Cool off with these 5 white wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York.

5 NY WinesHaving been in the wine industry for over 15 years I get to taste a lot of wine, wines I have sold or other wines that are available locally. On occasion I have the opportunity to taste some wines that are not on wine shop shelves or wine lists here in Arizona and that is why I was anticipating my shipment of 5 wines from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance for an online tasting recently. Unable to participate online (had to host a wine tasting in person, go figure) with other wine enthusiasts from around the world, I grabbed a friend and 5 lbs. of mussels (great pairing) and we tasted these 5 white wines.

First a bit about the Finger Lakes region, it was established as an A.V.A. (American Viticultural Area) in 1982, has about 11,000 acres planted to vines and just over 100 wineries. With its cool climate in western New York white wines excel in the region and are compared to the Rhine region in Germany due to the similar growing conditions. Riesling is king here with more acres planted by more than 2-1 over the next most planted, Chardonnay. OK here we go with the wines in no particular order…..

Knapp winery Gewürztraminer
Knapp winery Gewürztraminer
First up the 2011 Knapp Dry Gewürztraminer, 1st impression was its fresh flavor, soft, good fruit, a hint of grapefruit and crisp finish. A beautiful wine or as my friend said “f**king lovely”. Knapp produces 116 cases of this wine from vineyards on the west side of Cayuga Lake. This wine paired well our mussels and would also go well with Asian, Cajun and Latin food.
Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris
Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris
The 2012 Thirsty Owl Wine Company Pinot Gris is a dry style with nice acidity, crisp that is well-balanced. On the finish there you get some pair and a hint of stony minerals.The grapes are all estate grown in 2 separate blocks and goes through a cool and slow fermentation in stainless steel. A very good wine, perfect for hot summer days.
Fulkerson Winery Gruner Veltliner
Fulkerson Winery Gruner Veltliner
With just over 18 acres planted of Gruner Veltliner planted in the region I was surprised when I saw the Fulkerson Winery in Dundee was bottling it. I felt lucky to get 1 bottle of the 253 cases produced. The Fulkerson family has been farming this land since 1805 and opened the winery in 1989. They have over 100 acres under cultivation with the most being Riesling along with other traditional white varieties along with some hybrids and native varieties. To the eye it was a bit cloudy, on the palate it was light, clean and lively. With citrus and mineral this is a very food friendly wine pairs well with white fish, chicken and salads.
Stony Lonesome Estate Reserve Gruner Veltliner from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.
Stony Lonesome Estate Reserve Gruner Veltliner from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates.
A 2nd Gruner was tasted and this one came from Stony Lonesome Wine Cellars, which is one of three wineries owned by David and Luanne Mansfield on their Three Brothers Wineries and Estates they purchased in 2006. This Gruner is a pretty wine but it was hard to tell it was a Gruner. It was soft and creamy with fruit and nuances of green apples. They were one of the first to plant Gruner in the region back in 2006. They chose Gruner for its style, versatility and being food friendly. All 300 cases come from their 2 acres of Gruner on the northeast end of Seneca Lake.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer
Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewurztraminer
The final wine of the evening was the 2012 Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer which is probably the most well know winery in the Finger Lakes. It is the only wine from the area found here in Arizona and several years ago was my introduction to Finger Lakes wine. Dr. Frank founded Vinifera Wine Cellars in 1962 and gained a reputation for his Riesling and his passion and knowledge helped pioneer the Finger Lakes region to what it is today. Eric Volz, grandson of Dr. Frank is vineyard manager of the 90 acres of estate vineyards found on the west side of Keuka Lake. A team of wine makers from around the world contribute their expertise from their region around the world.
The Gewurztraminer has a nice floral nose of orange blossoms and citrus with good fruit, and a soft, dry finish in the mouth. This wine would go well with white meat(pork & turkey) along with Asian and Indian foods.

