“Monopoly Napa Valley Edition” unveiled this week

The World’s Most Popular Game Monopoly now has a Napa Valley Inspired edition Featuring Napa Cellars Winery, among other local businesses and Landmarks. Top Trumps, the American division of Winning Moves International (creators of classic games and puzzles) this week released “MONOPOLY Napa Valley Edition” under license from Hasbro.

This version of the game replaces famous Atlantic City squares (from Boardwalk to Park Place) with representations of much-loved Napa Valley cultural sites, historic landmarks, and time-honored businesses, alongside customized Community Chest and Chance playing cards to ensure each detail of the game pays homage to the iconic wine region destination.

Napa Valley is well known for its iconic wineries, Michelin-starred restaurants and stunning views from the valley to the Mayacamas mountains.

Napa Cellars, an Oakville tasting room and winery deeply rooted in the heart of Napa Valley for nearly 50 years, is one of the properties featured on the board. Beyond its square between “Free Parking” and “Chance” spaces on the Napa Valley edition of the iconic MONOPOLY board, the winery can be found on a Chance playing card, which reads “The sun is shining, and Napa Cellars is calling. Make a reservation for a picnic amongst the vines. Pay 150.” Napa Cellars can also be found on a Community Chest playing card, which reads: “Napa Cellars consulted you to craft the next vintage. Collect 200.”  Other wineries featured include Beringer Vineyards, Sterling Vineyards, Frank Family Vineyards, and Hall Wines.

 

“We’re thrilled to launch MONOPOLY Napa Valley Edition in time for the holidays and to celebrate one of the most beloved, culturally rich and geographically beautiful wine regions in the world. We’ve spent months creating a portrayal of the area’s dynamic communities that we hope locals and visitors alike will enjoy for years to come,” says Jennifer Tripsea, a representative from Top Trumps USA. “We’ve incorporated important feedback from locals to truly make this a fun and engaging game for Napa Valley residents and beyond.”

The Monopoly Napa Valley Edition is available for $39.95 USD on Amazon, CVS and www.toptrumps.us. The game is also for sale in several local retailers, including Napa Cellars’ Oakville tasting room along historic Highway 29.

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How to start off an evening in London ….

How to start off an evening …… with a coupe of Barons de Rothschild ‘Reserve Ritz” Brut NV, at the Rivoli Bar at the Ritz London – what can I say?

This is one of my favorite cocktail lounges in London.  It’s intimate and decadent with an art deco interior inspired by the Orient Express.

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Berry Bros. & Rudd – Some History and the Women Behind the Brand

On my way to 67 Pall Mall Wine Club for a meeting, I had some time, so I wandered into No.3…Just stepping through the front door it was a feast for my senses …. the ancient floorboards, mahogany wall paneling, antique furniture, Royal Warrants, old wine books and catalogs.  Looking closer I saw portraits of former Royal family members who were regular customers, and a framed letter from the White Star Line informing Berry Brothers of the loss of 69 cases of wine and spirits in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. What history! In short, the Berry Bros. & Rudd head office is a historian’s dream.

No. 3 St. James’s Street, London

No. 3 St. James’s Street is now used as the company’s headquarters. No.3, as it’s known, contained Berry Bros. & Rudd’s main retail premises until mid-2017, when these moved around the corner to a purpose-built shop at 63 Pall Mall.

Berry Bros. & Rudd, founded in 1698, and is Britain’s oldest, family-owned wine and spirits merchant. Still trading from No.3 St James’s Street, London, they have two Royal Warrants and five Masters of Wine on staff. Their services also include Other services it offers include wine investment, wine storage, a wine club, tutored tastings, wine events and educational courses.

Royal Warrants

Berry Bros. & Rudd has been the official wine supplier to the British Royal Family since King George III and received its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1903 from King Edward VII. Queen Elizabeth II granted the company her royal warrant in 1952, while Prince Charles, now King Charles lll, granted his in 1998.

Despite being 324 years old in 2022, Berry Bros. & Rudd remains at the forefront of wine and spirits innovation. Their current range of over than 4,000 wines is sourced from over 25 countries.

Berry Bros. & Rudd seems to embrace progress, and at the same time value their traditions. Still run by members of the Berry and Rudd families and they also continue to supply the British Royal Family, since King George III.

Women of Berry Bros. & Rudd

Berry Bro & Rudd has been run by the same two families for centuries; It has survived world wars and pandemics, but there is a fleet of female leaders who have shown, and now show that this historic business can and emerge stronger than ever.

The family firm began life as a grocery store in 1698, founded by a woman now known as “Widow Bourne.”

Elizabeth Rudd “Lizzy” is the current Chairman, who is currently planting the seed for the next generation with her ambitious sustainability plans and creating affordable wine investments.

Emma Fox, Chief Executive Officer, was appointed July 2020.  She has been an independent director of the firm’s board since October 2017.

“Over the past few years as a director, I have got to know BB&R very well, I share its values and am passionate about a culture where people flourish and have fun,” Fox said.

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Discovering the Wine Secrets of Southeastern Sicily – Filippo Magnani

There are two things you can be sure of when taking a food and wine itinerary in Sicily: you will always learn something new, and you will always leave a piece of your heart there when you leave. From the 13th to the 15th of July a well-organized press tour by Assovini Sicilia, led a handful of international journalists in three intense days to discover the Southeastern part of Sicily.  First in the area around the village of Noto from the Baroque splendors, to the promised land of Nero d’Avola; and then in the territory of Vittoria, the area of the now unique Sicilian DOCG, with the homonymous Cerasuolo name. Many estates were visited, dozens of wines were tasted together with producers, and a combination of cuisine specialties of the island were interpreted by local cooks or starred chefs. A continuous temptation, and indeed, an inexhaustible discovery.

Sicily’s Southeast, the heart of the island in the center of the Mediterranean Sea
Sicily is in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and the largest under vine area of Italy. An area that counts a multitude of appellations that are slowly becoming more and more famous thanks to the success of productions able to clearly express the combination of Sicilian microclimates. From the vineyards on the island of Pantelleria to the extreme fields on the slopes of Mount Etna, Sicily is an island of unparalleled beauty and diversity. Southeast Sicily certainly embodies the essence of Sicily and embraces some of the most important wine areas among the dense web of appellations of the island. Noto DOC was created in 1978 to protect the local historical passito of Moscato. Recently the regulation has been expanded to include red wines based on Nero d’Avola, which today covers up to 84% of the vineyards. The area has been under vines for thousands of years. It is a sun-kissed, warm territory but it benefits from the mitigating effect of the coastal proximity. From these hills the view of the island is open, the sea breeze envelops the atmosphere, and the lively green of the vineyards is matched with the dark soil. Surrounded by beautifully restored ocher-colored farms. The neat geometry of the vine rows is organized by dry stone walls, sometimes alternated with monumental plants of prickly pears, and finally some small, sparse patches of trees that almost seem to wonder what they are doing there…

The scenario around the wine district of Vittoria is different. The territories of production include the municipalities of Ragusa, Vittoria, Comiso, Acate, Chiaramonte Gulfi, Santa Croce Camerina, Niscemi, Gela, Caltagirone, Licodia Eubea, Riesi, Butera, Mazzarino and Mazzarrone (five in the Ragusa province, two in the Caltanissetta province and two in the Catania province). The area is delimited to the north by the Erei mountains and to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. The inland is occupied by the majestic Iblei mountains from which many waterways descend. The streams have dug through the land and shaped valleys on which the vineyards climb, and through the thermal breezes coming from the coast, which can deeply affect the climate, creating abnormal temperature excursions close to twenty degrees. On Vittoria’s hills, the soils are differentiated by Millennial stormwater runoff, producers are able to use this to produce red wines characterized by structure and sapidity versus tremendously drinkable wines of immediacy of fruit. To visit the vineyard estates, it is necessary to go down into these valleys completely submerged by cultivations.

The possibilities are endless. The variability of climatic conditions with the multiplicity and succession of the soil (clay, sandy-loamy, limestone soils) allow producers to interpret their personal and intimate Sicily in their bottles of wines. The finesse of the Cerasuolo by Vittoria Docg is expressed in blends composed of the only two native vines allowed by the disciplinary: Nero d’Avola and Frappato, in 50 to 70% and 30 to 50% respectively. The two contrasting varieties prove to be extremely complementary. The fragrance of Frappato goes perfectly with the more meditative aspect of Nero d’Avola, creating unique wines. These styles of wines are neither light nor heavy, they go beyond any concept of the seasonality of wines. The depth and structure of Nero d’Avola are lightened and harmonized by the fresher aromas and elegance of the fantastic Frappato. Wine must speak for the territory as much as it can give a little hint of the soul of its inhabitants. Vittoria’s wines are bright and exuberant, just like the people there.

Land of tales with a wide array of beautiful wine estates to visit
South-East Sicily is one of the most coveted wine destinations for wine lovers and wine connoisseurs. Wine tourism has become a key factor for territorial promotion. There is an increasing number of tourists who visit these lands just to discover the wine traditions. While visitors discover the mosaic of small and large wineries hidden in every corner of those lands, the protagonists of the Sicilian wine scene have understood the infinite potential of their land and they are moving towards the future, offering more impeccable travel proposals, starting from unique experiences in the cellar, through food delicatesse, to beautiful retreats. The “blend” of ancient traditions and modern cultivation practices with market strategies and investments for hospitality and tourism has made Sicily one of the most interesting wine destinations in Italy. The pulsating center of the area is Syracuse. The City of Syracuse combines works of the Greco-Roman era, spectacular squares, artisan boutiques, and of course the breathtaking shores and a crystal-clear sea. To the Southwest lies Val di Noto. The rolling hills or the valley frame a few beautiful late-baroque towns such as Noto, Ragusa, Modica and Scicli. Perfect places to enjoy gastronomic delights in small Osterie, Taverns, or Michelin-starred restaurants, surrounded by works of art and monuments that exude the history of man. The rest of the land is wild with luscious green vineyards, rocky ravines and prehistoric tombs, a thread woven between nature and man that run from the hills to an uncontaminated rugged coastline. A wide array of properties with great wine production and hospitality proposals for wine enthusiasts and wine professionals. Here are the wineries we visited during the magnificent tour.

Assovini
Assovini was founded in 1998 and it is the organization that most supported and carried out the territorial development project in the last 25 years for wine production and wine tourism. Today, along with 90 producers and nearly 900 labels produced, they are aiming to bring the fantastic value of Sicilian wines worldwide. In this direction Assovini in 2004 created the event Sicilia en premieur: A yearly itinerant event where the producers and the members of Assovini, lead a selected international press through tastings, tours, masterclasses, and conventions.

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Delaire Graff Estate, South Africa – Part ll Wine Tasting

History
The estate was founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel. Simon brought with him a sound knowledge of viticulture. In 1982 John Platter (wine writer) purchased the estate which was then known as Avontuur. Looking at the magnificent view, John decided to rename the wine farm Delaire Estate, meaning “From the Sky”. Laurence Graff, Chairman of Graff Diamonds International acquired the estate in 2003 and vowed to transform it into South Africa’s most desirable art, hospitality and wine destination. In just three years the estate was rated one of the top ten wine producers in South Africa.

The Estate
The estate currently owns 20 hectares of vineyards which are located on the slopes of Botmaskop Mountain. The vines benefit from a north-facing aspect as well as high-altitude and maritime influences. Winemaker Morné Vrey produces excellent red blends dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, with impressive single block Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, a 100% Cabernet Franc rosé, and some supremely elegant vintages.

It is interesting to note that Delaire Graff Estate wines rank among the most prestigious in the Southern Hemisphere, where their cutting-edge 450-ton gravity-fed Estate winery is a celebration of both old and new.

After a lengthy tour of the “Owner’s Villa” we headed to the main building walking through breathtaking landscaped gardens, stunning sculptures, and art.  It’s interesting to note that the gardens have over 350 indigenous plants, exotic plants and flowers.

Once inside I had to ask …. for a brief visit to the Graff Diamonds store as it begs for further investigation. Once inside (no photos allowed) it was certainly the ultimate experience — so many enticing pieces and iconic stones were on display. I felt like I was inside a beautifully designed jewelry box.

After a twenty-minute conversation with the Assistant Manager on Graff Diamond’s history, we headed off to the Delaire Graff Tasting Room.

On route, we came across Laurence Graff’s recent acquisition the original of Vladimir Tretchikoff’s ‘Chinese Girl’, which is currently displayed at the entrance of the winery. This is said to be one of the most recognizable paintings in the world.

Delaire Graff Tasting Room
The Tasting Room offers incredible mountain and vineyard views. The sommeliers were quite knowledgeable on South African wines, and their service was quite intuitive – this is certainly hospitality at its best!

Delaire Graff Estate Wines Tasted

Delaire Graff Estate ‘Sunrise’ Brut MCC 

The Backstory
This wine was named after the magnificent 118.08 carat “Delaire Sunrise Diamond” the largest square emerald cut fancy vivid yellow diamond in the world.

Alcohol: 12.5%
Method: Traditional Method
Dosage: Brut
Blend: 58% Chenin Blanc, 34% Chardonnay & 8% Cabernet Franc

Tasting Notes
Light yellow gold in colour; a stream of fine and persistent bubbles; with green apple and melon dominating the nose; the palate shows finesse and intensity, some citrus flavours [lemon and grapefruit] along with toasty brioche; zesty and fresh – elegantly balanced; lovely long yeasty citrus finish.

The Delaire Graff Sunrise Brut MCC spoils the eye with its radiant, golden colour and unquestionably lives up to its name!
92/100

2022 Delaire Graff Estate Rose Cabernet Franc

The Backstory
This unique Rosé is handpicked and gently pressed to obtain the perfect, subtle salmon pink hue.  This wine is also a Delaire Graff Estate employee favorite.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc

Tasting Notes
Medium-intensity salmon in color; has aromas of strawberry, red plum, dark berries with a hint of candy floss; a creamy and structured palate with layered flavours of fresh strawberry, red berries, cassis, and a seductive spicy finish.
92/100

2021 Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay (Estate)

Backstory
Winemaker Morné Vrey is committed to meticulous vineyard management.  The grapes are handpicked, whole bunch pressed, fermented, and matured in small French oak barrels for 10 months.

Alcohol: 13.6%
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay

Tasting Notes
The wine is a buttery yellow hue; complex aromas of citrus, peaches, concomitant spice, vanilla and salted butter; The palate repeats the aromas with to a long lingering finish.
94/100

2019 Delaire Graff Estate Banghoek Reserve Merlot

Backstory
These wines come from the oldest vineyards on the Estate.  These wines are a raconteur weaving the tale of the property’s humble beginnings. Expressions of the site’s splendor, with its rich earthiness and bountiful fruit. These Single Vineyard wines are also handpicked and are matured in 80% new French oak for 16 months.  Vinification – extensive sorting of the grapes formed part of the quality management process. The grapes were de-stemmed only, not crushed, to ensure gentle extraction of fruit flavours.

Alcohol: 14.5 %
Varietal: 100% Merlot

Tasting Notes:
Firm and well balanced, this Merlot is characterized by spice, dark plum and dark red berry flavours and aromas whilst silky, ripe tannins with a long and lingering finish; a luxurious elegant wine.
93/100

Conclusion
What an extraordinary experience to sip Delaire Graff terroir-specific award-winning wines with these stunning views of the Winelands and being surrounded by Laurence Graff’s personal art collection.

From Laurence Graff’s own words

“Delaire means ‘from the sky’, and the wines we craft here are an invitation to savour this unique piece of heaven and earth in Stellenbosch.”
Laurence Graff

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