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Wines of Argentina

A dreary Boston Wednesday is always made better by a mid-day wine tasting. Hosted by warm and welcoming people in a stellar location for tasting wine (or any other event), the Wines of Argentina: Meet the Experts Roadshow, held last week at the JFK Presidential Library, was definitely one of the most well organized and informative wine events I have attended. I was lucky to be invited as part of Red, White, Boston, and one perk to having a slowing-down work schedule is the ability to attend such trade events. Now to get me some Marketing work in the wine industry, and we will be all set.

Let’s start with the location of the event, shall we?

 

island roses

I had a meeting in downtown Boston, so I took the T back to JFK UMass, and despite the pouring rain, decided to forego the UMass shuttle and walked to the library. Being out in the rain by the sea actually lifts my spirits, and it definitely worked. It felt like Ireland. I snapped a shot of one of the few remaining island roses from the summer, bright against a green, vibrant background. The sea, at times was so cloaked by fog that it was almost invisible. I thought these trees looked a little eerie.

UMass Boston

Even the dead leaves in the grass looked pretty. I love the UMass Boston campus; what a beautiful, serene location!

autumn

When it was time for the event to get started, I checked in and met up with Cathy from Red, White, Boston and then took a look around the room which was split into two parts, one for the sit-down tasting program and another for the reception. The room was actually the same room that Senator Kennedy’s public wake was held in, and I won’t lie, being there again made me a little emotional. The organizers of the event also found the venue to be very special, bringing Argentine wine and culture to a place built after a President that was beloved by so many and a family that has been so important in American history.

Wines of Argentina

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Making the event even more special was the lineup of wines available for tasting during the reception and the gorgeous display of food. All sorts of cheeses, vegetables, sauces, breads, and even a pan of tortilla was displayed in the center of the reception, with items like beef empanadas being passed around the room. I  grabbed a quick triangle of the tortilla and a taste of sparkling wine before heading off with Cathy and a group of wine writers for a very special interview.

Wines of Argentina

We had the very exciting opportunity of sitting down in a small group with two of the special guests of the day, Tomas Hughes (left), Agricultural Manager at Bodegas Nieto Senetiner and Edgardo Del Popolo, winemaking and viticulture director at Doña Paula. They spoke about what makes Malbec special, how it came to Argentina in the 1850’s from Cahors, France and for a long time was blended in with many other reds. Malbec adapted well to the soils and altitude of Argentina, and it was when growers started to notice this  that they started to work with it and realize that not only could it be grown in various conditions, but it would also be made in various styles that are flexible and food friendly, pairing well with anything from an Argentine steak or beef empanada (their favorite) to an Italian pasta or even a meaty, fatty fish. Our time with Mr. Hughes and Mr. Del Popolo was short, but they were so interesting and engaging and happy to speak with all of us.

Wines of Argentina

When it was time for the program to begin, I sat down with some other Red White Tasting Crew members to learn more about Malbec as well as to taste Malbec and other wines from Argentina.

Wines of Argentina

 

Wines of Argentina

Wines of Argentina

Each short information session included a tasting of 2-3 wines. You’ll notice red spit cups; it was the middle of the day, and this was a trade event! I did not spit the sparkling wine I had at the reception or the Weinert Malbec from 1977, but I did spit all the others. Sniffle.

The tasting started with a session on Malbec: When the Planets Aligned. This session shared with us more information on Malbec and how it came to be popular as well as how Argentine winemakers are being careful not to make the same mistake Australia made with Shiraz. Shiraz (Syrah) became very popular, and Australia started to grow it everywhere, producing a glut of wine that was not all good (hello, Yellow Tail), and that really cheapened the appeal of the variety. In the opposite way, Argentina is focusing on the sense of place, where they grow Malbec, and some of the nuances between the flavors and noses of the wines grown at different altitudes and different types of soil. The second session, The DNA of Malbec expanded on information on the different styles as well as the different growing areas. In the first two sessions we tasted all Malbec:

Mendel Malbec 2008

Doña Paula Seleccion De Bodega Malbec 2007

Colome Malbec 2009

Nieto Senetiner Terroir Blend Malbec 2009

NQN Universo Malbec 2009

I didn’t take great tasting notes, but the Doña Paula was one of my favorites, with nice, spicy notes in addition to the dark fruit. I definitely left this event with purple teeth!

The third session was Malbec for Collectors and was done via a video of winemaker Robert de la Mota. The tasting, from a first bottling of the 1977 Weinert Malbec, was done at the end of the event.

We also had the opportunity to learn about other wines being made in Argentina and tasted the following:

Michel Torino Don David Torrontes 2011 (Beautiful white, perfect for Indian food, I am in love with this wine!)

Altos Las Hormigas Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda 2009 (very dry with lots of stewed dark fruit flavors)

Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (rich, chocolate-y Cab, absolutely gorgeous)

The event wrapped up with Sandy Block, Legal Seafoods VP of Beverage Operations (and one of my wine instructors), talking about Argentina’s emerging classics, icon wines that will reach a world class stature.

It was such an educational way to spend an afternoon, and I left with two thoughts.

1) I definitely need to taste more Malbec and to pay attention to the differences in wines grown in different parts of Argentina as well as different parts of the world.

2) I need to visit Argentina ASAP. It is at the very top of my travel list; now I just need the time and money to make it happen!

 

That was a long post! Whew. . .

How was your weekend?

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Tags: Argentina, Boston, events, JFK Library, Malbec, Red White Boston, wine, wines of Argentina

Just a few minutes’ walk from our house, the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts sits along the Boston waterfront, sparkling blue, a beautiful place for a walk, run, or bike ride.

UMASS Boston

I spent some of my winter marathon training running around the campus, but other than that I don’t spend much time there. Yesterday I decided to change that by paying my third visit to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. With the weather being amazing, it was the perfect day to take a walk by the ocean, and being it was St. Patrick’s Day, the museum was actually offering a discount. 

I arrived at the museum, bought my ticket, got my camera out (sans flash), and started to explore. First I visited the special visit marking the anniversary of JFK’s inauguration. You’ll see that I got behind the podium to give my inaugural speech Smile

JFK Library JFK Library
JFK Library JFK Library

Then I started through the permanent exhibits, beginning with the campaign for President.

JFK Presidential Library

Through to the election

JFK Presidential Library

JFK Presidential Library JFK Presidential Library

The next exhibit was the inauguration, including Jacqueline Kennedy’s inauguration dress. While the entire museum is inspiring, I have a certain soft spot for Jackie Kennedy’s fashion and other items.

Jacqueline Kennedy inauguration dress

The food blogger in me had to take a photo of the inaugural luncheon menu. I was happy to see New England stuffed lobster on there!

JFK inauguration menu

I love this image of JFK and RFK at the White House.

JFK and RFK

After that, I moved on to the exhibit dedicated to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Jacqueline Kennedy clothing

It contains some clothing and many articles about this elegant and much-loved First Lady.

 

 

 

Jacqueline Kennedy clothing

Jacqueline Kennedy Jacqueline Kennedy

The walls are lined with photographs of Jacqueline’s life, including the gorgeous photos above of her debut to Newport society and her reading with daughter Caroline.

JFK in Ireland

Next up was the JFK in Ireland exhibit. Once a special exhibit all its own, it now has a smaller piece of real estate in the museum, but it is pretty moving and special.

JFK in Ireland

In the same room hangs a large photo of the entire Kennedy family. The museum is certainly a great place for people who love old photographs.

JFK Library

The museum then turns dark, with a tunnel of television screens featuring Walter Kronkite’s broadcast the day of President Kennedy’s assassination.

JFK Library

It is followed by a room showing photos of Kennedy memorials and tributes around the world.

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The exhibits end with portions dedicated to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, Teddy to us in Massachusetts and the Profiles in Courage award.

The main area of the museum is absolutely stunning. I want someone I know to get married there. With a view of the bay where blue sky meets beautiful ocean, it is a place that is peaceful and uplifting.

JFK Library

JFK Library

Thus concluded my tour of the JFK Presidential Library. I followed it with a long walk along the water, raising my face to the sun and not caring a bit if I got burnt, just for one day. I honestly felt like it would never be warm again. I am back to loving New England.

Have you ever been to the JFK Presidential Library?

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Tags: Dorchester, JFK Library, museums, presidents, Travel

After a post on a Dorchester neighborhood gem, Banh Mi Ba Le, I received a few emails from people interested in exploring Boston’s largest neighborhood and asking if I would put together an itinerary.

The day I have outlined below highlights only a few of the fun things that are going on in Dorchester.

It is a Saturday, preferably a warm-ish one, and you are going to get started bright and early by taking the Red Line to JFK/UMASS station in Dorchester. Due to the nature of the day’s plans, you are best to not drive.

JFK Library

Stop #1 – John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

From JFK/UMASS station, take the shuttle bus marked JFK straight to the     John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, open from 9-5 daily. The bus, which runs every 20 minutes, is free and will bring you straight to the museum. Looking back, I am now wondering why the bus driver made me pay $2 each way when I took the bus to Senator Kennedy’s wake. I do believe we were taken advantage of!

The JFK Library, due to its Dorchester location, is something that many Bostonians and tourists miss, and that is an incredibly unfortunate situation. It is incredibly informative, interactive, and moving, a step back in history to a different time and a chance to see an era that shaped America. You will get chills, I promise. And once you are done touring the museum, you are right on the water for some beautiful views.

From here, it is up to you whether you take the shuttle back to the station, or you may choose to stroll along the Harbor Walk. Either way, your next destination is breakfast and sport.

Irish breakfast

Stop #2 – The Banshee

The Banshee is our local pub and the place to sit over cups of tea, an Irish breakfast, and soccer or rugby. If you get there on a Saturday over the next few weeks to catch the 6 Nations Rugby tournament matches, you are in for quite the experience. It can be loud and crowded with people happily downing pints at 11 am, but hey, it’s 5:00 where the match is taking place. . . I find it to be a total blast and something I likely wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t married to my husband and/or living in Dorchester. The Banshee whips up a great Irish breakfast with a vegetarian option for those who cast off the blood pudding (ew!), but they also have all sorts of other breakfast items like veggie omelets. You should be able to find something to please everyone in your group with their diverse menu which has been updated in recent years from really basic pub grub to a slightly more upscale offering.

Sit back, watch a match or two, listen to music, and enjoy a pint. In fact, don’t leave The Banshee until you are hungry again.

Banh Mi Ba Le

banh mi

Stop #3 Lunch at Banh Mi Ba Le

I’ll share this gem again, just because for $3 you can get a filling, interesting, delicious lunch. Still full from breakfast? Share a veggie banh mi, or check out some of the fresh juices or sweets available at Banh Mi Ba Le. If the weather outside is nice, wander down the street while you eat, and check out more of the Vietnamese stores and restaurants that line Dorchester Ave.

Or better yet, head back toward the waterfront, via Savin Hill Ave, and have a walk and a picnic on the beach. Just beware of coyotes!

Stop # 4 Drinks and dinner at dbar

I have dined at Dorchester’s dbar a million times, and would you believe I don’t have any photos. And I know why. dbar is one of those places that is close enough and while really nice, also casual enough for last minute dinners or brunches (their brunch is SO good!), that we often go there when we REALLY need to get out of the house and drop everything for a couple of hours. Their staff has always been incredibly helpful, sweet, and welcoming. dbar has a killer list of fun, seasonal cocktails, great wines and beers, and some of my favorite food in Boston. Their fries are perfection, the day boat scallops the sweetest and freshest, and the three spreads they give you for the bread basket might have you making an entire meal out of bread.

When you finish up at dbar, you might just want to head back to The Banshee for some dancing, if the day has brought enough cocktails Smile Or, be adventurous and head further into Dorchester by taking the train to Ashmont for after dinner drinks by the Ashmont Grill’s outdoor fire.

If you are in the area on a Monday night, definitely check out Ashmont Grill’s weekly wine dinner, $35 for four courses with four glasses of wine. It is an exceptional deal and a ton of fun for groups. Just make a reservation!

So, there ya go, Dorchester in a day! This post doesn’t even touch on the Polish/Eastern European corner of my neighborhood, but I will save that for another day.

Writing this post REALLY made me look forward to spring events and weekend days of wandering.

Besides the warmer weather, what excited you about spring?

Dbar on Urbanspoon The Banshee on Urbanspoon

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Tags: Boston, cocktails, dbar, Dorchester, Food, Harbor Walk, JFK Library, local travel, The Banshee, tourism

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