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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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Henri Bungener of Le Clos de Caveau winery Leaving behind his cosmopolitan life as a psychologist in London, winegrower Henri Bungener now spends his days attentive to the needs of the vines at his Le Clos de Caveau winery in the Vacqueyras AOC appellation in France's Rhône Valley. It may seem an odd career transition, but in their fragility and strength, perhaps wine grapes and people have more in common than we care to admit. And patience and attentiveness are certainly essential qualities in both psychologists and winegrowers. image courtesy of Le Clos de Caveau Also, like people, behind every... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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Navarra may not have the name recognition of their winemaking hermanos in Rioja, but the region produces an abundance of wonderful vino. Located in the north of Spain, the vineyards of Navarra span the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains to the Ebro River Basin and the Bardenas Reales Desert. This diversity of terroir and micro-climates makes Navarra naturally suited to produce a wide variety of wine styles - from refreshing whites & rosés to complex & bold reds. image courtesy of Wines of Navarra. image by Jesús Chasco I was recently invited to learn more about the wines of Navarra... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Ours is a family winery in the truest sense, it is operated by Benzigers. My family loves sharing our Estate ranch and providing guests with an agrarian experience that you will not get anywhere else. We farm for flavors and craft wine with a distinct sense of place. Our roots run deep and this authenticity resonates with our customers." - Chris Benziger A conversation with Chris Benziger is a poignant reminder that every bottle of wine tells a story. The wines of Benziger Family Winery beautifully express a family's commitment to their land, winemaking, and each other. For more than... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Carole Fontanier (Communications Manager, Wines of Gaillac), Fred Dex (Master Sommelier), Yours Truly, winemaker Nicolas Hirissou (Domaine du Moulin), and winemaker Alain Cazottes (Domaine des Terrisses). Blame it on Fred Dex, Master Sommelier - I recently spent an afternoon gleefully "geeking out on Gaillac." Fred enthusiastically describes Gaillac as "one of the geekiest wine regions in France, if not the world" for the amazing diversity of its grapes and wine styles. From international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah to lesser-known indigenous grapes like Loin de l'Oeil and and Duras, Gaillac is an absolute paradise for wine lovers in search... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Rich red wines and chilly winter nights are a match made in heaven but the right glass of white wine can also warm your spirit! From South Africa to New Zealand, here are five fabulous white wines that are always in season. Go ahead and pour yourself a glass of sunshine! Famille Hugel Riesling Classic 2014 ($25) Alsace, France With more than 370 years of experience, the Hugel Family brings an abundance of know-how and passion to winemaking. Their excellent Riesling Classic is dry but exuberant with crisp minerality and mouthwatering flavors of white peach, green apple, and a touch... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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The only gift that wine lovers adore more than a great bottle of vino is an accessory that enhances the drinking experience. From techy tannin tamers to artsy bottle openers, here are three great gifts that will inspire the recipient to raise a glass in your name! The Velv Wine Oxygenator ($300) Decanters and aerators are the classic methods of unlocking a wine's flavor but the process can take up to a few hours for an especially "tight" wine. The Velv Wine Oxygenator can unlock a wine in just a few minutes by harnessing the power of pure oxygen. A... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Only in the wine world could a region with an ancient tradition of viticulture suddenly become a sensation! It may have taken a few thousand years but Israeli wines have captured the attention of wine lovers like never before. A recent Wine Spectator cover story declared that "driven by Israelis' search for quality from their native land and by a dawning appreciation for its wines in both Europe and America, the wine industry in the Jewish state is transforming at a rapid rate." Once primarily relegated to the kosher section of many wineshops, Israeli wines are now being prominently displayed... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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When I first tasted Lugana, I wondered why I had never heard of these wonderful white wines from Italy. I then proceeded to sip another glass (or two) of these expressive, refreshing, and elegant vinos - I had years to make up for! The Lugana winemaking region is situated in northern Italy on the southern part of Lake Garda and is actually located in two different regions, Lombardy and the Veneto. Lugana is produced from the indigenous Turbiana grape which can produce an astounding array of wines; still, dry, sweet, sparkling, young & fresh, and aged & complex. Angelica Altomare... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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The right glass of red wine can be as comforting as your favorite blanket on a cool autumn evening. From Argentina to California, here are five elegant reds that are perfect for cozy nights at home. Luigi Bosca Pinot Noir 2014 ($22) Mendoza, Argentina Proving that Mendoza is more than Malbec, this mighty fine Pinot Noir displays impressive finesse and flavor. Silky and juicy with vibrant cherry and strawberry flavors that are balanced by warm hints of chocolate, coffee, and spice. Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($15) Sonoma County, California Second-generation grape farmer Tom Gore's magic touch with vines shines... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Madeline Triffon, Master Sommelier, was the energetic and engaging moderator for the Women in Wine Leadership Symposium. Madeline was the second woman in the world to pass the rigorous Master Sommelier exam. The best wines don't just transmit flavors but connect us to places, cultures, and each other. From the vineyard to our local wine shop, there are legions of people working tirelessly to keep the wine flowing in our lives and women are a vital part of the industry. On October 17th, the 5th annual Women in Wine Leadership Symposium was held in New York City and provided a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Max Weinlaub, chief winemaker at Viña Maipo in Chile, says that wine "is a matter of balance" and "wine needs to play a bit on the nose and tongue." image courtesy of Viña Maipo Winemaker Max Weinlaub's ebullient personality and encyclopedic knowledge of vino shine through in conversation and in the beautifully crafted wines that he produces for Viña Maipo. A native of Chile, Max has served as chief winemaker at Viña Maipo since 2007 and his meticulous winemaking has been garnering rave reviews at home and beyond. Founded in 1948 in the Maipo Valley region, Viña Maipo is Chile's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Restaurateur Gianfranco Sorrentino of Naples and Executive Chef Vito Gnazzo of Salerno bring southern Italian heart and soul to Mozzarella & Vino and its sibling restaurants Il Gattopardo and The Leopard at des Artistes. They proudly proclaim that passion is their main ingredient! image courtesy of Mozzarella & Vino On a recent rainy day in Manhattan, I was swept away to sunny southern Italy by the endearing food, wine, and hospitality at Mozzarella & Vino restaurant (33 West 54th Street). The cool and casual little sibling to acclaimed Italian restaurants Il Gattopardo and The Leopard at des Artistes, Mozzarella &... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Pierangelo Tommasi proudly represents the 4th generation of his celebrated winemaking family. The only thing more impressive than Pierangelo Tommasi's passion for his family's Amarone is the wine itself. Amarone has a reputation for being robust but Tommasi balances that power with elegance and vibrancy. With over 110 years of experience, the Tommasi family has clearly mastered the art of Amarone. The hillside vineyards of their estate in the heart of Italy's Valpolicella Classico region provide ideal conditions for producing exceptional wine. Tommasi dries the hand-picked grapes for their Amarone in handmade bamboo racks. image courtesy of Tommasi Winemaking is... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Originally from New Zealand, Brett Jackson is the chief winemaker for Valdivieso in Chile. Brett arrived in Chile during the 1990's and has played an important role in the country's growing status as a producer of fine wines. When you dare to name a bottle of wine Caballo Loco (Crazy Horse), it had better be bold and unforgettable. Well, Valdivieso has certainly succeeded in creating a unique wine that takes your palate on a memorable ride. Named after one of the winery's owners who is nicknamed Caballo Loco because of his unbridled personality, Caballo Loco was first released in 1994... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Spicing up a chilly autumn night is as easy as opening a bottle of juicy and bold Ravenswood Zinfandel. California Zinfandel was one of the first red wines that I fell in love with and Ravenswood excels at producing gorgeous expressions of this fantastic varietal. Truly a Sonoma icon, Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson's first harvest happened 40 years ago as ravens dramatically taunted him from the trees above as he worked to bring in four tons of grapes before a thunderstorm hit. The fruits of that tremendous labor were the first wines to bear Ravenswood's signature ring of ravens and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Iconic artist Andy Warhol didn't hold back at a dinner party in the 1980's when the host and owner of Cuvaison Winery asked his opinion of their wine - "What a lousy label!" Instead of taking offense to Warhol's harsh appraisal, the moment was seized as an opportunity to challenge the artist to create something better. In true Warhol fashion, the artist delved deeply into the project. His process included taking numerous Polaroids of grapes and using those images to create silkscreen prints for Cuvaison labels. Warhol created more than 50 unique labels to capture the personality of Cuvaison but... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Did you know that a simple definition of whisk(e)y is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash? The Irish spell this spirit as whiskey and the Scots omit the 'e' and spell it whisky. Drinking what you already know and love is certainly a pleasure but the excitement of trying something new is irresistible. Sipping out of your comfort zone is the only way to discover new flavors. I certainly have my favorite wines but I like to keep my palate on alert by frequently giving new varietals and regions a swirl. But spirits are another story. I enjoy the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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No celebration is complete without Champagne and for those really special moments, only an exquisite bubbly will do. Piper-Heidsieck Rare Rosé Millésime 2007($450) is such a Champagne. Piper-Heidsieck's very first vintage Cuvée Rare Rosé, this exceptional sparkling wine spent 8 years aging in the cellars before it was released. Challenging weather conditions made 2007 a tough year for producing vintage Champagne but Régis Camus, Piper-Heidsieck's award-winning cellar master, saw the potential to create something truly magnificent. Piper-Heidsieck Champagne cellar master Régis Camus and brand ambassador Jonathan Boulangeat share the spotlight with a bottle of Rare Rosé. There's a bit of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Cristian Ridolfi is guiding Italy's historic Santi winery towards the future. When your winery's origins can be traced back to 1843, tradition isn't just a catchphrase - it's a way of life. But Crisitian Ridolfi, director of winemaking at Santi, knows that tradition without innovation can lead to irrelevance and he is firmly guiding the winery towards the future. Ridolfi and his team at Santi are committed to respecting the ways of the past while making changes without fear. Situated in the heart of Italy's acclaimed wine growing zones in the Veneto near Lake Garda, Santi has modernized their winery... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Sipping pretty is easy with a glass of refreshing and food-friendly Louis Guntrum Riesling Feinherb 2012 ($12). Off-dry (slightly sweet) with juicy flavors of peach and citrus that are balanced by racy acidity and marvelous minerality; this flirty lip-smacking wein is a great apéritif but also has enough structure to pair beautifully with spicy foods and custardy desserts. Müller-Catoir Haardt Spätburgunder 2012 ($40) is a silky and dry Pinot Noir with fruit-forward finesse. Flavors of strawberry, blueberry, and hibiscus come alive in the glass with a herbal hint of rosemary. If you're already thinking about your Thanksgiving menu, this light-bodied... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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To know Arneis is to love it. The problem is that too few people know about this delicious white wine from Piedmont in northern Italy. Arneis is rarely grown outside of Piedmont, so I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Ponzi Vineyards produces Arneis at their estate in Oregon's Northern Willamette Valley. Who knew? Arneis thrives in the cool-climate of Ponzi's Aurora vineyard atop a slope of the Chehalem Mountains and produces a juicy and robust wine with vibrant flavors of melon, pear, and a hint of tropical fruit. This beauty has a lingering finish with a touch of minerality.... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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When your family has been making quality wine since 1893, it takes an extraordinary amount of work and dedication to maintain such an impressive legacy. But perhaps more than anything, winemaking at this level requires passion without limits. This passion fuels the Cecchi brothers, Andrea and Cesare, as they guide their family through another era of extraordinary winemaking where tradition and innovation co-exist beautifully. I recently had the pleasure of sharing wine and conversation with Andrea Cecchi during one of his whirlwind visits to New York. The quintessential Tuscan gentleman, Andrea has an elegant but approachable demeanor and Cecchi wines... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Stéphane Quien, founder of Be Bordô Don't let Stéphane Quien's polished demeanor fool you - this French vintner is a bit of a rebel. His fun and affordable collection of wines, Be Bordô, completely challenge the notion that Bordeaux is always stuffy, confusing, and expensive. Be Bordô doesn't pretend to compete with the legendary wines from Bordeaux's top châteaux but offers a playful and tasty option that won't break the bank - each bottle has a suggested price of $11.99. Although the wines are modestly priced, Stéphane is committed to quality and selected Château Merlet and winemaker Pierre Laroche as... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Dean Hewitson, Chief Winemaker, Hewitson Winery Australian winemaker Dean Hewitson is the real deal. You won't find Hewitson Winery churning out bottles of low-quality wines with cartoonish labels to ship off to unsuspecting consumers abroad. Hewitson produces authentic wines, the kind that Australians actually drink, and they are fantastic! Founded in 1998 in the heart of the Barossa Valley, Hewitson Winery boasts some of the oldest vines in the world - some dating back to 1853! Many of Dean's wines are single vineyard and display an incredible character and authenticity. A native of Australia, Dean's love of winemaking has taken... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Ilaria Petitto, Managing Director, Donnachiara Concept Winery If you love elegant white wines with plenty of flavor, nuance, personality, and aging potential; give Fiano di Avellino a swirl! An ancient grape with roots in the Campania region in the south of Italy, Fiano was known as the grape of the bees because they find its sweetness too alluring to resist. After a lovely tasting of Donnachiara Fiano di Avellino at Il Gattopardo restaurant in NYC, I can attest that wine lovers will also find it irresistible! Winery owner and managing director Ilaria Petitto is the granddaughter of the Donna Chiara... Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2016 at The Black Dress Traveler