Tag Archives: wine

Algodon Wine Estate

Algodon_Wine_Estate_02 When you live in one of the biggest cities in the world, sometimes the only true escape from that life is heading to the country. As much as I loved the culture of Buenos Aires, I was happy to find myself in Argentina’s wine region at a new and beautiful estate called Algodon. Having just visited the fields of Dom Pérignon during harvest, it was a lovely contrast to see a vineyard in spring, the first buds of the season reaching out of the bark in perfect rows. I spent the first afternoon quietly swinging on my porch hammock, watching the light dance in the trees and feeling the cool spring breeze on my face. The quiet was an escape I had been longing for, and being surrounded by spring made me feel ready for a creative rebirth.

Algodon in Spanish means cotton. The estate was named after the Cotton Club in New York City for its sophistication, elegance, and distinction—and the club lifestyle certainly made its way here. You can play golf, ride bikes, play tennis, go horseback riding, have a massage, or enjoy wine tastings throughout the day. Though the main farm house was built in the 1920s, the property did not become a winery until 2002, with the first bottles of wine ready in 2005.

The original La Casona, or villa, has three petite rooms with original wood floors, fireplaces, and French doors opening to a wraparound porch. So charming and romantic! I loved the simplicity of the room, which quieted my mind and complimented the natural beauty waiting just outside. More recently, a second villa was built in a similar style with larger suites, stove-pipe fireplaces and a stunning main room wrapped in window light.

One of the highlights from Algodon was of course the winemaker’s Mauro Nosenzo’s tour through the vineyard and winery. They produce everything from Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and my favorite, “Pima”, which is the star wine of the property, aged 24 months in French oak barrels. This special blend is named after the finest cotton in the world, produced in Peru and known world-wide as the smoothest variety. I loved it so much I bought a case and I look forward to the warm memories of the winemaker filling my glass straight from the barrel on this peaceful spring day.

After our tours, a tasting, and a beautiful lunch at the property’s restaurant in front of a roaring fire, we set out for the rest of the afternoon to explore the Argentinean countryside on horseback. I love horseback riding in South America, it compliments my romantic sensibilities and gives you a greater connection to the land, to the power of nature that defines it. For a few hours I galloped through the rows of vineyards, around the apricot orchard and through the olive trees, over the streams until I was out in the wild countryside gazing upon an endless horizon of wildflowers dancing below a purple mountain sky. It was heaven on earth….

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A Southern Holiday Party

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio

It feels like only a moment ago we were hosting last year’s holiday party for friends. My how fast a year comes and goes with so many new memories to stowaway in the vault. For this year’s get together in our new Upper West Side home I wanted to bring to life a piece of my past to make the meal even more personal and intimate by taking our friends on a culinary trip down south, to taste my southern roots and warm comfort food.

When I think about southern food I always think about BBQ and biscuits. A saucy slow cooked meat rolled in spices and balanced by the buttery softness of a warm biscuit. It’s sinful and wonderful and went beautifully with Ecco Domani’s full bodied Merlot. For the non-meat eating guests we offered southern catfish baked and served in my cast iron skillet my grandmother passed down to me which is seasoned with love, as I like to say, and a great compliment to Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio.

Of course, any time I host friends or family I like to start with a cheese plate for people to graze on while we finish preparing the meal. Following my simple rule I outlined in this post, I chose a wonderful soft goat cheese, aged gouda, manchego cheese to be accompanied by roasted almonds, apples and artisanal crackers. Wanting to start with a crisp and light wine, we opened Ecco Domani’s Pinot Grigio for the cheese course though it goes perfectly well with the Merlot too if you prefer.

In the end, no matter what you serve or what you wear, it’s about making memories with friends and loved ones, sharing stories, being at peace and above all, loving one another this holiday season. Cheers….

See below for entertaining tips and southern recipes created for this night by my friend Jared who is, as we call him, the cookie monster. Everything was served on handmade pottery (a wedding gift from my parents!) by Clayworks in the East Village and another very personal, homey touch to this intimate gathering.

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio

For last year’s holiday party we set individual photographs I had taken of each guest at their place setting to not only arrange the seating in a beautiful visual way but for each of the guests to take home a gift from the evening. This year I decided to create individual bouquets for each place setting that the guests could take home and enjoy for the days to come. Living in New York City this is a wonderfully easy way to play with your creativity. On 28th and 7th is the most fabulous flower market where you can find anything your heart desires. I love more than anything exploring in and out of these shops and creating my own story though flowers.

Above, setting the table in Maud Heline’s Arlanik white button up shirt dress made in Brooklyn  (ps- it’ has pockets!!) 

Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio Holiday party with Ecco Domani Merlot and Pinot Grigio (more…)

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Come Sail Away…

Ecco_Domani_Sailing_01 On a recent trip to Nantucket I wanted to take Kevin on a surprise date, something that felt local to the place but personal to our life. I love to sail and when we walked by the gorgeous boat The Endeavor I knew that was it. Considering how much we travel, I’m always looking for ways to make a place feel reminiscent to home. Though I couldn’t make a home cooked meal, I wanted to fill his soul in just the same way. I love a beautiful red wine in the fall and having just received a few bottles of Ecco Domani Merlot I brought them with us on our Nantucket getaway. I tried to think of something I could put together that wouldn’t require access to a kitchen and found a local market stocked with cheeses from Vermont, freshly made lobster salad, my favorite kind of almonds and beautiful grapes. I popped into one of those tourists shops and purchased a cheese board covered in all things Nantucket which I would typically never do, however, we found the enthusiasm for this place expressed on a cutting board quite charming and now back in New York I see it in the kitchen and think back on this perfect afternoon date, sailing around the harbor watching boats bob in place and flags dancing in the autumn sun.

I think it’s important to find ways to enjoy simple pleasures, carving out time in our crazy fast lives. A bottle of wine and a simple picnic on land or sea is an easy and effortless way to make memories with the ones you love. We enjoyed lunch in the smooth waters of the inlet before our captain took us out sailing the sound. Mostly though, we sipped our Ecco Domani Merlot and welcomed fall though the rippling sound of ocean waves.

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Though Ecco Domani’s Merlot pairs well with foods like tomato-based pastas and grilled meats, I found the blackberry flavors of this wine went perfectly with a classic cheese plate. Simple rule of thumb is one hard cheese, one soft, one fruit, one nut, crackers and – in most cases – a cured meat, which I opted out for locally made lobster salad. Though we ate before we hoisted up the sails, it was still a good idea to have stemless wine glasses, which I borrowed from our hotel.

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Dom Pérignon

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We first began our journey to “Decode Dom Pérignon” in Barcelona, questioning the idea of champagne and trying to understand it beyond the simple pleasures of drinking. The second part of our discovery took us to the birthplace of champagne, a sacred abbey high atop a hill in Hautvillers where a monk named Dom Pérignon lived in from 1668 until his death in 1715. It was here Dom Pérignon gave birth to champagne as we know it. 

As we walked the grounds of the cloisters it was easier to understand the philosophy of today’s champagne makers of Dom Pérignon. They come here, to this tranquil place that is the spirit and soul of Dom, to reflect on the past and think about the future. It was one of those perfect days. Crisp, damp and cool in the morning opening like a pathway to a glorious sun filled afternoon. I stood on the grounds of the abbey where the first champagne was created and closed my eyes to the smell of old stone, chalk, and earth while the wind whipped the trees around me making a sparkling symphony of the leaves while the golden sunlight danced between the shadows. If a place could sparkle like a glass of champagne, this was the place and in the spirit of inspiration, like with Dom Pérignon, could leave your thoughts amongst the stars. 

Following the benedictine rule set by the Sun King Louis IX which transformed France into a country of luxury and craftsmanship, he cared for the vineyards in great detail and through years of contemplation and study transformed the wine making process in three important ways. First, in place of manually stomping grapes with your feet he used a large machine to separate the juice of the grapes from the skin. Second was the blend. He had the idea to blend a variety of grapes from the Champagne villages. Lastly, which lead to the revaluation of champagne, he started the aging process in bottles as opposed to wooden casks which were used in the 17th century. It was through this process he discovered the creation of bubbles in the 2nd fermentation. 

The production of Dom Pérignon is far beyond technical. Having now spent many lunches and dinners with the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and Vincent Chaperon they speak of the wine making process in such a romantic and idyllic way it is a constant reminder that we are speaking about something which comes from the earth. It is organic, and most of all, it is a gift from nature

One of the most poingoint points by Geoffry shared over our tasting of 11 Dom Pérignon vintages was  in the way champagne lingers which leads to memory. Memory is a constant in my own work. I take photographs like memories, to see the way it felt, to remember the beautiful moments. Each time I am so fortunate to find myself with a glass of Dom Pérignon I take in the smell which brings back memories of celebration, successes, all those magical nights faded with laughter and distant sparkling lights. Of course, as a winemaker, memory to him refers to the harvest, the conditions of the year that make the DNA of the vintage. The memory of characteristics from vintage to vintage. For example, the 2002 being elegant, refined, creamy, perfectly balanced while the 2003 is robust, bright, exciting, crisp. The memory of tradition and the relationship to time to project themselves forward into the future. It’s amazing to me that you can find so much life lived in one sip of champagne. 

Welcome to the home of Dom Pérignon and the birthplace of champagne.    Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne.     Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne. Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne. Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne. (more…)



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