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Articles are from the Star Ledger unless otherwise indicated.

Felluga's full-bodied whites transcend Italian norms

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – July 17, 2014

Livio Felluga’s Terre Alte and Abbazia di Rosazzo are the counterpoint to the image of Italy’s quaffable, pay-it-no-mind white wines.

In May, Andrea Felluga, a youthful 51, was in New York presenting eight vintages of Terre Alte from 2012 to 1997, and the family’s newest wine, Abbazia di Rosazzo.

Felluga was handed the reins of winemaker in 1994 from his father Livio Felluga. He recounted how his ancestors made wine in the coastal area of Istria, when it was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They moved inland to the Italian hills of Friuli, and after World War II, his father established a winery in Brazzano, near the border with Slovenia, producing the first Livio Felluga-labeled wine in 1956.

In 1981, Felluga aimed to make a world-class white wine with Terre Alte, a single-vineyard blend of fruilano, pinot bianco and sauvignon blanc grapes. Terre Alte, which means high hill or land, continues that recipe.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/07/fellugas_full-bodied_whites_tr.html

 

For Bastille Day, Bordeaux and Burgundy with an American pedigree

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – July 10, 2014

Drinking a glass of French wine with an American accent on July 14 is a good way to celebrate Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day or La Fete Nationale.

Our revolution and France’s were separated by a decade and an ocean, but ran on parallel tracks: the overthrow of a monarch, the adoption of democratic forms and the incorporation of Enlightenment ideas. And one of the intellects linking both countries was our ambassador to France and future president, Thomas Jefferson, who was, without question, the greatest oenophile to inhabit the White House.

By horse, carriage and boat, Jefferson traveled through Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhone and northern Italy tasting, buying and writing about wines and vineyards. And while in France and the White House, Jefferson maintained a vineyard and made wine at his Monticello estate in Virginia.

Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/07/for_bastille_day_bordeaux_and.html

 

Fourth of July wines: Three crisp American wines that hold their own

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – July 3, 2014

This year, July Fourth’s three-day weekend requires a few extra bottles of clean, crisp, refreshing American wines.
With his pinot blanc two-fer, Russell Hearn, the winemaker at Lieb Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island, throws a lifeline from the sticky humidity that's signature of our summer weather.

Grab on to the 2010 Lieb Cellars Blanc de Blancs Reserve sparkling wine. It’s pure pinot blanc that Hearn ferments with yeast developed by the Institute de Champagne in Epernay, creating a tasty, medium-body sparkling wine with a long, dry finish. It’s ideal as an aperitif or with a first course of crab cakes. The retail price is about $30.
And Hearn anchors a summer party with the refreshing and flavorful 2012 Lieb Cellars Pinot Blanc Reserve. He captured pinot blanc’s floral scent and pure fruit flavor by fermenting and aging the wine in stainless-steel tanks.

The absence of oak barrels preserved the natural acidity and mineral character of the grapes, and by fermenting the wine completely dry, he gave it a crisp, clean finish.

Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/07/american_wines_for_the_holiday.html

 

Drinking French-inflected American wine is your patriotic duty

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – June 26, 2014

Along with the morning parades and evening fireworks, celebrate Independence Day with American wines that have a French accent.

History records that years before we defeated the British, France recognized our sovereignty. It fought the British Navy, supplied us with arms and money and sent military forces led by the Marquis de Lafayette, who served under George Washington, and Comte de Rochambeau, whose army helped Washington defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown.
Cenyth is a Sonoma County wine by French winemaker Helene Seillan, 27, and American artist Julia Jackson, 26. The Seillan and Jackson families (as in Kendall-Jackson wines) also own Chateaux Lassegue and Vignot in Saint-Emilion, where Pierre Seillan is the winemaker.

Educated in viticulture and oenology at a Bordeaux trade school, Helene Seillan made the 2009 Cenyth at Sonoma’s Verite winery, a Jackson property, with the assistance of her father Pierre.
Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/06/drinking_french-inflected_amer.html

 

Ringoes' Unionville Vineyards wines gain awards but seek respect

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – June 18, 2014

The drive from Hoboken to Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes is not nearly as far as the gulf between the quality of its wines and the incredulity of many.

The journey from gentrified Hoboken crosses the gritty Pulaski Skyway; Route 78 transports you along another New Jersey of post-World War II homes and office parks. The drive concludes in Hunterdon County, where New Jersey remains a bucolic tableau of farmlands, horses meandering on fenced-in pastures, an alpaca farm next door to grazing sheep. You cross a stream and park next to a renovated barn lettered Unionville Vineyards. The trip is simultaneously disconcerting and reassuring.

