Tag Archives: Burgundy

Make a Memory: Weingut Ziereisen Blauer Spätburgunder 2013 “Schulen”

25 Jul




#MWWC34

Unlike the rest of the writers who will submit entries for this Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, I have an unusual relationship with the word selected for this month’s topic, “Memory”.  I will assert that I am the only wine writer who has such a relationship with this word, “Memory”, which is also the title of the eleventh-hour song from the Broadway musical, CATS .  Subsequently, it was recorded in the 1980s by every diva who ever had a hit record. Oh yes, it haunts.

 

 

 

 

Cats, on Broadway. A show I mixed over 1600 times.

 

Over 1600 times.

 

So when anyone says “Memory” I have a different reaction than you do… I pause, I take a deep breath, I remember some amazing people, and a show I worked on for a very long time, a very long time ago.

Then, I mentally compartmentalize, and move on: from ancient history back to modern times!

 

So, moving on… to some wine memories. 

I’m going to share with you a memory I’d like to forget, one I cherish, and then we’ll make a new one.

Memory To Forget.
The bad comes first: being one of the fraud victims of the Hector Ortega/John Fox Premiere Cru Ponzi scheme. This calendar year, after years and years of carefully reading every document sent to me from the lawyers and judge, I got my settlement check, for pennies on the dollars stolen from me. I’d like to forget this… the funny thing is, I only had a backorder with them because they had proven to be a trusted good supplier at a decent cost, though it took months sometimes for the wines to arrive. So I’ve learned to tread lightly and never risk anything I’m not willing to lose (as what you buy, even if it exists and actually gets delivered, it might be flawed or corked already!) Too depressing? A good reason to forget, so let’s move on!

 

 

The Memory to Cherish: In 2016, I attended a reading of a new musical at a luxury home in Manhattan. The owner is a serious oenophile, and in addition to giving me a tour of his personal cellar, he shared with me an 1875 Madeira, and then opened a 1986 Chateau Margaux for me. Heaven!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memory to Make: Open That Bottle.
I have been sitting on a German wine, a Blauer Spätburgunder (aka, Pinot Noir) from Weingut Ziereisen. Waiting for an excuse to open it. But finally, for #MWWC34, I am going to do so!

Weingut Ziersen Blauer Spätburgunder 2013 “Schulen”; Baden, Germany. 12.5%ABV. $35/bottle.

The color is a translucent garnet. The nose is expansive with deep, dark notes of black cherry, mocha, dried rose petals. On the palate, exquisite dark cherry and raspberry fruit  will start your experience; beautiful floral and grassy notes cross the top to back, while racy acid cross the side and rear palates. The luscious aromas connect from olfactory sensory down to the back of the tongue through the soft palate, extending the finish with a mineral/ limestone completion.

Matured in massive barriques, while both unrefined and unfiltered, it opens up beautifully and shows gorgeous expression, from the massive nose to the delicate fruit through to the limestone finish. Had I tasted this blind, I’m afraid I would have placed this in Burgundy! Bravo, in demonstrating the incredible art of winemaking. What a great “Open That Bottle”  bottle, I would have been afraid to open this with friends but now I KNOW I must do so to see if they share the same experience I do with this tremendous value.

 

 

 

Cheers- here’s to making more excellent wine memories!

 

 

“Let the memory live again”- “Memory”, CATS

à votre santé!

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The Beaune Ultimatum

9 Mar

Paul Croses Côte de Nuits-Villages 2011 Grand Vin de Bourgogne; Beaune, France. 13%ABV; $20/bottle from Garagiste.com. 

Color is a translucent and bright ruby with a rose center.  The nose shows cherries with a touch of funk, notes of fresh earth with sandstone. In the mouth the palate is rushed with bright acidity, young red cherries and raspberries with a hint of green vegetation, chalk, marle, limestone and cedar plank. The lengthy finish is surprising with multiple notes across the palate: minerality, young wood, dried fruit, and finally some beautiful floral notes that appear almost as an afterthought. A bright, delightful and young Burgundy that to my mouth feels adolescent yet tastes expensive.

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After a few minutes of air and a third sip, the nose has burned off the dark and earthy notes while the bright, fresh fruit remains. This is a classic, finely made burgundy capable of aging and ready for enjoyment or pairing, still at a far-below-market value, when competitive wines are fetching 2.5-5 times the price. If only I had purchased a case and not a few bottles. C’est la vie, more bottles to taste for my readers, no?

Et voilà, this wine has already made me start thinking in French. Malheureusement, il ne pas durera pas longtemps. On y va…

If you adore a delightfully bright and focused Burgundy with great potential to age, snap this up or come over and convince me to put a few planks of salmon on the grill and open my last bottle.

A vôtre santé! 

 

A Little Age for Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Ballot Millot & Fils Bourgogne Aligoté 2009, Meursault, France. 13.5% ABV, $16/bottle in 2011. 

 

I purchased a quantity of this wine about five years ago. I loved them, hoarded them, and enjoyed them slowly. Now and then I remember they won’t last forever, so Valentine’s Day was a perfect time to open the next to last bottle.

 

Color is evolving from a pale to a lightly golden straw, while the nose is simplifying into singular notes: floral and lemon. On the palate, a fading golden delicious apple with faint memories of citrus backbone- most prominent on the back palate and finish. Savory body at this age, the finish offers reminiscent notes of clay, loam, and a hint of vanilla.  Perfect pairing with delicate & simple flavors: freshly baked wheat bread and a lightly grilled chicken breast with herbs and garden vegetables sautéed in garlic and oil. Mature and fading but still beautiful, like a late autumn sunset with just a hint of cold weather in the breeze.

For me, a delightful wine, but one that perhaps would have been best enjoyed when consumed during the youthful stage.  As a middle-aged man, the wine reflects me well. It shows appropriate age, is still accurate and classically crafted, though slower out of the gate. Creaky joints and limbs are evident, along with a character greater than ever, and a wisdom previously undemonstrated. What the wine has lost in fruit and acid it has gained in presence and body.

 

And this, I can appreciate most of all.

 

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a vôtre santé!

Savigny Les Beaune

28 Jul

Simon Bize & Fils’ Savigny Les Beaune Aux Grands Liards 2009. Burgundy, France. Approx $40/bottle online, 12.5% ABV

Savigny Les Beaune

The color is vibrant ruby with violet edges. The floral nose is a delight of flowering blossoms and herbs, giving way to red fruit. In the mouth, a delicate balance of strawberry, cherry, red plum is met by bracing acidity and muted tannin. A delightful if not textbook Burgundy, I was unable to wait another year to drink this beauty which will undoubtedly improve with a few more seasons. Nevertheless, I couldn’t restrain myself and made a menu to pair.

We started with a caprese salad and toasted Italian bread, with a bottle of German grower Sparkling Wine: Elbling Sekt (NV) by Hild.

caprese

Hild

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main course was a duo of salmon and sesame-encusted tuna steak.

salmon sesame encrustred tuna


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sides were basil couscous (right) and a vegetable mix of snow peas, red & yellow peppers, corn, and tomato sautéed in Jaques Puffeney’s Savagnin 2011 (left).

veg basil couscous

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final course was grilled peaches with vietnamese cinnamon, vanilla ice cream and a drop of Blis bourbon syrup on top.

grilled peaches

 

But the star of the meal and the evening was undoubtedly the wine.

Savigny

Whats in your glass?

Les Tois

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.

Montagny

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!

 

 

The Red Wine Party Challenge: Part 2/Conclusion

12 May

In Part 1 of The Red Wine Party Challenge, I provided mini-reviews of eight possible wines under consideration for a catered meal where I needed to choose one red wine for a very large group of people. The criteria included: 

1) Ideally a French wine

2) Must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) To speed bar service, require alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle.

4) Lower price range ($7-$15/bottle) to stay in the party budget. 

As a refresher, at a local wine store I found these eight wines as possibilities:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7

Rosemont Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7

Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay  (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9

PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve, (Rhone, France) $10

Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12 

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15 

8 bottle

Round One: I started by removing the wines I thought had limited pairing ability- even though they might have paired wonderfully with one specific dish from the meal, after tasting them I had to find that one wine that will stand out on its own AND pair well with all the foods being served- salad, poached salmon, pasta (tomato sauce, pesto, garlic & oil, primavera) as well as a sushi station. Well, it’s called a challenge for a reason, right?  I took three out of consideration after my initial tasting:

-The Rosemont Estate felt smooth and a tiny bit sweet- not right for this pairing.

-While La Vielle Ferme is often a wine I enjoy, this year’s selection was only OK.

-I thought a gamay selection offered good potential, but this bottle of DuBoef felt too astringent.

Round One left me with five remaining wines: two Bordeaux blends, one Rhone, two Pinot Noirs to decide among. 

Round Two is going to be difficult! These wines all drink very well and are delicious, great bargains with no obvious faults.

Time to compare the two pinots and the two Bordeaux. This is not going to be easy, but I’m determined to make it fun!

For the pinot noirs and this meal, the Pepperwood offers more pairing options and is easier to drink by itself. Reluctantly, I had to put the Drouhin to the side. While it is a lovely complement for the salmon and sushi, it did not offer enough body to pair well with the spicier pasta sauces.

