Archive | January, 2016

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!



Continue reading

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!

%d bloggers like this: