JCB N°21 Crémant de Bourgogne
Daylight saving time is past us for another year. The leaves are turning brilliant colors and collecting on lawns and curbs. There is a chill in the air. These first hints of winter always comfort my soul and cause me to think about holiday celebrations with family and friends.
While it is safe to say that Champagne is the ubiquitous celebratory libation, and it pairs well with nearly all types of food, it can be very expensive to drink. Additionally, many of the alternatives, although good in their own ways, are just not the same. As luck would have it, however, I have found a good sparkling wine that is both affordable and very similar in style to a quality brut Champagne–JCB N°21 Crémant de Bourgogne.
JCB N°21, by Jean Charles Boisset, is produced in the traditional method from a blend of Burgundian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. It is light straw in color, with an abundance of persistent, very small bubbles. The nose is characterized by wine lees, almonds and light floral notes. It is dry, with crisp acidity and flavors of apple, pear and citrus. The alcohol content is 12% and it has 10 g/l of sugar.
With regard to awards, JCB N°21 is a consistent winner, as well. I listed below some recent awards for this wine that were posted on the Boisset website:
SILVER | NOVEMBER 23, 2017 | GLASS OF BUBBLY AWARDS
GOLD, RESERVE CLASS CHAMPION | NOVEMBER 17, 2017 | RODEO UNCORKED! INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
GOLD, 92 POINTS | JUNE 25, 2017 | CRITICS CHALLENGE
SILVER | JUNE 20, 2017 | SUNSET INTERNATIONAL WINE COMPETITION
The bottom line is this: if you like Champagne but don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount of money to drink it, JCB N°21 Crémant de Bourgogne is a deliciously bone-dry alternative. It is very affordable, at $19.99 per 750 ml bottle, and very available at O’Bryan’s Wine and Spirits. Please stop by our store and get some for your holiday celebrations.
I have some good news for the Pinot Noir lovers among us. We were finally able to get some Haden Fig 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir in stock at O’Bryan’s Wine and Spirits. I have known about this wine for several years, but I was never able to get my hands on any of it. Then, in July, I tasted it at a distributor portfolio show and loved it. We tried to get it in stock at that time, but it has been unavailable until now.
Haden Fig is the original label of Erin Nuccio, the owner/winemaker of Evesham Wood Winery in Oregon. The 2015 Willamette Valley bottling consists of 1525 cases and is blended from equal amounts of fruit from Cancilla, Croft, and Bjornson vineyards. The grapes are organically grown and go from vineyard to bottle without manipulation. The must is fermented with native yeasts and the only cooling system in the winery involves opening and closing the doors. This is an example of natural winemaking at its finest.
This wine is a pleasingly bright, clear, garnet color in the glass. It leads with a light nose of tart cherry. On the palate, the body is light to medium, with both tart and dark cherry notes, raspberry and dark fruit. It is moderately complex, with medium acidity, silky tannins and a medium-to-long finish. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
At $21.99 per bottle, Haden Fig 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a very good Oregon Pinot Noir at an even better price. We currently have a case of it in stock and I hope that we can get some more; but I can make you no promises. In closing, I want to leave you with the lone note that I made to myself about this wine in the portfolio tasting book this summer: BUY THIS!!
I know that many people prefer light-bodied rosés during the warm months, but there are still a few cool evenings left—and that means there is still some remaining time to enjoy a full-bodied red wine. If you feel likewise, you should try the 2015 vintage of Niner Red.
This wine is a blend of nine estate-grown varietals consisting of 35% Cabernet Franc, 14% Merlot, 14% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Grenache, 8% Mourvedre, 7% Malbec, 2% Petite Verdot, and 2% Barbera.
The people at Niner hand-picked the grapes from three vineyards, Heart Hill (western Paso Robles), Bootjack Ranch (eastern Paso Robles), and Jespersen Ranch (Edna Valley) and then hand-sorted them at the winery. They used gravity feed for the juice and aged the wine for fourteen months in French and Hungarian oak, thirty-eight percent of which was new.
Some of you may be wondering about the presence of methoxypyrazine, the bell pepper flavor that is common in many wines made from Cabernet Franc and its descendants. Have no fear; there are no pyrazines here! The grapes were obviously ripe at harvest (26°Bx), thus reducing the presence of pyrazines, but the wine, while fruit-forward, has some complexity and does not cloy. It opens with a nose of blackberry and black cherry. On the palate, these flavors are joined by black currant, chocolate and a hint of black pepper. They carry through to a medium-long finish.
Niner Red is an enjoyable wine to drink on its own, yet it will pair very well with barbecue, grilled foods, and other summer fare. At $19.99 per bottle, I think you will be very pleased. Stop by O’Bryan’s and pick up a few bottles this week. Above all, have a great summer!
Happy Spring Everyone!
The vernal equinox, which marks the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, was right on time this year. However, it seems as if Mother Nature still has some winter left on her plate and she is taking her time with it! While I would ordinarily be thinking about a lighter red or maybe even a rosé for this post, there is obviously some time left for a larger-styled red wine before it gets too warm.
With that in mind, I want to introduce you to a wine that is both a delicious everyday drinker and a remarkable bargain—Sean Minor Four Bears Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016. The Four Bears is a value-oriented line of wines named as a tribute to Sean’s four children, but make no mistake—these wines deliver on quality and the Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception.
Instead of being a decent porch-pounder, I found the Four Bears Cabernet Sauvignon to be a wine that I wanted to savor; and it rewarded my patience with a constantly evolving taste profile. In fact, I found it downright uncommon for a wine that costs less than $15.00 to be this interesting.
When I inspected the bottle, I noticed the pleasantly low alcohol content of 13.5% ABV. This is especially notable as the wine is from Paso Robles, an AVA known for warm temperatures and ripe fruit.
In the glass, the wine had a deep garnet hue, with definite notes of cassis, a pleasant herbal quality, and a hint of truffle on the nose. However, it evolved in thirty or so minutes, with much of the herbal and truffle notes being replaced by violet and plum.
Upon my initial taste, I got cassis, of course, with the slight herbal quality, dark cherry, and dark chocolate. Later, as the wine opened, I detected additional notes of blackberry and plum. It had a medium-to-long, fairly complex finish.
Sean Minor has truly hit the ball out of the park with this one. I recommend that you stop by O’Bryan’s Wine and Spirits and try it for yourself. We have a very nice covered patio, which is enclosed and heated during the cold months, where you can relax after work and enjoy a glass. I hope to see you there!
I want to inform you of a tremendous bargain that is available for a short time at O’Bryan’s Wines and Spirits: Napa Cellars 2013 V Collection St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon.
Napa Cellars is a subsidiary of Trinchero Family Estates that is most well-known for its Classic Collection of wines, produced from a combination of estate-grown and sourced fruit and aged in French oak barrels. They are good quality, regionally representative wines that are affordably priced in the eighteen to thirty-two dollar retail range.
However, the next tier up, the V Collection, is produced with a completely different focus. It consists of vineyard-specific, 100% varietal, limited-production reserve wines with retail prices in the forty to fifty-five dollar range. As with the Classic Collection, these wines also represent very good value in their price bracket.
Napa Cellars’ winemaker, Joe Shirley, produced the 2013 V Collection Cabernet Sauvignon from their estate vineyard in St. Helena, which is planted to an equal mix of clone 7 and clone 337 Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The growing season for this vintage was characterized by warm, stable weather conditions that resulted in a long hang time and full ripening of the fruit. The 1200 case production of this wine was aged for twenty-four months in French oak barrels, of which 46% were new.
I had the pleasure of sharing a bottle of St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon with my wife. This is a medium-to-full-bodied wine with a highly pigmented, deep red color. The nose and palate are characterized by black cherry and blueberry flavors, with floral notes of violet and hints of leather and vanilla. The long, fairly complex finish is balanced by silky tannins and pleasant acidity. We found it to be delicious upon opening, but it continued to develop and improve over the course of the evening.
I saved the best part of this for last. The 2013 vintage of the V Collection Cabernet Sauvignon is currently available from the winery for fifty-five dollars per bottle. However, you don’t need to break the bank to drink it because we have it on sale at O’Bryan’s for only $27.99! This is nearly fifty percent off of the retail price. To make this deal even better, there is also a mail-in rebate! You get five dollars back for every two bottles you buy, up to a maximum of thirty dollars for a twelve-bottle purchase. As I indicated above, it’s like Christmas in January!
The 2013 V Collection St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon is likely to fly off of the shelf at this price, so come in soon and get a few bottles for your cellar!
The days are noticeably shorter and the nights are becoming long and cold. For the last week or so, I have been driving to work and returning home in the dark without even working any extra hours. Yes, winter is here! All of these short days, long nights, and low temperatures have put me in the mood for a savory stew, laden with meat and root-vegetables, and served with a rich red wine such as Viña Alberdi Rioja Reserva, 2010, from La Rioja Alta.
La Rioja Alta is a highly-regarded winery which began production in 1890. In her 1008-page compendium of wine knowledge, Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil listed this bodega as one of the region’s finest producers.
Viña Alberdi Riserva is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes grown during an exceptionally good vintage in Rioja. It was aged in American oak barrels for two years; the first year in new barrels and the second in barrels which had an average age of three years. This beauty is deep garnet in hue, with great clarity. The nose opens with dark cherry, red currant, plum, black pepper, some licorice, and a hint of vanilla. These aromas carry through to the pallet, with good tannic structure and tart acidity. The body is medium-to-full, with a fairly long finish, while the alcohol content is a mere 13.5% by volume.
At $19.99 per bottle, Viña Alberdi Rioja Reserva is a great wine. It is reasonable enough that it can be consumed over a good week-night dinner, yet it is high enough in quality that even the pickiest wine drinkers will have difficulty finding fault with it. James Suckling gave it a score of 95 points and referred to it as being “very finely crafted.” Likewise, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave this wine a score of 91 points and called it “delicious.” You can find out for yourself as we currently have a good supply on-hand at O’Bryan’s Wine and Spirits.
