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Celebrate daily with wines of all varieties

April 1, 2019

These are some highly regarded chocolatiers in the USA. I was surprised that three were from Vermont. Some of the top-rated are: 1. The Chocolate Garden in Coloma, Mich. (they closed for a hiatus last October; so far, no updates). 2. Linda Grishman Chocolates of Vermont. Grishman hit the big time in 1995 with the invention of the Gay Bar when AP posted her picture, with the chocolate bar, country wide. 3. Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Chicago. Their ruby chocolate is killer, and they have a website and will ship. 4. Fritz Knipschildt in Norwalk, Conn. La Madeline au Truffe is their hook. 5. Francois Payard in New York, definitely worth a look; the guy’s an artist. When he was in the restaurant biz he was awarded “best of” by Wine Spectator for his list. 6. Ah! Some Chocolates in Shavertown, Pa., is just north of Wilkes-Barre near Dallas, Pa., on Route 309. Top-flight product. Chocolatier is Theresa Maria Novak. It is very tough to get info from the net, but their phone is listed. Worth the effort. What prompted the chocolate, you may be wondering? Port was part of son Daniel’s birthday dinner this past Sunday, and Dan enjoys chocolate.

We were able to sample a Dow’s Tawny 10-year-old, a Cockburn’s Special Reserve Porto and Warre’s Vintage 1985. Leading with the best, the 1985 is nearing the end of its window. Perhaps 2021. It is drinking perfectly. There is still some around under $100, McD 92 points. Lovely, dark reddish-purple colored and with enough tannic grip and balance to say it will keep. Licorice and spicy bouquet, with dried fruit on the palate. The alcohol shows on the spicy, floral finish but is not offensive. The Cockburn’s Special Reserve NV is winemaker’s art – a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela and Tinto Cão made by Symington. Aged in oaken barrels, it shows ripe fruit and a hint of brandy aromas, with good tannin support and a tad of white pepper on the palate, 87 McD under $15. Nice introduction to Port wine. The Tawny is a fine, inexpensive dessert wine. I found it interesting that Dow also recommends it as a summer sipper when slightly chilled. So, I placed about 3 ounces in a glass, covered it with wrap and chilled it to about 45 degrees. It was not only quite tasty, it showed as a different wine. The chilling inhibited the nose somewhat and allowed some of the almonds and fruit to show better. The color is like a barrel-aged whiskey amber. Look for cooked apricot, almond and ripe mango nose, medium body, and a long, slightly spicy finish. Dow’s 10-year-old is very consistent and a good value under $28, 89 points McD. This is another wine where the reviewers are all over the place: WS 90, WE 89, Vinum 16.5/20. It won gold at IWC 2018.

Those who enjoy Pinot Grigio at its best should keep their eyes peeled for Peter Zemmer Giatl Pinot Grigio Riserva Alto Adige. So far I can only find this in New York, at Cellar d’Or. For my money, very few produce this level of Pinot Grigio. Although it is a bit pricy compared to many PG, it is worth the price around $42, 91 McD. Zemmer is a man on a mission to raise the reputation of his region. I was able to sample several of his products. The PG La Lot, Pungii Pinot Blanc and Gfrill Muller-Thurgau were well received. I particularly enjoyed the Pungii, 88 points, and if it can be found under $17, add 2 price points. Here’s another Cremant that won’t break the bank: Domaine du Landreau Volage Cremant de Loire NV. Low dosage, 3g/L, used for this methode traditionelle (can’t use champenoise anymore). This sparkler spent three years on lees and another six months after disgorgement before release. Made from 100 percent Cab Franc. The nose is floral with strawberries. The winemaker claims raspberry palate. I thought it was berry but not so defined, lovely yeasty brioche notes all riding a zesty, minerally acidity through a clean finish. The motto for Volage is Quotidie Celebrare!, or Celebrate daily! I’m on board for that.