Tag Archives: Wine Review

Evening Land 2011 Bourgogne Rouge

28 Sep

My love of pinot noir began with Burgundy and expanded rapidly around the world.

More than ten years ago, I was attending an Oregon regional tasting and had been severely impressed with an Evening Land wine I tasted from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley. When I found out they were also making wines from Sonoma and Burgundy, I wanted to compare! And compare I did.
I purchased multiple bottles from Evening Land’s label from Chateau de Bligny/Côte de Beaune, Burgundy; several from the Sonoma Coast property, as well as bottles from their Seven Springs Vineyard in Oregon. History reminder:  Evening Land was founded in 2005 by Mark Tarlov, with partners Danny Meyer (Union Square Hospitality Group), the Prieur family (Domaine Jacques Prieur), and the late Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and CEO of the International Culinary Center. From their early success, Evening Land Vineyard (ELV) transitioned several members of their team and management as well as vineyards to new owners winemaker Sashi Moorman, and sommelier Rajat Parr around 2012, and the story continues with more accolades and success. 
All those years ago, I had really liked what I tasted from Oregon. I wondered if ELV would have a decidedly New World and Californian approach, or if I’d find the perfect blend of historic winemaking in what is simply a newer region or similar characteristics. I tasted the wines, and understood for myself that the wines have more in common with the classic & historic Burgundian wines I respected: not simply the location on the 45th parallel to the sun, but fertile hillside soils, along with ocean-cooled climates that allow such distinct quality in growing pinot noir and chardonnay. So, I cellared the remaining bottles to see how they would fare with time. After several years, I did another tasting, and they had evolved nicely. On a recent re-stock and review of the cellar, I came across the group of wines and thought, it’s time to review.

Evening Land 2011 Borgogne Rouge (Château de Bligny,  Côte de Nuits-Villages), France. 13% ABV,  original SRP $30/bottle.

Color is bright ruby. The nose is floral and gently performed with red fruit, spice. On the palate, the fruit is still present, cranberry and dark cherry, with secondary notes of vanilla, graphite, and earth on the steely finish.
The age on this wine is perfect for me as a drinker;  presenting a round and lovely nose of floral, spice, and red fruit notes, feminine in first taste, with robust and muscular red fruit and wildflowers.
Drinking this reminds me of driving the 1983 Porsche 928S turbo: a gorgeous sheen of color and flowing, well-blended elements. Stunning linearity in focus, with awesome hidden power.  Perhaps not the prettiest of the line but a shocking, powerful competitor that pulls in front of the leader at the halfway mark and never lets go of the race until it’s won.

The good news? This wine is drinking beautifully right now. So it it’s hiding in YOUR cellar like it was in mine, go head an open that bottle if you feel like it. I’m looking forward to having guests over for a blind comparative pinot tasting and wondering where this might fit in.

All Rights Reserved. Images and Text Copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. 

 

What’s in YOUR glass?

à votre santé!

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!

My Pandemic: Acquiesce Bourboulenc, Domaine du Bouscat, Sunier Fleurie

29 Mar

The 2020 Pandemic of COVID-19 has left people feeling both isolated and depressed. One of the best things I found in the second week of isolation was groups of friends who would get together on line, have drinks, and talk about their feelings:  what they are experiencing, be it isolation and depression, simply how they were surviving, or just what happened to be in their glass.

Say no more, I was IN!  Here was an opportunity to simply pull from my cellar and grab something my palate was asking for, to see some friendly faces and say hi! So here we go!  

 

 

Domaine du Bouscat, Caduce Bordeaux Supérieur 2012. 13.5% ABV, SRP $15/bottle. 

Deep garnet with purple edging, the nose is rich and foreboding. The palate is full of dark red and black fruit, heavy on the black currants, with mellowing tannin, and solid acidity. Secondary notes are of eucalyptus, forest floor, pipe tobacco, and granite. This is the last bottle of a case I purchased years ago; each bottle has been an excellent bargain and what a pleasure to enjoy it over the last half-decade. I paired this with red meat, grilled asparagus, baked cauliflower, and gouda cheese over the course of five days and the wine evolved into a more aromatic, less tannic, gentle view of Bordeaux. Either way, it was delicious and fun to finish up this case of wine that had become a trusted friend. 

 

All content: copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved. 

 

2018 Bourboulenc, Acquiesce Winery, Lodi, CA. 13.5% ABV, SRP $28/bottle.

Pale gold in color, the nose offers honey, apricot, and a hint of geranium. On the palate is a beautiful fruit compote of pear, orange, green apple and honeysuckle. Supple acidity swirls across the top palate with a lovely lemon zest finish. I paired this on two evenings with turkey cutlet and whole wheat pasta, the wine is so flavorful and luscious, while maintaining a gentle, restrained, and crisp flavor profile. This is a wine that I pour and my guests simply ask for more, more, and more. You will do the same, and will feel lucky to have found a great resource for this rare Rhône varietal in Lodi, California. 

