Dwight Casimere

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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 Wide World of Wine: Taste of Sonoma, finds a new home in Sonoma County wine event

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens will host the program on September 5, showcasing the remarkable diversity of Sonoma County wine region and culinary experts. For the first time ever Taste of Sonoma, presented by Visa Signature, will be held at the scenic Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens. The program features walk-around tastings, a chefs’ pavilion, guided wine seminars, and themed lounges. Taking place on Saturday September 5, 2020, the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens features stunning culinary and flower gardens throughout the property, and provides the idyllic backdrop for Taste of Sonoma, offering visitors a world-class wine and culinary experience. “We are honored to host Taste of Sonoma at my family’s winery,” says second-generation vintner Christopher Jackson. “After experiencing the exceptional event for years, we are certain that Kendall-Jackson, known as the premier food and wine destination in Sonoma County, will complement the program and enhance the overall feel of the day.”

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John Leguizamo's Critical Thinking touts chess as winning move to success

Movie review One of the casualties of the cancellation of the all-influential SXSW Festival in Austin was the World Premiere of John Leguizamo's directorial debut, Critical Thinking. Set in 1998 Miami in the hardscrabble Allapattah neighborhood, the film centers around the real-life events surrounding a charismatic Cuban-American teacher who believes he can reach a bunch of largely Latino and African American kids whom everyone in society, including the educational system, has given up on, through the game of chess. Leguizamo does a brilliant job of recreating the persona of Chess Coach Mario Martinez, as well as directing this heartwarming film. The film is based on real-life events. Miami's Jackson High School chess team is the first inner city team to win the U.S. National Chess Championship.

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The Wide World of Wine: Fattoria Le Pupille Wines of Maremma Tuscany

Winemaker and Owner Clara Gentili braved corona virus fears to travel to the US to showcase her reserve wines from Fattoria Le Pupille of Maremma Tuscany, a region that is one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away in small, secluded region of southern Tuscany, Maremma doesn’t appear on any of the popular tourism guides, and perhaps that’s a good thing. Italy is going through a painful time right now, but once its health and travel restrictions are lifted, you can bet that the wine-loving world will beat a path to its door to taste the exquisite wines of Fattoria Le Pupille.

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Wine of the Week – Cantina Roeno Enantio - $29.99

Roeno wines are from a very special place in northern Italy. Situated on the border between Veneto and Trentino in a territory called Terradeiforti, the wine is produced in a region that is a crossroads of tradition and culture. Skilled craftsmanship handed down for generations has produced a wine with a unique identity. Martina Centa is the Marketing Specialist for Roena, representing the Fugatti family, on the current world tour of Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri (three Glasses) award winners, which recently stopped in Chicago.

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37th Miami Film Festival March 6-15th: Miami's World Class showcase of International and Ibero-American films

The nation's most diverse film festival is currently underway. Miami Film Festival presents its 37th edition with a roster of 170 feature narratives, documentaries and short films of all genres from more than 40 countries. A major showcase for both emerging and established filmmakers, the festival will dispense more than $150,000 in cash prizes in a host of competition categories. More than 45,000 festival goers are expected to attend to appreciate the work of more than 300 filmmakers, producers and other industry professionals. Past festivals have hosted and honored such luminaries as Miami native son Andy Garcia, the great Spike Lee, Pedro Almodovar, Abel Ferrara and Patricia Clarkson.

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Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri World Tour-Chicago

"We have over a thousand people here. This is the most successful stop on our World Tour so far," beamed Marco Sabellico, Senior Editor of Gambero Rosso, the Italian Wine, Lifestyle and Travel media giant which is the sponsor of Tre Bicchieri, the Academy Awards of Italian wine which made the second stop on the US leg of its World Tour in Chicago. More than 200 producers and their representatives were on hand in the picturesque Skyline Loft of Chicago's Bridgeport Art Center to pour their wines, which were recipients of the 2020 Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) award for excellence. It was a terrific opportunity to catch up with old friends in the wine industry and to greet and congratulate the award-winning winemakers and owners and taste their magnificent wines.

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Entertainment: Lyric Opera Queen of Spades is Aces High

With outgoing Lyric Opera Music Director Sir Andrew Davis in the pit and a superlative cast on stage in this new-to-Chicago production of Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades, Lyric Opera made a strong case for presenting more contemporary operas in order to attract a new audience. Revival Director Benjamin Davis and his team took a fresh look at this tragic tale of love starring Lyric veteran Brandon Jovanovich as the gambling addict Gherman and the dazzling Sondra Radvanovsky, last seen this season as the ravishing Three Queens, careening on a collision course as the star-crossed lovers.

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Wine of the Week: Graziano Merotto Prosecco Superiore-Cuvee del Fondatore-$36

Gambero Rosso (The Red Shrimp) is Italy's version of our Wine Spectator or Bon Appetit magazine, with a healthy dose of travel, lifestyle combined with a TV channel from studios in Rome similar to our Food Network. Each year, Gambero Rosso awards the top wine producers in Italy with its version of the 'wine Oscars, called Tre Bicchieri (three glasses). Wines that earn this coveted designation are considered the best that Italy has to offer. Each year the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Tour is the worlds premiere Italian wine showcase. Nearly 200 Italian wineries will pour wines awarded the coveted "Tre Bicchieri (three glasses). The 2020 tour includes Chicago, along with New York, Miami and Los Angeles from Feb. 24 to Mar. 2.

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Wine of the Week: Harken Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2018-$13.99

There could not have been a more appropriately named California Chardonnay. If you were a fan of big, buttery California Chards of the late 80s and early 90s, you'll simply love this fruit forward, luscious wine. At the risk of being cliché', this wine truly does 'harken' back to the glory days of Chardonnay!

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