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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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You won't find the king of the jungle roaming the vineyards of Napa Valley but the mighty lion provides powerful inspiration for the wines of The Hess Collection. The lion has been the emblem of the Hess Family for nine generations and has come to symbolize their majestic winery home in the highest peaks of Napa Valley in Mount Veeder. The Hess Collection was founded by Swiss entrepreneur and art collector Donald Hess more than a quarter century ago and the next generation of the family is successfully realizing his vision of creating world-class wines from this rugged California terrain.... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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Hold on to the feeling of sunny summer days with refreshing, crisp, and juicy Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas 2014 Limited Release ($15). The Albariño grape achieves its greatest expression in the Rias Baixas region of Galicia in northwest Spain and Vionta is an excellent example of this wine's many charms. Named after Isla Vionta, an island and protected seabird sanctuary in the Atlantic off the coast of Rias Baixas, Vionta is a joyful wine with lively flavors of peach, citrus, and green apple that are balanced by lip-smacking steely minerality and energetic acidity. Medium-bodied with a lingering finish, the coastal... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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As summer languidly transitions to autumn, I've been having quite the love affair with Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley. Elegant and supple, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is the perfect bridge between chilled rosés and hearty reds. Here are three of my favorites from the region - give them a swirl! Résonance Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013 ($65) is acclaimed French winemaker Louis Jadot's first project outside of France and this sophisticated Pinot Noir beautifully expresses the finesse of Burgundy and the unique terroir of the Willamette Valley. Silky and exquisitely structured, lovely cherry and blackberry flavors are balanced by a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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This summer my palate has been on an adventure to discover Pinot Grigio that isn't bland, boring, and blah! Mission accomplished - I've been absolutely delighted with a few lovely wines that prove that Pinot Grigio, in the hands of talented and committed winemakers, can elegantly display flavor and finesse. One vino that I really enjoyed is Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio 2015 ($14.99); it is the antithesis of mediocre & mass-produced Pinot Grigio. Luna Nuda means "naked moon" and is an ode to the mystical energy of the moon's influence on the vineyards. Produced by the 4th generation Giovanett family... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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I have yet to set foot on Sicilian soil but my taste buds have traveled there courtesy of Donnafugata wines. One of Sicily's most respected wineries and celebrated throughout Italy, Donnafugata was founded in 1983 by the Rallo family - a visionary family with 160 years of experience in producing premium wines. The patriarch of the family, Giacomo Rallo, passed away just a few months ago; but his wife Gabriella, son Antonio, and daughter José are carrying on the Donnafugata legacy. Siblings Antonio (winemaker) and José (communications manager) are carrying on the Rallo family's Donnafugata legacy. image courtesy of Donnafugata... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Add some ooh la la to your weekend with lovely wines from Maison Louis Jadot. Founded in 1859, Jadot is one of the most respected wine producers in France's celebrated Burgundy region. Their portfolio is quite exceptional but you don't have to spend a fortune for the Jadot experience. Here are two less expensive, but still elegant, Jadot wines that are perfect for casual but chic wining & dining! Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay 2014 ($14.99) Such a pretty Chardonnay! Unoaked, the beauty and honest flavor of the grape shines through in every sip. Vivacious and refreshing with expressive flavors of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Nothing gets the party started like the sound of a cork popping but only a lucky few have budgets that can support Champagne for every occasion! When you want the festive drama of Champagne without breaking the bank, Prosecco is a delicious option. Italy's most famous sparkling wine, Prosecco is made from the Glera grape and pairs beautifully with more casual celebrations. From weekend brunch to pool parties, here are two Prosecco suggestions that will get your party popping. Tommasi Prosecco Tenuta Filodora DOC ($18) This is not your average Prosecco. Produced from 100% Glera grapes that are grown on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Craggy Range chief winemaker Matt Stafford says "Pinot Noir is hard to tame." Their wonderful wines prove that this labor of love is worth the effort. Exuberant and easy-going Sauvignon Blanc may have been New Zealand's calling card to wine drinkers around the world, but don't ignore their superb Pinot Noir - it may be the country's biggest surprise of all. I've enjoyed a few Pinot Noirs from New Zealand this year and the name Craggy Range kept popping up in conversations as one that I must try. Well, I finally had the chance to give Craggy Range a swirl... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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I don't think it's my imagination - my friends are being a little bit nicer to me since I surprised them with this spectacular bottle of Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé Champagne 2008 ($69.99). What a beautiful wine - a week has passed and I'm still thinking about it! Delicate but substantial, precise but graceful; this sparkling rosé is the embodiment of balance. A gorgeous shade of vivid pink, this blend of Pinot Noir (46% - of which 20% is red wine), Chardonnay (32%), and Meunier (22%) elegantly expresses Chief Winemaker Benoit Gouez’s personal interpretation of this vintage year.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini travels the globe sharing his passion for his family's wines. image courtesy of Melinda McCoy Wine is a delicious gateway to learning more about a culture and I recently received a refreshing lesson about the Italian holiday of Ferragosto courtesy of Barone Fini wines. Celebrated annually throughout Italy on August 15th, Ferragosto has its roots in the church but it is a time for all Italians to gather together for food, fun, fireworks, and wine! Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini, president of Barone Fini, may love Ferragosto even more than most Italians because it is also his birthday - Tanti Auguri,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"I like on the table, when we're speaking, the light of a bottle of intelligent wine." - Pablo Neruda From the brilliant poetry of Pablo Neruda to images of its stunning landscape and coastline, the South American nation of Chile has long intrigued me. As an adult, I can now add Chilean wines to my list of pleasures and Concha y Toro is a producer that always impresses me with their diverse selection of well-crafted wines. Their Gran Reserva Serie Riberas (Riverbank Series) is a family of single-vineyard wines in which the grapes are grown in close proximity to one... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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David Wilkinson - Head Distiller for Edinburgh Gin Ever since a bad experience with some dodgy gin in my college years; I've approached this spirit with tremendous caution. But the charm and expertise of David Wilkinson, head distiller for Edinburgh Gin, persuaded me to give gin another chance. David was recently spreading the gin gospel across the United States on an educational tasting tour sponsored by Frederick Wildman & Sons Importers. I caught up with the tour on the Williamsburg, Brooklyn stop at Belle Shoals. The lone media attendee, I was surrounded by a rapt group of NYC area bartenders... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of the German Wine Institute School may be out for the summer but let's take a pop quiz! No need for test anxiety, pour yourself a glass of German Riesling and ponder the question below. What is Riesling? A. a crisp and refreshing dry white wine B. a kind of sweet white wine C: a very sweet & rich white wine D. A really delicious and food-friendly white wine E. all of the above The correct answer is all of the above! The beauty of Riesling is its amazing ability to express itself in so many different styles.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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All summer long I've been happily sipping evidence that delicious French wines don't have to cost a small fortune. In support of my argument, I present three wonderful and affordable wines produced by respected winemaker E.Guigal from the Rhône Valley in the south of France. Founded in 1946 by Etienne Guigal, today Etienne's grandson Philippe is the winemaker. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2014 ($15) Juicy, rich, and crisp; this white wine is an elegant thirst-quencher. A blend of Viognier (65%), Roussanne (15%), Marsanne (10%), Clairette (8%) and Bourboulenc (2%); this aromatic sip has lovely flavors of peach, honeysuckle, green... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Anita Ekberg frolics in the Trevi Fountain in the classic film La Dolce Vita. Blame it on the heat - I keep daydreaming about cooling down with a daring plunge into Rome's legendary Trevi Fountain a la Anita Ekberg in Fellini's La Dolce Vita. Alas, I'm in New York but I can beat the heat Roman style with a refreshing glass of Frascati from Fontana Candida. An ancient wine born in the Roman hills, Frascati is known as "the wine of popes and of the people." Popes had the luxury of drinking Frascati daily and regular folks would get to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Château Tourril The south of France is only as far as your wine glass thanks to Château Tourril. A family owned winery located in the heart of the Languedoc, Tourril produces wines in the Minervois appellation with Syrah, Cinsault, old Carignan, Grenache, and Roussanne grapes. Here are three food-friendly wines from the Château Tourril portfolio that make it easy to experience an elegant taste of the Mediterranean. Château Tourril "Helios" 2015 AOC Minervois ($17) Produced from 100% Roussanne grapes, this is a gorgeous white wine with layers of flavor. Lovely hints of lavender, lemongrass, green apple and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Fred Dex is on a mission to spread the word about the wonder of wines from the Southwest of France! Master Sommelier Fred Dex is a treasure trove of knowledge about the wines of Southwest France but he also knows when to let the bottles do the talking! From familiar grapes like Cabernet Franc and Malbec to new-to-me varieties like Duras and Petit Courbu; I was impressed by the diversity, quality, and overall affordability of the delicious wines that Fred shared during our lively tasting. The more than 6,000 vineyards of Southwest France cover an expansive territory of 47,000 hectares... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Several years ago, I had a comically bad date with a "gentleman" from Vienna, so I raise a glass to Artner for washing away that memory with their wonderful Austrian wines. A family run business located in Austria's Carnuntum region, Artner specializes in indigenous grapes such as Zweigelt (pronounced TSVYE-gelt). If you're not familiar with Zweigelt, Artner Rosé and Zweigelt Klassik are delicious introductions to this red grape. Rosé continues its refreshing reign as the official wine of summer and Artner is a delicious sip for the season. A lovely expression of the Zweigelt grape, juicy flavors of strawberries and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Extra dry and extra delicious, Torresella Prosecco NV DOC ($16) received a rare thumbs up from a very picky friend who constantly proclaims that she isn't a huge fan of the famous sparkling wine from Italy's Veneto region. Her biggest Prosecco complaint is that she often finds it too sweet and lacking in complexity. I agree that mass-produced Prosecco can leave much to be desired, but in the right hands Prosecco is a really charming wine with an unpretentious elegance. Torresella is a truly delightful Prosecco that balances the subtle sweetness (pear, melon, green apple) of the Glera grape with... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"I protect nature and then I make the wine." - Olivier Dauga, winemaker & consultant image courtesy of Jasmine Hsu As soon as I set eyes on Olivier Dauga, I knew that he was no ordinary winemaker! Chicly attired from head to toe in bold patterns and vibrant colors, all signs correctly indicated that Olivier and his wines would be far from boring. Born in Libourne, a town in the heart of Bordeaux's vineyards, Olivier comes from a family of winegrowers with a passion for farming and the land. This commitment to the environment is a core principle for Olivier... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Prosecco is a great introduction to the joys of Italian sparkling wine but for bubbles with more complexity, nuance, and elegance; fill your glass with Trentodoc. And based on an informal survey of my friends from Italy, Ferrari Trentodoc is the one that sets the standard. Need more convincing? Ferrari prevailed over renowned Champagne producers to win the prestigious title of "Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year" at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2015. This impressive achievement is an amazing manifestation of founder Giulio Ferrari's dream of creating a wine in Trentino that could compete with the best... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Anyone who has ever sipped a sickly sweet bargain Bellini at brunch knows that there's a seemingly endless supply of inferior Prosecco. But don't let that deter you - high quality Prosecco is NOT an urban legend and Carpenè Malvolti 1868 Extra Dry Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG ($18.99) is a great reminder of how lovely this Italian sparkling wine can be. Founded in 1868 by "the father of Prosecco" Antonio Carpenè, Carpenè Malvolti was the first winery in Italy to produce Prosecco as a sparkling wine and the first to label their wine Prosecco. The name Carpenè Malvolti 1868... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Steamy summer days pair beautifully with refreshing and vivacious Matetic EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($19.99) from Chile. Produced from certified organic grapes grown just 6 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the Valle Hermoso (Beautiful Valley), the cool maritime influence is evident in each sip. Impressive minerality, a subtle hint of salinity, and zippy acidity provide fantastic structure to the wine's juicy tropical fruit flavors and savory hints of grass and herbs. Medium-bodied with a lovely lingering finish, Matetic EQ Coastal Sauvignon Blanc is a great match with ceviche, oysters, salads, and sharp cheeses. Cheers! Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Mathilde Chapoutier Don't let Mathilde Chapoutier's quiet demeanor and youth fool you, this 24-year-old French winemaker is a force to be reckoned with! The eighth generation of her family to make wine, Mathilde is the daughter of legendary winemaker Michel Chapoutier but she is very much her own person. Her namesake wine, Mathilde Chapoutier Grand Ferrage Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015 ($24.99), is a delicious expression of her independent streak. Although her father was a bit skeptical by Mathilde's determination to focus on Provençal rosé, she stood her ground and has crafted a wonderful wine that even her dad enjoys!... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Puramun "Each harvest (Puramun) is a new challenge. A time for searching and finding. Nothing is the same, everything changes: the climate, the soil, the grapes, and even ourselves. Year after year we trek a new road, a labyrinth of grapevines that express through their precious fruit our devotion to the Valle de Uco terroir. Each Puramun bottle is the result of this passionate and endless search." - legendary winemaker José "Pepe" Galante When the name Pepe Galante appears on a bottle, you know that the wine will be something special. Renowned as the father of modern... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler