Tag Archives: Rhone red wine

Birthday Bottles with JvB

3 Jul

When it’s your birthday, you can drink whatever you want.

This is how it started:

Elena Walch Castel Ringberg Pinot Grigio, 2017. 13.5% ABV, SRP $29/bottle. 

If you ask me if I like Pinot Grigio, I’d ask you “Pinot Grigio from where?” Elena Walch and her two daughters make TREMENDOUS wines- but you have to think Northern Italy, Trento, Alto-Adige DOC wines. If those words make you mouth water, then you know what I’m talking about. Medium straw in color with a nose of melon and lime. On the palate: Bosc pear, green apple, freshly cut herbs, and underlying granite/wet stone. Beautiful length on the back palate showing the linear acidity, leaving your mouth with a gossamer finish.






 

 

Domaine du Cayron 2013 Gigonda, 14% ABV. SRP? 

Southern Rhone and Gigondas, right next door to Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  One look and you know the Gigondas is going to be a GSM- Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre-Cinsault (or Carignan) blend. This is one of the best-known, most consistent Gigondas you can find, with bold and savory reds, well-maintained by the The Faraud Family, who picks their grapes from older (40-70) year-old vines and ferments each type in massive oak foudres (225-300 hectoliters). Blended expertly by the family, this vintage is said to be a cepage (blend) of 70% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 14% Syrah and 1% Mourvèdre (for color).

 

 

Color is deep ruby, while the nose offers stewed red fruit, smoked dried meats hints of earth. On the palate are burning red fruit flavors: red plum, mixed cherries and raspberries, lusciously chewy tannins with a dry backbone.   Perfect for a grilled steak, this honesty could pair with anything you want to eat if you’re in the mood for a bold, chewy red. This wine simply sings from the glass.
As this bottle was a gift from dear, dear friends, I’m not looking up the price– but trust me, it’s going to be in the range of between a “special bottle” and “what a bargain for a red this damn good.”

 

 

 

 

 

Champagne, Anyone?

 

 

How better to celebrate a birthday than with vintage champagne? I didn’t tell my guests this was vintage, or what the bottles cost. I wanted to really enjoy some special bottles that I would love, that I couldn’t wait to open.

Perseval Farge Millésime Premiere Cru 2003 Brut Champagne. $59/bottle from private seller.

So much aging on the lees! Tons of brioche and toast on this vintage! Classic and elegant, I was shocked at how delicious this was, but that my guests, new to vintage champagne and the delicacies and flavors, were only  complimentary. Did they know that NON-VINTAGE Perseval Farge costs around $90/bottle in NYC? No. But they tasted stunningly aged brioche, muted fruit, and a perfect mousse. This champagne was so delightful, it eclipsed one of my favorite vintage champagne experiences from the 1980’s.
Color is deep straw. Nose of baked bread, spice, and a hint of grapefruit. On the palate, muted peach, a hint of citrus with forward notes of toasted almond and brioche. Luscious frothy bubbles forming a perfect mousse at age 16, this could age twice that and still be a delicate, delicious bargain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yann Alexandre Vintage 2010 Blanc de Blanc Millesime 2010 Brut. $45/ bottle from private seller.

Believe it or not, my guests preferred this 2010 over the 2003 (they didn’t know I was offering vintage champagne, they just tasted and told me their thoughts!) but both were simply STUNNING. This beautiful blanc de blanc has a pale straw color and nose of tangerine and lemon lime, bright peach, touch of apricot, almond and baked bread with a touch of minerality. If only I had purchased more- this was gone in a heartbeat. It was my fault, I didn’t explain these were rare vintage champagne.

 

Owen Roe 2015 Rosa Mystica Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley AVA, Washington, USA. 14.1% ABV, $28 SRP.

If you haven’t spent time diving in deeply with cabernet franc, then you are missing out. A grape that can be so expressive and show such depth and versatility, I’ve watched many a cab lover be flummoxed and fall in love with cab franc. This is one such bottle. Color is medium purple, while the nose offers blue plum, violet, and lavender. On the palate: beautiful blackberry, young cassis, potting soil and tobacco leaf. Medium heat across the top and back palates. This is so tasty: awesome craftsmanship from Owen Roe’s winemaker Jackie Evans and her team. 

 

Harney Lane Winery’s Old Vine Zinfandel, Lizzy James Vineyard, 2015. Lodi, CA, USA. 15.7%ABV., $36/SRP

From vines planted in 1904 come tremendous grapes that are aged 20 months in French oak before bottling to become one of my favorite single vineyard wines of all time. Massive flavor without being a fruit bomb, I can drink this in the afternoon by itself or pair with a porterhouse in the evening. With such a luxurious mouthfeel, these vines sing of their tiny gnarled vines and century of desert exposure. I can’t say enough good things about Kyle and Jorja Lerner, the family who operate Harney Lane. They are the nicest people making STUNNING wine, and world class OVZ that simply can’t be beat!
Color is deep purple center with dark ruby edging. The nose offers beautifully perfumed blue and black fruit, while the palate shows blackberry compote, fresh blueberries, black cherries, stewed plum, a hint of baking spice and vanilla. The tannins are large yet manageable, and for someone who prefers lower alcohol wines, this is one I not only tolerate, but adore. The heat never crosses my mind, while the flavors expand and fill my top palate with wonder. 

 

 

à votre santé!

 

#WIYG? Please, let me know what you’re drinking. Birthday or no, we’re always curious to know what you’re really enjoying right now.

 

Beaujolais’ Natural Wine: Pure Grape!

24 Mar

M&C Lapierre à Villié-Morgon 2014(Rhone) Morgon, Beaujolais, France. 12%ABV, $28/bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits.

I used to enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau, until I tasted high end Beaujolais wines. Once you’ve experienced the joy of a beautiful, pure and clean bottle of premiere cru gamay, it’s hard to go back. So when I received an offer for a Lapierre Morgon, I thought about it for a whopping three milliseconds and made a phone call.
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Here’s the deal: Mathieu Lapierre is a third-generation winemaker working these 60-plus year old vines. I adored his father Marcel’s work, and the wines have only improved since that time. More importantly, the Lapierre Morgon wines are strictly organic and natural- the bottles I have include the “N” classification on the back label, which indicates that there was no added sulfur, no filtration, and that the wines must stay under 14ºC  (that’s 57.4º F). The winemaker goes to extreme lengths to insure the grapes have natural fermentation from indigenous yeast, zero added yeasts. I like to think that Lapierre (and fellow winemakers Jean Foillard & Guy Breton, whose wines are among my favorites from this region) are making Beaujolais the way it was done for thousands of years- in the purest form, little to no interruption of any fashion.

I’ll stop waxing about natural winemaking. So you know: it’s just pure grape juice. Fine, now you know. But is it any good?

Here’s the kicker: it’s not just good, it’s damn good wine.

Color is a classic garnet center with ruby/purple edges. The nose offers up bright raspberry, strawberry, flower stalk trimmings, and hewn gravel. In the mouth: young, crisp, and tart raspberry with bold acidity bathes the palate and holds it tight, tannins gripping the tongue and retaining flavors while a series of mineral notes drill across the back palate, predominantly granite and gravel with schist, limestone, and calcite-heavy clay. Refreshing, bright, and energetic, this is like a shot of sunshine arcing though the clouds to warm your face. Gorgeous, classic cru beaujolais. These wines have great potential to age when stored properly, but rarely last in my cellar for obvious reasons. Quel dommage!

This is a wine to seek out for several reasons: 1) if you like Beaujolais nouveau but want to try a cru and up your game; 2) if you are a fan of organic farming and winemaking; 3) if you’re looking for an old-world, old school wine that is fresh, bright and acidic to tear down a savory dish and leave the palate clean and refreshed and ready for more; or 4) if you simply want to taste the beauty of thousand-year old, traditional winemaking with minimal intrusion. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of these wines: a single vineyard pinot noir, a great gamay like this Morgon, a Lagrein, a Nebbiolo, or a Blaufrankish.  In each of these I see the potential for singular perfection, bold acidity, and a mineral backbone- a killer wine to complement a great meal. 
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Try one. You can thank me later.

 

à votre santé!

 

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