Archive | February, 2015

When All Else Fails

20 Feb

I’ve been harboring an old-vine, classic burgundy and waiting for a good pairing. Finally the night arrives, I prepare a meal that will pair beautifully and I open the wine and let it breathe. Color is great, nose has promise. First taste… needs air. After air, it’s improved, but slightly. There’s fruit, acidity, tannin- yet the wine is still decidedly closed and not yet ready for prime time. This is a wine I know- I have tasted and adored two years ago, and I’m shocked. Is this bottle going through a ‘dumb’ or ‘closed’ phase? Or have a opened an off bottle? 

off bottle

Really, the problem is more with me than anything else. I had high expectations, a previous experience of quality and it could be an off bottle, TCA, or a plethora of other things. The best thing to do would be to open another bottle of something else, and move along. But the meal is under way, the wine is doing a job- cleansing the palate, just without joy, class, or sustain. It’s so meh I could just scream.

I live to drink for another day.  Not every day is a WOW, a stunner. It happens more often than we might admit- but usually I have the time to find something else that rocks my palate that I can champion and send off to the readers of JvB UnCorked.

For today, we settle for a bottle of C+ mediocrity, and high hopes for next time. Whether this 2007 burgundy failed me or whether I should have waited three more years, we’ll never know.

Every bottle is a gift, but not all bottles are ones you want, or ones that should be opened. 

There’s a quote from Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia that can easily be adapted to a wine analogy: “I know what I have given you.  I do not know what you have received.” Comforting words in this moment.

I take a breath, stand up, and do what I sometimes do when all else fails: I pull a 375ml bottle of sauternes from the stash and pour a half ounce. I inhale, savor, and sip until the smile has returned to my face. This moment is bliss, and tomorrow is another day. 

à votre santé!


Saturday Night Cellar

8 Feb

I’m in the middle of a huge sports show, working crazy hours but thankfully at least, sleeping in my own bed. Since this project started, however, I’ve been too busy for wine. Tonight at last I got an opportunity to hit the cellar and look for something to enjoy. I’ve recently been enjoying some vintage Italian red wines, but tonight I saw a white burgundy that I couldn’t resist. Then, because I love dessert, I pulled out a half bottle of 2010 Sauternes I’ve been wanting to taste. Here we go:

Louis Latour Montagny “La Grande Roche” Premiere Cru, 2011. Cote Challonaise, Beaune, France. Sourced locally at $24/bottle, available online around $21. ABV 14%.

Pale straw in color with a nose of apricot, pear, and honey. Smooth in the mouth and very savory, the fruit sits back along with reduced acidity on this rich, round wine. Notes of marzipan, almond paste, chalky limestone and buttery oak. Shows best with food; a basic roast chicken paired beautifully but a spicy sauce with lots of garlic was too much. No regrets in this price range.


Château Peillon-Claveries DuBourg Sauternes 2010; $9/375ml Bottle from Empire Liquor in Forest Hills NY; 14% ABV.

I saw this in the local store gave it a shot. Pale gold in color and nose of rich, sweet apricot. In the mouth, delightfully rich and sweet fruit with nice acidity and good structure. I think it’s the first sauternes I’ve had of the 2010 vintage, and I have high hopes for the top producers. Certainly worth the money for a dessert wine, fun, nicely made, well placed and a good bang for the dessert wine buck. I’m quite likely to pick up more.

What’s in your glass tonight?

Peillon-Claveries Dubourg

à votre santé!



My Superbowl 2015 Picks (in Wine)

2 Feb

For the Superbowl, I tend to go with what I know: Bordeaux! This year however, I changed up my game plan. I made a pile of bruschetta and picked these three bottles, two from Tuscany and one from Piedmont:

Pian dell’Orino Rosso di Montalcino 2011 (found online $30-40/bottle, 14%ABV)

Roagna Langhe Rosso Nebbiolo 2006 (Crush Wine $30/bottle, 13.4%ABV)

Brunello di Montalcino “Il Marroneto” 2000 ($40-70 online; 14% ABV)


italian bowl


Needless to say, both the bruschetta and all three wines were hits! I decanted the Tuscan 2000 Brunello sangiovese and although it showed a hint of browning on the edges this wine is a stunner with plenty of life left to go. It has the most muted fruit and was the most subtle of the three, but those who drank it raved and championed its delicacy, depth and balance. The in between wine is the Pian dell’Orini Rosso di Montalcino, which is a sangiovese from Tuscany with delicate color, vibrant nose and fruit, and good balance of acidity. Rosso di Montalcino is the baby brother to Brunello, and even in a listed off-year, shows magnificent value. This wine compares well to Burgundy pinot noir, not shocking given that both Tuscany and Burgundy are on the 43rd parallel with similar topography.

The Langhe Rosso, a delightful nebbiolo from Piedmont, had the darkest color, fullest nose, and the most body of the three wines. While they all were made by different producers,  many guests who tasted the range suspected a vertical and either a name-changing winery, or neighboring vineyards.

Nope, these three wines demonstrate wonderful Italian winemaking, plain and simple. They worked wonders with the vegetarian chili as well as pizza, baked ziti, and the various appetizers that were served. For the wine drinkers, the choices were an obvious Super Bowl win.

What did you drink for the Superbowl this year?

à votre santé!

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