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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

9/24/15

COHO Wines – The 10th Anniversary C2


What to do to mark a ten year anniversary…?

If you are a wine geek, you know of COHO and their well-made and very reasonably priced Napa wines.  For you non-grape geeks, here is a bit of a backgrounder.  After years in the industry working for other wineries, founders Gary Lipp and Brooks Painter decided to strike out on their own in 2002.  The goal was to produce well-crafted and balanced wines, and to sell them at a sane price point.  COHO was born…

As for the name… Legend has it that the COHO tag was inspired by an ancient Celtic legend: the Salmon of Knowledge, as well as their commitment to habitat preservation and restoration.  Nicely done…
Concentrating on single vineyard wines and a top-flight Bordeaux blend, COHO has gained a well-earned reputation for consistency in the wine press. After 10 years of hard work and making these exceptional wines, one has to celebrate, yes..?

Yes…
Which brings us to the 10th Anniversary 2012 COHO C2. 

What better way to represent the winery than with a combination of their top two (C2) single vineyard wines, the SummitVine Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon and the Michael Black Vineyard Merlot.  There is a splash of Chinn Vineyard Petit Verdot as well, to make things happy.  To appease the afore-mentioned wine geeks, the production notes are as follows:

Varietal Composition:      54% Merlot, 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot
Appellation:                       Napa Valley (from Coombsville and Diamond Mountain)

Clone:                                  Merlot-Black, Cabernet Sauvignon-337, Petit Verdot-181
Crush:                                  100% whole berries

Pre-fermentation:             5 days cold soak at 55 degrees F.
Fermentation:                    8 days followed by malo-lactic fermentation in barrels

Aging:                                  21 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new
Bottled:                               July 21, 2014

Production:                        277 cases (9 liter equivalent)
Release Date:                    October 1, 2015

Noted wine reviewer James Suckling says:  Fresh and beautiful with blueberry, boysenberry and spice character. Hints of cedar and wood too. Full body, firm tannins and a bright finish. Gorgeous. Drink or hold. 93 Points

That, my friends, is how to mark a ten year anniversary..!  As you can see, this is not a big production wine.  I recommend you put in the effort to track a bottle down and add to your cellar.

Cheers..!
 
 
 

9/22/15

Tick-Tock… The Hermès Apple Watch



French luxury goods manufacturer Hermès has been around since 1837.  That’s a lot of time to make a boatload of fine products.  But never one like this.
The Hermès Apple Watch

Horology may never be the same.  Clever marketing folks that they are, the Cupertino-based powerhouse had to cover the fashionista crowd to, quite frankly, sell more watches.  Will this gambit work?
The Apple engineers designed a custom watch face to mimic Hermès designs.  Then Hermès craftsmen supplied a selection of three handmade French leather bands.  You have the single tour – a simple leather strap available in brown or black.  Then there is the double tour – it wraps around twice (pictured).  Lastly is the cuff, which is equestrian inspired. 

Uh… snazzy…
In stores this October, your new timepiece will set you back a tidy $1,500.00. 

What time is it..?
 
 

9/20/15

Porsche Mission E Electric Car Rules Frankfurt


Shocking..!

Porsche has managed to generate the most buzz at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show with their Mission E electric car concept. 

Generate…     Buzz…      Electric…
OK, I will get down to business.  With Elon Musk and Tesla Motors squarely in the crosshairs, Porsche’s R and D chief Wolfgang Hatz says the “time is right” for electric vehicles.  This comes as no surprise, as Porsche has been dabbling in hybrid technology for quite some time with their Panamera and Cayenne E-Hybrids, as well as the tour de force 918 supercar.

The particulars for the Mission E look to be as follows: 
·         310 mile range on a single charge with a 15 minute recharge to 80% capacity. 
·         Propulsion equivalent to 600 horsepower. 
·         Zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.  (Don’t blink!)

One neat little trick, the car will handle inductive charging.  No, this has nothing to do with your credit card.  What it means is that you simply pull the car into your garage, where it is parked over a charging plate.  No plug-in necessary.  Nice..!
These specifications are eerily similar to the current Tesla Model S.  While I doubt Elon Musk is worried, the consumer will certainly be pleased to have more choices in the luxury electric marketplace.  Porsche claims a production version within five years. 

I can’t wait..!