Overall, these wines show firm acidity counteracting the flavors throughout making all great food wines along with being bright, crisp & clean, good mineral structure and all very pleasant. All also had a bit of residual sugar. The wines are meant to be drank young but I would be curious to taste older vintages as I’m sure they have and would hold up well.

The Finger Lakes wines will never surpass California in production of fine wines and nor do I think they want to but they should be well received and deserve the critical claim they have been getting as the whites I have tasted rival any white wines from the U.S.A. and abroad. If you see some, buy a bottle or order a glass and see for yourself, you’ll be glad you did. Cheers!

Cool weather & Arizona wines as “Wine in the Pines” comes to Pinetop in June.

Arizona Winegrowers Assoc logo

Cool weather and Arizona wines make for the perfect pairing as the Arizona Winegrowers Association will be hosting the 1st Annual “Wine in the Pines” Festival with the Grand Tasting at Charlie Clark’s Orchards in Pinetop-Lakeside on June 15 & 16. Set amongst apple and cottonwood trees, The Grand Tasting will take place on both Sat. and Sun. from noon – 5 p.m. and attendees can taste the wines of 18 Arizona wineries. Wines will also be available for purchase. Guest can purchase tickets for $30 in advance or $35 at the door. Tickets will be valid for both days and include 10 drink tickets and a commemorative glass. A perfect way to escape the summer heat by sipping on award-winning wines in a cool atmosphere. There will also be several off site opportunities to sample the wines leading up to the tasting. Below is a list of winemakers that will be in attendance.

– Robert Carlson, Carlson Creek Vineyards
– Mark Beres, Flying Leap Vineyards
– Gavin & Iryln Gallifant, Gallifant Cellars
– Ann Gardner, Hannah’s Hill
– Curt Dunham, Lawrence Dunham Vineyards
– Sam Pillsbury, Pillsbury Wine Company
– Jim & Marie Petroff, Pleasant Valley Winery
– Dan & Barb Pierce, Saeculum Cellars
– Lori Reynolds, Sonoita Vineyards
– Corey Whalin, Su Vino Winery
– Karyl Wilhelm, Wilhelm Family Vineyards
– Mark & Rhona Jorve, Zarpara Vineyards

Guests must be at least 21 years old to attend and tickets can be purchased at

An afternoon at The 3rd Annual AmeriCAN Beer Festival.

AmeriCAN festivalThis past weekend Scottsdale Civic Center Mall welcomed the 3rd Annual AmeriCAN Beer Festival in celebration of American Craft Beer Week. The festival is hosted by Chandler AZ’s San Tan Brewing Company whom packages all their beers in either cans or kegs. You may ask what makes this beer festival different from other beer festivals. This festival featured only beers packaged in cans, and why cans….well for several reasons according to Joe Burns of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. Cans protect the beer from UV light, no oxygen in cans, are easier on the environment and are better for using for recreational purposes i.e on boats, around pools and water, especially in Florida.

Now that you know why cans, here is some of the samples of beers I enjoyed from some of the 60 breweries in attendance from all over the United States.
Dc Brau
DC Brau from our nations capital opened for business on April 15th 2011 and is DC’s 1st production brewery in almost 60 years. DC Brau makes 10,000 barrels a year and distributes throughout D.C. and northern Virginia. Lead Shift Brewer Christopher Grahm was their 1st employee and tells me they currently can 6 beers including their 3 flagship beers The Citizen, The Public and The Corruption. I tasted the limited release “El Hefe Speaks” Hefeweizen which was crisp, cold and tasted like a German style hefeweizen.

Another D.C. area brewery that came out west for the festival was Lost Rhino Brewing Company from Leesburg Virginia. Sampling their Pilsner I found it rich and creamy. A hint of spice made this beer quite the thirst quencher.

Beers are not known to be gluten-free with their use of wheat and barley, but Joseph James Brewing Company in Henderson, Nevada makes the a the only gluten-free canned beer in the world. The Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale uses nectars instead of wheat. This lighter bodied ale also no sorghum (a grain used in making of alcohol) instead using organic rice, nectars and hops. This ale tasted very good and I wouldn’t have known it was gluten -free as tasted good as any ale using wheat.

