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Welcome to Connoisseur Corner - Luxe Consulting and Executive Services

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…

Marty can be contacted at: 916.952.9529 Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

4/7/18

Hola..! Los Cabos’ Newest Resorts!




The tip of the Baja Peninsula continues to draw relaxation seekers from near and far.  The once sleepy towns San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas haven’t been somnolent in years, and the growth continues at an accelerated pace.  So much so, that your choice of resort might be rather difficult.

Two of the newest additions are the beachfront Solaz resort (opening in June), and the sharp Chileno Bay, an Auberge Resort.

Solaz is from the same folks that created the Hacienda del Mar complex.  This latest offering boasts award winning architecture and design, as well as the requisite top shelf amenities including seven restaurants, a gym, a world class spa, several infinity pools and even an interactive museum. 

Chileno Bay brings 92 guestrooms and villas to the Los Cabos vacation inventory.  Designed to highlight an indoor/outdoor aesthetic, the vibe is an excellent blend of casual and luxe, ideal for full relaxation.  Three restaurants, Comal, TnT (Tacos and Tequila) and the Pool Grill, will keep you fed.  The infinity pools, swimmable beach, Auberge Spa and Chileno Bay Club golf course will keep you occupied as needed. 

In the coming months, five more resorts are slated to join the list.  These include Montage Los Cabos, Nobu Hotel, Zadún (Ritz-Carlton), Four Seasons at Costa Palms and 1Hotel & Homes.
If the Cabo vibe is your thing, take your pick from the above and prepare to relax.

Cheers…!


Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com




3/18/18

ELAC Debut 2.0 – Budget Speakers Mo’ Better!



In the world of bang-for-the-buck speakers, it is hard to beat the products from legendary speaker designer Andrew Jones and his ELAC line of speakers.  Bursting on the scene in 2015, the first-generation ELAC Debut speakers made a notable impression on the audio glitterati, providing unexpectedly refined sound at a fiscally friendly price point. 

Now it’s time for gen-2…! 

Per Mr. Jones, “Based on feedback from dealers and end-users, along with changes in the market, we have completely redesigned the entire line-up with newly developed drivers, waveguides, cabinets and networks resulting in a line that is easier to setup and offers significant performance improvements”.

I’ll start with the cabinets.  The MDF enclosures bring improvements in internal bracing to reduce vibration and coloration of sound.  A decision was also made to move the bass port to the front of the cabinets, allowing more flexibility in speaker placement, whether closer to a wall or in bookshelves. 

Next up you have some newly engineered speaker assemblies.  The silk-dome tweeters have better high and low frequency extension, as well as improvements in diffraction.  The redesigned woofers, constructed of a woven aramid fiber, offer up greater stiffness and damping, for smoother frequency response and control.

Throw in refinements in crossover networks for more agreeable power requirements and better dynamics, and you have a thorough revamp of an already fine product.

The Debut 2.0 line consists of the B5.2 ($249.98 pr) and B6.2 ($299.98 pr) 2-way bookshelf speakers, C5.2 ($199.98) and C6.2 ($279.98) center channel speakers, F5.2 and F6.2 ($299.98 and $399.98 ea) floorstanding 3-way speakers, OW4.2 ($249.98 pr) on-wall speakers, A4.2 ($249.98 pr) Dolby Atmos add-on speakers, and the excellent SUB3010 400-watt powered subwoofer with AutoEQ and app controllability.

The ELAC Debut 2.0 line will be available at retailers March 15th. 

Bang for the sonic buck that is hard to beat…!

Cheers!



Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

3/17/18

2019 Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door – Fabulous!




Well then…   What were the folks at Affalterbach supposed to do? Did you expect them to sit idly by while the Porsche Panamera Turbo ran off with all the 4-door sports car sales?   

No way, Klaus...!

Mercedes-AMG has been hinting this creation for a while, and now it has officially arrived, and I like what I see.
While it appears to simply be a stretched GT, this 4-door rocket is actually based on the E-class sedan’s architecture.  You would never know, as it retains the GT’s long hood, rakish windshield and windswept silhouette for a lithe, athletic presence. 

A troika of models will be available, familiar to disciples of all things AMG.  The baby of the bunch will be the GT53, powered by a newly introduced turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine with 429 horsepower, paired with a nine-speed automatic and the ubiquitous 4Matic all-wheel drive.  AMG claims 60 mph will arrive in a scant 4.4 seconds. 
To slow…?

Next up the ladder will be the GT63.  This model ups the ante with a 4.0-liter V-8, pounding out 577 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque.  60 mph arrives in 3.3 seconds and this four-door will top out at 193 scorching miles per hour. 
Whew!

The ridiculous among us can opt for the top of the line GT63 S, which adds a slightly tuned version of the V-8 for a total of 630 horses and shaves 0.2 seconds off the sprint to 60 mph. 
Four fast doors…!

All other sporting hardware is appropriate to the performance level, including available carbon-ceramic brakes with bronze-painted calipers.  Don’t forget to check the options box for the air springs of AMG Rid Control +, for the ultimate in precise handling.

Interior appointments are centered around Mercedes’ now familiar dual 12.3-inch display screens, one for the instrument cluster and the other focusing on infotainment.  The remainder of the interior retains much of the 2-door GT’s cocooned jet fighter feel, of which I must approve.  Fit and finish are of the requisite quality.

What will it be?  Panamera or AMG GT 4-Door.  What about the rumored BMW M8 Gran Coupe that may be on the way?
The Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door is certainly a worthy competitor and will get you to your destination ahead of time, and with effortless style.

Well done, AMG…!

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com


2/24/18

The Botanist - Gin Diaries pt4



And now for a bit of time travel, back to 1881 in Islay, Scotland.  Three brothers from the whisky-making Harvey family decided to form their own distillery – Bruichladdich (brookh-LAD-dee).  Over the decades, single malt whiskeys were the product choice. 

Did someone say “gin”...?

In 2011 the distillers stepped outside their comfort zone and introduced a gin to their lineup, The Botanist.  The gin is named for two extremely busy and quite possibly overworked botanists that gather 22 locally sourced wild Islay botanicals.  These botanicals are combined with the 9 classic gin aromatics, forming what I find to be a truly world-class spirit…!

These 31 botanicals manage to remain balanced and structured on the palate.  Citrus and floral notes keep things fresh, and spice is well integrated into the long finish.  There is a real harmony here, despite the complexity of ingredients.  The nose is also a thing of beauty, with delicate aromas weaving together and delighting the senses.

Other factors lending unique qualities to this gin, a sense of place if you will, are the use of Islay spring water, and the slow distillation process in a rare and aged Lomond Still, christened Ugly Betty. 

Classic…!

Bottom line?  This is an excellent spirit for the gin aficionados out there.  Well worth a try and highly recommended…!

Oh, and for those 31 botanicals, here they are:  angelica root, apple mint, birch leaves, bog myrtle leaves, cassia bark, chamomile, cinnamon bark, coriander seed, creeping thistle flowers, elder flowers, gorse flowers, heather flowers, hawthorn flowers, juniper berries, lardy's bedstraw flowers, lemon balm, lemon peel, liquorice root, meadow sweet, orange peel, oris root, peppermint leaves, mugwort leaves, red clover flowers, tansy, thyme leaves, water mint leaves, white clover, wood sage leaves.

Cheers…!
Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com


2/10/18

Archer Napa – A Hotel Done Right...!



California’s Napa Valley   Internationally renowned for spectacular wines, not to mention some pretty amazing dining.  With tourists coming from far and wide, consideration must be given to where one will lay their head while visiting this grape juice Mecca.

If you follow the local buzz, and I heard excited comments from several restaurant and winery employees in the area, look no further than the boutique Archer Hotel collection, and their newest gem, now welcoming guests in Downtown Napa. 


Equal parts sleek and warm, the Napa-chic Archer greets you with relaxed refinement, while still maintaining an unmistakable urban energy.  The visuals are top-notch with excellent architecture and design choices throughout, courtesy of LK Architecture Inc.  The soaring 2-story lobby impresses, replete with extensive use of natural woods and stone, topped off with a skylight atrium featuring a crystal grapevine chandelier.  Of particular note to wine geeks in the lobby will be the large three-dimensional topographic map of the Napa Valley.  Even the smallest of details have been well thought out and integrated into the overall experience, including curated artwork from local artists. 


Impressive...!

The 5-story structure houses 183 sleek (there’s that word again) and luxurious guest rooms, with choices ranging from the 285 sq. ft. Classic King on up to the sumptuous Archer’s Den, boasting a balcony & fireplace, with 780 sq. ft. to spread out in.


Each room is outfitted with a wine fridge, complimentary Wi-Fi, Frette robes, Malin+Goetz bath amenities, a Nespresso machine to start your engine in the morning, and the classic his and hers complimentary slippers! 


Hotel amenities include over 17,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space, the soon-to-open Rooftop Spa, the stunning Rooftop Bar opening this spring, and for food, none other than renowned chef Charlie Palmer’s eponymous restaurant Charlie Palmer Steak.  Available for breakfast, lunch or dinner, not to mention room service, Charlie Palmer Steak serves up the chef’s refined American cuisine with a focus on extraordinary meats highlighted by locally sourced ingredients.  The perfect pairing for your newly acquired Napa wines...! 

Of particular note at Archer Napa was the friendly, efficient and proactive service.  At every turn, the staff was on point.  Remarkable for such a newly minted property.

Destined to be a cornerstone of downtown Napa for years to come, Archer Napa is a hotel done right. 
Highly recommended…!

12/9/17

2019 Porsche Cayenne – World’s Best SUV...?



Those car fanatics residing in Stuttgart, Germany, otherwise known as Porsche engineers and designers, have brought forth the third generation of that larger-than-a-sports-car SUV, known as the Cayenne.

The bean counters at Porsche are watching this release closely, as the Cayenne has become the bread and butter of the company.  The SUV sells in comparatively high numbers and pads the bottom line, allowing those giddy engineers to build insanely good sports cars. 

How did they do…?
Visually the new Cayenne is a hit, albeit more evolution than revolution.  Longer, lower and wider, the proportions and silhouette read more “Porsche” to my eye.  Especially the rear of the ute, with subtle Panamera and 911 queues.  The interior has improved as well, echoing the design and technology of the recently updated Panamera.  Interior volume increases for occupants and luggage alike, with another 3 cubic feet of cargo volume. 

What about the go stuff…?
After all, this is a Porsche.  All Cayennes will come with an 8-speed auto box mated to a variety of powerplants.  A single-turbo V-6 with 340 ponies gets the party started, with a twin-turbo V-6 a step up the ladder putting out 440 horsepower.  The edge of insanity arrives one more rung up said ladder with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 pounding out 550 asphalt-melting horses.  Hybrids will make a showing in the near future, with both V-6 and V-8 versions.  Two diesel engines have been developed, but Porsche appears to be undecided on their release, courtesy of the Audi diesel scandal.

Hmmm…
As is de rigueur for all vehicles Porsche, technology bits are either present or available for a price.  Adjustable suspensions, carbon-ceramic brakes and all-wheel steering can be had if you write the check.  It all boils down to a highly capable sport utility vehicle.  Pricing starts at $65,700.00 and skyrockets from there, with the Turbo V-8 running a cool $124,600.00.

I say a job well done…!
Cheers!



Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

12/3/17

The Rob Roy – A Cocktail from the Golden Age



The year was 1894…

Back in the day, it was commonplace that a cocktail was created to christen the opening of Broadway plays.  Generally, these beverages quickly disappeared from the bar menu, but one in particular has withstood the test of time.

Rob Roy…
One Mr. De Koven (composer) and a Mr. Smith (lyricist) premiered an operetta loosely based on Rob Roy MacGregor.  In honor of the opening, the Rob Roy cocktail was born…!  All these years later, you can still plant yourself at a barstool in Anytown U.S.A. and order one up.  That is some fine staying power…

The adult beverage aficionado among you will quickly realize this is simply a take on the Manhattan, with a switch of spirit.  Manhattans commonly use bourbon, rye or Canadian whisky, and the Rob Roy calls for a blended Scotch whisky. 
And the recipe is…

Rob Roy
·         2 oz blended scotch
·         1 oz sweet vermouth
·         2 dashes Angostura bitters
·         Garnish:  lemon twist or 2 Maraschino cherries

A couple of notes:  It is fairly common to see mixologists go with orange bitters, as opposed to the Angostura, so feel free to experiment and find your preference.  You can even try Peychaud’s bitters, as it pairs well with scotch.  As always, use good ingredients.

The Connoisseur prefers the original Angostura, along with the lemon twist, so I recommend that as your starting point.  Give it a try and let me know what you think…
Cheers…!




Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

12/2/17

Vulcan Innova – Watch Winder for the Car Enthusiast!




What is one to do with a bunch of salvaged BMW M52 straight-six engine blocks?

Make watch winders, of course…!

The folks at Vulcan Innova take these blocks, do a wee bit of cleaning, and then modify each of the pistons, resulting in a watch holder.  Each piston has up to 3 programmable winding modes for the timepiece as needed. Each cylinder is lockable and a key is required to unlock and access the watches. 
Custom finishes?

Ask and ye shall receive.  Engine block color (match your BMW, perhaps?), leather color, LED lighting…  It is truly a bespoke block… er… winder.
This is a unique product with some impressive engineering.  No two winders are exactly alike.  Certainly, the perfect winder for the car geek / watch collecting cognoscenti…  

Vulcan Innova will build yours for $25,000.

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com


11/26/17

2019 Audi A8 – Techno-Sled Extraordinaire


Whizzbangs and Gizmos...!  If you are a fan of future-tech, you will love Audi’s upcoming A8 flagship sedan. 

If, however, you are someone that loves to drive fine handling cars, you may sink further into depression.  The German manufacturers, once renowned for engineering “soul” into their vehicles, continue on a seemingly inexorable march toward bland autonomy.  All in the name of “my car is smarter than yours!”

Let me start with the upfront specs.  Length is up by 1.5 inches, but weight has been reduced, courtesy of a blend of aluminum, high-tensile steel, a dash of magnesium and a splendid carbon fiber-reinforced polymer.  The result is a chassis 24% more rigid than its predecessor.  Two engines will initially be available, including a 3.0L V-6 with 340 horsepower and a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 with 460 ponies and 487 lb-ft of torque.  The V6 will get waft the sedan to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and I expect the V8 to get there closer to 5 seconds.  Both engines mate with an ultra-smooth and unobtrusive 8-speed automatic. 
Looks...?


The latest Audis continue to read fine in external view, but they have lost that sexy swagger from previous designs.  Sure, the new A8 is stately and classic in proportion, but I fear a bit too restrained in overall design.  The latest take on the Audi hexagonal grille is a bit of a wart as well, as it is too prominent in the front fascia.
The interior does live up to previously tasteful Audi standards, with rich materials and crisp design.  The big change you will notice here is the presentation of Audi’s MMI interface, with a second centrally mounted 8.6-inch touchscreen below the main 10.1-inch navigation/multimedia screen.  The lower screen is dedicated to HVAC and seat functions, replacing myriad buttons, knobs and doohickeys.  It is all very tastefully done and reasonably user-friendly and intuitive. 



Back to some of the crazy tech…
The 2019 A8 is being touted as the first production car capable of Level 3 autonomy.  Christened Traffic Jam Pilot, the system works from all stop up to 37 mph fully controlling steering, speed and brakes in traffic.

Who needs a driver?
On the good side of the ledger, the A8 has an available all-wheel steering option, which makes the sedan feel much smaller and nimbler on the road.  Another option is an electrically controlled active suspension that can literally lift a wheel over 2 inches to aid in traversing bumps.  It works freakishly well…

The overall driving impression is smooth, capable and quiet, with just a hint of that diving soul peeking out every so often.  Will it be enough to make enthusiasts happy?  Will the prodigious tech make luxe car fans happy? 
The Audi A8 is due in the fall of 2018 with a base price in the high $80,000 range.  Cheers...!

9/4/17

Wine Time – Freeman Winery


Remember the year 1985 and a hurricane named Gloria that struck the east coast?  More on that in a bit…

Now journey to Sebastopol, California, smack in the middle of one of the world’s best Pinot Noir growing regions.  This finicky varietal loves these parts, which brings us to…

Owners Ken and Akiko Freeman founded the winery in 2001 after an extensive vineyard search.  They targeted cool hillside properties that would promote the purity of character they were seeking to imbue in their wines.  The hillside property at the western edge of the Russian River Valley AVA fit the bill.

Akiko took the winemaking reins under the tutelage of esteemed winemaker Ed Kurtzman and today is crafting the style of wines the Freemans had envisioned from the outset.  Refined and balanced, these are graceful wines that flow wonderfully on the palate.  Current production is in the 4500-case range, which allows the attention to detail that Akiko applies to her craft.
Winemaker Akiko Freeman with the author.
Three vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs are currently made from Keefer Ranch in Green Valley, the Yu-ki Estate vineyard near the coast, and the Gloria Estate vineyard (remember the hurricane?) at the winery.  You will also find a Russian River Valley Pinot, a Sonoma Coast Pinot and the splendid Akiko’s Cuvée. 
Do I have a favorite?  All of the Pinots are certainly finely crafted and represent the terroir of their vineyards.  However, I must confess a leaning to the Gloria Estate bottling.  This 8-acre vineyard, formerly an apple orchard, was planted to Swan, Calera, Martini, Pommard and Dijon115 clones.  A lot of thought and spirit went into the makeup of this vineyard, and it carries over into the glass.  This is Akiko Freeman’s flagship effort...!

For Chardonnay fans, the Ryo-fu (cool breeze) is made with the same style and care as the Pinot lineup.  Sourced primarily from Keefer Ranch and Heintz Ranch vineyards, this is an excellent wine.

 A visit to Freeman Winery yields a relaxed and intimate experience.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the wines are impressive.

As for that hurricane…
Turns out that mother nature introduced Ken and Akiko in 1985.  A chance encounter brought about by the weather, that yielded an excellent winemaking adventure.  Who would have known...?
Grace in a glass – highly recommended…!

Cheers!

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer.  Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…
Marty can be contacted at:   916.952.9529    Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com