9/19/15

Onion Purée – Secret Flavor Booster



My wife’s garden is bursting with onions that need to be used.  What to do..?
Crema di Cipolle…

That sounds delicious, doesn’t it..?  It is, and I am here to tell you about it…
Most cooks and chefs have a flavoring trick or two tucked away that they use from time to time.  This one comes from Nick Stellino, whom I wrote about several years back.  Nick actually credits the following recipe to a Benedictine monastery near Palermo. 

A recipe from the heavens?
Regardless of the origin, this is good stuff.  Making soup?  Or maybe a pasta sauce?  A scoop of this onion purée will add depth of flavor.  Freeze the finished purée in ice cube trays and you have them ready as needed.  Buon appetito..!

Crema di Cipolle
·         5 large onions, thinly sliced
·         1 bay leaf
·         1 tsp thyme
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         ¼ tsp pepper
·         1 cup dry Marsala wine
·         2 quarts Beef or Chicken Stock (I use one of each)

Place all ingredients into a stockpot.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to reduce liquid, 2 – 3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.  When most of the liquid has evaporated, remove the bay leaf and put onions in a food processor.  Process until creamy.  Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays and freeze.  When frozen through, remove from trays and place in freezer bags.
Guard the cubes with your life, and don’t tell anybody about them…   It’s a secret..!
 
 
 

9/16/15

2015 Frankfurt International Motor Show pt. 2 – Cars Everywhere..!

Back to Frankfurt’s frenetic frenzy of automobile insanity we go..!  Yesterday I brought you some of the new SUV offerings headed to market.  Today let’s talk cars.  No crossovers or crazy one-offs, but vehicles headed to dealerships soon. 

And why not go topless to get things started…
How ‘bout our friends in England and the new Rolls Royce Dawn.  Can this convertible be the first “sexy” Rolls..?  Built off the Wraith chassis, the Dawn is sure to be a major seller for the esteemed marque.
If the Roller isn’t fast enough for you, let’s travel to Italy and visit a pair of thoroughbreds with removable roofs.  First up, the Ferrari 488 Spider.  A shrieking V-8 inches behind you and the wind in your hair.  What more do you really need..? 
 


The next Italian up is the fiery Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4 Spyder.  This mid-engined V-10 powered beast is sure to get the heart going.  If not, you must be dead…
 
Now for something with 4-doors and a roof.  Long absent from the U.S., Alfa Romeo unveils the Giulia, a competitor to the BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class among others.  This is one sharp sedan and should do great when it reaches American shores.
 


The final production vehicle I am going to introduce you to has two doors and a roof.  Thus, a coupe…  From Mercedes-Benz comes the C-Class Coupe.  Due in dealerships next year, the coupe will come with 4 and 6-cylinder engines, as well as the monster-motored AMG version, for those that like to burn serious rubber..!
 
Stay tuned for more from Frankfurt…
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

9/15/15

2015 Frankfurt International Motor Show – Cars Gone Wild..!

The automotive world is descending on Frankfurt this week for the Frankfurt International Motor Show, running through September 27th.  Over 400 exhibitors are on hand representing everything from cars to telematics, E-Mobility, detailing products, vehicle and transportation engineering… 

If you can think of something auto-related, you can likely find it in Frankfurt.

As for our four-wheeled friends, you see everything from outlandish one-off concepts to production ready concept cars as well as actual model debuts.  Today I am going to concentrate on actual production vehicles, starting with the SUV world…
From our German friends, the Volkswagen Tiguan debuts with sharper design inside and out, as well as Car-Net infotainment, and all manner of safety features.  A nice piece of kit from the Volkswagen folks…
 


British marque Jaguar brings along the F-Pace.  What..?  F-Pace…  Let’s say I’d like to throw the name out and fire the individual that came up with it, but this is one fine looking crossover, and it is likely to drive on the sporting side of the ledger… we may have a winner here!
 
Continuing up the SUV status ladder, and with yet another odd moniker, we have the Bentley Bentayga.  Inside you have typical Bentley design and craftsmanship, meaning opulent luxury.  On the outside, let’s say it does show its Bentley genes, but could it have been better designed..? 
 
 

In part two of my coverage, I will let you peak at some car debuts.  Stay tuned…


9/9/15

The Vesper – James Bond Back at the Bar!



Everybody’s favorite spy, the inimitable Bond… James Bond, had a habit of throwing back a cocktail from time to time.  In chapter seven of Ian Flemming’s Casino Royale, Bond orders his one and only Vesper, which at the time, was unnamed.  The conversation goes as follows:
"A dry martini," [Bond] said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."

"Oui, monsieur."
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"

"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.

Bond laughed. "When I'm...er...concentrating," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."
In the following chapter of Casino Royale, Bond christens the beverage “Vesper”. 

Let’s get down to business, or recipes.  As you can see above, the original recipe translates to the following:
·         3 oz Gin
·         1 oz Vodka
·         ½ oz Lillet Blanc (rebranded from Kina Lillet in the early 80s)
·         Garnish with a twist of lemon

If you are a Bond purist, stick to the above.  However, the Connoisseur does have a slight variation on the ratios.  I feel this allows the Lillet to stand up a bit more, as the Gin can somewhat blunt it…
·         2 oz Gin
·         2 oz Vodka
·         ½ oz Lillet Blanc
·         Garnish with a twist of lemon

Give them a try and see which you prefer.  There is no right or wrong here.  Actually, the only wrong would be to use poor ingredients.  As always, don’t skimp on quality, people..!
Until next time…  Cheers!


9/5/15

2016 BMW 7-Series - More and Less... Better.


The sixth generation of BMW’s flagship sedan has arrived!  The 2016 7-Series (“G11” in BMW speak) brings with it a bounty of new tech and a lack of…
…weight!

A claimed 285 pounds thinner than the previous generation’s base car, the new 7 uses a mix of high-strength steel, magnesium, aluminum, plastic and of course, carbon fiber.  This is what BMW refers to as carbon core unibody construction, and it adds stiffness to the body structure while reducing weight. 
Pushing this reduced weight around is a choice of six, eight and twelve cylinder engines, all mated to an excellent eight-speed transmission from the folks at ZF.  There will be a hybrid version coming along as well, although the standard gasoline engines are all more miserly than their previous counterparts. 

Other fun tech includes the i-Drive infotainment controller with “gesture control”.  Changing the volume, answering or ignoring a call and more are all possible with a simple hand gesture, courtesy of an infrared camera in the headliner.  3D View is another trick, allowing the driver to spin the surround-view camera image 360 degrees around the car to view every nook and cranny near the vehicle.  Peekaboo..!
A slice of tech that is getting a lot of attention is the key fob, complete with an LCD touchscreen.  Check your fuel levels, service reminders, door locks, window and sunroof status… and in countries outside of the U.S. (thanks lawyers) you can even park the car with it… or back it out of the garage..!

I could go on about the tech, but let get back to basics.  The interior design and quality is a definite upgrade from the previous generation.  BMW realized they had to step up their game to keep pace with Audi and Mercedes-Benz in this area, and their efforts are paying dividends.  As for the exterior I will call it good, but not great.  The car does have better presence in person than in pictures, so all-in-all a decent update. 
And what most BMW enthusiasts are concerned about:  How does this thing drive?  The previous generation was thought to move a bit too far from the sporting feel bred into most BMW models in the concern of luxury.  The F11 should be a step back onto the sporting course, keeping those bimmerphiles happy!

Due around Thanksgiving of this year, the seven looks like a winner.  The base price will start at $81,300 and the online configurator is available, so build your car and place your order now..!
More tech, less weight…   better car..!

9/2/15

Castlefalfi - The Dream of Tuscany


You can picture it in your mind…  The rolling hills, the olive trees, the vineyards, the food…    The relaxation…
Tuscany is an experience to savor, and what better way than a stay at Castlefalfi.

What was once an 800-year old hamlet in the hills of Montaione has been meticulously and lovingly restored.  Now you have 2700 acres of Tuscan resort life, including the requisite vineyards and olive trees, not to mention two golf courses and a four-star hotel in a restored tobacco factory.
Hotel La Tabaccaia is a 31-room boutique hotel with all the modern amenities one might need.  You also have a restored eighth-century castle, 48 private villas and apartments, two restaurants, the list goes on… In 2016 the resort will be opening a 5-star hotel and spa to add to the options.

Did I mention the game reserve?
Available activities include golf, hiking and biking, harvesting grapes or olives in season, excursions with the gamekeeper and excellent regional cooking classes.  If you prefer, simply lounge at the pool or the sauna. 

Ah…  the Tuscan dream..!