Crabtree’s Kittle House Proves Again Why it is One of Westchester’s Finest!


Been to Crabtree’s Kittle House lately? If not… shame on you! But if so then I am sure, much like myself, you are already anxiously anticipating your next visit. Tucked away at the end of a windy and tree lined country road in Chappaqua lies the Mecca of Westchester dining. The old world charm of this establishment, that was originally a barn back in 1790, is perfectly suited for the fantastic dining exprience that awaits you inside.

Last week a large group of us had the pleasure of sitting in the wine cellar dining area. This is a glass enclosed extension off of the 65,000 bottle (not a misprint) wine cellar. Needless to say it is one of the more impressive collections not only in Westchester, but in the world!

Glenn Vogt, Wine Director and GM, took us on a tour of this infamous cellar and it’s all you can do to keep your hands in your pockets. Staring down the barrel of a 1997 Shafer Hillside Select or a 2001 Harlan can be somewhat intimidating and invigorating all at once. Having worked under wine guru Kevin Zraly at the Windows of the World just before 9/11, Glenn is unbelievably knowledgeable about the collection, and a hell of a nice guy to boot.

We started with an array of appetizers ranging from the Jumbo Diver Sea Scallops with Black Truffles to the Big Eye Tuna Sushi Pizzetta…however the Escargot really stole the show for the first course. We paired that with a 1999 Saintsbury Carneros Chardonnay and it was simply delectable. That is another great thing about the wine collection. They have some rare back vintage wines that are very reasonable (that bottle was $47), and because the cellar is properly temperature controlled you can be confident that the wine has held up over the years.

For my main course I got a little adventurous and went with a Venison Loin over a Brussels Sprout Butternut Squash and Applewood Smoked Bacon hash…ummm, yeah it kicked some serious ass! However a colleague ordered the Roast Berkshire Pork Chop with a Potato Puree and Glazed Onions in a Blood Orange Reduction and that seemed to be the show stopper of the night. Of course the Sirloin looked great also, but with the culinary genius available at the Kittle house, the steak seems a little too easy.

We were lucky enough to have someone bring some fantastic wines for the evening (thanks Tom!) including the 2008 Kobalt and Noemi Napa Cabs. However the real treat came after we finished our meal and our host decided he wanted to venture into the cellar for something REALLY special. As per Glenn’s recommendation we went with a 2001 Merus Napa Cab, which scored 96 Pts by Robert Parker. Again, not that scores mean everything… but RP was dead on with this one!! It was a truly intricate, elegant and memorable wine from one of the best vintages in Napa. Needless to say, this was one of those meals that didn’t suck.

Granted, the Kittle House is not an inexpensive restaurant by any means. However when you consider how much your standard steakhouse (Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s) can cost for a meal, the Kittle House can actually be a lot less expensive if you order properly. Moreover if you take some advice from the knowledgeable “wine guys” on staff they are quite helpful in finding some of those older vintage value wines that are just really fun to drink. So if you are looking for somewhere special to go for your next big occasion, be certain not to overlook the Kittle House in Chappaqua.

You can also sample some of their dishes at the upcoming Westchester Culinary Experience…more details to come on that.



A Little Press for the WWG!

Just thought I would share a nice little write up that was done about me for Wine Enthusiast that you can view by clicking on the link below. As you may or may not know I manage a very talented team of Wine Storage Consultants at Wine Enthusiast and double as an in house Wine Specialist. So if you ever have any questions regarding anything related to wine or wine storage feel free to comment here or email me directly.


Some New Wines to Try in the New Year

So here we are in 2012. I’ll be honest; I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution kinda guy. However I do think about things that I would like to do in the year to come to try and better myself and expand my horizons. With the end of the world just around the corner, one thing I am planning on doing is focusing on trying some new and obscure varietals. I love finding those random new wines that can become a seasonal or perennial favorite of mine.

For example, I have recently been enamored with the wines of Campania in Italy, and more specifically the ones from the Taurasi DOCG which is an appellation within Campania. Aglianico is the main grape varietal used in the region and helps to produce big, concentrated and complex red wines. They make wonderful pairings with beef or veal dishes, as they can be somewhat tannic when they are young with lots of dark fruit character. My favorite right now is the 2007 Donnachiara Taurisi. It’s not cheap running in the $30 range, but man is it impressive!

While almost every wine drinker in the world is familiar with Cabernet Sauvignon, its neglected distant cousin Cabernet Franc can influence some pretty exciting wines as well. While it is mostly used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, more US wineries are using it as the feature grape variety in their wines. In warmer areas like California and Washington State it can mimic a lot of the Cabernet Sauvignon characteristics leading to big, fruit driven and tannic wines. However the cooler climates of the Loire Valley in France and New York lead to lighter wines with some herbal notes and bright acidity making them inherently food friendly. A few favorites of mine are the 2010 Ironstone Cabernet Franc California ($8-12), the2006 Pellegrini Cabernet Franc Long Island ($14-18) and the2009 Owen Roe “Rosa Mystica”  Cabernet Franc  Columbia Valley, WA  ($35-40).

The Rkatsiteli grape is one of the oldest known to man. It produces wines similar to a Riesling or Gewurztraminer which I have been diggin’ lately, especially ones from the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate NY. Someone turned me on to the Dr. Konstantin Frank 2009 Rkatsiteli ($14-20) about a week ago and I was pretty surprised how pleasant it was. It has this aroma of fresh flowers and herbs followed by a mouth full of clean fruit and crisp acidity. So now I am on the look out for more of these Rkatsiteli wines, specifically from the Finger Lakes, in hopes they are all this tasty!

Remember, there are literally hundreds of different grape varieties that are out there and they all will show different characteristics when grown in different regions. So don’t be afraid to try something new to see what floats your boat. After all, even if it is not your new favorite wine you can probably still catch a pretty good buzz from it 😉