Hess Select California Pinot Gris 2019

19 Mar

Hess Select California 2019 Pinot Gris; Napa, California. 13%ABV, SRP $12/bottle.

 

Pale gold color with a slightly green tinge. Nose of gentle citrus, nectarine, and green cuttings to delight the senses. On the palate are pineapple, ripe stone fruit with gentle acidity; a light and fresh finish. You will think you are tasting the sunshine. The stainless-steel fermented wine needs no oak to hide flaws; there are none. This is as delicious a pinot gris as I’ve ever tasted from the USA.  I paired this with salad and salmon on day one, then with pizza on day two before it was gone. Each glass invited another, and I finished the bottle wishing for more. At this price, why not? One could buy this by the case for this summer, and smart buyers will do exactly that.

 

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Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

Here’s the skinny: under normal circumstances, I’m rarely impressed by pinot gris from the USA. I like pinot gris from Alsace, from Trentino-Alto Adige, from Friuli-Venezia Giulia – these are three of the world’s best regions for pinot gris -and in these regions, the winemakers make AMAZING wines- followed by some really nice wines New Zealand. But California has just not made my list, until now. The 2019 growing season was superb, with good soil saturation and cool temperatures in the spring, followed by ideal growing conditions all summer long. A warm and dry autumn with cool evenings helped complete the cycle for highest-quality fruit, so the wine exudes structure and balance that must be tasted to be believed. Winemaker Dave Guffy has a feather in his cap on this wine, and this pinot gris stands strongly. Drink now. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

à votre santé!

Wines of the Dão

29 Feb

When I think about wines with tremendous value, my first reaction is the Iberian Peninsula. But move over Spain, the wines of Portugal are coming through!

OK, so is this really new? Maybe you’ve tried some Portuguese wines before. But this IS new, unless you have truly paid serious attention to the wines of the Dão region. And they are worth your time! Quite simply, these are high quality wines, but ranging in price from $9-30/bottle. At that price, you can drink them every day without regret!

 

Here are a few of the DOC Dão wines that really impressed me:

 

WHITES:
Soito Encruzado 2017 13.5% ABV, $17/bottle. A blend of 90% Encruzado and 10% Malcasia-Fina, Pale yellow in color with a tinge of green. Starts with an aroma of white flowers, the palate offers green apple, Bosc pear, and lemon. Secondary notes of apricot and minerality.

 

 

Pedra Cancela “Vinha da Fidala” Encruzado 2018: 13% ABV, found for $13-17/bottle online. Color is bright lemon yellow, nose blends stone fruit with floral cuttings and honey. On the palate, tart lemon with hints of sweet pear and apple. This wine shows smooth, balanced citrus with a medium finish. Long and linear, it is reminiscent of a Burgundian style. This wine haunted my palate. I wanted to taste it again and again, and I did. It is the wine I wanted to pair my whole dinner with.

 

 

Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2018: 100% Encruzado, 13.5% ABV, $17/Bottle. Color is pale gold, with a medium floral nose. Stone fruit on the palate with nice acidity, secondary notes of grapefruit, almond, and a touch of oak. The luxurious mouthfeel made me want to taste this again after several years to enjoy its development.

 

 

REDS:

 

Pedra Cancela Seleção do Enólogo Tonto 2016: 13.3% ABV, $9/bottle. A blend of Touriga-Nacional, Alfocheiro and Jaen. Medium ruby in color, and aromatic nose of red fruit with spice and green pepper, secondary notes of eucalyptus and licorice. I thought this wine was absolutely delicious pairing with octopus course and short rib entrée. But I expected it would be in the $20-25 range, and that would be a fair price. But to my shock, this wine sells for $9 and change per 750 ml bottle. Really, that’s not a typo. NINE dollars. Where can you find that kind of deal that isn’t corporate winemaking? Dão, that’s where.

 

 

 

 

Borges Touriga Nacional 2017, 12.5%ABV,  $13/bottle.

Double decanted before tasting, the wine is deep ruby in color, a full and has a full nose of red plum, currant and pomegranate. On the palate, cherry and plum dominate with earthy notes of leather, tobacco leaf, smoke, and wet earth. Excellent balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin. A long, supple finish with toasted oak.  (This wine is also a Wine Enthusiast Recommended Best Buy) At this price? Buy a case.

 

 

Jaime de Almeida Barros Quinta das Camélias Tinto Reserva 2015, 13.5% ABV, Online from $12-$14/bottle.

Deep purple in color; the nose is complex and expansive with black plum, violet, and spice box. A powerful mouthfeel, full-bodied blend with black fruit, eucalyptus, mocha and rawhide, the finish has a decidedly mineral note of granite. Among the more mature wines in this portfolio, a five year old wine with a double decant showed wonderfully and paired in a way I’d expect old world wines to demonstrate after a decade. And at this price point, what is not to love?

 

What should you take away from reading about these wines? You owe it to yourself to find wines from the Dão region and get them in your repertoire. You’ll be amazed at how much you enjoy them individually, and then again with how deliciously they pair with food. They are a quintessential example of Mediterranean fare, ranging from raw fruits and vegetables to fresh seafood to grilled red meats, with sun, sea, and salt notes that are brimming of life.

What could you compare them to? Think of Encruzado not as it might easily be related to Albariño, but instead as a petite chablis that wants to start your evening, join you for the salad and fish course, and come back to finish your meal.

Think of Jaen as Portugal’s native cabernet franc- (though it is _not_ related to that grape). But similarly, it is full, yet bright with red currants, cherry, dried cranberry, and a hint of green pepper. Ideal pairings include Iberian cheeses, risotto, mushrooms, and red meats.  Of course, these are just an introductory way for you to think about and relate to the grapes and the wines, but should give you some incentive to find these beauties in such reasonable, daily-drinking price range, and share them with your friends and families. I can’t suggest strongly enough that you spend a little time and find wines, either these, or others from Portugal’s Dão DOC. Whether you search online, or ask your local wine store to get some samples in from their distributors, these wine are well worth your time, in terms of high quality winemaking, flexible and quality flavor, and reasonable, daily drinking prices.

 

Whats 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? 

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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!

 

 

Old World Flavors From a New World Vineyard: Lucas & Lewellen Toccata Classico 2015

30 Jan

Lucas & Lewellen Toccata 2015 Classico Red Wine, Santa Barbara County, California, USA. 14.7%ABV, SRP is $29/bottle. Sample Provided.

 

Winemaker Megan McGrath Gates blended 50% sangiovese, 30% cabernet sauvignon, and 5% each of merlot, cab franc, petite verdot, and freisa , from Santa Barbara County’s Los Alamos and Valley View vineyards. Color is a medium purple, with a rich nose of black and blue fruit, floral cuttings, and eucalyptus. On the palate are blue plum, cassis, and blackberry compote with rich acidity from the strong backbone. Secondary notes include toasted oak, violet flower, earth, leather, and a hint of smoke on the lengthy finish.

 

 

This was such a pleasant surprise to open. To be more specific, it was in my tasting queue and I didn’t look closely at the bottle. So, upon the first taste, I thought I’d opened a bottle of wine from Italy: a Super Tuscan, to be specific. Well, I was wrong, especially when I mistook the cab & petite verdot for the syrah one normally finds along with sangiovese in a Super Tuscan. And so would you be, as your guests, if you suspected this in a blind tasting. But DO serve this wine, with Italian fare or anything that needs a delightful red blend. I paired this with chicken fajitas and the next day with baked salmon and spaghetti squash to assess: the wine simply sings with food. I did not even note the high alcohol content until I spent a few moment taking down my notes after the first pairing when it hit my palate and I realized it was powerful, yet in check. Toccata behaves like an Italian film star… you’ll be so enamored by the first impression, won’t notice how smitten you are with them until you’re taken hook, line, and sinker.

Lucas and Lewellen’s wines have been consistent in delivering high quality and great value.  Toccata is aptly named- a wine that shows off McGrath Gates’ skill, expertise, and delicate touch in delivering a crowd and palate-pleasing delight.

 

Speaking of delights, here’s a toccata for you to enjoy! Click and hear guitar master Edson Lopes perform J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. It’s a stunning piece of work, and an ideal aural joy to match the sip of L&L’s Toccata Classico 2015 Red Blend!

 

#WIYG?

 

 

à votre santé!

New Year’s Bottles and my “Dry” January

25 Jan

Several close friends decided to have a dry January. Everyone understands the idea, you’re dieting off the weight that got put on over the holidays, and your liver could use a break. While I had some time off from work, I saw my doctor and had my blood work done- so I know my liver is in excellent shape, even with a glass of wine every night, sometimes a little more. But I do like to find balance, so I tried to enjoy some of the wines I’ve reviewed in the past that have lower ABV, such as vino verde, riesling, tokaji, and furmint. There are plenty of choices out there when you want to find them. And I had a “drier” January, no doubt.

But for New Year’s, I was fortunate to spend a couple of days with OTHER friends at the shore who weren’t having a Dry January…so I brought a few special bottles, because that’s how I roll. Right? I mean… you must know me by now.

 

Beware: wine porn follows. So if you are still having a Dry January, this might whet your appetite. Just to be fair…

 

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Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

Sparklings: The sekt riesling from Mosel was a bottle I was so proud of being able to find- a real treasure! And it was  delicious, with a hint of delicately sweet fruit. The two Cremant d’Alsace bottles were something I simply adore and love to share with friends- not too much brioche, ideal balance of fruit, flavor, effervescence and fun! The brut rosé Crémant de Bourgogne was a big winner for me- pinot noir, so beautiful, amazing color, delicious and I always wish I bought more! And then finally the brut rosé Champagne Caillez Demaire, a gorgeous Champagne that makes you just want to sit down and do nothing else but dive in to the glass you hold until the elixir is gone. YUM!

 

For me, it would not be a true celebration without some white Burgundy- that’s my wine ‘Achilles heel’, for sure!


 

The 2013 was still showing beautifully!

 

For big meals with ten friends, it takes a few special bottles to get things moving. Whites included wines from Sonoma, Burgundy, Italy, and Germany.

 

 

The red wines sourced from France, Italy, Germany, & the USA’s Washington State.

Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

This 2009 bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from Jason Moore of Modus wines, was showing exceptionally well!

 

 

One more treasure from my cellar, the only bottle of Macvin du Jura I’ve found in an NYC wine store to date! Macvin du Jura is savagnin wine fortified with brandy, it is truly unusual and delightful for an aperitif.  And oh, how special!

 

Copyright 2020 by Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

 

 

And because making dinner takes a lot of energy, this is the snack for the prep zone. A tasty cabernet franc and pinot noir, respectively, with snacks!

 

So after this kind of New Year’s Eve, maybe a dry January was called for after all?

 

Did you celebrate a Dry January?

 

à votre santé!

2015 Hermitage Blanc from Michèle Luyton

28 Dec

Hermitage (Rhône) wines can be tough to acquire, unless you are in a specific income bracket. The most well-known producer is Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, which I have only enjoyed at tastings (Syrahs sold annually in the thousands of dollars per bottle range), or M. Chapoutier. And you may have noticed what a huge fan I am of Lodi’s Acquiensce Winery, by winemaker Sue Tipton, whose Rhône style wines are just luscious, and affordable!

So when I saw an offer to purchase an affordable bottle from a small winemaker in Hermitage, I leapt at the chance, and then waited for the wine to come to age.

Michèle Luyton 2015 Hermitage Blanc; Glun, France. 13% ABV; $48/bottle from Fass Selections.

 

The nose offers orange peel and apricot over a layer of honey. On the palate is a rich and full-bodied white with restrained acidity: quince and Meyer lemon, secondary notes of acacia flower, followed by subtle wood notes. The wine surprised my palate with the acidity approaching on the sides of my tongue. The restraint and suppleness, plus the savory quality of this white wine makes it quite genteel and gossamer, pairing beautifully with roast turkey, hot vegetables, and sweet noodle kugel. The following day, the wine was ideal with a savory vegetable omelette for brunch, showcasing the wine’s luxury and acidity, leaving the palate refreshed and delighted, with gentle apricot remaining on the finish.

 

 

So: do you need to know Hermitage Blanc? I would say it’s imperative for any serious wine-lover to taste and understand viognier, roussanne, marsanne, and Rhône style blends of the three. They aren’t hard to find but take a little extra work; shop one of the larger wine stores near you (or wine retailer who ships to your state) and ask for/search Northern Rhône, instead of simply Hermitage (which might freak out your wallet when the wines appear with $300 price tags). But that search should give you everything from Chave and beyond: you may be able to find wines in the low $30’s- and up (up, up!). It’s a small price to pay for wines that wine importer Kermit Lynch is quoted as saying is ” more unique and special than the red wines from the region”.  Personally, over the course of the last few years I’ve managed to find a few bottles (like the above) from Hermitage that are treats to find, but I find it quite convenient to purchase Acquiesce Winery’s bottles to share at tastings, as I love the reactions I get when I say “try a sip from a gem made by one my favorite female winemakers”, and keep my palate up to date with the grapes and styles of Northern Rhône.  

 

à votre santé!

The One Wine Region You Need for New Year’s Eve: Alsace!

26 Dec

New Year’s Eve & Champagne. Take my half-century of experience on this earth and let’s boil it down.

Everyone should drink more Champagne (and for you winelovers and those who are still learning: that includes everything that is like champagne but not from that region.) So we include sparkling wine- which is the beautiful  bubbly made any place outside of the Champagne region.

 

For decades, I’ve been attending New Year’s Eve parties with several bottles in hand, served everything from vintage champagne to premier cru champagne to blanc de noir to well, you name it, I’ve served it. I pour tastes, watch people’s reactions, and then see what they want afterwards. It’s not always pretty. But this year, I’m sharing my results.

 

Q: What have I found, over decades of research?
A: Go middle ground, or face the music.

“Que?” You ask? “What music?”

The music, in this instance is this refrain: go middle ground, or guests will choose something else to drink. 

1) Don’t spend money on high end bubbly unless it is what YOU want to drink. Unless they are serious oenophiles, the rest of the people at the party won’t appreciate it the same way. As a matter of fact, they’ll probably choose something else to drink. How do I feel when I bring a $150 bottle and people taste it, and then choose to drink something else? Quite simply, it is wrong to bring something rare for people who can’t appreciate it.

2) Don’t buy the cheap stuff. Sorry André and Barefoot. But most folks will taste, and then choose something else. Don’t worry, it’s not a lot more. Grow from those $7 bottle, and prepare for a whole $12 per bottle, ok? Even you, my beloved 21 year old daughter and your Legal but Still New to Drinking Buddies.

3) Your bottom of the barrel should be a nice prosecco, which can be had in the $15 range. (Yes, soccer moms, some are $12.99 on sale!) But don’t go far from that range. Well, if you love the Barefoot, that’s cool. But bring a bottle of prosecco or Cremant D’Alsace for the REST of the party, m’kay?

Here’s a link from Vivino to their 20 Most Popular Prosecco Wines, with average retail pricing. It’s got La Marca (Non-Vintage) for $11.97. This is totally acceptable, and people will drink it.

4) Don’t bother with Veuve, unless you KNOW people will love it. I know a few people who adore it. I know more who tolerate it, because it’s VERY consistent. But you can get brilliant grower champagne or a lovely premier cru Champagne  in that ballpark. You, smart shoppers, would not spend $50 on a dish of Spaghetti-O’s when you can have the filet mignon at the same price, right? So Unless it’s what you love, skip it!

5) Here are the key words that will raise your game: Cremant d’Alsace. These are French sparkling wines from the region of Alsace, and I’m a HUGE fan of Cremant d’Alsace Brut rosé (see below).

Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Oh yes, my precious! 

 

Better yet, you’ll find these sparkling wines in the range of $15-35/bottle. And most of them, you’ll find in the $15-20 range. Sherry-Lehman has five wines from this region, all from $16.95-19.95. Total Wine lists six Cremant d’Alsace wines from $17-25 in the 750ml size.

These bottles, I have found, are made with a very good quality, and at this price point provide a tremendous QPR (Quality:Price Ratio) which in wine equals HUGE VALUE. But you can ignore that for the moment. Because in the decades of pouring and watching reactions, what I have seen is that people simply ask for more. It’s pink, it’s dry, it’s French, (maybe none of that comes into play.) It’s delicious, and THAT comes into play.

Most importantly, you’ll find these wines are beautifully crafted, will work alone OR pair well with food, and more importantly, they are crowd pleasers. You want something fun to drink? This is where you need to be! 

 

And, last but not least:

6) Get out and taste. Where do you shop? Call and see when they’re doing their New Year’s tasting. A sip of a couple of sparkling wines, or even a decent Champage, might turn you on to something wonderful for yourself, or you New Year’s Eve party.

Copyright 2019 Jim van Bergen / JvBUnCorked

 

à votre santé!

Do you agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts, with the link below.

A Few of My Favorite Things, 2019

21 Dec

Whether you’re shopping for coworkers, loved ones, family, or yourself- it never hurts to see what other people love. So here’s my list of my favorite things, or my suggestions for your wine lovers. Ready? Let’s start with the juice!

 

Cru Beaujolais

These are some of my favorite wines for high QPR (quality-price ratio) that feature gorgeous color, deliciously complex flavors of delicate fruit with strong secondary and tertiary notes.  This is not Nouveau Beaujolais, this is cru beaujolais, which is a step up from village-level Beaujolais, which itself is a big step above Nouveau. Got that?
Level 1: Beaujolais-Nouveau. Level 2: Village-Beaujolais. Level 3: Cru Beaujolais. Oui? Bon! Maintenant…

Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape, and exhibits significantly less tannin than cabernet, syrah, or cab franc. It is much paler in comparison to new world reds. One can expect structure and depth from these wines, layers of notes should you prefer to spend your time delving deep into the wine’s character, or easy to relax and just enjoy with food. If you have new world wine drinkers (yes America, this is you) then these are old world wines that are easy on the budget and surprisingly amazing in your mouth.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

Chablis.

I have openly stated my love for white Burgundy. Sadly, the high end of these wines are beyond my financial reach, but chablis is easy to find in almost any store. If you take your wine seriously, at some point you MUST up your game to try a Premiere Cru Chablis. While you can find regular chablis and petite chablis in the $18 – 25 range, for Cru designations you should expect the $30-50 range, and don’t be shocked when you see a $75 price tag. But compare that to Puligny-Montrachet that runs from $90-$600/bottle? You see my point- this you can afford, and you will love, love, love to drink. When you can afford the Puligny-Montrachet, you will enjoy it thoroughly, and then go back home to trusted chablis.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Nebbiolo, with age.

What is delicate on the nose, but full in mouthfeel, flavor, and tannin? Nebbiolo! Without age, give me Sangiovese, please. But Nebbiolo is the backbone of the wines you love: the beautiful, full-bodied, Piedmont wines you adore: Barbaresco and Barolo! Here’s a link to a great piece by Vivino on this very topic. The 2010 Barbaresco in the picture below is drinking beautifully right now; these are wines that can be finicky so it’s smart to have a backup in place. I prefer to give Barolos at least 20 years in the bottle, and my cellar is home to some bottles that in my own age range (half-century) which are such a treat to enjoy with like-minded wine lovers.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

 

Wine lovers can not live on wine alone. You must have TOYS! I am constantly asked what wines to buy, and what to buy for wine-loving friends. Here are some of my favorite accessories:

Accessories:

Govino stemless glassware and decanters. These have become my daily glassware for red, white, rosé, sparkling, liquor, and yes, even non-alcoholic beverages! On Amazon, and everywhere else. They simply rock!

Vinoseal wine bottle stoppers. As opposed to cork, they open easily without a corkscrew, keep air out of the bottle, don’t break, don’t impart flavor or undesirable effects to your wine, and are easily reusable. What’s not to like?

How about sparkling wine? I hoped you would ask.  The Sapore Champagne Stopper is a well-designed and inexpensive way to save that bottle for another night, while fitting easily in your fridge.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

What’s on your wish list?

Or, please share some of your favorite by hitting the link below. #Cheers, and Happy Holidays! 

à votre santé!!

 

 

Thanksgiving 2019 Postmortem

30 Nov

The parade, the big meal, and sadly the family have come and gone. We’re now full on into the Holiday season, whatever you might celebrate.

 

Do you postmortem your meal and wine? I do.  I always, always do.

(Link to my annual Thanksgiving post from this year, if you need a refresher!)

 

So, short and quick, here are my game day highlights:

1) The sparkling wine is the big crowd pleaser.
Trevari’s Tasting Room Sparkling Rosé and Blanc de Noirs were a HUGE win at the table.
Their Blanc de Blanc is a STEAL at $15/bottle for a sparkling wine that everyone will enjoy.

 Treveri Rosé and Viciarious Modus Cellars

 

2. The Acquiesce Grenache Rosé was the favorite for those who wanted a lighter and refreshing wine.

 

Modus Sauvignong Blanc and Acqueice Grenache Rosé
 

3.  The Rivers-Marie 2015 Sonoma Pinot Noir was the favorite for those who preferred a red wine.

 

RiversMarie2015 and ABC SBC Pinot
 

For my email, Facebook, and Twitter folks who reached out (requesting wines for their meals with origins outside the USA) they had positive responses from my personal suggestions of: 

France: Alsace Sparkling Rosé, Chablis, Premiere Cru Beaujolais, Bordeaux blends.

Italy: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Aldo Adige Pinot Grigio

Spain: Albariño, Graciano, Garnacha, and Tempranillo

Portugal: Viñho Verde

Australia: Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand: Pinot Noir

Germany & Austria: Rielsing, Zweigelt, Grüner Veltliner, and Müller Thurgau

 

What were your Thanksgiving Day wine highlights? Did you have any failures? (I have had some over the years. We live and learn!)

Please feel free to share & comment below.  Happy Holidays!

 

à votre santé!!

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