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.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Oh What a Night!

My previous post was about some incredible bottles of aged Nebbiolo wines.  This one moves to Pinot Noir and some incredible red Burgundies with lots of age on them.

Monday our wine group met at Sette Cucina Italiana in Bernardsville for our monthly dinner. Jeff was in the queue to provide the wine and so our collective anticipation was very high.  Jeff has been collecting wine longer than anyone in our group.  His cellar and knowledge, especially of Burgundy, is very deep.  His selections are always exciting as they were tonight.  He decided on wines from Burgundy with considerable age on them.  It was a multiple WOW evening.

Sette Cucina has become a regular stop for us.  We tell chef/owner Allan Philip Russo what wines we will be drinking and leave the menu in his hands.  He never fails to knock the ball out of the park.  Tonight’s menu:

Caponata Bruschetta

Buffula Mozzerella, Figs, Speck

Batter Fried Zucchini,  Bagna Cauda Piedmont fondue garlic, anchovies, olive oil, butter

Nano Vallano Risotto, saffron, crumbled sausage, hint of truffle oil

Tagliatelle Bolognese

Grilled Australian Lamb


We began the evening with 1985 Jacquesson & Fils Signature Brut Champagne.  I have very little experienced with aged Champagne, but after this bottle I may have to change that.  This was a superb bubbly blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with a yeasty and slight bacony (is there such a word) bouquet.  On the palate it displayed vibrant fruit and finished with length and elegance.  The wines are vinified in old oak casks.  We drank this in white wine glasses instead of Champagne Flutes which don’t allow the wine to evolve and show its stuff.

1996 Jacques Prieur Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru.  This prestigious domaine is alone in owning vines in each of the five most prestigious vineyards in Burgundy; Chambertin, Musigny, Clos Vouget, Corton Charlemagne and Montrachet.

Tonight the wine drank magnificently.  Not a hint of premature oxidation.  It possessed a wonderful and what I would call mature bouquet that heightened expectations that were fulfilled with the first sip.  The palate was deep, rich, and complex with harmonious acidity and minerality.  The finish was long and elegant.   One of the best Montrachet’s I have ever tasted.  

For the reds, Jeff brought along three Volnays, two from the same vineyard with a gap of 42 years between youngest and oldest. The commune of Volnay is in Côte de Beaune of Burgundy. There are no Grand Cru vineyards within Volnay, but several highly regarded Premier Cru vineyards such as the three we drank.  As Jeff explained, "all the wines were tasting correct for the Volnay terroir and very similar.  This is why in Burgundy people always talk first about the terroir and second the winemaker."

1979 Michel Lafarge Volnay Clos des Chenes 1er Cru.  The wine exhibited a translucent red hue with very little bricking. An amazing color for a wine of this age. The palate was medium-bodied with excellent fruit, purity and focus.  I can only imagine what this wine was like 10 or 15 years ago.  After 36 years it continues to drink with lots of soul.

1952 Potinet-Ampeau Volnay Clos des Chenes 1er Cru. I was initially blown away by the gorgeous translucent red hue. There was virtually no bricking. The fruit was very much in tact on a harmonious and focused palate. Quite and enjoyable experience.

1937 Camile Giroud Hospices de Beaune Volnay Cuvée Blondeau 1er Cru.  Like the previous two bottles, the hue here was gorgeous with no bricking.  The wine had quite a bit of life to it and probably will for another ten years or so I would think.  The bouquet was earthy and fresh.  On the palate it was full-bodied with amazing complexity and balance for its age.  The oldest red Burgundy I have ever had and it was a joy to experience.

Jeff, thanks again for your generosity in sharing amazing wine experiences with the group.


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