Tag Archives: 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!

 

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!

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!

 

Schiava: the Welterweight Knock-Out Wine!

30 Aug

Abbazia di Novacella Schiava “Stiftskellerei Neustift” 2015. Alto Adige, Italy. 12.5% ABV, MSRP $ 16/bottle.

 

Color is a robust, translucent ruby. The nose has sweet cherry, rose petals, and hint of limestone. On the palate, moderate bright raspberry, fresh cranberry, and a hint of red cassis are followed with lush, green foliage on the front palate. Polite, gentle acidity and tannins are balanced in body and scope. The flavors deepen across the top and back palate, with notes of slate and calcium-rich clay on the medium finish under the fruit profile. Best when served slightly chilled, and just under ‘moderate’ in body, this is a welterweight red that is luscious and mouthwatering, a wine that is beefier than rosé but lighter than the Cru Beaujolais and Burgundian pinot noir, and what a perfect wine for the middle! Pairing is so easy with vegetable appetizers, salad, fish, and pizza.

 

 

 

After a few sips, I kept thinking of all the meals I could serve this wine for; how easily to pair this with an appetizer, soup or salad course as a brilliant impact of delicacy and deliciousness. Taking the next step in meal evolution, if you are planning a cheese plate, cured meats, or a fresh seafood course, this Schiava is still worth your consideration as a capable flavor profile with plenty of acid and personality to pair with these more challenging dishes. Even more, it would be an ideal match for white meats such as turkey and cranberry sauce or roast chicken.

 

At this price, it offers an excellent value that is well worth seeking out to add to your repertoire and cellar, and is a beautiful representation of both the uniqueness and subtlety one can find in the wines of the Alto Adige. This one will go ten full rounds and win by decision as a crowd-pleasing favorite.

 

 

à votre santé!

 

D.V. Catena Tinto Historico Red Blend 2014

8 Aug

D.V. Catena Tinto Historico Red Blend 2014; Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina. 13.7% ABV, Street $16-18/bottle.

 

Color is a thick garnet with ruby edging. The nose offers ripe, bold, black and red fruit with hints of clay and oak. On the palate: black plum and black cherry across the front palate; red ripe raspberry and clove across the side palate; while the bottom of the tongue experiences a heavy dose of blackberries, with notes of forest floor, peppercorn, charcoal, and cacao. Intriguing and exciting, this 92% malbec blend features 8% petite verdot that adds richness to an already lush palate. Big, bold and beautiful, perfect for grilled meats, dark or savory flavors, such as cheeses, salumi, even grilled vegetables. I’m on a summer diet and paired this blend beautifully with pesto, believe it or not! But sipping this tasty wine made me want to put a porterhouse on my grill and invite my neighbors over!

 

I have had good experiences with Bodega Catena Zapata in the past and this wine continues that history, showing as a well-made, balanced wine that is gorgeous on the nose and mouth, dense and complex as a foil for food, providing a rich overall experience. Lush and luxurious-tasting, for an Argentinian wine you can source for under $20, you’d be crazy not to add this to your cellar so pick up a few bottles for your next grill adventure!

 

à votre santé!

Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé 2016

3 Aug

Ehlers Estate Sylviane Rosé 2016, St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA. ABV 12.8%, MSRP $36/bottle.

 

The color of this rosé of Cabernet franc is fuschia. Yes, I said fuchsia. That’s a first for me.

 

Imagine taking the innards of a sweet watermelon and mashing the dripping fruit thru a fine strainer into a sautée pan to make a reduction, cooking it down over low heat for an hour. You add a dozen plump strawberries, the juice of one lime, and one-half of a pint of raspberries. Reduce again for 30 minutes, then strain again, transfer and chill. It’s THAT color, ok? Fuschia! Getting back to the wine:

 

Color is fuchsia. The nose offers greenery of plants: raspberry bush and strawberry leaves, with watermelon vine and rind. There is a definite hint of fruit masked by lush greens; you can sense the fruit, but the plant is hiding them. On the palate, beautifully tart red berries and melon, then lemon-lime citrus. The acid appears as gorgeous lime zest, with sandy chalk on the finish. But you probably won’t spend any time thinking about the flavors, the essence, the notes on the medium-long finish. You’re going to drink this and go, “Oh, yes! Let me have some more of that, please?”

 

Trust me. Even the most verbose of astute critics can be silenced by a wine. I’ve seen it happen.

 

 

 

This rosé of cabernet franc is just delightful. Once you get some, you might turn the bottle around in your hand, pick up the phone and call the number on the back, asking to join their wine club so that you can get some of this juice delivered direct to your door. You would not be the first, nor the last, to do so.

 

When I saw the playful, unusual, and delightful color of this wine, I put it away in the cellar and put a note on it: OTBN (Open That Bottle Night). Months later, I spent days choosing a lengthy wine evening (nine+ bottles) and as I secured treasures from my cellar, I pulled this bottle out, wiped her clean, and put her squarely in the middle of the tasting: bottle #5. Part of me wanted to make this bottle #1, as with the recent steamy weather, it would be easy to start, continue, and end the evening on one wine -if only I had a case or more to play with. But with ten guests and one bottle,  everyone could get a fair pour, and that would be that. But it would be absolutely delicious!

 

 

‘Celebration’ Dinner wines. Not including the aperitif  Vinho Verde or additional after-dinner drinks, such as a 1962 Bas-Armagnac. 

 

Kevin Morrisey as a winemaker is quite similar to me as an audio engineer or production manager. In my world, the star gets what they need, everything in the production is highest quality,  done right, and the audience gets a PERFECT performance -the way show business is supposed to be. It doesn’t matter what happened on the way to the venue, during the load-in, or what technical issues might arise- anything could be in the way.  We overcome, and the audience gets the best show possible, period.
Similar to producing an event from a single idea, Kevin raises his “stars” from seedlings, grooms and cares for them with love on the vine, trimming the canopy for both protection and optimal sun exposure. He harvests them at the perfect time, uses the least intrusive measures (100% organic) to get the maximum result. He presses them with a champagne press. The wines see fermentation only in stainless steel, before bottling. No matter what happens during the growing season or after crush, he overcomes: his eye on the prize. Kevin treats this wine with both passion and scientific expertise, with love and the utmost of care- as he only wants to make sure the person who gets to drink his rosé will love the results and the message in the bottle. The best wine possible, period

There is a reason why this rosé is both priced comparatively with the finest rosé wines from Provence, France, and why it may be difficult to find months after release: This wine is just that damn good! Production size is low, and demand is high. And that’s why you should seek it and drink it. This is NOT the “drink me every day” rosé. To me, this is the engagement, anniversary, amazing dinner, or special event rosé. I call it like I see it, but you have to do the same.  Of course, if  YOU can secure a few cases, it could be the “drink me any day that ends in Y” rosé. If that’s the case… invite me over for a bottle!

à votre santé!

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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