Tag Archives: Wine Review

Creto De’ Betti 2018 Bianco di Toscana

1 Sep

Fattoria Betti, Creto De’ Betti 2018 Bianco di Toscana, Tuscany, Italy. 13%ABV, SRP (avg) $18/bottle online

 

By Jim vanBergen, JvBUnCorked.   

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

 

Color is pale straw with a green tinge. The nose offers a delicate aroma of pineapple and citrus. On the palate are crisp apple with white pear, with secondary notes of almond and lime zest. Tertiary notes of sandy clay and lemon rind are on the finish. This is a Tuscan white wine blend comprised of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Trebbiano, fermented in stainless steel before being bottled, spending no time in oak.

 

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

 

I paired this over three separate evenings with meals of roast turkey, grilled salmon, and fusilli with pesto. In each instance, the wine stood strong and paired easily. I was surprised at the ease with with the Chardonnay -Trebbiano blend stood up to the rich grilled turkey with tart cranberry sauce. Likewise, lesser white wines would not have had both the acidity and savory qualities to handle the grilled salmon, for which I usually desire a pinot noir. But this wine had not problem staying the course and showing well throughout, with grilled peaches as a dessert one night, and nectarines the following evening.

 

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

 

Fattoria Betti’s Bianco di Toscana is crisp and refreshing when served cold, and maintains beauty, body, and balance as the meal continues and the wine reaches room temperature. My spouse asked me to include that she specifically enjoyed this wine, and loved the smooth finish that was crisp, yet neither bitter nor sour. The only complaint I had when tasting this wine was wanting to have another bottle on hand!

 

If you don’t recognize the grape trebbiano, perhaps you know it by its French namesake, Ugni Blanc. I think the amount of trebbiano that is in this blend is the reason why I adore it so much: it offers a fruity nose and plenty of acidity without ever being harsh. While it may be more common to see trebbiano blended with Malvasia, I think this blend with Chardonnay is a brilliant combination. Personally I know the grape better from ugni blanc’s long history in the creation of cognac and armagnac brandies- but I’m hopeful to see more trebbiano-blended wines with this success of winemaking.

If you like Italian white wines are are looking for a versatile white that is delightful alone and capable standing up to a bevy of rich proteins, this chardonnay-trebbiano blend is a bottle that you should try. You owe it to yourself to seek out Frattoria Betti’s Bianco di Toscano.

 

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

 

à votre santé!

Pazo Torrado Albariño Rias Baixas, Galicia

29 Aug

Pazo Torrado Albariño 2017, D.O. Rías Baixas, Galicia, Spain. 12.5%ABV, SRP around $11/bottle.

 


 

All Rights Reserved. Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

By Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

Color is a translucent medium straw. The nose offers a luxurious floral aroma, hyacinth, orchid and pineapple. On the palate: tart green apple, lime zest, and lemon pith with a long, citrus finish. I am savoring this wine so wonderfully on a couple of summer days that range from hot afternoon to cool evenings, and the Albariño is so flexible it seems it could work with six feet of snow on the ground and subzero temps.

 

 

Last night I tasted this while prepping dinner, and slowly sipped a portion while grilling broccoli, squash, and red meat. It was so tasty I kept enjoying it throughout dinner. Yes, this paired nicely with grilled red meat, with grilled vegetables, and then on yet another evening, with fresh red fruit and soft French cheese. The acidity and fruit are light, crisp, and cheery enough to cleanse the palate of strong flavors in a delightful arc. It is bright and fun, delightful and easy-going. With a high quality-to-price ratio, what’s not to love about Spanish Albariño from Rías Baixas?

 

All Rights Reserved. Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

à votre santé!!

Mencos Rioja Blanco 2011

17 Aug

 

Conde de Hervías Mencos Blanco 2011, DOC Rioja (Alta), SPAIN.  12.5%ABV, SRP originally $15, found online for $12/bottle.

 

 

All Rights Reserved. Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

Made from 100% Viura Grapes!

 

By Jim van Bergen, JvBUnCorked

Color is medium gold. The nose offers apricot, quince, and lychee. On the palate, the fruit is savory and muted with gentle acidity: reminiscent flavors of pear on the front palate with tart lime on the mid palate, notes of honeyed brioche and old wood, a touch of bitter almond on the finish. Subtle but refined, the wine is both fascinating and a delight to drink. I paired this with basic tapas: Spanish olives, pickled vegetables, and hard cheeses.

 

 

 

What a delight to drink, this went down easier and far faster than I intended. Each sip was a study in the wine’s evolution and I so wanted to be sharing this with friends. And for $12 a bottle, who wouldn’t?

Did I mention this is a six year old white wine, for $12/bottle? REALLY?
“Hello case sales? It’s warm and I need this in my cellar.” 

 

All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2019 JvB UnCorked 2019. May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

All Rights Reserved. Copyright by Jim van Bergen, JvB UnCorked 2019.

May Not Be Duplicated Without Permission.

 

à votre santé!!

Home Field Red Blend 2016

13 Aug

Home Field 2016 Red Blend by Sbragia Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, CA. 14.6% ABV;  SRP $25/bottle

 

Color is deep garnet with ruby edging. The nose offers a melange of red and black fruit, violet flower and wet stone. On the palate is a mouthful of back plum and cassis. This is a delicious, full-bodied wine that I did not want to put down. It did not last long; I paired it first with a steak, and finished the bottle an hour later with a soft borgonzola cheese. It is incredibly easy to drink and very food friendly.

The fourth generation winemaker Adam Sbragia is responsible for the Home Field brand. This wine is made of five grape varieties, grown in six different vineyards: a blend of 51% Zinfandel, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 8% Carignane, and 4% Petite Syrah. And wine drinkers will land on one of two sides: they either really appreciate knowing that, or they don’t care at all. Either way, they are going to enjoy drinking this wine!

This is a fun wine to drink and enjoy with friends, if the bottle lasts you that long. Had I purchased this in a restaurant, I’d have bought two or three bottles. That alone speaks volumes to the QPR and enjoyability of Home Field Red Blend, Sbragia winemaking, and the Sonoma Country fruit.

 

WIYG?

à votre santé!

 

 

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris “Les Princes Abbés” 2014, Vin D’Alsace

31 Jul

 

 

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris “Les Princes Abbés” 2014, Alsace, France. 12.5% ABV, SRP $15/bottle.

 

On a rare day off I was heading out to visit friends at their beach house. Before departing, I looked in the cellar and saw a lovely bottle of pinot gris, an enviable white Alsace wine from the Schlumberger, with some very nice age on it, so I grabbed it and popped it in my bag. That afternoon I pulled it from the fridge, popped it open, and casually poured three glasses.

We swirled, sipped, and tasted. Our eyes opened in surprise; we looked back at one another, excited. Sometimes, the wine is just perfect for the time and place. This is one of those times.

Color is a warm, medium straw. The nose offers fresh orchids, cut wildflowers, lilac and pineapple. On the palate: golden apple plus a huge citrus backbone with lemon zest and luscious acidity. How lovely on this summer day! How can a white wine be five years old, yet taste so fresh? By the third sip, I wished I could find a case of this and hide it somewhere for the future! As the wine warmed, the nose expanded, the floral notes lasted longer and permeated my upper palate.

Pinot gris is not an easy ‘go-to’ grape for many in the USA. As a matter of fact, I find it largely overlooked. But if you tasted this wine, you’d beg for a glass. Whether this was the perfect moment in this bottle’s life or just a perfect moment with this wine, I’ll never know. What I can do is appreciate the moment, the wine, the farmer, and the winemaker who crafted a gem of a bottle.

 

 

Do you drink the wines of Alsace? You’re probably thinking “No, and I’m missing out.” That is SO true.

If you don’t drink Alsace, you really are missing some premium wines that are unlike any other in the world. This is what you’re realizing- you can still find bottles like this, with this kind of maturity, for under $20/bottle. Right now, this wine is listing for $14.99 and $15.99 with a quick web search.

As for the bottle we opened at the beach house? It did not last long. We told a few stories, tasted some cheese and dried meat, and suddenly the bottle was nearly empty! None of us remember more than tasting a couple of ounces- but before I knew it, I divided up the last few drops amongst our glasses and we toasted the next time we friends would be together.

 

à votre santé!

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.

 

Ryder Estate Pinot Noir Rosé

29 Jun

2018 Ryder Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir; Central Coast AVA, California, USA. 13%ABV; SRP $17/bottle.

 


Color is salmon pink, while the nose offers fresh strawberries, lilac and freshly cut melon. On the palate is a solid red blend of strawberry, cherry and raspberry fruit with lovely acidity and a dry, mouth watering resolution after cheering up my top and mid palate. A screwtop makes for easy opening and sharing- I promise you, this won’t last long.

I began adoring this wine when it was nicely chilled but appreciated the expanded aromas when it warmed a few degrees. I paired this wine with goat cheese crostini (appetizer) and chicken with grilled asparagus (entrée) and the bottle didn’t last much longer than that. OK, I had a little help… But this is too good to let sit in the bottle when it can be in your mouth!

It IS rosé time, right? We can drink all the rosé, as long as it’s delicious.

Did I mention this had an SRP of $17? The street price has got to make this a tremendous value. My only problem is not having more bottles on hand before my birthday!

 

If you’re a total oenophile, you will want to know that Ryder Estates are sustainably farmed and the grapes are crushed, allowed eight hours of skin contact for the perfect hue, then pressed and racked into stainless steel for fermentation and maintained at 50ºF to maintain proper aromatics (you’ll appreciate that, I know I did for the duration I could keep the wine in my glass!)

If you’re a summer wine drinker, you will want to know: this is an awesome deal on a delicious wine that will be the life of your party if you like them pink, berry forward, and superbly dry.

#WIYG?
(What’s in your glass?)

 

 

 

 

à votre santé!

Smith-Madrone 2015 Chardonnay

27 May

Smith-Madrone 2015 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District, CA. ABV 14.4%,  SRP $34/bottle.

Color is pale straw. The nose offers pear, apple, lemon zest, and just a hint of oak. On the palate,  however, the fruit is beautifully pronounced: yellow peach, sweet apple, citrus crossing from the mid- to back palate, leaving a swath of mouth-watering heat from the alcohol. Secondary notes of baking spice, stone, vanilla, and vegetation with marzipan on the lingering finish.

 

 

As a wine lover, my first thought on this wine is that it’s so tasty, you don’t want to think about it. You simply want to enjoy this delightful glass of wine that is so unlike what we’ve come to expect from Napa. Smith-Madrone’s winemakers (Stuart, Sam, and Charles Smith) actually dry-farm (no irrigation) and in doing so, they develop a grape and create a wine that is closer to a Beaune-style chardonnay than the common flavor profiles that are popular with New World grapes. What does this mean to you?  It means you’re going to enjoy this wine more than you expect, and you’re going to need to buy more of it than you’d expect because like me, you’ll drink it faster, even if you’re savoring the flavors. You’re going to wish you bought a bigger bottle…or several bottles, because your mouth is going to ask you for MORE.

 

 

 

As a wine drinker who personally tries to shy away from the high alcohol content of some California wines, this is one where I take exception. The wine is so well-made, I’d easily buy a case of this to tuck into my cellar (if I only had the room!) it’s such a delicious wine that sings through warm weather and is incredibly agreeable with food.

If this is a good price point for your chardonnay drinking, (or a good price point for a special bottle) I can not recommend highly enough that you give Smith-Madrone a taste. As passionate as I am about white Burgundy, this is a wine I will remember for shattering my conceptions of Napa Valley chardonnay.

 

#WIYG?

à votre santé!

Adventurous summer red: Jura Pinot Noir

20 May

Frédéric Puffeney 2011 Pinot Noir, Arbois Contrôlée, Jura, France. 12.5% ABV; SRP ≃ 9€; Purchased several years ago for $25/bottle.

 

A wine to confuse your senses!

 

Color is a pale, delicate garnet. The nose offers rich, dark notes of eucalyptus, earth, black plum, and dried cranberry. On the palate this wine defies my every expectation: blackberry and cassis, bold tannins on the front palate, massive notes of soil and vegetation across the mid palate. So pastoral and rural in style, it is bound to challenge you, too! The wine confounds my brain with full-bodied notes from a mid-bodied mouthfeel; how I’d love to see how many Somms would match this wine correctly in a blind tasting!

 

 

I had prepared a meal of comfort food for my spouse: Italian bruschetta, chicken teriyaki, steamed broccoli, and a Mediterranean cucumber-tomato salad in balsamic vinegar. The high acidity in the wine would be an easy match; while I feared the dark flavors of the wine would be too much for the lighter fare, I was wrong. The wine played well off the vinegar and tomato from the bruschetta; it calmed and contrasted the teriyaki on the chicken; it felt full against the broccoli, and held well against the salad. This wine has enough oomph and body to pair with steak or even a cold weather stew, but Puffeney himself suggests terrine or cheese- obviously comté is the perfect cheese for any wine from the Jura, but I can attest that goat cheese, a creamy blue, and Dutch gouda all are delightful matches with this unusual-yet-delightful pinot noir.

 

The Jura continues to be a delightful, favorite region to me- what unusual wine region do you love to taste or  collect? Let us know!

WIYG? 

 

à votre santé!

 

Related Articles from JvB UnCorked on the Jura: 

http://bit.ly/FPTrousseau

https://jvbuncorked.com/2016/07/19/now-i-am-alone-puffeney-arbois-vin-jaune-08/

https://jvbuncorked.com/2016/01/13/in-appreciation-jacques-puffeney-winemaker/

Vin d’Alsace: Zinck Pinot Blanc 2016

8 May

Domaine Zinck 2016 Pinot Blanc; Eguisheim, Alsace, France. Stelvin/Screwcap Closure; 12.5%ABV, SRP $16/bottle.

Color is pale straw. The nose offers honeysuckle, wildflowers, and poached pear. On the palate is a beautiful citrus mix, both light and flavorful with lime, lemon, pear, apple, with tangerine zest and beautiful acidity. This is a carefully made wine that is nicely balanced. It shows delicacy yet features full fruit flavors to match with the acidity and aromas.

Served warm, the acidity is prominent and offers searing heat across the mid and back palates; while served cold the citrus is forward and the acidity is muted. So if I were to invite friends over to grill in the summertime, I’d pull a few bottles of this cold from the fridge, and start with a glass (or two) by itself as we chat, cook, and prepare a meal. By the time the food is ready, the wine is nearly room temperature and appears to have expanded the flavor palate with air and temperature to a fuller-bodied wine that is ready to pair with grilled lemon and garlic chicken, roast pork shoulder, or shellfish. So you can consider how you want this wine to present itself, and use that to your advantage. Either way, it’s win-win!

 

 

If you love wines that can work either daytime or night, in summer sun or under moonlight, this is a white wine you should seek out. I was surprised at the SRP, to me this is a steal and drinks like wines from $25 and up. Vins d’Alsace (Wines from Alsace for those who don’t speak French) are still under-appreciated in the USA, and if you taste this, you’ll understand and value what this tremendous wine region has to offer.  

If you’re planning a summer party and want a killer secret weapon, this might be it! I know there will be more of this in _my_ cellar. 

#WIYG? (What’s in your glass?) C’mon… you’re dying to share. Click the link below and tell me: Have you tasted wine from Alsace? And what’s in your glass right now? We all want to know!!

 

à votre santé!

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