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Dec 3, 200912:00 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

Congratulations Are in Order


WINO and C Squared merlot have been garnering national accolades lately.

Looking at the soon-to-expire calendar on the wall (actually, I have not had a calendar on the wall for quite a few years, but “calendar on the screen in the Outlook program” does not have a pretty ring to it), it seems there has been a joyous batch of accolades for some local folks.

The Saints are not the only New Orleanians making an impact both around town and beyond, so let’s bring you up to date on others.

WINO,  a great abbreviation for the Wine Institute of New Orleans, which is a rather lofty name, received a wonderful write-up late Friday in USA Today’s weekend section. I’m thinking no one saw it because the Friday after Thanksgiving is not exactly a high circulation day for the newspaper.

Anyway, WINO was listed in the “10 Great Places to Forge Fun.” The national paper said that WINO is an “oenophile’s dream” and a “sophisticated respite from Bourbon Street madness.”

Why every member of the visiting media has to reference Bourbon Street escapes me, but a positive mention of anything about New Orleans is always appreciated.

Zagat editor Eric Grossman further notes: “The main attraction is a state-of-the-art Italian-made wine serving system that, upon inserting a pre-paid store debit card, allows customers to pour an ounce’s taste, or a half- or full glass. Don’t miss the cheese menu for pairings.”

He does manage to insert the correct description of the operation –– that it is a wine bar, shop and school.

If you have not been to WINO, it is located at 610 Tchoupitoulas St. in the Warehouse District, just one block toward uptown from Poydras.

Congratulations go out to Bryan Burkey and the whole gang over at WINO!

Ron Christner and his wife, Bonnie Curry, have for a few years worked with their Bennett Valley Road vineyard in Sonoma, trying to raise merlot in a high-quality, small-batch fashion.

Ron is a professor at Loyola University, and Bonnie is a local real estate appraiser, but they have a passion for wine, and they also possess quite discriminating palates, I might add. Due to one darn thing after another, they have not been able to bring enough wine to market to make it worth everyone’s while, including the winemaker, the winery and themselves.

They’ve managed to eke out some small quantity of their wines, beginning with the 2005 vintage, and along the way I have always been impressed with their wines’ structures and styles. The Sonoma County Harvest Fair wine competition, the main such competition for producers in that area, awarded a Silver Medal to their 2005 effort. (Disclosure: I judge at that competition, at which all wines are tasted blind, as is the case in every professional wine competition.)

Now, it seems, their just-released 2007 C Squared merlot has been recognized with a 92 rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine. I’m not usually a big fan of numerical ratings, but I wanted to note it here because 1) It is really good wine, 2) Local folks are behind it, and 3) It’s available only in New Orleans and Northern California.

Look for the wine at Swirl, the wine shop just off Esplanade by the Fair Grounds, and a few other places around town, such as Upperline restaurant. Ron and Bonnie have recently signed with a local distributor, so C Squared will likely be popping up on a few more restaurant wine lists.

But there is not much of it, so I would suggest you pick up a bottle or two very soon.

Congratulations to C Squared Merlot, and to its proud New Orleans creators, Ron Christner and Bonnie Curry.

Oh, and you may also want to visit Il Posto Italian Bistro, 4607 Dryades, just up from Napoleon Avenue. That’s the operation of their daughter, Madison, and I’ll bet she’ll have C Squared to accompany some incredibly authentic and fresh Italian cuisine.

While we are handing out congratulations, this last accolade is for a bar professional who is absolutely on fire. No, not literally.

Daniel Victory, an extremely capable and talented mixologist at Jeremy Davenport’s lounge in the Ritz-Carlton, will have to expand his mantel in order to accommodate all the awards he has gathered in just the past year.

About a month ago, he scored quite the accolade from GQ magazine for his creation the Courtyard Cooler, using Bombay Sapphire gin. He’ll make you one any evening at the bar.

Coming up this week, Daniel will be honored by our own New Orleans Magazine (of course it’s our own –– New Orleans Magazine in Denver does not make sense) as the Bartender of the Year in New Orleans.

Don’t think that is an easy recognition to gain: Do you have any idea how many great bartenders there are in this town?

Now we hear that in January, Daniel will be heading to the Big Apple as a finalist in the Bénédictine-sponsored Alchemist of Our Age competition.

The folks who create Bénédictine Liqueur are celebrating 500 years since the creation of the product by a Benedictine monk in Fécamp, France, during the Renaissance.

Daniel has created a quite interesting and understated concoction, the Bénédictine Harvest Sensation:

1 1/2 ounces Bénédictine
1 ounce sweet potato au jus

Splash of heavy cream

In a mixing glass, stir above ingredients with ice. Next pour into a pony glass with a “Rim of Magie.”*
Finally, garnish with a sweet potato chip.

*Rim of Magie: 

Sweet potato hay

Sea salt

Unflavored Pop Rocks

Now that sounds interesting. Who even knew that Pop Rocks came unflavored?

Congratulations, Daniel Victory, on quite an incredible run of success.

There you are. Just when you think that matters have quieted down or that we are resting on our reputation as a football capital, along come good local folks who are bringing more glory to our little burg.

Thanks to all of them for their dedication –– and to all of you because you are a part of what they are accomplishing.


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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans


In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.


Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and weekly columnist, Happy Hour, for www.MyNewOrleans.com; creator and editor of his own website, www.winetalknola.com; all in addition to his daily hosting duties on the radio program, The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every weekday, 3- 5 p.m, and streamed live on www.wgso.com.


Over the years, Tim has proved to be an informed interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.


Tim’s love of wine actually came about many years ago from his then wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.


They were instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major national and international well-regarded festival of its type. They both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now over twenty years old.


Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, Florida Wine Festival Competition, the State of Michigan Wine Competition, the U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.


Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.


It’s a good gig. 




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