Archive | September, 2014

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!


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!


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.



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.


Siobhan Lowe- photo from 

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.



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!


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.



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


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:



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.


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.  

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