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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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Several months have passed since my meeting with winemaker Francisco Baettig but our tasting is far from a distant memory; the wines and the man made quite an impression. Chief Winemaker at Viña Errázuriz since 2003, Francisco has earned many impressive accolades; including Winemaker of the Year and a perfect 100-point score for Viñedo Chadwick 2014. Francisco has certainly earned the right to be a bit boastful but he's endearingly humble and would rather discuss the finer points of vineyard management, soil types, and barrels. Francisco's laser-sharp focus on making high quality wine can be tasted in the bottle. Francisco... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Domaine Carneros Repeat after me - "Champagne only comes from Champagne, France." This mantra is one of wine's golden rules but what happens when an iconic Champagne house decides to make sparkling wine in California? That was the bold decision taken by Champagne Taittinger when they secured a 138-acre parcel in the heart of Carneros, Napa Valley in 1987. Focused on the production of traditional method sparkling wines and Pinot Noir, Domaine Carneros isn't in the business of foolishly trying to replicate what they do in France but rather on the creation of a "quintessential California expression... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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If you're a fan of Brunello di Montalcino, Il Poggione is a familiar and respected name. Brunello is widely considered one of Italy's most iconic wines and Il Poggione holds a prestigious position as one of the original three producers of this elegant Tuscan red. Yes, Brunello is a serious wine and Il Poggione brings that same level of precise and authentic winemaking to their fantastic rosè, Il Poggione Brancato Rosato 2018 ($20). I tasted Brancato for the first time two years ago when I interviewed Il Poggione winemaker Alessandro Bindocci. I still chuckle when I remember Alessandro describing rosé... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"You should only drink champagne on special occasions, but every day you can find a special occasion." - Émilien Boutillat, Cellar Master, Piper-Heidsieck To call it destiny may seem overdramatic but it certainly seems that Émilien Boutillat was meant to be the new Cellar Master of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne. A native of the Champagne region and from a family of grape growers & champagne producers, Émilien has worked as a winemaker on his home turf and abroad; including in Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and California. Émilien remembers visiting the Piper-Heidsieck cellars as a child and never imagined that one day... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Rosé season is in full swing and I'm ready to sip my way around the world! Not only do I love discovering wines from different producers and regions, summer is the perfect time to sample the new vintages of my favorite pink wines. My first experience with Mathilde Chapoutier "Grand Ferrage" Côtes de Provence was with the 2015 debut vintage and it was love at first sip. I'm happy to report that the thrill is still there with the 2018 vintage. (Available now for $24.) Mathilde Chapoutier in the vineyards of Château Des Ferrages image courtesy of Mathilde Chapoutier Mathilde... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Greed is good when it comes to Albariño from Rías Baixas. Trust me, it would be foolish to deny yourself the pleasure of sipping this charming white wine from Galicia, also known as "Green Spain" because of its lush landscape. Galicia's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, unique climate, and mineral-rich soils imbue Albariño grapes from Rías Baixas with impressive freshness, crispness, minerality, and salinity. And it's not surprising that the finest expressions of Albariño hail from Rías Baixas; the grape is indigenous to the region. image courtesy of Rías Baixas wines Within the Rías Baixas DO (Denomination of Origin), there... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Can you even imagine summer without rosé? Luckily, we don't have to! Rosé wines are delicious year-round but there's no denying that these flirty pink sips are particularly suited to the sunny and carefree vibe of the summer season. Pretty and refreshing, rosé wines are a fun way to explore new regions and grapes. I plan on taking my taste buds on a delicious rosé journey all summer long and will keep you updated with short reviews of my favorites. Cheers! Blaine Ashley, co-creator of Lokē Rosé, is brightening up summer with a limited-edition Côtes de Provence Rosé inspired by... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Beppe in the Big Apple! What a great afternoon of wines and conversation at Upland restaurant with Beppe d'Andrea of Ruffino winery during his whirlwind visit to NYC. Beppe d'Andrea is living the dream. As the Global Brand Ambassador for Ruffino winery, Beppe jet sets around the world sharing the infinite charms of "La Vita Ruffino", their mantra for the fine Italian art of good living. For quite some time, I've been happily following Beppe's adventures on social media and I finally had the opportunity to share some wine and conversation with this tireless Tuscan. Charming, energetic, knowledgable, and down-to-earth,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Such a joy to catch up with Anna Abbona of the iconic Marchesi di Barolo winery. In the early days of my wine writing journey I was invited to an intimate tasting in Manhattan featuring the wines of Marchesi di Barolo. Back in 2012, I had never visited Italy, probably couldn't find Piedmont on a map, and had no idea that Nebbiolo was the grape used to make Barolo. Taking my seat at the table, I wondered how I ended up with a Master of Wine to my right and a major wine critic across from me. Humbled and exhilarated,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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The Enomatic Wine Dispenser, expertly operated by Luigi Cozzolino, in action at Il Gattopardo. Have you ever looked at a wine list and wished you could try a fine wine without having to buy the whole bottle? Your vino dreams have come true at Il Gattopardo in NYC! With their high tech Enomatic Wine Dispenser, a selection of wines normally only available by the bottle is offered in pours of 2, 4, and 6 ounces. Using a nitrogen gas preservation system, the high-tech Enomatic keeps the wine fresh and maintains its integrity for several weeks. I opted for the highly... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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image courtesy of Beso del Sol I must confess that I’ve always been a shameless Sangria snob. How could I possibly drink pre-made Sangria when I have such vivid memories of my handsome friend Javier in Spain making homemade Sangria for our weekend fiestas? That was decades ago but I can still picture Javi cutting up mountains of fruit, adding it to wine, and bringing it to life with dashes of other special ingredients to create his masterpiece. Those were the days! But honestly, I have no idea where Javi is and the likelihood of me making Sangria from scratch... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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A great trip stays with you long after you've returned. Several months ago, I had a soul satisfying adventure in Provence and memories from that journey still provide moments of joy when I'm feeling stressed by my daily Manhattan grind. Two places that make frequent appearances in my rosé tinted daydreams are Château La Coste and Le Château des Demoiselles. (So many châteaux, so little time!) One is contemporary, the other is classic but both of these beautiful locations are quintessentially Provence. And you'll never go thirsty, rosè and other local wines flow in abundance at both! Provence has no... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Building texture is what elevates good wine to a great wine." Jesse Katz, Founder & Winemaker, Aperture Cellars A conversation with Jesse Katz could easily make you feel like an underachiever but he's so humble and charming that you feel inspired instead of diminished. Jesse has achieved major success very early in his career -- the first winemaker included on the Forbes "30 Under 30" list, recognized by Wine Enthusiast as a "40 Under 40 Tastemaker", and the recognition of his Aperture Cellars as a "Rising Star" by Wine Spectator are just a few of this 35 year-old's impressive accomplishments.... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Has Tuscany been keeping a secret from us? One of Italy's most visited and beloved regions, Tuscany has been so generous in sharing their iconic red wines, like Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, with the world. But have they been keeping the charming white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG for themselves? image courtesy of Vernaccia di San Gimignano wine consortium I'm happy to report that on my recent visit to San Gimignano that I met many producers who were eager to share their wines and implored me to spread the word. Located between Siena and Florence, San Gimignano... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Meet 2GV (Second Generation Vintners)! Alison Sokol Blosser, Adam Campbell, Luisa Ponzi, Maria Ponzi, Anna Campbell, and Alex Sokol Blosser. No 2GV isn't a hot new pop band, it's the acronym for Second Generation Vintners -- an exciting collaboration between three of Oregon's most respected wineries. Known as the Oregon Originals, Elk Cove Vineyards, Ponzi Vineyards, and Sokol Blosser Winery were all started in the Willamette Valley in the 1970's with a desire to produce world-class Pinot Noir. By all accounts they have succeeded. Not only has each winery garnered acclaim for their wines but they have also played a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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When your family has been making wine for 700 years, no one would fault you for sticking to the tried and true wines that have earned you endless accolades. But that's not the Frescobaldi way. True icons of Tuscan culture, the Frescobaldi family has an exemplary commitment to crafting wines that are authentic expressions of the terroir of their seven estates. There's no shortage of beautiful Italian wines but even the most jaded drinker gets a bit giddy when they see the name Frescobaldi on the bottle. "Great wine is about the site. That is the step from where you... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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In a world where few places live up to the hype, Provence elegantly exceeds it. From the breathtaking natural beauty of lavender fields in the Luberon to the glitzy yacht culture of St. Tropez, there really isn't one Provence. A captivating tapestry of diverse landscapes, moods, and people; wine is the perfect vehicle for discovering Provence's many charms. image courtesy of Wines of Provence It would not be exaggerating to deem Provence the rosé capital of the world. It is the only region to dedicate 90% of their wine production to rosé. The United States is second only to France... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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I’ve never ever called a Pinot Grigio sexy until now! Peter Zemmer “Giatl” Pinot Grigio Riserva DOC 2016 ($38) will make you reconsider everything you think you know about Italy’s most famous white wine. Alto Adige, located in the northeast of Italy on the border of Austria and Switzerland, is truly one of Italy’s finest regions for Pinot Grigio; the Alpine climate and terroir produce superb grapes. But even in a land renowned for excellent white wines, Zemmer's Giatl ups the ante. Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio Riserva “Giatl” vineyard in Alto Adige. Giatl means “little property” or “little vineyard” in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Science and sensitivity, great wine is always a balance between the two. Technology is not against tradition." - Benoît Gouez, Cellar Master, Moët & Chandon Someone recently asked me what I enjoy most about wine writing. Aside from the obvious delights of drinking wonderful wines and traveling to vineyards near and far, the greatest joy continues to be the people that wine brings into my life. Some of my richest new friendships have been formed over a shared passion for wine. Wine has a way of breaking down barriers and slowing down time that fosters a connection. Share a bottle... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Los Vascos Carmenere Grande Reserve 2016 ($21.95) is complex and sultry with rich flavors of cherry, ripe berries, and plum with hints of black pepper, bell pepper, dark chocolate, and black olive. "Carmenere is not a wine, it's an adventure," said Claudio Naranjo, managing director of Los Vascos in Chile. Like the long-suffering yet indomitable heroine of a telenovela, Carmenere experienced a dramatic case of mistaken identity. Originally a Bordeaux variety, Carmenere came to Chile in the mid-1800's and was accidentally classified as Merlot. But the grape's true identity was discovered in 1994 by a grape classification expert from France... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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A beautiful bottle of wine is the perfect way to express your feelings for someone special. Whether you're having a romantic dinner or catching up with your circle of friends, add some magic to the moment with a special wine. Sipping la vie en rose is elegantly easy with superb Champagne Palmer & Co. Rosé Reserve ($80). A beautifully balanced blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier; this unique bubbly has a special touch of magic -- an infusion of Pinot Noir from a forty-year-old solera from Les Riceys. The Pinot Noir from the solera enhances this vibrant wine... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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Brothers, business partners, and the nicest bad boys you'll ever meet, Alessandro and Riccardo Pasqua. Brothers Alessandro and Riccardo Pasqua are rebels with an admirable cause: save a historic family winery that was floundering. Disruptive in the best sense of the word, when they took charge of Pasqua Vigneti e Cantine in 2014, they knew that defying convention would be the secret to their success. And they were right. Under their leadership, Pasqua has been garnering attention and accolades for their innovative and high-quality wines. In 1925, the first generation of Pasqua brothers ventured from their homeland of Apulia in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"Wine needs time and patience. That's not something in my DNA." - Paola Lanzavecchia Patience may not come naturally for 4th generation winemaker Paola Lanzavecchia but she is certainly a woman of passion and persistence. The patience will come, as it must for all winemakers. Paola accepts that "the land gives the rhythm" and sets the pace for winemaking. The soaring hills of Serralunga d'Alba in Piemonte, in the north of Italy, provide the gentle yet busy rhythm to Paola's life at Villadoria winery. Founded in 1959 by her grandfather Pietro, Villadoria is located in the heart of Barolo. The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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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 Jan 21, 2019 at The Black Dress Traveler
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"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