As you may know from previous posts, Husband has partnered on a number of projects with Lord and Lady Carnarvon, owners of Highclere Castle, aka the Real Downton Abbey. This means that we periodically get to visit our friends across the Pond and enjoy time in their wonderful home. The stunning Castle is like a step back in time. Walking in for the first time, I was astounded to realize how well I knew the interior of their home – it’s because virtually all Downton did was remove their personal photos. All the furniture is theirs!
Lady Carnarvon is now opening her home to the public and wants YOU to come and dine at Downton too! She’s running a contest for the month of February in order to raise money for PBS. All you have to do is throw a FABULOUS dinner party, inspired by Highclere and Downton Abbey, raise some funds to donate and enter to win. The winners will be flown to the UK, courtesy of Viking River Cruises, stay the night at Highclere, and enjoy a FABULOUS dinner party with Lord and Lady Carnarvon.
Husband and I are planning our soirée now using recipes from Lady Carnarvon’s latest book, At Home At Highclere. We made her famous chocolate pots for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit! There’s recipe ideas on her blog as well. Let me know if you’re going to enter and we can chat about party planning!
Now on to arranging a menu and wine pairing! Until the next glass!
Highclere Castle Cigars, which are now available throughout the US, Highclere Castle Gin, which is getting ready for production, and a Highclere Castle Distillery, which is in the works!
 Perhaps in Lady Mary’s room where poor Mr. Pamuk died from utter bliss?!
 Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that Wine Esquire should be on the guest list for this event. #ToDoList
Because that’s what you do at Christmas, you give gifts to those you love! And I love all of you! This Christmas I’ve partnered with my friends at Sauska Wines (Sh-au-shka) to bring you an extra special Holiday treat.
First of all, Hungarian wine is where it’s at. Their unique indigenous grapes make some seriously amazing wine. And their Tokaji Aszú wine specifically is OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD. So that’s why I want you to try some.
You have until Monday, December 26, 2016 at noon EST. A winner will be picked at random to receive a bottle of their delicious 2003 Tokaji Aszú, 6 puttonyos. This wine is literally pure liquid gold. Notes of thick apricot and honey with a hint of vanilla. The desert wine to top all dessert wines. You may not want to share, although sharing is caring, and ‘tis the season.
Legend has it that Tokaj wine debuted on the world stage when Francis II Rákóczi, prince of Transylvania, gifted King Louis XIV of France with numerous bottles of wine from his Tokaj estate in 1703. When Tokaji wine was served at Versaille for the first time, King Louis XIV declared it “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum” or “Wine of Kings, King of Wines”.
Merry Christmas Eve, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Christmas my friends! May your family be happy, your cookies delicious and your wine glass full!
Lawyer Footnotes  Like Kékfrankos, Furmint and Hárslevelű. More on those later, promise.  Pronounced Toe-kai Ah-zoo. Still figuring this language out myself. Puttonyos is the unit given to indicate the level of sweetness of Tokaji wine. It was traditionally measured by the number of hods added to a barrel of wine. A hod is an antique grape picking bucket. Puttonyos are now measured in grams of residual sugar.
The holidays are a perfect time to get nostalgic, and Millesima is making me all sorts of nostalgic this week. Entries are now open for the 2017 Blog Awards, which means seven lucky bloggers will be heading to En Primeur in Bordeaux in April. This time without me. I’m so jealous.
This was literally the trip of a lifetime, especially for a wine blogger. Me and my blogger counterparts, three from the US, three from Europe, were treated like Kings and Queens from the second we stepped off the airplane until the moment we were chauffeured back to the airport.
You may recall last year when I asked you, and every other person I’ve ever met, to vote for my entry in the awards. The contest asks bloggers to submit a wine blog that fits into one of three categories:
Wine & Food Pairing Award
Wine Travel Award
Wine Reporter Award (an open category celebrating the best in wine writing)
Wine bloggers from the USA, Europe, and Asia are qualified to enter so long as the entries are written in English. A panel of three judges whittle down the contestants to a few finalists and then it goes to popular vote.
Winners this year will be flown to Bordeaux, enjoy a private guided tour of the city, a gala welcoming soirée, imbibe at exclusive tastings of the 2016 vintage en primeur with the Chateaux of the Union des Grands Crus, and more.
I think I read something about how past winners aren’t eligible. Maybe I’ll start a new blog called Winer Esquirer and submit an entry again. Technically, Winer Esquirer wasn’t a winner, so I think I’m ok. That’s not cheating right?
If you have any questions about how fantabulous the experience was, feel free to reach out. I love reminiscing about French fairytales. For example, we literally drank the 2015 vintage of Château d’Yquem like water. For a few hours. At the Château. While we chatted it up with the winemaker. For real. That happened.
My friends at Millesima and Bernard Magrez truly know how to make you feel like royalty. Every detail was attended to, and the trip was a jam-packed, wine-filled breathtaking experience. Not only was the wine and food phenomenal, it was an incredible chance to make some lifelong friends from all over the world. My buddies and I still chat today and I’ve even had the opportunity to meet up with people I met there in New York.
You can visit the blogs of my fellow winners, Madelyn, Michelle, Jeremy, Mike and Toma, where they document their fabulous international wine journeys.
I really can’t say enough about the experience, and if you’re a wine blogger, you’d be crazy not to give it a go. Can’t wait to read your entries, Cheers!
Lawyer Footnotes  Never say never though, I’m working out a way for me to go back too!! #seeyouthere  In a wifi-enabled Mercedes. Because how else do you travel around Bordeaux?  I wrote about a white Bordeaux blend, homemade crepes and a crazy a#s client. I miraculously ended up winning the Wine and Food pairing category.  Thank God for Facebook. If I’m friends with you on Facebook, I asked you to vote. Probably on a daily basis. #sorrynotsorry
Sorry to get deep and emotional, but since I’ve been invited to be part of Beringer’s Better Beckons contest, it made me remember what I’m doing and why, and it put a smile on my face. So I hope it does the same for you!
As I pondered this concept, I started thinking about why I started this blog, why I drink wine, why I get up in the morning. It’s really because something better is beckoning. Every day can be a great day, if you choose to be happy in the moment. You may not be in the perfect place, but if you think about the place you want to be in, and do something every day, even if it’s a small something, to put you a little bit closer to that place, it’s a day well spent. It’s important to remember that life really is a journey and not a destination, and if you don’t have fun along the way, you’re losing out. Being the best you can be and being happy with who you are is that’s all that matters.
While you’re thinking about your life and what your plan is, grab a bottle of Beringer and bring it somewhere beautiful, fun and inspiring. Pop the cork, pour a glass and reflect on your surroundings. Post a photo on Instagram, hashtag it with #BeringerUS and #Contest, and you could be the lucky winner of a trip to Napa Valley. Photos must be posted by September 30, so get poppin’!
I took my bottle of Beringer to Gillette’s Castle in East Haddam, Connecticut. The home is an epic masterpiece built by William Gillette, a writer, playwright and actor, famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on the American Stage. Construction began on the medieval-esq castle in 1914. Twenty men, five years and $1.1 million later, it was completed in 1919. Built entirely from Gillette’s own design plans, it includes secret locks, hidden mirrors, perhaps the first sprinkler system, and at one time, its own steam-powered railroad. Sitting atop one of Connecticut’s Seven Sisters Hills, its breathtaking views of the Connecticut River are sweeping and commanding.
Dying with no wife and no heirs, in his will Gillette warned against his home and possessions ending up in the hands of “some blithering saphead who had no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” Ironically, The State of Connecticut purchased the land and turned the property into a state park.
The wine I brought with me was the 2013 Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley. In a word, it was luxurious. A big nose with a beautiful bouquet of blackberries and raspberries. Stunningly rich and silky smooth with beautiful, soft tannins that left you wanting more. Lots of ripe fruit that finished with almost a hint of chocolate. At $35 a bottle, it’s an excellent dinner party splurge. You and your friends will enjoy this big bold wine with your fruit and cheese platter, a hearty pasta, or even a nice filet mignon.
Lawyer Footnotes  My Instagram posts and Tweets were sponsored by Mirum Shopper. They also provided me with the wine and glasses. All thoughts, reviews and content contained herein are my own.  So many reasons!  Because the alarm goes off and it’s hard to sleep through.  A nice bottle of wine helps too. And people you like. And good food. Did I mention wine?  I’m not advocating bringing wine to places with a no alcohol policy…So if you get caught, don’t blame it on me. #StateParks  Details and contest rules available here. Must be 21+ to enter.  Where I’m sure alcohol is not allowed.  Let me know what time dinner starts and I’ll be there. Maybe I’ll even bring a bottle of wine.