Posts Tagged ‘tastedc’
Fantastic travel article covering food tourism by Skift
The first question – what’s the difference between a “Food Tourist” and simply a Foodie? It’s sort of like the Champagne question: all Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagnes (Champagne is a regionally protected name in France that also restricts the type of sparkling wines produced..).
A Food Tourist (also known as a “Gastro-Tourist” – this name sounds a bit..flatulent??) is:
-Defined by Gastrotourism.com:
“Gastro-tourists are foodies who want to go behind the scenes to taste and discuss the nuances of local region-specific foods and to learn about unique ingredients and cooking techniques from cultural experts.”
-Is more than just interested in going to fine-dining chef-driven restaurants – they want a “unique” experience around food and drink,
-Sees food, eating and drinking as more than just a necessity – it’s a form of experiential entertainment
After reading these lines, it may seem a bit high-falutin’ to be a food tourist, but it’s really just an extension of the realities of the modern world – people can afford to live and enjoy many of their fantasies, hopes and dreams – food and drink satisfy both a primal and an aspirational component of a Foodie’s life.
So what does this mean for the tourism industry and the companies that promote local food and drink? The key point is to focus on the “experience” – this is today’s “sell the sizzle, not the steak”:
-Since so much of initial information on a region is based on the web, consider adding or changing your website to expose and increase excitement level of your dining/drink experiences. For example, you could put the spotlight on a local brewery having a beer dinner at a local restaurant – this is much more interesting to the food tourist than simply listing restaurants/breweries on your site.
-Much of consumer tourism is focused on the weekend “escape” – a quick 2 or 3 day trip to escape the stress of working/urban lifestyle. This is generally a higher-income person or couple and they tend to eat out at finer restaurants and spend more money, so they are looking for a story to tell everyone – sort of the new “first on your block” to do something. This demographic has generally travelled and been to Europe, so consider emphasizing local “artisans” who make cider, distilled spirits, craft beer, or wine.
-Foodie experiences can include cooking classes, chef demonstrations, local food specialties (Georgia peanuts, Maryland crabs, Carolina BBQ, etc.) so give them an opportunity to try more than one: create a “Taste of <your city/town/county/region>” which showcases a mix of local food artisans, food trucks, restaurants, wineries, craft distilleries, breweries and other local foods.
-Give tourists an opportunity to explore and spend their money supporting “local” – the locavore/farm-to-table movement is still growing and resonates with the new Food Tourist – they want to both support local, be sustainable, and have a memorable experience. Support your local farms, and agri-businesses by listing them on your website and using social media to tell their story – you won’t regret it!
<<Addition: just found out about Asheville, NC’s “Foodtopia” concept on their site – Foodtopia – great way to discover their great chefs, distilleries, breweries and more – they even post a Discover Western North Carolina Cheese Tour >>
I hope this opens up some new ideas for tourism in your region – the challenge is to look at what you already have in the way of food and drink businesses and to better position them for success with tourists. Sometimes the best marketing program is to simply let these businesses do what they do – it may seem weird, but the internet and social media have made stars out of little local businesses that may seem under the radar, but actually have been on the Food Network or other media vehicles and have distinct followings. One example that comes to mind in my local area is Georgetown Cupcake in Washington, D.C. Even though they have virtually no marketing budget or help telling their story, they’re TLC TV Show DC Cupcakes (and Facebook Page with over 1.3 million Likes) keeps them constantly with long lines down the street in Georgetown – the only business like this in all of DC!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Saperavi — Mtsvane (silent “M”) — Rkatsiteli (silent “R”) – Georgian wines came to Washington, D.C. for a fantastic Trade Tasting held at Vidalia Restaurant on Monday, October 19, 2015 and really made a show! Presented by Georgian Wines (Facebook Event Here) the tasting was sponsored by The National Wine Agency, a division of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Georgia.
So what makes Georgian wine unique?
1)Wines are made in an ancient traditional way – the “qvevri” which according to Wikipedia: “large earthenware vessels used for the fermentation, storage and ageing of traditional Georgian wine”.
2)Orange or amber wines are created for white wine varietals due to skin contact while fermenting and aging. According to Wine Enthusiast: “Orange wines are white wines produced more like reds, with prolonged maceration of crushed grape skins and seeds.” Article Link Here . The taste is quite unique from this maceration and storing in clay pots – dried fruits like apricots and floral notes immediately come to mind, but of course it depends on the quality of grapes and the varietal. We tasted many Rkatsitelis (“R” is silent – so “cats-e-telee”) and Mtsvanis (“M” is silent – so “svah-nee”) and one in particular that was memorable was the Shalauri Mtsvane that was decanted – see image – “dried apricots, floral aromas and tea-like in flavor” – Very, VERY dry wines as well – not even a hint of residual sugar on my palate and medium acidity – these wines CRY for food! Mamuka Tsereteli, the infamous importer/distributor of many Georgian wines for Georgian Wine House in the Mid-Atlantic Region also told me I needed to taste his Our Wine Rkatsitelli – this “amber wine” (which seemed to be a more favorable expression at the event – I guess my love of Orange Fanta didn’t go over well!!) had an intensity/acidity and dried fruit/tea/smoked ham (I stole this descriptor from the pamphlet..but overall, it’s a goodie!) aroma/flavor profile that really stood out at the event!
3)Over 500 “unique/indigenous” varietals with 8,000 years of winemaking history – literally, the cradle of winemaking as we know it! Here are some I tasted: Chinebuli, Tsitska, Mtsvane, Saperavi, Tsolikouri, Rkatsiteli, Ojaleshi, Otskhanuri Sapere, Kisi and Krakhuna..400+ to go..
THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING PRODUCERS INCLUDES:
Marani (Telavi Wine Cellars)
Teliani Valley Winery
TasteUSA has the Beer Festival List.. The Fall Season in Washington, D.C. is kicking in with an amazing number and quality selection of Craft Beer Festivals. I saw the Washington Post Article: Drink up: A guide to local fall beer festivals and decided that TasteUSA simply had a more comprehensive list – then again we specialize in promoting, marketing and communicating on craft beer festivals, but wine festivals and foodie events too!
3rd Annual Brew & Bourbon Classic Laurel Park RT 198 & Racetrack Road 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
ChessieFest Grapeseed 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
Bands, Brews & BBQ Manassas Museum Lawn 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
Annapolis Craft Beer & Music Festival Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium 550 Taylor Ave 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
Snallygaster Beer Festival Yards Park 355 Water St SE 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
Taste of Georgetown K Street NW between Wisconsin Avenue and Thomas Jefferson Street 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
Beer and Bacon Festival Heavy Seas Brewery, 4615 Hollins Ferry Rd 09/13/2014 – 12:00pm
District Oktoberfest Special Price VIP Tickets RFD 810 7th St., NW 09/20/2014 – 11:00am
Virginia Cider Festival Fredericksburg Fairgrounds 2400 Airport Avenue 09/20/2014 – 11:00am
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ -VIP Whole Hog Pig Pickin and Tasting Glass Lerner Town Square at Tysons II 09/20/2014 – 11:00am
Capitol Bacon Festival Fairgrounds 09/20/2014 – 11:30am
DC International Beer Festival (New Date and Location) Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW 09/20/2014 – 12:00pm
Maryland Brewer’s Harvest Bond Street Wharf 09/20/2014 – 12:00pm
Oktoberfest at Heurich House Heurich House Museum 09/20/2014 – 1:00pm
Du Claw Real Ale Fest DuClaw Brewing Company of BelAir 09/20/2014 – 2:00pm
Top of the Hops Charlottesville nTelos Wireless Pavilion 09/20/2014 – 3:00pm
Sterling Volunteer Fire Company Oktoberfest Patton Hall, 46700 Middlefield Dr. Sterling, VA 09/20/2014 – 5:00pm
Blues and Brews 2121 Crystal Drive Courtyard 09/24/2014 – 4:00pm
Maryland Microbrewery Festival Union Mills Homestead 09/27/2014 – 11:00am
Frederick Oktoberfest e-ventplex at the Frederick Fairgrounds 797 E Patrick St 09/27/2014 – 11:00am
Hoppy Oktoberfest Mad Fox Brewing Company, 444 West Broad Street 09/27/2014 – 12:00pm
Lovettsville Oktoberfest Town of Lovettsville 09/27/2014 – 12:00pm
Das Best Oktoberfest DC Armory 09/27/2014 – 1:00pm
Cambridge Firkin Festival Stoked 09/27/2014 – 2:00pm
Frederick Oktoberfest e-ventplex at the Frederick Fairgrounds 797 E Patrick St 09/28/2014 – 11:00am
Cap City Oktoberfest The Village at Shirlington 4001 Campbell Avenue 10/04/2014 – 12:00pm
Oktoberfest Reston Reston Town Center 10/11/2014 and 10/12/2014 – 12:00pm
8th Annual Northern Virginia Fall BrewFest Bull Run Regional Park 10/18/2014 – 11:00am
Fredericksburg BrewFest Fredericksburg Fairgrounds 2400 Airport Avenue 10/18/2014 – 11:00am
Shuckeroo Oyster and Beer Festival Fairgrounds 10/18/2014 – 11:00am
Tysons Fall Harvest Wine and Beer Festival Lerner Town Square at Tysons II 10/18/2014 – 11:00am
Real Ale Festival Pratt Street Ale House 10/18/2014 – 12:00pm
Shuck It! Beer & Oyster Festival Tony and Joe’s 10/18/2014 – 2:00pm
8th Annual Northern Virginia Fall BrewFest Bull Run Regional Park 10/19/2014 – 11:00am
DC Beer Festival Nationals Ballpark 11/08/2014 – 12:00pm
DC Craft Beer Festival – Winter Harvest Walter E. Washington Convention Center 11/22/2014 – 1:00pm
Stay on Top of DC’s Beer Festivals..
Fritz Hahn over at Going Out Guide posted 4 upcoming 2014 Spring DC Beer Festivals, but there are many more:
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ – Regular Admission,$35 (Timonium, MD)
Saturday March 22nd (Friday Session as well)
Burgers and Brews Festival (Heavy Seas Brewery, Baltimore),$39
Saturday April 5th
Cherry Blossom Wine & Beer Festival, $40
Saturday April 5th
National Harbor Food and Wine Festival – VIP Tickets (National Harbor),$89
Saturday May 3rd and Sunday May 4th
DC Is Now a Craft Beer Festival Mecca..
March 8th, 2014 saw a new craft beer festival – DC Craft Beer Festival – Spring Seasonals Although a first year event, it was from the organizers of the New York Craft Beer Festival and they had plenty of experience organizing events – they also put together music festivals!
150+ beers and ciders to taste and a slightly new wrinkle – rather than a mini-beer glass, we tasted with a beer shot glass – smaller pours, but way more efficiency in pour management which made for quicker lines and the ability to actually sample 60+ beers without getting drunk and losing focus!
Breweries and Beers:
Alewerks Shorty Time
Bells WO Hearted
Duck Rabbit Milk Stout
Duck Rabbit Hoppy BUNNY
Founders All Day IPA
Great Lakes Conways
Great Lakes Commodore
Jacks Hele sns
Lagunitas Lil Sumpin
Mad River Steelhead Extra Pale
Mad River Stellhead Double IPA
New Holland Poet
New Holland mONKEY KING
New Hollanndd Full circle
North Coast Brother THELONIUS
North Coast Le Melrle
port City Wit
Port City Collosal 3
port City manaical
Speakeasy Big Daddy
Wild Wolf Alpha Ale
Wild Wolf Blonde HONEY
Boulevard pop up
Boulevard 80 acre
Foothills Hoppyum IPA
Foothills Torch Pilsner
Ommegang Rare Vos
Sam Adams Cold snap
Sam Adams Rebel IPA
Saranac Pale Ale
Shiner White Wing
Shiner FM 966
Starr Hill Bandstand
Starr Hill Grateful Pale Ale
Terrapin Rye Pale Ale
Angry Orchard Crisp
Angry Orchard Ginger
Woodchuck Reserve Pink
Anchor California Lager
Anchor Anchor Bock
Harpoon Long Thaw
New Belgium Fat Tire
New Belgium Snapshot
Dogfish Midas Touch
DogFISH 90 Minute IPA
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Firestone Walker Union Jack
Firestone Walker Wookey Jack
Heavy Seas Loose Cannon
Heavy Seas Black Cannon
Flying Dog Doggie Style
Flying Dog In Heat Wheat
Magic Hat Pistol
Magic Hat Dream Machine
Legend Brown Ale
Aviator Frost Nipper
Aviator Mad Beach American Wheat
Mother Earth Dunkel
Mother Earth Weeping Willow Witt
Blue Mountain Dark Hollow
Blue Mountain Local Species
Breckenridge Agave Wheat
Breckenridge Vesper French Saison
Brewers Art Ressurection
Brewers Art St. Festivus
Burley Oak Aboriginal Gangster
Burley Oak Bulletproof Tiger
Oliver Ales Watermelon Honey Wine
Oliver Ales Strawberry Hard Cider
Peak Organic King Crimson
Peak organic Pomegranite Wheat
Union Craft Old Pro Gose
Union Craft DuckPin
Stillwater Artisanal Folklore
Stillwater Artisanal As Follows
Fordham Rt 1 Session IPA
Fordham Gypsy Lager
Dominion Candi Belgian Triple
Dominion Oak Barrel Stout
Goose Island Sofie
Goose Island Illinois
Kona Big Wave
Widmer Columbia Common
Victory Swing Saison
Victory Dirt Wolf
Troegs Perpetual IPA
Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA
Smuttynose Robust Porter
Sweetwater Sweetwater 420
Omission Pale Ale
Devils Backbone Eightpoint IPA
Devils Backbone Pear Lager
Bold Rock Cider Apple
Bold Rock Cider VA
Natty Greenes Red Nose
Natty Greenes Old Town Brown
Natty Greenes Buckshot
Ace Cider Perry
Ace Cider Berry
Lone Rider Peacemaker pale ale
Lone Rider Sweet Josie Brown
Lone Rider Shotgun Betty Hefe
A Dinner to Remember..
Leaving Georgetown on a Friday night I was stuck on M Street for 40 minutes to cover about 7 blocks. The Weekend traffic made what should have been around an hour and 15 minute trip more than 2 hours, but the resulting dinner was truly worth it!
I (although I say “we” quite a bit – once you’re at a Whisky Dinner, you become a we!) attended a Cocktail Dinner at the Catoctin Creek Distillery, featuring the Wandering Chef – an entertaining and delicious affair and my first time visiting the new Catoctin Creek Distillery in the heart of Purcellville.
We enjoyed a private tour of the new space from owners, Scott and Becky Harris. Becky guided us through the process of making whisky, and Scott described for us the wonderful history of their “new” building, which is nearly 100 years old.
Dinner was a five course affair prepared by Chefs Wes Rosati and Maria Aros of The Wandering Chef. Chefs Rosati and Aros are formerly of Lansdowne Resort, and have combined talents to provide exquisite dining for our new venue!
Oh, and did I say cocktails? Yes, Katie Morrison was on hand to expertly craft cocktails paired with our dinner! As always, I forgot to get the cocktail recipes (shame!!), but the “Catoctinog” was a great starter for me – essentially a Whiskey egg nog, but more creamy nog than egg – cream and whiskey are made to be together!
Here is the Menu (all sourced from local producers and use of seasonal ingredients):
Braised Green Lentils with Local Lamb Sausage, Roasted Carrot Puree,
Honey and Chili Marinated Rack of Lamb
Mint and Lime Gremolatta – I think the Rack of Lamb stole the show – with whisky, you need meat (fat is good too) and the tender lamb on the bone was decadent..it also was delish with the lentils fatted up carrot puree (lamb sausage to boot!)
Paired with CCDC’s “The Wry Gingerman”
Dark Chocolate “Pots de Crème”,
Cranberry-Mint Compote and Freshly Whipped Cream
Catoctin Creek Distillery is located at 120 West Main Street, Purcellville, Virginia and the new location is WAY better than the old warehouse!
For reference, the event was held on Friday, December 13, 2013 – yes, Friday the 13th – Boo!
Foodie Celebrity Alert..
Yes, I went to my 2nd round at Capital Food Fight in Washington, D.C. at the Ron Reagan Building on Monday, November 11th, 2013. Getting to taste 60+ chefs, hobnobbing with Celebrity Chefs like Carla Hall, and Jose Andres and just soaking in the restaurant/hospitality way of life is such a treat!
This annual extraganza raises $100,000s of dollars for DC Central Kitchen and also has the added benefit of raising the profile of Washington, D.C. as a True Foodie City – we always appreciate the added push! What really fascinates me about these mega-restaurant promotional events is there really isn’t one kind of crowd that attends – there are the diverse interests of DC from Lobbiests with clients, to Foodies/Restaurant people who either produce/make the dishes or are somehow connected with the industry. It’s definitely a schmoozerama, but it’s also a chance to meet some of the Big Name out of town chefs/celebrities like Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, Rick Bayless, Todd English, Art Smith and Battling Chefs Erik Bruner-Yang, Bertrand Chemel, Spike Gjerde and Anthony Lombardo.
Dishes I Loved:
-Smoked Oyster Dish with Lamb Bacon by Beuchert’s Saloon – 3 reasons: smoke, oysters and bacon (in this case from the lamb neck!) – gets points for originality, interesting blend of sea/land and of course tastyness!
-Pulpo’s creative Shrimp Ceviche – I actually thought it was lobster and it had Aquavit in it – so booze and seafood combined!
-Farmer’s Fishers Crab Bisque – I’m not sure if that’s the name of the dish, but it had tons of crab in it – sweet!
-Slider from PJ Clarke’s – so lowbrow – Love It!
And many more..
Kudo’s to the Bloomery Plantation folks who allowed me (Illegally – Press was denigrated to the regular $250 Riff-Raff fold..) into the Chairman’s Double-Secret VIP area upstairs where I had their great cocktails, a wonderful 25 year old XO Cognac and got to hang with Carla Hall and Jose Andres before I decided that I actually wanted to taste the dishes downstairs!
And the Winner of the Battling Chef Competition: Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen!
Ohh, and purely for SEO, here’s the list of Restaurants that participated: 1789
Art & Soul
Belga Café / Btoo
Blue Duck Tavern
Charlie Palmer Steak
Eat the Rich
Equinox / Salamander Resort
Good Stuff Eatery
Hank’s Oyster Bar
Hill Country BBQ
Ici Urban Bistro
Jackson 20 / The Grille at Morrison House
Kaz Sushi Bistro
Mint Gastropub by Malcolm Mitchell
Nick’s River Side Grill
Ping Pong Dim Sum
Rappahannock River Oysters
Santa Lucia Coffee
Taberna del Alabardero Restaurant
Teddy and the Bully Bar
Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place
Trummer’s on Main
I’ve loved attending wine dinners in the Washington, D.C. area (Northern Virginia and Maryland too!) for the past 15 years over at TasteDC . I’m sort of a wine dinner specialist – so what exactly does that mean? It basically means that I understand and consume plenty of wine, and the whole concept of creating a dinner around wine and food pairing just seems natural to me – and quite enjoyable!
My baby TasteDC just got hired to promote a series of wine dinners for a very reputable local Spanish restaurant chain – La Tasca Restaurants. I like both their concept and their willingness to use wine dinners and cooking classes as a smart way to extend their brand. Today’s restaurant goer has so many choices, but what will get her attention in the crowded restaurant scene. How about treating going out to eat as an experience for all the senses and not just an excuse to fill the belly? Just from experience, people who attend wine dinners are generally not only Foodies, but they’re also more intelligent, better paid, travel more and appreciate the nuances of pairing food and wine in a multi-course dinner. Sound snooty? Actually, wine dinners can be really fun, and often the banter and conversations are very interesting and entertaining!
Here’s a series of Washington, DC wine dinners, Virginia wine dinners and Maryland wine dinners that TasteDC is promoting/marketing for La Tasca:
4-Course Torres Spanish Wine Dinners,$75 inclusive of food, wine, tax & tip
Various Dates and La Tasca Locations – See Below
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines * 4 Course Dinner * Prize Trip to Spain * Flamenco Show
La Tasca — Washington, DC 722 7th Street NW, November 13th, Wednesday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca – Arlington, VA 2900 Wilson Blvd, November 14th, Thursday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca-Baltimore, 201 E Pratt St, November 16th, Saturday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca – Rockville 141 Gibbs St, November 19th, Tuesday (6-9 pm)
La Tasca – Alexandria 607 King St, November 24th, Sunday (6-9 pm)
Fall Torres Wine Festival Dinners
8 Wines | 4 Course Dinner | Prize Trip to Spain | Flamenco Show
An Exciting Evening!
We are thrilled to invite you to join us for an incredible evening, complete with tastings of eight notable wines led by the passionate and amazing folks at Torres Wines. In addition, enjoy a four-course dinner prepared by executive chef Josu Zubikarai, an open bar, an exclusive flamenco performance, and a small gift to take with you. And let’s not forget that, as part of the Torres Wine Festival, all guests will be entered for a chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona, Spain!
Have you ever thought of wine as art? Now is your chance. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss!
When and Where?
We are hosting Torres Wine Dinners at all of our La Tasca locations. Every event will be held from 6-9pm. If events reach capacity, we will add additional dates.
It’s Cocktail (Half) Hour
For the first half hour, from 6–6:30, a choice of sangrias and signature appetizers will be served. During this time we will also introduce our Torres host, who will lead the wine tasting for the evening.
Wine, Anyone? Oh, and Dinner Too
Paella Square Prepared by Chef Josu, dinner will be served over three courses. At moments during dinner, guests will be led through a tasting (and a fascinating history) of some of Spain’s most interesting wines, stretching across various regions and including popular varietals like verdejo and tempranillo. Not a wine connoisseur? No worries, this is a perfect way to learn and get excited about wine.
Dessert will be served following dinner, along with coffee and teas and a featured dessert wine.
During dessert, watch the passion and the heritage of Spain come to life with a spirited flamenco performance from the most well-known dancers and musicians in the area.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
The cost of the event is $75 per guest and is all-inclusive — the wine tasting, dinner, all beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), dessert, flamenco performance and all taxes and gratuities are covered in the ticket price. Dress is casual and accommodations will be made for guests with any dietary restrictions.
To register for the event, please select one of the event dates shown on the calendar to the right. After selecting a date, scroll down the event details and click on “Book Now”. All guests will be entered for the chance to win a trip for two to Barcelona in 2014. Details on this contest and prize are being finalized, but information will be updated at the link on the right.
I really enjoyed this event with a family member of the Braida Winery in attendance – wine expert Norbert Reinisch, Braida’s Export Manager and Founder’s Son-In-Law. The tasting included Braida’s current releases of Montebruna, Il Baciale, Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui..But we also got to taste multiple vintages of Bricco dell’Uccellone and Ai Suma in a pre-dinner wine tasting that was fabulous! Norbert has in interesting personal story: he’s actually Austrian and began his career as a Doctor..somewhere along the line he fell in love with a member of the Braida Family and changed his career from internist to wine ambassador! As they say – tough job – now he gets to travel the world and promote his wine family’s wines and thell their story – I could think of worse jobs!
Monferrato Rosso Il Baciale 2011, $29.99
A blend of Barbera, Pinot Noir and I think Merlot – beautiful cherry fruit with a touch of pepper from the Pinot and some backbone from the Merlot
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2009, $84.99
Barbera Bricco dell’Uccelone 2010, $86.99
These two wines were both 100% Barbera but very different. The 2009 had amazing fruit-forward cherry and even a bit of baked apple fruit intensity, and oak was in the background but beautiful licorice/anise on the finish. The 2010 was tight and needs at least a few more years for the cherry fruit to break through the strong structure of French Oak tannins and red skin tannins as well which made this quite licorice on the finish and also a bit closed on the nose – this one will be much better 5 and even 10 years from now!
Barbera Ai Suma 2007, $121.99
Barbera Ai Suma 2009, $112.99
Again, these two wines were picked from the same vineyards, but from different vintages. From the intense aromatics to the first sip, the 2007 was just amazing on the palate with tons of cherry fruit, but also an added dimension – not just great acidity which Barbera is distinctly known for even in these hotter/riper vintages – but this wine had character and almost a brooding development of complexity. The tannins were there, but beautifully incorporated with fruit, oak and lush chewiness on my palate – I felt this wine luxuriously on my palate. The 2009 was also very good, but distintly had more chocolate, baked cherry pie and sweetness that surprised me a bit because it was younger. Make a note: these wines are both around 16% alcohol, so they are trophy wines that can stand-up competitively to top Bordeaux and Napa, but with so much more acidity to keep them refreshing!
Three Course Wine Dinner Menu
Fluke Crudo with preserved lemon, moscatto gelee, frisee and local asian pear
paired with 2012 Moscato d’Asti
Grilled Duck Breast “Autunno” Duck, chicharonnes, Barbera cherry gastrique with savory pumpkin and sage bread pudding
paired with 2011 Barbera Monte Bruna
Plum crisp with Local plums, brown sugar farro crumble and local goat cheese gelato
paired with 2012 Brachetto d’Acqui
Little known fact: the grape varietal “Barbera” was once a throw-away jug wine kind of grape that was never taken very seriously in the Piedmont Region of Italy where Barolo and Barbaresco are the King and Queen of wines respectively. Guiseppe Bologna, the founder of Braida winery, was the first back in the 1980’s to produce prodigious wines by planting Barbera vines on his family’s land and using new French oak as his aging barriques.
I attended a great craft experience – Meet the Distillers at Ris Restaurant in our Nation’s Capital on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 – a chance to meet and identify with 4 of America’s most innovative craft distillers.
Here are the Distillers: Barry Young who, together with his partner C. Prentiss Orr at Boyd & Blair, distills what is arguably the world’s greatest potato vodka in Glenshaw, PA, John Little, co-founder of Smooth Ambler Spirits in rural Greenbrier Valley, WV and Clay Smith, distillery manager at Corsair Distillery in Bowling Green, KY.
I had a chance to taste 9 spirits and various cocktails produced by Dan Searing who is actually the Rep for American Still Life Spirits who promotes the most diverse American portfolio of craft distilled spirits.
Each speaker had time to open up and discuss their respective perspective and products.
Boyd & Blair (Pennsylvania):
I had met Barry Young from Boyd & Blair a few years ago at a crafts spirits tasting in NYC when the whole movement was early, but building steam. His specialty is producing potato distilled vodka using exclusively Pennsylvania potatoes. Pennsylvania farmers were only receiving about 8 cents per pound for their potatoes which didn’t make much sense as an agricultural incentive. Boyd & Blair took this low-priced resource and turned it into a vodka that has won many rewards. We also tried the Vodka 151 Proof but it was in a cocktail made by Dan Searing. Interesting note: Boyd & Blair only throws out the heads and tails of distillation and only uses the “sweet spot” heart of distillation in their products..
Smooth Ambler (West Virginia):
The next up was John Little of Smooth Ambler – he was quite a character and spoke a mile a minute with his exuberance and excitement! First up we tried the Greenbrier Gin which had a nice citrusy refreshing taste that enlivened my palate! Smooth Ambler is relatively new to the distillation process, so brown spirits have to be purchased. John took us through the process of choosing the right barrels of pre-aged Bourbons and how he chose their specific products (which in a roundabout way came from the US, was orderd and planned to be sold in Australia, but due to market conditions there, remained in U.S. stocks). Being a Rye fan, I really loved their Old Scout Rye (7-year old) and also enjoyed their Old Scout Bourbon (10-year old). John brought up the point or concept about whiskey and aging: does whiskey get better with age? He joked that some people are born “beautiful Adonis”, but most people feel we get better with age! He also brought up that Smooth Ambler doesn’t cold filter their products – fatty acids, which some people might consider gross, actually add interesting flavor and aromatics, and cold-filtering takes this away – Cheers to that!
Clay Smith of Corsair Whiskey was the 3rd Presenter and showcased 4 spirits: Corsair Barrel-Aged Gin, Spiced Rum, Old Punk Whiskey and Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey. The most unique product was their Triple Smoke: their malted barley is smoked with Cherrywood, Beechwood and Peat giving it some Scotch/peat overtones but also some American wood smoke aromatics. This kind of creativity is what makes American craft spirits so much fun – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
P.S. – Below is some cut and paste from the Arrowine email – if you’re truly interested in learning more, read on!
