Monthly Archives: January 2014

Argentine table wines

I love malbec wines of Argentina, and that’s a fact. Here are two worthy of grabbing next time you’re in a wine shop:

2012 Alamos Malbec

A classic Argentine wine, this malbec is made using malbec grapes blended with a small percentage of syrah and bonarda grapes. For this particular vintage, the growing season lowered the yields for malbec grapes — blame it on the zondas (strong winds) and frost. Deep dark berry flavors come through in this wine with hints of baking spice and vanilla. What you’ll get from the best of the Mendoza area is a wine with strong tannins and a long finish. $13 suggested retail price


2012 Alamos Red Blend

You can drink this wine without a culinary pairing, that’s how good it is. Priced at $13, this is a bottle that gives in taste, texture and aroma. Primarily using Argentine’s signature grape, malbec, this blend also has some bonarda, tempranillo and syrah. Perhaps it’s the tempranillo that makes this wine so special. While it has all that the malbec described above boasts, it’s that Spanish grape that sets it apart from the rest.

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66 Massachusetts hotels & restaurants make AAA’s five- and four-diamond list for 2014

AAA Southern New England has announced that 50 hotels and 16 restaurants in Massachusetts have received AAA Five or Four Diamond awards for 2014, AAA’s highest designations for hotels and restaurants.

AAA inspectors visit more than 59,000 establishments annually across the United States and throughout North America. Five Diamond recipients are just 0.3 percent of the 59,000, and Four Diamond recipients are just 3.9 percent of the total inspected.

This year’s recipients are as follows:

Five Diamond Hotel

• Four Seasons Hotel Boston, Boston (first awarded in 1988)

Mandarin Oriental, Boston (2009)

• The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common, Boston (2010)

Five Diamond Restaurant

• L’Espalier, Boston (1999)

• Menton, Boston (2011)

• Wheatleigh’s Dining Room, Lenox (2005)

Four Diamond Hotel

• Boston

• Ames Hotel (2011)

• Boston Harbor Hotel (1987)

• Copley Square Hotel (2010)

• Fairmont Battery Wharf (2009)

• Fifteen Beacon (2000)

• Hilton Boston Downtown/Faneuil Hall (2000)

• Hilton Boston Logan Airport (2002)

Hotel Commonwealth (2004)

• InterContinental Boston (2007)

• Loews Boston Hotel (2004)

• Millennium Bostonian Hotel (2011)

• Nine Zero Hotel (2002)

• Onyx Hotel (2004)

Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel (2010)

• Revere Hotel/Boston Common (2012)

• Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center (2001)

• Taj Boston (2003)

• The Colonnade Hotel Boston (2010)

• The Eliot Hotel (1999)

• The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston (1994)

• The Langham (1982)

• The Lenox Hotel (1998)

The Liberty, A Luxury Collection Hotel (2008) (pictured, below)


• The Westin Copley Place (2001)

• W Boston Hotel & Residences (2010)

• Westin Boston Waterfront (2006)

• The Mansion at Ocean Edge, Brewster (2013)

• Hotel Marlowe, Cambridge (2003)

• Hyatt Regency Cambridge, Cambridge (2011)

• Le Meriden Cambridge, Cambridge (2004)

• Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston, Cambridge (2007)

• The Charles Hotel, Harvard Square, Cambridge (2000)

• Captain’s House Inn, Chatham (1986)

• Chatham Bars Inn Resort & Spa, Chatham (2004)

• Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, East Harwich (2002)

• The Charlotte Inn, Edgartown (2012)

• Renaissance Boston Hotel and Spa at Patriot Place, Foxboro (2010)

• Wheatleigh, Lenox (2003)

• The Wauwinet, Nantucket (2006)

• White Elephant, Nantucket (2009)

• White Elephant Village Inn-Residences, Nantucket (2010)

• Crowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa, Provicetown (2000)

• Historic Jacob Hill Inn “A Providence Luxury Hotel”, Seekonk (2001)

• Stonehedge Inn & Spa, Tyngsboro (1989)

• The Westin Waltham-Boston, Waltham (2002)

• The Orchards Hotel, Williamstown (1986)

• Beechwood Hotel, Worcester (2010)

Four Diamond Restaurant

• Asana, Boston (2012)

• Aura, Boston (2001)

• Clio, Boston (1999)

• Deuxave, Boston (2013)

• Mamma Maria, Boston (2005)

• Meritage, Boston (1994)

• Miel, Boston (2007)

• Mooo…., Boston (2007)

• No. 9 Park, Boston (2002)

• The Café, Boston (2005)

• Rialto, Cambridge (2004)

• Stars at Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham (2013)

• twenty-eight Atlantic, East Harwich (2002)

• Topper’s, Nantucket (2006)

• The Old Inn on the Green, New Marlborough (2000)

• Left Bank, Tyngsboro (2007)

“AAA Four and Five Diamond hotels and restaurants provide guests with a personalized experience and attentive service in comfortable, high quality surroundings,” said Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs. “These establishments consistently exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler – the AAA inspector. We are proud to have these dedicated businesses in our region.”

AAA will present the awards at luncheons in Boston and Lenox in February and March.

Eastern Standard, Boston, offers day of expert classes, tastings & demos

The New Year is all about self-improvement, whether taking up a new hobby, exploring an area of interest or becoming an expert in a particular subject. Embracing the spirit of learning in 2014, beloved brasserie Eastern Standard gives guests an inside look at its unique, collaborative approach to staff training and culture with “Standard” Education – a day of interactive classes that recreate the restaurant’s pre-meal team teaching sessions and emphasize its above-and-beyond standards of internal education.