The tall, self-assured, retired Johnson & Johnson executive Robert Wilson purchased Unionville in 2008 with two minority partners. A decade before, he converted a horse pasture and cornfield to a chardonnay vineyard in Hopewell. Napa-trained winemaker Cameron Stark uses the Unionville vineyards and purchased fruit from local growers for his plethora of wines: the George Series, Fox Series, Artisan Series and Single-Vineyard Series. Within the waterfall of labels are some first-rate wines.

Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/06/unionville_vineyards_wines_gai.html

 

Rosé, summer's favorite wine

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – June 12, 2014

Rosé’s translucent color, crisp acidity, floral, citrus and red berry aromas and flavors make it the quintessential summer wine. But to experience rosé’s pleasures, drink it chilled, not iced.

Start your summer with the 2013 Laroche Mas la Chevaliere Rosé from southern France’s Languedoc region. Laroche began in Chablis, where it makes crisp, fresh wines. In the hotter Languedoc, Laroche harvested in the night’s cool air to capture the red berry aroma, flavor and acidity of this delightful wine. The 2013 Laroche Mas la Chevaliere Rosé pleases twice: as an aperitif or with seafood and poultry salads, and again with its price, about $12.
French and American movies made the French Riviera and Saint-Tropez synonymous with the image of the leading man and a chic, beautiful woman drinking rosé on a yacht or at a seaside café. If they are as discriminating as the movie makes them glamorous, they should be sipping the 2013 Domaine Bertaud Belieu Cotes de Provence Rosé. Its delicate touch and copper color set up the seduction. Gazing across their glasses, they won’t be thinking about the salt and herbal scent, or the clean, fresh orange-like flavor without the slightest hint of alcohol. But they’ll come back to this delicious wine again, and again. And so will you. The 2013 Domaine Bertaud Belieu Cotes de Provence Rosé retails for $20.

Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/06/best_rose_wines_summer.html

 

For your dad, wines from a patriarch

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger – June 5, 2014

No one knows who fathered Bordeaux, Champagne or Barolo. But you can give your father a bottle of brunello di Montalcino from its father: Biondi-Santi.

Throughout Tuscany’s history, red wine included some white grapes. But in the mid-19th century, Clemente Santi made a red wine from only sangiovese grapes at his Il Greppo farm. In 1888, his grandson Ferruccio Biondi Santi produced a wine made only from sangiovese grosso grapes (called brunello in the local dialect) and aged it for four years in oak casks. Ever since, Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino follows Ferruccio’s formula.

When the Italian wine authorities granted the brunello di Montalcino appellation in 1968, there were only 11 producers tilling 140 acres. As the 21st century arrived, more than 200 wineries were plowing more than 4,000 acres.

During this explosion of vineyards, wineries and wine styles, Biondi-Santi was led by Franco Biondi Santi, the founder’s great-great grandson, who, from the age of 10, worked alongside his father, Tancredi.

Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/06/for_your_dad_wines_from_a_patr.html

The art of Antonelli winemaking

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger - May 29, 2014

Antonelli is a historical estate with a modern vision.

The Bishop of Spoleto owned the estate from the 13th century until 1881, when it was purchased by Francesco Antonelli, a local lawyer. Since 1986, Filippo Antonelli, an agronomist with an entrepreneurial spirit, has directed the estate, which has a quarter of its 400 acres devoted to vineyards, nearly half to growing grains and vegetables, and 25 acres covered in olive trees. The remainder is woodlands.

Under his tenure, a new winery was constructed underground to ensure a constant year-around temperature, and the vineyards converted to organic agriculture. He redesigned a building for apartments for seasonal tourists, and opened a cooking school, where I tasted a range of Antonelli wines.

As Filippo poured the 2012 Antonelli Trebbiano Spoletino, he recounted a piece of history: In the 1800s, farmers weaved trebbiano vines around trees. As the vines ascended the tree and spread to the branches, the farmers redirected them to the earth, allowing the grapes to be picked from the hanging vines. It was cheaper than trellises

Read the rest…
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/05/the_art_of_antonelli_winemakin.html

 

Memorial Day-ready wines at wallet-friendly prices

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on May 22, 2014

Summer’s casual parties call for wines with a similar disposition.

“This wine is good with ginger snaps,” says my partner Rose Sangiovanni as I enjoy the 2012 Domaine Paul Buisse Touraine Sauvignon with Camembert. But the enjoyment didn’t start there.

It began with the floral and lime aromas that were big enough to fill a room, and the crisp lime taste that made this pure sauvignon blanc wine a repeated pleasure with our plate of delicately flavored spring asparagus purchased earlier that day from a roadside stand in Hunterdon County.

By the time I took the breast of chicken from the oven and the spring artichokes from the sauté pan, the 2012 Domaine Paul Buisse Touraine Sauvignon was fully expressing its ability to cut through the Dijon mustard spread under the chicken’s golden brown skin.

Read the rest…
 
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/05/party-ready_wines_at_wallet-fr.html

 

Montalcino wines a must for barbecue season

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on May 15, 2014

Altesino is the wine you want for the barbecue season that begins with Memorial Day weekend.

Altesino lies about 15 minutes from the ancient hillside town of Montalcino. The winery was founded in 1970 by Giulio Consonno; he created Montosoli, the first-single vineyard (called a cru) brunello di Montalcino wine in 1975, and the area’s first winery-made grappa. When Consonno died in 2002, Altesino and Montosoli were recognized as one of Italy’s top wineries and red wines, respectively.

Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini, owner of the adjacent Caparzo winery and other Tuscan estates, purchased Altesino in December 2002; she upgraded the cellar and replanted some of Altesino’s 100 acres of vineyards.

My April visit began with a tasting of the 2012 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino. While this is the basic wine of the area, Altesino’s version is anything but basic. Winemaker Paolo Caciorgna sources the sangiovese grapes from four vineyards with 4- to 15-year-old vines. After aging the wine in 1,300- to 2,600-gallon vats for seven months, he bottles the wine and ages it for at least five more months to meet Italian wine regulations.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/05/montalcino_wines_a_must_for_ba.html

 

Toast Mom with two fine sparklers

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on May 8, 2014

Going to brunch or dinner is a mainstay of Mother’s Day. If I can find a quality restaurant with a garden setting, my reservation is made. Once seated, I open the wine book to the sparkling wine section hoping to find Domaine Chandon’s Etoile Rosé Brut Nonvintage. It is a wine filled with good memories.

When Moet & Chandon created Napa Valley’s Domaine Chandon in 1973, it was the first American winery owned by a Champagne company devoted to sparkling wine. Along with raising the bar for American sparkling wines, Moet & Chandon set the standard for wine country dining with its restaurant led by French chef Philippe Jeanty.

A shaded table on the terrace facing the vineyards, a bottle of Domaine Chandon Etoile Rosé and Jeanty’s sumptuous cuisine are indelible pleasures.

You don’t have to go to Domaine Chandon on Mother’s Day; you can let the winery’s style come to you. Find a restaurant with a garden- ironically, not so easy in the Garden State- or opt for a terrace or patio. Present your mother with a bottle of Domaine Chandon Etoile Rosé Brut Nonvintage: Its salmon shade will flatter her, and the pleasing strawberry, cherry and citrus aromas and flavors will generate a camera-ready smile.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/05/toast_mom_with_two_fine_sparkl.html

 

These sauvignon blancs hold up in sun or snow

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on May 1, 2014

Charles Krug sauvignon blanc is pleasing in every season.

Charles Krug established his eponymous Napa Valley winery in 1861. After his death in 1892, the winery was purchased by James Moffitt, an entrepreneur and banker. Prohibition closed the winery, and, in 1943, Moffitt sold it to Cesare Mondavi.

In what seemed like the Endless Winter, grandson Peter Mondavi Jr, 55, bravely made an East Coast marketing trip amd presented a selection of Charles Krug wines at the Modern restaurant in Manhattan. As I entered the room, a glass of the 2012 Charles Krug St. Helena-Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc was served. It made me forget the snow outside.

The Modern is attached to the Museum of Modern Art. Even in winter, the museum’s Sculpture Garden is magnetic, but the clear-as-water, grapefruit-scented, lime and cilantro-flavored 2012 Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc broke the garden’s spell. I recalled New Zealand’s crisp, fresh sauvignon blancs and focused on my glass. Later Mondavi poured it with an appetizer of potato gnocchi, Maine shrimp and horseradish with avocado puree created by the Modern’s new chef, Abram Bissell. Along with forgetting the garden, that dish erased the name of the former chef.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/05/these_sauvignon_blancs_hold_up.html

 

Trivento Eolo Malbec delivers elegance

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on April 24, 2014

Trivento Eolo Malbec wine stands out from the ocean of homogenous Argentine malbecs arriving on our shores.

Argentina’s wine history dates to the 1600s, when the conquistadors and Spanish missionaries brought vines over from Spain.

American consumers know its wines only from the 1990s; until then, Argentine wines were poorly made and only consumed locally.

But the potential of its soil and climate was recognized by American, Chilean and European producers; they made substantial investments, bringing modern viticulture and winemaking techniques to the country. One was Chile’s Concha y Toro.

In 1996, Concha y Toro purchased vineyards in Argentina’s Mendoza region and created Bodega Trivento, meaning three winds in Spanish. Gradually, Trivento developed eight vineyards with more than 3,000 acres producing four wine levels; Eolo is the most prestigious.

Last month, Eolo’s winemaker Victoria Prandina, 30, hosted a luncheon in Manhattan. On the table were six vintages of Eolo.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/04/trivento_eolo_malbec_delivers.html

 

Tannins tamed, sagrantino grape surprises

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on April 17, 2014

It was a cold, rainy spring day when I visited Tenuta Bellafonte in the Montefalco area of Umbria.

The Bellafonte estate is one of the newest wineries in this ancient land. In 2007, Peter Heilborn, then 48, purchased about 60 acres containing woodlands, 2,300 olive trees and a 6-acre vineyard. He planted another 11-acre vineyard and erected a modern, ecological winery.

Sagrantino is the principal red wine grape of the Montefalco appellation. By nature, it is not a friendly grape; pinot noir’s softness wants you to like it, but Sagrantino’s tannins are like the thorns on a rose bush.

Unlike others who enter the wine business, Heilborn brings to the task a career in the food and beverage industry, including managing director of Bacardi-Martini in Italy and the Middle East and Heineken in Italy. Perhaps it was that background that led Heilborn to retain the talented Piedmont winemaker Beppe Caviola as Bellafonte’s consulting enologist, instead of one of the internationally known French or Italian consultants that make formula-styled wines.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/04/tannins_tamed_sagrantino_grape.html

 

A royal Rioja on a peon's salary

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on April 10, 2014

Rioja offers wine consumers some of the best values as illustrated in the 2009 Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Reserva.

Rioja has the longest and most noble wine history in Spain. In 1102, the King of Navarre and Aragon gave legal recognition to its wines. In the beginning of the 20th century, a royal decree determined the origin of Rioja wines, followed by the creation of a regulatory council to limit the vineyard area and control the use of the Rioja name.

The Rioja tradition of not selling wine until it was ready to drink was codified:joven, a young wine with no aging requirement; crianza, aged at least one year in barrel and the bottle; reserva, aged at least three years with not less than one year in the barrel; and gran reserva, aged at least two years in barrel and a minimum of three years in bottle.

These aging requirements benefit wine consumers. For those without wine cellars, it makes it possible to purchase a wine such as the 2009 Bodegas Bilbainas Vina Pomal Reserva and enjoy it without further aging. And thanks to the tradition of making reserva and gran reserva wines only in the best vintages, wine collectors can cellar these wines for additional complexity. Add the reasonable prices of most Rioja wines, and you have every reason to want them.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/04/a_royal_rioja.html

 

Chablis Champs Royaux pleasures increase with temperature

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on April 03, 2014

In the off-chance that spring weather is here to stay, the 2012 William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux would please the Roman spring goddess Flora.

The Fevre family owns about 125 acres spread throughout Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards. In 1998, they leased the vineyards and sold the winery and rights to the company name to the Henriot family, owners of the outstanding Henriot Champagne house and the rejuvenated Bouchard Pere et Fils wine company.

Upon acquiring the rights to William Fevre, Joseph Henriot transferred winemaker Didier Seguier from Bouchard, where he worked since 1992, to Chablis. Seguier ferments every wine in stainless-steel tanks, then depending on the vineyard, the wine is aged in old oak barrels to spare it from the aggressive aromas and flavors of new oak. The result is William Fevre Chablis, at every level a testament to the pristine fruit flavors and balancing acidity of its vineyards.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/04/chablis_champs_royaux_pleasure.html

 

Bulls-eyes for Archery Summit's pinot gris, pinot noir

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on March 27, 2014

Christopher Mazepink’s wanderlust brought him to Oregon and Archery Summit winery.

Mazepink grew up in Delaware and studied anthropology at Hardwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. Via its study abroad programs, he spent semesters at the University of the West Indies in Kingston Jamaica and University of Cape Town in South Africa, and did research in Guatemala. After earning his degree, he visited the enology schools of the University of California at Davis and Oregon State University in Corvallis. At the latter, he noted the adjacent river offered salmon fly fishing, and nearby snow- covered mountains had skiing. Guess which enology program he enrolled in?

Upon graduating from Oregon State University in 2002, Mazepink worked as the assistant winemaker at Oregon’s Lemelson Vineyards. Other Oregon winemaking posts followed, and in 2013 Mazepink was appointed the winemaker and general manager of the highly-regarded Archery Summit winery about 30 miles southwest of Portland.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/03/bullseyes_for_archery_summits.html

 

 

A California cab that betrays winemaker's French sojourn

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on March 20, 2014

“I can’t believe how much I like this wine,” I said to my partner Rose, “considering it is from California.”

Then I did a double-take when I discovered the 2011 Silver Palm North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon was from the wine conglomerate Kendall-Jackson. And herein is an example of my rule that one should drink the wine, not the label.

Matt Smith is one of the winemakers at Kendall-Jackson; he is charged with making wines using cabernet sauvignon, merlot and other Bordeaux varietals. Smith spent a year at the Sorbonne in Paris as part of his degree in French and political science from the University of Michigan in 1990. After living in France and Spain for two years, he returned to America and eventually enrolled in the enology program at the University of California at Davis.

Following his graduation in 2003, he worked at Maison Joseph Drouhin, one of Burgundy’s top wine companies, and in Australia for Mitchelton Wines. Smith joined Kendall-Jackson’s winemaking team in 2004 and he became the winemaker for Silver Palm in 2010.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/03/silver_palm_north_coast_cabernet_sauvignon.html

 

Jersey winemaker's affair with California pinot noir

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on March 13, 2014

Atlantic Highlands resident David Rossi entered the wine world the way others unintentionally step into quicksand: slowly, then completely.

Rossi was born into an Arizona restaurant family; in 1991, he moved to Pittsburgh to work in the corporate food business. Six years later, he took a local winemaking course and soon found himself buying grapes from California, Washington and other sites. His house became a wine laboratory and the bathtub a depository for oak barrels. Fortunately, he says, he has an understanding wife.

In 2003, Rossi accepted a position with a New Jersey specialty food company and moved to Atlantic Highlands. Not long after his arrival, he was driving along the Navesink River when he saw a newly planted vineyard with the sign Two Rivers Winegrowers, a company that designs, plants and provides vineyard consulting services in Monmouth County. Rossi took another step and called the company to volunteer working for them with the goal of learning about vineyards. By 2005, nearly submerged in winemaking, vineyard planting and viticulture, Rossi made the final plunge and launched Fulcrum Wines.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/03/jersey_winemakers_affair_with.html

 

Warm your palate with brunello di Montalcino

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on March 06, 2014

The bad news is there seems to be no end to winter. The good news is that Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino is warming.

Montalcino is a beautiful hilltop Tuscan town about 20 miles south of Siena. During the medieval period, it was caught in the continual wars between Siena and Florence. The Florentines, led by the Medici family, conquered Siena in 1555; Montalcino’s hilltop position protected it for four more years. The ensuing centuries were not prosperous for its inhabitants. That changed dramatically with the rise of its red wine brunello di Montalcino in the 20th century.

Col d’Orcia’s lineage is intertwined with Montalcino’s history. In the late 19th century, the Florentine Franceschi family owned the property (then known as Fattoria di Sant’Angelo), producing various agricultural products including wine. In 1958, the brothers Leopoldo and Stefano Franceschi divided the estate. Stefano named his farm Col d’Orcia, meaning the hill above the Orcia River. Fifteen years later, Col d’Orcia was sold to the Cinzano family, internationally known for its vermouth. Today Col d’Orcia is led by Francesco Cinzano.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/03/brunello_di_montalcino_col_d_orcia.html

 

Oscars 2014: Choose a standout wine to toast Academy Award winners

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on February 27, 2014

I reviewed many wine performances throughout 2013, so if you’re looking for a good bottle with which to enjoy Sunday’s Academy Awards, here are some winners.

Best Grape in a Supporting Role: And the winner is cabernet franc in the 2005 Chateau Lassegue Grand Cru Saint-Emilion. Its 35 percent contributed depth, structure and black fruit richness to merlot’s leading role as a voluptuous and tantalizing blueberry character. Chateau Lassegue’s director (okay, winemaker) Pierre Seillan cast cabernet franc perfectly for its tannic support to the suppler merlot.

Best Grape in a Leading Role: And the winner is sangiovese in the 2010 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico. It’s 90 percent of the show, and dressed in flamboyant cherry and raspberry flavors with bright acidity. Cameo appearances by merlot and syrah combined for a flawless rendition of Chianti Classico. Don’t miss this stellar interpretation of one of the world’s most renowned grapes.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/02/choose_a_standout_wine_to_toas.html

 

Bouchard Père & Fils wine siblings: mirror images, equally delicious

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on Feb 20, 2014

Bouchard Pere & Fils created twins named Beaune du Chateau Premier Cru that are identical in everything but color.

The Bouchard Pere & Fils wine company was founded in 1731 in Volnay, a red wine village in the Burgundy region. Nearly a century later, Bernard Bouchard acquired the historic 15th-century royal fortress Chateau de Beaune in the city of Beaune. Over the course of nearly three centuries and eight generations, the family Bouchard built a reputation for first-rate wines from its portfolio of great vineyards.

But in the latter part of the 20th century, Bouchard lost its edge, and in 1995, Joseph Henriot, owner of the top-notch Henriot Champagne house, purchased Bouchard Pere & Fils. I was delighted with the news; Henriot’s standard of excellence was exactly the lift that Bouchard needed. Today Thomas Henriot and Christophe Bouchard have reinvigorated the company with a new winery, additional vineyards and an ongoing transition to organic viticulture.

Read the rest….

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/02/bouchard_twins.html

 

Look to Italy for wine worthy of Valentine's Day

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on Feb 13, 2014

Valentine’s Day is one of the moments made for special wines such as the Nova Domus Terlaner and Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino.

One of the most distinctive white wines in the world comes from the Cantina Terlano in Italy’s Alto Adige region. Founded in 1893 as a reaction against the large landowners, Terlano is a cooperative winery whose laser-like focus on every vine and aspect of winemaking results in wines of great complexity and legendary age-ability.

Cantina Terlano produces a range of wines, one of which is Nova Domus. Created in 1990, the most recent vintage in our market is the 2009 Nova Domus Terlaner Riserva. This wine is made from a blend of 60 percent pinot bianco, 30 percent chardonnay and 10 percent sauvignon blanc- the recipe varies slightly by vintage. It is fermented and age in large casks.

Read the rest….

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/02/look_to_italy_for_wine_worthy.html

 

A bouquet of rosé for Valentine's Day

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on Feb 6, 2014

A bottle of rosé Champagne is a must on Valentine’s Day. Here is a selection for a variety of moods (and a variety of couples):

For those with other responsibilities- such as school tuition or babysitting expenses- the pleasures of a delicious, reasonably-priced Champagne can be found in the nonvintage Moet & Chandon Imperial Rosé.

Its pretty salmon shade and delightful red fruit flavors arrive from its significant portion of pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes. Widely available under $50, the well-made nonvintage Moet & Chandon adds to the evening without subtracting from the budget.

Allied Beverage Group in Carlstadt, Fedway Associates in Basking Ridge, and R&R Marketing in Fairfield distribute the nonvintage Moet & Chandon Imperial Rosé.

Read the rest….

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/02/valentines_day_rose_champagnes.html

 

Olive groves (and groovy tunes) make B.R. Cohn's cab sing

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on January 30, 2014

If you love black olives like I do, you’ll be in taste bud heaven with a glass of the 2009 B.R. Cohn Cabernet Sauvignon Olive Hill Estate Vineyard.

If the name Bruce R. Cohn doesn’t ring-a-bell, it is not surprising. But if you are of a certain age (as is this writer), you’ll recall the songs of the Doobie Brothers- “Black Water,” “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “Take Me in Your Arms.” Bruce Cohn was the manager of the Doobie Brothers then, and, most amazing for the music world, still is.

In 1974, Cohn spent some of his money from his early music days to buy a 46-acre vineyard in Sonoma Valley; it was surrounded by century-old French picholine olive trees. During the next decade, Cohn sold his grapes to various wineries. In 1980, a bottle of the Gundlach-Bundschu Cabernet Sauvignon Olive Hill Estate was selected by the White House as a gift to China.

Read the rest….

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/01/olive_groves_and_groovy_tunes.html

 

Boroli Quattro Fratelli Barbera d'Alba: Everyday wine still exceptional

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on January 23, 2014

The 2011 Boroli Quattro Fratelli Barbera d’Alba is from a family that knows how to please the palate and the purse.

Since 1831, the Borolis have been in Piedmont’s textile and publishing businesses; in 1997, Silvano and Elena Boroli decided to enter the wine world, and in 2001, the hospitality industry.

It is not unusual for successful entrepreneurs to enter the wine world, but when they do, it is usually at the high-priced end of the business. No better example of this exists than Napa Valley. The Borolis’ decision to plow the fields of Piedmont could have yielded the same result had they focused only on Barolo or Barbaresco; fortunately, they also cultivate Piedmont’s everyday wine Barbera d’Alba.