Joseph James Brewing Co.'s Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale
Joseph James Brewing Co.’s Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale

For the cider enthusiast for which I am one, there were a few ciders in cans including Vermont Hard Cider pouring their original Woodchuck Cider which is made from apples and is also gluten-free. Cold, crisp and clear this golden cider goes down very well and could be habit-forming. If you prefer your cider on the dry side then you can find Crispin’s “Brown Lane” Classic English Dry Cider which is one of their imported ciders.
San Tan Brewing Co.'s "Mr Pineapple" wheat beer
San Tan Brewing Co.’s “Mr Pineapple” wheat beer

As fruit beers are becoming more popular, a few are being canned and were being poured including Abita Brewing’s Purple Haze which uses raspberries in the brewing process, Redd’s Apple Ale from Tenth & Blake Beer Company, San Tan Brewing Co.’s “Mr. Pineapple” Wheat beer and Maui Brewing Co.’s CoCoNut Porter. All had a hint of fruit used with Redd’s Apple Ale having the strongest fruit flavor.

Grand Canyon Brewing Co. out of Williams AZ won Gold medal for their Sunset Amber in the “Amber & Brown” beer categories. Making 30,000 barrels a year this beer is distributed in Arizona & Nevada.

Nothing goes better with beer than food and several food trucks were there to provide use with something to wash down with a cold beer including Brat Haus, The Grilled Cheese Truck and Tom’s BBQ. There were several bands playing throughout the afternoon including Good Rust, Pride Through Strife, 80 proof and Boom Shed for you to get your groove on.

Nothing beats a cold beer on warm day in May and although you may have to wait til next years 4th Annual AmeriCAN Beer Festival doesn’t mean you can’t wait to find your favorite canned beer. Many retailers including Whole Foods stock an impressive array of canned beers to get you through the summer months and beyond. Cheers!

Small Plates, Big Pours returns to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar for a limited time.

Flemings’s Prime Steakhouse,

New Zealand Petite Lamb Chops
New Zealand Petite Lamb Chops

Wine Bar has brought back its popular Small Plates & Big Pours pairings that starting this week. Guests can pair one of 7 Small Plates with one of 7 premium Big Pours glass of wine for only $24.95. The Small Plates are great for sharing or a lighter dinner and can also give guests the opportunity to try multiple plates and wines. This deal runs through June 30th.

Guests can choose from……

Small Plates
· New Zealand Petite Lamb Chops
· Fleming’s Lobster Tempura
· Colossal Shrimp Skewers
· New Bedford Scallops
· Sliced Filet Mignon
· Braised Short Ribs
· Ahi Tuna

Colossal Shrimp Skewers
Colossal Shrimp Skewers

Big Pours
· Esk Valley Merlot
· Villa Wolf Pinot Gris
· Parducci Petite Sirah
· B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet
· A to Z Winework Pinot Noir
· Hanna Sauvignon Blanc
· Franciscan Estate Chardonnay

Scottsdale: 6333 N. Scottsdale Rd. / 480-596-8265
DC Ranch-North Scottsdale: 20753 N. Pima Rd. / 480-538-8000
Chandler: 905 N. 54th St. / 480-940-1900
Peoria: 9712 W. Northern Ave. / 623-772-9463

Hot Rods & Happy Hour at Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market in Scottsdale.


On Saturday June 1st, from 6 p.m. -8 p.m. Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market will be hosting “The Desert Stangs” Mustang Club and invite all to come check out these American classic cars. The cars owner, who are very passionate about the cars, will be happy to talk about their cars. Mustang Club members will get a free car wash between 5:00 -6:00 p.m.

During this time customers can enjoy beer and wine for $1 off while checking out these cool cars. You can also dine at Tom’s Thumb with their award-winning BBQ and southern inspired food.
There is no cost to attend.

Tom’s Thumb Fresh Market at 9393 E. Bell Road Scottsdale 85260 (480)513-8186

Bar Louie shows off new cocktails and food items starting May 15th.

Firecracker Flatbread
Firecracker Flatbread

Bar Louie at Tempe Marketplace is rolling out some new cocktails & menu items. On Wed. May 15th customers can enjoy 10 new wines by the glass and 9 new hand crafted cocktails such as Mango Mojito & The Ramblin rose and Watermelon Margarita. From 6 p.m. – 9.m. on the 15th customers can try these new cocktails for only $2.

The following Wednesday, May 22nd customers will get the chance to taste any of the 9 new food items and when they order 1 they will get another new food item of equal or lesser value for FREE. Some new menu items include Blackened Salmon Sliders, Beer Braised Mussels and Firecracker Flatbread.

With a total of 28 new food and drink items Bar Louie is trying to make the dog days of summer a bit cooler.

Bar Louie Tempe is at Tempe Marketplace 2000 Rio Salado Parkway, Suite 1220.

Summer is heating up and Blue Bell Ice Cream wants to keep you cool.

Starting this month Blue Bell Ice Cream is introducing Italian Cream Cake Ice Cream and bringing back seasonal favorites such as Key Lime Pie and Coconut Fudge to keep you cool. Italian Cream Cake is creamy vanilla ice cream with Italian cream cake, shredded coconuts, roasted pecans and a smooth cream cheese ice cream swirl.

According to general sales manager Wayne Hugo “We’ve created a flavor that not only has all the ingredients of an Italian cream cake in each bite, but there are actual cake pieces in the ice cream too. We have had lots of success with flavors inspired by cakes so we figured we might just be onto something.”

Blue Bell also offers Birthday Cake Ice Cream and Red Velvet cake which became an instant success when it was introduced last year. Hurry because Italian Cream Cake Ice Cream will be in grocers freezers until supplies last. National Ice Cream Month is coming up in July so don’t be afraid to stock up in order to stay cool. Check Blue Bell’s website for current flavors, recipes and money-saving coupons.

San Tan Brewing Co.’s Memorial Day Canal Ride

San Tan Canal ride

It’s hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is only 2 weeks away and San Tan Brewing Company is kicking off the unofficial start to summer with canal bike ride on Sunday May 26th. The ride will begin at Kelly’s at Southbridge (7117 E. 5th Ave. Scottsdale 85251) in Scottsdale at 3:00 p.m. where riders will grab a bite to eat and cold beer with the ride to start at 3:30. Once fueled up riders will head down the canal to Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn for cold beer before heading back to O.H.S.O Nano Brewery for more beer and then back to Scottsdale to Dos Gringos for the final stop which concludes with another San Tan beer and time to hang out.

Cost is $25 per person and includes food at Kelly’s along with a San Tan beer at all 4 stops. With the Memorial Day Weekend ride expected to sell out registration is on San tan’s events page

My Sneak Peek of Arizona Restaurant Week Dine – Around

Celebrating Arizona’s more than 8,500 restaurants and their 260,000 employees while making Arizona a top culinary destination.

With the always popular Arizona Restaurant Week starting in just 10 days May 18th- 27th, the Arizona Restaurant Association invited myself and a few other lucky media people to take tour, and taste, of 4 of Scottsdale’s newest restaurants participating in Spring 2013 celebration. Here is a sample of what you can expect.

Top to bottom : cappuccino dei Funghi, Insalata manago & Caprese
Top to bottom : cappuccino dei Funghi, Insalata manago & Caprese

We met at Taggia at The Firesky Resort & Spa to taste a sampling of the 3 choices they will be offering for their 1st course.
The Cappuccino dei Fungi was a personal favorite as I love all things mushrooms, this mushroom soup uses Portobello and porcini along with some truffle spuma.
The Caprese was a soft burrata, yellow heirloom tomato slice and pink peppercorns.
Insalata Manago is roasted red peppers wrapped in thinly sliced mango tossed with pickled red onions and arugula.
All were prepared by executive Chef Massimo De Francesca and his staff. To read more about Taggia see my post about Massimo’s coastal Italian cuisine

Peter Rabbit cocktail
Peter Rabbit cocktail

On to our next stop at Searsucker we were provided with transportation by Uber the newest way to catch a ride with their app on your cell phone for on-demand car service with professional drivers.
Greeted at Searsucker with a Peter Rabbit cocktail we enjoyed a sampling of Farm Bird lollipops with snake bite hot sauce for those of us who enjoy a little heat with their chicken.
The squid “sweet heat” is Searsucker’s unique take on calamari with sweet and spicy a taste.

After a quick ride in one of Uber’s Escalades we arrived at Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse for our main course of Sirloin steak or salmon filet. My filet was perfectly cooked to medium rare and was served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. There is nothing wrong with a good steak from Peter Luger’s alums Ben & Jack and their first foray outside of NYC.

Ben & Jack's Steahouse's Sirloin steak w/ mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse’s Sirloin steak w/ mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli

Almost full, we all saved room for dessert and we were off to Davati Enocteca for executive chef Peter DeRuvo’s Millie Foglie which is berry sauce and whip cream in between a puff pastry and a drizzle of creme anglaise. A perfect way to end the evening as the dessert was not to heavy and cured my daily sweet tooth. www.davantiscottsdale
Davanti Enoteca's Millie Foglie
Davanti Enoteca’s Millie Foglie

Based on what I tasted and saw this should be another record-setting week for the twice annual culinary celebration and reservations are highly recommended if you plan to check out your favorite restaurant or get to a new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.

Chompie’s is inviting everyone to eat like a kid on June 5th and Big Apple Bargains for the month of May

People of all ages able to order off the new Chompie’s Kids Menu and Chompie’s will make a donation from every kids meal purchased to Phoenix nonprofit Playworks to help end bullying in schools.

Chompies eat like a kid

On Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, Chompie’s, Arizona’s New York Deli invites people of all ages to “Eat Like a Kid” by ordering a Kids Meal* from their new kids menu (normally just for kids 10 and under). For every Kids Meal purchased, Chompie’s will make a donation to Playworks Arizona, a nonprofit organization that seeks to transform schools and end bullying by providing play and physical activity at recess and throughout the school day.

The new Chompie’s Kids Menu includes 19 delicious Chompie’s favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner, such as their famous Jewish Sliders (featured on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food), Long Island French Toast served with bacon or turkey sausage and their Checkered Cab Cheeseburger served with choice of Fresh Fruit Salad, French Fries, Sweet Potato Fries or House-made Potato Chips.

The kids menu also includes a tasty gluten-free friendly section! Prices for the Kids Meals start at just $3.79. People can also order off the main menu that day. “Everyone Can Eat Like a Kid Day” is valid from open to closing on June 5th at all four of Chompie’s locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler.

*No substitutions. Dine In only. Limit one kids meal per person. Offer excludes beverages, cookie/desserts and additional sides. Not valid with any other offers, coupons, discounts or promotional gift cards.

Please visit to view the Kids Menu and to learn more about Everyone Can Eat Like a Kid Day and Playworks.


Here are the Big Apple Bargins for the remainder of May.
May 8th – May 14th
Sliced Deli Meats
Buy 1 lb. get 1/2 lb. of equal or lesser value Free!
excludes Tongue
Prices range from $9.99 lb.-$17.99 lb.

May 15th – May 21st
Homemade Deli Salads
Buy 1 lb. get 1/2 lb. of equal or lesser value Free!
Prices range from $4.99 – $16.99 lb.

May 22nd – May 29th
Homemade Soups
Chicken Noodle, Matzo Ball, Split Pea, Beef Barley,
Sweet&Sour Cabbage, Soup Du Jour
Buy 1-quart get 1-pint Free!
(Reg. $7.99 Qt.)

Chompies Big Apple Bargains are not valid with any other coupon,
offer, or discount, on catering, or with promotional