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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
image courtesy of Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance I was determined to write my wine story about Paso Robles without mentioning their famous neighbor to the north, Napa Valley. As you can see, I failed in the first sentence. When talking about California wines, it's almost impossible, and perhaps unforgivable, not to recognize Napa's contributions to elevating the quality and reputation of American wines around the world. The story of modern-day California winemaking may indeed start with Napa, but Paso Robles is not only adding some exciting new chapters, it stands on its own as a world-class wine region. The... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
"We're not taking over a fancy name, or a fancy brand, or a fancy vineyard; we're taking over a terroir." - Philippe Guigal, third generation winemaker, E. Guigal Always charming and gracious, I recently discovered that winemaker Philippe Guigal is also very skilled at keeping a big secret! In spring 2018, we had a laughter-filled tasting of his family's famous & fabulous E. Guigal wines from the Rhône Valley in the south of France. A few months later, I was invited to meet with Philippe again because he had some major news to share -- in July 2017, almost a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
"We make wine where the wine in the glass speaks about the terroir where it grows." Federico Cerelli, Chief Winemaker, Cavaliere d'Oro Imagine a grown-up fairy tale where a dashing knight clad in a golden suit of armor, gallops up to you on a glorious steed and whisks you away to a medieval Tuscan castle where each glass of wine is more wonderful than the last. Sounds like heaven! Well, my daydream essentially came true on a recent visit to Castello di Gabbiano for a celebration of their new collection of Cavaliere d'Oro wines. No, I did not get swept... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
Moscato d' Asti with a view of the Ceretto estate in Piedmont, Italy. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but Italian producers of authentic Moscato d'Asti aren't so amused by bottles of fake wine from Russia that brazenly bear their name. Shameless counterfeiters may slap the name Moscato d'Asti on a bottle but the true essence of this Piedmontese wine is inimitable. Moscato d'Asti is more than just a delicious sweet & fizzy wine, it represents a rich tradition of winemaking and a cultural legacy. "It is time to talk about Moscato d'Asti as a serious wine,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
Even in Manhattan, where people pretend not to notice anything, with his impressive stature and perfectly tailored suit, Tancredi Biondi-Santi draws attention when he enters the room. Of course, people were also staring because it was only ten in the morning and our breakfast table was covered with bottles of wine! But not just any wine, Brunello di Montalcino. And not just any Brunello di Montalcino, but the legendary wines of Biondi-Santi. It isn't an exaggeration to say that without Tancredi's ancestors, Brunello di Montalcino might not exist. Clemente Santi is considered the founding father of Brunello di Montalcino and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
I love the surprised look that my friends get when I rattle off Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Honestly, I'm not just showing off my hard-earned and still far from perfect pronunciation; I really want people to know that there's more to Prosecco than the cheap and pleasant sparkling wine that is ubiquitous at boozy brunches. While many producers have taken advantage of Prosecco's popularity to flood the market with inferior wines, Prosecco Superiore is in a class all by itself. What makes Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG so special? Some of the clues are in the name. These sparkling... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
With their striking labels and unconventional wines, The Prisoner Wine Company has always prided itself on being different. Now they finally have a tasting room experience that matches their provocative spirit. Located on Napa Valley's Highway 29, The Prisoner Wine Company recently debuted their new Tasting Lounge and Makery. The ambitious project was a collaboration between San Francisco architect Matt Hollis and Richard Von Saal, interior designer and Napa Valley native. Drawing inspiration from The Prisoner's bold personality and the Francisco Goya painting that graces their often-photographed label, the exterior and interior spaces are a vivid tapestry of textures, colors,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
Martini & Rossi dynamic duo Giuseppe “Beppe” Musso (Master Blender) and Ivano Tonutti (Master Herbalist). How fitting that my tasting appointment with the Martini & Rossi dynamic duo of Beppe Musso (Master Blender) and Ivano Tonutti (Master Herbalist) happened at The Aviary NYC, a veritable cocktail nirvana perched 35 floors above the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. These two charming gentleman showed me that there are truly no limits to the delicious drinks that can be created with Martini & Rossi Riserva Speciale Vermouth and Bitter Liqueur. Martini & Rossi vermouth and bitter liqueur are the important foundation to many... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
