Castillo de Molina

15 Oct

San Pedro Reserva Castillo de Molina Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Central Valley, Chile. $11 at Mayfair Wine & Liquor. %14 ABV.

Color in the glass is deep garnet with rose edging. The nose shows cassis, young black plum, forest floor, young oak and a hint of menthol. In the mouth, a mix of fully ripe black cherry, blackberry and black plum, dried flowers, clay and some barnyard funk on the finish. A full-bodied wine with a very South American attitude. Pairs best with strong flavors, retains balance on the second and third day after opening. A solid value at this price point, best demonstrated with gamey meats, spicy fare or savory cheeses.

Castillo De Molina

à votre santé!

Boneshaker Zin: Trick and Treat!

8 Oct

Boneshaker Zinfandel 2012; Hahn Family Winery, Lodi California. Retail $19.99; street price approx $16/bottle. 15% ABV. 

The first days of fall. It’s the time of year when I finally start drinking red wines again after finishing out the ‘indian’ summer stock I have left. Early fall requires you to transition back to cooler weather and look for solutions (activities, clothing, and yes, even wine) that can handle both hot and cold, chilly fall breezes while you break a sweat under the hazy afternoon sun.

Syrah and red zinfandels are ideal choices right now, but the one wine that has topped them for me is my trick and your treat: Boneshaker Zinfandel from Lodi, CA.

Deep purple color with violet edging, the nose is a jammy boysenberry. On the tongue: black plum, blackberry, and cassis bursts through the palate leaving residual heat in its wake (15%ABV). Slowly you revel in cacao and spice box on the finish, as the tannins unexpectedly slide into home plate leaving your mouth aching for another sip. 

This is the perfect fall wine to drink from late afternoon watching the sun turn clouds into pinkish orange cotton candy, and to pair up later in the evening with fall chili or those spicy BBQ ribs you’ve been jonesing for.

What could be better for All Hallow’s Eve? Nothing but Boneshaker.

The label, a retro industrial negative design of wrought iron, early bikes and split chain links, provokes the essence of early leather-clad riders on motorcycles, and the barn where you made out in the hayloft as a precocious teenager. Turn the light off, and watch it emit an eerie green glow in the dark. Just enough trouble, and too much fun.

Lodi, you keep me guessing with surprise after great surprise. Well done, and Happy Halloween!

Boneshaker

à votre santé!

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

8 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

2_114778750_3_3

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

Heidemanns

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

IMG_0057

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

 

Benham

 

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

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

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

 

à votre santé!

#MWWC12 

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #12
wine-stain1-3

 

Leitz Rieslings: Mineral Heaven for All!

4 Oct

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leitz Pair

 

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

à votre santé!

Working, Buying, and Hoping!

23 Sep

What do you do when work consumes your life? 

I can tell you what I don’t do. I don’t drink wine. 

With an insanely busy career in entertainment, the work hours can be obscene. For chunks of time, sleep becomes merely a mysterious, mystical heroine I can only pine for. During these weeks, if I can manage to get a night off, it means driving a daughter to dance class, cleaning the kitchen furiously, and maybe cracking open a bottle of something from the cellar to have a glass of relaxation before paying some bills. It means rushing to answer emails while prepping for the next days onslaught. It means rarely enjoying even wonderful wines I’ve known for some time.

And it means no new wine reviews.

But I’ve been able to answer some email during my meal breaks, and I’ve been getting wine auction emails. And wine sales emails. And tasting party emails. And they make me thirsty!

lyric_opera_chicago_gala_fund_raiser-wine_auction_2006_3_001

To a man who doesn’t have the time to taste a new bottle, this is pornography of the entirely unattainable:

-Three bottles of 1959 Chateau Margaux at auction.

-Full OWCs (original wood cases) of 1970 Premiere Chateaux. 

-Four cases of a well-scored, lightly aged Bordeaux Superior at a mere $12/bottle. 

-1978 Montrachet by the Case, Multiple lots! 

-Nicely aged Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

-Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Schrader, and Dominus

-Cases of 375ml high-scoring Sauternes that are drinking perfectly right now. 

I’m salivating over the wine that’s being offered. None of them are inexpensive, some have risky provenance.

In the meantime, I’m spending two minutes here and there, trying to find great wines, terrific vintages, a good value, passionate winemakers.

I’m Working, Buying. Hoping. And waiting…because I know there will soon come a time in which I’ll have TONS of time on my hands, and the opportunities to taste many more wines, and enjoy some on my own schedule, taking me own, sweet time.

I can’t enjoy the wine right now, at least I can get ready for next time. Here’s to next time!

Unknown

à votre santé!

 

PDT, Alder, & A Wonderful Wine Weekend!

14 Sep

I’m fortunate to work in an industry I love (entertainment) that by definition requires long hours. Often I work around the clock, and in this industry ‘weekends’ simply don’t exist. So when I get an opportunity to enjoy wine with friends, it’s very special indeed!

Recently I was blessed with two nights off in a row. On the first, I managed to go visit a great little bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, then join a friend for dinner at a killer restaurant. On the second, I got to enjoy some delightful wines with my neighbors. Here’s the scoop:

Please Don’t Tell  is a delightful speakeasy on east St. Marks Place on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Access is via secret door, lines can be long and reservations are highly recommended. You actually have to enter by going into a phone booth in the shop located next door and “calling” the hostess. Once inside, skilled barkeeps mix new and classic drinks to thrill your tastebuds. Their delicious house concoctions have been created by famed NYC bartenders, and whether you choose something outrageous or traditional, you will be quite pleased with the service and your libation.I had some time to kill so I waited until opening and the hostess rewarded me with a seat at the side of the bar underneath a huge stuffed bear. I reviewed the drink menu, ordering a classic sazerac and enjoying the carefully made concoction completely. Sazerac

 My classic sazerac, the best I’ve had outside the French Quarter- that’s high praise from me.

