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!

Hess Select California Pinot Gris 2019

19 Mar

Hess Select California 2019 Pinot Gris; Napa, California. 13%ABV, SRP $12/bottle.

 

Pale gold color with a slightly green tinge. Nose of gentle citrus, nectarine, and green cuttings to delight the senses. On the palate are pineapple, ripe stone fruit with gentle acidity; a light and fresh finish. You will think you are tasting the sunshine. The stainless-steel fermented wine needs no oak to hide flaws; there are none. This is as delicious a pinot gris as I’ve ever tasted from the USA.  I paired this with salad and salmon on day one, then with pizza on day two before it was gone. Each glass invited another, and I finished the bottle wishing for more. At this price, why not? One could buy this by the case for this summer, and smart buyers will do exactly that.

 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

Here’s the skinny: under normal circumstances, I’m rarely impressed by pinot gris from the USA. I like pinot gris from Alsace, from Trentino-Alto Adige, from Friuli-Venezia Giulia – these are three of the world’s best regions for pinot gris -and in these regions, the winemakers make AMAZING wines- followed by some really nice wines New Zealand. But California has just not made my list, until now. The 2019 growing season was superb, with good soil saturation and cool temperatures in the spring, followed by ideal growing conditions all summer long. A warm and dry autumn with cool evenings helped complete the cycle for highest-quality fruit, so the wine exudes structure and balance that must be tasted to be believed. Winemaker Dave Guffy has a feather in his cap on this wine, and this pinot gris stands strongly. Drink now. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

à votre santé!

Wines of the Dão

29 Feb

When I think about wines with tremendous value, my first reaction is the Iberian Peninsula. But move over Spain, the wines of Portugal are coming through!

OK, so is this really new? Maybe you’ve tried some Portuguese wines before. But this IS new, unless you have truly paid serious attention to the wines of the Dão region. And they are worth your time! Quite simply, these are high quality wines, but ranging in price from $9-30/bottle. At that price, you can drink them every day without regret!

 

Here are a few of the DOC Dão wines that really impressed me:

 

WHITES:
Soito Encruzado 2017 13.5% ABV, $17/bottle. A blend of 90% Encruzado and 10% Malcasia-Fina, Pale yellow in color with a tinge of green. Starts with an aroma of white flowers, the palate offers green apple, Bosc pear, and lemon. Secondary notes of apricot and minerality.

 

 

Pedra Cancela “Vinha da Fidala” Encruzado 2018: 13% ABV, found for $13-17/bottle online. Color is bright lemon yellow, nose blends stone fruit with floral cuttings and honey. On the palate, tart lemon with hints of sweet pear and apple. This wine shows smooth, balanced citrus with a medium finish. Long and linear, it is reminiscent of a Burgundian style. This wine haunted my palate. I wanted to taste it again and again, and I did. It is the wine I wanted to pair my whole dinner with.

 

 

Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2018: 100% Encruzado, 13.5% ABV, $17/Bottle. Color is pale gold, with a medium floral nose. Stone fruit on the palate with nice acidity, secondary notes of grapefruit, almond, and a touch of oak. The luxurious mouthfeel made me want to taste this again after several years to enjoy its development.

 

 

REDS:

 

Pedra Cancela Seleção do Enólogo Tonto 2016: 13.3% ABV, $9/bottle. A blend of Touriga-Nacional, Alfocheiro and Jaen. Medium ruby in color, and aromatic nose of red fruit with spice and green pepper, secondary notes of eucalyptus and licorice. I thought this wine was absolutely delicious pairing with octopus course and short rib entrée. But I expected it would be in the $20-25 range, and that would be a fair price. But to my shock, this wine sells for $9 and change per 750 ml bottle. Really, that’s not a typo. NINE dollars. Where can you find that kind of deal that isn’t corporate winemaking? Dão, that’s where.

 

 

 

 

Borges Touriga Nacional 2017, 12.5%ABV,  $13/bottle.

Double decanted before tasting, the wine is deep ruby in color, a full and has a full nose of red plum, currant and pomegranate. On the palate, cherry and plum dominate with earthy notes of leather, tobacco leaf, smoke, and wet earth. Excellent balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin. A long, supple finish with toasted oak.  (This wine is also a Wine Enthusiast Recommended Best Buy) At this price? Buy a case.

 

 

Jaime de Almeida Barros Quinta das Camélias Tinto Reserva 2015, 13.5% ABV, Online from $12-$14/bottle.

Deep purple in color; the nose is complex and expansive with black plum, violet, and spice box. A powerful mouthfeel, full-bodied blend with black fruit, eucalyptus, mocha and rawhide, the finish has a decidedly mineral note of granite. Among the more mature wines in this portfolio, a five year old wine with a double decant showed wonderfully and paired in a way I’d expect old world wines to demonstrate after a decade. And at this price point, what is not to love?

 

What should you take away from reading about these wines? You owe it to yourself to find wines from the Dão region and get them in your repertoire. You’ll be amazed at how much you enjoy them individually, and then again with how deliciously they pair with food. They are a quintessential example of Mediterranean fare, ranging from raw fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood to grilled red meats, with sun, sea, and salt notes that are brimming of life.

What could you compare them to? Think of Encruzado not as it might easily be related to Albariño, but instead as a petite chablis that wants to start your evening, join you for the salad and fish course, and come back to finish your meal.

Think of Jaen as Portugal’s native cabernet franc- (though it is _not_ related to that grape). But similarly, it is full, yet bright with red currants, cherry, dried cranberry, and a hint of green pepper. Ideal pairings include Iberian cheeses, risotto, mushrooms, and red meats.  Of course, these are just an introductory way for you to think about and relate to the grapes and the wines, but should give you some incentive to find these beauties in such reasonable, daily-drinking price range, and share them with your friends and families. I can’t suggest strongly enough that you spend a little time and find wines, either these, or others from Portugal’s Dão DOC. Whether you search online, or ask your local wine store to get some samples in from their distributors, these wine are well worth your time, in terms of high quality winemaking, flexible and quality flavor, and reasonable, daily drinking prices.

 

Whats in your glass?

 

 

à votre santé!!

Enjoying Aged White Wine & Pierre Morey 2011 Bourgogne Aligoté

27 Feb

Let me start with a wine review: 
Pierre Morey, 2011 Bourgogne Aligoté, Meursalt, Cote D’Or, France. 12% ABV; Case purchase in 2013 for $17/bottle.

At nine years of age, the color has only slightly deepened to a maturing pale gold. Aroma is light and mellow, reductive of dried wildflowers and lemon zest. On the palate, the fruit is restrained to delicate pear and apple with secondary notes of  lemon-lime and brioche, tiny hints of flint and chalk on the long finish. I recall how much fervor and brightness was in the glass upon my initial bottle; what a wonder it is to be able to enjoy this now. Matured and possibly past prime, but thoroughly enjoyable, thankfully. And remembering the price I paid for this, how happy I am to enjoy the last few drops.


Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

And now for the commentary: 

Aged white wines.

It’s a dangerous topic. People have VERY strong opinions about it. And those opinions are right- because just about everyone has been burned at one time or another.

Once bitten, twice shy. I will admit to purchasing wines and holding them too long. I will also admit to purchasing aged whites considered “to be in their prime drinking window” at auction, and received them to find they were all far past that window. When, years later, I finally wrote about that experience, I had people reach out privately to confirm doing the same. Auctions are riskier than buying direct from a wine store, as there is no refund. At least with a corked bottle from a wine store, you might have recourse with your seller; not so with an auction. Along with my wine treasures, I also keep a flawed bottle with a note on it: a reminder of buying faulted wine at auction, as a warning not to make the same mistake twice.

Yet, I still love aged white wines. I love thinking of the time and place. I love how delicate these wines are. I love remembering when I purchased the bottle, and the first time I opened a bottle. The I recall the most recent time. These white wines are far less pliable than their red counterparts, but I adore their delicate nature, the shifts in flavor, the maturity the wine shows. Any bottle with age is a special treat to me.

So why all the worry? One reason is that many white Burgundy lovers want to store their beloved white Bourgogne, and it’s risky, because of premox.