-The Mouton Cadet is an easy vin du table that is so incredibly consistent but I preferred the Chateay La Freynelle when considering the entrees being served. I put the Mouton Cadet to the side.

-I compared the Freynelle and the Perron Rhone. I tasted, spat and tasted, and then tried each with a medium cheese. The Famille Perron Rhone has a darker palate yet was more harmonious to the dairy, while the Bordeaux blend was crying out for meat. I’m not serving meat. I put the Freynelle to the side.

 

Round Three! I’m down to Perrin Red Rhone Blend and Pepperwood Pinot Noir.

photo Pepperwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Either of these wines would be a wonderful complement. The Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, a Chilean wine that drinks like entry-leve Burgundy from a top producer (at a fraction of the cost) would also be a great example of options to my guests who EXPECT French wines from me. It’s super easy to drink by itself or almost any food. Add the Zork enclosure, and this wine is a killer bargain at $9. Any nay-sayers would be stopped by the list of accolades on the label.

Yet the  Côtes du Rhône is a beautifully-made red that is the epitome of great, inexpensive French red wine, with more body and a longer finish.

I debated and debated. I sipped and spat, swirled, sipped, and swallowed. I had to choose one.

 

Decision time:

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In the end, I went with the Perrin Family Côtes du Rhône. The beefier body, the long finish, and the multiple specific notes from the wine make this the ideal red to serve. It will satisfy those who don’t know anything about wine (who will simply enjoy it with whatever they choose to eat) and equally well it will satisfy the oenophiles who will break down the elements, discuss the fruit, acid and tannins that I do so often in this very space.

So: decision made. For those who wonder what white wines were served, I will make good on that promise!

I started everyone off with the Gazela Vino Verde 2012 $6/bottle from Portugal, whose touch of fizziness reminds the drinker of sparkling wine while being lower in alcohol, light and delicious, making it really fun to drink.

SAQ-Gazela-III

For a full-bodied white, I chose the Yalumba Unwooded Chardonnay 2013 at $11/bottle from Southern Australia. The Yalumba is a vegan and vegetarian-friendly wine that uses no animal-based fining agents as well a being a predominant winemaker who uses both organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking practices in their work. Beyond that, it simply tastes delicious (green apple & white peaches) with notes of stone and spice on the crisp, clean finish. Very satisfying.

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Please share with me YOUR experiences and trials in trying to find the “right” wine. I look forward to hearing from you!

à votre santé!

 

Triple Play

29 Sep

First Base

Heinz Eifel’s Spatlese Riesling, 2011. Mosel, Germany.  From Mayfair Wine & Liquor, @ $15/bottle.

Having enjoyed Eifel’s Eiswine immensely, I picked up the Rielsing to give it a try. With a pale straw color and sweet nose of agave and apple, the palate demonstrates nice green fruit with taut, crisp acidity that provides an excellent balance with a medium finish. This wine is probably best served earlier in the day in the sun, as an aperitif, or with near the final course. Sweet but balanced, my reactions on two tastings over several days were: “among the best rieslings I’ve ever tasted” and “really well balanced but feels too sweet right now” which pointed back to being tasted at a time of day that did not suit the wine well, a fault I claim. I think this is a great wine in the under-$20 range and has become a strong contender for my go-to riesling.

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Second Base

Macon-Lugny “Les Charmes” Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011, Burgundy, France. From Sherry-Lehman, $16/bottle.

A delicious, entry-level burgundy with a light, greenish- gold color and nose of green fruit with a hint of citrus. In the mouth, a simple yet savory peach, lemon & fresh fruit base with notes of chalk, nuts, and vegetation. A savory quality without either an oakiness or buttery quality, this wine allows the drinker to appreciate the grape, not the barrel.  Best served over 55 degrees, as colder temperatures inhibit secondary notes and some creaminess, I appreciated the wine much more after sitting in the open for an hour.

photo-8

Third Base

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Vielle Vignes Santenay, Ceps Centaires, 2011. Cote de Beaune, France. From Oak & Steel, $49/bottle.

A delicate burgundy with vibrant, pale translucent red color and nose of raspberry.  Very clean and tart mouthfeel of pure old-vine pinot noir: gentle red fruit, nice acidity, even tannins. Ideally this would best left in the cellar for another 3-5 years, but it paired wonderfully with grilled salmon and greek feta cheese bourekas. On night two with the Santenay: served with fusilli pasta with broccolini, garlic and olive oil. A wonderful pairing, the gentle flavors of the pinot really come alive on the palate. Delicious.  I noticed that after more air, the nose has great floral notes (iris, violet) and the acidity and tannins played perfectly with the garlic and oil. I’ll try to cellar a couple of these and see how the wine fares in 5 years.
I found this bottle in midtown Manhattan, hence the sticker shock, but the same wine is available online as low as $37. This cote de beaune is a rare, wonderfully crafted example of delicacy and efficiency.

 

photo-6

à votre santé!

Saint-Romain, Alain Gras 2011

26 Sep

Saint-Romain by Alain Gras, 2011.

13%ABV, $38 at Oak and Steel, NYC.

This wine is from Alain Gras, whose vineyard is in Saint-Romain-Le Haut, just southwest of Meursault. This wine is everything you would want in a classic white burgundy that features depth and structure of fruit, earth and acidity at a reasonable price.

Medium straw in color, the fruity nose has a touch of citrus. The palate is crisp young green fruit featuring lemon on the back palate with notes of toasted almond, dried wood, chalk and limestone rounding out this delicious wine. After the initial response in the mouth and after mixing with air, I experienced a floral mix with the citrus and toasted oak across the top palate with a rich, long finish. If I had to guess I would bet these are old vines- twenty-five to thirty years old.

This can be found online for as little at $28/bottle, and I know I’ll be looking for more. This is a perfect wine to pair with delicate foods or share with other with lovers with discerning taste, also a great gift bottle. This delicate wine has power and depth I’ve not found in the under $60/bottle range before. If you love white burgundy, you owe yourself to try an Alain Gras so that you know what is growing just west of Puligny-Montrachet for 1/10th of the price.

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à votre santé!

A White Burgundy: Devastatingly Good, Right Now.

19 Aug

René Lequin-Colin Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008

…purchased from Sherry-Lehmann (but for more than the current sale price) of $11.99.

The color is golden straw. The nose is crisp green apple with wildflowers and new oak. The mouthfeel is a crisp, citrus-laden quaff with gentle green fruit sliding behind a long finish that features marzipan, gravel, limestone, and fresh wood. The overall response at this age is medium to fuller body, some tang in the initial mouthfeel and on the finish. A lovely, refined, mature chardonnay, this is capable of being adored by itself but the true power is with a good pairing.

It took many years developing a love for white bordeaux before I could fall in love with white burgundy. I blame Chef Eric Ripert and Sommelier Aldo Sohm, whose pairings are unequivocally perfect. Pairings at Le Bernadin taught me that the secondary notes of white wines- that the delicate minerality, or the buttery oakiness  in the finish, would affect the entire sensory experience as a diner and guest. I hope all wine lovers have these revelations with wine. But I digress.

This wine is a great example of an incredible value right now. This 2008 is still drinking beautifully, but it’s approaching the end of that window. It’s on closeout at Sherry-Lehmann, and I’m trying to decide if I buy a few extra bottles or a case. Either way, I’m telling you about it first. Other wines from the same producer retail from $30-$140/bottle, and if you have the ability to buy a case of the Lequin-Colin Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2009, by all means, BUY IT! For the rest of us, at $12/bottle, this is a great value right now in delicious white burgundy. The wine won’t continue to drink as well, and the prices won’t stay as it sells out from inventory. I’d not hesitate to enjoy this nightly until the end of summer.

Lequin-Colin '08

à votre santé!

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, 2011

7 Apr

Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages, 2011. 100% Gamay wine from Burgundy, France. Purchased for $12 from Mayfair Wine, Queens NY. 12.5% Alcohol.

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Color: violet/purple color with ruby edging. Nose of strawberry, blueberry, some vegetation and new oak. In the mouth, lots of fresh red fruit with cassis, ripe plum, strawberry and dark cherry. Nice, slightly sour back palate- the acidity provides an even finish that lasts on the palate for seconds before the tannins swoop in with grippy tartness, urging your palate to take another bite or sip. The finish includes spice box, clove and pepper with some granite, loam and a hint of wood. A nicely-made and affordable burgundy that is hefty for a gentle wine- and this is indeed a gentle red, but could be described as full-bodied for a gamay. This paired elegantly with a light mixed green salad and pizza with mushroom and spinach.  A solid vin du table in the $10-12 price range you can trust to pair with the lighter fare. 

It has been a long time since I have tasted Louis Jadot and this bottle reminded me why you can find this popular Burgundy everywhere. Their products are consistent and provide decent value for the everyday wine drinker. It’s not a 90+ wine, but at this price point it isn’t pretending to be anything more than a nice vin du table, and it shines in that regard as a Burgundy for the humbler, unpretentious drinker.

à votre santé!

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