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Audiophile Sound Systems, Home Theater, Computer Audio - Purchasing and Upgrades.

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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

4/30/09

The Death of Kuro

We have talked in the past about Pioneer’s Kuro plasma televisions. For quite a while they have simply been the best there is when it comes to flat-panel televisions.

We have also mentioned that the plasma TV format may be a dying breed. This unfortunate trend for plasma televisions combined with the global economy has taken an unfortunate toll.

Say goodbye to Kuro…

Apparently Pioneer just wasn’t making money on the plasma sets and has decided to concentrate on home audio and in-car electronics. The current model lineup should be available in stores for a while yet, so be sure to get out there and pick one up if you are in the market for a flat-panel set. You can probably even work a nice deal now, armed with this information.

For the immediate future, once the Kuro sets are sold out, Panasonic looks to become the plasma king of the hill. Let’s hope they can continue to develop the technology and properly market it to stay in the plasma business, if for nothing else other than to give the consumer a choice…

4/29/09

Springtime Means Convertibles


With spring having sprung, the automotive industry always manages to somehow focus on…you guessed it…droptops.

This year will mark the debut of some quality examples from this automotive genre. We’ve already touched on BMW’s new Z4, a nicely done update to their previous two-seater with a folding hardtop and a pair of smooth and powerful inline-6 cylinder engines available.

If you want something a bit larger, say perhaps with four seats, there are a couple of new choices worth a look…

Infinity, who has been targeting BMW for several years now, is releasing a retractable hardtop version of its G37 coupe, due out June 19th. This would be a competitor to BMW’s 3-series convertible. The G37 convertible has nice power, decent looks with the typical Infinity design language and is overall a quality piece. It is a bit more on the GT side as opposed to sports car though, as the convertible is 453 pounds heavier than its coupe counterpart due to the top mechanisms and extra structure bracing throughout. Trunk space with the top stowed also gets a worse than average score.

Another new competitor in this class would be Audi’s new A5 and S5 cabriolets, coming to dealers this fall. Audi decided to buck the trend and stay with a folding cloth top for this one, sighting weight and space-saving reasons. These cars are stunners, like their coupe counterparts, and have the excellent Audi interiors as well. With an easily best in class top-down trunk space, Quattro all-wheel drive and a sporty driving experience, these Audis will make a compelling choice.

And now for something really cool…

Introducing the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder… Italian rocket-ship looks and a 560 horsepower V-10 engine a few inches behind your head. Need we say more..?

4/28/09

Mint Juleps at the Derby

The 135th run for the roses is almost here – the Kentucky Derby. A time view the twin spires of Churchill Downs, hear the band strike up “My Old Kentucky Home”, and to have a glass or three of a…

Mint Julep

(Isn’t that some sort of flower?)

The Mint Julep cocktail has been in existence from at least 1803 according to printed records. In 1938 the Mint Julep became the official beverage at the Derby. They make over 120,000 of these cocktails during the two day event. Early Times Kentucky Whiskey, the official whiskey for the past 18 years, supplies over 10,000 bottles of their pre-made cocktail to go with 60,000 pounds of ice and 1,000 pounds of fresh mint.

Whew..! Now I’m thirsty…

And now its recipe time, what we like to refer to as the important part. The Julep is a simple, two-step process. First, make some mint syrup with the following:

· 1 cup water
· 1 cup sugar
· 1 bunch fresh mint – if you grow your own, use spearmint and not peppermint.

Boil the sugar and water until dissolved. Pour over the mint and gently muddle. Refrigerate overnight in a sealed container.

Now for the drink itself:

· 2 oz Early Times Kentucky Whiskey
· 1 Tbs mint syrup
· Mint sprigs
· Crushed Ice

Muddle a few mint leaves in bottom of an 8 oz glass – tradition calls for a silver cup – fill with the crushed ice. Add the mint syrup and whiskey. Stir until the glass is frosty. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

Whether you are at Churchill Downs, or merely having a Derby party at home, it should be thought of as a necessary part of the Kentucky Derby experience.

Enjoy..!

4/27/09

World’s Best Foosball Table?



A game we’ve all probably played at one time or another, whether as a child or adult. You know the one…the soccer field, the players attached to eight rods (four handles per side) and you try to shoot the ball into the opponent’s goal. Definitely good for some laughs and entertainment.

Did you know that there are foosball professionals out there?

Sure enough, foosball tournaments with up to 1000 players lasting 3 to 6 days do exist. The prize money for some of these tourneys can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars..!

Well, now that you need to hone your foosball skills, you need the best gear…

Look no further than this beauty from Lux Minimalist. The game table is constructed of stainless steel, aluminum and ESG unbreakable glass and is highly customizable. There are twelve options for the team players, as well as twenty colors available for the legs, frame and field. Want a team or company logo on the field? Consider it done…

All this for the tidy sum of $17,790.00…

Nice…

4/23/09

Reyka – The Vodka of Iceland


Iceland…home of glaciers, geysers and puffins is now also the proud home of…

Vodka

Yes it’s true! This country of less than half a million inhabitants is now an exporter of spirits. Reyka Vodka, to be specific.

This is one vodka that definitely has the influence of its surroundings built in. A real sense of terroir, as they say in the wine world. The water used is drawn from a lava field some 4,000 years old and after distillation, the vodka is filtered through (what else?) lava rock. The distillery even draws power from a supply of geothermal steam. All this should be enough to add a little Icelandic character.

Our tasting notes on Reyka show it to actually be fairly straightforward with minimal nose but some peppery spice on the palate and a slight hint of lemon as well. The initial bite from a room temperature taste is mellowed with chilling.

All in all a nice vodka at a reasonable price. Don’t let a fear of Bjork scare you from trying a bottle for your own taste test.

4/22/09

The Ghost of Rolls-Royce

Rolls Royce has decided to build a small car.

Please remember that all things are relative. By “small car” we mean smaller than their behemoth Phantom, yet still larger than pretty much anything else on the road.

First revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March as the 200EX, the factory designated RR4 has officially been named Ghost, courtesy of CEO Tom Purves at a press conference from the Shanghai Motor Show. The Ghost moniker was first applied to a Rolls-Royce model built from 1906 to 1925, of which some 7,876 were produced.

This latest Roller will be built on a stretched version of the new BMW 7-series platform and power comes from a 6.6 liter turbocharged V12 mated to an 8-speed ZF transmission. The motor is said to produce well upwards of 500 horsepower, sure to propel the sedan with alacrity. All of the Rolls-Royce customizable options for paint, wood and leather will be available as expected. The Ghost should be available in Q4 of this year and will be followed by coupe and convertible versions.

As to the Ghost’s raison d’ĂȘtre, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur would probably be to blame. This Bentley sedan has been a sales success and the folks at Rolls-Royce wanted a direct competitor in size and price to cash in on the Flying Spurs market.

Decisions, decisions…

4/21/09

Penfolds Grange – Australia’s Best Wine




Max Schubert – remember the name…

When it comes to collectible wines, one tends to think of first growth Bordeaux or California cult cabernet. Australia…not so much. But don’t count out the land from down under, as there are several examples of age-worthy wines being made. Probably the most sought after bottling comes from South Australia near Adelaide.

In 1844, Dr Christopher Rawson Penfolds founded his winery, essentially making fortified style wines (ports) for his patients. The good doctor was apparently a believer in their medicinal value. The Penfolds family continued to make wines until 1976, at which time the winery was sold. After changing hands several times, the Penfolds winery is currently owned by the Fosters Group.

Enter Max Schubert

In 1951 Penfolds iconic winemaker Max Schubert decided to craft a wine to rival those of Bordeaux, using techniques he learned from a previous visit to France. And thus, Penfolds Grange was born. Comprised primarily of Shiraz, each year generally sees a varying percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. These wines are built for cellaring and require at least 10 years to begin strutting their stuff. You will be well rewarded for your patience with a luxuriant, complex red wine.

As for collectability – ABC news reported that a bottle of the 1951 Grange sold in 2004 for the tidy sum of $50,000..! Not bad for a red wine from down under…

4/17/09

BMW’s Ferocious Trucks


The enthusiastic folks at BMW’s Motorsport division are at it again! They have moved into uncharted territory this time, taking on 4-wheel drive SUVs and turbocharged engines.

Are they crazy..?

We say they are just having fun…and maybe targeting the Porsche Cayenne Turbo at the same time.

The vehicles or “trucks” in question? The recently released X6 and the second generation X5.

As we mentioned in an earlier article, the M division was set to make a major departure from past engine philosophies. The SUVs are the perfect platform to launch the turbo trend with their ability to create substantial power while being more economical than the high-revving regularly aspirated motors of the past.

What does the M treatment get you? For starters, that turbocharged V8 puts forth 555 horsepower with torque at 501 lb-ft. Serious get-up and go..! The six speed automatic transmission and “X-drive” all wheel drive systems have all been massaged into go-fast specification as well. Add in the sport calibrated air suspension, servotronic power steering, M Dynamic Mode traction control and a launch control system for quick getaways and the performance level expected of an M-badged BMW is at the ready. Visual cues include revised front and rear fascias, as well as M-specific wheels and interior bits.

Now you can take three of your friends…and all of their gear, and get there really, really fast!

Ferocious indeed…

4/16/09

Andre Garcia for Cigar Travel


And now a thought for the cigar lovers out there…

Just say “no” to sandwich bags, or freezer bags, or zippered whatever you call ‘em!
It’s time to step up to a product that is designed for the job. Something that will protect and preserve your fine smokes and do it with style as you go out on the town or for an extended vacation.

Let me introduce you to Andre Garcia cigar cases.
A relative newcomer to the industry, the Andre Garcia brand has quickly developed a reputation for quality and luxury. The founder of the company, Abhik Roy is to be credited for this, having spent years in the business making cases for other labels and realizing what the market was missing.

The cases are available in several designs, all of which are hard-sided and lined with cedar. The majority are leather finished, with a wide selection of colors and grains and many custom options available. Sizes range from 1, 2 and 4 fingers (cigars) all the way up to a 40 finger cigar briefcase.

Want something a bit more exotic; try a case from the crush-proof Buffalo Horn Collection. Yes, it really is buffalo horn!

Prices range from $25 up to $600.

4/3/09

Port Ellen – World’s Best Single Malt




At the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a little known single-malt scotch from a now closed distillery took home top honors.

29-year old Port Ellen cask strength whiskey.

Islay, the fifth largest Scottish island, was home to the Port Ellen distillery from 1825 until it’s closing in 1984. The storage warehouse for the spirits still remains and each year the owner releases a portion of the dwindling supply. This past year’s release numbered at 6,600 bottles, but exactly how many barrels still reside in the warehouse is a closely guarded secret.

Collectors and connoisseurs the world over continue to purchase these bottles upon release awaiting that sad day when the cache of scotch is no more.

The whiskey is characterized as having notes of spice and earth or “peat” as the Scottish would refer to it. (Imagine the landscape of the Scottish shoreline.) If you are fan of the single-malts, we say it’s well worth your while to track down a bottle to enjoy. Just be prepared to pay - current suggested retail price is around $250/bottle, with some vendors charging substantially more.

Happy tasting, and remember: “Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead”. –Scottish Proverb