The barbera vineyard clings to the steep Madonna di Como hill, a few miles from the center of Alba. The hill has been a vineyard from time immemorial; it gained its name from the Romans, who used the term Como to describe a procession of young dancers honoring the wine god Bacchus. On Madonna di Como’s peak, the Borolis built Locanda del Pilone, a small guest house with a Michelin-star restaurant; I dined there in 2006 and 2008.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/01/boroli_quattro_fratelli_barber.html

 

A decade after 'Sideways,' a worthy pinot noir under $10

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on January 16, 2014

Good value is not a term often linked to pinot noir, but the 2012 Domaine La Forge Estate Pinot Noir earns the label.

Pinot noir was the fiefdom of Burgundy, followed by a coterie of collectors and worshippers of its delicate, translucent red wine. Their response to the exquisite aromas and flavors of the region’s pinot noirs was to idolize its vineyards and canonize the winemakers. For the followers, securing the wine was the challenge, regardless of cost. But the insularity of that world was shattered by a seismic wave a decade ago.

In 2004, the Academy Award-winning movie “Sideways” brought the pleasure of pinot noir to the consciousness of the average wine consumer. American wineries began producing an ocean of pinot noir. Some of it was terrible; lots of it was acceptable. If all you wanted was a glass of a cherry-strawberry fruit-flavored wine while you waited at the bar; a small number offered quality. Gradually the pinot noir fever broke, and what survived was better quality at above average wine prices. But the idea that you could drink inexpensive, well-made, flavorful pinot noir was oxymoronic. Or so it was thought.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/01/a_decade_after_sideways_a_wort.html

 

Sancerre's quiet cousin Quincy offers its own pleasures

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on January 09, 2014

Small museums are often a place for quiet reflection; so too are wines such as the 2012 Laporte Quincy Les Niorles.

In the world of sauvignon blanc wines, Sancerre is like the Louvre: Everyone wants to say they know it even when they don’t. Sancerre, located in the Loire Valley, reigns as the king of sauvignon blanc, dominating the conversation and garnering a comparatively royal price. Sancerre also produces a small amount of red wine from pinot noir that few consumers know, along with a rosé, known least of all.

But a few miles southwest of Sancerre lies the village of Quincy (KAN-see),where only sauvignon blanc is produced.

Quincy’s vineyards are along the banks and hillsides of the Cher River. The soil’s composition of gravel and sand are conducive to producing wines that display the citrus and herbal qualities of sauvignon blanc, along with a more delicate texture than those coming from Sancerre. They are wines that please without showboating.

The Laporte family produced Loire Valley wines from 1850 until 1986, when Rene Laporte sold the estate to Jean-Marie Bourgeois. The purchase preserved the renowned name of the Laporte estate and merged two dedicated winemaking families.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/01/sancerres_quiet_cousin_quincy.html

 

In Gigondas, fruitful vines take root for Domaine du Pesquier

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on January 02, 2014

We start the new year with Gigondas, a new wine region for this column, and an old friend, Domaine du Pesquier.

Gigondas is in the southern section of France’s Rhone Valley. Its history dates to the Romans, who used the area for its soldiers to have what we call “R&R.” They named it Jocunditas, meaning pleasure and enjoyment in Latin.

Over centuries, farmers in Gigondas developed olive groves and vineyards alongside everyday produce. Its wines were overshadowed by nearby Chateauneuf-du-Pape and were transported to Burgundy for blending when that famous region suffered a poor vintage. In 1956, severe winter weather destroyed the olive trees; the farmers replaced them with vines. That interplay of nature and the human response to it had historical importance.

Grenache has always been the dominant grape in Gigondas. Other grapes were planted randomly, creating a mix of wine styles. Starting in the 1960s, syrah became the preferred grape for new vineyards or for replacing old vines. In 1971, the French wine authorities removed Gigondas from the list of the Cotes du Rhone villages and granted its petition to become an appellation of its own. With its new status came the requirement that Gigondas-labeled wines be a blend of a maximum of 80 percent grenache, a minimum of 15 percent syrah or mourvedre, and not more than 10 percent other Rhone varietals.

Read the rest…
 
http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2014/01/in_gigondas_fruitful_vines_tak.html

 

Celebrate New Year's Eve with these fine wines

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on December 26, 2013

Wine collectors celebrate New Year’s Eve with their very best wines; you can join the fun with these superb selections.

In September, I visited Eric and Isabelle Coulon, the dedicated eighth-generation owners of Roger Coulon Champagne in Vrigny, a village near Reims.