I had been warned that this would be no ordinary winemaker lunch but nothing could have prepared me for the force of nature that is Michel Chapoutier. Gregarious and unfiltered, this icon from the Rhône Valley shatters any image that you may have of a prim and reserved French winemaker. Michel lives life with gusto and if you choose not to go along for the ride, that's your loss! "A winemaker has to be obsessed by food," said Michel as we tucked into a superb lunch at Troquet, a charming and cozy French restaurant in NYC's Soho neighborhood. To reinforce... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
An eye-catching label is no guarantee that the wine within will captivate you but what joy when a bottle is beautiful inside and out! The best wines tell a story and the look of the physical bottle often conveys the winemaker's style and inspiration. I recently tasted two wonderful wines from California whose exterior and interior artistry were perfectly in sync. Meet My Favorite Neighbor and Faust! My Favorite Neighbor 2016 ($80) Paso Robles, California The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the importance of family, friends, and community. Great neighbors make an impact on our lives,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
"Our future is in our past. Our treasures are the things we have from the past." Victor Urrutia Ybarra, CEO of CVNE Wines from Rioja are hotter than ever but don't dare call Spain's most famous wine region an overnight sensation. Way back in 1102 King Sancho of Navarra was so impressed by Rioja wines that he recognized them legally. The world has changed dramatically since the 12th century but tradition still matters in Rioja and respecting the legacy of the past is certainly at the heart of CVNE's winemaking philosophy. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Victor... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
image courtesy of Bodegas Salentein Don't let José "Pepe" Galante's quiet demeanor fool you - he's a genuine winemaking rock star. Widely celebrated as the father of modern winemaking in his native Argentina, Pepe has more than 40 vintages to his credit and shows no signs of slowing down. His illustrious career includes an impressive 30-year tenure as Catena Zapata's chief winemaker but since 2010 Pepe has worked in this capacity at Bodegas Salentein in the Uco Valley region of Mendoza. Today, the Uco Valley is a widely respected wine appellation but that wasn't the case in the late 1990's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
In the rarefied world of champagne, Régis Camus garners genuine admiration and awe. Honored an astounding 8 times as Sparkling Winemaker of the Year by the International Wine Challenge, Régis joined Piper-Heidsieck in 1994 and ascended to the prestigious position of cellar master in 2002. Many were stunned when Régis announced his retirement from Piper-Heidsieck in 2018 but don't count him out; he's embarked on an exciting new chapter as cellar master for the House's exclusive line of Rare Champagne. Produced only in the most exceptional vintages, only nine vintages of Rare have been created in the last four decades.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
“It’s exciting to share these women’s compelling stories through emBRAZEN wines. I hope these wines spark conversation among friends, family, co-workers or even in the wine aisle. I’m proud to have crafted these wines, providing a bold and delicious canvas for their voices to be heard.” - Olivia Teutschel, emBRAZEN winemaker I'll admit to being a bit skeptical when I first heard about emBRAZEN Wines. I actively avoid any wines that seem gimmicky or blatant in their pandering to women. But something about emBRAZEN caught my eye: the beautiful visage of one of my all-time favorite women in history adorns... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
Whether you're entertaining at home or looking for the perfect bottle to give your host, these seven wines perfectly match the flavors and mood of the holiday season. Cheers! Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque ($45) France Greet your guests in style with this sophisticated bubbly. A classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier; it is fresh, crisp, and vibrant. Popping the cork on a beautiful bottle of champagne never goes out of fashion and is the perfect way to toast the joyous mood of the season. Valdo Cuvée 1926 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG ($19.99) Italy Who says Prosecco can't... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
Marta Sanvicente (chief winemaker, Pere Ventura Cava) and Pere Ventura (president and owner of Pere Ventura Family Wine Estates) Wine is very humbling -- there's always something new to learn. On a brisk fall night in downtown Manhattan, I learned that Pere Ventura is not just the brand name on a wonderful bottle of sparkling wine but also the name of a charming & creative Catalan gentleman. Mr. Ventura's business card boldly states "Yo Soy Pere Ventura" (I am Pere Ventura) to make it crystal clear that Pere Ventura the wine would not exist without Pere Ventura the man. His... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
A view from Domaine La Tour Vieille in Collioure - one of the wineries featured in Snooth's Roussillon Holiday Array 6-Pack. Collioure is a picturesque town in French Catalonia on the Mediterranean coast, just north of the Spanish border. Take the stress out of pairing wines with your holiday meals! My friends at Snooth are offering a wonderful six-pack of wines from the Roussillon region in the south of France for a budget-friendly $100 ($200 value). I had the pleasure of visiting Roussillon last year and spent time at some of the wineries featured in this impressive selection of whites... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
image courtesy of Val di Suga Speak with winemakers and you'll notice a common refrain is repeated around the globe -- great wine starts in the vineyards. Few would dispute that the tiny, yet majestic, hilltop town of Montalcino in Tuscany is home to some of the finest vineyards in the world. And from those prized vines, Sangiovese Grosso grapes provide the foundation for one of Italy's most acclaimed wines - Brunello di Montalcino. But no two vineyards in Montalcino are the same and in a land of phenomenal wines, Val di Suga has a unique advantage: they are the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
Countess Ginevra Venerosi-Pesciolini represents the 26th generation of her illustrious Tuscan family to lead Tenuta di Ghizzano. Ginevra Venerosi-Pesciolini doesn't need to introduce herself as a Countess to impress you. In fact, it wasn't until days after our meeting that I realized that the very cool lady that I had spent two hours wining, dining, and laughing with was in possession of a noble title and a family tree that includes Tuscan royalty, poets, and more than one palazzo. Ginevra's humility is certainly endearing and her wines don't need pomp and circumstance to get your attention because as she proudly... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
For Proust, a bite of a madeleine cookie triggered a flood of memories. For me, it was a sip of Secastilla Garnacha 2010 that transported me back to a very special day in Spain. Around this time last year, I made my second visit to Somontano, in northeast Spain, to tour Viñas del Vero's majestic Secastilla vineyards. A few nights ago, vivid memories of that trip came flooding back as I sat in my Manhattan living room sipping Secastilla Garnacha. Secastilla Garnacha 2010 ($39.99) I could smell the fertile fragrance of Secastilla's rain-drenched air and hear the staccato pitter-patter of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 25, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
Nobilo winemaker David Edmonds doesn't hesitate when asked what his biggest challenge is -- "It's letting people know that all Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc are not the same." Because Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is so popular, many people mistakenly believe there's only one uniform style. Often described as grassy, zesty, and easygoing; that's only one facet of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and David is determined to showcase the diversity and elegance of his homeland's most famous wine. image courtesy of Nobilo Wines By the age of 15, David was already certain that he wanted to be a winemaker but... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
Every so often this native Manhattanite needs to be reminded that there's more to New York than my little island. The five boroughs that form the Big Apple may get a disproportionate share of the glory but the Empire State is a sprawling and multi-faceted tapestry. Home to concrete jungles and Mother Nature's majestic masterpieces, New York State has it all, including acres of vineyards and a vibrant wine industry. And the Finger Lakes is one of New York's most exciting wine regions. From indigenous grapes to varieties from far-flung corners of the globe, winemakers and grape growers from the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
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It takes a sparkling personality to make sparkling wine! Winemaker Giorgio Castagnotti has worked for Martini & Rossi for 35 years and is still passionate about his job. Their catchy jingle has been stuck in my mind for decades, but now it's the Martini & Rossi wines that I can't stop thinking about. I was too young to really appreciate wine when the vintage "Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante, When You've Got Good Taste it Shows" commercial was a television staple, but I was absolutely old enough to dig a disco-ish jingle celebrating the pleasures of sparkling wine. That commercial... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler
So much wine, so little time! My cell phone is filled with photos of almost every bottle that I taste but it is impossible to write about each one. Inspired by the childhood game of Spin the Bottle, instead of spinning an actual bottle and kissing the person that the bottle points at, I've opted to take a spin through my wine photos until one gives me that tingling feeling that reminds me of how delicious it was. After all, a great glass of wine is almost as good as kissing (sometimes better)! Meet my new wine crush - Viña... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2018 at The Black Dress Traveler