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Five Reasons To Drink the Wines of Bourgogne

1 May

Maybe you already know to drink the wines of Burgundy, but maybe you don’t know WHY. While I was writing reviews of my recent tasting of wines from Bourgogne, I sat and wondered about the huge cross-section of my readers- from those who are wildly knowledgeable, to those just exploring about the wonderful world of wine for the first time. And I thought, “This is a good reminder we could all use from time to time!”

So here are your top 5 reasons (if you ever need them) to drink the wines of Burgundy/Bourgogne:

 

5. Chablis.  Maybe I need not say any more, but if you’re sadly unaware: Chablis is the Audrey Hepburn of white wine. Chablis is alluring, surprising, endearing, romantic, focused, yet wildly expressive! And the kiss of Premier Cru Chablis on your lips and crossing your palate is one you will never forget.

 

 

4. Simple grapes with the loftiest goals: There are only two main grape varieties grown in Bourgogne that account for over 90% of the wine from the area. If you don’t know already, they are Chardonnay (51%) and Pinot Noir (40%). But these AOCs produce some of the finest expressions found in wine and demonstrate some of the world’s best winemaking with just these two grapes.

 

 

3. Crémant. Just because there are two main grapes doesn’t mean the winemakers stop there. Their Crémant de Bourgogne is gorgeous. Effervescent, bone dry, delightful, elegant, and believe it or not, affordable! Blanc and Blanc de Blanc demonstrate beautiful floral, white fleshy fruit and toasted notes, while Rosé and Blanc de Noir show delicate red fruit and tiny hints of spice.

 

2. Terroir, Terroir, Terroir. Pinot Noir from Bourgogne tastes ethereal and mystical, while being grounded with notes that range from earthy to floral, tannins that range from silky to velvety. These wines can show the perfect balance of ripe red fruit, mouth-watering acidity, luscious tannins with oak influence and soil minerality on the finish.

 

 

1. Bourgogne IS “Burgundy”. Burgundy is simply the name for Bourgogne translated to English. And while you can find the world’s finest and most expensive wines here, you can also find tremendous value- be it Premiere or Grand Cru, Villages, or Regional AOC. Don’t be lost in translation on the label!

 

 

Before you goif you just learned something, then you’ll want to know this, too!

The five wine-producing regions of Bourgogne (and a few of they famed appellations) are:

1) Côte de Nuits (there are 81 Premiere Crus from Nuits-St-George, Vosne-Romanée, Gevrey-Chambertin alone!)

2) Côte de Beaune (including Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet)

3) Côte Chalonnaise (including Givry, Montagny, and Rully)

4) Mâconnais (including Mâcon, Saint-Véran, Puilly-Fuisse)

5) Chablis (including Irancy, Chablis, Auxerre, among others. Chablis is the source of Crémant de Bourgogne!)

 

Keep an eye out for my forthcoming reviews of the wines of Bourgogne I tasted last week- all in a practical & affordable price range! 

For more information, click on https://www.bourgogne-wines.com

 

à votre santé!

A Little Age for Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Ballot Millot & Fils Bourgogne Aligoté 2009, Meursault, France. 13.5% ABV, $16/bottle in 2011. 

 

I purchased a quantity of this wine about five years ago. I loved them, hoarded them, and enjoyed them slowly. Now and then I remember they won’t last forever, so Valentine’s Day was a perfect time to open the next to last bottle.

 

Color is evolving from a pale to a lightly golden straw, while the nose is simplifying into singular notes: floral and lemon. On the palate, a fading golden delicious apple with faint memories of citrus backbone- most prominent on the back palate and finish. Savory body at this age, the finish offers reminiscent notes of clay, loam, and a hint of vanilla.  Perfect pairing with delicate & simple flavors: freshly baked wheat bread and a lightly grilled chicken breast with herbs and garden vegetables sautéed in garlic and oil. Mature and fading but still beautiful, like a late autumn sunset with just a hint of cold weather in the breeze.

For me, a delightful wine, but one that perhaps would have been best enjoyed when consumed during the youthful stage.  As a middle-aged man, the wine reflects me well. It shows appropriate age, is still accurate and classically crafted, though slower out of the gate. Creaky joints and limbs are evident, along with a character greater than ever, and a wisdom previously undemonstrated. What the wine has lost in fruit and acid it has gained in presence and body.

 

And this, I can appreciate most of all.

 

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a vôtre santé!

Good, White Burgundy

26 Aug

Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté Meursault, 2011. Cote D’Or, France. From Crush Wine & Spirits, $17/bottle, 11%ABV.

I know. If you love white burgundy… the gentle fruit, the depth, the minerality, the focus… then you already know. Good & cheap white burgundy simply doesn’t exist. I know I constantly search for white burgundies that cost anywhere from $60-$100 for the liquid crack I enjoy with almost everything, but that makes food just sing!

Except that it does exist, really. It’s just not cheap. I just had a case of Pierre Morey 2011 Bourgogne Aligoté arrive at my home for less than two tickets to a Broadway show. Ben over at Crush Wine  knows me well enough to let me know when the great value is in. Just for kicks, as I was enjoying my second, *decadent* and final glass, I clicked over from gloating about this wine on TimeWaster (uh, I mean Facebook) to see what Sherry-Lehman had in white Burgundy under $20. Online, 17 hits from $12-20. Seriously! For 67 Wine, also 17 hits for white Burgundy under $20.

It is out there. But you have to work, just a little. I wouldn’t want to drink all of them, but there are at least three at each store that are very tasty to me. My rarely-purchased-but-lusted-after favorites (that I can afford) cost 4-5 times as much, but this is a delicious wine and I can’t wait to share it with my neighbors.

Pale straw color with a nose of salt sea air, gentle citrus with beautiful acidity makes this roll on your tongue like a summer morning. A luxuriously long finish exists (if you care enough to pay attention and not suck down more of this easy-going elixir) with notes of stone, rhubarb, and lemon/lime zest on the finish. “That’s really good,” said my much better half. Yes, it is. And one bottle costs less than seeing a movie, for crying out loud.

I should really delete this post and buy another case, but I’m out of room in my wine cellar. Sigh… first world problems. I guess it’s time to invite people over for a tasting of some of the 2004 wines, and a bottle of the 2011 Morey Aligoté.

photo 2

 

à votre santé!

(seriously: invite yourself over to my house soon before it’s all gone. You’ve been warned.) 
 
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Desert Island Whites

3 Jul

Is there a red wine you’d drink with breakfast? Perhaps not. But if I were on a desert island and had to choose one wine, I might choose one of these three. They’d certainly be on my list (along with a couple of impossibly expensive choices, including several Montrachets, Cheval Blanc, and one Prüm- most of which I can’t afford) and most importantly, would pair beautifully with island food- fruit, shellfish, seafood, white meat, salad. Right? Easy to enjoy, day or night!

Best of all, these are easy to share with your friends. You’ve already seen the “dark horse” wines I served at a recent neighborhood wine tasting. Now I get to share the three “heavy hitter” wines I served as the culmination to that evening’s selection of white wines. Scroll below the picture for more info:

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Paul Pillot Bourgogne Aligoté  2010. Approx $16.

http://www.domainepaulpillot.com/english.htm

 

DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2011. Approx $50

http://dumol.com/ 

 

Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay, 2012. Approx $65.

http://farniente.com/wines-vineyards/napa-valley-chardonnay/

I’m not providing my personal tasting notes for these wines because in writing them, I quickly got sidetracked with my personal relationship with each wine. Away they went!  So instead, I’ll explain why they are worth celebrating:  

Each of these wines is beautifully made and expresses the winemaker’s skill, the perfection of the grape, as well as terroir with minimal outer influence. Each also demonstrates precise fruit, driven minerality, clean acidity, and expansive depth. They are amazing alone and absolutely stunning with a proper food pairing. The great beauty of serving these wines at a tasting is watching as a person tastes the wine for the first time, comes back to the well a second and third time, finding new notes as the wine opens and expands, evoking additional flavors and expressions. Tasting these wines is wonderful, watching the taster’s face and excitement during the process is also wonderfully addictive and exciting!

While not necessarily “showy” wines, they are instead, massive crowd-pleasers. It was a joy to share these with others and to see them experience such well-made wines after such a long tasting, but the effects were not lost on the group. Everyone found at least one of these three they loved and truly appreciated, and that makes a wine tasting all the sweeter.

What would YOUR desert island wine be?

à votre santé!

Domain Ballot-Millot & Fils Borgogne Aligoté 2009

7 May

Aligoté, this white burgundy from Meursault that ISN’T chardonnay, is one of my secret wines. I haven’t written about it here before, perhaps on purpose, until now.  The wines from this estate have always been delicious, enticing, and classic; yet with obvious attention to detail from the winemakers, they have improved with slow, steady determination while the prices remain under $20. From my favorite midtown wine Manhattan store, this bottle is a mere $15.95 and I have been steadily ordering several bottles every spring and summer in my mixed cases for my own enjoyment. (I referred to it illicitly in my post, Seeking the Right White Wine.)

Why do I enjoy this Aligoté so? Let me describe it to you: Crisp, clean notes of fresh apple, pear and lemon, followed by delicious acidity.  Hold the wine in your mouth and feel it expand with depth and complexity, the body is fuller than you expect and the minerality is dense with flint & clay, followed by a note of young oak with a mildly nutty flavor on the finish.

Ladies and gentlemen, This is the ‘cheaper’ wine made in the poorer soils in Meursault because the varietal is resistant to cold weather. This delicious, well-made, complex bottle sells for under $16 and is every bit as worthy of Burgundy as the wines that $40, $80, $150. It won’t taste like a $150 bottle of Premiere or Grand Cru Meursault from the Chardonnay grape, (because it isn’t one)  but it most certainly tastes like the terroir, the Aligoté grape, a gentle oak influence, and like it was picked by the same wizened hands that pruned the most expensive grapes all season long…because it was. And this is one you can actually afford to buy by the case once you’ve been wowed by its charm!

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This is the affordable Burgundy I pass over the fence to my neighbor who rarely enjoys a glass of wine. “You know I love white burgundy. It’s my one wine weakness. They send me over the top, but the good ones are just so gosh-darned expensive and hard to come by!” says Gary, the laughing, lovable genius who lives next door with his brilliant wife and their two teenagers that we’ve known for what must be 15 years.

Yes, Gary, and no. They can be hard to find and pricy, but if you look in the right places, you’ll find something that is just as deliciously complex and amazing as that $150 Meursault for a fraction of the price. In this case, Aligoté. For you, for your neighbor, for your wallet, for your palate. Trust me.

à votre santé!

Seeking the ‘right’ White Wine

9 Mar
  • An entertainment industry associate reached out to me with a straightforward, basic wine question. She wrote:

    “I love your Jvb Uncorked! I’m learning more about wines. Can you tell me what’s the best white wine that is semi- sweet, but not too dry either? Something in the middle.” -WB

  • I responded:

    “Thanks for enjoying my blog! For white wine, there’s a huge amount out there.
    For future reference, some questions for you to help narrow the field might be:
    -Any specific grapes you prefer?
    -Any region or country of origin you prefer?
    -Have you found some grapes or wines that you know you don’t like?
    -Any price point/range to stay within?

    What fun we could have walking through a wine store and discussing pros and cons of various grapes and wines. Since that wasn’t possible, we’ll have to try it with simple response and a few web links.

    Obviously, I can be much more accurate if you have any specific answers to the above questions. I’ll happily take a stab without that information, but if you have any thoughts in response to that I’ll try again. Here you go:

    1) The white that first comes to mind in terms of your descriptors is one I keep on hand all the time for my wife Annette: a dry riesling, which is inexpensive, easy to drink on its own and pairs with just about anything. Her favorite brands are Clean Slate and Relax, both are German wines from Mosel and are easy, semi-sweet wines that are $9-11/bottle where I buy them.

    2) Next, a Loire Valley wine from France I’d suggest considering that matches your description is Vouvray (the grape is chenin blanc) and has the same flexibility as the dry riesling (having a touch of sweet and nice acidity to balance in the mouth). My favorite,  called Domaine de Vaufuget, is usually around $10/bottle and also easy to find.

    3) Now, this is too dry, but I think you might enjoy knowing about it. My personal favorite white wine to cellar and serve for special meals is sauvignon blanc over $30/bottle, so I don’t drink it often though I keep several bottle on hand and buy it direct from the California manufacturer: Modus Operandi’s Sauvignon Blanc. (Have I ever mentioned the delicious Napa cabernet sauvignon that had the essence of chocolate-covered strawberries on the finish?) This is from that same, amazing winemaker!) This sauv blanc reminds me of a great white bordeaux blend with the finest of California and New Zealand grapes. I raved about it here back in July.

    4) On the “high” end of the white wine spectrum, there are two wines I look to: White Bordeaux blends and White Burgundies. These can start in the under-$20 and head upwards from there, with some of my favorites being $60 and up (often limited to very small quantities!) They are subtle and complex, offering incredible structure in their delicacy.

    These are great wines to try, they usually have a lot of citrus, pear and apple but are not very sweet. Entry-level white burdgundies might include Laforet Chardonnay by Drouhin, or Les Charmes by Macon-Lugny. Both are in the $11-13/bottle range, a great entry to white burgundy. These are chardnnays that don’t have a lot of butter or oak, but are on the crisp side and are good by themselves or wonderful with vegetarian fare and fish dishes.

    The next grape in this category is called Aligote, which would be something nice to try if you like one of the less expensive white burgundies -that link will give you ten examples at one of NYC’s bigger stores, with prices from $11-28.

    5. For white bordeaux, there are two easy, entry-level white blends (just about every Bordeaux is a blend, so you get the best characteristics of several grapes, such as sauvingnon blanc, semillon, and the sweet muscadelle grape- to create a very flexible white table wine. Lamothe de Haux and Mouton Cadet Blanc are two white bordeaux in the $10-$12 range that are great entry level Bordeaux whites I trust very well. If you are ever looking for a higher end white Bordeaux for a special meal, there are great, subtle, well-structured wines like Chateau Corbonnieux , Blanc de Lynch-Bages, and Smith-Haut Lafitte, which are my three favorite white bordeaux wines hands-down, and I’d be remiss in not mentioning them.

    6. While it doesn’t have much sweetness, I’d be remiss to not even mention Pinot Grigio, which is Italy’s biggest export and the USA’s biggest wine import. Pinot Grigios are usually crisp and dry, and are very popular to drink at cocktail parties. Not much sweetness as I mentioned before, but worth tasting and considering if you like the grape in general and should consider it when you are pairing. The easiest to find Pinos (just about everywhere) are the Santa Margharita, about $20, Ruffino Lumina (about $13) and from California is Woodbridge Pinot Grigio that is a little more sweet and about $9/bottle.

    wine_store

    While it would be much more fun to peruse the aisles of a fine wine store together, pulling out several bottles for WB to review and choose from, I hoped my suggestions would be welcome and helpful in her selection of thoughts about what to buy.

    I got an note back with thanks from WB:

    “Jim, this excellent information! I tend to go towards a riesling most of the time and I’ve tried Pinot Grigio but felt it was a little dry. I’ll have to try the California one you suggested. This info is really great and I thank you for sharing.”

    You’re quite welcome, WB! I’m always happy to be of service, and thanks for reaching out!

    If you have a question or topic you’d like me to address, you can DM me at JvbUnCorked on Twitter, or email me privately at jvbuncorked@gmail.com.

    à votre santé!

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