About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 Amazing Wines

With my wife up in the Berkshire’s spaing with our daughters, I had dinner with Lettie Teague, wine columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and her husband on Sunday night at Divina Ristorante, Caldwell, NJ.  We are all big fans of Mario Carlino’s exceptional food, and in fact it is where Lettie and I first became acquainted.  Sharing wine experiences and wines with someone as knowledgeable as Lettie enables me to expand my wine horizons.  Tonight was no exception.

Last Friday Lettie wrote an article on a young winemaker from Burgundy, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, entitled “The New Master of Affordable White Burgundies”.  It was a great article.  I always relish the opportunity to learn about young new producers that are setting the wine world on its ears with beautifully crafted wines.  Not only did I enjoy the article, I got to enjoy a bottle of his wine, as Lettie brought along a 2010 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey St. Aubin "La Chatenière" 1er Cru.  This was my initial experience with a wine from St. Aubin and it will not be my last.  The wine exhibited a gorgeous light yellow hue and an enticing fruity bouquet.  On the palate it was crisp and clean with great focus and it finished with considerable length.  I also enjoyed the fact that the oak was very well integrated into the wine (Pierre Yves uses 30% new oak for this wine). A round and delicious wine and at $42 a bottle an absolute bargain for a white Burgundy of this quality.  I was fortunate to locate some at New York Wine Warehouse, NYC.

The white that I brought was a 1994 Château d'Epiré Savennières Cuvée Spéciale, a Chenin Blanc from the Savenieres commune in the Loire region of France.  The soil in Savenieres is stony by contrast to the chalky soil of Vouvray, the other Loire region that produces the Chenin Blanc grape.  Both regions produce spectacular whites of that age very well for many years.  This bottle had an enticing bouquet of soil and stone. In the glass the hue was a gorgeous crystal clear honey-gold. Seductive and a bit viscous on the palate, it had great focus and finesse.  According to importer Kermit Lynch, wines from Savernieres “possess an attractive tinge of bitterness in its aftertaste”. While I would have never found those words, after tasting the wine, Mr. Lynch is spot on.  Since we did not finish the bottle, I recorked it and put it in the fridge.  The next day when I tried it, it was as good as it was the day before.  There was still structure, pure fruit and that tinge of bitterness.  We drank this ahead of the Colin-Morey, an order I would reverse should the occasion arise again.

This particular wine, the Cuveé Speciale is made strictly for Kermit Lynch.  After the death of their father, the Bizard family began to make the wine in a more modern style as the old world style of their father was time consuming, led to a smaller production and thus had a negative impact on the estate's revenue.  Mr. Lynch convinced the family to make, for which he would pay a higher price, the old style wine for his purchase.  They agreed and thus this wine is only available from Kermit Lynch.  $40.

For the red wine I brought along a 2000 Edoardo Valentini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  Valentini is, in my opinion, one of the greatest wine producers in the world.  His wines are terroir driven and make for an incredible wine drinking experience.  A staunch traditionalist, his winemaking techniques are a closely guarded secret.  He does not allow visitors into his cellar.  He sells 90% of his grapes to a local co-op, keeping only the ripest and best grapes for his wines.  As a result his production is only about 50,000 bottles annually for the three wine types he crafts, Trebbiano (white), Cerasuolo (rosé or rosato) and the red Montepulciano.  The bottle we shared was magnificent.  It had a seductive earthy bouquet and was round and delicious on the palate with a never-ending elegant finish.  Talk about a wine with soul, this is it.

Sadly Edourado passed away at the age of 72 in 2006.  However the winemaking has been taken over by his more than capable son Francesco Pablo who continues to make the wines to the same exacting standards of his father.

This wine is extremely hard to find and it is expensive.  Expect to pay upwards of $250 a bottle. If you are going to spend that kind of money for a bottle of wine, this is one of the ones to spend it on.  You will not be disappointed. New York Wine Warehouse and DeVino in NYC are your best bets if you choose to do so.

Wines of this caliber deserve the consistently delicious food put forward at Divina.  Our selections consisted of Seafood Salad; Whole Lobster in White Wine, Bucatini Putanesca, Cappellini with Clams Machiato (touch of tomato) and Veal Valdostana.  Food with soul that was a great match to the wines.

Cappellini w/Clams Machiato
Yes it was great evening of wine, food and conversation.  Be sure and check out Lettie's columns in the Wall Street Journal on Fridays and Saturdays.  They are well written and very informative.


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