 

Pdt

My view from the side of the bar- perfect to watch every move and the incredible detail going into every libation served. 

 

After PDT, I swung over to 2nd avenue and met my buddy Lindsay for dinner at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder.

 

photo 1

 

Alder’s subtle entry, down 2nd Ave on the Lower East Side. Deliciousness awaits! 

While discussing our lives, wives, kids, and various jobs we shared an appetizer combo that allowed us both to taste five of Wylie’s finest small plates, and then several larger plates that demonstrate his incredible skill and funky perspective on food deconstruction. We enjoyed a rye pasta dish (which tastes like eating a bowl of pastrami sandwich), a savory and complex rabbit sausage, and the daily special,  a spicy fried chicken. The GM/Somm Siobhan Lowe has a captivating smile and a brilliant wine list. I asked her to pair wines for me and she thrilled my glass and palate. I was equally captivated by her “wines by women” listing, which is a wonderful resource championing some amazing winemakers.

I immediately liked Siobhan, and she divined my palate, tempting me with delightful wine pairings that demonstrated her vast knowledge and accurate palate.

A004_C004_0202MB.0000044

Siobhan Lowe- photo from JaegerSloan.com 

To the WINE!

 

photo 2

Gāl Tibor, Egri Csillag White Wine Blend, Hungary. ABV 13.9%. Prices by Snooth, from $13-19/bottle. “The Star of Eger” Hungarian Blend of 8 grapes-  nose of wildflowers with fruity palate of apricot, pear, starfruit, manages to be a savory delight and a perfect complement to the five different apps on the pu-pu platter! This is a delightful wine that offers great value and savory depth you’d expect to pay three times as much for.

 

photo 3

Domaine Paul Cherrier’s Pinot Sancerre 2013 is breathtaking. A stunning sancerre rouge, notes of bright red fruit plus enough acidity and tannin to stand up to the powerful flavors of the pastrami, rabbit sausage, and spicy friend chicken. Impressive! Check out this article in the Guardian that lists Cherrier at the top of the list of winemakers to visit in Sancerre.

photo 4

Last but not least from Alder’s Siobhan Lowe, Macvin du Jura (pinot) from Les Chais du Vieux Bourg. A great alternative to the dessert wines I usually choose, this one demonstrates a little black fruit along with cherry & orange notes and weighs in with a whopping 17.9% ABV you can see on the label. A delightful, fortified dessert wine that stands equally with many of the great dessert wines! If you find this wine for sale in the USA, LET ME KNOW!

 

The following evening our neighbors were hanging out the backyard and over I went with a couple of bottles to share. Likewise, Phillip brought out a bottle brought to the US from a recent trip: Bürgerspital 2013 Würzburgerstein Silvaner Trocken, which was delightfully mineral and a lovely semi-dry wine for a hot summer night! List is €8.50, about $11 bucks.

photo

 

All in all, I have to admit that even though my hectic life means sometimes I don’t see a night off for weeks, the flip side of that is when my wine weekends are wondrous!

photo-2

What’s in your wine glass? Whatever it may be, I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful wine experience!

à votre santé!

 

Beat the heat and SERVE COLD! Cottonwood & Kris Summer Reds

13 Sep

I’m looking back at my summer (as the heat waxes and wanes) and thinking about the wonderful wines I enjoyed this summer. I feel bad that I didn’t share with you ALL my fabulous treats, so here are a few wines I tasted this summer that really beat the heat.

Cottonwood Canyon 2012 Bistro Classic Rosé of Syrah. Santa Maria Valley, 14% ABV. $26/bottle, direct.

Strawberry & cherry, gentle sweetness with good acidity.when I called to check on the price, the tastings manager said “only a few cases left”. That’s sad, because it’s a delightful wine and I loved every sip!

rose of syrah

 

Kris Pinot Noir, 2012 Provincia di Pavia, 12.5% ABV. $13

Delightfully fruity with dominant cherry and subtle strawberry palate. Good, balanced acidity and gentle tannins- this is a wine that will pair with nearly anything, and has become a go-to summer red in my house- a bottle is always standing by on the sideboard! Served slightly chilled, it stands up to dishes of every possibility. Terrific value.

Kris

 

I was introduced to “real lambrusco” at #WBC14. The Canali impressed me but has been tough to find on the east coast…

IMG_0511

So I visited one of NY’s famed wine stores and found almost a dozen lambruscos, in all possible styles! One of the best I tried is La Grasparossa. Again, it was being sold at an amazing price point and I wished I’d purchased a case.

“La Grasparossa” Labrusco di Castelvetro, DOP, Secco, Modena, Italy 2013. From Astor Wine & Spirits, $12/bottle (on sale), 11.5%ABV.


La Grasparossa

 

Dinner with wine friends is a great opportunity, so at Morrel Wine Bar on a steamy evening, I couldn’t help but choose the bottle below:

photo-1

 

As a fellow redhead, I couldn’t resist Uncle Dick. Once we saw the bottle, we burst out laughing. The wine inside, I promise, is no laughing matter.

The Red Brute from Bleasdale Vineyards. Around $18-22 on the ‘net, this deep, dark sparkling shiraz was perfect with truffle-devilled eggs, a charcuterie plate, and savory pastas.

No matter how much I have already learned about wine,  I still have to keep an open mind -because I’m constantly surprised.

What’s in YOUR wine glass?

à votre santé!

Follow me on twitter, @JvBUnCorked. Links to posts, pics of what I’m drinking right now, and retweets of the best of what the wine world has to say.

@JvBUncorked

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 73 other followers

%d bloggers like this: