Archive | February, 2020

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!

 

 

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