The day-long program on Saturday, Feb. 8, gives guests of all experience levels – from industry vets to longtime fans – the opportunity to learn with and from members of the ES team in their craft of expertise, tying in various aspects of the restaurant’s lauded food and beverage programs with tastings and demos including:


Demystifying Sherry ($40)

Jackson Cannon (Bar Director of Eastern Standard and Proprietor/Bar Director of The Hawthorne)

11:00 – 11:50 AM

Fresh off a week in Jerez, Spain, Bar Director Jackson Cannon leads guests on a virtual tour through the country’s primary Sherry production region with a tasting of fortified wines from various bodegas and an overview of the winemaking process. The class will also debunk common misconceptions about Sherry (grandma drink it is not!), discuss its comeback among bartenders and drinkers alike and show how it can be integrated into cocktails.

Raw Food: Classic and Modern ($40)

Patrick Campbell (Executive Chef)

12:00 – 12:50 PM

Explore the raw side of brasserie-style cuisine with Executive Chef Patrick Campbell, tasting through both classic and modern raw preparations (think oysters and tartares served alongside crudo and carpaccio). He’ll offer tips for preparing & serving raw items at home (including shopping tricks!), showcase raw dishes beyond seafood (venison carpaccio, anyone?) and elaborate on how the raw program fits into the ES dining experience.

Vermouth Unveiled ($40)

Bob McCoy (Beverage Programs Liaison)

1:00 – 1:50 PM

This hands-on walk through the history of Vermouth with Beverage Programs Liaison Bob McCoy includes a discussion on the loss and rebirth of the spirit, a look at its use in classic cocktails, an overview of new artisanal production and a tasting/comparison of dry Vermouth, sweet Vermouth and Eastern Standard’s house-made rosé Vermouth.

The Wines of Sud-Ouest France ($40)

Colleen Hein (Wine Director)

2:00 – 2:50 PM

Though Southwest France is one of the country’s largest winegrowing regions, it remains largely unexplored and underappreciated by way of glass and palate. Wine Director Colleen Hein sheds light on the diverse terroir of the Sud-Ouest, tasting through both familiar and lesser-known varietals to showcase the natural spirit of the grapes grown and its vignerons.

Cheese as Dessert ($40)

Matt Baum (Cheese Buyer)

3:30 – 4:20 PM

Tackle the age-old question of whether to cap off a meal with a traditional treat or a cheese course by taking a look at cheese in both sweet and savory settings. Cheese Buyer Matt Baum brings guests through the ES cheese program beginning to end, honing in on what to look for when purchasing cheese and how to form a classic cheese progression (with samples of cheeses unique to the restaurant, of course!).

The Study of Scotch ($40)

Naomi Levy (Assistant Bar Manager)

4:30 – 5:20 PM

With interest in Scotch growing across the country, Assistant Bar Manager Naomi Levy breaks down Scotland’s native spirit by style, region and raw materials. She also dives into how Scotch has made its way into current cocktail culture, when/why people drink Scotch, how to taste spirits and proper serving techniques.

Eastern Standard Gallery Room is located at 528 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Tickets are $40/person per class, sold a la carte, or $200 for the full day of classes. With the purchase of three or more classes, guests may also choose to add on a five-course dinner at Eastern Standard ($70 for food; $40 for optional beverage pairings) and/or an overnight stay at Hotel Commonwealth at a special rate ($169 plus taxes).

Please visit or for package and pricing inquiries. For more information, visit or call 617-532-9100.

Rockin’ the reds


Debbie Juergenson, winemaker at Red Rock Winery in California, knows how to lure women to drink her red wines. Just take a look at the website: and you’ll see a picture of a woman in a bathtub sipping red wine from a glass. I’m in.

So, with four bottles in tow, over the next few weeks, I sipped — and shared.

Beginning with 2011 vintages, I first opened the Red Rock California Merlot, with grapes mainly from Paso Robles. Some petite sirah is blended in, which adds to the wine’s structure, supporting the fruity balance. It paired well with a traditional meal of garlic roasted chicken with broccoli, celery root and mashed potatoes. Merlot is known to work with chocolate, so a dessert of dark chocolate cake worked quite well. The next evening, a chicken parmesan sandwich worked with a glass of this merlot quite well. It’s all good. And priced at $13.99, as our all the bottles I’ll be writing about.

Next, the Red Rock 2011 Winemaker’s Blend is a concoction of petite sirah, syrah and zinfandel grapes from vineyards in Lodi, Sonoma and the Central Coast of California. The syrah gives this wine a lot of spicy goodness, and the blend of these grapes is perfection. I love blends when they’re done well, and this wine fits the bill.

Ready for 2012 wines?

First, I put a chicken pot pie in the oven with a whole potato to bake. Comfort food, right? Well, Red Rock 2012 Pinot Noir gave me comfort in a taste that brings me home. The jammy red raspberry flavors get me every time, and the slightest vanilla and caramel from the oak barrels takes the cake. For the next night’s dinner, I enjoyed this wine with butternut squash and braised chestnut ravioli. Works for me.

Last, but definitely not least is Red Rock 2012 Mendoza Malbec, which I had served with roasted turkey and the stuff of Thanksgiving sides. I love the richness of the Argentine signature grape, and this wine did not disappoint. Made with 100 percent Malbec grape, even the zondas of Mendoza (that would be wind) didn’t stop this grape’s worthiness. It may have stopped the volume, however, so you may want to grab this bottle when you see one, or two.

Are you ready for that bath now? I know I am. Enjoy!