Archive | October, 2017

Suhru: Take the North Fork

31 Oct

Suhru Sauvignon Blanc, North Fork of Long Island, Mattituck, NY, USA. ABV 12.5%; SRP $18/bottle.

Color is pale straw. The nose is gooseberry, grapefruit, and lime zest with a hint of floral cuttings. On the palate: crisp apple and lemongrass with a hint of flint on the finish while the acidity lingers on, sharing secondary notes of citrus, limestone and sunshine. Un-oaked, beautifully crisp and clean. Such a nice balance of acid and fruit, I would not hesitate to pair this with eastern flavors- Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, or a slew of American and European dishes from appetizer or  salad to delicate entrees.

 

Q: How many excellent North Fork white wines will you a) find for under $20, and b)immediately want another bottle of?

A:  (silence)…Both those questions are tougher than you think!

 

I’m often asked to suggest Long Island wines, and here is one I wholeheartedly suggest you check out! Killer sauvignon blanc at a great price, offering an excellent value. What’s not to love?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me YOUR favorite NY wine to drink! 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Wine for Halloween Chocolate! Drink Away the Indian Summer With Romantic Graciano!

25 Oct

Summer didn’t linger, it stayed out late and curfew be damned. Night after night  it returned to rub our noses in the heat and humidity for more than a month past the Fall Equinox in the way that summer lovers can’t bear to leave each other’s side.

 

Más de Berceo Graciano 2015, Navarra, Spain. ABV 13.5%; SRP $9/bottle.

 

Color is medium purple with garnet center and a pale edge. The nose is rich with plum and boysenberry, clove and spice box with underlying heat; providing an exciting, aromatic adventure with reduced acids and round,  easy-going tannins. On the palate, the blend is gentler than one expects. This graciano demonstrates a softer, mature red and black fruit blend with  loam and clay, showing strong influence from the oaken cask it matured in.

A gentle yet full body with a tart and lingering stare, this is a wine that begs to be fed and enjoyed with food. Salty or sweet, your palate will reward you: fresh or dried fruit, cheese, fresh briny seafood, cured or roasted meats, all are choice compliments. Tapas? Of course! It also worked easily with a classic salad and Margherita pizza. My favorite pairing? Fig & olive crisps from Trader Joe’s with a chunk of triple-cream cambozola blue cheese on top.  But the one that might make you drop your costume in the foyer and dig into your lover’s trick-or-treats is the pairing of graciano and chocolate! Your tasty candy might be milk or dark, sea salted or caramel-laced. The graciano blend is a stunning complement for chocolate and candy that will have you pouring glass after glass for yourself and your loved one from the front hall candy bowl until you’re entrenched in the bedroom. At $9 a bottle, who’s to know or care how many bottles you enjoyed over Halloween? I won’t tell.

 

 

 

Just leave the candy bowl on your front stoop with a note that says “doorbell broken”, and enjoy your night together. 

à votre santé!

 

The Dry White Wine You Still Need: Patricius Tokaj

22 Oct

Patricius 2015 Tokaj Furmint; Hungary. 12%ABV,  average $15/ bottle, street.

Color is warm straw, nose of sweet hibiscus and orchid. On the palate, white peach and pear, dry on the palate but sweet on the nose. A solid mouthfeel that matches well with fish, fowl or pork; and one that paired beautifully with an entree of chicken grilled with peaches and arugula.

 

 

Patricius 2015 Tokaj Yellow Muscat; Hungary. 11.5% ABV, average $15/bottle, street.

Color is pale goldenrod, while the nose offers honeyed citrus: a melange of pineapple,  starfruit, and lemon-lime. On the palate rises gently sweet citrus with mouth-filling acidity; Amalfi lemon and lime zest with a floral aftertaste. I first tried this wine with a trio of cheeses (an easy home run), before pairing with the big world flavors of spices: Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Mexican. The dry muscat held its ground, cleansing the palate with dexterity, verve, and plenty of acid. This and the furmint would also both pair beautifully with seafood of all types; I’d be the first one to toss a cold mixed case of these wines in the trunk on the way to an oyster roast.

 

 

I was surprised by these bottles. I first opened them, ready to taste and take notes, but instead I tasted and got comfortable. I enjoyed them, I stopped thinking about the wine and just enjoyed where they took me. This is no monster chardonnay or classic Sauvignon blanc, but as delicate and specific furmint and muscat, they are beautiful wines that you can and will enjoy on their own. It simply goes to further their appreciation that they are capable of complementing almost any food you pair them with. In the $15 and under range, these wines offer a tremendous value and a surprisingly collaborative flavor palate to match worldwide cuisine.

 

 

So why are Tokaj-region white wines something you need in your cellar? Because only by putting these in your mouth and having them in your wine vocabulary can you use them. I think of the first time I tasted a sublime Bordeaux blend, a grüner veltliner, a viognier, a South African chenin blanc, a sancerre, a pinotage. Shall I go on? Add Tokaj furmint and muscat to your repertoire, and expand your palate, your menu, and your mind. And don’t forget to invite me over to taste your pairing!

 

 

If I owned a club or a restaurant, I’d be trying these wines out as my “house white” to see which drinkers who never go outside of California or France would be bewitched by the Hungarian beauty of Tokaj. Challenge, anyone?

 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

Going, Going, Gone! Prosecco Superiore DOCG

16 Oct

Prosecco Superiore 4Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

There’s only one question to ask: Why aren’t you drinking more of it? 

OK, I have to admit it: every year I get emails from various garagiste-wine vendors with deals on Prosecco Superiore DOCG. And I always buy them. Why? Because they are consistent in being crowd-pleasers and excellent value. They don’t last long in my cellar. And when I open them for friends, the bottles are empty almost quickly as they started: Going, Going, Gone! 

Prosecco 101: It’s Italian. It’s from mostly glera, an ancient Roman grape that classically exhibits both floral and fruit notes.  There is less yeast flavor in prosecco than champagne, due to the fact that it’s usually made in the charmat method of secondary fermentation in steel tanks, which helps in focusing those floral and fruit notes. And a good bottle of prosecco is a bargain, a bottle will usually run you from one-third to one-half the cost of a good bottle of champagne. DOCG refers to Italian regulations, confirming the highest quality terroir and strictest regulations, which is a promise of quality- DOCG is the top level, above both DOC and IGT regulations. Unlike serious champagne which should only ever be consumed singularly, it is considered acceptable, event cool to drink cocktails made with prosecco. The Bellini started it all, but any good bartender has a few recipes up their sleeves, including yours truly (see mine below) or find several hundred ‘easy to make at home’ with a quick internet search!

Here are four DOCG proseccos that are ‘any day celebration’ bottles with SRP’s from $15-$21 that will improve your day significantly! Click the blue links for the manufacturer’s winemaking notes (you can also see how we differ or agree on flavor profiles), or you can just read mine!

 

 

Frassinelli Rive di Manzana Extra Dry 2015 

Frassinelli Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG 2015; – (ABV 11.5%; SRP: $15)

Gentle floral nose with hint of orchid. Pale straw in color with gentle, tiny bubbles. On the palate: white peaches, a hint of baked apple, fresh croissant, grilled pineapple, and clay. Highly agreeable. I offered this to friends and in moments, we had devoured the entire bottle and were ready for more!

 

 

 

 

Bortolomiol Prior Brut 2015

Bortolomiol Prior Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG – (ABV 12%; SRP $15)

Off-gold color with a tinge of green and a neutral, lemon citrus nose. On the palate: green apple, lemon verbena, &  sandstone. I enjoyed this by itself, but with a crazy whim and the help of some flowers and a mortal & pestle, I made a hibiscus & prosecco cocktail (prosecco with a dash of the juice of a hibiscus flower), and was in seventh heaven. This prosecco is absolutely delicious by itself and almost a crime to tweak, but in adding the touch of hibiscus flavor, I found a new favorite floral sparkling cocktail and I killed the bottle quickly with this tasty spritz!

 

 

La Farra Rive di Farra di Soligo Extra Dry 2015

La Farra Rive fi Farra di Soligo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore – (11% ABV; SRP $20)

Pale yellow with the slightest hint of pink. Extra dry, this prosecco features a more forward floral nose, with a much heavier concentration of bubbles from the charmat fermentation method. The expansive mouthfeel features a white flesh fruit profile of yellow apple, peach, and lime zest.

 

 

 

Mongarda Brut NV 

Mongarda Brut NV Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore– (SRP: $21), 11%ABV

Pale straw in color, gentle nose of minerals and yeast. Beautiful effervescence, a touch more acidity to balance the lime, peach, and lemon citrus flavor profile. Elegant; ideal to drink by itself or to pair with a meal. This bottle also went far too quickly for me.

 

 

 

What do we learn from these bottles? They are quite tasty,  superbly fun, with gentler bubbles making them easy to imbibe, so they finish quicker. They are delicious by themselves, and  provide a party atmosphere when mixed with a tiny bit of flavor, or paired with food. They are affordable, and a touch on the lower side in alcohol by volume.

And remember, they are just as easy to pick up at your local retailer as anything else you might find.

Share your comments and your favorite sparkling with us, below!

 

à votre santé!

 

Nutt Road Vineyard Cabernet Franc Dry Rosé

7 Oct

Nutt Road Vineyard 2014 Cabernet Franc Dry Rosé, from Red Newt Cellars; Finger Lakes, New York. 11%ABV; $16/bottle.

 

Color is tango pink, which is a touch redder than congo pink or salmon pink, for those keeping track. The nose is a bright, mineral-laden strawberry with hints of lavender, sodium, and sour cherry. On the palate: a lively and wonderfully acidic raspberry and strawberry fruit mix is dominant on the front palate while racy boysenberry spins across the top palate with a smidgen of heat; depositing sodium, slate, and granite on the back palate with a nice, medium-long finish that will make you return to the glass before you expect to.

The bottle is marked Kelby James Russel across the front, and it’s a name to remember (let’s just say a winemaking prodigy, shall we?)  If you like cab franc or are a rosé fan, then you should absolutely go out of your way to taste this wine. If you don’t love it at first sip, it will grow on you like fidget spinners in schools or kudzu across the south. Just be glad I took a picture early in the process, because by the time I finished writing this very short review, the bottle was empty.

 

This is a “hit me again”, “where’s the rest”,  and “order another bottle” kind of wine. The rosé & cab franc fanatics who track it down might not mention it in public for fear of losing their quota! It’s OK, if you don’t think it’s your thing, just log the name Kelby James Russell in your memory banks. There will be a time when you’ll say “I knew him before he became mainstream” and pretend you tasted this instead of just reading my review.

 

à votre santé!

Eclipse: 10 Year Old Tawny Port Wine #MWWC35

2 Oct

An eclipse is when one celestial body temporarily blocks another during travel along its ellipse. According to NASA, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the light of the sun and casts its shadow on the earth. During a lunar eclipse, the earth blocks the light from the sun and casts its shadow on the moon.

Sounds like a pretty basic thing. And they happen all the time, in the life of a planet- about every 18 months, a total solar eclipse is visible from somewhere on earth. But humans and animals are deeply moved by this event. Animals may scare,  roosters will crow afterwards. Human show extreme emotion; many call it ‘life-changing’.

There has been some great music written about eclipses.

 

 

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters penned the nihilistic thought in Eclipse ,  “Everything under the sun is in tune, but the sun is eclipsed by the moon”; while Tom Petty countered in The Dark of the Sun, “Into the dark of the sun, will you save me a place? Give me hope, give me comfort, get me to a better place?”

 

 

I have a different take on the eclipse:


“Only in darkness can you truly appreciate light.”

-JvB 

 

To this end, I give you the beautiful darkness: 10 Year Old Tawny Port Wine.

Port is the quintessential contemplation drink (with its low ABV, you can drink a lot more of it than liquor before getting loaded!) Thought of commonly as an after-dinner drink (digestif), it is also an apéritif, and pairs gorgeously with dried fruit, jam, and medium to full-bodied cheeses. Port deserves a round-bottomed glass such as a Burgundy wine glass or a cognac snifter, as the aromas are intoxicatingly complex and beautiful.

 

Fortified wines have structure and elements that helps you understand non-fortified wines better. It blocks out the thoughts, flavors, aromas, and impacts of red, orange, rosé, and white wines, and gives you a new perspective on them.  “Only in darkness can you truly appreciate light.” After port, you should not have an issue identifying a nutty aroma, stewed fruit, caramel, or burnt orange, among other classic characteristics.

 

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port; Douro Valley, Portugal. 20% ABV, SRP $30/bottle; Sample by Calhoun & Company.

 

Color is a warm, orange and caramel tawny. The nose is nutty with rich, ripe fruit and dried rose petals. On the palate: fruit compote, butterscotch, dried date and raisin, a rounded mouthfeel with a mature and elegant finish. This is a gorgeous port wine that is a little more delicate and specific than some others. I love it after dinner,  but sometimes when I enjoy it by myself,  I prefer pairing this with salty snacks like almonds or pretzels, over ice cream, or with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich late at night.

 

Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port: Upper Douro Valley, Portugal. 20%ABV, SRP $36/bottle; Sample by Calhoun & Company.

Color is a ruddy umber, while the nose offers burnt sugar and blackberry. On the palate: a warm fruit compote engages the tongue while an overly ripe black plum crosses the side palates with a touch of heat on the top. Reserved secondary notes of honey, toasted cashew, and dried fig swirl together with the elegant, oaken finish. 

 

 

For me, the perfect pairing for Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port is perhaps a charcuterie and cheese platter, as this port loves anything you pair with it. Given the option, the wise palate would go wild with spicy cured meats, moderate to strong cheese, olives, dried apricots and grape bunches. Late at night I might be known to pour a few fingers of port and pop some crackers with borgonzola and fig preserve in the toaster oven. Don’t just me until you try it- what I can tell you is that the pairing defines structure, balance,  and beauty. Your mouth will love you for it, and the Tawny Port will last you months after opening to provide maximum enjoyment.

When you put down the tawny and go back to your still (non-fortified) wines, you will have gained new appreciation and perspective. You’ll appreciate that eclipse and what it opens up for you- both on your palate, and in your mind.

 

#MWWC35

 

à votre santé!

Yarden’s World Class Wines for Days of Awe

1 Oct

Let’s be perfectly honest: twenty years ago, I would NOT have fought to serve Israeli wines from the Golan Heights for an important family dinner. But times have changed, and great Israeli wines are now available locally at competitive prices- so if you aren’t nodding with me, then take the time to read this and get both your wine game and your local wine store up to speed! I proudly served these wines to our family and guests above all else available from my cellar. So, listen up!  

Yarden Brut Blanc de Blanc 2009, Galilee, Israel. 12% ABV, SRP $30/bottle. 

This is a sparkling chardonnay made by Victor Schoenfeld, and it is world-class sparkling, made in the traditional method and aged five years with tirage yeast. Pale gold in color. On the nose: gentle star fruit and brioche. On the palate, tropical fruit, baking spices, toasted challah with a hint of minerality. Where years ago my father-in-law would break his Yom Kippur fast with an ounce of cognac, I instead opt for this- it revitalizes my blood sugar and pairs beautifully with anything- be it a Rosh Hashanah dinner with apples and honey before the brisket, or the traditional break-fast dinner of bagels, scrambled eggs and smoked fish. There are a few Israeli winemakers whose work is absolutely world class, and Victor Schoenfeld hits that mark. If you aren’t already a fan, you’re missing out.

 

 

 

Yarden’s Galilee Mountain Winery,  “Yiron” Red Wine Blend, Upper Galilee; Golan Heights, Israel. ABV 15%, SRP $32/bottle.

 

Color is deep magenta with ruby edging. The nose offers mature blue and black fruit along with forest floor and hint of toasted oak. On the palate: blackberry, blueberry, and cassis are dominant with secondary notes of mocha, kiln-dried wood, gravel, sand and granite. Demonstrating an excellent tannic backbone with strong acidity, this wine is ideal for the brisket course, but it also paired gorgeously with a toasted everything bagel topped with cream cheese, smoked sable and lox, tomato and a little Spanish finishing salt.

When you drink this, you will swear you have a classic Bordeaux blend in your hand. Winemaker Micha Vaadia worked at Jordan,  Cloudy Bay, and Catena Zapata- and it shows! The blend is 56% Cabernet, 32% Merlot, 7% Syrah and 5% Petite Verdot, and is aged 16 months in French oak barrels (hello, now we know why the vanilla and toasty oak is so dominant in the profile!) One thing that blows my mind: Looking at the stats, I’d normally shy away from a wine with this high an ABV but let me tell you, it’s un-noticeable. I experienced no heat on this wine, just tons of pleasure across the palate.

 

A Perfect Pairing with Yiron: a toasted ‘Everything’ Bagel, with a shmear of Cream Cheese, Sable, Lox, Tomato, and Spanish lava salt.

 

 

 

My pictures don’t do the wine justice. As soon as a finished a sip, my hand reached back for the glass or to re-pour another taste. This wine is surprisingly tasty, and a great value in this price range. The nose and flavor palate of Yiron are simply stunning. The best thing you can do it put a bottle in your hand, serve it, and let your mouth and your guests tell you exactly how good this is. You can thank me by inviting me over for Yiron with brisket, bagels, latkes… or all four!

 

*Special Thanks to Joe Berkofsky of Puder PR.* 

à votre santé!

 

%d bloggers like this: