ON THE WINE ROAD: Great wines as gifts for the holidays

I have lived temperately, I double the doctor’s recommendation of a glass and a half of wine a day and even treble it with a friend” – Thomas Jefferson

By Michael Venezia>>Photography by Katherine Frye

During the last few months of the year I attend several wine themed dinners, tastings, and benefits all focused to the celebration and enjoyment of wine, food and people.

One of my favorites is Atlanta’s Best Cellars Dinner. This invitation is extended to residents of Atlanta’s metropolitan area who have noteworthy cellars and are enthusiastic in sharing their wines with corporate sponsors and guests. Benefitting the T. J. Marshall Foundation and the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, it was held on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at the InterContinental, Buckhead.

As the music industry’s largest foundation, it funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer, and AIDS. The foundation sources and supports early state research projects aimed at developing more effective clinical treatments for patients which otherwise might not be funded.

Each wine host is given the opportunity to pair wines from their cellar to compliment the InterContinental’s executive chef Didier Lailheugue’s menu. I was honored for the third year in a row to participate in this exciting food and wine dinner. Three hundred attendees and thirty wine hosts offered magnificent selections of wines to be enjoyed by the table sponsor and his ten guests. Many rare and extraordinary wines were at this gala benefit.

Chef’s dinner menu with my wine selections
Reception
Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, Palmes d’Or Brut, 2002
~
Yellow Fin Tuna and Florida Citrus Salad, Yuzu and Wasabi Dressing
Domaine Roux, Puligny Montrachet, 2012
~
Roasted Chestnut Veloute, Smoked Cappuccino
Erath, Pinot Noir, Prince Hill Vineyard, 2011
~
Braised Short Ribs, Foie Gras Mille Feuille, Root Vegetables, Truffle Polenta
Tenuta Ornellaia, Ornellaia, Bolgheri, 2011
Opus One, Napa Valley, 2011
~
Cocoa Chocolate Tart, Peppermint Jelly, Raspberries
Donnafugata, Ben Rye, Zibbibo, Sicily, 2013

Back in Cobb County during the month of October three outstanding events highlighted my wine calendar.

A magnificent afternoon was enjoyed at the spectacular Marietta Educational Gardens on Sunday, Oct. 18 at the ninth annual Art of Wine Expo. Randall and Karen, the affable owners of the Marietta Wine Market, offered more than 200 wines for tasting, along with exquisite foods, crafts and artwork by local artisans as well as live music.

With support from the trade, each tasting station offered an international selection of wines to please every palate and pocketbook. Asked to anchor a table in the Reserve Station, my sales associates selected an assemblage of wines, which included some very limited Cabernet Sauvignon releases.

Napa producers such as Heitz Cellars, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Freemark Abbey and M by Michael Mondavi were introduced to the thirsty attendees.

In addition to wine, the Marietta Wine Market offers for sale a distinctive selection of wine glasses, decanters, corkscrews, coasters, cork displays and wine themed items, which will certainly please those wine lovers who are on your Christmas shopping gift list.

On the 21st I had the opportunity to work with Chef Jordan Daniels of Aspen’s Signature Steaks located in The Avenue West Cobb. Themed “Fall into Pinot”, chef’s creative menu of French inspired cuisine truly made the wines sing with harmonious tones of balance and typical pinot elegance.

We enjoyed a Pinot Grigio from Sicily, three Pinot Noirs representing Burgundy and Oregon’s Willamette Valley and a refreshing sparkling Pinot Noir from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Thirty attendees enjoyed the menu and benefitted from chef’s enlightened commentary.

Reception
Barone Montalto, Pinot Grigio, Sicliane, Italia, 2013
~
Beets Two Ways with Pistachio Crusted Chevre, Frisse
Fine Herbs, Citrus Supremes and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Maison L’Envoyee, Savigny les Beaune, 1er Cru, Burgundy, France, 2012
~
Duck Leg Confit, Lentils du Puy, Local Apples, Crispy Panchetta and Spiced Cider Reduction
Panther Creek Cellars, Pinot Noir, Winemaker’s Cuvee, Willamette, Oregon, 2013
~
Porcini Crusted Pettie Filet, Melted Oyster Mushrooms, Sarladaise Fingerling Potatoes, Sauce Bordelaise
Panther Creek Cellars, Pinot Noir, Reserve, Willamette, Oregon, 2012
~
Meyer Lemon Crusted Cake, Fresh Berry Coulis, Lavender Chantilly Crème, Almond Tuile
Michelle Brut Rose of Pinot Noir, Columbia Valley, Washington

A large part of my business life is helping to introduce new wines to the professional trade. On the morning of the 23rd two internationally renowned wineries were tasted and officially launched in the Georgia market.

These highly acclaimed and rare French and Italian producers now have a home in Atlanta. Champagne Charles Heidsieck based in Reims, France was founded in 1851 by Charles Heidsieck. In 1852 he leaves France for the United States and is the first producer to introduce his product to the rapidly expanding U.S. market. He established a great following and was fondly known as “Champagne Charlie”. Today his cuvees are enjoyed by lovers of champagne the world over.

The knowledge and wisdom of Bruno Giacosa, the famous producer in Italy’s Piedmont, is acknowledged by many of the world’s most important wine critics. This third generation producer, although in his 80s, crafts along with his wine making team, limited production wines from the Langhe region known as Barolo and Barbaresco.

Produced from the native Nebbiolo grape, from vineyard to cellar, his goal has been to produce a wine that maintains its identity from vine to bottle. In addition, an inspired white wine called Arncis is a local specialty. Erotic citrus aromas with wet stone minerality.

As I prepare to write my annual letter to Santa, my hope is that one of these wines is discovered under the Christmas tree.

With best wishes to all Cobb Life Magazine readers that the Christmas season is filled with happy moments enlivened by those who are near and dear. I will raise a glass of wine to all with sincere best wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a great wine!

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