Wine We Drink: Thirty Bench – 2007 Beamsville Bench Red

We lazily made our way towards the quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake stopping to take in a taste of the local grape in an area just south of the lake and west of the St. Catharines referred to as the Niagara Escarpment. This area has shale and limestone cliffs from the glacial movements that provide good drainage for the rain and melting snow and allows the roots of the vines to grow deep. Over 40 wineries have cropped up over the years further establishing the Niagara Peninsula as a strong appellation and the jewel in the VQA crown.

Events: Ribera del Duero: A tasty tempranillo tasting

When I heard there was a tasting of more than 400 wines from 90 Ribero del Duero wineries at New York's Puck Building, I was really excited. Though Jay and I have been wine tasting in Spain twice now (most recently last summer), we've concentrated our visits in Rioja with brief excursions to La Mancha and Jerez, but haven't yet made it to the Ribera region, about a two-hour drive north of Madrid.

Events: Vino 2010: Wines of Apulia

The seminar's moderator, Italian wine expert Charles Scicolone, noted that people often dismiss Puglia wines as "too jammy, pruney, and lacking in acidity," but most of the wines we tasted today proved that perception wrong. I learned there are three main grapes grown in Puglia: negroamaro, primitivo and uva di troia, also known as nero di troia and often combined with malvasia nera, which is used mainly as a blending grape.

Events: Vino 2010: Calabria’s red wines

The cool thing about Calabria is that the region’s wine producers almost exclusively use regional varietals – primarily gaglioppo, plus arvino, greco nero, and magliocco canino in lesser quantities. (Other regional grapes I've never heard of include nerello calabrese and lacrima nera.) We learned that the Calabria region produces varieties that have disappeared or never existed in other regions.

Wine We Drink: Shinn Estate Vineyards – Six Barrels Reserve Merlot 2002

I think this bottle is from one of our first visits to Shinn in Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island. We were lucky enough to arrive on a slow day and Barbara walked with just Liz and me out into the vineyard to chat about the types of grapes planted and planned and the biodynamic grape farming processes they employ (She does this as a paid tour now and so worth it)

Wineries: Bodegas Ysios: Calatrava’s Riojan castle is crumbling.

Bodegas Ysios was one of the first wineries to be completed in the Rioja region by the parade of starchitects - designed by Santiago Calatrava in 2000 and opened to the public (by appointment only) in 2003. Liz and I visited the winery grounds during our first trip to Spain in 2003 when the estate vines were just tiny clusters of leaves on the ground. We actually stumbled upon this stunning structure as we peered across the valley from the hill town of Laguardia and since we were rushing from one town to the next (as always) we didn't have time to inquire about a tour. We did drive up to the building - drawn in by the contrast of the glittering aluminum roof and the bleached cedar walls with the granite and green mountain range behind.