‘Premox’ is short for Premature Oxidation. This is a fault in which age-worthy white wines were found to be prematurely oxidized to the point of being undrinkable. The phenomenon tainted a slew of Burgundian whites since the 1990 vintages. Other oenophiles have experienced this from time to time in recent vintages as well, so that social awareness has come to dictate: Enjoy while the wine is still in its prime.  Bill Nanson of The Burgundy Report  put it simply: Don’t Save White Burgundy. He writes:
since the mid-1990s, white burgundy has been produced with a propensity to self-destruct anywhere between 4 and 10 years from vintage – whilst in their bottles, whilst in their cases, whilst in the best of cellars – I have to regard all white burgundy from all producers as potentially unable to reach maturity.”

So. Caveat Emptor: Let the buyer beware. 

And which wines CAN you age for a decade, and enjoy with friends who might not be as educated to truly appreciate the wine?

-Bordeaux Blanc, white blends from Classic Chateaux can be magical. The fruit recedes and leaves a savory delight in its wake.

-Rioja Blanco, a blend of Spanish grapes Viura (90%), and Malvasía (10%).

-Sauternes, Banyuls, Tokaji, and Vin de Paille (straw wine): dessert wines with a high sugar content.

-Fortified wines: Macvin du Jura, Madeira. The oldest wine I have tasted was an 1859 Madeira. It was a magical experience.

-Riesling: the sugars and acidity allow these wines tremendous aging potential.

-Hermitage whites: Rousanne and Marsanne wines from this region in France are often aged 10-15 years

-From the Jura, historic wines made in ancient methods: vin jaune and macvin (fortified) are capable of aging for eons. Granted, they are also largely suggested for a highly  experienced wine palate.

And of course, Burgundian Chardonnay, if you are willing to take the risk. (See PreMox, above). Personally, I AM willing to take the risk. Because what is life, without a few risks? I’ve lost before, but when the wines are amazing, it’s totally worth the risk, to me.

Below are a few of the aged white wines I’ve had in the last year. #WIYG What’s In Your Glass? 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 


 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

 

 

à votre santé!!

 

Valentine’s Bordeaux, 2020

14 Feb

When I first started this blog, I was mainly writing about my favorite wines from France: Bordeaux, and Burgundy. As my blog progressed and demand grew from readers to learn about wines they didn’t know much about, I’ve covered the entire world of wine. We’ve focusing on wines that deserve our attention, and championing small winemakers. In doing so, we are helping smaller vineyards and great winemakers find their fan base, and also helping wine lovers find bottles with great quality-price ratio, while building personal relationships with the winemakers whose work they enjoy, which is all great!
But Bordeaux wines are often behind on the page, since they are SO well known, these Chateaux with centuries of history. Yet I long for them,  as I still love French wines!

So when I had an opportunity to go taste some recent vintages of Bordeaux, of course I said yes! Other than what I have in my cellar, it’s been two years since I tasted some of these wines, and I was excited to see how the Chateaux are sustaining and how the vintages I’ve tasted before have matured! Included is a touch of research: these wines are readily available and we’ve listed average prices estimates from what is found from top sellers across the USA.

 

Cos D’Estournels Goulée (Bordeaux Blanc) 2015, $35

The 2015 is semillon forward in the blend, but the fruit has transitioned from forward on the palate to beguiling aromatics, balance and gossamer mouthfeel with restrained acidity and focus. The creamy and savory quality of this wine, showing restrained fruit, is sometimes more appreciable by collectors and oenophiles, as aged Bordeaux Blanc is uncommon and the lack of fruit on the palate can be a surprise. I find it an opportunity for pairing with delicate savory flavors: broiled or grilled fish in a butter or cream sauce, or with soft rind cheeses like a double cream brie or goat cheese.

 

 

Petite Haut Lafitte 2014, $39

From Pessac-Léognan, this second wine of Smith-Haut Lafitte is my pick for the highest quality-to-price ratio. In the mouth it has a slightly modern style to the blend, an old world meets new world balance with mature red fruit up front, solid tannin and a softer back end. Drinking nicely now, it will continue to age well. An excellent buy in my opinion.

 

 

Lalande-Borie (Saint-Julien) 2015, $39

A merlot-forward blend with some restraint; I’d start drinking this now and try it annually until it is in stride- perhaps 2023. In this price range, it is a nicely made example of the lighter side of classic Chateaux and provides consistent quality for Bordeaux lovers in an affordable realm.

 

 

Chateau Gloria (Saint-Julien) 2011, $59

A vineyard I have enjoyed many times, the last vintage I tasted was a lovely 2005. The good news is, the 2011 is drinking well now and showing in a similar position for a nicely made mid-level Bordeaux, if not as well-structured as the premiere vintages for Bordeaux. A powerful mouthfeel, large red and black cassis, earth and leather notes with strong tannic backbone. The wine is in stride currently, should be decanted and given air before drinking, and will show well for several more years.

 

Prieuré-Lichine (Margaux) 2015, $70

Accessible even at this young age, it is approaching full body with powerful tannins that still need a few years to calm. In three to five years, this wine should be hitting its stride. Black currants, leather, licorice and graphite will delight the palate. In ten years, this wine should have the subtlety and elegance it is known for.

 

Cantenac Brown (Margaux) 2010, $110

The last time I tasted this vintage it was young and requiring patience. Years later the wine is shaping up, but still has years to go before showing off her true beauty. I suggest cellaring this wine for another 3-5 years, then decant to enjoy the complexity and nuances of this Margaux. This was one of the more popular wines at this tasting, despite the youthful vintage, for the bold use of oak, earthy notes and forward tannins, showing the strong, bold side of Margaux.

 

 

Du Tertre (Margaux) 2010, $95

Nice red fruit with tannins starting to find their resting place, this wine might be a few years from being in the spot but is  ready for food pairing. After a slew of uneven winemaking in the 1990s, this fifth growth is finally showing consistency and symmetry with neighboring Chateau Giscours. It has just enough aroma and flavor of Margaux while lacking elegance. Still, it is one of the few bottles remaining of the beautiful 2010 vintage and is worth enjoying for that reason alone.

 

 

 

Langoa Barton (Saint-Julien) 2009, $115

This wine is in stride and drinking wonderfully. Lusciously deep notes; black plum and cassis, mouthfeel is decadent and the wine is layered and structured in a beautiful fashion, as wines that used to take 20 years to mature, this one is there at 11 years of age. I could buy a truckload of this if it were available.

 

 

 

Duhart-Milon (Pauillac) 2012, $130

Loved the dark maroon color, the dusty rose, eucalyptus- from the nose to the palate. This wine ticked all the boxes for me and would be an ideal pairing for classic French fare. Soft, feminine, and a couple of years from perfection- of course it was the most expensive bottle at the tasting, which I only realized after I’d decided to pick up a couple of bottles. It is, after all, a Bordeaux lover’s event, but this wine will be stunning in 5-7 years, and will last another ten. The 2012 is not in the same rare category as the stunning 2010 vintage, but this bottle is a tremendous example of the beauty of Bordeaux in a less brilliant year- this is a wine to be savored and enjoyed, as opposed to the years they are collected and sold as treasures. 

 

Not everyone has room to cellar, but it’s lovely that these Bordeaux, some on the younger side, some about to hit prime drinking time, are readily available with the ease of modern internet buying. I hope you take the opportunity and enjoy some of these beauties, and please click below (on Leave a Reply) , and share with us what you’re drinking!

 

Won’t you be mine, Valentine? 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

Old World Flavors From a New World Vineyard: Lucas & Lewellen Toccata Classico 2015

30 Jan

Lucas & Lewellen Toccata 2015 Classico Red Wine, Santa Barbara County, California, USA. 14.7%ABV, SRP is $29/bottle. Sample Provided.

 

Winemaker Megan McGrath Gates blended 50% sangiovese, 30% cabernet sauvignon, and 5% each of merlot, cab franc, petite verdot, and freisa , from Santa Barbara County’s Los Alamos and Valley View vineyards. Color is a medium purple, with a rich nose of black and blue fruit, floral cuttings, and eucalyptus. On the palate are blue plum, cassis, and blackberry compote with rich acidity from the strong backbone. Secondary notes include toasted oak, violet flower, earth, leather, and a hint of smoke on the lengthy finish.

