The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019









Two featured wine personalities from this year’s Cellar Notes discuss their backgrounds, experiences with Wine Week and how Old World tradition and New World innovation converge to create today’s world of wine.
Serge Dore, owner of Serge Dore Selections in Chappaqua, N.Y.
How were you first introduced to the wine industry?
Growing up, my mother was a chef and used to own a small inn in Quebec. I was waiting tables when I was 7 years old.
What about the wine industry appealed to you?
We should sit down and talk about this over lunch, because that is a long and beautiful story. Food and wine is the only way you get people all together. When you sit down, it’s family, it’s friends, it’s people around the table and to cheers all of that, you use wine. And wine is all around you … because it is the only living product that you can put your hands on. It changes. The wine is not the same in the bottle after time. When you talk about a cellar...why do you cellar the wine? It’s like having a child. It grows up. It’s something to get passion about. It changes every day. Every bottle you open is different.
You’re one of the featured guests for this year’s Cellar Notes 2016: Old World vs. New World Cabernet & Merlot. What do you see as your role or place in the worlds of wine?
I’m trying to use the experience that I have to find the best product I have to deliver to the consumer. I try to bring wine that has authenticity and character. The wine is as good as the land it comes from. If you don’t have good land you’ll never be able to produce a good wine. Wine is very basic; it’s one of the oldest products you have on the planet. We make it sometimes very complicated. 
What defines or separates the Old World wine from New World wine?
Old World wine … [it] means using tradition and terroir. The New World wine is science or technology and the winemaker, if you’re looking to define both of them. Tradition is the way of making wine. … Use what you have from the tradition and apply the science or technology that goes with. You need all of it. To make wines today, you need all of it anyway.
What is your favorite varietal and why?
It depends on the moment where you are, the occasion. Have you ever been to Europe? If you come back over here and try to find the same wine, you buy and open the bottle and 99 percent chance it’s not the same. Why? You’re not on vacation anymore.
Are there certain processes or techniques in terms of winemaking you see as essential to produce the best quality?
Age of the vine is the most important. And of course ... the soil they are in makes a difference.
How about a recent innovation that has impressed or surprised you?
It’s biodynamics … that is the balance of the planet and people are working with it. Soil that has been polluted by chemicals … some people are trying to revive those soils. You have some people that believe in it and some people that don’t. You suffer a little bit [at first] but after that it’s like, whoa. 
What has your experience been participating in New Hampshire Wine Week?
I see how the consumer changed. One way to gauge that [is] ... I see a lot of people coming back and the way they talk about the wine is different. I see in the restaurants that ... wine lists have changed a lot. So all the pieces [come] together. I have friends from New York that go and vacation every summer to New Hampshire and this year they sent me a text telling me the choice of wine they had in New Hampshire was incredible.
Maria Helm Sinskey, co-owner and culinary director at Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa, Calif.
How were you first introduced to the wine industry?
Through marriage, actually. I got into the wine industry when I married my husband. 
What about the wine industry appealed to you?
First of all, you can never stop learning. ... You’re continually changing, you’re working with nature. ... You can only make wine once a year so it’s finite and determined by what you grow and that I find very intoxicating, that you’re taking what nature gives you once a year and making it into something. It is high stakes.
You’re one of the featured guests for this year’s Cellar Notes 2016: Old World vs. New World Cabernet & Merlot. What do you see as your role or place in the worlds of wine?
This is going to be such a meaty panel discussion for me because I have an Old World palate. My husband has an Old World palate. So when people look at Napa wines they’re looking for big blockbuster cabs and merlots … [and] we are the exact opposite of it. … We farm biodynamic and organic because we wanted to make the wine in the vineyard. … We really wanted to let the land speak versus the winemaker’s hand. The philosophy is grow it well and don’t mess it up in the cellar. So it’s all about being hands off.
What defines or separates the Old World wine from New World wine?
In Europe you’re not allowed to add acid to wine unless you have a special pardon … but you can add sugar. So they’re very much governed by rules in Europe. In the U.S. you can add acid, but you can’t add sugar. You can add, blend, add rectified grape must [thick syrup]. ... We can definitely manipulate and have the desire more again because of the science in the U.S. We’re more freethinking in that way, whereas in the Old World they will manipulate to the extent they can, but many times their hands are tied by regulations. And we’re not rooted in history. We’re not rooted in the agrarian culture of the Old World where grapes were grown where they can grow. In the Old World it was more learned from the father and not science, so there was a history of doing it the way your father did and that works only for so long and now they’re getting more into the science of winemaking, which has advanced so quickly in the Old World. 
What technology or innovation do you think has improved or built upon old wine tradition?
If you use science and keep the cellar clean, test your wine for bacterial contamination. … You need to have science in winemaking but don’t have to use science to make wine. It shouldn’t be the end all, and so when people talk about ‘I like European wine because they’re slightly funky or not perfect,’ our New World wines are defined usually by their cleanliness. They’re just very clean, and that’s a sweeping generalization. They don’t have some of the characteristics from some of the small producers from the Old World.
What aspect of old wine tradition do you see as most essential or most appealing to you?
When I say Old World palate, it’s really about what goes with food. When I say Old World, I think of wines that are higher acid, lower alcohol, and these are the wines that appeal to me mostly because they are food friendly. 
Do you have specific topics or anecdotes you plan to share during the Cellar Notes discussion?
I really hope we can dispel some of the myths between the Old World and New World. ... Some people think New World are better than Old World [or vice versa] … but you can find terrible on both sides. So, there is a lot of misinformation about wines and maybe we can clear some of this up. 
What is your favorite varietal of wine and why?
Pinot noir, because pinot noir is hard to grow, hard to make. If you mistreat it it will kick you. It’s thin skinned and prone to mold and mildew, but if you let it be and let it speak it can be the most beautiful and elegant wine in the world.
What has your experience been participating in New Hampshire Wine Week?
It’s been really fun. ... I feel like the state of New Hampshire really wants to please the people so they have such a huge variety of wine. It’s so funny because my family lives in New Hampshire, my parents and two of my brothers, they relocated there, and I get to see them. But I’m like, why am I going to New Hampshire in the dead of winter? It’s smart because no one is doing a wine festival then. It’s the perfect time to capture winemakers and vintners because we’re kind of just waiting for bottling.
More wine on the coast
Can’t get enough wine? The 12th annual Winter Wine Festival hosted by Wentworth by the Sea (588 Wentworth Road, New Castle) takes place this year from Friday, Jan. 22, to Sunday, Feb. 21, featuring special dinners, tastings, wine luminaries and more. The festival is priced per event, so visit for full details.
Big Tastings Friday, Jan. 22, and Friday, Feb. 12, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom. Enjoy an array of wine stations, passed hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. SALT Kitchen & Bar staff will prepare Mediterranean-influenced cuisine. Tickets cost $49.95 per person.
Grand Vintner’s Dinners from 6 to 10 p.m. The event begins with a meet and greet wine reception and passed hors d’oeuvres followed by a four-course dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $104.95 per person. Saturday, Jan. 23, featuring Ferrari Carano Winery ambassador Cathy Harrison. Saturday, Jan. 30, featuring John Anthony Family of Wines with winemaker Geoff Whitman. Saturday, Feb. 6, featuring Kendall-Jackson Family Wines with winemaker Randy Ullom. Saturday, Feb. 13, featuring Domaine Chandon and Newton Vineyard with winery ambassador Megan Libby. Saturday, Feb. 20, featuring Esporão with winery ambassador Pedro Viero.
Bubbles & Jazz Brunches Hosted in the Grand Ballroom from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with ice sculptures, raw bars, chef stations, pastries, music and more. Tickets cost $49.95 each. Sunday, Jan. 24, featured wine is Poema Cava. Sunday, Jan. 31, featured wine is Maschio Prosecco. Sunday, Feb. 7, featured wine is  Sophia Sparkling. Sunday, Feb. 14, and Feb. 21, featured wine is Domaine Chandon.
Flight Nights Every Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. in SALT Lounge. Each evening’s featured flight will range in price from $10 to $16. Ask any questions to the winery representative on hand. No tickets required; drop-ins welcome.
Shell Shocked: An Oyster and Wine Celebration Fridays, Jan. 29 and Feb. 19, from 5 to 10 p.m. Spend the evening indulging oysters served raw on the half shell, grilled, roasted and more, paired with wines. No tickets required; drop-ins welcome.
More than meets the eye
Executive Chef Peter Agostinelli’s insight and inspiration for pairing food with wine
Once again the Bedford Village Inn will be hosting events during New Hampshire Wine Week. In addition to a traditional wine dinner with Andrea Cecchi of Cecchi Wines in Chianti, Italy, BVI Executive Chef Peter Agostinelli will mix it up with a meet and greet and wine flight pairing with Wendy Lange of Lange Estate Winery and Vineyard in Dundee, Oregon.
“What we want to do is try something a little different,” Agostinelli said. 
The Lange wines will be paired with either small plates or composed dishes, served in a more social and casual setting. 
“During Wine Week … if you’re going to plan on two to three dinners doing the same thing, you want to do something different,” he said. “I love wine, but the last thing I would want to do is three wine dinners in one week.”
When it comes to pairing a specific selection of wine with a dinner, Agostinelli said his planning process always starts with researching flavor profiles.
“Then you kind of figure out what order you’re going to pair the wines with,” he said. “Once you have that determined ... I have notes written down, and then we’ll start tasting them. [I] pick out one or two core flavors and design a dish around that.”
Wine Week dinners are particularly challenging to pair for, given the lack of readily available local products.
“No one wants to eat a big heirloom tomato salad this time of year, even if it goes well with a pinot noir,” he said, so instead he’ll utilize the flavors, but in a different format.
His biggest piece of advice for those dipping their toes into food and wine pairings is not to get hung up on the traditional guidelines, like no red wine with fish. 
“I kind of threw that all out the window a long time ago,” he said. 
Not a big white wine drinker but a big fish eater, Agostinelli learned to pair lighter reds and pinot noir with salmon or tuna.
“It’s what you like,” he said. “If you taste it and the food and the wine taste good … who’s anyone to tell you it’s not right?” 

Find your favorite wine
Experts and events to help you discover your perfect pour

By Allie Ginwala

From five wine personalities at the first Winter Wine Spectacular to more than 60 attending this year, New Hampshire Wine Week has become one of the state’s — and the region’s — premier wine events. 
The 11th annual New Hampshire Wine Week will be held from Monday, Jan. 25, to Sunday, Jan. 31. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from the week’s bottle signings, tastings, wine dinners and Winter Wine Spectacular,  plus Cellar Notes, which highlights this year’s theme: Old World wine vs. New World wine. 
Cellar Notes: The old & the new
Nicole Brassard Jordan, director of marketing, merchandising and warehousing for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, keeps an eye on what varietals are trending with consumers at tastings throughout the year to see what they’d like to know more about. From that, she was inspired to develop this year’s theme.
“Consumers maybe not understanding the difference between Old World and New World and what kind of palate they have is something I wanted to bring to light,” she said.
Cellar Notes 2016: Old World versus New World Cabernet & Merlot will be held at the Puritan Conference & Event Center on Wednesday, Jan. 27, the night before the Winter Wine Spectacular. The seminar-style discussion and tasting is limited to 75 guests who will hear from five wine experts who represent both the New World and Old World of wine. 
“It’s very intimate in terms of the interaction with the winemakers,” Christine Pederson, director of events and corporate relations for Easter Seals, said in a phone interview. “When we get into the panel discussion all five personalities are on stage with a microphone and guests get to ask questions. They’re sharing their passion with the guests.”
Serge Dore, owner of Serge Dore Selections, and Antonio Zaccheo Jr., owner and winemaker for Carpineto Grandi Vini di Toscana, represent the Old World, while Maria Helm Sinskey, co-owner and culinary director of Robert Sinskey Winery, Laura Sorge, winemaker of Columbia Crest, and Joseph Spellman, master sommelier of Justin Vineyard and Winery, will represent the New World. 
“I think it’s an enlightening experience for consumers to hear from five really great professionals … as to, ‘Wow, there really is something to New World versus Old World and here’s the difference and here’s what I prefer,’” Jordan said.
“What’s great about this is there’s a cocktail hour where people are rubbing elbows with these wine [personalities],” Pederson added. 
Winter Wine Spectacular: 
Two rooms of wine
Predating New Hampshire Wine Week as a whole, the Winter Wine Spectacular returns to the Radisson Hotel in Manchester on Thursday, Jan. 28, for its 13th year, featuring over 1,500 wines to sample, plus hors d’oeuvres and appetizers from 25 local restaurants.
The grand tasting, held in the ballroom and armory of the Radisson, gives access to 170 wine and food tables, “great for people who want to explore all different wines,” Pederson said. “We have sommeliers, mead makers, owners of the vineyards, it’s just wonderful to see that we have all of these people in the industry come to New Hampshire.”
Lamberto Frescobaldi, vice president of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi in Tuscany, Italy, is one of the notable returnees this year. He particularly appreciates the atmosphere of the Winter Wine Spectacular and that those who attend are genuinely interested in the stories behind the bottles. 
 “You [can talk] about where the wine was made and where you come from,” he said in a phone interview. “I have to say that people really care about you and want to know more about you as a person, and that is a good feeling.”
While many professionals from across the country and beyond make their way to New Hampshire, others represent local wineries, like Lewis Eaton, owner and winemaker at Sweet Baby Vineyard in Hampstead. 
“One of the big reasons we do it is to reach out to the New Hampshire people,” Eaton said in a phone interview. “I will be pouring and talking the whole time, and that’s what I like doing. I get to interact with everybody.”
The Winter Wine Spectacular provides exposure to an array of wines that vary in price from $10 to high-end bottles, though most will be in the $30 to $40 range.
Eaton recalls the first time Sweet Baby Vineyard participated in the Winter Wine Spectacular three years ago and how surprised he was by the scale of the event.
“I was blown away by the attendance,” he said. “It is huge; there are hundreds of tables.”
Pederson said many first-timers are as surprised as Eaton was. 
“We like to watch the eyes pop out,” Pederson said. “I love watching first-time attendees. They cannot believe how many wine and food tables there are.” 
Jordan also enjoys chatting with the guests and taking stock of the crowd.
“It’s really old and new,” she said. “You have a lot of people that have been multiple years, but you have a lot of people that are newbies that come out just to check it out because word of mouth has gotten out.”
For those interested in a more private and high-end tasting experience, the Bellman’s Cellar Select gives 200 guests access to wines that range from $30 up to $400 a bottle. 
“It really caters to both those who tend to purchase or those who really want to try wines that are that expensive,” Pederson said. “And the goal as a whole is to help people explore and immerse themselves in the craft of winemaking.”
Those with tickets to the Bellman’s Cellar Select have full access for the evening, so they can go between the very active grand tasting room and the Cellar Select with high-end wines to sample, along with food from six local restaurants.
Selecting sips
With all of the wines ready to sample at the Winter Wine Spectacular, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But the beauty of a wine tasting, Pederson said, is you’re not in a store committing to an entire bottle without knowing how it tastes. 
Instead of going in determined to sip only from your favorite vineyards, try one you’ve never experienced before. 
“I always encourage people to taste outside their comfort zone, because [otherwise] you’re never going to expand your palate and understand the world of wine and what it has to offer,” Jordan said. “And the world of wine has a lot to offer.”
Jordan recommends walking into the grand tasting with a plan in mind.
“When you’re talking about hundreds of wines … you do get palate fatigue,” Jordan said. “ And for those who aren’t professionals, constantly changing varietals can be difficult.” 
You could set a goal of trying different varietals from one county, or map out options from whites into reds. 
“Or you pick varietals like the Old World versus New World and you say, ‘Well I’m going to try cabernet tonight, that’s all I’m going to taste,’” she said. “And say, ‘Let’s just see what we figure out,’ because there is going to be a huge difference between where you’re tasting it from.” 
While it doesn’t have a direct presence in the grand tasting, the Old World wine and New World wine theme could be used to guide tastings throughout the Winter Wine Spectacular or even the entire week.
“I think a lot of consumers will say, OK,what does this mean? What does this mean for me and how should I determine what I’m going to be tasting at the Winter Wine Spectacular to experience both and understand the difference?’” Jordan said.
Seek out wines that suit your palate by chatting with the winemakers, owners and representatives to learn where they are on the scale of Old World to New World.
Eaton, for example, said Sweet Baby Vineyard follows an Old World tradition but incorporates some New World style too. 
“I think we’re Old World style where we don’t manipulate the grape or fruit too much; we’re pretty much an all natural process,” he said. “We do [use] a bit of a scientific approach ... because we definitely want to create consistency as well.”
Frescobaldi called himself a “little bit of a strange animal” given his background in northern California and with Mondavi Winery leaning toward a New World approach while he has respect for Old World tradition.
“I think that now I am somewhat in between,” he said. “I think there is no tradition without innovation, because if you are not innovative with tradition ... one day ... you’re going to be writing a book or going to Rhode Island and see the lovely Great Gatsby homes and look at them like museums.”
New Hampshire wine culture
Has Wine Week impacted the wine culture for consumers in the state? More than they may realize, Jordan suspects.
“When you get access to people that are in the field and you learn from them directly every year … our consumers have that front line experience with these people,” she said. “And it’s not only the visits during Wine Week — they come throughout the year. People have expanded their knowledge and it just keeps growing and growing from there.”
Another mark of New Hampshire’s progress as a destination for both wine professionals and consumers is the wine personalities that make the trek to the Granite State each January. Frescobaldi came to Wine Week for the first time several years ago during a snowstorm in which he had to rent a car and drive from New York instead of flying.
“And to be honest, I had no idea what it was,” he said. “I was very much interested in seeing this, for me, new market.”
After barely making it in time for the night’s wine dinner, Frescobaldi said, he was happy to see the energy and interest in wine from those who attend the week’s events. 
“When I got there it really made me feel good about all the driving I did,” he said.
In the years since, he has noticed an increase in local consumers’ wine experiences. 
“People are interested in getting to know more, new stories and different stories and differences,” he said. “People are becoming much more knowledgeable and sophisticated, but sophisticated in the terms of … getting to know more about the wine itself.” 

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