What are craft spirits and why we love them…
The days where distilled spirits were peddled by a handful of gigantic multi-national corporations have come to an end. In less than a decade the number of craft, or micro-distilleries, has mushroomed from a mere 50 to over 300 operational distilleries across the U.S. Craft spirits are the product of an independently owned distillery with maximum annual sales of 52,500 cases where the product is physically distilled and bottled on site.
Craft distillers focus on quality rather than quantity (often producing less in a year than multi-national brand distilleries bottle in one hour) and strive to educate consumers rather than supply them with cheap alcohol. Unlike the large spirits conglomerates that use continuous distillation to produce large volumes of the same product over and over, craft distillers employ pot stills that they often design themselves and distill in small batches using their senses to make cuts to achieve the desired results.
Most use locally sourced grains and fruits and trace their recipes, especially for whiskey, back to the days long before prohibition when America was a land of small distillers. Much like the craft beer movement that started in the late 1990s, micro-distilleries are making excellent products that pay homage to the authenticity and cultural heritage of their communities.
What we will be tasting…
We will taste a selection of Vodka, Gin and Whiskey (Bourbon & Rye), first in their pure spirit form, and then in a cocktail application that will showcase the wide range of flavors that these spirits can be expressed in.
About Barry Young and Boyd & Blair…
Barry Young and partner C. Prentiss Orr didn’t set out to make the world’s best vodka. They set out to make a really great vodka distilled only from local produce. They started with the best Pennsylvania potatoes and a hand hammered copper pot still and added passion for perfecting a recipe that includes only the ‘hearts’ of the spirit, not the extraneous stuff you’ll find in mass-produced, continuous-still vodka. They named their vodka after two family patriarchs, James Boyd Rafferty and Dr. William Blair.
The vodka is triple distilled by batch in the 1,200 liter pot still without the use of any automated controls, and the heads, hearts and tails are cut by taste alone. The result is an exceptionally smooth tasting potato vodka with a slight natural sweetness and viscosity that is unmatched by any other vodka. Every bottle is filled, corked and dipped in wax by hand, and personally signed by Still Master Barry Young.
About John Little and Smooth Ambler Spirits…
In 2009, John Little and TAG Galyean founded Smooth Ambler to produce fine artisan spirits by combining patient Appalachian know-how with the finest of American ingredients. Located in the rural Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia, Smooth Ambler uses state-of-the-art distillery equipment in conjunction with natural resources of the region: high-valley mountain air, natural waters, ideal temperature variations and friendly folks. These elements combined with a hands-on, grain-to-glass distilling, cutting and filtering process create a truly remarkable drink best enjoyed one slow sip at a time. It is a fact that Smooth Ambler Spirits are now produced at the highest and purest level possible anywhere in the world.
About Clay Smith and Corsair…
Friends Darek Bell, a dedicated home-brewer, and Andrew Webber, a self-described underground urban moonshiner, founded Corsair in 2007 and today, no other craft distillery in the U.S. better epitomizes the creative element of the craft spirit movement. From Quinoa Whiskey, Spiced Rum, Vanilla Bean Vodka, to Gin, Absinth, Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, the celebrated Triple Smoke Whiskey and over a dozen of seasonal and experimental spirits, the guys at Corsair don’t shy away from anything. And over 40 medals at international spirit competitions are a testament to the consistently high quality of Corsair’s innovative spirits, and it has been named 2013 Craft Distillery of the Year by Whisky Magazine.
Corsair operates out of two distilleries, one in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the other in Nashville, Tennessee. Our guest presenter Clay Smith is master distiller and distillery manager at the Bowling Green facility, where he oversees the production of Corsair’s various whiskeys and gins as well as the extensive renovation of the distillery’s new space.
About the tasting location…
Restaurant RIS is located in Washington DC, at 2275 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037, right around the corner from Arrowine & Spirits, our new shop in DC. Restaurant RIS is open late each night. We expect the event to conclude by 9pm and should you wish to stay at Ris and have a late dinner, they would be happy to serve you. For more about this excellent restaurant, please see their website.
Arlington, VA and our new DC location