 

 

This was such a pleasant surprise to open. To be more specific, it was in my tasting queue and I didn’t look closely at the bottle. So, upon the first taste, I thought I’d opened a bottle of wine from Italy: a Super Tuscan, to be specific. Well, I was wrong, especially when I mistook the cab & petite verdot for the syrah one normally finds along with sangiovese in a Super Tuscan. And so would you be, as your guests, if you suspected this in a blind tasting. But DO serve this wine, with Italian fare or anything that needs a delightful red blend. I paired this with chicken fajitas and the next day with baked salmon and spaghetti squash to assess: the wine simply sings with food. I did not even note the high alcohol content until I spent a few moment taking down my notes after the first pairing when it hit my palate and I realized it was powerful, yet in check. Toccata behaves like an Italian film star… you’ll be so enamored by the first impression, won’t notice how smitten you are with them until you’re taken hook, line, and sinker.

Lucas and Lewellen’s wines have been consistent in delivering high quality and great value.  Toccata is aptly named- a wine that shows off McGrath Gates’ skill, expertise, and delicate touch in delivering a crowd and palate-pleasing delight.

 

Speaking of delights, here’s a toccata for you to enjoy! Click and hear guitar master Edson Lopes perform J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. It’s a stunning piece of work, and an ideal aural joy to match the sip of L&L’s Toccata Classico 2015 Red Blend!

 

#WIYG?

 

 

à votre santé!

New Year’s Bottles and my “Dry” January

25 Jan

Several close friends decided to have a dry January. Everyone understands the idea, you’re dieting off the weight that got put on over the holidays, and your liver could use a break. While I had some time off from work, I saw my doctor and had my blood work done- so I know my liver is in excellent shape, even with a glass of wine every night, sometimes a little more. But I do like to find balance, so I tried to enjoy some of the wines I’ve reviewed in the past that have lower ABV, such as vino verde, riesling, tokaji, and furmint. There are plenty of choices out there when you want to find them. And I had a “drier” January, no doubt.

But for New Year’s, I was fortunate to spend a couple of days with OTHER friends at the shore who weren’t having a Dry January…so I brought a few special bottles, because that’s how I roll. Right? I mean… you must know me by now.

 

Beware: wine porn follows. So if you are still having a Dry January, this might whet your appetite. Just to be fair…

 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

Sparklings: The sekt riesling from Mosel was a bottle I was so proud of being able to find- a real treasure! And it was  delicious, with a hint of delicately sweet fruit. The two Cremant d’Alsace bottles were something I simply adore and love to share with friends- not too much brioche, ideal balance of fruit, flavor, effervescence and fun! The brut rosé Crémant de Bourgogne was a big winner for me- pinot noir, so beautiful, amazing color, delicious and I always wish I bought more! And then finally the brut rosé Champagne Caillez Demaire, a gorgeous Champagne that makes you just want to sit down and do nothing else but dive in to the glass you hold until the elixir is gone. YUM!

 

For me, it would not be a true celebration without some white Burgundy- that’s my wine ‘Achilles heel’, for sure!


 

The 2013 was still showing beautifully!

 

For big meals with ten friends, it takes a few special bottles to get things moving. Whites included wines from Sonoma, Burgundy, Italy, and Germany.

 

 

The red wines sourced from France, Italy, Germany, & the USA’s Washington State.

Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

This 2009 bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Jason Moore of Modus wines, was showing exceptionally well!

 

 

One more treasure from my cellar, the only bottle of Macvin du Jura I’ve found in an NYC wine store to date! Macvin du Jura is savagnin wine fortified with brandy, it is truly unusual and delightful for an aperitif.  And oh, how special!

 

Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

 

And because making dinner takes a lot of energy, this is the snack for the prep zone. A tasty cabernet franc and pinot noir, respectively, with snacks!

 

So after this kind of New Year’s Eve, maybe a dry January was called for after all?

 

Did you celebrate a Dry January?

 

à votre santé!

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