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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!

 

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!

 

 

#YouHadMeAtMargaux

3 Nov

Château Des Graviers Margaux, 2014 Red Blend; Arsac, Bordeaux, France. 14%ABV, Around $29/bottle online.

 

Color is deep ruby, while the nose offers a dark and earthy melange of eucalyptus, blackberry, gravel, potting soil, and leather. On the palate: muted black and red fruit- cassis, plum, dark cherry, followed by medium acidity and massive tannins, drying the tongue and curling back the fruit. On the back palate are clay, gravel, rose bush and vanilla. Provides a long and robust finish.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Winemaker Christophe Landry is a fifth generation winemaker and creates a tremendous product that will taste hauntingly familiar if you are a Margaux aficionado (as I am) and you can see why wines like this dot the shelves of my cellar, then disappear far too quickly… I simply seem to not be able to help myself.   And, why, you might ask?

Well. it’s easy to answer:  once opened, the bottle improves over time and proves to be a delicious, lovingly-crafted, old world wine. This is a region and style I adore- but this wine is still a babe, capable of being enjoyed now, but it still has at least five years before hitting its prime. I paired this with red meat on day one the when it was delicious but still slightly tight; then a Comte and a Roqueforte cheese on day two when it had opened fully, and decadently. Yet this is a wine that in five to ten years, the tannins will relax to the ideal complement; hopefully the fruit and acidity will be as well in balance. As tasty as this wine is right now, the question arises:  Will I be able to wait to enjoy this and see if 10 or 15 is the best age? Indeed, that is the question.

“Probably not,” I’m thinking. I’m a sucker for this region, and any of their wines that I deem both delicious and affordable!  This fits into both categories, and drinks quite nicely at a youthful age. I’m in trouble, as I didn’t buy a case when I had the chance (no room in the cellar, the honest truth!)

 

If you didn’t figure it out before…#YouHadMeAtMargaux.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

#WIYG?

 

 

à votre santé!!

Introducing Le Blanc de Greysac

16 Jun

Le Blanc de Greysac, Chateau Greysac, Medoc, France.12% ABV,  SRP $19/bottle.

 

As summer ripens, my palate yearns for salads, fish, outdoor cooking, and wines with clean acidity and a citrus backbone that will leave me feeling cool and refreshed. So I am happy to turn to sauvignon blanc! Enter Le Blanc de Gresysac,  a brand new release from Jean Guyon, owner of Chateau Greysac, and his first release of a new line, Le Blanc de Greysac, which is 100% sauvignon blanc from 15 year-old vines from his Medoc property in Bordeaux.

Color is medium straw. The nose offers Meyer lemon, lime zest, and a hint of tangerine. On the palate: crisp green apple, citrus, with a backbone of lemon pith, limestone, and clay. The finish is medium long and refreshing. Best served chilled for afternoon drinking, but shows expanse and greater balance as it warms moderately.

At this price point, this is a fun, enjoyable summer wine that is ideal for summer dinner parties or an afternoon by the pool. Easy to pair with white meats, salads, vegetable dishes, and cold gazpacho. I adore this wine with goat cheese crisps but my absolute favorite pairing is with these delightful salmon rillettes!

 

Of course, you can always drink it by itself and just enjoy the summer evening. Life is short, you might as well enjoy it, no? 

à votre santé!

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