With wine, endless treasures await

white wine Copyright Shebeko shutterstock_289108820

On January 12, 2007, one of the world's greatest violin players set up shop in the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C. Wearing jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt, and a Washington Nationals baseball cap, 39-year-old Joshua Bell pulled out his instrument -- handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1713 and purchased in 2003 for nearly $4 million -- and played six classical songs for rush-hour commuters.

The setting of Bell's 43-minute performance was unusual, to say the least. By the time he was 14, the violin prodigy was soloing for the Philadelphia Orchestra. At 17, he made his first appearance at Carnegie Hall. He has performed as a guest soloist for the New York Philharmonic three times and currently directs one of the world's most celebrated chamber orchestras.

More than 1,000 commuters came within earshot of Bell that morning and witnessed a world-class performance from a musical genius on one of the finest instruments ever crafted. Yet among the mass of hurried Metro riders, Bell went almost unnoticed.

What does any of this have to do with wine? Quite a bit.

Giant corporate producers dominate the wine market. In the United States, three brands -- E. & J. Gallo, the Wine Group, and Constellation -- produced 172.3 million cases of wine in 2012, accounting for roughly 50 percent of wine sales.

Yet most of the world's finest wines are produced by small, unassuming, and largely ignored grape growers. Unlike the big brands, these vignerons produce wines that reflect the regions and vineyards in which the grapes are grown. Their wines have a distinctiveness that can't be matched by mass-produced alternatives.

In other words, wine consumers are surrounded by Joshua-Bell level brilliance. Serious wine enthusiasts are finally paying attention.

To some extent, the relative anonymity of most wine producers is understandable. The United States is home to more than 8,000 wineries. Three in four produce fewer than 5,000 cases per year; about 50 percent produce fewer than 500,000 cases.

Other wine-producing countries boast similar ratios; the back roads of Italy, France, and Spain are full of passionate vignerons who make miniscule amounts of compelling, soulful wine. And just as Bell can be readily ignored once separated from a "brand-name" institution like Carnegie Hall, it's easy to overlook the excellence of these small producers. They don't have the kind of status that comes with a recognizable brand name like, say, Veuve Clicquot, which produces more than 1 million cases of Champagne annually.

This lack of name recognition has enabled big producers to effectively monopolize the wine market, especially in the United States. But that's changing.

One man who helped launch this shift is Kermit Lynch, a writer and musician who started to recognize these growers more than three decades ago.

With a $5,000 loan from his girlfriend, he opened an eponymous wine shop in northern California in 1972. He soon became a distributor and importer as well, visiting Europe regularly to look for the wine equivalent of Stradivarius-wielding fiddlers in a Metro station. And he began educating consumers about the virtues of traditional wines -- artisanal projects, produced with minimal intervention, that express a sense of place.

Lynch inspired many imitators. These days, if you walk into any good wine retailer and watch how the geekiest consumers shop, you'll undoubtedly see people flipping bottles over to check the import label. These savvy shoppers know that in addition to Lynch, they can rely on importers like Neal Rosenthal, Louis/Dressner, Terry Theise, and Peter Weygandt to bring in good wine.

The tastes of these small importers are, without question, ascendant. Sommeliers and boutique retailers, too, are beginning to eschew what Lynch calls "pop" wines -- heavy, oak-soaked concoctions designed for mass appeal. At restaurants and on retail shelves across the country, consumers can now find interesting, small-production wines more easily than ever before. And America's booming wine tourism industry is proof that consumers appreciate wine beyond Sutter Home and Barefoot.

Consumers are finally recognizing that the subway-station musician they've long ignored may be a treasure waiting to be discovered. –david white

Chef Pat Neely offers Father's Day inspiration

Pat Neely
Photo Credit: Steed Media Service

Pat Neely of “Down Home with Neelys”  shares his wishes for young fathers

As I approach Father’s Day and as I become older and become an empty nester, I have three wishes for young fathers or fathers that are in the prime of raising their kids and one wish is that even though a lot of the fathers now make big emphasis (or big emphasis is being put on) being a provider — they must understand balance. You must have balance when you are a father and a provider and what I mean by balance is that you take time out of your schedule to spend with your children.

My second wish would be that, and I always wish this for my children, is that I can provide a better opportunity for my children than I had. To me, that is how we further our generations, each generation should get better so my second wish is that we strive to provide a better opportunity for your children and not necessarily meaning from a materialistic standpoint; it may mean from just simply exposing them to a different environment, exposing them to different foods, exposing them to a different language, and/or providing a better opportunity for your children than you had.

For more, visit rollingout.com.

