Saturday, July 25, 2009

Big Glass of Hater-ade...I mean, Bordeaux, Please!

I never fell in love with Bordeaux...

Back when I was just a wine lovin' fool, I took a class at the WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) in New York City. While listening to my instructor extol the virtues of fine Bordeaux, I raised my hand and made some smart-alack remark about how Bordeaux wasn't the end-all, be-all of wine. My teacher shot back something to the effect, "If one doesn't understand and adore Bordeaux, one could never truly be an expert in this field." Despite my internal temperature starting to peak, I shut my mouth. My early feeling was that Bordeaux couldn't shine Burgundies shoes and I was darn happy that everyone else loved it except me. Less people grasping at Beaune meant I would have an easier time getting my hands on it.

But I have softened my least a little. Time and experience (as well as very generous friends and colleagues) have offered me tastes of mind altering wines from Bordeaux, 1st Growths and little satellite wines alike. To me, there are two kinds of people in the world, Bordeaux people and Burgundy people. Bordeaux is regal; it's the grand-daddy of them all. I can respect that even though there definitely seems to be a "type" to the personality of a Bordeaux lover. You guys like big things...Cabernet, tannins, tooth-staining and mouth-coating wines. I completely get it! It's seductive as hell...I like to think of myself as a Burgundy guy. We're a little geeky, sorta pensive and like to speak in over-flowery language like the wine poets we are, waxing on about terroir and the soil differences between Vosne Romanee Les Beaux Monts vs. Vosne Romanee Les Malconsorts. Also Burgundy guys tend to be a bit more immediate-gratification types. Bordeaux is damn-near undrinkable in its youth (or is below) and requires 10-20 years of patience before one can experience the nirvana of Margaux. Hell, I'm a spry 40, but I don't know if I've got the stick-to-it-iveness to wait these suckers out.

And then I run across a wine like the 2004 Chateau Pape Clement Pessac-Leognan, a surpirsingly drinkable and absolutely delicious blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite being so lovable currently, this will no doubt turn into a swan in 15 years as well because of the plethora of black fruit, dark chocolate, cassis and melted licorice notes propped up by plush tannins. This wine struck me so deeply that my faith in Bordeaux has been restored, renewed and recharged. It's funny how wines can do that to you, even when you least expect it.

JCB the 4th

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Simple Things in Wine...

I got a call from my friend today thanking me for a gift I gave to him. It was a bottle of (no link, there's none left) 2008 Ameztoi Txacolina "Rubentis", a tasty Rose wine from the Basque area of Spain that I spoke about a month or so ago on this blog. He opened it with some wine loving friends and apparently everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. I gave the bottle to him as a huge "merci beaucoup" for supplying the wine and food for the aforementioned Sunday Night Debauchery listed below. Mind you, this is a guy with one of the most amazing cellars I've ever seen, filled with extremely well selected "best of the best" Old World classics. That night we probably plowed through a few thousand bucks worth of unreal juice; such a great education I received. Why in the world would JCB the 4th think that a proper offering would be a $23 bottle of Rose Txacolina?

Because there is bespoke beauty in the simplicity of wine, the things that move one's soul. It's not's not who's is bigger. It's the right wine for the right meal with the right crowd and the fit is exacting and precise. It's like the perfect riff', so basic at its core and refreshingly pure.

Wine is quite a wonder to behold if you can allow your mind to accept all it is...

JCB the 4th

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sunday Night Debauchery

My good friend and wine biz associate, Doug, invited me to his gorgeous home for a night of sheer wine masochism. No photos to protect all involved but witness this gory mess...

1985 Krug
1995 Billecart Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois Billecart
1991 Coche Dury Meursault Perrieres
2004 Roagna Barolo Vigna Rionda
2004 Giacosa Barolo Falleto (white label)
1992 Niellon Batard Montrachet
1992 Ramonet Batard Montrachet
1993 Rousseau Chambertin
1993 Bachelet Charmes Chambertin
2006 Rene Rostaing Cote Rotie Cote Blonde
1990 Giacosa Barolo Collina Rionda (red label) - corked - like a stake thru the heart!
1978 Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape
1988 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve de Celestins
2002 Neveu Sancerre Vielles Vignes
1999 Berthet Bondet Jura Chateau Chalon
1989 Huet Vouvray Cuvee Constance
1995 Dal Forno Nattare Passito

And a Cuban...the only misstep of the night.

Thank you, kind Sir!

JCB the 4th

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Love From Wall Street...

Big shout out to the folks at the Wall Street Journal for recognizing out little shop this weekend. In a question about temperature control, they referenced 56 as a champion of all things chilly. We appreciate the love...

Below is my newsletter to our clients about the article and why we freeze our butts off at 56...


