News and Notes from the World of Wine

Beating pink wines’ bad RAP

Rosé wine fans, you have a new club to join. Rosé Avengers and Producers (RAP) a Napa-based association formed "to avenge all the wrongs done to dry rosé," according to the group’s co-head, Jeff Morgan.

"We’re trying to help people understand that dry rosé is possibly the world’s most versatile food wine," explains Morgan, who has his own SoloRosa blush wine brand (and is a Wine Enthusiast contributing editor). Many consumers, especially "red-blooded American males… don’t seem to understand that real men can also drink pink," Morgan says.

RAP plans to host a rosé wine and food pairing in San Francisco in May. Details about the event, and how to join RAP, are posted on the group’s Web site, www.rapwine. com. — S. H.


Woman We Envy

30-year-old Audrey Smyth: Guinness Brewmaster, Native Dubliner, Expert Pubcrawler

Audrey Smyth may very well have the world’s greatest job. For the past eight years, she has been working on Guinness at the St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, Ireland, where almost 2.22 million glasses of Guinness are produced every day. We should be so lucky.

The auspicious beginning to her becoming a brewmaster: My parents bought me a chemistry set for my seventh birthday. I made different colored drinks. It wasn’t a terribly sophisticated set, but I recall loving the mixing and creating part.

Her favorite, however random, facts about Guinness: Guinness was the first brewery to be traded on the London Stock Exchange, in 1886. At one time, it was prescribed by doctors as a cure for anemia. Since we started making Guinness in 1759, we’ve never changed the ingredients: It’s still made from roasted, malted barley, hops, yeast and Irish water. What she has learned from working in an industry in which men outnumber women 7 to 1: Alpha Males really want to be heard. They come right out and voice their opinions. You learn very quickly that if you want to be heard, you’ve got to speak up. And if you speak up loudly, they’ll listen to you along with giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Her advice on how to pull off a rollicking Irish pub crawl: It’s best to get a list of Irish pubs in your neighborhood and then plan out the most direct route. A traditional crawl involves hitting 8 or 10 pubs and having a pint or two at each one. Make sure your pubs aren’t too far away from each other, and try to eat something in-between bars. Of course, that’s in an ideal world. Usually, people have a few beers in two or three pubs and then they end up crawling home.

Why being a brewmaster is the best job ever (free beer aside, natch): It’s about pride. I love the way the beer swirls in the glass. I love watching it come off the assembly line. My favorite part is when I’m at a bar, and the stranger sitting next to me orders a draught [Guinness] and it’s got a perfect head on it. It’s creamy looking and the color looks wonderfully ruby, and I know I’ve had a hand in that.
—Alix Strauss



Devin Derby, Spring Valley Vineyard winemaker, passed away from injuries sustained in a car crash on November 28, 2004. He was 47.

Before he moved to Walla Walla, Derby was a professional photographer, a movie set painter and a filmmaker based in Chicago. In 2001, the son of Spring Valley Vineyard owners Dean Derby and Shari Corkrum Derby eventually moved back to the farm where he and his wife, Mary, were co-winemakers. He is survived by his wife, his son, Simon, his daughter, Chloe, his sister, DeAnn, and his parents.

"Zinfandel Appreciation Week," was proclaimed in San Francisco, CA, which coincided with ZAP’s 14th Annual Zinfandel Festival (January 26-29). This proclamation was presented in an official ceremony to Joel Peterson, Zinfandel Advocates & Producers Board President by Acting Mayor Elsbernd. Elsbernd and all of the vintners present signed a 12L bottle of the 2003 Heritage Vineyard wine, which was auctioned off at ZAP’s "Evening With The Winemakers" event January 28.

Cakebread Cellars has selected its successors for the family-owned winery. Bruce Cakebread, the youngest son, will lead as president and COO, Dennis will serve as senior vice president of sales and marketing and Steven will be a financial consultant to the business. Hanzell Vineyards welcomes Michael Terrien as their new winemaker. Terrien is the former GM/winemaker/vineyard manager for Acacia.

Golden Kaan Ltd. has appointed Erik Ran as vice president for the U.S. market. Ran is the former VP of trade marketing for Allied Domecq.

Rob Buono is the new president of Old Bridge Cellars. Buono was previously at Constellation Wine U.S., where he served as vice president, sales-west.

John Giguiere, president of Vincor USA and founder of R.H. Phillips Winery, has left the company. Giguiere has assumed the newly created position of chairman, R.H. Phillips Winery. Michael Jaeger has taken over the role of president, Vincor USA.

Seneca Lake Winery Association has elected new officers for 2005. Ted Marks, owner of Atwater Vineyards, president; Leigh Hazlitt Triner, owner of Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, vice president; Elizabeth Stamp, partner in Lakewood Vineyards, treasurer; and Dave Whiting, owner of Red Newt Cellars, secretary.
— Samara D. Genee

Destination BUENOS AIRES


One glance at those stunning wrought-iron balconies and outdoor tables filled with animated espresso sippers and you might think you’re in Europe. Beyond its glamorous Old World façade, Buenos Aires is a simple though sprawling place, its wide boulevards full of culinary bargains (thanks to the depreciating peso). Despite the severe economic crisis—and ensuing chaos—that hit the city a few years ago, the laid-back and jovial people who call Buenos Aires home have bounced back, and their way of having fun typically involves food.

Argentines take their cafés seriously, whether it’s just sitting down to unwind with a cup of coffee or indulging in post-lunch chocolate churros. One fabled spot is Café Tortoni (Avenido de Mayo 825, tel.: 4342.4328). Founded in 1858, it is the country’s oldest café. It has historically attracted a flood of intellectuals, politicians and writer-types, and it still does. This is also the address for slipping in a sultry tango show while you sip. Just a few blocks away from Eva Perón’s modest grave, in the posh Ricoleta area, is La Biela (Avenida Quintana 600, tel.: 4804-0449). There’s nothing trendy or flashy about this café, and that’s its charm. Career waiters are friendly, leaving you wrapped chocolates with the check, and the café con crema is ethereal.

There are numerous cozy B&B’s to lay your head down for the evening, but you’ll enjoy yourself even more if you splurge on Buenos Aires’s grandest accommodations. Stay at the Alvear Palace Hotel (Avenida Alvear 1891, tel.: 4808-2100) and you’ll get your own butler to attend to your every need. The grand dame of hotels here, the Alvear holds daily afternoon tea service—complete with white-gloved waiters, fresh pastries and pots of tea—in the lovely Jardin d’Hiver at the hotel’s L’Orangerie restaurant. New to the tea menu are gourmet blends (like Lapsang Souchang or the hotels’ own exotic Alvear Blend) from Ines Berton’s nearby tea shop, Tealosophy.

Palermo is a booming area packed with eateries, and Central (Costa Rica 5644, tel.: 4776-7334) is a stand out. Sleek and modern, the restaurant has tall tables, sofas and lots of natural light, and a produce market up front that gives it an organic glow. The menu is eclectic; highlights include the white corn arepa with Portobello mushrooms, tomato confit, caramelized onions and brie; and the grilled salmon with bacon, asparagus and cilantro tart. The wine list is extensive, featuring a great selection of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Gewürztraminer and, of course, Malbec.

You can’t really leave Buenos Aires without trying at least one empanada. One good empanadería is El Sanjuanino (Posadas 1515, tel.: 4805-2683). Dark wood walls, cheery tiles and booths full of young families give it a comfy, traditional feel. Here, empanadas are baked, greaseless and, with a Quilmes beer, make the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. Try the carne empanada, which is full of juicy beef studded with chunks of green olives.

Malbec is the star grape in Buenos Aires, and the best place to sip an affordable one is Gran Bar Danzon (Libertad 1161, tel.: 4811-1108). Walk up candlelit stairs to a sophisticated lair that feels a bit like New York, with beautiful clientele sampling wine flights and tucking into ceviche and spring rolls. Select from among the scores of world-class wines (there’s more than 200 Argentine labels alone) breezily scribbled on chalkboards, or freshly made libations like The Fitzroy, a concoction of vodka, crème de cassis, lime and Champagne.

What to do after hours? Spend the night lounging around an old mansion that has been converted to one of the city’s trendiest late-night hideaways. The museum-like Milion (Parana 1048, tel.: 4815-9925) is a serene multilevel restaurant and bar, dark and ornate, like something salvaged from the Sunset Boulevard film set. On some evenings, films are screened in the garden. Climb the dramatic marble staircase to the upstairs bar and terrace, and you’ll find talkative bartenders who will keep you entertained while shaking your cocktail.

Argentines likes their wines, and have the wine shops to prove it. If you feel like snagging a bottle or two for a picnic or a quiet night back at the hotel, you’ll want to wander through one of the Ligier retail shops. The upscale chain is well-stocked with old and difficult-to-find wines.
— Alia Akkam


For more of this month’s Enth Degree, check out the March issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Chaotic Brew

Beer lovers in the Northeast are familiar with many of Magic Hat’s ales: No. 9, Fat Angel, Hocus Pocus. Now this risk-taking brewery is introducing a barleywine ale called Chaotic Chemistry. The name implies the conditions needed to brew this heady ale. The result offers rich flavors of chocolate, caramel and oatmeal, with hints of raspberry, making this dark and barely bubbly elixir extra-smooth. And if this suits your palate, the limited Humdinger series also boasts Feast of Fools and Thumbsucker, both Stouts, as well as the honey based ale, Braggot. This Humdinger Series ale is as heavy as a Guinness, but at over 10 percent alcohol, you may not be able to handle more than one. Each 750-ml black, Champagne-shaped bottle sells for $19.99.
— Michael Duffy


Web watch:

If you’re running low on those artisan vinegars, herbal honeys and slow-dried pastas you picked up in rural Italy, can replenish your larder. These experts in regional Italian food hunt down superior new products like Marilisa Allegrini and Giuliano Hazan’s aged red wine vinegar from Valpolicella, wild grilled onions known as lampascioni, and authentic Sicilian eggplant caponata made with raisins and mint. Imaginative gift boxes, such as selections of Marcella Hazan’s favorite ingredients, Gustiamo’s lunchroom favorites or magical cocktail pairings are packed in scrubbed-up wooden vegetable crates, straight from produce markets in the Bronx.

Tel.: 877.907.2525;
— Janet Forman



Cosmo, Take Me Away


Draw your baths, ladies! BoozBarz have just arrived to satisfy cravings for your favorite cocktails without giving you a hangover. The soaps are handcrafted from the finest vegetable-based glycerin and are made to look and smell just like your favorite alcoholic concoction.

Pick your poison—Cosmopolitan, Apple Martini, Gin Martini, Piña Colada or Fuzzy Navel—and let the party begin!; tel.: 718.633.9840; priced at $10 each, or 3 for $25.
— Tara Ferdico


Sip & Cinema

Your typical cinephile-enophile loves the big screen and wall-rattling sound in a great movie theater, but has also come to enjoy watching a film at home on the sofa with a nice glass of wine. What to do?

Arclight, the state-of-the-art multiscreen complex developed around the famous Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, offers a solution: "21+" screenings, where patrons can bring drinks from the Arclight’s café into a theater open only to people over the legal drinking age. Nearly 20 wines are offered by the glass (from Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc to Querceto Chianti), along with cocktails and draught beer.

Arclight executive Robert Brugeman oversees the program and reports that these special screenings frequently sell out. "Customers enjoy the ease and comfort of seeing a movie and enjoying a glass of wine in one location," Brugeman says. He is working with the chef to expand the café’s menu and increase the by-the-glass offerings.

Arclight, 6360 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood; tel.: 323. 464.4226;
— Chris Rubin



Here’s a shot that will make Irish eyes really smile this St. Patty’s Day. It’s a cinch to make, even after you’ve had six Boddingtons and a Jameson chaser. Down in one!

Irish Flag
Green crème de menthe
Bailey’s Irish Cream

Layer equally green crème de menthe, Bailey’s and brandy to represent the three equal bands of the Irish "Tricolor."

Recipe reprinted with permission from Erikka Haa’s Shots: The Diminutive Guide to a Little Big Drink (Sterling Publishing, 2003).

Published on March 1, 2005