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Scheid Vineyards Grüner Veltliner 2016: When Getting It Wrong IS Getting It Right!

6 Aug

Scheid Vineyards Grüner Veltliner 2016, Riverview Vineyard Monterey, Ca. 14.5% ABV; SRP $24/bottle; stelvin/screwcap closure.

 

This estate-grown grüner veltliner took me entirely by surprise. The bottle was turned around in my cellar’s tasting queue, and I was running late. I ignored the label and tasted it quickly, identified the grape correctly and was sure it came from Wachau, Austria. I jotted down color and fragrance notes (that you’ll find below), re-capped it and brought it to dinner with family up the block. During dinner, a family member said “this tastes just like the wines we enjoyed in Munich” and I was about to reply when I looked at the label up close. I almost choked as my mind exploded: This is from Monterey, CA?? I’ve gotten the region wrong- but the winemaker got it SO right! 

Color is pale straw, while the nose offers tropical fruit, a hint of green vegetation and pepper. On the palate: starfruit, grapefruit, and lemon-lime. A mid-weight mouthfeel, this is lush, yet crisp, leading into a warm finish of white pepper with a touch of heat on the back palate that leaves an air of lemon rind across the top palate. This is so nicely made: aromatic, fruit-forward with high acidity and lots of spice, that it’s a wine I could drink all year round. This is an excellent alternative white wine to chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, with far more body than pinot gris.

 

This wine paired nicely with baked flounder and steamed vegetables, and then again with chicken on a second night, providing plenty of acidity against stewed tomatoes and savory white meat. The Scheid Vineyards Grüner Veltliner is a terrific representation of the grape, with gentle fruit, firm acidity, a strong backbone and mouthfeel. You might think you’re drinking a single vineyard grüner from the Wachau- but you aren’t!  It just happens to taste that great. The differences are subtle, but unless you are tasting bottles head to head, you might make the same mistake I did.

You’ll be surprised how delicious this is and how quickly the bottle is empty; everyone who tasted it with me asked for a refill. Seek this out, enjoy, and let me know what you think.

 

à votre santé!

A Dry White Season

23 Feb

Two dry white wines, one new and Austrian, one vintage and Spanish; both deserving of your attention.

Fritsch “Windspiel” Grüner Veltliner 2012, Wagram, Austria. Purchased from 67 Wine, $12.99. ABV12.%.

Pale straw in color with a tinge of green, the nose is barely detectable of distant wildflowers and herbs. In the mouth, crisp acidity with lemon-lime citrus and under-ripe white pear are dominant.  As it warms on the palate, the tartness expands and secondary notes of white orchid, minerals, and white pepper are exposed. A gentle, dry, and pleasing finish begs for the for the next bite or sip. An ideal match for light dishes and seafood, this wine has enough acidity to complement spicy or savory flavors. Impressive value with flexibility in pairing. Website: http://www.fritsch.cc/

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Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanca 1996. Rioja, Spain. Purchased from Astor Wine and Spirits, $45. ABV 12.5%.

This white Rioja is blended from 90% viura and 10% malvasia. Aged for at least five years in barrels before bottling, this is a precious older wine that is both widely appreciated and able to be sourced and purchased at a reasonable price.

Golden color with a nose that needs a moment to allow the funk to burn off. Afterwards, the nose resolves with notes of dried floral arrangement and tangerine peel. In the mouth, dried apple and dried apricot flavors are accented by touches of vanilla and orange zest,  giving way to a very direct acidity. A perfect match for savory fish, poultry, egg, and truffle dishes. Focused but not singular, this is an unusual, special wine that is perfect to keep a few bottles and have on hand for that dish that needs a certain “je ne sais quoi”. Commonly rated in the low to mid 90’s, you might be amazed how an older white wine can pair so well with savory dishes. The answer in in the aged fruit, focused acidity, and short, dry, clean finish.  Website: http://www.tondonia.com

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à votre santé!

Thanksgiving Wine, 2013. “One Wine to Serve Them All”

23 Nov

Here’s my 2013 update on Wine for Thanksgiving. And may you be surrounded by loved ones and take time to enjoy and slow down, if only for the one day!

For the past few years I’ve written about my Thanksgiving preference to serve several wines at Thanksgiving, in order to suit both a range of courses over a long meal as well as to cater to different preferences of individuals in large groups. (*See my footnote below if you need a reminder.) Well I’m NOT talking about those today. Let’s talk about a SINGLE bottle of wine for Thanksgiving… not because it’s what I’ll serve, but because it’s what I’m constantly asked about at this time of year.

People regularly ask me to suggest ONE wine to pair with the traditional Thanksgiving meal that all their guests will enjoy. Others want a bottle to bring as a gift to someone else’s home that might or might not be served with the meal, so it should be appropriate for use on Thanksgiving or by the host at a later date.

A Thanksgiving Gift Wine, or One Wine for the Big Meal

If you are OK with red grapes, then you have to make a choice: Rosé or Gamay?
Option One: Rosé
. Relax: this is not the lousy rosé we grew up with that made so many wine lovers turn up their nose at the faintest idea of a pink wine. We shall only consider the well-made rosé wines that will pair beautifully with opening courses, make the cranberry sauce sing, and take your turkey to a higher level. My favorites here would be Modus Operandi’s Vicarious Rosé from California, or from Provence France’s Domaines Ott, Chateau de Selle Rosé. Both of these should have a street price in the $30-$40 range, and are highly worth the price for the religious experience they deliver. For the under-$20 crowd, there are very good rosé wines from Guigal,and locally from  Coppola (a 90 pointer called Sofia), and a good dozen other producers that you can find in most wine stores. Key phrase here is “what is the best rosé you carry that will pair well for the entire meal”? Last year I served the Vicarious Rosé during the soup course and had several guests drink it through to dessert, enjoying it thoroughly the entire evening.

Option Two: Beaujolais Nouveau,  the gamay grape’s fruity, light, fall season ‘fun’ wine. This is my other best option for a wine that can match with the entire meal. George DuBoeuf has the corner on the market, his nouveau wines will run you around $10-12 and are consistent, tasty and good. You can go up the ladder, however, with Domaine du Peuble’s 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau in the $12-16 range, or Jean Foillard Morgon Beaujolais, which runs in the mid $20’s. To give you an idea of the quality of this wine, famed chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon restaurant in Beverly Hills is serving this with their prix fixe this week. For a few bucks more you can get a big jump in quality, but beaujolais nouveau is always fun to open and a good conversation piece.What could be easier for people who panic and don’t know what wine to bring? Here is your answer: Beaujolais Nouveau.

And for those readers who just don’t do red wine… I haven’t forgotten you. (Yes, Virginia, that rosé is made from red grapes.) For you, I’d suggest you consider whether you prefer either the serious white or a “lighter” white for your gift or single meal wine. In the serious realm, a white Bourdeaux Blend is always appreciated and appropriate for Thanksgiving and any time of year, or a white Burgundy will pair beautifully with this savory meal. You can find white bordeaux blends starting around $10 and up, and Burgundies about $16 and up, into the thousands per bottle… and if you can afford these upper tier wines, please invite yourself to my home for dinner!  Shifting to the lighter side, I often start by suggesting Riesling, and I’ll take that a step further: consider Riesling, Kerner, Gerwürztraminer, or Grüner, many of which have a hint of sweetness on the nose and initial early palate but offer depth in their acidity and minerality,  and often can be found in the $12-25 range. There are countless offerings both Stateside and abroad, but the masters of these grapes are from Germany, Austria, and Alto Adige region of Italy.

Happy Holidays to you! 

à votre santé!

*The four wines are I usually serve are: 1) a fun white, 2) a serious white, 3) a delicate red, and 4) a bold red.

Aces & Eights

5 Nov

Ok, I’m not really going to talk about the dead man’s hand in poker, a game I enjoy but would never make into a career. I’m referring to, as you’ve already gleaned,  eight dollar wines that are an excellent value.

Here’s an example: perhaps you’ve noticed how much I like Vino Verde. These are great value wines from Portugal that are crisp, refreshing whites that still haven’t broken through the mainstream of wine pop culture. The good news is that wine lovers who are looking for great value have a wonderful resource that is plentiful,  downright cheap (my local wine store has two great vino verdes,  at $6 and $7!) and they store well for a year or more, so buying a case is a smart move if you have room.

Allow me introduce you to two more wines like that, from different parts of the globe.

 

From Austria, Forstreiter’s ”Grooner” Gruner Veltliner 2012, $8.49 from Garnet Wine, 12% ABV.

This gruner demonstrates a color of light straw with a hint of green and a nose of grapefruit and orange peel. There is a gently tart, citrus mouthfeel with nice acidity, making this an easy wine to drink by itself or with food. Like pinot grigio, riesling, and sauvignon blanc, the gruner veltliner is often sold as a summer white but can be perfect year-round with proper pairing or the drinker’s mood. I find this “Grooner” and the lovely kerner and gruner’s I’ve reviewed recently to be ideal fall wine when you have the late day sun on your face and feel a nip in the air. Crisp and fresh, there is less apple in this wine which suits me perfectly, given that it’s apple-picking time and that flavor abounds currently.

Did I mention the price? The Forstreiter came in on sale at $8.49, marked down from the retail price of 9.99 in Manhattan. Talk about bang for the buck! Gruner Veltliner has made my short list for an upcoming party as an easy to drink, people-pleaser as opposed to my classic French ‘attitude’ wines.

 

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Not to be outdone… from Austria down to South Africa!

 

 

Much further south we find “Little J” Red 2010 from Joostenberg Wines, South Africa;  $8 at Garnet Wine, 14% ABV.

This is a western cape blend featuring a deep violet color and nose of cassis with a hint of road tar. In the mouth, black cassis and boysenberry collides with cherry, on the front palate and dusty green vines, old wood and gravelly schist following after.  The medium-length finish matches the medium body but the wine has a nice edge of acidity to pair with food and tannins to have your mouth ask for more.

I tried this with savory cheeses, mexican, chinese food, and hearty meat dishes and found it stood up to all, perhaps not enhancing the flavors but matching them note for note. A side note, Joostenberg is certified organic in both the USA and Europe, the screwcap is emblazoned with “Certified Integrity and Sustainability Wine & Spirit Board,  www.swsa.co.za for those who want to delve into the specifics.  For me, an $8 bottle of wine that is a good vin du table and stands up to just about any food is a great value and a good resource.

 

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So there are three of my “Aces & Eights”. Please click on the comment button below, or hit me on twitter at @jvbuncorked and share your suggestions with me!

 

à votre santé!

Wines for Indian Summer

14 Oct

Hirsch Grüner Veltliner ’09, Austria. From Garnet Wines & Liquors, $14. 11.5% ABV.

The bottle is comical: green screwcap with red and white top, a childlike, handmade drawing of an inverted moose wearing an 1920’s bathing suit, holding a winged wineglass right side up.

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While it is a funny label, I admit that had I seen this in the store, I would probably have ignored it based on my tendency to write off silly labels. So be glad I didn’t, instead I ordered this directly from the store as part of a mixed case for my personal tasting. The bottle enhances the green color, but in the glass the wine is a yellow straw with a gentle green tint. The delicate nose is mostly grapefruit and lemon peel with a note of sunflower, the mouthfeel is citrus with green pepper, sweetness hiding underneath the acidity and a long mineral finish. This is the alps’s answer to sauvignon blanc, done beautifully. I plan to find more good value grüners like this one and work on pairing notes! 

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Gazela Vino Verde 2012, Portugal. From Mayfair Wine, $6/bottle. 9% ABV

Greenish yellow tint, with lime and daffodil on the nose. Tart lime, granny smith apple peel, and soft, white peach undertones round out the palate with tiny bubbles. Tasty. At these prices, why aren’t we all drinking Vino Verde with a first course at dinner? Another great value that is worth trying.

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Saumon, King Ferry Winery, 2012.  King Ferry, NY.  $18/bottle at Local Farmer’s Market, as low as $10/bottle online.

Color: bright pink with orange accents. The nose has wildflowers and pink cotton candy showing the sweet side of this blend. In the mouth I experienced strawberry, watermelon, hints of halite, stone, and granite. A medium-to-short finish ends tart, with the mouth enjoying the blend and ready for another sip.  Other than being price-gouged at the local farmer’s market (I paid double the winery price! Boy did I feel foolish when I found the MSRP price online) I enjoyed this rosé. If I had purchased it at the winery price, it would be a good value. I’m still happy to support local wines and the local market, and this is the first New York wine I’ve shown on UnCorked!

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à votre santé!

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