Despite the name of the store, sometimes folks come in shocked at the temperature. "How can you stand it in here?” the common question heard. Quite honestly, we care more about your wine than we do our own comfort. It's that important. Just take a look at the recent Wall Street Journal article by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, where they tackle the question of storage temperature and champion our store as a place to get perfectly stored wine. They explain superbly what we've know for quite a while; temperature is of paramount importance. So critical that we staked our name on it.

The bad things that happen to wine occur at breakneck speed when the temperature rises. Produce is kept cool at the supermarket and during transport so the food stays fresh and allows the natural flavors to shine. Wine is no different. We want to provide you with the brilliant flavors the winemaker coaxed from the fruit that was naturally and carefully harvested. And while we have many offerings that are rarities, we care just as much about the storage of the $12 white from the Touraine.

We'll gladly suffer for our winemakers art and your pleasure.


Joe Bembry
Director of Wine

JCB the 4th

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ronchi di Cialla - The Best Italian Whites, IMHO...

Picture late May and you’ve just come off a 10 hour connected flight horror show, piled 7 adults in a mini-van and drove an hour to Friuli. After multiple tastings, you wander hungry and exhausted back in the van. Finally, you drive up a dusty, windy hill that opens up into a plateau with a gorgeous garden surrounding a 15th century home with vines of Ribolla Gialla, Picolit, Verduzzo, Scioppetino and Refosco in full bloom. This is the oasis known as Ronchi di Cialla, the best of crus in Friuli and home to the most memorable white wines I’ve ever tasted from Italy, period.

The Rapuzzi family has owned the property for 45 years and Paolo Rapuzzi relentlessly holds on to the traditions of the area. His staunch stance on only using indigenous varietals is about more than money. It’s about history…and it was history that he made when he “rescued” the Scioppetino grape from extinction. He was given an award by the Italian government for doing so in 1975. Legendary, yes, but how are the wines?

Amazing…just take a sniff and swirl of these wines and you’ll be in love. They are unique, extremely food friendly and age effortlessly (I tasted back to 1997 at the winery) continuing to gain depth and intrigue. They are superb blends of Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo and Picolit.

2007 Cialla Bianco – One year in bottle and one in barrel give this the tools to display its waxy white fruits, almond and lemon drop tones. Long finishing and young with a vibrant tangerine note in the resolution. $38

2004 Cialla Bianco – More developed nose and palate with briny tones, white fruits, spice cake, floral honeysuckle notes and hints of apricot. This is a dynamite wine with white asparagus risotto, as I can personally attest. $52

1999 Cialla Bianco – Outstanding aromas of vital white fruits, this seems to have barely aged a bit. Very fresh fruit cocktail, clover honey, melons, macadamia, and sea salt. Like breathing in fresh ocean air, this is what wine dreams are made of…miraculous length and freshness. Wow! $65

These wines are great, period...end of story!

JCB the 4th

20 Seconds Away from Wine...

The final stroke has been played and Jay-Beezee is the 2009 Mercer County Match Play Champion 2nd Flight. A long winded title for a minor achievement that was none-the-less extremely satisfying. Not only because I dusted off a 16 year old flat belly phenom 5 & 4 (five holes up with four holes to play, for you non-golfers) but also because my father was there to witness the carnage in the final match. Pictured at left, showing perfect form at Trump National last year, he even was giving my brother in Los Angeles text message updates during the match...erroneously, I might add. Once I got up by 4 holes, he began to fib about what was going on; relaying things like my opponent holed from the bunker to close the gap, just made a string of birdies, 50 foot putts and other miraculous, big fat whopping lies. See, I told you he was diabolical!

But it really was a thrill to accomplish the feat and a treat to have him see it. 20 seconds is up now, back to wine, so read above...

JCB the 4th

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Today's Best

Look out for the new vintage of Seis de Azul y Garanza, the best selling wine in the history of 56. The 2006 version can be found HERE and while there are a couple cases left of it, the 2007 will be arriving shortly and it is devastating. There is just a little more of everything, juicy ripe dark berries, complex coffee tones, heady aromatics and supple tannins. This might be one that will age a bit as well for those who like things a bit more mature. But for those seeking sex appeal, I can't think of a better burger candidate than this right now, perfect for the holiday weekend. Fire up the grill, make mine medium rare, and don't forget the cheddar!

As an aside, there is a little wine by the same producer called Abril de Azul y Garanza that is done in cement tank and is a cheap, juicy dynamo. Look for that in September...

Just landing today is THE white of the week, a minerally yet luscious Gruner Veltliner that goes by the name KALMUCK. It is a Federspiel (think Kabinett if this was Germany) but its bone dry with beautiful weight, crispy white fruits and just a measly 12.5% alc. Could it be the perfect wine? Well, it's darned close because it's just $16.50 and that makes it one to load in the trunk by the case.

Friday night is staff holiday party night. So much Txacolina, Cialla Bianco and Chateauneuf we'll feel it coming out of our pores Saturday morning!

JCB the 4th