 

 

 

Julien Sunier 2018 Fleurie, Gamay, Beaujolais, France. 12% ABV, $29/bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits 

Those who are lovers of Burgundy are often fans of Cru Beaujolais. I am one of these people! Those who seek the exquisite, top end of the gamay grape are rewarded by passionate, expert winemakers who craft their small plots into wines of perfection. This is a perfect example: the 2016 vintage was ravaged by hail. The grapes suffered, harvests were smaller, but flavors soared. I opened this bottle last night, and could not stop tasting. The wine is classically pale ruby with a glamorous and perfumed nose, while flavors explode off the palate. Sour cherry, red currants, red plum, a hint of young strawberry lead into a beautiful acidity, with soaring minerality. Everything feels slightly larger than life, and for the wine lover, that means you will want glass after glass, bottle after bottle. Believe me, if you love the high-end gamay, you will adore this wine. Sunier is a winemaker’s winemaker; this is a geeky glass of wine heaven. My only regret on this wine is simply having not purchased more. 

 

 

All content: copyright 2020, JvB UnCorked. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

What’s in your glass? 

 

à votre santé!

 

Wine Memory: Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvée Balthazar

23 Mar

Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc Cuvée Balthazar 2016; 12.5% ABV, $15/bottle online. Screwcap Closure. 

 

Color is pale straw. The nose offers gentle melon with a touch of citrus. On the palate, gentle white stone fruit, pineapple, kiwi, apricot, and honeydew. Gentle acidity followed the fruit, with a subtle, quiet finish.

 

I first tasted this wine (the 2014 vintage) when in Alsace, before a meal. Then I had an opportunity to try the 2016 a year ago. I enjoyed it, but for some reason, I never wrote about it. But I recalled enjoying the wine, and I marked it down in my wine journal, sought it out again, purchased and cellared the wine, and just recently when winter had receded, my brain wanted spring and then the perfect moment hit me recently: I simply craved this bottle. I went to the cellar, retrieved and cleaned it from cellar dust, poured a taste and put the bottle in the fridge to drop the temperature a few degrees while I sorted color and aroma. The first sip immediately brought me back with the memory of this wine at an outdoor table in Colmar, France, on the Alsace wine route, in an area dubbed “little Venice/la petite Venise”. I kid you not, it was as cinematic in my mind as any filmmaker’s trick to place you back and re-live a memory you might swear was the real thing.

 

 

I needed that memory; I desired that calm, the flavor, the scent, the moment in time. This was the perfect time for the bottle, and I enjoyed it far more than any other wine or spirit could at that moment. When I tasted it alone, I was thrilled. When I paired it with some roasted vegetables and a bite of warmed Comté on a piece of crunchy baguette. I was in heaven.

 

Like many of Albrecht’s wines, this is a great example of a wonderful wine that represents a beautiful region with impressive olfactory and flavor memory. For me, so many of the world’s great wines are like this. And that is why they carry such impact with world travelers and wine lovers.

 

If you’re nodding in agreement, then you’ve been, and you know. If you are intrigued, then start planning your trip, either to  the Eastern towns of France, or to the restaurants and wine bars that showcase the food and wines from these regions. Or come to my house, <grin> as long as that’s with plenty of advance warning.

 

à votre santé!

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.

 

All Images protected by Copyright and not to be use without permission.
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? 

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!!

 

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.

Thanksgiving Wines, 2019

23 Nov

Thanksgiving. Get the whole family around the table and celebrate the most American of holidays! It is a day of thanks for the past and present, with hope for the future.

A holiday that is all about family, thankfulness, harvest, and food. Where do I sign up?

Thanksgiving is the biggest reason why I started this blog so many years ago: it’s the time of year where my phone rings, texts fly, emails arrive, and I get stopped on the street to discuss the same question over and over: “What wine should I serve with Thanksgiving Dinner?”

You KNOW I love the entire world of wines. But I think we should celebrate an American meal with American wines! We’re using turkey, corn, squash, green beans, pumpkin- how about US grown wines? You’ve got dozens of regions to choose from, so please, grab that Texas Hill Country Wine, the Virginia and Finger Lakes wines, the Michigan and Oregon wines. Don’t be shocked that many of my suggestions are from California’s Napa, Sonoma, and Lodi. No offense, ok?

If you are doing ONE wine, then you should think rosé or pinot noir. But you SHOULD consider at least two wines, a red and a white, for flexibility with the family meal and the multitudes of guests.

There are links provided to help you find a wine if you’re interested in my suggestions. But to find them close to your home, point your web browser to wine-searcher.com, vivono, wine.com, or one of the many other wine access sites available to see what provider close to you might have these wines in inventory, to save time and shipping costs.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.
(This is the legal reminder not to try and duplicate my site again to pretend it’s your content, you hack!)

