Audio/Video

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

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Purchasing, Storage, Detailing, Aftermarket.

Wine and Spirits

Wine Tastings and Tours, Cellaring, Collecting, Purchases.

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Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants, Destinations.

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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

12/31/09

Faith, Hope, Love…

(And today a break from my norm…)

Here we are, standing at the cusp of another decade gone by.

It can be a wondrous thing how the passage of time can change one’s life and one’s perspective of life. It is a certainty that we all have to deal with this in our own, sometimes deeply personal way.

In the end you have to realize that the point here is to find some happiness or “inner peace”. Be happy…

Be sure to have faith, whether through your religion or your own personal spirit…

Know that even in the darkest of days there is always hope, pain will pass and the sun will indeed shine again…

And most importantly, always remember to give love and to let yourself receive love… As it has been said by many people far more profound than I, this truly is the most important single aspect of life.

Have a great New Year and all the best in 2010…

(And now, back to our regularly scheduled program…)

12/30/09

Rotel Audiophile Starter Kit

Being an audiophile is really a fun and somewhat universal hobby. After all, doesn’t virtually everybody on this little blue marble enjoy music in some form?

What I tend to see happen in the audiophile newbie world, is that people will at some point hear music on a quality sound system and realize what they have been missing and how nice it would be to listen to music at that high level of reproduction in their own abode.

For those not wanting to jump right in with both feet spending piles of cash, I have a recommendation for a reasonably priced entrée…

Rotel is a family-owned electronics company based in England that has been in business nearly 50 years. They have built a reputation for making good performing, well-built equipment at reasonable prices. Rotel has a new line of gear out that makes a great backbone for an entry-level audiophile system.

Let’s start with their RA-1520 integrated amplifier. The job of this unit is to control where the audio signal is coming from and going to, as well as powering the signal to your speakers. Rotel happens to have a splendid matching CD player to mate with this integrated amplifier, the RCD-1520. You can even connect a turntable to the RA-1520 should you have any old records lying around, or your mp3 player via a jack in the front panel.

Excellent sound quality, excellent build quality, excellent aesthetics…all at a reasonable price as each unit sells in the $900.00 range. Just add a quality pair of speakers and you are good for hours of aural enjoyment for years to come. Highly recommended!

12/29/09

Champagne Fast Facts

It’s Champagne time again, otherwise known as New Year’s Eve.

Actually, for a certain percentage of the populace, it’s Champagne time all year round…

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that..!)

Now that I have your bubbly attention, why don’t we go over a few fun tidbits of information regarding this splendid beverage?

Let’s start with the most important and possibly most overlooked fact. All Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. In other words, it must be produced in the Champagne region of France to in fact be Champagne. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a reflection of quality, as there are some excellent sparkling wines made elsewhere, a few American varieties that I mention in this article.

Now that you have purchased that bottle of bubbly, how should you store it? The simplest way to approach this would be to treat it similar to wine. Wine experts prefer a temperature in the 55° to 59° range which would work fine. Some champagne houses do prefer the lower end of that range stating an ideal of 54° to 57°.

With that bottle tucked away safely in the proper cellar, how long can it be stored? This brings up yet another question…is it a vintage or non-vintage Champagne? A vintage Champagne is made from grapes grown in a single harvest and can display that year on the label, while non-vintage Champagnes contain grapes from multiple years. Non-vintage bubbly is made to be consumed immediately, but will last 2 to 3 years without issue. Vintage Champagnes are built more for aging and can go anywhere from 10 to 25 years depending on the style of that particular vintage.

When it’s time to drink the Champagne, at what temperature should it be poured? The rule of thumb here is that if it is a vintage bottle, pour it at the temperature at which it has been stored – that 54° to 57° range. For non-vintage bottles, a bit more chill on the bottle works nicely, around 45° give or take a bit.

That is all for today’s crash course, but there will be more to come… Now, go and open that bottle and enjoy! Cheers and Happy New Year..!

12/23/09

Around the World in 80 Days with LG

Don’t you just love creative advertising..?

What we have here is a contest from electronics giant LG. The contest, aptly named “Around the World in 80 Days” is a chance to do just that…

Here’s how it works…simply submit what your 80 day itinerary would be and the winner will receive that Itinerary in the form of a $100,000 travel package. But what does all this have to do with LG Electronics?

The theme presented here is “Live Borderless”. While for the contest it is referring to borders between countries, the actual advertising reference is about a new line of television sets.

Those sets in question, the SL80 and SL90 models from LG are new LCD sets with LED backlighting and some new screen technology that allows the elimination of the majority of the plastic border around the screen. It all makes for one sleek television. Now as to whether this innovation is a feature you can’t live without, you will have to see these sets in person to decide.

Back to the contest, it is currently under way and runs until February 13th. You may submit as many entries as you’d like, so get to work and send in those itineraries now..!

12/22/09

A Caviar Holiday Feast


If you have a caviar lover that is in need of a holiday gift, look no further…

Gourmet purveyor Petrossian, a caviar specialist, has put together a package that is sure to please. The American Caviar Holiday Experience is choc-full of goodies!

Let’s start with four 50g tins of American caviar including Hackleback, Chataluga Prestige, Alverta and Royal Transmontanus along with the requisite blini and crème fraiche. Add in a desert course of 18 hand-made French chocolate truffles including orange-scented soft caramel, dark chocolate ganache and zinfandel-balsamic. Of course you will need something to wash down these fine eats, so let’s go with a bottle of Château Olivier White 2005 Pessac Léognan, an inviting blend of Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle.

Top it all off with free overnight shipping and the delivery date of your choice and you had better get the taste buds ready for a party! What better way to say Happy Holidays…

Casa Dragones – Tequila to Savor


Savor…

Merriam-Webster tells us “to have experience of; to taste or smell with pleasure; to delight in”…

When many people think of tequila, images of margaritas and shots with lime and salt tend to flood the brain. Can you say “hangover”?

Well, sometimes a slower pace is called for – time to actually savor the tequila.

The brainchild of mogul Bob Pittman (MTV and AOL) and ex-Jose Cuervo executive Bertha Gonzalez Nieves, Casa Dragones was conceived strictly as“sipping” tequila. Of course it is 100% Blue Agave, but it is not classified as a blanco, reposado or anéjo. In reality the Casa Dragones is largely blanco tequila, but the Master Tequilero adds a touch of extra Anéjo to each bottle for that extra depth of flavor.

The nose shows floral and citrus notes and the taste hints of vanilla, pear and spice. All-in-all a very rich and silky tequila.

This is one of my favorites and I think you will enjoy it as well. If you are in the mood to sip and savor, Casa Dragones is highly recommended..!

12/12/09

Korg’s Pitchjack for Guitar and Bass


Here’s a gadget I recently ran across that I need to tell you about. Especially for those guitarists and bassists out there.

For quick, reliable and accurate tuning, the Korg Pitchjack is hard to beat. Simply plug it in, turn it on and you are ready to tune… anytime, anywhere.

Do you have a five or six-string bass? No problem, the Pitchjack has you covered. How about a 7-string guitar? Again, you are good to go.

This little gem of a tuner has an adjustable display to compensate for different instrument shapes or jack locations. There is also a small LED light for use on a dark stage. The unit folds for easy carrying in a pocket and can attach to any keychain, instrument case or wherever you desire.

At $30 per, this tuner is a no-brainer. Highly recommended for the musicians among you..!

12/11/09

2011 Audi A8 Arrives

The battle in the full-size, high-zoot luxury sedan segment has been kicked up another notch. Let me introduce you to Audi’s new flagship, the 2011 A8.

A complete redesign over the current A8, Audi clearly made a decision for very restrained and evolutionary changes as opposed to a radical redux. Both the interior and exterior of the car won’t strike you as a significant departure from that earlier model. It’s what you don’t see where the major changes lie, as an entirely new architecture is used, with copious amounts of aluminum and magnesium in place to keep the overall weight to a minimum.

The 4.2 liter V8 motor has been carried over from the previous model but has been revised for a horsepower bump to 372 as well as a 15% gain in fuel efficiency. The Quattro all-wheel drive system is Audi’s latest, featuring torque vectoring as well as other goodies. More tech bits include an updated MMI navigation and control interface as well as full LED headlights – a first in this class.

Audi claims their new flagship will be the sportiest drive in the segment, but competition from BMW’s newly redone 7-series and the revised Mercedes S-class is sure to be fierce. Upcoming comparisons will reveal the true nature of this battle.

For now, Audi appears to have maintained the understated elegance and presence that previous A8s were known for, as well as their best in class interiors. Should the A8 drive as well as advertised, Audi will have a winner on their hands. The car should be in showrooms Q3 of this coming year.

12/10/09

Ospina – The Ultimate Coffee Gift


Do you drink coffee? If not, you certainly know somebody that does. If that person is a true coffee aficionado and you happen to need to get them a gift, read on…

The longest extant purveyor of coffee in the world would happen to be Ospina. Not only have they been around for a year or seven, they also produce what is widely regarded by connoisseurs the world over as the world’s finest Premier Grand Cru coffee beans.

To commemorate 170 years in business (that’s not a typo…) the Ospina Coffee Company is releasing its Ospina Presidential Coffee™, Private Reserve. The release is limited to 5,000 deluxe gift boxes, each containing a pound of the highest graded Arabica Typica beans from the anniversary harvest which have been hand-picked and sorted, carefully fermented, sun-dried and roasted to perfection. As for tasting notes, here is what the folks at Ospina have to say…

“Premier Grand Cru™ Elevation: Grown between 6,800 and 7,500 feet. Aroma: Concentrated, fragrant, jasmine blossom like. Body: Delicate, full bodied and perfectly balanced. Flavor: Complex, rich, intense, nutty and velvety. Notes: Almond, caramel, chocolate and blackberry. Roast: Italian classic roast. Aftertaste: Delicious, refreshing and wine-like.”

Is your mouth watering yet..? Good! Each gift box arrives numbered and certified. Get one before they are gone. Highly recommended!

12/7/09

Aria – Las Vegas’ New Showstopper


· 4,004 guest rooms, 568 of which are suites.
· 16 restaurants including properties from celebrity chefs Julian Serrano, Michael Mina and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
· 10 bars and lounges including the cutting edge HAZE nightclub.
· 150,000 square feet of gaming – after all, it is Vegas!
· An 80,000 square foot, two-level spa and salon with 62 individual treatment rooms.
· 300,000 square feet of meeting and pre-function space.

I could go on with these facts, figures and various trivia, but I think you get the idea. With a Grand Opening on December 16th, Aria is taking its place as the newest crown jewel of the Las Vegas strip.

The cornerstone of the City Center project, Aria was designed by the renowned architectural firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli and it is one stunning facility. It has even received LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, so you can party Vegas-style and be good to the environment at the same time.

If you are headed to Las Vegas, put this on your short-list of places to see, or better yet just stay there and soak it all in.