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.

 

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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.

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Siobhan Lowe- photo from JaegerSloan.com 

To the WINE!

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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:

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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

Keula Lake Vineyards Gently Dry Vignoles 2013

6 Sep

Keuka Lake Vineyards Gently Dry Vignoles 2013, Finger Lakes Region, NY. From Astor Wine & Spirits, $15/bottle. 13.2%ABV. photo

 

Color is deep yellow straw, the nose offers lilac, honeysuckle, and wildflowers. On the palate, bright citrus fruit blends meyer lemon, grapefruit, pineapple and passion fruit harmoniously with blissful, zesty acidity. The refreshing finish has notes of lemon peel, shale, and clay.

This wine emulates both riesling and sauvignon blanc, while the deep color put my initial expectations on the savory side -how wrong I was! It was a pleasant surprise, and had I not known the region, I would have guessed this bottle as a delightful Austrian blend!

Keuka Lake’s Gently Dry Vignoles has me looking forward to #wbc15, the wine bloggers conference in the Finger Lakes Region. I’ll keep an eye out for more Keuka Lake wines, as well as more vignoles.

What’s your favorite wine from the Finger Lakes Region?

 

à votre santé!

 

La Grasparossa

2 Sep

This summer at #wbc14 I learned that lambrusco is really delicious, having shunned it for decades after a taste in the 1970’s of the commonly found, cheap lambruscos that flooded the market, along with bell-bottom jeans and polyester knits.

Remember this commercial? 

A curious piece of history, that is. The ad was cute, but the wine was nothing to write home about.

I’m so glad I tasted the wines at #wbc14, because it changed how and what I drank in Scotland, and again last night with neighbors. My wife and I try to have a cookout with our neighbors each summer and this year we never found the right time, until the last minute, for Labor Day. We invited the neighbors over and for the first time ever, I had lambrusco on hand. 

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

From Zanasi, this Italian gem has a dark violet color with ruby red edging. The nose features frothy boysenberry, red plum and wildflowers, while the mouth experiences tart raspberry, blackberry, and black plum notes on the mid palate with a nice, tart finish. A very dry sparkling wine, this is easy to drink on a hot summer night, whether or not Meat Loaf is on the radio. Okay, all 70’s references aside, La Grasparossa paired nicely for those who wanted chicken, beef, and even the vegan options. Most importantly, those who enjoyed La Grasparossa were treated to a refreshing, sparkling red that left the palate feeling clean and ready for more. At $12 a bottle, I should have bought a case.  At least now I have another excellent lambrusco to add to my filing cabinet, and more to come in the future!

La Grasparossa

 

à votre santé!

 

 

A litte meat loaf for your hot summer nights.  

Baby Barolo from Piedmont without Peers

30 Aug

Roagna Langhe Rosso, Piedmont, Italy, 2006. From Crush Wine & Spirits, $30/bottle. 13.5% ABV.

OK, I’m a French wine snob. But I’m also a huge fan of nebbiolo. So when I saw Crush advertise a “back up the truck nebbiolo”, I thought I’d take a chance. Now I’m so glad that I did, as the only place in NYC to buy this wine off the shelf is Astor Wines, at $32, but that is still a bargain for this wine. Here’s why:

Color is violet in the center with russet-orange edges. A powerful nose features plum wine, forest floor, tar, and eucalyptus. On the palate, dark black fruit just past perfection is delightful in this 8 year old wine that is drinking like two decades have passed.  A hint of zing on the black plum and blackberry fruit is matched with rose petals, menthol, leather, and marlstone. On back palate we meet the Herschel Walker of tannins- the fullback that drives thru the defensive line, and POW, a team is left wondering what hit them. The finish is a prolonged experience of dark flavors with mushroom, red peppercorn, and old dried fruit; tar is a distant memory as the leather evolves back to the forest floor, old wood, fall leaves, a hint of bret and more marl appears as the acid shifts to the upper palate and your tongue begs for the next sip.

Wow.

So…do you love older barolos and barbarescos? Then this may be the wine for you. At this price, it’s worth buying, for it drinks like a $100+  Piedmont wine. If you don’t love Italian wines, then buy a bottle for the person in your life who does. I can think of three of my dear friends who are Italian wine lovers, and I wish I had extra bottles to give them. Well, maybe I’ll share… if they are really nice!

The hype was right, this is a back-the-truck-up wine. If you’re serious about Italian wine, this is one for you. Chill it lightly, then decant for an hour before serving. Three days later, it’s still drinking marvelously. You can thank me later, but remember to invite me to the dinner party where you serve this. 

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à votre santé!

Good, White Burgundy

26 Aug

Pierre Morey Bourgogne Aligoté Meursault, 2011. Cote D’Or, France. From Crush Wine & Spirits, $17/bottle, 11%ABV.

I know. If you love white burgundy… the gentle fruit, the depth, the minerality, the focus… then you already know. Good & cheap white burgundy simply doesn’t exist. I know I constantly search for white burgundies that cost anywhere from $60-$100 for the liquid crack I enjoy with almost everything, but that makes food just sing!

Except that it does exist, really. It’s just not cheap. I just had a case of Pierre Morey 2011 Bourgogne Aligoté arrive at my home for less than two tickets to a Broadway show. Ben over at Crush Wine  knows me well enough to let me know when the great value is in. Just for kicks, as I was enjoying my second, *decadent* and final glass, I clicked over from gloating about this wine on TimeWaster (uh, I mean Facebook) to see what Sherry-Lehman had in white Burgundy under $20. Online, 17 hits from $12-20. Seriously! For 67 Wine, also 17 hits for white Burgundy under $20.

It is out there. But you have to work, just a little. I wouldn’t want to drink all of them, but there are at least three at each store that are very tasty to me. My rarely-purchased-but-lusted-after favorites (that I can afford) cost 4-5 times as much, but this is a delicious wine and I can’t wait to share it with my neighbors.

Pale straw color with a nose of salt sea air, gentle citrus with beautiful acidity makes this roll on your tongue like a summer morning. A luxuriously long finish exists (if you care enough to pay attention and not suck down more of this easy-going elixir) with notes of stone, rhubarb, and lemon/lime zest on the finish. “That’s really good,” said my much better half. Yes, it is. And one bottle costs less than seeing a movie, for crying out loud.

I should really delete this post and buy another case, but I’m out of room in my wine cellar. Sigh… first world problems. I guess it’s time to invite people over for a tasting of some of the 2004 wines, and a bottle of the 2011 Morey Aligoté.

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à votre santé!

(seriously: invite yourself over to my house soon before it’s all gone. You’ve been warned.) 
 
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What I Drank On My Summer Vacation

16 Aug

Ah, summer vacation. In childhood, we couldn’t wait for summer to romp and play, no worries of homework or responsibilities. During high school I worked, dated, partied, hung out with my friends, and traveled both Europe and the States with my family. Fresh out of college, I worked, too broke to afford to travel, until my honeymoon in France, which was fabulous and full of vigor but we were still too broke to eat or drink well. Twenty-something years later, now in middle age and trucking along our teenagers, vacation time is precious and the difficultly is making a calendar that suits our various needs.

Scotland. We escaped to Scotland, getting away from the summer heat of New York to the cool, rainy highlands and dark, foreboding castles. Or so we thought, until we arrived and found the highest heat index Scotland has had in 40 years. We had sunny days and sunburned bodies. Worn out from each day and a full itinerary, we’d collapse into a chair to review the dinner menu, and I’d search for something wonderful to drink. And so I searched.
Glen Coe

Glen Coe. I could not have felt more at home in these highlands.

 

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A local on his way to work.

 

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Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, Edinburgh

 

Maybe you’re laughing. Was I too naïve, thinking I might find a lovely wine to accompany my travels in a land known for ‘whisky’ (that’s how they spell it, without the “e”) and warm beer served in public houses?

Perhaps I was. But I managed to drink wine most nights, regardless.

Friendship like whisky

 A popular attitude in Scotland. The sign reads:
“Friendship is like Whisky, the Older the Better
Too Much of Anything Is Bad, But Too Much of Good Whisky Is Barely Enough”

I was thrilled when we arrived in the town of Oban (pronounced: ‘OH-bun’, not ‘oh-Bahn’), for they have the famed Classic Malts of Scotland distillery of the highland malt of the same name. Tours were plentiful and cheap, plus they keep offering you opportunities to taste the wares. Who am I to refuse?

oban

Since 1794, this famed distillery has been the center of town. What can I say? I’m a fan. The Oban malts are in very high demand worldwide, and given the attention to detail and the

Oban glass

Oban’s namesake 14 year Single Malt (twice distilled and matured in second use bourbon barrels)
and Distiller’s Edition (finest of the 14 year selection is then matured a second time in sherry casks).
Shown with two “proper” Glencairn tasting glasses, the dram and pour.

I loved the “Oban Whisky & Fine Wines Shop” across from the distillery. They did have wines I recognized, but in the same relation to the whisky as shown in the circle on the wall, demonstrated below. Perhaps a quarter of their inventory was wine.

whiskey & wine

 

The Oban Whisky & Fine Wine Shop. Here, it’s quietly suggested that you purchase the whisky.

I found my answers (and my options, many were good) and enjoyed our travels to sunny isles and castles, lochs and churches. I drank cool ciders when the wines were scarce or suspect, and visited distilleries to taste the local whisky. Some nights we ate like the locals in the evenings, thought we tended to stay with fish & chips and not the favored haggis. We requested & took the local recommendations for food, seeking out (much to our surprise) small Italian restaurants to provide all of us with perfect comfort food and most importantly, good wines.

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Our better meals were in small Italian restaurants like this one, which sat 27. 

Thanks to #WBC14 I had recently tasted more wines from regions of Italy, Portugal, Greece, even Croatia, so I had an eye for more than just the popular Vinho Verdes, Barolos and Montepulcianos, or the wines of northern Italy and the Alto Adige that I adore, especially Lagrein.

The rare heat was perfect to drink sparkling wines, sparkling and still rosés, and on the coolest night I splurged for one rare Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that I couldn’t resist. Most of my choices, like this lovely rosato pictured below, cooled our bodies, refreshed our palates and cut through salads and sauces, leaving us satisfied, happy, and ready to continue our journey.

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 One of my favorite wines from the trip, Bortomolio Rosato Frzzante- crisp, dry, delightful. 

While I didn’t discover a great many new wines to share, the post-#WBC14 break for my palate allowed me to enjoy the local spirits helped me to indulge in the Scottish experience, returning refreshed and ready to explore all new wines to share with you in the near future.  Until then…

à votre santé!

and a few more shots from Scotland:

isla mullBeautiful Blue Skies over the Isle of Mull.

ForeWell

“Water was either suspect or in short supply here. We suggest you drink the whisky.”

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“Would you care for a sense of entitlement with your morning beverage?”

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The Oban Distillery tour was incredibly informative. A shot prior to barrel tasting!

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Sunset, Port of Oban

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle Ruins on Loch Ness

inverness

Dusk, Inverness

toes in water

a relaxing opportunity to cool my heels and enjoy Loch Lomond

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Where have you journeyed lately, and what did you drink on the way? 

à votre santé!

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