Tag Archives: White wine review

White Wines from #WBC17 Live Wine Blogging! TABLE 5!

19 Nov

If you’re wondering “Where have you been?” or “What the heck happened to JvB?”, well #WBC happened. This year the wine blogger’s conference was back in Somoma and after the fires, the wineries were SO ready for us! They are open, anxious, and are ready for YOU to return and help the area rebuild. Most of the wineries are in good operational shape and need your support. How better to do that than to buy some wine?

So here is a re-cap of my experience in this year’s #WBC17 White Wine Live Wine Blogging. This is like speed dating for wine; a table of ten writers get a quick pour, take a picture of the bottle, and cranks out a 140-ish character-sized review within a five minute window. It’s insane and fun! I had a ton of readers respond to my reviews from Santa Barbara and Lodi, so check these out for what you think you’d enjoy- and if you don’t see them locally, find them online! 

READY, TABLE FIVE?

GO!!!

2016 Ledson Vineyard Estate Viognier – can you say peaches & cream? $32/bottle, 13.5%ABV, winner Best Viognier by Sommelier Challenge 2017 International Wine & Spirit Competition  

2016 Sauvignon Blanc -pair me with Thai food and #GetNaked! $32/bottle, 13%ABV,  and perfect for those who adore the Naked Cowboy in Times Square.  

2015 Matthiasson Napa Valley White Wine Blend is farm to table- and like a fresh fruit bowl of apples, peaches and melon, 2nd notes of citrus and honey with oyster shells and limestone on the finish. @matthiassonwine; $40/bottle, 12.9% ABV  

This is something very much out of the norm for me- Jardesca’s white apertivo by huge flavors, white wine mixed with ten botanicals- not your fathers white wine! 17%ABV

2010 Anniversary Cuvée $40/bottle. Such great mouthfeel, gorgeous muted fruit and lots of baking spice -plate of oysters, please? YUM! #GiveMeBubbles 

Turbiana 2016 from Selva Capuzza, Lake Garda, ITALY! This isn’t from Sonoma, but was sure fun to have included in the speed tasting! Screaming Meyer lemon, minerality and beautiful acidity!

2015 Mount Beautiful Chardonnay! Just as beautiful as their Pinot- half oak, half unoaked- all chard lovers rejoice! NZ Elegance and beauty; $22/bottle, 14.5%ABV! 

2015 Antica A26 Block Chardonnay from Antinori Family Estates- whoa! Big fruit up front, lots of nice vanilla from the time in oak, massive acidity and high abv 14.5% $55/bottle.  Serious chardonnay wine for those who adore it in this style!  

2016 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River Valley. Light on grapefruit, huge mouthfeel of mango, peach and tangerine! So fruity, with a touch of ginger on the finish; want to drink this for dinner! Only $19/bottle, 13.2%ABV.  

2014 Leto Cellars Old Vine Chardonnay  features lovely fruit, like drinking apple pie and sunshine- $30/bottle at 11.5% abv- This is a chicken dinner’s best friend!

 Look for Part 2- Red Wines from Live Wine Blogging, #WBC17!!

à votre santé!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Drinking Locally in the Mediterranean

26 Sep

 

Sometimes my vacations aren’t working vacations! This year my family took a cruise through the Mediterranean with Oceania Cruise Lines. The first night at dinner I scoured the ship’s wine list, curated by Wine Spectator. (You can view a sample of the wine list published here.) There are many wines on the list that I know intimately, others I have tasted before, and some I didn’t know that I’d like to taste. But the wait staff explained to us that for every port we visited, the chef was adding special dishes to the daily menu to represent local cuisine, and I really wanted to taste what the locals were drinking! Long story short,  I had better success in some ports than in others, but I didn’t want to interrupt my extended family’s vacation by taking too much time seeking out something that only half the group might taste or enjoy.

Sardinia, Italy

My fabulous wife arranged for a guide in Sardinia with a bus driver, which provided an easy opportunity to access local wine with a helpful hand! Driving along Costa Smerelda (the emerald coast), we made a quick stop in a local grocery and picked up three local bottles of wine in the €5.50-7.00 range (that’s six to eight US dollars). That, my friends, was a real score!

 

Cantina Il Nuraghe,  Mogoro, Italy:  Sardegna Terralba “Bovale” 2015. 13%ABV. Around €6 locally, found in the USA for $15/bottle.  

The bovale grape is more widely recognized as carignan. Lovely maroon color with a rich, complex nose of rosé, red fruit, black pepper and clove. On the palate: red rasberry/cherry, hints of young black fruit. Secondary notes of forest floor, granite, and gentle wood. Gentle acidity, smoother than expected for a 2015.  Totally a food wine; full-bodied, with a long and fulfilling finish.

For a quick historical note: you savvy readers obviously noticed the name of this winery is  Cantina Il Nuraghe. Maybe you’re wondering what a Nuraghe is: a Bronze-Age stone structures, some even called “Sardinia’s Stonehange”. 
 
Have you noticed a theme? Yes, stony soil! You could take it for granite…it’s actually LOTS of granite!
You can’t help but taste the terroir and the granite in the glass.
But everything isn’t red in the Mediterranean. What else could I score for just a few euro?

Cantina del Vermentino Monti: Funtanaliras Vermentino Di Gallura, Monti, Italy.  12.5% ABV. Found locally for €6; SRP  €10. Online in the USA from $12-16/bottle. 

Color is medium straw with a hint of green berry tinge. Nose is gentle floral with iris, tulip, orchid, and Anjou pear.
On the palate: quince, granny smith apple, and lime zest. Mellow acidity traces a spine of heat across top palate; final notes include a gentle finish with a  hint of almond and granite. We opened this at dinner and it went gorgeously with the meal (and was the perfect foil for the ‘blini’ of sturgeon caviar, seen below).
The vermentino paired so well with the caviar, then also with a salad course, then with snapper with grilled vegetables for the main course.  I’d have been just as happy sipping this on the veranda, looking our at the sea. But I would really have missed the sturgeon caviar…
Provence, France
While shopping in Provence for herbs, I noticed a bin full of local wines and picked one up on a whim. It sold for €14- about $16 USD. As this bottle was more expensive than the ones nearby, the shopkeeper explained that the wine was a blend of syrah; and the bottle was also his personal favorite. He went on to explain (if my high school French served me correctly) that since this bottle was more expensive than most people want to pay for a local wine, only real wine-lovers bought it, which allowed him to drink more of it personally, at a better discount.
Les Baux de Provence Domaine de Lauzières “Persephone” by Christophe Pillon; Mouries, France.  80% syrah/20% grenache blend; 13.5% ABV. SRP €14/bottle.
Color is opaque purple. The nose begins as deep brett/barnyard funk which burned off after being allowed to air, then demonstrating earth, mushroom, red fruit. Palate:  cassis, raspberry, and stewed fruit. Secondary impressions are powerful acidity and long tannins; then essences of toasted oak, limestone, clay and sand. The winemaker says that the entire operation is organic and biodynamic; my palate says that this wine loves a piece of meat and some vegetables,  the rich fruit pairing nicely with savory and spices beautifully.
Every wine I found locally in the Mediterranean can be a great food wine, or a “sit and watch the sea with the breeze in your face, and just enjoy the moment” wine. Maybe that is one of the key approaches to making wine in the Mediterranean. I know that each day, I managed to find time to contemplate. 
Finally- the boat’s sommeliers were just as happy to taste these wines as we were, and were impressed at the QPR found I the local wines and their ability to pair with the chef’s local dishes. While I love the Wine Spectator’s list, there is nothing quite like drinking locally.
I sincerely hope that you find time to contemplate your surroundings with a glass of local wine.

à votre santé!

 

Strasserhof Sylvaner Valle Isarco 2015

4 Sep

Strasserhof Sylvaner Valle Isarco, by Hannes Baumgartner; DOC Süditirol/Alto Adige, Italy, 2015. ABV 13.5%, MSRP $22/bottle.

 

Color is pale straw. The delicate nose has traces of lemon, wildflower, and a hint of funk in the background that was gone by day 2. On the palate: Lemon and freshly cut grass, with backing notes of gooseberry, lime zest, and schist. High acidity and nice heat fill the back palate. The long finish features gentle flavors of citrus and sour candy behind the acidity and heat of the wine, and the combination of delicate flavors plus the elegance of a well-made wine make this a real wine nerd’s favorite.

 

 

After tasting this by itself, the next day I made grilled chicken, which complemented the sylvaner beautifully, as could chicken or veal piccata and marsala. This wine could also work nicely with spicy fare such as  Thai, Mexican, Indian, Lebanese, and Halal, as well as the traditional food of the Trentono-Alto Adige region. Some obvious local pairings would include schnitzel, fresh water fish, sausages, dumplings, sauerkraut, root vegetables, and of course, cured meats like prosciutto. But by day 3, I just wanted to enjoy the subtle flavors and structure of this wine by itself, sipping slowly and savoring the experience.  And for the non-wine nerds who had a taste of this wine? Their response was always the same: positive and interested. So buy some for your wine-centric friends, or for your own edification and education of the great white wines of the world at an affordable price. It might be your first Sylvaner, but it won’t be your last.

à votre santé!

 

Elena Walch Castel Ringberg Sauvignon 2016

24 Aug

Elena Walch Castel Ringberg Sauvignon 2016, Alto Adige AOC, Tramin, Italy. 13%ABV; MSRP $17/bottle.

 

Color is goldenrod. The nose offers a complex balance of grapefruit, gooseberry, tall grass and a hint of sandy loam. On the palate, gorgeous peach is primary, followed by starfruit, lemon zest, and a hint of hay. The long finish leaves beautiful citrus lingering after the tart completion, with tiny notes of salty, sandy limestone echoing like choirs of angels singing the beauty of the terroir of the Alto Adige.

 

 

Impeccably dry with lovely acidity, this wine is a delight for those who enjoy complexity in a white wine: it has depth of flavor with inspiring acidity to cleanse, along with a excellent ability to pair with food -fish, salad, vegetable, or pasta course- but is of course, stunning when served by itself in the afternoon sunshine or dockside. I’m consistently impressed by the wines of Elena Walch. She delivers elegance and complexity in her world-class wines, and I heartily suggest that when you see her wines, snap them up to enjoy a great value in a higher-tier delights that can be enjoyed immediately or aged gracefully in the cellar for a few more years.

 

 

 

à votre santé!

 

 

 

Drinking Island Wine: Locations Corsican White Wine

22 Aug

Locations Corsican White Wine by Dave Phinney; Corsica, France. 13%ABV, MSRP $18/bottle.

 

The color is medium golden straw, while the nose offers fresh-cut wildflowers with a hint of salty sea breeze. On the palate, I found this flavor profile unique! Instead of white stone fruit, my mouth experienced a bundle of youthful and vibrant herbs popping forth first, followed by lemon zest, green apple, marzipan, and a long but gentle citrus finish with notes of almond, schist and sand. This wine is uniquely Corsican in its demonstration of a medium-bodied vermentino.

 

This wine is another great example of what Locations Wines is: singular to a locale, top quality fruit with great acid and a unique terroir. Phinney continues to make tremendous world wines on his journey, providing a drinking experience that is as special as the island in the mediterranean. Pair with mediterranean food: seafood, fresh vegetables, lighter fare for a hot, breezy climate. Feel free to open early in the day and enjoy in the sun or shade: drinking this wine is just like island life- everything moves just a little slower, a little more freely, and definitely without a care in the world.

The beach in Corsica: for some reason (possible the fortifications and cannon) make you feel quite secure on the island while sunbathing in this location!

 

The Corsica town market with statue of Napoleon.

 

The town market is full of locally cured meats, wines, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs. If the sight and smell of these foods doesn’t make you want to eat and drink something local, nothing will! 

 

 

à votre santé!

How Dry Is Alsace? Cuvée René Dopff Riesling

20 Jul

Dopff & Irion ‘Cuvée René Dopff’ Riesling 2015 Vin D’Alsace, Pfaffenheim, France. ABV 12%; MSRP $17/bottle.

 

Color is medium straw; the nose is floral blend of tulip, iris, and sweet honeysuckle. But the sweetness stops on the nose. On the palate, this is so deliciously dry! Gorgeous white peach, youthful pear and white stone fruits, with lively, flowing acidity, hint of almond, beautiful minerality, nary a hint of wood, but a tiny note of lemon peel on the finish.  This is so beautifully dry, such balanced flavor and acidity. It is never over the top; every sip is a mature, reserved, solid mouthfeel that makes me want another.

 

As for pairing, Cuvée René Dopff Reisling demonstrates how extremely flexible it is, coupling with  both high acid and rich, savory dishes. Baked goat cheese, bruschetta, and spinach bourekas in phyllo dough were great matches! It’s an obvious home run pairing for shellfish, raw or crudo, from sashimi to mussels to baked fish or delicate entrees. On a lark, I tried it with a beef stew my wife and I made; I assumed (incorrectly) that it would not be able to stand up to the powerful flavors of red meat. It turns out that the high acidity was a great choice with the huge number of vegetables in the stew, some sweet and some bitter, and could cleanse the palate while matching up with the various flavor profiles and make for a solid pairing.

 

I’m a fan of Alsace, and this wine is a perfect example of why: this wine is entirely hand-picked and sorted, pressed at low pressure, matured on the lees for four months before filtering, treated with such love, care and devotion- and it shows! This screams of the terroir of Alsace, of the brilliant, war-torn soils, the mineral layers, the subtle fruit profile, and of gentle, caring handling. And at this price, what’s not to love? Under $20 a bottle for a wine that is so beautifully demonstrative of the region and made by hand in one of the adored regions of France? Back up the truck, I need more than a few cases.

 

 

à votre santé!!

Murrieta’s Well Estate Vineyards Part 1: The Whip and Dry Rosé

6 Jul

The Whip 2015 White Wine Blend, Murrieta’s Well, Livermore, CA. 13.5%ABV, MSRP $24/bottle.

Color is pale gold center with straw edging. The delicate nose offers sweet starfruit, gooseberry and wildflower. On the palate, the blend features soft fruit with strong acidity,  designed foremost to complement food. A gentle blend of pear, apple, lemon and pineapple fruit are followed by subtle wood notes. Great acidity and solid heat across the top and back palate; citrus finish with hints of pebbly gravel, clay and loam. I’d suggest allowing for a touch of air to allow some of the heat to dissipate. I really like how this wine is crafted; the nose shows off viognier, semillon, and muscat but the mouthfeel is sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. It has a refined, Bordeaux-style blending but is lighter and more delicate in flavors.

Winemaker Robbie Meyer must like food as much as I do, as this is a wine made for pairing. This blend shows enough expression to handle the most delicate of dishes, yet enough acidity and weight to handle shellfish, crudo, and sashimi. The body and mouthfeel are perfect for anything from the Southwest to the Northeast, from fish tacos to grilled chicken, salads or cream-based pastas. What I love is the gentle, refined nature of the blend, instead of having a pure citrus, lemon peel cleanse. This whip is that of the master herdsman: the sound of the crack that convinces the herd to gather and calmly move where they are told. This approach and “touch” is far from the rough, daily hire, roundup-cowboy whose whip is without compassion, allowing the angry snap on the hide, the searing pain of contact, and the flow of blood to upset the herd and make them rush, agitated.

What I should share with you: this wine haunted me. I kept going back to the glass to enjoy and savor this wine, taking in the flavors and aromatics from the glass, even long after it was gone: a fascinating, beautiful blend. Solid value and a tremendous food wine.

 

 

 

 

2016 Dry Rosé By Murrieta’s Well, Livermore Valley. CA. 14.1%ABV, MSRP $30/bottle.

Color is pale pink, the nose offers raspberry, carnation, and green cuttings. On the palate, watermelon, raspberry and cantaloupe melon. Immensely dry with pronounced acidity and searing heat on the front and top palates, perfect for pairing with savory dishes that need a deft hand. Capable of handling carpaccio, steak tartare, and raw to rare proteins in the secondary courses, I’d also love to see this rosé complement full-bodied soups like New England or Manhattan chowders, lobster and seafood bisques, New Orleans turtle soup, and southwestern bean/chicken/tortilla soups. Spanish, Peruvian, Cuban, Mexican, Asian, and American cuisines are just the tip of the iceberg for this flexible blend. Also on my list of things to pair after tasting this wine are: soup dumplings, cold noodles with sesame sauce, ramen, and barbecue.

The 2016 Dry Rosé is made from 55% grenache and 45% counoise grapes, both from the Hayes Valley. Each grape type was cold fermented and aged separately in stainless before blending and final aging in stainless prior to bottling.

 

 

Both wines are incredible approachable and offer tremendous value, intrinsically as well as in food pairing. They could be a host’s or chef’s secret weapon, if you can stop tasting to serve them with food.

(For part 2 of this piece, click here!)

à votre santé!

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