Eric, the winemaker, produces a delicious, bright orange-tinted nonvintage rosé from Champagne’s two red grapes, pinot noir and pinot meunier, grown in premier cru vineyards. Its wonderful red fruit flavors carry a hint of licorice and the soft bubbles release a long, dry finish.

“Imagine how many people are drinking our Champagne tonight,” Eric wonders every New Year’s Eve, Isabelle recounts with a smile. You’ll be smiling, too, with a glass of the excellent nonvintage Roger Coulon Rosé. The cost is about $60; it’s distributed by Neal Rosenthal in Queens (518)207-9100.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2013/12/celebrate_new_years_eve_with_t.html

 

Fine Champagnes for all tastes

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on December 19, 2013

More Champagne is enjoyed during the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve than at any other time of the year. So for the holiday sippers and imbibers, here is a selection of nonvintage and prestige cuvee Champagnes.

Champagne is a sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wines are Champagne. Only the sparkling wines originating in the French Champagne region, located about 90 miles northeast of Paris, are entitled to the Champagne nomenclature.

Nonvintage or multi-vintage Champagne is the basic wine of every producer. As its name implies, this Champagne is made from wines of various years. It is usually a blend of Champagne’s three major grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Along with being the lowest priced Champagne, many retailers offer substantial discounts during December. It pays to shop around.

Taittinger is one of my favorite Champagne houses, from its prestige cuvee Comtes de Champagne to its nonvintage brut, La Francaise. The latter is aged for four years, more than double the legal requirement for nonvintage Champagne, resulting in a white fruit flavor that is as soft on the palate as the French language is on the ear. The nonvintage Taittinger La Francaise Brut is priced $39 to $44 and distributed by Allied Beverage Group in Carlstadt and R&R Marketing in Fairfield.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2013/12/fine_champagnes_for_all_tastes.html

 

Five under $20: Delightful wines for holiday parties

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on December 12, 2013

Holiday parties are most enjoyable when everything is plentiful, from the smiles to the food and good-value wines.

A welcoming glass of Napa Valley’s nonvintage Domaine Chandon Rosé sparkling wine sets a buoyant mood. Its eye-catching effervescence, sunrise reddish color and pleasing red fruit flavors are perfect instigators for a carefree, stylish tone. Easy-to-reach platters of grilled shrimp, tuna rolls and spicy dips will delight your guests and flatter this well-made sparkling wine. And your smile with be broader knowing that at about $17 the nonvintage Domaine Chandon Rosé is less than half the price of rose’ Champagne.
Allied Beverage Group in Carlstadt, Fedway Associates in Basking Ridge, and R&R Marketing in Fairfield distribute the nonvintage Domaine Chandon Rosé sparkling wine.

Searching for a flavorful white wine that’s not another chardonnay or pinot grigio? Put some bottles of the 2011 Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali Bianco in your basket. Sicilian by birth, its blend of inzolia, cataratto and grecanico grapes deliver a vibrant pear and jasmine scent, and a medium-light body filled with tasty white fruit flavor and citrus-like acidity. Ideal with spicy Asian foods, or Sicilian fried rice balls, fried calamari, or seafood salad. And at about $13, you can put the bottles back on the shelf and request a case.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2013/12/five_delightful_wines_for_holi.html

 

 

Oak is integral contributor to Lassegue wines

By John Foy/For The Star-Ledger on December 5, 2013

Winemaker Pierre Seillan’s Chateau Lassegue wines are rooted in his quest for the perfect oak tree.

Bordeaux wines are made from blending grapes and aging them in French oak barrels. In 1990, Jess Jackson, founder of the wine conglomerate Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, partnered with John Boswell, whose company was supplying oak barrels to Jackson Estates. They purchased a French saw mill and converted it to a stave mill, Merrain International, which gave them better quality control of the oak.

Nearly all French oak barrels come from trees in the forests owned by the French government; considered national treasures, the forests cover more than 20 percent of France. Seillan said that until he joined Jackson’s enterprise, he spent a lifetime at the mercy of various coopers for information about which forests the oak trees came from, and the length of time and the methods used for treating the staves that formed his barrels. But now, “I have the luxury to choose the forest and select the trees that I want for my staves.”

In October, I accompanied Seillan to the Darney forest in the northeastern corner of France. I wanted a better understanding of such a vital part of the winemaking process and Chateau Lasseque; we were joined by Jean-Marc Pernigotto, the director-general of Merrain International.

Read the rest…

http://www.nj.com/drinks/index.ssf/2013/12/oak_is_integral_contributor_to.html

 

John Foy's Pre-2014 Articles...

2012-2013 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

 


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