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Wanda Mann
New York City
I am a native New Yorker with a passion for travel, food & wine, and little black dresses!
Recent Activity
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“Winemaking and filmmaking are two great art forms...in both cases you have to start with top notch raw materials—whether it’s the land or a script.” - Francis Ford Coppola Would you expect wines bearing the name of iconic filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola to be anything less than expressive and superb? I had high expectations when I was invited to taste wines from Coppola Winery's Director's Cut collection and I'm delighted to say they delivered a blockbuster drinking experience. (I apologize for the movie puns sprinkled throughout this article, I couldn't resist!) Coppola Winery has a diverse portfolio of wines but... Continue reading
Posted a moment ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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"If you drink Rapitalà, you are drinking Sicily from a French point of view." Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais, President, Tenuta Rapitalà Charmingly referring to himself as the "first blend" produced by his Sicilian mother and French father, third-generation winemaker Laurent Bernard de la Gatinais of Tenuta Rapitalà is a serious wine producer with an endearing sense of humor. One of Sicily's most important wineries, Tenuta Rapitalà is truly a marriage of cultures. In 1968 French-born Count Hugues Bernard de la Gatinais married Gigi Guarrasi from Palermo - Laurent likes to say that his mother imported his father to Sicily!... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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"It is my absolute pleasure to introduce these outstanding grape varieties to the world. The wines that we are making have incredible, strong personalities and sing songs of our history." - Ardıç Gürsel, founder of Vinkara The names Kalecik Karasi, Narince, and Öküzgözü are tongue twisters for those of us who don't speak Turkish, but the delicious wines that Vinkara produces from these indigenous grapes are an absolute delight to sip. When Ardıç Gürsel founded Vinkara in 2003, even other Turkish winemakers questioned her determination to make wines from local grapes instead of focusing on internationally known varietals like Cabernet... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Sangiovese has to be elegant. That's the identity of Sangiovese." - Francesco Mazzei One day I may write a novel about a charming and impeccably dressed Tuscan gentleman who travels the world sharing his family's wonderful wines. Readers of that novel won't be wrong in thinking that the protagonist is inspired by Francesco Mazzei, estate owner of Castello di Fonterutoli in Castellina in Chianti. One of Tuscany's most ancient vineyard sites, vines were already planted at Castello di Fonterutoli when the Mazzei family inherited the estate in 1435. The family has been producing wine at this historic property in the... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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From Mendoza to Tuscany, Napa to Rioja; there is a name that regularly rolls off the palates of many winemakers that I admire: Michel Rolland. Even The New York Times referred to Rolland as the world's most famous wine consultant. Observing that Rolland had collaborated in the creation of many wines that I enjoyed, I became increasingly intrigued and hoped that one day our paths would cross. Would I ever meet this French gentleman who had played such an important role in the production of wine around the world? Well, it seems that Bacchus, the god of wine, intervened on... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Pinot Grigio has become the default white wine for many drinkers but the category has become saturated with lackluster wines that are completely devoid of personality. Basta! Pinot Grigio doesn't have to be boring and we don't have to settle for wine that basically tastes like water with a dash of alcohol. Every so often I encounter a Pinot Grigio that displays real flavor and finesse and Tommasi Le Rosse ($17) is one that beautifully showcases the expressive nature of this varietal. A medium-bodied white wine, Le Rosse is crisp and clean with lively tropical flavors and it has a... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Ah, there's something about seeing bubbles dancing in a wine glass that puts a smile on even the most stoic of faces. While Champagne may have set the standard for sparkling wines, there are many others that deliver the joy of Champagne at a fraction of the price. Since 1851, Bouvet-Ladubay, in the Loire Valley, has been one of France’s greatest producers of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine. In France, you'll find Bouvet-Ladubay being poured at glamorous events such as the Cannes Film Festival. Pick up a bottle of elegant yet affordable Bouvet-Ladubay Signature Brut or Excellence Brut Rosé to add... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Should someone offer you a glass of Albariño from Rias Baixas; say sí and give that person a kiss because they clearly have great taste in wine. Vibrant and expressive, the Albariño grape is indigenous to the Rias Baixas region of Galicia in northwest Spain. Galicia is often known as "Green Spain" because of its verdant coastal landscape and Rias Baixas means "Lower Rias" in the Galician language. image courtesy of Rias Baixas wines image courtesy of Rias Baixas wines Local legend poetically proclaims that the four estuaries located on the southwestern coast that form the Rias Baixas are the... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Cristina Forner, president of Marqués de Cáceres image courtesy of Marqués de Cáceres Elegant and gracious, Cristina Forner, president of Marqués de Cáceres wines, has a regal but warm presence. Affectionately called La Marquesa, Cristina technically does not hold a title but she is certainly wine royalty - her family has been in the wine trade in Spain for five generations. In 1970, her father Enrique Forner took their family legacy to the next level when he founded Marqués de Cáceres in Rioja. The winery's impressive name was given by a family friend who held this title which was granted... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Who says sweet wines aren't sophisticated? Sauternes is in a class all by itself. Hailing from France's Bordeaux region, Sauternes is a luxurious old world white wine produced from grapes that have been affected by Noble Rot (Botrytis Cinerea); a fungus that decreases the water content of grapes but concentrates their complex sugary goodness. If you're not familiar with Sauternes, Château Climens is an exquisite introduction. Bérénice Lurton has been at the helm of Château Climens since 1992. She describes producing Sauternes as being similar to dance - it may appear effortless but at the highest level it is extremely... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Truth be told, grapes are my greatest passion. After so many years, I've learned that every decision you make in the vineyard can affect the quality and flavor of the grapes. So I craft my grapes, using meticulous farming techniques. In the end, it's a difference you can taste in your glass." - Tom Gore I've decided to nickname California winemaker Tom Gore the grape whisperer. A second-generation grape farmer from Sonoma County, Tom started working among the vineyards and tending vines at the tender age of 7. For more than 20 years, Tom grew grapes and managed vineyards for... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Domaine Bousquet Without realizing it, I seem to have embarked on a one-woman mission to sample every wine produced in Mendoza, Argentina. So when I was invited to sample Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($12.99), I said por favor in a New York minute. Argentina's leader in organic wines, Domaine Bousquet was founded in 1990 by the Bousquet family from the city of Carcassonne in southern France. The family has a long tradition of winemaking in France and their winery in Mendoza melds techniques from both cultures. Silky and medium-bodied, Domaine Bousquet Cabernet Sauvignon is elegant but... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Cava Spiliadis One of wine's most ethereal qualities is its ability to transport us to new places through our sense of taste. Greece remains on my travel wish list but I've been quite intrigued by the quality of Greek wines that are increasingly available in the United States. Sipping wine in New York City with second-generation winemaker Evripidis Katsaros of Domaine Katsaros, I was transported to Greece for a few hours. It also became abundantly clear that Greek winemakers have the talent and drive to shatter any preconceived notions that consumers may have about their wines. Two... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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At Nino Negri's sky-high vineyards, the hand harvested grapes are transported to the winery via helicopter. (image courtesy of Frederick Wildman) Drinking wine is easy and one of life's greatest pleasures. However, producing wine is often arduous and down-and-dirty work. In the case of Nino Negri, you can also describe winemaking as daredevilish and high-flying - their incredibly steep vineyards in Valtellina soar at elevations of 2,400 to 3,000 feet. Italy's largest terraced area of viticulture, Nino Negri's nearly vertical vineyards rule out the use of any mechanical equipment and once the grapes are harvested by hand, they are transported... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Mixologist extraordinaire and Cognac educator Franky Marshall kicked off the evening with delicious Cognac & Champagne cocktails. One of my favorite literature teachers in high school used to jokingly offer a snifter of his finest Cognac to the student who made a particularly clever observation. His humor may have been wasted on soda-swilling teenagers, but many years later I am starting to understand his passion for Cognac. I was recently invited to learn more about this iconic French spirit at an amazing evening hosted by award-winning mixologist and certified Cognac educator Franky Marshall at Balvanera restaurant in New York City.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Just call me The Girl with the Riesling Tattoo! Yours truly with Etienne Hugel of Famille Hugel wines and a bold but temporary tattoo! Winemakers have serenaded me, flirted with me, and even exasperated me but exuberant Etienne Hugel is the only one to ever tattoo me! To my great relief, the bold RIESLING tattoo was only temporary but the wines of Famille Hugel certainly left their mark - in the very best way. Famille Hugel has been producing wines in Alsace since 1639 but their wines and attitude are far from old-fashioned and stodgy. Jean-Frédéric and Etienne Hugel I... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Emiliana winemaker Noelia Orts proudly poses with a bottle of her Coyam wine. If the organic winemaking movement were to elect an official spokesperson, I predict that the talented and charismatic Noelia Orts would win by a landslide. A native of Spain, 36 year-old Noelia leads the winemaking team at the single largest source of estate-grown organic wines in the world - Emiliana Organic Vineyards in Chile. When asked why wine should be produced organically, Noelia replies with a smile, "Why not?" Her deceptively simple response actually raises some very important issues. Ideally, wouldn't we all prefer to sip wines... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Wine in her glass and a song in her heart - José Rallo of Sicilian winery Donnafugata. When you sit down to share a glass of wine with José Rallo of Donnafugata, prepare to be serenaded and swept away on a sultry Sicilian adventure. José's parents founded Donnafugata in 1983 from the family's historic cellars and today she travels the world as the winery's communications manager. A talented vocalist, José has melded her passions for wine & music together and has hosted and performed at Donnafugata Music & Wine events at prestigious venues - including the legendary Blue Note in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Chef Gabriele Bagni has opened a new restaurant in Tuscany in the town of Arezzo. La Locanda del Convento showcases classic Tuscan cuisine with subtle Italian-American influences. New York City has no shortage of talented chefs but there was something truly special about Gabriele Bagni. Several years ago, his Upper East Side restaurant, Leonardo Da Vinci Ristorante & Wine Bar, became an unofficial headquarters for me and my eclectic group of friends. Every person that I took there fell in love with Chef Bagni's exquisite Tuscan cuisine and his warm personality. For me, it was the perfect restaurant - it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"People forget that Champagne is a wine. It's not just a toast." - Alice Loubaton, wine importer Ah, Champagne. Is any other wine so universally loved yet still a bit of a mystery? Alice Loubaton imports Champagne and other French wines via her company Loubaton Imports and wants us to remember that Champagne is more than just the perfect toast - it is a wine that pairs beautifully with food. Alice should know - before starting Loubaton Imports in 2013, Alice spent 33 years at Sopexa directing marketing campaigns for France's wine regions. She was even honored with the prestigious... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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The vineyards at Stoller Family Estate image credit: Mike Haverkate Not only is Oregon one of the premier winemaking destinations in the United States, the wines have earned global acclaim in recognition of their exceptional quality. Stoller Family Estate is a name that you're bound to see on any list of excellent wines from Oregon. The largest contiguous vineyard in Oregon’s Dundee Hills, Bill Stoller founded the vineyard in 1993 on property that has been in his family since 1943. Stoller wines are produced from 100% estate grown fruit and their sustainably built and environmentally friendly winery was the first... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Winemaker Lorenzo Magnelli pours his award-winning Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2010 at the Tre Bicchieri tasting sponsored by Gambero Rosso. Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy's most revered wines but dynamic winemaker Lorenzo Magnelli of Le Chiuse reminded me not to be intimidated - like all wines, Brunello is meant to be enjoyed. Lorenzo is the ideal person to unravel the mystique of this red wine from southern Tuscany - he is the great-great grandson of Ferruccio Biondi-Santi who is credited with creating Brunello di Montalcino in 1888. The present day Le Chiuse vineyards are part of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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On a freezing day in Manhattan, I felt the warm Sicilian sun thanks to the wonderful wines of Maggiovini. Wines from Sicily may be less familiar to consumers than Italian vinos from Tuscany or Piedmont but the region is steadily gaining acclaim thanks to talented winemakers like Massimo Maggio. Winemaker Massimo Maggio The Maggiovini portfolio includes wonderful expressions of international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir but I found the indigenous Sicilian grapes, such as Catarratto and Nero d'Avola, especially captivating. Pinot Grigio's tight grip on consumers is hard to break but I nominate Catarratto as a worthy successor... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"We never made wine in order to receive good reviews, but to express the best that our land can give. It was a choice that rewarded us, over time." - Chiara Abbona There are certain wines that have attained a near mythical status for aficionados and for many, Barolo is the Holy Grail. Produced from 100% Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont region of Italy, Barolo is celebrated for its long aging potential, complexity, and elegance. Widely regarded as the king of Italian wines, Barolo is a serious vino and Marziano Abbona has distinguished itself as one of the region's finest... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Whether you adore Valentine's Day (February 14) or just wish Cupid would fly into oblivion, a delicious glass of sparkling Rosé is a perfect match for the occasion. Here are three of my favorite pretty-in-pink sparkling wines from Spain, France, and Italy - three countries known for romance and great wine! Vilarnau Brut Rosado Cava ($18) A sip of this lovely bubbly transported me back to Barcelona and sweet memories of a certain handsome young Spanish man. A delicious blend of Trepat (90%) with a dash of Pinot Noir (10%), Vilarnau Brut Rosado Cava is fresh and crisp with harmonious... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler