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Smith Madrone: Blurring the Lines Between Old and New World Wines.

27 Jun

I recently had the opportunity to join in a live tasting of four wines I’d highly enjoyed a year ago. The winery, Smith-Madrone, is one of the best under-the-radar labels you can find. I’m still surprised their prices have not sky-rocketed, but their wines are selling out faster every year and their value is among the highest found in Napa Valley. Here are my thoughts, to share with you- in finding the best wines for you to enjoy daily, or for special occasions. Cheers! –JvB

2016 Smith Madrone Riesling 12.8% ABV, SRP $34/bottle

It is more Alsatian than German in style: superbly dry; with a honeyed nose but dry palate and body. On the palate are green apple, bosc pear, and a solid key lime base layer. Capable of pairing with rich and savory food, this is ideal for Thai, Burmese, sushi and a Spanish gazpacho, but can handle everything from a salad to steak tartare, from carpaccio to mussels, from meringues to chocolate lava cake.

If you ask me for the best rieslings from the USA, it is a very short list. I will offer you Dr. Konstantin Frank from Finger Lakes,  Teutonic from  Willamette Valley, The Columbia Valley collaboration “Eroica” from Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen, and Smith Madrone’s Riesling. That short list is incredibly high praise.

2016 Chardonnay, Napa Spring Mountain District, St Helena, CA. 14.4%ABV, SRP $40/bottle

Pale gold with green tinge, the nose offers apple, lemon pith, and vanilla. On the palate, a beautiful lemon-lime with solid acidity. An excellent mid-palate surpasses the normal California chardonnay default. Designed to be great by itself, and amazing with food. This is brilliant with blue cheese on a whole wheat cracker; I paired it the following night with baked chicken, greens and baked potato, and again the third evening with sashimi. In every instance, the wine excelled and left my palate desiring another glass, another bottle. Bravo. Smith-Madrone Chardonnay is among my top choices in the under $50 chardonnay from Napa.




2015 Smith Madrone Estate Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.3%$ ABV, $52/bottle

A blend of 84% cabernet sauvignon with 16% cabernet franc. The wine shows a ruby color with purple edging, and offers a luxurious nose, expansive with floral and fruit notes, menthol, with a hint of young leather. The palate features black currant, blackberry, forest floor, and fresh herbs. With a fruity, Old World mid-palate, heat lingers gently across the mid and back palate, with a lengthy and complex finish. My next reaction is: “this can pair with almost anything.” Absolutely, unlike some cabs which are really large (some too big in my opinion), this is a medium-sized cabernet that is delicious by itself as well as able to complement food well. As a result, you can drink this start-to-finish with salad to grilled meat to dessert, knowing it can also pair nicely with salmon, soup, and fresh fruit, a task that many cabernets are unable to accomplish. Kudos to the 16% cab franc, a secret popular in France and often ignored in California cabernet.

This wine has a nod to the historic Napa cabernet style, with Old World approach.  Far from the modern California Cab, Smith-Madrone is a rare winery that bridges multiple styles, crafting wines of wide appeal from a singular location and focus.

2016 Smith Madrone Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.1%$ ABV, $225/bottle

Having tasted the 2009 and the 2013, the 2016 is poised to be quite popular. The 2016 blend is comprised of 54% cabernet sauvignon and 46% cabernet franc; it is aged 19 months in new French oak barrels.

Featuring an expansive and glamorous nose, the palate experiences intense full fruit: red plum, blackberry, and black plum with a touch of cassis. Secondary and rich savory notes of tobacco, potting soil, aged leather, forest floor and vanilla tantalize the side and top palates, as the luxurious mouthfeel expands and bathes the tongue, offering greater enjoyment. An extended finish on this blend is more than satisfactory- I immediately began formulating food pairing and a wine dinner based around this bottle.

When I contemplate Cook’s Flat Reserve (which one does, with such a lovely glass of wine) this wine is about a winemaker crafting top quality wine for an impassioned enjoyment. What is fascinating about this wine is how delicious, enjoyable, and intense it is in its youth, for a world-class red blend that has Old World styling. For similar styles from Bordeaux, a wine would have to age considerably longer than four years to have any similar balance- but Cook’s Flat Reserve demonstrates great balance and structure along with the ability to age and still retain quality fruit, acidity and tannin. With a decade of age, that intensity evolves into refined structure with even greater complexity- so either youthful or fully aged, you maximize enjoyment with this bottle.

Should you be looking for a top-flight California red blend that speaks of the best of both the Old World and new world in great winemaking, this is the bottle you will want to seek out. Like me, once you’ve had it, you’ll want to have several from each year in your cellar, to age and enjoy, while knowing you can still drink them young for an exceptional experience without having to wait 10-20 years. However, those with patience will reap the benefits.

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!!

 

How Dry Is Alsace? Cuvée René Dopff Riesling

20 Jul

Dopff & Irion ‘Cuvée René Dopff’ Riesling 2015 Vin D’Alsace, Pfaffenheim, France. ABV 12%; MSRP $17/bottle.

 

Color is medium straw; the nose is floral blend of tulip, iris, and sweet honeysuckle. But the sweetness stops on the nose. On the palate, this is so deliciously dry! Gorgeous white peach, youthful pear and white stone fruits, with lively, flowing acidity, hint of almond, beautiful minerality, nary a hint of wood, but a tiny note of lemon peel on the finish.  This is so beautifully dry, such balanced flavor and acidity. It is never over the top; every sip is a mature, reserved, solid mouthfeel that makes me want another.

 

As for pairing, Cuvée René Dopff Reisling demonstrates how extremely flexible it is, coupling with  both high acid and rich, savory dishes. Baked goat cheese, bruschetta, and spinach bourekas in phyllo dough were great matches! It’s an obvious home run pairing for shellfish, raw or crudo, from sashimi to mussels to baked fish or delicate entrees. On a lark, I tried it with a beef stew my wife and I made; I assumed (incorrectly) that it would not be able to stand up to the powerful flavors of red meat. It turns out that the high acidity was a great choice with the huge number of vegetables in the stew, some sweet and some bitter, and could cleanse the palate while matching up with the various flavor profiles and make for a solid pairing.

 

I’m a fan of Alsace, and this wine is a perfect example of why: this wine is entirely hand-picked and sorted, pressed at low pressure, matured on the lees for four months before filtering, treated with such love, care and devotion- and it shows! This screams of the terroir of Alsace, of the brilliant, war-torn soils, the mineral layers, the subtle fruit profile, and of gentle, caring handling. And at this price, what’s not to love? Under $20 a bottle for a wine that is so beautifully demonstrative of the region and made by hand in one of the adored regions of France? Back up the truck, I need more than a few cases.

 

 

à votre santé!!

2015 Nativo by Markus Wine Co, Lodi CA

22 Oct

2015 Nativo Lodi White Wine, Markus Wine Company, Borra Vineyards. Lodi California. 13.2% ABV. MSRP$18.99/bottle.

 

Pale straw in color; featuring a delicate nose with hints of lychee, gardenia and honeysuckle. On the palate, restrained white peach, lemon-lime zest, starfruit and gorgeous acidity with rigid chalk and stone on the finish. Such a subtle balance of flavors and responses without any of the oppressive heat I’ve found in great kerner wines from Europe, Markus Niggli’s white wine blend will smack you over the head with beauty, convince your mouth it is enjoying a brilliant expression of a $50+ Austrian wine, and make you open your wallet to order a case of this to enjoy whenever you simply want a really well made wine that goes with almost anything. I like this wine even more now that I first did when tasting in the vineyard in Lodi, both times I approached with low expectations and had an eye-opening experience. You will, too. Thank me later- I’m finishing this glass first. Fermented in stainless steel, using only native yeast and no malolactic fermentation, it is a blend of 52% Kerner, 29% Riesling, 15% Bacchus, 4% Gewürztraminer all grown in Lodi’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyards.

 

 

markus-nativo

 

nativo-back

 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

Baby It’s Cold Outside! Tasting Light White Wines

9 Jan

Sometimes when I browse a wine store I make mental notes of wines I want to try. Even though we have sub-zero temperatures outside, I’m jonesing for chilled white wines at the moment and know how my readers love wines in the $12 and under range! My cellar is full of reds and pricier whites, so it was time to hit the stores!

J. Lohr has been on my list to taste since a reader pointed it out to me here. I found two from Monterey and thought it was about time to try them! I spied a nearby Columbia Valley riesling for under $10 and thought I’d give it a taste as well. Here are my findings. What do YOU like in $12 and under? Enjoy!

 

J. Lohr “Riverstone” Arroyo Seco Monterey Chardonnay 2013. San Jose, CA. $12/bottle from Empire Liquor, 13.5% ABV.

Light straw color; the nose shows tropical fruit, vanilla, and toasted oak. Very soft fruit on the palate: bosc pear, golden delicious apple, lychee. Creamy finish with a touch of flint and stone. A savory, oaky wine that shows best with food, wood dominates the fruit in this instance. Paired well with both a turkey cutlet and poached sea bass over two evenings.

 

Lohr Chardonnay

 

 

Columbia Winery, 2011 Cellarmaster’s Riesling, Columbia Valley WA. Empire Liquor, $8/bottle. 10% ABV.

Pale yellow in color with an aromatic nose of apricot and honeysuckle. Gentle sweetness blends with acidity; paired together with ripe white stone fruit makes for a smooth, straightforward and easygoing wine. Possibly best served as an aperitif or après-meal, perfect on a sunny afternoon/evening. With the forward sweetness, I enjoyed this most as a dessert wine but it also paired beautifully with light and medium strength cheeses.

Cellarmasters Riesling

 

 

J. Lohr “Bay Mist” Monterey County White Riesling 2012. San Jose, CA. Empire Liquor, $10/bottle. 12% ABV.

The color is pale straw with a green tinge, the nose shows clementine, lemon, lavender and steel. On the palate, effervescent stone fruit and young apple match medium acidity, medium dryness and a touch sweetness. A hint of metal and some limestone show on the finish, this wine would pair best with spicy dishes, middle-eastern dishes or seafood.

Lohr Riesling

 

Any of these is a solid buy in $12 and under range, and useful for your meal pairing.

à votre santé!

 

‘Drinking Local’ at Total Wine: A Big ‘ol Wine Store in Atlanta

8 Oct

On a recent trip to Atlanta I had the fortune to mix business with pleasure. The pleasure was seeing friends from high school at a get-together that was essentially BYOB. For me, that meant wine shopping. I had to hunt locally in Atlanta, but I’m no longer a local. I  haven’t lived there since the 1980’s, and had no clue where to go. So I opened my phone, tapped, found, & then shopped in the closest wine store that popped up on Google Maps: a store called Total Wine (Atlanta), near Perimeter Mall.

It’s a huge store by NYC standards. For the rest of the country, it’s about the size of a small CostCo, Kmart, or Home Depot. They have a LOT of wine here. There’s copious beer, too, though the sign says “Total Wine” it doesn’t say “Totally Wine”.

I wandered the aisles briefly. Towards the front of the store was a cooler than caught my eye, with lots of tasty delights to tempt the oenophile. First growths, some big name firsts and seconds, the range in the first minute was from $50-$1500/bottle. Color me initially impressed, and I saw a magnum of Far Niente that might be a great party favor.

While I was peering at options, I got the challenge. “Can I help you with something, Sir?” from my six. It was all I could do to say “I’m a sucker for a first growth, load me up and charge it”  but I managed to keep my NY attitude in check, smile, and ask for a suggestion for a white burgundy and a dry riesling, a little test for both the seller and the store. Show me your hand, buddy. Let’s see what you have.

The kid (ok, the employee…I’m showing my age. HEY! YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!)   was passable, he could walk the walk, and knew enough to be dangerous AND help my New York attitude. Ten minutes later I accepted his third suggestion, after two chablis I passed up. Domaine Patrick Javillier’s  “Les Tillets” Meursault  2012, @$50, 12.5%ABV with delightful subtlety, restraint, snobbery and balance. Oh yes, this will suit my needs, and my friends will reap the benefits!

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I then chose  his second riesling suggestion, Dr.Heidemanns-Bergweiler 2013 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett. @$17, 8.5% ABV (That’s a mouthful, let me tell you!) Semi-dry with apricot and orange peel, it’s a delightful if dense wine and the perfect opener for a party or closer for the “I don’t really drink” crowd.

Heidemanns

I strolled through the aisles of chardonnay and spotted a weakness of mine- DuMOL Chardonnay Need I say more? It shot into my arms. My friends are luckier than they think, this is a wine I can’t even find locally in NYC! Walking through the aisle of pinot, I was sad to see none of the wines I’d fallen in love with over the recent year. No Santa Barbara Pinot? No New Zealand Central Otago Aromatic whites OR pinot noirs? Sad clown face. What I did see was a ton of major producers whose names I knew well. If it was a big winery with wines scoring 85-95 points they had it. If they didn’t sell 10,000 cases it wasn’t in this store.

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Before I left another seller closer to my age saw the bottles tucked in my arms and said “I like your taste in wine”, then offered me a taste of something they had on sale: Courtney Benham Napa Valley Cab 2012. I think it listed for $20, but was on sale for $10. Tasting the dark fruit and wood, it’s a good red party wine I immediately knew would be gone through quickly. I picked up a bottle and headed to the party, where the BYOB became “drink JvB’s” from the serious wine folks. The red wine drinkers, as expected, finished the Benham in record time, while the chardonnay drinkers were able to argue whether they like the old world Les Tillets meursault or the new world (with classic old world approach) DuMOL. Yes, I spoiled them with really good & great wines, and told everyone where I got them- here, at the local wine store.

 

Benham

 

So I had a pretty good experience at Total Wine, and feel that anyone could find something they’d really enjoy in the store.  I was sad that I wasn’t seeing any of the highest quality, small-volume producers that I was specifically seeking from Napa, Alto Adige, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Northern Cali, The Finger Lakes, Washington State, and New Zealand. These are wines that you find when you’re visiting an area, they can blow your mind with their small production, huge quality, made-with-love-for-the-wines-sake bottles. This is what you learn when you drink locally in wine country. And this is why you become a fanatic, a regular wine club member, a champion of the small producer.

But, (and it’s a BIG but)  Atlanta is NOT wine country. So how do you drink “local” in the ATL? “Local wine” in Atlanta means something totally different: not bad, just Different!  I DID find a ton of options, so many of the high-volume wines you see listed in Wine Spectator, it was awesome on that level. I saw more names I recognized from print & region studies than I did from personal tasting experience. And what is in stock is delivered at a fair price, so it’s win-win… or maybe wine-win.

Did I mention that I kept the kabinett, to enjoy privately? Oops. Maybe I didn’t share everything. Hey, they can find it on the shelf  at Total Wine, where “drink local” means something totally different, but might be equally as satisfying.

 

à votre santé!

#MWWC12 

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #12
wine-stain1-3

 

Leitz Rieslings: Mineral Heaven for All!

4 Oct

While I was planning for my neighborhood wine tasting this summer, Eric Asimov’s Wine School pointed to a Riesling I’d been interested in but had yet to pick up and try. The wine proved to be highly popular at my event, and I’ve enjoyed it several times since then. I’ve over due to share it with you!

Johannes Leitz “Dragonstone” Riesling. Rheingau, Germany. $16 street price, 8%ABV.

Yellow-green in color. Fresh wildflowers, honey, and stone fruit on the nose. Green apple, with a hint of citrus on the palate, is followed by a bevy of mineral deposits- including saline, pumice, slate, and limestone. Off-dry, (a touch of sweetness) this is THE perfect entry riesling If you who are just learning about wine or need to get away from French and Italian grapes and appreciate what Germany does perfectly.

 

Johannes Leitz “Eins-Zwei-Dry” Riesling, Rheingau, Germany. $16 street price, 12%ABV. 

The big brother to Dragonstone is drier, bigger, and badder (in a great way)! Eins-Zwei-Dry is a delightfully dry (trocken) riesling for those who want to fall in love with riesling, or if you want to compare some of the great rieslings done elsewhere in the world. Simply stunning balance. This delightful wine is great by itself or accompanying food- it leaves the palate clean, refreshed, and begging for more. 

Serving note: before drinking, I chill these wines -but make sure to either let the bottle warm prior to serving or pour into a glass and allow to warm before drinking. The flavors of these wines are tasty when cold but not fully developed until they are only slightly chilled. As the wine warms, you will sense the creaminess, as well as a greater sense of saline, greater floral and  melon notes- and the ideal balance of the wine becomes obvious.

It’s worth considering that Dragonstone wine is 8% alcohol while Eins-Zwei-Dry is 12% alcohol by volume. If you are concerned with alcohol intake, the difference might be one that helps you out. Both wines are delicious and a great value, easily drinking like they are 1.5-2x their street price. Great wine, killer value.

Here’s a bottle shot when I was comparison tasting, having a sample of the Eins-Zwei-Dry first, then pulling the Dragonstone out of the fridge to compare again. The bottle on the right is at proper temperature to enjoy fully. I had to pour an ounce of Dragonstone in the glass and wait to get the best from both bottles.

 

Leitz Pair

 

Bottom line: if you like riesling, you owe it to yourself to try one or both of these wines and see how they compare to your current favorite. Also, check out the vineyard’s website, which is a delight in itself- perhaps the perfect foil to any traditional winery website, this is an ocular  blast that will tease your eye, mind, and finger as you click on different items, navigating to learn more (and you will!) about Leitz.

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.

Triple Play

29 Sep

First Base

Heinz Eifel’s Spatlese Riesling, 2011. Mosel, Germany.  From Mayfair Wine & Liquor, @ $15/bottle.

Having enjoyed Eifel’s Eiswine immensely, I picked up the Rielsing to give it a try. With a pale straw color and sweet nose of agave and apple, the palate demonstrates nice green fruit with taut, crisp acidity that provides an excellent balance with a medium finish. This wine is probably best served earlier in the day in the sun, as an aperitif, or with near the final course. Sweet but balanced, my reactions on two tastings over several days were: “among the best rieslings I’ve ever tasted” and “really well balanced but feels too sweet right now” which pointed back to being tasted at a time of day that did not suit the wine well, a fault I claim. I think this is a great wine in the under-$20 range and has become a strong contender for my go-to riesling.

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Second Base

Macon-Lugny “Les Charmes” Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, Burgundy, France. From Sherry-Lehman, $16/bottle.

A delicious, entry-level burgundy with a light, greenish- gold color and nose of green fruit with a hint of citrus. In the mouth, a simple yet savory peach, lemon & fresh fruit base with notes of chalk, nuts, and vegetation. A savory quality without either an oakiness or buttery quality, this wine allows the drinker to appreciate the grape, not the barrel.  Best served over 55 degrees, as colder temperatures inhibit secondary notes and some creaminess, I appreciated the wine much more after sitting in the open for an hour.

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Third Base

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Vielle Vignes Santenay, Ceps Centaires, 2011. Cote de Beaune, France. From Oak & Steel, $49/bottle.

A delicate burgundy with vibrant, pale translucent red color and nose of raspberry.  Very clean and tart mouthfeel of pure old-vine pinot noir: gentle red fruit, nice acidity, even tannins. Ideally this would best left in the cellar for another 3-5 years, but it paired wonderfully with grilled salmon and greek feta cheese bourekas. On night two with the Santenay: served with fusilli pasta with broccolini, garlic and olive oil. A wonderful pairing, the gentle flavors of the pinot really come alive on the palate. Delicious.  I noticed that after more air, the nose has great floral notes (iris, violet) and the acidity and tannins played perfectly with the garlic and oil. I’ll try to cellar a couple of these and see how the wine fares in 5 years.
I found this bottle in midtown Manhattan, hence the sticker shock, but the same wine is available online as low as $37. This cote de beaune is a rare, wonderfully crafted example of delicacy and efficiency.

 

photo-6

à votre santé!

Refreshing Wines for Hot Summer Nights

16 Jun

Ah, summer. The mere word brings joy to our minds. Recall the childhood years when you couldn’t wait until you could escape school. These days, you might relive those moments over again for (or with) your children. And we can’t forget the activities of summer, such as beachgoing, ballgames, hiking and camping, the list goes on and on.

What about the wines of summer?  Some people try to drink the same wines they enjoyed the rest of the year. I suggest you broaden your horizons and try some of the refreshing wines that can open your eyes and palate all summer long.

While pinot grigio, chenin blanc and chardonnay are popular and easy to find, I can’t begin to tell you the joy  you’ll have in finding something delicious and new to add to your repetoire! These are especially ideal for late afternoons and those early evenings on long, sultry, summer nights.  While the pictures may be of specific brands and I have blogged about many of these, today I’ll simply suggest the grape and wine type you look for in your local wine store, and see what you can find! When I’m shopping locally, I like to pick up a bottle (or three) of something new to try at a neighborhood store to drink in the next few days, and order by the case the wines I want to cellar for the future.

 

Albariño– fruity aromas, pear, apple and passion fruit with bright acidity

martin_codax_rias_baixas_albarino_2006

Moscato– honeysuckle and orange blossom help make this gently sweet wine a delicious aperitif.

bartenura-moscato

Riesling– a year-round staple in my home. Simple two to three note wines with gentle fruit, excellent minerality and crisp acidity.

2009-Trimbach-Riesling

Rosé– this pink wine made from the red grapes (but without the skins, this can be an incredible ‘bridge’ wine that will work with salads, seafood, soup and steaks.

Roses

Vino Verde– a touch of fizz with citrus, green apple, and pear.

verde

Viognier– peach, apricot, honeysuckle, and nectarine flavors are common in this grape.

viognier-lineup

Please let me know what you try this summer, and how you liked it!

à votre santé!

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