Audio/Video

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

Automotive

Purchasing, Storage, Detailing, Aftermarket.

Wine and Spirits

Wine Tastings and Tours, Cellaring, Collecting, Purchases.

Travel and Leisure

Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants, Destinations.

Kitchen, Cooking and Food

Design, Appliances, Knives, Entertaining.

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

5/26/09

Great Grilling Gadgets

Summer is here, and the time is right…

…for grilling!

Like all manner of culinary exercises, you need to have the right tools for the job. Today we want to share a couple of items that make running your temple of backyard barbeque all that much easier.

The first item is what you might call a “new and improved” grill pan from the good folks at Williams-Sonoma. Constructed of a heavy-gauge stainless-steel mesh, the pan has a removable lid for easy access to ingredients – this feature won us over. A 12” diameter and plenty of depth add to the versatility of this utensil. Highly recommended..! If you prefer, Williams-Sonoma also has a shallower grill-top fry pan as well as a flexible grill basket.

As for the other item, we recommend heading directly to your nearest home improvement warehouse store. Once there, head directly for the welding supplies…

Huh..?

Welder’s gloves. Fire and heat…no problem. With a pair of these protecting your hands you can move around the grates, tinker with the rotisserie or anything you need to do without concern for the burn. Get yourself a pair and keep them handy by the grill. Your hands will be happy!

5/21/09

World’s Most Expensive Ferrari


At the annual Leggenda e Passione auction in Maranello, Italy on May 17th, a new world record was set for the most expensive motor car ever to be sold at auction.

Meet the 1957 Ferrari 250 TR, chassis no. 0714TR, worth to its new owner the equivalent of 12.2 million dollars.

Nice..!

RM Auctions holds this event every year, and they have been on a roll as of late, setting records with some magnificent automobiles. Why was this example so special? Let’s take a look at the pedigree…

Only 22 of these Scaglietti-designed Ferraris were ever made. That in itself makes these cars highly prized by collectors – designer Ralph Lauren owns a pair of them. Add to the rarity the fact that this particular car was driven to victory at Le Mans in 1958 by the legendary Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien. A total of 19 races amassed 10 victories over a three year period. Top it all off with the fact that the condition of this Testa Rossa was top notch, and there you have a record sale.

Truly a one-of-a-kind provenance and we are not surprised that it set the mark. A total that may not be surpassed for some time in the world of classic car auctions…

5/20/09

Death of the Champagne Cork




Am I out of my ever-loving champagne drinking mind..?

No… Not if Alcan Packaging has any say in it. Say hello to the MAESTRO..! Alcan Packaging’s new alternative to the champagne cork.

Why, you might ask, would anyone want to remove the cork from the champagne equation? Isn’t that part of the bubbly ritual, part of the romance of the bottle?

Umm…

The reasons are twofold. The first regard is for ease-of-use. Have you ever dropped a bottle, or broken a light or nailed somebody with the cork? No more. A simple built-in lever on the cap removes the tense moments of opening a bottle of champagne while still preserving the signature “pop”.

The second and most important benefit in our opinion is the removal of all possibility of TCA, or cork taint. Champagne is even more susceptible to taint than still wine as the bubbles actually increase its effect. Industry estimates theorize that anywhere from 1% to 7% of all bottles have some degree of TCA.

For now, if you want to see the MAESTRO in action, you will need to track down a bottle of the Duval-Leroy cuvee Clos des Bouveries Vintage 2004.

Certainly the industry will react slowly to this new closure method. However, if enough consumers become tired of dealing with cork taint, the MAESTRO may have a bubbly outlook..!

Cheers..!

Best Months to Fly

Some people love to fly. Others hate it. Some folks absolutely refuse to ever get on a plane in the first place. (Can you say John Madden?) Whatever the case, most of us really enjoy some form of travelling…the vacation, the getaway.

Flying has certainly lost some of the glamour and luster that it once possessed, but it remains the best way to cross the miles in a hurry.

While doing some research on airline statistics, we noted a trend regarding performance of on-time, delayed and cancelled flights. In looking at these major categories as reported by the Department of Transportation, all three reflect on a yearly basis that the April-May timeframe as well as September-October are the most favorable times to fly. The main reason for the indicated trend would appear to be mild weather patterns across the county at those times of the year.

And just to comfort those of you not flying during the above listed months, the yearlong performance as a whole is on an upward trend. Good news for all the business travelers and jet-setters out there.

For the number crunchers among us, those improved numbers for the first three months of 2009 are as follows:

1,578,171 total flight operations

79.23% on-time arrivals

18.64% delayed arrivals

1.91% cancellations

Let’s hope the numbers continue to improve. Chose your months wisely and get your tickets now..!

5/19/09

The Lexus IS Flips It’s Lid


We recently wrote about the onslaught of seasonally well-timed topless motorcars coming to market. Another manufacturer has decided to join the fray…That purveyor of luxurious, reliable, yet somewhat passionless automobiles…Lexus.

In a move that should have been done a year or two ago, Lexus is finally coming to market with a topless version of its midsized IS sedan to compete with BMW’s 3-series and Infinity’s G37. While much of the underpinnings are the same as the 4-door, the exterior of the baby Lexus only carries over only the hood, as all other body panels have changed. The car is also 2” longer, which was added to the rear increasing trunk capacity with the top down. Unfortunately we feel there is a bit of an aesthetic penalty for this addition, but many still feel the car to be a head-turner.

A quick rundown of the spec sheet shows the same engine and transmission choices available as in the IS four door. Of these we prefer the larger direct-injected 3.5 liter V6 with 306 hp and 277 lb-ft. of torque. Sure, the extra power adds to the fun factor, but it also helps to offset the convertible’s nearly 500 lb. weight surplus over the sedan.

So, what is the bottom line here..?

It will all depend on your priority list. If you value a sporting nature in your automobiles, the BMW or Infinity should top your list. If stunning looks are a premium, check out Audi’s A5 ragtop. If however you want a smidgen of everything with a corporate history of reliability thrown in, then head to your Lexus dealer for a test drive. The IS convertibles should be in showrooms by the end of the month.

5/14/09

The Art of Tasting Notes

Have you noticed that descriptions written of wine - wine tasting notes - have become somewhat of an art form, bordering on the absurd..? Wine critics seem to be in a competition to outdo one another with more creative and oftentimes befuddling adjectives.

This entertaining trend certainly started many years ago, but gained momentum from the movie Sideways with actor Paul Giamatti proclaiming hints of “roasted asparagus and nutty Edam cheese” in the glass of wine he had just sampled. Of course he had a completely straight face all the while…hilarious!

I must admit to falling into this trap once, when at a Petite Sirah tasting, I ran across a glass that had a somewhat musty, cellar-ish essence. I blurted out the first vision that popped into my head…”damp kitchen rag”! I have since learned to keep an edit button handy when tasting wines.

Unfortunately it has now become a twisted habit of mine, conjuring the most obscure descriptive that I can. Do you have any favorites that have tickled the funny-bone? Maybe something read online or in a magazine? Feel free to chime in and share any gems you have seen…

Happy tasting..!

5/12/09

Europe on Four Wheels

Let’s talk vacations…

More specifically, let’s go to Europe. Truly a great place for travel - the history, the cultures, and the scenery. A vacation there is a top shelf way to spend some quality time.

But what if you also have a passion for fine cars and the desire for driving – interacting with that vehicle over some amazing roads? A case of so little time, so much to do…

Well folks, I’ve got you covered. Some specialized tour companies are appearing in Europe that can satisfy your car Jones, all while you travel in some of the finest parts of Europe. Here are a couple of our favorites…

First Class on the Road provides customizable two day tours through Switzerland and Austria. You will stay at exquisite hotels, dine at top-rated restaurants and pilot the chariot of your choice. Choose from a Lamborghini Gallardo, Aston Martin DB9, Wiesmann MF3, or BMW M6 and have a chance to drive them all for separate legs of the route.

Red Travel, as the name would indicate, is all about…Ferrari, which means a requisite trip to Italy. 1 to 8 days can be yours, driving through Tuscany, Umbria and more in the Ferrari of your choice. Your tailored itinerary can include Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples with top hotels and spas included. Losing your way is not an issue, as you will be escorted by a guide in an Alfa Romeo who will transport your luggage as well as wash and fuel that chariot each night.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines..!

5/7/09

John Kongsgaard and His Wine


Here comes The Judge… (more on that later)

Food & Wine magazine named John Kongsgaard “Winemaker of the Year” in 2004. Noted wine critic Robert Parker proclaims “When tasting anything produced by John Kongsgaard, I always get the impression that his approach to winemaking consistently results in some of California's most singular and distinctive wines.” Are you beginning to think that Mr. Kongsgaard is one talented fellow?

Just wait till you taste his wines…

A fifth generation Napa valley native, John Kongsgaard came to prominence in the wine industry as the winemaker for Newton Vineyards. In 1996 he launched his own eponymous label with a Chardonnay grown on the family’s 10-acre farm. The rest, as they say, is history…

Today John and wife Maggy use what they refer to as low-intervention winemaking techniques and consistently turn out some of the best wines in California. Chardonnay, Cabernet, a Grenache Syrah blend and a Vio Rous (Viognier-Roussanne blend) are on the list, and all are top notch wines with their flagship wine being…

The Judge

Grown on a rocky hillside on family property east of Napa with Chardonnay vines that produce extremely low yields, this is one blockbuster of a wine. We put it easily in the top 5 Chardonnays of California, it’s that good!

As for the judge reference, John’s father was a judge in Napa for several years. I guess that’s what they call keeping it in the family…

5/6/09

New Zealand Luxury for 50 Cents

No typos here folks..! An entire month of lux travel in New Zealand for a NZ$1, roughly the equivalent of 50 cents…

Actually, that’s just an opening bid…

What we have here in reality is a charity auction on eBay for the Untouched World Charitable Trust, a New Zealand charity working with young adults and the environment. A collection of several luxury tourism companies in New Zealand, collectively known as New Zealand Luxury, has donated this package worth an estimated $20,000usd.

I suppose you are wondering what the winner will receive…

According to New Zealand Luxury’s website, the winning couple will get to “live in the lap of luxury for a month staying in some of New Zealand’s leading luxury lodges, elegant hotels & exclusive private villas. Fly in style in your own private jet and experience once in a lifetime helicopter adventures. Cruise aboard your own private yacht and be chauffeur driven in style in luxury vehicles through some of New Zealand’s most stunning natural scenery.”

Sound good? It does to us! Get up to eBay and post that bid. You can’t win if you don’t try..! Bidding ends May 13th.