Straight Shots: Spirits for Dad on Father's Day

Hennessy and Crown Royal probably already have a place at your dad's bar. But chances are none of the spirits below do. So treat the old man and expand his palate a little. After all, there's nothing wrong with a bourbon, tequila, rye whiskey or all three! –ronda racha penrice

Maker's Mark Cask Strength Bourbon Whisky

Maker's Mark Cask Strength Full Bottle

A new product and just the third ever in the famed Maker's Mark family released just this year, Cask Strength is exactly what it sounds like. Unfiltered and uncut, the latest from the seventh generation Kentucky distillers is roughly 108-114 proof. Although it's strong, it's also smooth and totally worth the $59.99 for the 750 ml bottle if you can find the already popular spirit.

Casa Noble Crystal Tequila

CN Crystal Bottle

Nothing quite says pure like crystal and this pride of Mexico is just that. As a brand, Casa Noble dates back to the late 1700s. Made of 100% blue agave, the multiple award-winning tequila is triple distilled for purity and quality and then casked in white French oak barrels. As an added bonus, it's also certified organic, with a standard 750 ml bottle retailing for $39.99.

Rye Templeton Whiskey 

Templeton Rye Bottle

Inspired by the Prohibition-era whiskey made in Iowa that Al Capone reportedly preferred, Templeton Rye has a very interesting backstory. In recent years, the Midwest spirit that came to the market in the 2000s has had its challenges but that's to be expected of anything associated with Capone right? At any rate, its pleasing taste and interesting bottle is surely something that dad can dig, especially at $39.99 for a 750 ml bottle.

Tyson Beckford, Robert Battle kick off Alvin Ailey at Lincoln Center with star-studded gala

Honorary Chair Tyson Beckford and AAADT Artistic Director Robert Battle with Ailey Spirit Gala Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs. Photo by Christopher Duggan
Honorary Chair Tyson Beckford and AAADT Artistic Director Robert Battle with Ailey Spirit Gala Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs. Photo by Christopher

Led by artistic director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2015 Lincoln Center engagement kicked off with a star-studded Ailey Spirit Gala. The one-night-only benefit performance and party honoring the Ford Foundation and sponsored by FedEx featured supermodel and actor Tyson Beckford as Honorary Chair. Gala Co-Chairs were Gina F. Adams, Ricki Lander, Almaz & Marc S. Strachan, Pamela Zilly and John Schaefer and Daria L. and Eric J. Wallach, and the Vice Chairs were Michele and Timothy Barakett, Dr. N. Anthony and Robyn Coles, and Leslie & Tom Maheras. The evening helped raise over $1 million for Ailey’s extensive educational programs for young people, including AileyCamp and scholarships to The Ailey School.

Gala Honorary Chair Tyson Beckford with AAADT Artistic Director Robert Battle. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
Gala Honorary Chair Tyson Beckford with AAADT Artistic Director Robert Battle. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

The Ailey Spirit Gala featured performances by all divisions of the Ailey organization, including the world-renowned Ailey dancers in excerpts of Matthew Rushing’s ODETTA and in Robert Battle’s Takademe. The rising stars of Ailey II performed an excerpt of Manuel Vignoulle’s Breakthrough, gifted young dancers from The Ailey School (ages 6 to 23) showcased their talents and the breadth of the program’s training in a work called Synergy, and talented students from AileyCamp performed a work inspired by Christopher Huggins’ Anointed. An expanded cast of the present and future stars of Ailey came together for a memorable finale of Alvin Ailey’s timeless Revelations.

After the performance, the celebration continued at the party on the promenade. Ailey’s Board of Trustees, including Chair Daria L. Wallach and President Debra L. Lee, Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison, and more than 650 guests, including TODAY Show anchor Tamron Hall, Power star Naturi Naughton, Saturday Night Live star Jay Pharoah, writer and MSNBC host Janet Mock, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt actor Tituss Burgess, Orange is the New Black’s Lorraine Toussaint, Black-ish actress Jenifer Lewis, film star and lead in the forthcoming production of Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch Taye Diggs, and many more joined in dinner and dancing with the Company to the musical stylings of deejay to the stars, DJ M.O.S.

From left to right: Gala Honoree Darren Walker and Executive Director Bennett Rink. Photo by Dario Calmese Jr.
From left to right: Gala Honoree Darren Walker and Executive Director Bennett Rink. Photo by Dario Calmese Jr.

One of the night’s exciting moments was the announcement of Simon & Schuster’s upcoming children’s book based on the life of Robert Battle, which will be released on October 27, 2015. The book is called My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey. It is the unique story of a young boy whose life is filled with music, church, and movement – first martial arts, and then, after seeing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, dance. The book is sure to inspire young people around the world, and is created for ages 5 – 10.

Ailey’s Lincoln Center season continues through June 21st. Highlights include the June 17th Company premiere of Mr. Battle’s No Longer Silent, FREE Ailey Extension classes during NYC Dance Week (June 18 – 27), and farewell performances from celebrated Ailey dancers Antonio Douthit-Boyd, Kirven Douthit-Boyd, and Alicia Graf Mack. For the comprehensive season press release with details on the repertory, the Saturday Ailey Family Matinee Series, and the “Ticket to Dance” Ailey Extension FREE class offer, click here.

Martell celebrates its Tricentenaire at the Palace of Versailles in Paris, France

Martell 300 Tricentenaire
Martell 300 Tricentenaire

Martell recently celebrated it's 300th anniversary in grand style with a dazzling soirée at the legendary Palace of Versailles in Paris, France.

A carefully selected group of VIP guests and media from around the world were invited to take part in the festivities. Notables in attendance included Antoine Firino Martell, one of the descendants of the House’s founder Jean Martell, as well as singer Solange Knowles, blogger and socialite Olivia Palermo, British actress Naomie Harris and Hong Kong actress and singer-songwriter Karen Mok.

The evening commenced with an intimate dialogue between Philippe Guettat, Martell CEO and chairman andDiane Kruger, brand ambassador and internationally-acclaimed actress. Following a Q&A session, guests engaged in a private tour of the palace before experiencing a dynamic and exclusive flypast over Versailles by the Patrouille de France. Attendees were treated to an exhibition of Martell's unique cognac expertise while enjoying an array of custom made cocktails showing off the brand's versatility.

All 300 guests took their designated seats for a fully immersive gastronomic experience created exclusively for Martell by the world-renowned, innovative French chef, Paul Pairet. The evening's menu was curated by Pairet to chronicle Jean Martell's original journey to Cognac, France. Seven courses were served as giant screens throughout the room showcased corresponding visuals.

The first course was a ‘DIY’ Lobster Roll followed by ‘Tea-Weed" Oyster & Scallop Melba with Lemon Sea Sorbet, which was complemented by the sound of waves and seagulls and the smell of the ocean surrounding guests to evoke thoughts of Jean Martell’s original journey to France from Jersey. Some of the other seven unique courses included Truffle Burnt Soup Bread and Teriyaki Lacquered Beef with Western Congee perfectly matched with the House’s cognacs. Guests sampled Martell’s rare new blend Martell Premier Voyage after dinner, which was served with a Lemon & Lemon Tart surrounded with orange fragrances.

Following the extravagant dining experience, guests gathered for a spectacular display of fireworks in the sky over Versailles before dancing into the night.

Check out photos from the Martell 300 Tricentenaire celebration.

Rain Pryor produces one-woman, off-Broadway show, 'Fried Chicken & Latkes'

Rain Pryor

Fried Chicken & Latkes is actress-comedienne Rain Pryor’s one-woman, Off-Broadway show at National Black Theatre in Harlem. It’s her hilarious take on growing up Black, Jewish and the daughter of comedy legend, Richard Pryor.

The autobiographical play is Rain's funny take on her mixed-race heritage and growing up the daughter of one of the world’s most beloved and iconic funny men, comic genius Richard Pryor.

"We are so excited for Rain to join the NBT family and round out the 46th season with ‘Fried Chicken & Latkes.’ This season, NBT has navigated the world through the eyes of the Black female playwright; and we complete this year-long journey with the healing power of laughter, through the nuance of identity. Our mission here at NBT is to create a home for every person that walks through our doors, to allow members of our community to see themselves in ways they may have never experienced before, activated by the unabashedly authentic stories on our stage. We hope you come out and enjoy Rain's piece as she serves up home on a comically diverse and complex platter," said Sade Lythcott, CEO of NBT.

The hilariously irreverent and poignant play is Rain Pryor's one-woman, theatrical, cabaret-styled show based on her life growing up Black and Jewish. It has been in development for several years and performed in Atlanta; New York; Winston-Salem, NC; Baltimore; and Washington, DC. Recently, the actress joined forces with acclaimed director Kamilah Forbes (“A Raisin in the Sun,” “Lucky Guy,” “Stick Fly,” “The Mountaintop,” “Holler If Ya Hear Me”) to completely reimagine the work. In collaboration with NBT, Forbes has brought on a full creative team to mount the production, including Drama Desk Awardee Maruti Evans (scenic and lighting design), Dede Ayite (costume design), Eric Sluyter (sound design), Katherine Freer (projection designer) and Ayisha Hunt (stage management). Audiences can expect new songs, script elements and other production enhancements, including projection.

“The development of ‘Fried Chicken & Latkes’ has been cathartic and this fully mounted version is the culminating event,” said Pryor. “With Kamilah’s vision and the talent of a top-notch creative team, the June premiere marks the first time the show is more than me, a black curtain and a couple of black boxes. Thank the ancestors for creatives!”

Pryor plays the 11 characters most pivotal to her life and takes her audience on a musical journey through the late ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and some little-known family history. Along the way, she offers a unique perspective on race, identity and the loss of her iconic father, RichardPryor.

