Château Deyrem Valentin Margaux, 2010

30 Jan

Château Deyrem Valentin 2010, Margaux, France. 14.5%ABV, Priced from $30-40 online. 

Color is ruby with medium opacity. On the nose, the wine shows blackberry jam, plum, toasted oak and a hint of green vegetation. The palate is given a deluge of delightful bold flavors with  blackberry, blueberry, rose petals, plum, and eucalyptus leaves. Powerful acidity on the back palate; medium body overall. Additional notes of oak, limestone, and gravel. Exhibits a medium long finish of fruit notes followed by lengthy tannins.

I am an avid lover of Margaux, which also gives me high levels of expectation. This is my first bottle of Deyrem Valenti Margaux. I have waited almost two years since buying this 2010 to be able to sample it now that it has finally reached an age that classic wine lovers call “far too young” and others call the midlife span. Now that I have opened one bottle, more are sure to come when pairing opportunities arise.

Deyrem Margaux

This wine does show the eucalyptus and hint of  mustiness I have come to love and expect from the region. I preferred this wine after a full day of exposure to air when the fruits were muted slightly and the body expanded, making a bolder overall impression.

It drank nicely still even on day 3 of being opened, without refrigeration. Ideal to pair with classic French cuisine, it has enough power to remind me of the things I love about Margaux without the punch or the price tag of a Cru wine. For the price, this is a nice mid-level wine from a small chateau from the region, a solid B+. For the die-hard French wine lover, this is a wine you can enjoy knowing that even a fifth-classificition chateau from this vintage will cost more than twice as much.

à votre santé!


Why Wines Deserve a Second Chance: #MWWC22

19 Jan





Yesterday was a day I planned for months and worried about for weeks in advance. It was a wine tasting of a group of wines outside my normal scope of expertise. Traditionally when I host a tasting, I do ONE thing specifically: I serve wines I know personally, whose vines and trellises I have paced aside, whose barrels I have touched, whose flavors and colors I know intimately.

This was not one of those times.

Sure, on my ten wine list I hand-picked a few bottles that had been waiting in the cellar for just such a day. But by in large, I researched and shopped regions I didn’t know as well, and looked more closely at wines that often get a bad rap. For examples, the wines we scoot past quickly in a restaurant list when we see them. Such as: Italian white wines, and chianti.

“Why?” you cry out, outraged and distressed, “What have Chianti and Italian white wines done to you?”


That’s exactly it, they did nothing for me, and nothing TO me.

And it’s my own fault.

Because we first taste these wines in a family-style Italian restaurant where cheap wines are served by the gallon. We learn, early in age, to be dismissive of cheap pinot grigio and cheap chianti. As a result, later on in our lives,  we don’t even bother look for quality versions of these same things. It’s as silly as hating cars as an adult, just because your first teenage car was a cheap junker that smoked from the exhaust, had bald tires, and barely got you where you needed to go. It’s not the fault of the vehicle, to be honest.

It’s time to give these wines a second chance.

For white wines, I turned to Friuli-Venizia Guilia.



I served these four white wines, in order:

Venica 2013 Malvasia from Collio,

Borgio Del Tiglio 2011 white blend from Collio,

I Clivi 2014 Verduzzo from Collio Orientali del Friuli DOC, and

I Clivi 2001 Galea from Collio Orientali del Friuli DOC.

These four wines changed all our preconceived notions of Italian white wines. Crafted with obvious expertise, love and care, these wines displayed depth, complexity, minerality, and body. They told stories. They enticed our palates, and they left us wanting more.

The 2001 Galea showed its age, grace, and deep color beautifully, on par with some of my revered and aged Bordeaux or Burgundian wines. The color alone was stunning; photos just don’t do it justice.

Clivi Galea

I found it funny: one of my guests (almost as a rule) dismisses white wines. He was not as quiet as I expected during these first four bottles, and eventually, I learned he was impressed and enjoying himself! And he made a point to speak up and admit both of these points to the group.

And we moved on to the red wines, and we laughed, and we loosened up. And at the 9th bottle, I poured a chianti.

But not just any chianti.

Thought a relatively young wine, I served a Chianti Classico Gran Reserva Selezione, a DOCG wine with the tell-tale black rooster on the bottle. I said little about the wine, and I said nothing about the Rooster.

Chianti rooster




My guests said it all for me. They told me this wine was stunning, eye-opening, not what they expected from a chianti. They shared pairing notes, talked about the color, the nuances they found.

Even after I served the 2000 Brunello Di Montalcino, we ooh’d and ahh’d about it and thoroughly enjoyed it… but eventually we went back to discussing the chianti.

And I thought that maybe it was really us who needed the second chance.


à votre santé!

Submitted to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #22


JvBUncorked on Detox Wines for a Healthy New Year

16 Jan

Another JvB UnCorked inclusion on a fun Snooth article, with a fabulous group of wine writers with whom I’m pleased and honored to be associated: Isaac James Baker Amy Corron Power, Wine Julia, Philip Kampe, Jeff Kralik, Julien Miquel, Frank Morgan, Melanie Bianco Ofenloch, Dezel Quillen, Gabe Sasso, Elizabeth Smith, Michelle Williams.

Here’s  my original submission (below), and just under that is a link to the entire Snooth article, where you can find great suggestions of crémants, a rosé of syrah, whites, reds, and some unusual choices like sweet vermouth and hard cider! Fun suggestions, I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

Detox Wines for A Healthy New Year- JvB

During the holidays we want indulgences. Let’s open that bottle of 1982 Haut-Brion, and buy your champagne-loving spouse a bottle of the Hiedsieck 1995 to share on New Year’s Eve! Sadly, once we’ve crossed the threshold into the New Year, I am usually staring at both a steep credit card bill from the holidays and an inflated waistline from the rich food and wine I’ve enjoyed. It’s time to rein back in the sanity, with Vinho Verde. Showing a greenish tinge, fresh citrus and herbal nose with gentle effervescence, it tastes indulgent but a glass per night is far healthier that a traditional wine. With a low ABV and very low price, the value is high while the impact on both body and wallet are minimal. It pairs beautifully with the salad heavy/high-vegetable diet I’ll be keeping while feeling festive so you won’t have the January blues.

Gazela Vinho Verde. Only 9% ABV, priced as low as $4/bottle online. On the palate, a delight of lime and granny smith apple peel with hints of white peach. With notes of dandelion and wildflowers, this is totally refreshing with its gentle bubbles and balance of citrus and floral flavors.

Gazela ao alto_com gotículas_Screwcap_Packshot (03)

The original Snooth Article is linked here in its entirety.


à vôtre santé!



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In Appreciation: Jacques Puffeney, Winemaker

13 Jan

Jaques Puffeney’s 2013 Arbois Trousseau Les Bérangères; Jura, France. 13% ABV; approx $37/bottle from Crush Wine & Spirits.

Pale rose in color, with a perfumed nose of young rosebuds and cherries jubilee. Vibrant red raspberry and cherry on the palate, moderate heat, moderate acidity. Balanced and straightforward. Long finish with notes of vanilla, shale, and clay. Red fruit lingers on the top and back palate, a friendly reminder. And I thought 2013 was supposed to have been a terrible vintage for the Jura- perhaps it was simply a small harvest?

Extraordinary (2nd generation) winemaker Jacques Puffeney retired & sold his vineyards in Jura. Somehow I managed to find a couple of single bottles, this being one of them… because I truly enjoy his work. Once this is gone, who knows if I’ll see another.

Here’s to a celebration of a life making excellent wine!

Trousseau Puffeney
Photo Caption: While I adore Puffeney’s classically Jura made, heavily-oxidized whites, this is Trousseau, and the first time I’ve had one of his red wines.  A lovely, delicate young red that drinks similarly to a Beaune. Unbelivable that 2013 is Puffeney’s 51st vintage.


I miss him already.


À vôtre santé!

Piedmont Beauty: La Ca Nova 2011

8 Jan

La Ca Nova Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy. 14.5% ABV; Priced around $30/bottle online. 

Bright ruby in color with medium opacity. A luxurious and intoxicating nose of dried flowers, sage, red plum, cigar box, and rose bush. Depth and complexity are on the palate: bright red fruit is dominant while delightful acidity and darker fruit round out the side palate with herbaceous notes. Hints of violet, stewed plums, cherry compote, truffle and tar. White pepper, burnt orange peel, limestone and chalky soil with gentle but firm tannins round out a medium-long, taut and dry finish.

With such a complex nose and flavor profile, the wine easily complemented a silver tip roast, salmon, pasta, and cheese. This 100% Nebbiolo benefits from decanting as it opens up slowly, showing beauty after several hours of air, and continuing to drink beautifully for three days with no refrigeration (on purpose, my experiment to learn how the wine aged with time and exposure). By the third day a noticeable shift in fruit was finally evident, but I was thoroughly impressed.  I am working this year to spend more time with Italian wines. Based on this Barbaresco, I think I’m going to be enjoying myself.

la ca nova


à votre santé!



Rare and Fun for the New Year: Banyuls 1962!

1 Jan

Domain Pietri Geraud 1962 Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. 17% ABV, Prices from $70-120/bottle online.


The year is 1962.
JFK is President; the USA, Russia and Cuba experience the Cuban Missile Crisis. Marylin Monroe dies of an overdose at age 36, James H. Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, registers at University of Mississippi. A first class stamp costs $0.04. Johnny Carson takes over hosting duties on The Tonight Show. The films Lawrence of Arabia and To Kill a Mockingbird are released…

and winemaker Pietri Geraud makes a Banyuls wine!

The banyuls wines I have tasted previously were amber or white wines. This red wine (aka Banyuls Rouge), is made from grenache noir grapes.



According to the manufacturer, this wine was aged, stored and kept intact in oaken barrels since its harvest. Bottled recently in 2014 at the tender age of 52, it has been maintained by the domain’s owners and his heirs under optimal conditions and without any treatment.

Tasting notes: Color is deep garnet. Nose shows candied fig and baked blackberry jam. In the mouth, fully mature blue and black fruit revealing gentle acidity, delving into a sweet and  mouthwatering finish of baked strawberry compote. Feels akin to a beautiful port wine that was blended with a small amount of a superior madeira, slightly oxidized. A delightful dessert wine with enough acidity to be an excellent aperitif or specialty drink.  

This Geraud 1962 Banyuls was delicious, delightfully fun, and unusually rare. I hope you will share something special you’ve experienced!


à votre santé!

JvB’s 2015 End of Year Wine Rant

26 Dec

Sharing with you my failures, findings, hopes, wishes, and observations from JvB UnCorked. Would love to hear your thoughts! -JvB

  1. Try as I might, I have as of yet been unsuccessful in finding a wine bar in NYC willing to have me host a #MWWC Monthly Wine Writer’s Challenge Wine tasting event in NYC. I shall find a way, somehow. This is a group of people I really would like to spend a weekend with, talking, tasting, hanging out, visiting a vineyard, having dinner, and repeat. So I’m GOING to make a tasting happen!
  2. I’m not sure how I can have more wine sitting in my home than I can possible store, and have more wine than I can drink. Having my specific job seems to interfere more than a bit, but I suppose I’ll have to either invite more people over for tastings, host more dinners, give some away, or buy less wine. Wait, that last one can’t be it, although I forced myself to cut off a relationship with my biggest supplier once their local storage rules changed.
  3. Maybe it’s time to buy into long term storage, but I’d really like to have my wine on-hand and available.
  4. I have been fantasizing about buying a new home, just so I can build a bigger wine cellar. I also daydream about building a new home, so that I might build a customized basement designed as a “wine cave” (which you must pronounce “ka” with the flat ‘a’ as you would in cava, just to be wine-specific, otherwise it might as well be a bear’s cave or a man-cave, and what I want is a monstrous wine cellar (See 3 above).
  5. I feel accomplished that I have managed another year of wine blogging, events, tastings, and stewardship without having to monetize my blog. As someone who had to make a living as a reviewer & writer before I was really “into” wine, I know the delicate line walked between editorial and advertisers. Do other bloggers worry about this?
  6. One of the hardest things I had to do this year was skip the 2015 Wine Blogger’s Conference due to a huge work conflict. It is my intention to attend the 2016 Conference in Lodi. I say that now with conviction, I only hope I can stand behind it.
  7. Like having kids grow up and leave the nest, some of my diehard fans no longer call, email, or text me about finding wines. Many are using my blog or posts as they shop, which increases my blog traffic but I was concerned my wine blog popularity was waning. Being listed in Exel Wines Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blogs has really been a boost of support emotionally!
  8. I’ve found that one of the biggest benefits of being “into” wine is that I want to continually learn how to cook more dishes and feed friends and family.
  9. As I get older, I’m much less concerned about being the best in my industry but instead to find happiness and contentment in everything about my life.
  10. I have learned that it’s OK for me not to write about a wine, and instead just to take the time to appreciate and enjoy it for myself.

    À vôtre santé!

Wine for December’s Warmth

22 Dec

This December has been unseasonably warm. This has left my palate unsure what to do. I keep pulling out radically different bottles from my cellar and tasting queue.

Domaine Du Bouscat 2012 Caduce by Jean Pierre Dubernard. 13.5% ABV, $10/bottle from Garagiste, online from $12/bottle.

Dark ruby in color, nose of dark fruit, funk, forest floor and barnyard. In the mouth,  cassis and black plum are dominant fruit with strong tannins. Notes of young oak, spice box, sour blackberry, clay and wet stone on the medium long finish. My brother-in-law (the doctor, not the historian) loved it served with a shoulder roast- I have to agree, it paired perfectly and was a terrific value at this price.


bouscat modus

Modus Operandi 2012 Petite Verdot, Rocca-Collinetta Vineyard, Napa Valley. Two barrels produced; 14.5% ABV. Direct from Winery; MSRP $75/bottle.

Unusual as a single vineyard as opposed to a blending wine for bordeaux reds. Deep purple in color with a nose of blueberry, iris, violet and pepper. Big, bold, a classic single vineyard approach and distinct petite verdot that immediately stands alone. An Anti-Syrah, perhaps? Tasting notes shifted with time; fruit became quite muted on Day Two with considerable air for a more mature, austere approach. Better impact on Day One.
(I happen to know Jason Moore has a couple of cases left of this beautiful wine, as well as his Vicarious Red , stunning Cabernet Sauvignon, and his beautiful sauv blanc and rosé. (Huge discounts for his club members, the Modus Operandi winemaker undoubtedly creates some of my favorite wines to cellar and enjoy. )


Minutolo Fiano Polvanera 2014 White, Gioia Del Colle, Italy; 12%ABV. From Xavier Wines, $19/bottle.

Medium straw in color, a beautifully aromatic nose with pineapple, tangerine, wildflowers and a hint of sulphuric funk. In the mouth, shockingly tasty- I did not want to put down the glass, to write a tasting note let alone eat. Bright fruit notes of banana, followed by almond, bergamot, & chamomile. Ignore the slight note of funky sulphur, this is a brilliant wine that I’d pay $30 for. I have been a fan of  very few Italian whites but this is a titan in my book; I wish I’d purchased a case when the bottles were at hand. Kept beautifully in the fridge for over a week as I rationed this off to myself, one half an ounce at a time.


I have to thank James at Xavier Wines for turning me on to this delicious Puglian minutolo. One of the things I love about wine is you may feel like you know what you like to drink, and your friends can introduce you to a delicious bottle that makes you want to learn everything there is to know about  a wine region.

Do you have a similar story to share?

À votre santé!

Sparkling WHAT you say? Vouvray?

17 Dec

Vignoble des Augustins NV Brut Sparkling Vouvray; Loire Valley, France. 12%ABV; Priced online @ $17, sourced from Garagiste @ $14/bottle.

Color is straw with warm highlights. Nose of baking bread, hint of vanilla. In the mouth, delightful mixture of white fleshy pear and yeast, with excellent acidity and froth. After tasting and re-corking, the carbonation held beautifully for a second day. Would I have known this was a Vouvray? Doubtful. Did I enjoy it more because it was a chenin blanc grape? Absolutely, and a delightful presentation of the grape. Sublime. Terrific quality-to-price ratio (value!); I wish I’d purchased more to share with friends.

Sparkling Vouvray

à votre santé!



New and No Longer Too New! Pairing Wines #MWWC21

7 Dec

Though ineligible to win, I feel I owe it to my fellow wine bloggers to participate in what might be a challenging wine blogging topic that I chose for this month’s theme of #MWWC21: Pairing.


Perhaps you have read my 2015 annual Thanksgiving Wine post and the post-mortem in which I gave myself, and not the wine, letter grades based on popular reaction at the table to the wine choices. Such is the challenge and fun in wine, in trying to please people’s palates. Try as we might, to quote John Lydgate, “you can’t please all the people all the time. ” But I love to spend time figuring out what wines will pair well with which dishes or meal, as the combination of food and wine  provides an opportunity to elevate the experience together to a higher level of enjoyment than one could experience by only food or wine alone. Sometimes, the pairings are good, on rare occasion that can ascend to be exquisite or sublime. Most of the time, the goal is to find a wine that will complement the food beautifully, that the diner will enjoy. Simple, right? Maybe…maybe not! Ready?

Sébastien Dampf Chablis 2014 Grand Vin de Bourgogne. Chablis, Burgundy, France. 12.5% ABV, $23/bottle.

Pale gold in color with a nose of honeysuckle, violet, lemon zest and walnut. In the mouth, the wine is beautifully vibrant showing racing acidity and bright, mouth-watering citrus. Tart lemon-lime is lengthy on the upper and back palate. An obvious absence of wood is apparent, while the finish features an expansive  model of fruit together with the salinity found both in sea air and limestone. Over several meals, I paired this young wine perfectly with both baked chicken and turkey breast. It has plenty of salinity to handle seafood and shellfish, and the bright acidity leaves the palate clean and refreshed after I enjoyed some milder, creamy cheeses like gouda, edam, chèvre, brie and camembert. Compares well to wines at double the price, I will be on the lookout for more wines from this producer and am sorry I didn’t buy more.



Barton & Guestier Saint-Emilion “Gold Label” 2010 Bordeaux Blend, Bordeaux, France. 13.5%ABV, $20/bottle. 

Pale maroon in color with a nose of sour cherries, wet grass and vegetation. On the palate, dark plum and red raspberry are featured with lesser notes of bell pepper and tobacco. Medium in body with complementing tannins; notes of cedar, young oak, forest floor, and chalky clay on the medium long finish. I first opened a bottle of this wine in spring of 2013 and the only note I took was “chewy & green: too young”, but recently I came across this vintage again and decided that now, at the end of 2015 I might try another bottle. Luckily, I  found better results: maturity! Some chewiness still remains, but this wine is very approachable now, pairing nicely with rich, savory dark meat fowl such as duck and goose, grilled lamb and beef, and full-bodied cheeses. A blend of 75% Merlot with remaining in Cabernet Franc that sustained well over several days of tasting, improving with air slowly. The most fun I had with this wine was when trying a spicy recipe for Buffalo-Sauce laced Brussel Sprouts and Buffalo Chicken, a dish with a ton of flavor and spice that demanded something equally powerful. This bottle was open, and it was able to meet the task, in spite of the fact that I probably would have chosen a pure cabernet sauvignon as a foil to the dish. One of the joys of wine tasting is having a bunch of open bottles, so you can taste several wines with a dish and see how well they fare… or don’t!

B&G StEm


à votre santé!


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