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Wine of the week: Winemakers answer lockdown with online innovation

Taste a new wine with a famous winemaker by visiting your favorite winery's tasting room or sample the latest release from their cellars. It’s all still possible, even with the current COVID lockdown. Even though wineries have shuttered their tasting rooms, there's still ample opportunity to sample the newest releases under the careful tutelage of the winemakers at dozens of wineries through online tasting sessions. The winery will send you a tasting kit with instructions to go online for a virtual wine tasting session. Wineries are also offering spectacularly value priced specials on their latest releases, many including free shipping.

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Slow Wine 2014 USA tour hits three major cities, including Chicago

New Slow Wine Guide, even newer bi-monthly newsletter to be unveiled

Slow Wine embarks on the third edition of its USA tour with a new twist. Not only will it premiere a new and updated 2014 edition of its Slow Wine Guide, it will also introduce their new bi-monthly newsletter, which will be available for a free trial download in the month of February.

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Shocker throws Serena out as Osaka cruises into 2020 US Open finals

Osaka meets veteran Azarenka in Saturday afternoon slug-fest

Serena upset ushers in possible new 'Queen of Tennis'

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Wine of the week: Prosecco DOC mounts international virtual tasting to highlight versatility

Five producers of Prosecco DOC region mounted a massive video outreach to the media to highlight the versatility of Italy's most popular sparkling wine. Arranged by Colangelo and Partners, who have, for the past ten years been the industry leaders in integrated communication propelling a brand's story across the modern broad media landscape from New York, to Cape Town to Bordeaux. Colangelo and Partners provides an ideal fit for premium, artisan brands seeking to build their businesses in the US and beyond. Samples of the sparkling wines presented were sent in advance to each of the virtual participants of wine media and industry professionals for a hands-on tasting experience.

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Wine of the Week: Duckhorn Vineyards NAPA Valley Merlot 2017 - $56

Napa Valley wineries are finding creative ways to deal with the COVID-19 calamity and still make available their award winning wines. Many have closed their tasting rooms and are offering pickup and online sales and deliveries only. The tasting rooms are minimally staffed for take-out only, just as many restaurants are. No in house tasting is allowed. To bridge the gape, many are also offering tasting kits to their online customers so that they can virtually participate in online tasting sessions with an in house wine expert. One of those exploring the new technological approach is Duckhorn, one of Napa Valley’s legendary producers. Duckhorn Vineyards has been producing finely crafted Bordeaux-style wines since their inaugural vintage in 1978. Its vineyard-designated bottling from Three Palms is one of California’s first single-vineyard Merlots. Its 2014 vintage was awarded 95 points by Wine Spectator and rated its #1 Wine of the Year. At $200 a bottle, it is completely sold out, but Duckhorn has a full line of exceptional wines available online at duckhornwineshop.com.

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The 51st Chicago International Film Festival presented by Cinema Chicago begins Thursday, October 15 and runs through Thursday, October 29th. Festival passes and individual tickets are available online at chicagofilmfestival.com or ticketmaster.com/chicagofilmfestival, at the Festival Hotline, 312-332-FILM (3456) or at the Festival box offices, AMC River East 21 , 322 East Illinois St., or the Festival Office, 30 East Adams, Suite 800 in Chicago. Featuring 130 films from over 50 countries, the festival is highlighted by 6 World Premieres, 10 North American Premieres, 27 U.S. Premieres and over a hundred Chicago Premieres.

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Wine of the Week: Dry Creek 2010 Foggy Oaks Chardonnay $20

Estate Grown Russian River Valley Chardonnay lets grape flavor shine through

It's hard to believe that time is here to order the Thanksgiving Turkey and start buying the wine that will grace the Holiday table. The harvest is in in Sonoma County and the new vintages are being released just in time for Holiday enjoyment.

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WINE OF THE WEEK: Helfrich Riesling 2012 $14.99

I defy anyone to find a better Riesling for under $20 than Helfrich Riesling 2012 ($14.99). This is an astounding wine, that lives up to its heralding as a "noble variety." The finish is long, crisp and well structured, with complex citrus fruit flavors of mandarin orange, key lime and Meyer Lemon, a veritable citrus Yin/Yang on the tongue with the appropriate hints of dry, chalky minerals and subtle gravitas in the overall mouth feel.

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Wine of the Week: DAOU Vineyards of Paso Robles with a Master Sommelier

One of the crippling effects of the current pandemic has been the closing of many tasting rooms and the near collapse of the wine tourism industry. To counter its effects, wineries have been reaching out to their loyal fans and connoisseurs through the Internet by holding virtual tasting events on Zoom. Participants sign up online and purchase the wines from their local wine shop or designated distributor or directly from the winery. The wines are then shipped to the participants in time for the online tasting event. At the appointed hour, the wine enthusiasts pop the corks on their purchases (usually a half-hour is recommended to allow enough time for the wines to breathe), they sign onto the Zoom link and enter a password, and they can taste along with the winemaker or a wine expert.

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Wine of the Week: Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta

Famed Italian Sparkling Wine legend takes to virtual wine tasting

Franciacorta is one of the most beautiful and legendary territories of the Italian wine-growing region of Lombardy. The name literally means 'short France'. With its rolling hills and rich glacial soil of gravel, sand and limestone, it is ideal for the cultivation of grapes and winemaking and has become one of Italy's most famous regions for the creation of great sparkling wines and a center of enotourism. Among the many names that stand out as one of the most respected sparkling wines in Franciacorta is that of Ricci Curbastro, one of the guiding lights, which established the region as DOCG, the highest designation of wine quality in Italy. The Ricci Curbastro family has been growing grapes in Franciacorta since the 14th century and the name is synonymous with that of fine sparkling wine from the region. With that in mind, winery President, Dr. Ricardo Ricci Curbastro and his son, Dr. Gualberto Jr, Ricci Curbastro took to Zoom and Facebook to lead a virtual wine tasting and discussion of their newest releases; Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta DOCG Brut NV, DOCG Saten Brut 2014 and Franciacorta DOCG Rose Brut NV. Ricci Curbastro is a sustainable Farm Estate Winery and all of the wines are organic.

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Naomi Osaka wins 2020 US OPEN

Naomi Osaka won the 2020 US OPEN in a come-from-behind victory over Victoria Azarenko, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. This is the second US Open title for Osaka, who won a tantrum-scarred match against Serena in 2018. She is truly vindicated.

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Wine of the week

Hardy’s Nottage Hill Chardannay $10.99

Celebrate the last lazy, hazy crazy days of summer Aussie style with a great new offering from down under, Hardys Nottage Hill Chardonnay. What makes this wine exciting is that, in addition to the intense, bright flavors that we associate with Australian wines, it sells for about $10 a bottle. You can find a case price online of just $7.99 a bottle if you do a little Google searching.

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Phoenix perfectly cast for ‘Her’

Spike Jonze strikes a modern love note with "her" starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson Film explores love in the age of technology and our absorbing obsession with personal information devices.

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Wine of the week: Sicily’s top winemakers online showcase in time for Memorial Day

Sicily is one of the most beautiful locales in all of Italy. The region has been declared a UNESCO protectorate and with its volcanic mountains, lush valleys and dramatic shorelines, it has some of the richest soil to create beautiful wines. The world pandemic has forced one of the seminal events of the wine-producing year online. Sicilia en Primeur, the unveiling of Sicily’s new wines to the world is normally presented with a round of winery tours, tastings and seminars and days and nights of gustatory delights in around the towering mountains and soaring cathedrals that dot this historic region. Not to be undone by the COVID 19 pandemic, the Consortium DOC Sicilia carried forth with an exchange of information on the scents, flavors and upcoming projects in this altered scenario.

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Austerity Wines: Exceptional California wines for under $20

Austerity Wines of California is partnering with FeedFeed, a unique online community that connects home cooks, chefs and wine and food bloggers reflecting the latest kitchen trends, to host and series of Chef and Winemaking dinners in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. The dinners all featured high-quality, locally sourced ingredients prepared by innovative local chefs, all paired with Austerity Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet, all priced from $13.99 to $16.97 at you local wine shop. The Chicago edition of the FeedFeed/Austerity Wine Dinner featured Chef Joanna Stachon of Ada St. 1664 American Bistro in Chicago. A native of Chicago's South Side, Chef Stachon cut her culinary teeth as a chef at Chicago's Greek diners and as a butcher at Artisanal and Publican Quality Meats following graduation from the culinary school at the Illinois Institute of Art. She joined the Ada St. team immediately after its opening in March 2012 and rose from Sous Chef to Executive Chef after two years under Executive Chef Zoe Schor.

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Newport Jazz Festival 2019: Jazz Legends, big names make for best fest ever

Newport Jazz Festival 2019 is pulling out all the stops to ensure that this year's festival is the greatest ever. Celebrate under the stars at Newport's famed International Tennis Hall of Fame with TV personality and Grammy-winning Louisiana Roots musician Jon Batiste and Friends at 8pm, Friday August 2. Earlier that day, jazz legend Herbie Hancock stars on the festival's opening day performances at Fort Adams. The Oscar and Grammy-winning jazz icon will also partner with festival Artistic Director Christian McBride and Vinnie Colaiouta for a Special Performance Saturday, August 3, also at the festival's Fort Adams venue. As if that weren't enough to entice music lovers to jam the feast's online ticket office, the hurricane force saxophone whirlwind Kamasi Washington brings his musical gravity defying ensemble to the Fort Adams stage on Saturday as well. Washington's 2015 album The Epic won him the inaugural American Music Prize. He is currently scheduled to make his first appearance as a film director at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival next January, collaborating with new wave film directors Bradford Young, Jenn Nkiru, Terrence Nance and Marc Thomas in the film As Told To G/D Thyself, inspired by his genre bending 2018 album Heaven and Earth. Speaking of genre bending, perhaps one of the biggest all-around stars of all time, Chicago's very own Common will break down all barriers between music, spoken word and performance art in his appearance at Fort Adams Sunday, August 4. The Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning artist and actor promises to bring a diverse set to the Newport stage that will further cement his image as one of the most impactful performers of our time.

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Blue is the Warmest Color

Film Review

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated screening at the 51st New York Film Festival was the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" from Tunisian-born French director Abdellatif Kechiche and Sumdance Selects and IFC Films (USA). The film opened to solid revues and strong ticket sales in limited opening runs in New York and Los Angeles and received critical acclaim at recent screenings at the 49th Chicago International Film Festival.

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Wine of the Week – 1000 Stories Gold Rush Red 2016 - $19.99

Share the big, bold spirit of the California Gold Rush in this seasonal wine that is just for summer. 100 Stories Gold Rush Red 2016 is under $20 (listed at $19.99-it's also been selling online for as low as $15.99), the wine is made from grapes selected from the finest hill and valley vineyards of the Golden State, blended and then aged in new and old Bourbon Barrels to give a unique, robust flavor to a wine that is already bursting with big jammy flavors of ripe fruit, candied dark cherries, cinnamon sticks and hints of ripe peppercorns. Get the grill smoking with copious amounts of Applewood or pecan wood and toss a marinated skirt steak over the coals for just a couple of minutes on each side while you savor the first sips of this expressive wine that summons up all the courage and boldness of the California Gold Rush. Fajitas with all the fixin's is my first choice for a meal, but buy an extra bottle for sippin' with some flavorful cheese like Humboldt Fog or Danish Blue or a nice chunk of Stilton.

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Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron brings the quiet, but emotionally powerful film ROMA to the big screen as a Centerpiece of the Main Slate presentations at the 56th New York Film Festival. The joint Mexico/USA Netflix production is also screening as a Gala Presentation at the Chicago International Film Festival. Cuaron is a highly accomplished director. Born and raised in Mexico City, he started filming everything that moved beginning at age 12. As a multi-talented film director who has done everything from writing, editing, photographing and producing films. He has won multiple awards on several continents, including two Academy Awards in 2013 for the space disaster drama Gravity for Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Achievement in Film Editing, which he shared with fellow Gravity Editor Mark Sanger.

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Record number of black tennis stars add drama to 2020 US OPEN

Osaka, Williams move into final rounds

Osaka, Serena head to quarterfinals