Archive | pinot grigio RSS feed for this section

My Verona

10 Nov

I recently attended a Bottlenotes’ Taste Around Town event at  Greenwich Project  featuring wines from Verona area of Northern Italy. I was able to taste nine wines from Cesari, a manufacturer that is imported to the USA by Opici Wines, who arranged the tasted and poured for us.

The evening’s tasting of wines that ranged in price from $9-$70, I hope my notes will help provide a sense of the region,  the individual bottles, and the brand, starting with the light-bodied wines moving to the full-bodied, high end, with MSRP in $USD and alcohol by volume listed after my tasting notes. If you see something that peaks your interest, I bet you can find it easily to purchase locally or using a search engine. If you get stuck, try the Opici website link above. They are very nice, intelligent wine-lovers who are passionate about their work the same way we are about wine.

Duetorri Pinot Grigio-100% pinot grigio, fresh and crisp, a good demonstration of the grape, fragrant citrus and white pear with nice, tight acidity and minerality. $9/bottle,  12.5%ABV.

Duetorri Pinot Noir, 100% pinot noir- very gentle, easy to drink pinot with bright cherry nose and palate and high acidity. Matured in stainless to highlight the grape, this is a nice entry-level wine that shows the basic grape with some flint notes from the terroir with mild tannins and a comforting acidity.  $9/bottle, 12.5% ABV.

Bardolino Chiaretto – With a nose of wildflowers and bright ruby color, cherry dominates the mouth with strong acidity and mild tannins. 60% Corvina with Molinara and Rondinella grapes in the blend, an easy-drinking, rosé that was designed to be enjoyed with food. $11/bottle, 12% ABV.

Valpolicella Classico DOC.  A blend of 75% Corvina and 25% Rondinella, a nice example of a classic Italian table wine, capable of pairing almost anything. Perfect first-course wine if you want to move to the expensive upper crust, or very comfortable to enjoy throughout an entire meal. Feels fresh, tasty and local.   $12/bottle, 12.5% ABV.

Mara Valpolicella Superiore Di Ripasso. A blend of corvino, rondinella  and molinara grapes that is made with a secondary fermentation on Amarone grape pressings for great depth (hence the term, ripasso). The wine offers a bright ruby color with floral nose, the flavors are concentrated and fuller-bodied with a velvet texture in the mouth and compares well to a beaujolais or burgundy. “Mara” would pair well with fowl, white or red meat and game. $19/bottle, 13.5% ABV.

Jema (2008) Made of 100% corvina.  This wine starts with ripe red fruit aromas and flavors and shows beautifully subtle notes of cocoa, roasted coffee bean, cloves, old wood and chalky soil that add marvelous depth. A lengthy process is used to achieve this enjoyable wine which is a great demonstration of small, old-world winemaking that really shows in the depth of flavors and lingering finish. Priced in the Mid-$30’s. ABV 13.5%.

photo-20

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC (2008). An aromatic nose with red fruit and spice; cherry, leather, and tobacco on the palate.  This full-bodied wine will compete nicely with some of your favorite Barolo wines. Big, very dry, and long on the finish. The blend is made from 70% Veronese corvino, 20%  rondinella, and 5% molinar grapes. Low-Mid $30’s/bottle, 15.3% ABV

photo-22

Amarone Della Valpolicella “Il Bosco” DOC (2006) This blend of 80% corvina and 20% rondinella shows off huge nose of black fruit and dried flowers. In the mouth, black plum and cassis are dominant with a gentle hint of wood. Full-bodied, producing a powerful, lengthy finish with a delicate and velvet texture. Impressive.  $70/bottle, 15% ABV.

photo-19

Bosan Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso (2004) Comprised of 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella, this DOC wine uses the same Ripasso technique to re-ferment the wine on the dried skins prior to barrel and bottle drying to provide an excellent, well-made wine. Floral notes with licorice and tobacco on the nose, the palate shows over-ripe black cherry, dried plum, and boysenberry with notes of bittersweet chocolate, allspice, and toasted vanilla bean.  Mellow acidity and mature tannins show that this is a perfect age for this wine though it could age another ten years, at the current age it demonstrates a medium long finish that adds residual oak and some chalky clay to the back palate. Delicious, crowd-pleasing, and a great example of wonderful winemaking from the region. Unlike some wines only show best when paired, this wine also shows wonderfully alone and could be an excellent after-dinner or “meditation” wine. $70’s/bottle;  15.8%ABV.

photo-18

With the options available from Verona, it’s no wonder Shakespeare waxed poetic about the region, her people and wine. If you don’t know the wines from the area, you owe it to yourself to try them with some of your favorite Italian food.

And since I jokingly referred to it in the title, here’s a VH1 video of The Knack’s “My Sharona” for you 1970’s music fans. Enjoy!

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!

Cornaro Veneto Pinot Grigio 2011

8 Feb

Cantina Montelliana e Dei’s Cornaro Veneto Pinot Grigio 2011. $7/bottle from Astor wine.

Who drinks white wine in winter? Lots of people do. Wines aren’t about season, they are about pairing. Sometimes in the coldest weather, I still want a splash of a white wine to pair with a fruit or vegetable,  a piece of cheese, a warm roll, or as an aperitif.

Here’s a nice budget white to have in your cellar or fridge year-round. Inexpensive (actually, cheap at that price!) with a greenish pale straw color and an herbal nose that has hints and lemon. The mouthfeel is fresh, gentle, delicate: green apple, wildflower, lemon finish. I’d serve this very cold as an opening salvo, or with a delicate course to cleanse the palate, especially with gently flavored fish, produce, or pasta, where you want to feature the dish, not the wine.

photo

Nice, soft balance (not tart, crisp, savory or rich), it can fade away easily or, upon being considered, swish around the palate leaving a medium finish with a pleasant memory.  A perfect party white for your wedding, corporate luncheon, or cocktail party when you don’t want or need to spend $20+/bottle when this will do a great job. With bulk pricing, this wine is a caterer’s dream– all is needs is to change the synthetic cork to a screwcap, it’s ready to feature the food it is served with.

More information about the winemakers via link here. For the wine, here is the direct link to the Cornaro Veneto Pinot Grigio.

à votre santé!

My Favorite Cheap Wine

27 Oct

Part of my blog’s focus is to introduce my friends & readers not only to new wines to try, but also to great values and sometimes to great classics. Today I’m giving you what I’ve realized has become my go-to cheap bottle of wine.

“It can’t be,” you might be thinking. “JvB choosing ONE wine?”

Haha, No, not a chance. You’re absolutely right. It’s not one wine, it’s one manufacturer.

The Naked Grape is a label that I have come to trust for a really passable $6 bottle of wine. Better yet, they offer a cabernet sauvignon, a pinot noir, a malbec, a chardonnay, a pino grigio, and a moscato, all of which I’ve tried and enjoyed. The last two I have opened are the californian moscato, which has nice pear fruit up front with distinct orange flavor and a sweet tang to it, and the argentinian malbec, a plummy, spicy offering that rocked leftovers, chinese food, & mexican at $1.50 a glass. Really!

Image

Check out their website here, which sadly demonstrates not a whole lot about this manufacturer. Demand your local shop carry this, like mine does. (Forest Hills residents, I get this at Mayfair Wine & Spirits on Union Turnpike. John carries all of these, right near the register.)

The coolest thing about The Naked Grape is (no, not the cutesy bottle color coding, that ranks third behind #1 value & #2 drinkable) that for 36 bucks you can have SIX different bottle of six different grapes and pair them for what they are with your meals, and then move up to something serious, or know a great cheap bottle of wine that will work beautifully with your meals.

Last but not least: these are all really decent, well-made vin du tables worth serving, but if you don’t like one, it’s less than the cost of a glass at the restaurant, so who cares? You can always toss it, use it in the sauce, or serve it to a drunken guest after they’ve had your good stuff, right?

à votre santé!

%d bloggers like this: