Italian wines are challenging to really get to know. Different regions have different label conventions…and sometimes I find it difficult to decipher them at all. This wine (picture is on it’s way), isn’t like that. No doubt to attract New World drinkers, Sfida 2003 Rosso offers a simple label that tells you right away what is in the bottle…a blend of Primitivo (60%), Sangiovese (20%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%). I like trying interesting red blends, and at this price ($9 at Stew Leonard’s), I just couldn’t say no.

(This column appeared originally in the 2/4 issue of Dan’s Papers) Don’t Worry About Winery Consolidation HP and Compaq have merged, AT&T recently acquired Cingular Wireless and Verizon is buying WorldCom. Mergers and acquisitions are a part of every day life in the business world. And, no matter how romantic an image it might have, wine is a business. Big business. So, it should come as no shock that the big fish in the wine pond are gulping up smaller fish all the time, including many producers of the wines you see at your local wine shop every day. Fairly…

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Channing Daughters Winery, located in Bridgehampton, is one of the most unique wineries on Long Island. While most around here focus on Bordeaux varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon…Channing Daughters is always trying new things. Think I’m kidding? Sure, they make Merlot, Cab Franc (only in good years though) and a few different Chardonnays…BUT they also make Blaufrankisch, Tocai Friuliano, a Fruilian-style white blend of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco…and grow Dornfelder too. They also try just about every Chardonnay clone you can think of…with some always-interesting results. Truly an artisanal producer, they make extremely small lots, which almost…

Two of my favorite wine bloggers, Beau and Bill, have recently discussed wines that have a "sense of place"…and the "vin nature" movement on their respective blogs. Please check out their posts…I’m not going to rehash them in their entirety. As for my own thoughts…I think that terroir-driven wines are some the most interesting wines you can try. But it’s pretty easy to understand why more producers don’t make them a priority or even a goal. I don’t have any actual research to support this, but I’m guessing that at least 95% (propbably 99% actually) of wine drinkers just don’t…

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I’m a proud Pittsburgher…even if I’ve been in NY for over six years now. And, I always like to see what’s happening in my beloved ‘burgh…but this takes the cake. Have you heard about this 22-pound lobster at Wholey Market in the Strip District section of downtown Pittsburgh? And no, it’s not an area filled with "shaker joints"…it’s right on the river and is filled with markets, restaurants, bars and Wholey Market…a well-known mecca of everything seafood. I don’t eat lobster…but this is a fun story. A lobster over 100 years old…I guess that makes Bubba a crusty crustacean, right?…

Professor Bainbridge has proposed an interesting topic for discussion in the wine-loving blogger community. He’s purchased quite a bit of what he thought was cellar-worthy wine from a winery that uses synthenic corks in all of its wines these days. Recent information says, however, that wines closed with synthetic corks often become oxidized after two or three years. So…does he need to drink these wines before three years? That’s much sooner than he had hoped and planned. Very few Long Island wines are trully cellar worthy beyond five or ten years (at least the ones I’ve had) but I know…

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Jamesport Vineyards is one of the older vineyards on Long Island. In fact, founder Ron Goerler Sr. was the forth person to plant vines here…back in 1981. For years, they provided grapes to other winemakers, but, in 1986, Goerler purhased a 100+ year old barn and converted it into a winery and tasting room. Jamesport Vineyards released its first wines in 1989. Ron Goerler Jr. now runs the show, and in late January he hired Long Island native Leslie "Les" Howard as his new winemaker. Howard started his career 11 years ago as a bottle boy for Pindar Vineyards, spending…

(This column originally appeared in the 2/24 issue of Dan’s Papers) The Wines You Want This WeekendIn a vineyard’s yearly life cycle, winter is probably one of the least exciting on the surface. Often called ‘dormancy’ because, well, the vines are dormant, vineyard workers are busy pruning, tying the vines and preparing the vineyard for the 2005 vintage. But tasting rooms are relatively quiet, making this a great time for serious wine drinkers to visit. Without the swollen summer crowds or pumpkin-pickers, you can taste at a slower pace, chatting with tasting room staff and learning more than you probably…