2020 Wines for Thanksgiving

18 Nov

2020 has been an “interesting” year so far. Thanksgiving also looks to be “interesting”. Smaller groups, probably the same people you’ve been quarantined with since March. Maybe a Zoom dimmer with friends?

As our gatherings are smaller, so will be my suggestions!
As far as wine goes, I’m changing up my game. I suggest you do, too! We’re going to think and drink globally

White Wines: Albariño and Rhône white blends!


Whether you pull a wine from the Iberian peninsula (Albariño) or the south of France (Rhône), you will have superb results with Thanksgiving dinner. I find the Rhône blends more savory, but both of these styles will be able to handle anything from appetizers to soup to salad to shellfish to the main dinner, and be a total success with turkey and pork, providing a zesty and fresh palate after every sip.

 

If you are asking, “What’s Albariño, JvB?” Here’s the quick answer: from Spain’s Rias Baixas wine region, these are dry white wines, lighter in body, with excellent acidity. Common flavor profiles include lemon, grapefruit, nectarine, and melon. It’s your hip wine alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, and it has a huge bang for the buck, and prices usually range from $12-20/bottle. 

Typical examples of Rias Baixas Albariño. Tremendous flavor and value! 

 

If you are wondering “Rhône who?” it takes a little more work, as there are a bunch of awesome white wine grapes that are unique to France’s Rhône valley and they can be a little confusing. My choice is Acquiesce Winery’s Clairette Blanche (13.5% ABV. $28/bottle SRP), a wine that is actually made in California but uses Rhône grape varieties. It has a similar high acidity, but gentle fruit balance of peach, pear, and a hint of fennel, with a gorgeous floral nose, and a savory body. This is the rounder, fuller wine that is your alt-chardonnay choice and is a huge secret weapon for both crowd-pleasing and palate-pleasing skills. 

 

Whether single variety like this Clairette, or a blend of Rhône grapes-
the wine inside is even more beautiful than the lovely bottle and label seen here. Acquiesce Winery, Lodi California. 
 

 

Rhône grape types often sound exotic and may be challenging for some Americans to pronounce: bourboulenc, clairette blanc, grenache blanc, marsanne, muscat blanc à petits grains, pinardin, picpoul blanc, roussanne, ugni blanc. While you can search to find some single vineyard wines that are stunning, many of the wines that arrive in the USA are blends that showcase the best of the region, and can be found in the $10-20 range. The high end summits with rare vintages of J.L. Chave Hermitage Blanc, so be wary if your browser search sorts with “price high/low” and don’t be frightened off by the sticker shock! There are amazing values to be found from bottles with exquisite expression and flavors. If Acquiesce is a little above your price range, the most easily found white Rhône blends are Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône 2019 Blanc Reserve or Guigal Côte du Rhône 2018 Blanc, which both have shockingly low street prices right now, in the $10-15 range.  

 

OK, Ready for Red? 

 

Red Wines: Cru Beaujolais and Pinot Noir!


“What’s a Cru Beau?” You may be thinking. Here’s the scoop: 

Think of the red wines of Beaujolais in three tiers: Entry Level (Beaujolais Nouveau), Mid-Level (Beaujolais Village) and Top Tier (Cru Beaujolais). The good news is you can find excellent top tier bottles in the twenties and thirties in terms of cost, while the Nouveau is in the teens, and Village bottle cost spreads across the middle range.  

Buying tips for Cru Beaujolais: there are ten designations  based on and named by their region, you can click the link and do a deep dive, or take the fast lane: ask your local wine store clerk to point them out. The three I see most often in both online and brick-and-mortar stores are:  Morgon, Fleurie, and Moulin-à-Vent. I find these wines to be so beautiful, bright, fruity, and acidic, perfect matches for the cranberry sauce, with enough acid to work with a roast or to tame heavy gravy or a bitter vegetable side dish. The quality and balance of these wines are a tremendous value in the under $40/bottle range, while the same quality in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Bordeaux blend will tend to cost more in local wine stores. 

 

Left & Middle are Cru Beaujolais, on the right is a quality Village-level wine by a 3rd generation winemaker.  

 

Pinot Noir: In this day and age, you MUST know about Pinot Noir by now. Even if you never saw “Sideways”, you probably know that pinot noir is a delicate grape, requires so much more than simply the labor of love to produce a formidable wine. Pinot is the opposite of the hearty cabernet sauvignon grape. When cab is a Fastback Mustang, pinot noir is the Ferrari Dino 246. It’s the Pappy Van Winkle of the wine world. If Cabernet is Travis Scott, then Pinot Noir is Marvin Gaye. 

More importantly, while the powerful cabernet sauvignon is a go-to for steak, pinot noir’s delicacy and bright fruit are a no-brainer for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meals. Pairing is not only easy, it’s perfect.  


As an admitted French wine snob, yes, I love my Burgundy as well as great American and New Zealand pinot noir. There is an abundance of great pinot noir in the $25-$50 range, and stellar quality in the $50 and up range, with some awesome values in the under $25 range. But there are so many great buys in pinot noir around the world, and the wine pairs beautifully with a holiday meal. You can find truly stunning pinot noir wines from California, Oregon, and France across the spectrum. While I may lean towards the $50+ bottles, I have my share of $9-15 as well. Everyone needs a weekly bottle, a special event bottle, a birthday bottle. 

The best regions in the USA for pinot noir are: the  Willamette Valley in Oregon (and it’s six sub AVAs) and from California: Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands, Santa Rita Hills, and Sonoma Coast. Or you can hop off the American continent to visit New Zealand’s Central Otago and Marlborough regions. Or yet another option:  Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200 and head straight to Burgundy! Much depends on the size of your table and your budget. But know you can find excellent bottles from all of these regions. Here’s an example or two…

 

Some great examples of tremendous value in Pinot Noir

Take advantage of the killer values offered by these: 2017 McIntyre Pinot Noir  from Santa Lucia Highlands, Domaine Boussey Volnay 1er Cru,  and District 7    Estate Grown Pinot Noir which has been an editor’s choice year after year; I fell in love with it doing the pandemic. These punch well above their weight classes and each shows something different about how sexy and precise pinot noir can really be. 

If you want to change it up, you can look at these awesome selections from Ken Wright  or Evesham Wood  from Oregon, or the delicious, glamorous flavors of Gary Farrell  from the Russian River Valley. If you want to Go Big or Go Home, see if your local wine store carries Merry Edwards 2017 Meredith Estate Pinot Noir   from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma- I’ve had an ounce of this stunning  wine and am trying to get my hands on a bottle. 

 

If you’re worried that you might be all by yourself (and depressed as hell) on Thanksgiving, I STILL have a pinot noir to treat yourself for the holiday! Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé from Lucien Albrecht  is a sparkling rosé of pinot noir that is unrelentingly delicious.  

 

SRP is $20 and I’ve seen from $14-22 in stores. It always over-performs and is simply delicious.
So put that in your back pocket, it’s an Ace in the hole! 
Better yet,  you can easily find this bottle at
Total Wine, Costco, and many of your local wine stores. 

 

 

Last but not least- 
Should you or your holiday table prefer a more powerful style of red wine, then ask your local wine store for a great bottle of Carmenere, Rioja, or Old Vine Zinfandel. Each of these wines are powerful food-pairing options, and you can find older bottles that drink beautifully at reasonable prices. 

 

 

 

Have you noticed what everything has in common? Brighter fruit and higher acidity, which is a great match for Thanksgiving because it’s still getting the best out of late summer and early fall. This combination just works, much like the afternoon sun with a fall chill in the air gives us perfect sweater weather. 

So, get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Please reply below, and let me know what you do!
I promise I’ll do my post-mortem on what I drank on Thanksgiving, as always! 


#WIYG? 

 


à votre santé!!

 

Torre Rosazza Friuli, Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC

15 Oct

MILANO WINE WEEK IN NYC! 

What better to bring in the fall then by tasting wines of Colli Orientali del Friuli? 
Located in the province of Udine, the Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC is in the northeastern section of Italy near the Croatian border, located between the Alps and the Adriatic sea. 

 

Torre Rosazza Taste Buds, On Your Marks! 

 

 

Live tasting with our hosts in Italy via the Internet! 
Catch your angle! The colors of the wines from Torre Rosazza,  

from Left to Right: Pinot Grigio, Friuli, and Altromerlot. 

 

Torre Rosazza, Friuli Colli Orientali DOC Pinot Grigio 2019 Approx $18-20/bottle

Color is pale straw. The nose offers citrus blend, with lemon pith. On the palate:  gentle white stone fruit- green pear, but dry, not sweet. Mouthfeel is lightly buoyed with citrus, secondary notes of nectarine and bright, forward acidity. Perfectly dry, with heat on the front palate, smoothing and receding into a lip-smacking finish. This is an excellent example of a classic, forthcoming pinot grigio. 

 

 

 

 

Torre Rosazza, Friuli Colli Orientali DOC Friuliano, 2019, Approx $18-$20/bottle. 

Rich straw in color, with a nose of white flower, lemon verbena, and bitter orange peel. On the palate are pear and grapefruit with a secondary citrus peel blend; excellent high acidity, with almond paste on the back palate. Tertiary notes of dried herbs and gravel on the finish. Stunning. Hands-down my favorite wine of the tasting, I found this enticing and want to find room for this in my personal cellar. 

 

 

 Torre Rosazza, Friuli Colli Orientali DOC “Altromerlot” 2016. Approx. $26-29/bottle.

Color is dark purple with magenta edging. A rich, exotic nose with black plum and eucalyptus. Flavor profile: stewed black plum, blackberry compote, boysenberry on the front and mid palate. A fuller mouthfeel than I expected, rich flavors with powerful acid with bold tannins. I loved how un-Merlot this felt on the palate. While I find it fascinating and it could pair with a spicy tomato sauce or grilled meats today, I’d purchase several bottles – some to drink now, the others to rest in the cellar a few more years to settle and mature, to see how the wine develops with some age. 

 

All in all, a delightful and delicious look at three of Torre Rosazza’s lineup, all in excellent form and quality. 

 

What’s in YOUR glass? 

A Votre Santé!

Gary Farrell Russian River Valley 2016 Pinot Noir

1 Oct

Gary Farrell Russian River Valley 2016 Pinot Noir,  Hallberg Vineyard, Sonoma County, CA. 13.9%ABV, SRP $55/Bottle.

 

If you love Pinot Noir, then you probably already know Gary Farrell. It has been years since I’ve tasted wine from this winery.

My underlined note after tasting this wine: “My, oh my.” I kid you not.

 

Color is brilliant ruby, with a rich, vibrant nose of cherry, rose petal, and eucalyptus. The mouth-watering palate offers a stunning mixture of brilliant red fruit, wildflower cuttings, vegetation and darker tertiary notes of dried tobacco leaf and potting soil. Balanced with a luxurious mouthfeel. Quite honestly, I enjoyed every moment of this wine from start to finish, until the bottle was empty.


That, my friends, is how a wine should make you feel. In this price range, I’m impressed. This wine will go toe-to-toe with some of my cherished Burgundian bottles, and you can actually access them quite easily.

 

Gary Farrell 206 Halberg Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Image Copyright 2020 JvBunCorked.

 

 

What brilliant, awesome fruit made this vintage!! And you know I’m not a high ABV fan, but 13.9% ABV doesn’t taste like it in this wine, I had ZERO complaints about heat on the palate. This is RRV at the top level. Winemaker Theresa Heredia and vineyard manager Kirk Lokka are kicking ass and taking names with these wines. If you get a chance, scoop them up. Your mouth will thank you!

Final note on this bottle, jotted hastily: “Damn. It’s time to go back to Sonoma.”

 

 

#What’s in YOUR glass?

A votre santé!

 

Evening Land 2011 Bourgogne Rouge

28 Sep

My love of pinot noir began with Burgundy and expanded rapidly around the world.

More than ten years ago, I was attending an Oregon regional tasting and had been severely impressed with an Evening Land wine I tasted from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley. When I found out they were also making wines from Sonoma and Burgundy, I wanted to compare! And compare I did.
I purchased multiple bottles from Evening Land’s label from Chateau de Bligny/Côte de Beaune, Burgundy; several from the Sonoma Coast property, as well as bottles from their Seven Springs Vineyard in Oregon. History reminder:  Evening Land was founded in 2005 by Mark Tarlov, with partners Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group), the Prieur family (Domaine Jacques Prieur), and the late Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center. From their early success, Evening Land Vineyard (ELV) transitioned several members of their team and management as well as vineyards to new owners winemaker Sashi Moorman, and sommelier Rajat Parr around 2012, and the story continues with more accolades and success. 
All those years ago, I had really liked what I tasted from Oregon. I wondered if ELV would have a decidedly New World and Californian approach, or if I’d find the perfect blend of historic winemaking in what is simply a newer region or similar characteristics. I tasted the wines, and understood for myself that the wines have more in common with the classic & historic Burgundian wines I respected: not simply the location on the 45th parallel to the sun, but fertile hillside soils, along with ocean-cooled climates that allow such distinct quality in growing pinot noir and chardonnay. So, I cellared the remaining bottles to see how they would fare with time. After several years, I did another tasting, and they had evolved nicely. On a recent re-stock and review of the cellar, I came across the group of wines and thought, it’s time to review.

Evening Land 2011 Borgogne Rouge (Château de Bligny,  Côte de Nuits-Villages), France. 13% ABV,  original SRP $30/bottle.

Color is bright ruby. The nose is floral and gently performed with red fruit, spice. On the palate, the fruit is still present, cranberry and dark cherry, with secondary notes of vanilla, graphite, and earth on the steely finish.
The age on this wine is perfect for me as a drinker;  presenting a round and lovely nose of floral, spice, and red fruit notes, feminine in first taste, with robust and muscular red fruit and wildflowers.
Drinking this reminds me of driving the 1983 Porsche 928S turbo: a gorgeous sheen of color and flowing, well-blended elements. Stunning linearity in focus, with awesome hidden power.  Perhaps not the prettiest of the line but a shocking, powerful competitor that pulls in front of the leader at the halfway mark and never lets go of the race until it’s won.

The good news? This wine is drinking beautifully right now. So it it’s hiding in YOUR cellar like it was in mine, go head an open that bottle if you feel like it. I’m looking forward to having guests over for a blind comparative pinot tasting and wondering where this might fit in.

All Rights Reserved. Images and Text Copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. 

 

What’s in YOUR glass?

à votre santé!

Troon Takes Orange Wine to the Next Level

30 Aug

Troon Vineyards 2019 Kubli Bench Amber, Estate Orange Wine; Applegate Valley AVA, OR. 13.3% ABV, MSRP $30/bottle. 

 

 

Kubli Bench Amber is an orange wine from Troon Vineyards, a Demeter BioDynamic, Certified Organic winery in the Applegate Valley AVA, located in the southwestern region of Oregon.  The Kubli Bench Amber is a blend of 74% Riesling, 16% Vermentino, 10% Viognier. This delightful and unusual wine is created much like a red wine: fermented on the skins with significant time spent on the lees while in clay amphorae, then aged in French oak barrels for five months.  The result is a superb, rare, and palate-pleasing delicacy that has to be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated. 

 

All content Copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved.

 


Color is pale orange, aptly named amber. A gentle nose offers a blend of citrus, grapefruit, candied ginger, and a hint of sage. It is quite neutral on the palate with lemon-lime citrus, apricot and pear, with secondary notes of vanilla and herbs. A surprisingly long finish with grapefruit zest and lemon pith keeps the palate fresh and lively. With such solid acidity, it is rare to have a sense of phenolics and tannin with a white wine, providing an unusual mouthfeel and body. 

 

All content Copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved.

 

 The result is a delicious wine with luscious pear and apricot, beautiful acidity and strong tannins. This wine is great by itself but can pair with anything– I started with soft cheese, and paired an entire meal wonderfully from salad to roast vegetables to filet mignon! 

Kubli Bench Amber falls into a rare category for me: “When you don’t expect it, but get blown away by a wine.” It is fascinating, fun, and something I will always want in my cellar. It is an absolute delight, and a total #WineGeekWine

 

Below, a #WMC20 live virtual tasting with Troon’s GM,  Craig Camp, top row, second from left.

All content Copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

#WIYG? 

 


à votre santé!

Smith Madrone: Blurring the Lines Between Old and New World Wines.

27 Jun

I recently had the opportunity to join in a live tasting of four wines I’d highly enjoyed a year ago. The winery, Smith-Madrone, is one of the best under-the-radar labels you can find. I’m still surprised their prices have not sky-rocketed, but their wines are selling out faster every year and their value is among the highest found in Napa Valley. Here are my thoughts, to share with you- in finding the best wines for you to enjoy daily, or for special occasions. Cheers! –JvB

2016 Smith Madrone Riesling 12.8% ABV, SRP $34/bottle

It is more Alsatian than German in style: superbly dry; with a honeyed nose but dry palate and body. On the palate are green apple, bosc pear, and a solid key lime base layer. Capable of pairing with rich and savory food, this is ideal for Thai, Burmese, sushi and a Spanish gazpacho, but can handle everything from a salad to steak tartare, from carpaccio to mussels, from meringues to chocolate lava cake.

If you ask me for the best rieslings from the USA, it is a very short list. I will offer you Dr. Konstantin Frank from Finger Lakes,  Teutonic from  Willamette Valley, The Columbia Valley collaboration “Eroica” from Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen, and Smith Madrone’s Riesling. That short list is incredibly high praise.

2016 Chardonnay, Napa Spring Mountain District, St Helena, CA. 14.4%ABV, SRP $40/bottle

Pale gold with green tinge, the nose offers apple, lemon pith, and vanilla. On the palate, a beautiful lemon-lime with solid acidity. An excellent mid-palate surpasses the normal California chardonnay default. Designed to be great by itself, and amazing with food. This is brilliant with blue cheese on a whole wheat cracker; I paired it the following night with baked chicken, greens and baked potato, and again the third evening with sashimi. In every instance, the wine excelled and left my palate desiring another glass, another bottle. Bravo. Smith-Madrone Chardonnay is among my top choices in the under $50 chardonnay from Napa.




2015 Smith Madrone Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.3%$ ABV, $52/bottle

A blend of 84% cabernet sauvignon with 16% cabernet franc. The wine shows a ruby color with purple edging, and offers a luxurious nose, expansive with floral and fruit notes, menthol, with a hint of young leather. The palate features black currant, blackberry, forest floor, and fresh herbs. With a fruity, Old World mid-palate, heat lingers gently across the mid and back palate, with a lengthy and complex finish. My next reaction is: “this can pair with almost anything.” Absolutely, unlike some cabs which are really large (some too big in my opinion), this is a medium-sized cabernet that is delicious by itself as well as able to complement food well. As a result, you can drink this start-to-finish with salad to grilled meat to dessert, knowing it can also pair nicely with salmon, soup, and fresh fruit, a task that many cabernets are unable to accomplish. Kudos to the 16% cab franc, a secret popular in France and often ignored in California cabernet.

This wine has a nod to the historic Napa cabernet style, with Old World approach.  Far from the modern California Cab, Smith-Madrone is a rare winery that bridges multiple styles, crafting wines of wide appeal from a singular location and focus.

2016 Smith Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.1%$ ABV, $225/bottle

Having tasted the 2009 and the 2013, the 2016 is poised to be quite popular. The 2016 blend is comprised of 54% cabernet sauvignon and 46% cabernet franc; it is aged 19 months in new French oak barrels.

Featuring an expansive and glamorous nose, the palate experiences intense full fruit: red plum, blackberry, and black plum with a touch of cassis. Secondary and rich savory notes of tobacco, potting soil, aged leather, forest floor and vanilla tantalize the side and top palates, as the luxurious mouthfeel expands and bathes the tongue, offering greater enjoyment. An extended finish on this blend is more than satisfactory- I immediately began formulating food pairing and a wine dinner based around this bottle.

When I contemplate Cook’s Flat Reserve (which one does, with such a lovely glass of wine) this wine is about a winemaker crafting top quality wine for an impassioned enjoyment. What is fascinating about this wine is how delicious, enjoyable, and intense it is in its youth, for a world-class red blend that has Old World styling. For similar styles from Bordeaux, a wine would have to age considerably longer than four years to have any similar balance- but Cook’s Flat Reserve demonstrates great balance and structure along with the ability to age and still retain quality fruit, acidity and tannin. With a decade of age, that intensity evolves into refined structure with even greater complexity- so either youthful or fully aged, you maximize enjoyment with this bottle.

Should you be looking for a top-flight California red blend that speaks of the best of both the Old World and new world in great winemaking, this is the bottle you will want to seek out. Like me, once you’ve had it, you’ll want to have several from each year in your cellar, to age and enjoy, while knowing you can still drink them young for an exceptional experience without having to wait 10-20 years. However, those with patience will reap the benefits.

à votre santé!

What to Cellar?

26 Apr

This week I joined my friends Jenn & Stub as part of their live broadcast of Wine Antics to talk discuss cellaring!

If you missed it, you can watch the episode here:

 

Now, during this episode, we talked about what wines you SHOULD think about cellaring, and it was suggested that I put a blog post up as a reference. #SmartThinking, #GoodResource. So let’s do that, but let’s go back to my cellar basics first:

 

First, let’s talk about long term storage. Those are wines that I expect will need to be in perfect temperature, light, & humidity conditions for 5+ years, and some for much, much longer!

What wines do you want to cellar long term? 

1. Start with Full-Bodied Red Wines, especially from Classic & Cult Producers

2. Any Old World First or Second Growth Wines; starting with Premium Left-Bank Bordeaux, Cru Burgundy, and stars from Châteauneuf-du-Pape

3. Italian wines from Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto, such as Amarone, Reserve Chianti & Tempranillo, Barolo, Barbaresco, Nebbiolo, Super-Tuscans

4. Classic Spanish and Portuguese Red Wines

5. Vintage Champagnes

6. Dessert wines such as Hungarian Tokaji, German & Alsatian Riesling, French Sauternes and Basra

7. Wines that are timeless, designed to last for decades: Port, Madeira, and Vin Jaune from The Jura region of France

8. Age-worthy white wine, usually high in acidity on release.

9. Premium/Bold Cabernet Sauvignon from the USA

Here are a few examples of wines worth holding long term:

(hey, I can dream, right?)

 

“But hey, JvB”, you say, “what about all the OTHER wines you have in storage?”

In addition to long term storage, I have short & medium storage, broken down as:  A) Recent acquisitions to open/taste in 1-3 year range; and B) Wines that will improve from at least 2-3 years of storage but that I may start opening sooner but enjoy before 5 years of age.

Some good examples of  wines to cellar for Short Term Storage (1-3 years): 

Washington, Texas, Virginia, & NY State Reds,

-Oregon & California Pinot Noirs,

-Most American white wines,

-American Sparkling Wines, Prosecco & Cava

-All my white/rosé wine club wines.

 

Some good examples of B), my wines requiring 2-to-5 years of storage, include: 

-Cru Beaujolais wines,

-Right Bank/smaller Bordeaux producers that will hit their peak earlier

-California/US Reserve Wine Club red wines

-Most European and New World lighter reds, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Garnacha

-White Bordeaux Bends, High end Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, & Chenin Blanc

 

 

Does this help you think about HOW to cellar wine, and WHAT wines to cellar, for the short, medium, or long term?

What is in your cellar? Do you have a category of wines that I entirely forgot? Drop a line and let me know what you’re holding in your cellar, for short, medium, or long term!

à votre santé!

Chateau Musar 2009 White Blend

11 Apr

Chateau Musar 2009 White Blend, Bekka Valley, Lebanon. 12.5% ABV, SRP $49/bottle.

Color is medium gold. The nose is a savory blend of fruit and spice: rich banana and pear, secondary floral and spice notes, with melted butter. On the palate are pineapple, baked apple, and lemon zest both mature and refined, with subdued acidity. It lingers with a glamorous and classic sensibility. I paired this with Matzoh ball soup, baked chicken and steamed vegetables, then the next day with meat loaf (yes, white wine with red meat), and on a third day with home made pizza.

 

 

A blend of two historic grapes and vines that range from 50-90 years of age, the 2009 Musar white is comprised of 66% Obaideh and one third Merwah, two grapes that are indigenous to Lebanon but are supposedly relatives of chardonnay and semillon. Without question, it is a joy to drink an eleven year-old white Bordeaux style blend that is one of Musar’s ‘classic’ vintages still under Serge Hochar’s supervision before his passing in 2014. 

This bottle was stored on its side in my wine cellar for several years before removal. It uncorked easily with a standard waiter’s corkscrew, the cork still in excellent condition. The wine excels with a touch of air, -we let it breathe for 30 minutes before serving- but the flavors fully opened after about an hour. The wine lasted four days when refrigerated after opening without change to character or flavor profile.

 

 

If you are a lover of Bordeaux Blanc and world wines, Musar’s 2009 is a must-taste for perspective on a classic winemaker, as well as for Middle Eastern winemaking in the historic Bordeaux style.

 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

My Pandemic: Acquiesce Bourboulenc, Domaine du Bouscat, Sunier Fleurie

29 Mar

The 2020 Pandemic of COVID-19 has left people feeling both isolated and depressed. One of the best things I found in the second week of isolation was groups of friends who would get together on line, have drinks, and talk about their feelings:  what they are experiencing, be it isolation and depression, simply how they were surviving, or just what happened to be in their glass.

Say no more, I was IN!  Here was an opportunity to simply pull from my cellar and grab something my palate was asking for, to see some friendly faces and say hi! So here we go!  

 

 

Domaine du Bouscat, Caduce Bordeaux Supérieur 2012. 13.5% ABV, SRP $15/bottle. 

Deep garnet with purple edging, the nose is rich and foreboding. The palate is full of dark red and black fruit, heavy on the black currants, with mellowing tannin, and solid acidity. Secondary notes are of eucalyptus, forest floor, pipe tobacco, and granite. This is the last bottle of a case I purchased years ago; each bottle has been an excellent bargain and what a pleasure to enjoy it over the last half-decade. I paired this with red meat, grilled asparagus, baked cauliflower, and gouda cheese over the course of five days and the wine evolved into a more aromatic, less tannic, gentle view of Bordeaux. Either way, it was delicious and fun to finish up this case of wine that had become a trusted friend. 

 

All content: copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved. 

 

2018 Bourboulenc, Acquiesce Winery, Lodi, CA. 13.5% ABV, SRP $28/bottle.

Pale gold in color, the nose offers honey, apricot, and a hint of geranium. On the palate is a beautiful fruit compote of pear, orange, green apple and honeysuckle. Supple acidity swirls across the top palate with a lovely lemon zest finish. I paired this on two evenings with turkey cutlet and whole wheat pasta, the wine is so flavorful and luscious, while maintaining a gentle, restrained, and crisp flavor profile. This is a wine that I pour and my guests simply ask for more, more, and more. You will do the same, and will feel lucky to have found a great resource for this rare Rhône varietal in Lodi, California. 

 

 

 

Julien Sunier 2018 Fleurie, Gamay, Beaujolais, France. 12% ABV, $29/bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits 

Those who are lovers of Burgundy are often fans of Cru Beaujolais. I am one of these people! Those who seek the exquisite, top end of the gamay grape are rewarded by passionate, expert winemakers who craft their small plots into wines of perfection. This is a perfect example: the 2016 vintage was ravaged by hail. The grapes suffered, harvests were smaller, but flavors soared. I opened this bottle last night, and could not stop tasting. The wine is classically pale ruby with a glamorous and perfumed nose, while flavors explode off the palate. Sour cherry, red currants, red plum, a hint of young strawberry lead into a beautiful acidity, with soaring minerality. Everything feels slightly larger than life, and for the wine lover, that means you will want glass after glass, bottle after bottle. Believe me, if you love the high-end gamay, you will adore this wine. Sunier is a winemaker’s winemaker; this is a geeky glass of wine heaven. My only regret on this wine is simply having not purchased more. 

 

 

All content: copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

What’s in your glass? 

 

à votre santé!

 

Wine Memory: Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvée Balthazar

23 Mar

Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvée Balthazar 2016; 12.5% ABV, $15/bottle online. Screwcap Closure. 

 

Color is pale straw. The nose offers gentle melon with a touch of citrus. On the palate, gentle white stone fruit, pineapple, kiwi, apricot, and honeydew. Gentle acidity followed the fruit, with a subtle, quiet finish.

 

I first tasted this wine (the 2014 vintage) when in Alsace, before a meal. Then I had an opportunity to try the 2016 a year ago. I enjoyed it, but for some reason, I never wrote about it. But I recalled enjoying the wine, and I marked it down in my wine journal, sought it out again, purchased and cellared the wine, and just recently when winter had receded, my brain wanted spring and then the perfect moment hit me recently: I simply craved this bottle. I went to the cellar, retrieved and cleaned it from cellar dust, poured a taste and put the bottle in the fridge to drop the temperature a few degrees while I sorted color and aroma. The first sip immediately brought me back with the memory of this wine at an outdoor table in Colmar, France, on the Alsace wine route, in an area dubbed “little Venice/la petite Venise”. I kid you not, it was as cinematic in my mind as any filmmaker’s trick to place you back and re-live a memory you might swear was the real thing.

 

 

I needed that memory; I desired that calm, the flavor, the scent, the moment in time. This was the perfect time for the bottle, and I enjoyed it far more than any other wine or spirit could at that moment. When I tasted it alone, I was thrilled. When I paired it with some roasted vegetables and a bite of warmed Comté on a piece of crunchy baguette. I was in heaven.

 

Like many of Albrecht’s wines, this is a great example of a wonderful wine that represents a beautiful region with impressive olfactory and flavor memory. For me, so many of the world’s great wines are like this. And that is why they carry such impact with world travelers and wine lovers.

 

If you’re nodding in agreement, then you’ve been, and you know. If you are intrigued, then start planning your trip, either to  the Eastern towns of France, or to the restaurants and wine bars that showcase the food and wines from these regions. Or come to my house, <grin> as long as that’s with plenty of advance warning.

 

à votre santé!

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