Tickets are on sale now for the production, which is playing at National Black Theatre, 2031 Fifth Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets in Harlem. (Take the 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 subway to 125th Street.) Previews run Tuesday, June 2, through Sunday, June 7, with tickets at $20. The production officially opens on Thursday, June 11, marked by an Opening Night Gala that includes a 7 p.m. reception and 8 p.m. show. Performances will run June 12–28 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.; Sundayperformances will be at 4 p.m. There will be no show on June 18. Tickets are $30 general admission with the following exceptions: All seats during the final week are $40 and an Opening Night Gala ticket (Thursday, June 11) is $50. Discount tickets of $20 are available for groups (10 or more), senior citizens, students, active military members and veterans. Tickets can be purchased online atwww.nationalblacktheatre.org, by calling NBT directly at (212) 722- 3800, or at NBT’s Box Office from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday throughSaturday.


10 powerful Ruby Dee quotes that will inspire you

Ruby Dee died on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 at the age of 91. Along with an outstanding career in theater and movies, Dee, and her late husband, Ossie Davis, were activists in the Civil Rights Movement.

In honor of her legacy, we present 10 powerful Ruby Dee quotes that will inspire you.

  1. “God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.”
  2. “The greatest gift is not being afraid to question.”
  3. “The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within: strength, courage, dignity.”
  4. “Get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, make the time.”
  5. “There was so much meanness in the atmosphere … but marvelous things pierce through the darkness of poverty and racism.”
  6. “Paradise is to be the ultimate instrument, fulfilling God’s desperate intent that we love each other.”
  7. “You have to learn how to be married. You have to learn to love somebody.”
  8. “You meet all kinds of people that help put life in perspective and turn the horror into some kind of lesson or avenue of awakening that lives with you all your days.”
  9. “That’s what being young is all about. You have the courage and the daring to think that you can make a difference. You’re not prone to measure your energies in time. You’re not likely to live by equations.”

Beyoncé shares photos from Michelle Obama's 50th birthday extravaganza

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, wife of our 44th Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, celebrated her 50th birthday during a White House extravaganza on Saturday, January 18, 2014. Who's better suited to serenade the first lady other than our own queen of hip-hop, Beyoncé?

On her Tumblr, Bey shared a few photogs with Jay Z and Blue Ivy while visiting the nations capital.

Cynthia Bailey talks passion, culture and travel

In the latest edition of rolling out, entrepreneur and reality star Cynthia Bailey talks about family, fashion and and having fun. Celebrity photographer DeWayne Rogers deserves a hand for his most recent photo shoot with the former model.

During the interview, she shares:

I am the hardest working woman in show business [laughs]. I’ve been working since I’ve been old enough to work. I set goals for myself that I want to achieve and willing to put in the work and sacrifices.

There are so many layers to me. I can be a “rocker chick” one day and Revlon the next. There are a lot of different layers when it comes to me. I try to show all of them because it shows who I am.

Traveling is my passion. I love South Africa. I love Australia. You know, I get to see a lot of places through my modeling career. I love Paris, of course. I love the Caribbean, I love Angola. I could never just name just one. I got to travel early on in high school because of my modeling career. Traveling is the only thing I love doing in my spare time when I am not working or on the show or working with my school.

The first place I ever went to abroad was Paris. Paris had an impact on me when I lived there. I got the opportunity to be in another country and to try different foods, another language, and also to see how blessed I am to be an American...
Read more at rollingout.com.

Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson makes U.S. history winning fencing gold

Photo Credit: James Farrell

Philadelphian Miles Chamley-Watson, 23, made history on Friday, August 9, 2013 winning the gold at the world championships in Budapest, Hungary. He’s the first man from the U.S. to win a Senior World Fencing Championship title.

He won the men’s foil gold securing the title in a match with Russia’s Artur Akhmatkhuzin – final score: 15-6.

How do you set goals and evaluate your success?
I always set my goals as high as possible, because I know that if I put my mind to it. I can achieve everything.

Name your favorite role models for success in two industries.
David Beckam, He has made a name for himself through soccer and fashion.
Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, He has made a name for himself, through music, vodka and fashion.

Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Water for Elephants

Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
I always make sure to tell myself that in order to succeed you need to understand that your desire to succeed in life should always out way your fear of failure.

How do music and cultural events define your self-identity?
Music plays a huge role in my life. I wake up everyday to music, it changes my mood. I can always find happiness in music.

Define your personal culture.
Never following in anyone’s footsteps, always being a leader, never changing my personality because of the people around me. I have always been true to myself, I never cared about what other people were doing, only me.

Describe your favorite vacation spot.
My favorite vacation spot would have to be Miami and Jamaica.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would you change?
No racism. I am a prime example of how both black and white can be used to shine positive light on others.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would you change?
Permanently have blonde hair.

To see more of this interview, please visit rollingout.com.