reconnected with noted wine blogger Alice Feiring of In Vino Veritas. We originally met Alice only days before at a reading sponsored by the Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom in Simsbury, CT. Alice was at the FVJC event to talk about organic and biodynamic wines, and to read selections from her book The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization. Alice was great to have along for the Darcy and Huber tasting to learn from.

Many thanks to Carlo Huber and Paul Darcy for producing this event and inviting us to attend.

Greetings and Salutations

Oy. I've been racking my brain in hopes of producing a witty, informative, and entertaining first post, but then I realized my manners. Hello, everyone. My name is Laurie and I'm the author of Petite Terroir.

Currently, I'm a social media marketing manager at
Brand Action Team, LLC, which is located in my bustling hometown of Avon, CT.

I'm working on a extensive marketing project with the Austrian Wine Marketing Board. The project includes reaching out to wine bloggers (all 600+ of us, lol) as well as an e-commerce component. I look forward to visiting Austria in June for the 2009 Austrian Wine Summit. And I'll be attending the 2009 Wine Bloggers' Conference in Napa this July.

A little more about me: I was raised by a mother from France and a father from Iran (that's them on their wedding day in 1972. Hello, crazy Pucci wedding dress!). My Dad lived in France on and off for nearly twenty years. Interesting fact about my Dad: loves expensive, French wine, but drinks cheap, American beer (like Piels). My Mom arrived from Paris in 1976. I think it goes without saying that the type of wine I've been most exposed to is French. Cabernet Sauvignon, in particular.

However, as wonderful French wine is I enjoy tasting and drinking wines from other regions, too. Terroir changes everything. C'est vrai, non?
I've had a great deal of exposure to Austrian wines since beginning this marketing project. I'm particularly fond of Austrian dessert wines. They are sweet, syrupy, luscious gold in my humble opinion. I'm looking forward to tasting those made by Kracher when I reach Austria. Of the non-dessert wines, the Laurenz V Singing Grϋner Veltliner is another favorite. It certainly does "sing."

Next week I'm attending an event at the Austrian Consulate General in New York City. The event will feature an Austrian wine tasting from importers
Vin Divino, Michael Skurnick Wines, Prescott Wines, Inc., Darcy and Huber Selections, Monika Caha Selections, and Winemonger Imports.

Recently, I stopped by my local wine shop for a bottle of
Bonny Doon Vineyard's Big House Red. I asked the store clerk to show me their Austrian wine selection. Unsurprisingly, it consisted of only about six wines, all whites, mostly GVs, no desert wines or reds. However, over the past half-decade Austria's wine exports have enjoyed a 250% increase, so I hope to see more of their varietals in our retail shops and online, and not just in major cities.

More to come at a later date. Thanks very much for stopping by. À votre santé!