 

Sparkling
Yes, America is FULL of great sparkling winemakers: Gloria Ferrer, Schramsberg, Balletto Vineyards,  Domaine Carneros, Roederer Estate, my list goes on and on, across the $25-$125 range. For the budget conscious: Underwood’s Sparkling Rosé for $15. At my house, we’ll be starting off this year with Treveri Cellar’s Tasting Room Rosé, a brut sparkling that is bright pink in color, made of 50% each of pinot noir and chardonnay. Sadly, this is only available for purchase in their tasting room- but their half-dozen other sparking wines are shippable, also delicious, and all in the $15-$25 range!

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

White
Unless you have a chardonnay on the un-oaked and leaner side (think Chablis or Meursault, or in the USA, like Sonoma’s highly prized and rare DuMOL estate chardonnays) then you are better off serving something lean and acidic. Think Picpoul Blanc, Albariño, and Sauvignon Blanc! I love Acquiesce Winery‘s Picpoul Blanc ($28), and  Modus Operandi’s Sauvignon Blanc ($35). Plus, the Galician grape Albariño generates what I consider to be “easy home run” wines from Lodi, absolutely delicious and perfect pairing from manufacturers like Bokisch Vineyards ($18), Harney Lane ($20), and Klinker Brick ($15) just to name a few.

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

Red
In the past I usually added a full-bodied red for a few guests who preferred massive fruit and tannin. This year I’m cleansing my palate and sticking with what really works: Pinot Noir. What pairs best with savory gravy, herb-filled dressing, dark meat and cranberry sauce? Pinot Noir. What cleanses your palate best if you have duck or a roast? Pinot Noir!
Patton Valley Vineyard from the Willamette Valley ($40), yes, that’s a 2010 from my cellar. Au Bon Climat is a Santa Barbara County mainstay that will pair so perfectly you’ll wonder what hit you ($24 and up, my favorite is the Sanford & Benedict Vineyard). A cellar treasure I’ve held for this year is the Rivers-Marie 2015 Silver Eagle Vineyard ($55).    Want the awesome budget pinot: Try District 7’s Monterey Estate Pinot Noir ($14).

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Rosé
You KNOW I had to include rosé. Insanely popular (especially with my family’s millennial ladies) it is always refreshing on the palate, and there is SO MUCH great rosé available these days! So I have two of my favorites in the world from my cellar: Acquiesce Winery’s Grenache Rosé ($25), this wine is so tasty, I’ve seen people fight over the last glass!  And lastly, Modus Operandi’s Rosé of Pinot Noir (currently sold out), which is so perfectly dry, I find it tremendous- which winemaker Jason Moore makes only because his clients BEG for it, and it’s often sold out as soon as it’s available.

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

 

So, what do you think of this year’s lineup? What are you planning for YOUR Thanksgiving Feast?

à votre santé!!

#YouHadMeAtMargaux

3 Nov

Château Des Graviers Margaux, 2014 Red Blend; Arsac, Bordeaux, France. 14%ABV, Around $29/bottle online.

 

Color is deep ruby, while the nose offers a dark and earthy melange of eucalyptus, blackberry, gravel, potting soil, and leather. On the palate: muted black and red fruit- cassis, plum, dark cherry, followed by medium acidity and massive tannins, drying the tongue and curling back the fruit. On the back palate are clay, gravel, rose bush and vanilla. Provides a long and robust finish.

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Winemaker Christophe Landry is a fifth generation winemaker and creates a tremendous product that will taste hauntingly familiar if you are a Margaux aficionado (as I am) and you can see why wines like this dot the shelves of my cellar, then disappear far too quickly… I simply seem to not be able to help myself.   And, why, you might ask?

Well. it’s easy to answer:  once opened, the bottle improves over time and proves to be a delicious, lovingly-crafted, old world wine. This is a region and style I adore- but this wine is still a babe, capable of being enjoyed now, but it still has at least five years before hitting its prime. I paired this with red meat on day one the when it was delicious but still slightly tight; then a Comte and a Roqueforte cheese on day two when it had opened fully, and decadently. Yet this is a wine that in five to ten years, the tannins will relax to the ideal complement; hopefully the fruit and acidity will be as well in balance. As tasty as this wine is right now, the question arises:  Will I be able to wait to enjoy this and see if 10 or 15 is the best age? Indeed, that is the question.

“Probably not,” I’m thinking. I’m a sucker for this region, and any of their wines that I deem both delicious and affordable!  This fits into both categories, and drinks quite nicely at a youthful age. I’m in trouble, as I didn’t buy a case when I had the chance (no room in the cellar, the honest truth!)

 

If you didn’t figure it out before…#YouHadMeAtMargaux.

 

 

Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.  May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

#WIYG?

 

 

à votre santé!!

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