I sincerely hope that all of you have a blessed holiday season.
Halloween has already gone by. The days are noticeably shorter, the leaves are reaching their full fall glory, and there is a chill in the air. These all mean one thing to me–Thanksgiving is approaching! In fact, as I write this, we are only twenty-one days away from that fantastic feast when we give thanks for the bounty of the previous year.
The traditional dinner, as we all know, consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie. The most common question I hear from customers at this time of year is, “Which wine do I serve with it?” Indeed, the array of flavors that one experiences nearly simultaneously in a meal of this size and diversity can make it difficult to find a wine that doesn’t clash with something on the plate.
If you prefer red wine, as do I, one go-to for Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. Obviously, there are many Burgundies out there which will work, but, in keeping with the origin of this holiday, I like to serve an American alternative. If it is very good, affordable, and produced from 100% estate-grown fruit on a property which is environmentally conscious, I like it even better. If the winery philosophy is such that the wine comes from efforts in the vineyards rather than from excessive manipulation during production, I’m batting a thousand!
Folks, I’m here to tell you that I have found a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir which meets the criteria–Anne Amie Winemaker’s Selection Pinot Noir, 2015. This translucent, ruby-colored wine has a perfumed, floral nose of violets and sweet cherries. It is light to medium in body, with good acidity, flavors of cherry and red berry, and a hint of black pepper on the finish. An added bonus is the moderate alcohol content of 13.4%.
The good availability and reasonable price of $25.99 per bottle should make this an easy choice for your Thanksgiving meal. Please stop by O’Bryan’s and grab a couple of bottles. I think you will like it!
I will close by wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving holiday.
Signorello Estate is a small-production, artisan-quality Napa Valley winery whose estate wines I recently discovered and love. However, with prices in excess of $100 per bottle and very limited availability, it is unlikely that there will be an abundance of it residing in my cellar!
That said, there is a second line of their wines characterized by affordable prices and stunning quality. My favorite is Edge Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2013 vintage consists of fruit sourced from top Napa Valley vineyards. This blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 3% Malbec, and 3% Petit Verdot was aged for sixteen months in French oak barrels, of which 35% were new.
The nose of this inky wine is redolent of Napa Valley fruit, with dark cherry, black currant, and chocolate notes. On the palate are silky tannins with some balanced acidity and a long finish. The oak is pleasantly present, but not overpowering.
It is not often that I get this excited about sub-twenty-five dollar wine from Napa Valley because the quality at this price point is often subpar. This is not the case with Edge. This is a vibrant, luxuriant wine that screams Napa style—all for $22.99 per bottle!
Due to the recent, tragic fires in Northern California, there is a temporary shortage of Edge in the city. We have the remaining three cases that were in stock at the distributor. My advice is to get it while you can. I certainly will!
Although Bedrock Wine Company is a relative newcomer to the California wine industry in that Morgan Twain-Peterson founded it in 2007, it is rooted about as deeply in the history of California winemaking as any current winery can be. Morgan’s father is Joel Peterson, who founded Ravenswood Winery, and Morgan literally grew up in the business. He was five years old in 1986 when he made his first wine, Vino Bambino Pinot Noir. Through his father, Morgan also came to know many of the legendary figures in the history of California wine such as Joe Swan and the Teldeschi family.
In addition, Morgan and his business partner, Chris Cottrell, utilize sustainable vineyard management to produce grapes in some of the oldest and most significant vineyards in the state. Morgan’s family owns Bedrock Vineyard, which General Sherman and General Hooker first planted in 1854, and he and Chris also make wine with fruit from Evangelho Vineyard (Contra Costa County, 1890’s), Pagani Ranch (Sonoma Valley, 1880’s), Dolinsek Ranch (Russian River Valley, 1910), and Nervo Ranch (Geyserville, 1896) to name just a few.
Additionally, Bedrock produces its wine in a very traditional and ethical manner. In a quote from their website, Morgan and Chris “embrace uninoculated fermentations, native malolactic, the use of whole clusters in fermentation, minimal handling, rarely or never fine, avoid additions of things common in California like water and tartaric acid, and would rather use no oak than cheap oak.”
While Bedrock is best known for its small lot, single vineyard varietals and field blends, Morgan and Chris also produce wine under a second label, The Whole Shebang! This non-vintage wine still receives the same care and ethical production as their first-label wines and its base comes from the Bedrock Vineyard. The Tenth Cuvee Red is a rich blend of 55% Zinfandel with Carignane, Petite Sirah, Mourvedre, Alicante Bouchet, Grenache, Syrah, Barbera, and a small mix of white varietals. In fact, at $13.99 per bottle, it represents one of the best values in a red wine in our store.
In short, when you drink wine from Bedrock Wine Company, you are drinking history in a bottle. Stop by O’Bryan’s Wines & Spirits this week and try it yourself!