Drink of the Week at Max’s Tavern: Moonshine Mojito

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director Max Restaurant Group

Moonshine mojito (summer 2013)

Max’s Tavern in Springfield, Massachusetts, has been working very hard to bring some really creative and tasty cocktails to their menus.  This summer we have a great lineup of cocktails to offer guests, and the response from those trying the drinks is absolutely fabulous; everyone is happy and thrilled with the selection.

One drink in particular seems to be doing very well – the Moonshine Mojito.  This drink was created and placed on the summer menu to take advantage of some great product coming out of a local distiller, Bully Boy Distillers from Boston.  We use their White Whiskey as the base and hit it some fresh mint and lime juice, juts like a classic mojito recipe.

bully-boy-white-whiskey

 

Refreshing and smooth is the best way to describe it, with no heavy “whiskey” fl
Come on down to Max’s Tavern (at the Basketball Hall of Fame) and try another great Max Cocktail.avors, this beverage is delicate and very drinkable, especially during the summer heat-waves.

Cheers!

Big Wine Wednesday kicks-off with: Jordan Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

By Brian Mitchell, Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

A rare opportunity to taste some of the best wines from our award-winning wine cellar, offered by the glass for the first time by the glass at great prices.

All summer long, every Wednesday a different ‘Big Wine’ will be available by the glass during lunch and dinner for you to enjoy.

 

First up this week…Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jordan Vineyard & Winery
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (from Magnum)
$25/glass

Winery Tasting Notes:
A seamless wine with beautiful, dense, blackberry aromas that echo through the mid-palate. The mouthfeel is silky-smooth with soft, round tannins accented by a vanilla quality from the French oak. The silky, soft finish is reminiscent in style of a Bordeaux Saint-Julien. Enjoyable now or worthy of cellaring through at least 2020.

Aged 12 months in 70% French oak and 30% American oak barrels (39% new), allowing
the flavors to marry and full tannin integration to take place. The lots were then reassembled to create the final master blend before aging two years in bottle.

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, less than 1% Malbec

Each week, we will be posting the featured ‘Big Wine’ on our Facebook page
and on the Max Blog.

For additional information, please call Max Downtown at 860.522.2530

Patio Dinner at Max A Mia – June 17 Wine from Piedmont

We are pleased to announce that the 2013 Summer Patio Dinner Series at Max A Mia in Avon, will kick off with a regional dinner focusing on the wines of Piemonte in Northwest Italy, featuring the wines of Marchesi di Barolo, one of the most historic properties in the entire region.

It is at Marchesi di Barolo that the modern style of Barolo was created in the mid-1800s, and is today where innovation and tradition combine to move the region forward with stylish wines.  Chef David Stickney from Max A Mia has created a pairing menu that highlights his modern approach to classic northern Italian cuisine served along the selections from Marchesi di Barolo.  David Rudman, Wine Specialist from Brescome Barton, Inc, will be on hand to discuss the wines.  This is the first of a monthly series at Max A Mia, and the plan is to hold the dinner on our patio, which seats about 40.  Please make your reservations early as we expect this event to sell-out quickly.

Max A Mia Presents an Italian Regional Wine Dinner

Featuring Piemonte and the wines of Marchesi di Barolo

Monday June 17, 2013 – 6:30

With Special Guest David Rudman of Brescome Barton, Importers & Distributors

I

-Marchesi di Barolo Gavi, 2010-

Veal loin carpaccio, morel mushroom salad,

ruccola, tonatto aioli, Reggiano cookie

II

– Marchesi di Barolo Barbera Monferrato Maraia, 2010 –

Cacciatorini agnolotti,  green onion pesto, cured

 olives, castelmagno cheese

III

– Marchesi di Barolo Dolcetto d’Alba Madonna, 2009 –

Cotechino & carnaroli stuffed quail, crispy

lardo polenta, bing cherry fresca

IV

-Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Cru Sarmassa, 2006 –

Braised Piemontese oxtail, saffron spatzle,

horseradish greens, marrow demi

V

-Marchesi di Barolo Moscato d’Asti Zagara, nv-

Fritto misto dolce, nutella brodetto

$68.00 per person, not including tax & gratuity

Seating will be on the patio and is limited.  In the event of inclement weather the event will be held in Max a Mia’s main dining room.

Please call Max A Mia in Avon for reservations

860-677-6299

70 East Main Street, Avon, Ct

Max Family Cuvee White – Just In Time For Summer

By Brian Mitchell – Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of travelling to Sonoma and Napa Valleys to visit with some wineries and to spend some time with the winemakers for our Max Family Cuvee wines.  The news at this point is that we will be introducing a brand new wine to the mix at each Max location, hopefully in just a few weeks.  This wine is the innaugural vintage of Max Family Cuvee White – a Sauvignon Blanc heavy white blend that also has some Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Viognier in the mix.  

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend a few hours with Zach Long, the winemaker responsible for making the Max Family Cuvee White, as well as head winemaker at Kunde Estate, located in Sonoma.  The white Cuvee will carry a Sonoma appellation, which is different than the red with a Napa designation, and this is the region that Zach Long likes and knows the best.  When we were putting the first blends together back in December and January, we were initially working with the Girard team that makes the red Cuvee, but I wanted something a bit different and knew that the same company that owns Girard, also works with Kunde.  I liked the wines from Sonoma for their soft fruit and fleshy palate style and was hoping that we could get the same style for the white Cuvee.  Eventually we found some wines that seem to fit what I was looking for and so now our Max Family White will be made at Kunde Estate, the best option for this style of wine.

Zach Long, winemaker for Max Family Cuvee White Blend

On my visit, Zach took me on a tour of the property which is over 100 years old and is more than 1600 acres situated in the shadow of Sonoma Mountain, just south of Santa Rosa.  Kunde produces Sauvignon Blanc as a large percentage of its regular out-put, and Zach showed me the exact vineyard blocks that make up our white Cuvee.  These are older blocks that often will held for reserve level wines.  Kunde Winery grows a range of grapes varietals, both red and white, and with so much soil and topographical diversity, this gives them tremendous resources when it comes to having many options for blending.  Red and white grapes are grown on both flat vineyards and hillsides that range over 1500 feet in elevation.  Having this much diversity, it is possible to get multi-layered complexity in wines, adding depth and character to just about everything made here.

For the Max Family White Cuvee, we went back and forth on a umber of different options, finally settling on a  blend that is Sauvignon Blanc based with smaller percentages of Gewurztraminer, Viognier and even some high acid Chardonnay to build in extra mouth-feel.  I personally get a great response when I serve Sonoma Sauvignons because they tend to bring together the best of what Sauvignon can offer in cool climates like New Zealand – fresh tropical fruits and racy acidity, but also show some restraint that is more common to Loire Valley Sauvignons from France.  Balanced and fruit forward this wine will work well with what Max does best, such as fresh seafood as Max’s Oyster Bar, Max Fish, Max’s Tavern and Max Downtown, or great Asian influenced dishes at Trumbull Kitchen, to the salads and lighter fair at Max Burger and our Italian locations.

The label has been approved by the Federal Government and we are now awaiting CT and MA State approval.  We hope to have this wine to our restaurants by the middle of June and serving it year-round.  We are planning a kick-off party to launch this great addition to our Max Family, details to follow as soon as we have label approval and know the dates for shipping from Sonoma.

Max Family Cuvee Red (Napa Blend) – New Vintage Update

By Brian Mitchell – Corporate Beverage Director, Max Restaurant Group

Lat week I had the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley in Northern California, and one of the people/places I visited was the winemaker and facility that produce our Max Cuvee Red Blend.  The winemaker is Glenn Hugo, the lead winemaker for Girard Winery, which is a Napa focused winery that has been in existence for over 30 years.  Glenn has been the winemaker at Girard for the past six years and has been responsible for all but the very first vintage of Max Family Cuvee Red.  

This was the first year that I traveled to Napa to work on the Max Cuvee, and when I received the directions for the winery it was not a Napa address, which I was expecting, but instead a Sonoma based address.  Now, I kind of knew what I was going to be seeing, but it was interesting to actually see where the wine is produced – essentially it is in a  large warehouse facility that is home to about 20 different “wineries” and is in an industrial park in Sonoma.  If you are picturing an idyllic farm house winery situated among rows of vines somewhere off the Silverado Trail, you have the wrong image of what a winery might be.  This building is a long warehouse that is broken into “suites” (sections) where a lot of wine-making is taking place – Girard and Max Family Cuvee among them, as well as notable neighbors Patz & Hall.

Even though the wine-making is done in this less glamorous location, the Girard Winery does not down-play this.  In fact, they are proud of the fact that this location allows them to produce wine in both an economical and environmentally efficient manner.  By having a smaller more compact facility, with shared resources and minimal maintenance, the costs are lower than having to maintain a big fancy show-room winery.  Plus they have the ability to use necessary equipment and other resources to make great wine – things that may not always be available on a farm-style winery.  For instance, Glenn Hugo mentioned that the water they use at the facility is reclaimed, filtered through their equipment after use and is actually returned to the city of Sonoma cleaner than when it came in the winery.  It also should be noted that the “winery” part of the winery looks and functions just like any winery, warehouse or stand-alone.  They have all the equipment and space (even more perhaps) than at most of the wineries I have visited, including a lab, ferment and storage tanks, bottling line, and hundreds and hundreds of barrels for aging.  No difference, just not as pretty.

Glenn Hugo - Max Family Cuvee Winemaker

But what comes out of the winery is as good as any comparable facility and priced wines. Glenn spent the better part of the morning walking me through barrel samples of Chardonnay, Grenache (his own label), multiple lots of Zinfandel and other varietals, as well as the new 2011 lots of wine that will ultimately make up the blend for the next vintage of Max Family Cuvee Red.  If you follow the wine media at all you have probably heard that 2011 was a challenging year in Napa Valley.  The weather was not as warm as is typical, and the ability for many to get fully ripe and mature grapes that will shine with big fruit and tannins was not easy.  But this is where the strength and resources of a wine group like Girard comes into play.

Girard is one of the wineries owned and operated by Vintage Wine Estates, a winemaking group owned by industry veteran Pat Roney.  Because they have multiple labels and work with so many wineries this group has a lot of vineyard resources to draw from, and this gives them the ability to make very consistent wines year in and year out – even if the weather is less than perfect.  Max Family Cuvee Red is made from various lots sourced throughout Napa Valley, including vineyards in the Napa Valley proper, some mountain fruit as well as vineyards located in outer vineyard regions like Pope Valley (still part of Napa, though).  By sourcing from these locations, where the affect of temperature and other climate conditions is not always the same, the winemaker is able to really practice his craft and put his blending skills to the test.  When I spoke to Glenn about this he said 2011 was definitely going be a year for the winemaker’s “art”.  By which he meant that he was having to be very selective and careful about how and what he was blending, but that the end result should be very similar to what we have come to know and expect from Max Family Cuvee.

When I tasted through the lots I could see the impact of the vintage  but could also see how changing the varietal blends on a  percentage basis could impact the overall feel and taste of the wines.  I found the 2011 varietals to be colorful, flavorful and have the aromatics that I am looking for, some of them did have a bit less mid-palate resonance, which is a trademark of the Max Cuvee.  We discussed this and tasted some other lots of wine, specifically the Syrah and Cabernet components, which will be used to build more mouth-feel and texture.  The Merlot was delicious – full of cocoa and cherry.  The Malbec was deeply colored and brought added richness.  The Cabernet Franc was beautiful and aromatic. The Petite Verdot was tannic and intense, so will be used sparingly for backbone in the wine.  We will not have a final assembly to taste and sign off on until mid-June, and will go to bottle in July, but I expect that the 2011 Max Family Cuvee Red will be as smooth and rich as the past vintages, delivery every bit of complexity and length as we have come to expect.

I think it is important to understand that Max Family Cuvee Red is a “real” wine, not just a contract wine with a label slapped on it sold to anyone.  Since it was first conceived six years ago, there has been input from the Max team on how the wine should be styled and any changes that we feel need to be made to make it better.  By going out and tasting directly with the winemaker, helping to select the exact lots and the exact blend for this wine, I am taking my own experience as well as direct guest feedback to the winemaker and giving him this critical information on how to create each year’s blend.  This is something that not a lot of restaurants do.  We sell a lot of Max Family Cuvee, and I want to make sure it is the best wine for the money.  By working with Glenn and the rest of the team at Girard, I feel confident this is the case – hopefully you agree.

That was the morning.  That afternoon I went to meet the winemaker for our new wine, the Max Family Cuvee White Blend.  Check out the next post to get all the details on this wine, which is just about to arrive for us.

New Chablis By-The-Glass at Max Downtown

The Dauvissat family has been hand-crafting wonderfully precise and complex Chablis for many years.  This is a fabulous style from a great vintage.  We are very pleased to be able to offer this wine through the Spring, although supplies are fairly limited and we will run out by summer.

Jean & Sebastien Dauvissat
Chablis Saint Pierre, 2010
Sebastien Dauvissat works a two hectare parcel of vines at the village level. The vineyards are situated on the “back side” of the 1er Crus. The soil here is infused with a particularly high percentage of limestone which permits this cuvée to make a clear statement of its origins.

Jean Dauvissat, and his son Sebastian, are the most recent in an extended line of the Dauvissat family that has been in possession of this notable domaine since 1899. The cave is positioned under the family house which dates from the 17th century and where the road to the hamlet of Chichée begins. The first formal bottling of wines under the Dauvissat label occurred on a limited scale in 1963. Then, in 1978 and 1979, Jean Dauvissat increased production to 3,000 bottles per annum. The physical expansion of the domaine under his management, along with ever-increasing quality and accompanying renown, has resulted in the cessation of sales to negociants and the bottling of the entire annual production of approximately 50,000 bottles. An unfortunate accident resulted in the untimely death of Jean Dauvissat several years ago. Sebastien Dauvissat continues the work of this historic domaine in collaboration with Evelyne Dauvissat, Jean’s wife. The domaine encompasses slightly less than 10 hectares of vineyards. The Grand Cru vineyards are south-facing; the 1er Cru vineyards have a full southeast exposure; and the village property faces northwest. All are hillside sites with an “argilo-calcaire” soil composition heavily marked by small stones that provide for excellent drainage. Of course, the entire vineyard surface is underlain by the Kimmeridgian limestone that makes Chablis one of the most unique wine-producing areas in the world.

The domaine encompasses slightly less than 10 hectares of vineyards. The Grand Cru vineyards are south-facing; the 1er Cru vineyards have a full southeast exposure; and the village property faces northwest. All are hillside sites with an “argilo-calcaire” soil composition heavily marked by small stones that provide for excellent drainage. Of course, the entire vineyard surface is underlain by the Kimmeridgian limestone that makes Chablis one of the most unique wine-producing areas in the world. Harvest levels vary extensively according to age of vines and vintage conditions. Levels for the village wine may reach 60 hectoliters per hectare in particularly generous years whereas the 1er Cru vineyards usually yield approximately 45 to 50 hectoliters per hectare. However, the old vines section of Vaillons (composed in large part of vineyards in excess of 65 years of age) frequently yields less than 25 hectoliters per hectare. The other vineyards are planted to vines between 20 and 40 years of age. The cellars of the Dauvissat domaine are equipped with the most modern materials. Fermentation and elevage of the village and premier cru wines occurs for the most part in stainless steel. The old vines cuvee of Vaillons and the Les Preuses are partially barrel fermented and barrel aged with about 25% of the oak being new. The wines are traditionally bottled 18 to 20 months after harvest. On occasion, certain of the other 1er Crus may pass part of the elevage in barrel as well, particularly when harvest levels are low.

Follow-Up to 2 x Italian Winemaker Dinner at Max Amore

Last night at Max Amore Ristorante in Glastonbury, over 30 guests were treated to a fabulous dinner and the wines of two of Italy’s favorite winemakers.  Chef Ted Burnett was on his game with a menu that touched on both traditional Italian cuisine as well as influences with a modern twist (see the menu below).

Primo Franco, Mark Conley, Diego Cusumano @MaxAmore

Guests were also treated to wine coming from both the north of Italy as well as the far south.  Starting and finishing with the Prosecco from Primo Franco, a third generation winemaker from the heart of the Prosecco region and his family estate called Nino Franco Winery.  Delicious wines that, as Primo pointed out, “are a way of life and can be great anytime of the day or night as they are light and refreshing”.

In between guests were treated to the deliciously fruit driven wines of Diego Cusumano from Sicily.  From the youthful and value priced Nero d’Avola (a wine featured on the Max Amore wine list) to the fabulous blend of Nero d’Avola and Syrah called Benuara, to the final wine, a 100% Nero d’Avola called Segana, which is sourced from the best vineyards at Cusumano Winery, these wines were as good as it gets.

Next up at Max Amore, Chef Burnett teams up with Max Restaurant Group Beverage Director Brian Mitchell to present a Max Wine & Food School Seminar, theme: Regional Italian Wines and Cheeses.  Feb 11th.  See the Max Restaurant Group website Calendar for full details.

Primo Franco
head of the famed Prosecco house in Venuto, Italy
NINO FRANCO &

Diego Cusumano
of the respected Sicilian winery
CUSUMANO WINERY

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 – 6:30pm
menu created by Executive Chef Ted Burnett

RECEPTION
Prosecco ~ Rustico Nino Franco

COURSE I
Scallop Crudo
Frescobaldi extra virgin olive oil | sea salt
Cusumano ~ Insolio Sicilia, 2010

COURSE II
Berkshire Black Sopressata
grana padano | rustic crostini
Cusumano ~ Nero D’Avola, 2011

COURSE III
Calamari alla Sicily
kalamata olives | capers | melted anchovies | basil |
San Marzano | toasted polenta cake
Cusumano Benuara ~ Nero D’Avola, Syrah, 2010

COURSE IV
Five Hour Roasted Duck
sweet fennel Italian sausage | duck fat with house made linguine | ricotta salata
Cusumano Sagana ~ Nero D’Avola, 2008

DOLCE
Cannoli
sicilian impastata ricotta | candied oranges
Prosecco ~ Nino Franco Valdobbiadene, 2009

Winery Direct Series with 2010 Fess Parker Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

Max Restaurant Group is First in the Nation with New Wine from Fess Parker Winery

Winery Direct Series Brings Fess Parker Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, 2010, to market

Most people will remember Fess Parker for his acting roles as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett in the 1950s and 60s.  He passed away in 2010, but did you know that he and now his family have owned a 715 acres winery and vineyard estate in Santa Barbara for the past 30 years?  That his wines have won countless awards? And that this region grows some of the best Pinot Noir in the country?

The Max Restaurant Group is very pleased to announce that we will be offering the newest wine from the Fess Parker Winery; the Fess Parker Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills, 2010.  In fact Max Group will be the very first location in the country to offer this wine for sale.  We have made special arrangements to list this wine directly from the winery before it becomes available for wider distribution later next year.

As part of this promotion, the $18 glass price will be available for $13 and the customary $66 bottle price will be reduced to $48.  Supplies at these prices are limited and will only last through February.

Stop into any Max location to try this fabulous wine from a great wine region.

 

A little about the Sta. Rita Hills AVA…

First created in 2001, the Sta. Rita Hills viticultural appellation is uniquely situated to receive maritime influences that create the ideal climate for growing exceptional wine-grapes. Inspired by the incredible potential offered within this wine region, a diverse group of talented growers and winemakers are producing some of California’s most exciting Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and other varietals. As with any new region, the winegrowers and winemakers have developed a camaraderie stemming from their love of this region and the excitement of the achievements made thus far.

Sta. Rita Hills is a relatively small appellation of approximately 100 square miles. Intersected by the Santa Ynez River, the cool climate appellation is located between the towns of Buellton and Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, California.

Cool weather, fog, wind and the soils limit vine vigor, crop yield and intensify the flavors of the wines. Distinct geology and geography combine to form an absolutely unique maritime corridor. Two east-west oriented valleys represent some of the most incredible dirt and unique climatic influence in the Pinot Noir world.

Other great growers and producers from this fabulous region include: Brewer-Clifton, Clos Pepe, Foley Estates, Foxen, Pali, Sea Smoke, Siduri, Sanford, and many others.

 

House-made Kegged Sangria now online at Trumbull Kitchen

Kegged Sangria at TK
House-made Kegged Sangria online at Trumbull Kitchen

This afternoon, I made a batch of Sangria at Trumbull Kitchen and loaded it up online so that it now pours fresh from a draft line.  The advantage is that I can make it in larger batches for better consistency from glass to glass, it stays fresh under a blanket of gas, which also helps to give it a bit of carbonation, and we can get it to your table quick and easy.  Great summer cocktail, my Sangria is a blend of Red Wine, Spanish Brandy, some fresh fruit juices, Agave nectar and Orange Liqueur.  Give us some feedback when you taste it – I can always adjust the recipe based on guests tastes.

Brian Mitchell

Randall Grahm at Max Downtown Tonight

Tonight was another enticing evening at Max Downtown with a great culinary adventure based around the wines of Bonny Doon Vineyard from California.  Owner Randall Grahm has made a few appearances over the years at Max’s, and tonight added another chapter in this adventure as he discussed and amused guests with his fabulous wines and Max’s cuisine.  Randall is as lively as ever and we really enjoyed the wines, most focusing on Rhone varietals but with a few side-trips to Spain and other regions.  Tasty food pairing wines all the way.  Great stuff…Thanks Randall!

Jean Trimbach at Max Oyster Bar Next Week

While you are still deciding what to do for Valentine’s Day (we suggest a visit to one of our locations with your favorite person) consider attending this great dinner next week with one of our favorite wine producers, Jean Trimbach.

The Trimbach family has been making wine in Alsace since 1626, and we are very fortunate to have Jean Trimbach (pictured on  the left) and his family’s wines at the Oyster Bar for this dinner.  We will be featuring the classic wines of Trimbach along with some very special selections from their Grand Cru sites and Late Harvest sweet wines.  Executive Chef Scott Miller has prepared a very intriguing menu based in large part on ingredients found in and around Connecticut.  Join us for what should be a culinary winter highlight.