Archive | December, 2015

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!

2015 Thanksgiving Wine Post-Mortem

4 Dec

Since I share my Thanksgiving wine choices with you each year, I also give you my feedback after the big meal.


Here are the wines I provided for the 2015 event, and my postmortem notes, with a rating score not for the wine but that I give MYSELF for choosing crowd-pleasing wines for the table.

2014 Vale Do Homem Arinto Vinho Verde
Even more of a crowd pleaser than my normal Mosel Riesling! Got raves from all types who tried it, including 1) those who love wine, 2) those who don’t normally drink alcohol at all, 3) those who don’t’ normally drink white wines, and 4) those who normally drink only  Chardonnay. For me, it was a perfect match for the soup course, the gentler portions of the meal, and a great palate cleanser with low ABV, but isn’t up to the task of dark meat and savory gravy. A-

2014 Les Fossiles Domain Phillipe Raimbault Sancerre
The wine that I adored and a few others actually refused. I thought this wine was perfect with beautiful minerality, gentle fruit & bracing acidity- but those who like white wines at the table were turned off by the hint of grapefruit, evidently to them it drank more like a sauvignon blanc. I was stunned at their response to this delicious wine and think refined wine palates will agree with me, but I have to score with the public opinion on my pairing choice: I dropped the ball on this one. C-

2014 Lelievre  Gris De Toul Rosé
The other massive hit at the table, even the professed “rosé haters” drank and adored this wine, and the non-wine drinkers used this as their red. I’m sorry I only have a couple of bottlers left in the cellar as it is a stellar and tasty rosé blend. A gentle giant of a wine, it easily matched every part of the meal, from the soup to main course to dessert. A+

2013 Lieu Dit Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez Valley
Like the bird, this was a centerpiece wine that people ooh’d and aaah’d over. The red lovers were stunned by my inclusion of a cab franc in my wine lineup, but this wine was a killer thanksgiving choice! I’m still in shock that a Cabernet Franc managed to pull the spot I reserve for my finest Pinot Noir or Gamay (Cru Beaujolais). But Lieu Dit impressed me at my first tasting, and was a home run for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Worth every penny! A

2006 Château Larteau Grand Vin de Bordeaux
Big, bold flavors.  For those who love the big reds, this is perfect and matches the savory side of the dark turkey meat, gravy, and the meat-infused stuffing. While it’s not my personal favorite for this occasion, this huge & very serious red might terrify white wine drinkers but was an excellent choice for the meal for the red wine lovers who see the bold cassis and tannins as the liquid equivalent to cranberry sauce.  B+

t wine 2

t wine 1

à votre santé!

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