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The reds are elegant and fresh with layers of delicate juicy red fruit and great balance. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Overall, the 2017 vintage in Burgundy was excellent, providing both high quality and considerable quantity. Both reds and whites have a good fruit-acid-alcohol balance.

The whites are splendid; perhaps the best vintage since 2014, with Chablis showing particularly well with floral aromas and flavors of melon, citrus and honeysuckle.

The reds are elegant and fresh with layers of delicate juicy red fruit and great balance – classic Burgundian pinot noir flavor profile. The best wines of the vintage should age well for 20 years.

At a recent trade event, I tasted over 100 wines with tasting notes below.

NV J.J. Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne (sparkling 100 percent chardonnay): Brioche, celery, dried flowers and citrus. Excellent balance.

2017 J.J. Vincent Bourgogne Blanc: Wow! So much fruit; orange blossoms, citrus.

2017 J.J. Vincent Pouilly-Fuissé “Marie Antoinette”: Subtle hints of tangerine, citrus and oil of bergamot. Don’t miss this one!

2017 Château Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé “Tête de Cuvée”: Bouquet brimming with orange, citrus and yellow plums. Well-balanced.

2017 Château Fuissé “Les Combettes”: Light bouquet with fruit flavors of honeydew melon; fruit-acid balance is superb.

2017 Château Fuissé “Les Brûlés”: An aroma and flavor of green apples, citrus, orange, pears and honeysuckle.

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru Les Champeaux”: Bouquet and flavors of raspberry, cherry, spices, licorice and oak. Smooth finish; great aftertaste.

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Chambolle-Musigny “Les Echézeaux”: Bouquet and flavor of ripe pinot noir berries; well-balanced; soft in the mouth

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Vosne-Romanée “1er Les Rouges du Dessus”: Full bouquet and flavor of raspberries, black cherries, yellow plums and hints of earth and brown sugar.

2017 Domaine du Comte Armand “Bourgogne Aligoté”: Perfumed aroma of white peaches, citrus and green apples. Hints of almonds and pine with an underlying tartness. One of the best wines made from the Aligoté grape I’ve tasted in years.

2017 Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru, La Combe aux Moines”: A fruity bouquet of plums, almonds and black currants. Great aftertaste.

2017 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos du Château”: Aromas of ripe berries, citrus and violets. Great balance.

2017 Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Grand Cru”: Sweet, concentrated, jammy, spicy fruit: layers of berries, plums, spices and vanilla.

2017 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin “Clos des Ruchottes Grand Cru”: Medium-full bouquet and flavor of blackberries, jam, chocolate and Damson plums.

2017 Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru”: Bouquet of jammy spices, plums, cola and cherries. Almost a sweetness in the mouth. Although young, it’s beginning to get velvety. What a wine!

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

With so many buzzwords, terms, phrases and descriptions about wine being broadcast, spoken and written about, it’s understandable to be uncomfortable speaking or even ordering wine at your favorite restaurant or wine shop.

To alleviate confusion and misunderstanding about wine, I’ve defined the most commonly used terms.

Acidity: Tartness or sharpness in the taste of wine due to natural acids. Not to be confused with sour or astringent.

Aroma: The smell or odor of a grape or grapes used to make the wine.

Balance: A wine whose components — sugar, fruit, tannin, acid, alcohol, wood and so forth — are evident but don’t dominate one another.

Body: The viscosity, weight on the tongue or the mouth-filling capacity of a wine. Is it light bodied (skim milk), medium bodied (whole milk) or full bodied (heavy cream)?

Bouquet: The smell or odor of wine that has been aged in a barrel or bottle.

Complex: Wine with many elements, odors, flavors, tastes and subtle nuances, which seem to harmonize.

Corked: An unpleasant musty odor (mushroom, wet cardboard) or flavor imparted to wine by a defective (moldy) cork.

Herbaceous: Wines that have an aroma and flavor of herbs, such as sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.

Oxidized: A wine that has lost its freshness due to exposure to air.

Dry: Wine with little or no noticeable (tip of tongue) sugar, usually containing less than 0.5 percent sugar. 

Oaky/Woody: The odor and/or flavor of wines aged in newer oak barrels or aged too long in barrels.

Sweet: Wines that have moderate-high levels of residual sugar, which can be detected on the tip of the tongue. This is determined by the winemaker and not due to the grape variety.

Fruity: Wines that have a defined, pleasant aroma and flavor from grapes.

Tannin: Slightly bitter and astringent compound derived from the skins of grapes but also present in stems, seeds and oak barrels.

Finish: Flavor impressions left in the mouth after the wine is swallowed. Some wines finish harsh, hot and astringent, while others are smooth, soft and elegant.

After tasting, it’s important to describe the wine and discuss it with fellow tasters so you can communicate effectively. It is best to describe the wine and make notes, so you can remember what the wine tastes like in contrast to other wines. Your notes will allow you to revisit a wine you tasted and create a mental picture of that wine.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

‘I only drink Champagne when in love and when not.’

— Christian Pol Roger

Bob Lipinski

Pol Roger founded the Champagne Pol Roger house in 1849, in Epernay, France. In the ensuing years, Pol Roger has created a name and reputation as one of finest Champagnes in the world. Perhaps the biggest lover of Pol Roger was Sir Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom.

In 1945, in celebration of the liberation of France, Churchill was served Pol Roger 1928 at his residence in Paris. According to his son Randolph, Winston was so enamored by the Champagne he bought up all the 1928 and 1934 Pol Roger that was remaining.

Every year for his birthday, in tribute to the great friendship between the Pol Roger family and Winston Churchill, he would receive a case of Pol Roger until his death in 1965. The labels of the Champagne sent to England after his death were bordered in black.

To pay permanent tribute to the great statesman, Pol Roger introduced Cuvée Sir Winston Champagne. The first vintage of Cuvée Sir Winston was 1975, released in 1984. The precise blend of Sir Winston is a family secret and is produced only in the finest vintages.

The following are my tasting notes from a press event:

Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV “White Foil”: Blend of pinot noir, meunier, and chardonnay grapes. Pale golden color with a fruity bouquet of green apples and pears. Medium bodied with delicate bubbles and hints of grass and citrus.

Pol Roger “Blanc de Blancs” 2009: 100 percent chardonnay. Pale straw colored with a delicate bouquet and flavor of apples, brioche, chamomile, citrus and ginger. Superbly balanced with a very long lingering aftertaste.

Pol Roger Brut 2008: Blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Light yellow colored with a full bouquet of Granny Smith apples, citrus, pears and tangerine. Medium bodied and full of flavor. A smooth finish and pleasing, long aftertaste.

Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2009: Blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Salmon colored with a bouquet bursting of raspberries, wild cherries, pomegranate and oranges. The wine is dry, yet a fruity flavor persists to the end.

Pol Roger “Cuvée Prestige Sir Winston Churchill” 2006: The wine is aged for an average of 10 years before release. An elegant and well-developed bouquet of toasted brioche, jasmine, citrus, toast, pears and anise. Superbly balanced with a velvety texture and lingering flavors of spices, almonds and anise. An excellent Champagne with which to celebrate the holidays.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

There is little in the world more alluring than a glass of red Bordeaux wine. In Bordeaux, centuries of blending mastery combined with a unique terrain and climate give birth to refinement and equilibrium of a highly enticing nature. Within the region of Bordeaux there are many districts that make red, white, rosé, sweet white and even sparkling wines.

I recently attended a tasting of the wines of Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Julien, Margaux and Sauternes with representatives from each estate pouring and discussing the wines. Here is a list of the recommended wines I tasted including some tasting notes.

Château Latour-Martillac (Pessac-Léognan): The winery makes both red and white AOC wines.

2015 Château Latour-Martillac Blanc (spectacular bouquet of melon, pear and citrus. Mouth-filling with an excellent balance and great aftertaste)

2011 and 2013 Château Latour-Martillac Blanc

2015 Château Latour-Martillac Rouge (dark cherry color; bouquet of black currants, smoke, black raspberry; tannic with a smooth finish and lingering aftertaste)

2010 Château Latour-Martillac Rouge

Château Beychevelle (Fourth Growth Saint-Julien): The winery makes only red AOC wine. On the label of Château Beychevelle is a “Nordic Ship,” with grape clusters on its sails.

2015 Château Beychevelle (dark, almost purple color; bouquet of black currants, oak, black cherries; powerful wine with plenty of tannin and a fruity aftertaste)

2005, 2009 and 2014 Château Beychevelle

2015 Amiral de Beychevelle (second label of Château Beychevelle)

Château Kirwan (Third Growth Margaux): The winery makes only red AOC wine.

2009 Château Kirwan (ruby color with an aromatic bouquet of spicy cherry, menthol and blueberry; medium-bodied, beginning to soften with a smooth refined finish)

2008, 2010 and 2015 Château Kirwan

Château Guiraud (First Growth Sauternes): The winery makes both dry and sweet AOC white wines. The wines are a blend of Sémillon and sauvignon blanc grapes.

2009 Château Guiraud (gold-amber in color; bouquet and flavor of coconut, honey, orange, pineapple, peach, apricot and spice; luscious and sweet finish …Wow! What a delicious wine)

2010 and 2015 Château Guiraud

2015 Petit Guiraud (second label of Château Guiraud)

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

‘What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.’ 

William Sokolin

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Zinfandel is a classic all-American grape variety, planted in virtually all of California’s grape-growing areas. It is a thin-skinned, medium-acid red grape with a mysterious past and has been grown throughout California for over 150 years. For decades it was believed that zinfandel came to the United States from Hungary in the mid-1860s. However, some 30 years earlier it was already growing in a nursery owned by William Robert Prince, now known as the Botanical Gardens in Flushing, Queens, New York.

In 1967, a U.S. Department of Agriculture plant pathologist first discovered the similarity of the Italian grape known as primitivo and zinfandel while in Bari, Italy. Italian researchers determined the primitivo grape had been grown in Apulia since the late 1700s. In 1976 a University of California scientist tested both grape varieties and determined them to be the same. That led researchers to Croatia where growers were convinced that zinfandel was the same grape variety as the local Plavac Mali. After further DNA testing it was revealed that Plavac Mali was not related to zinfandel. However, while the researchers were in Croatia, they heard stories about another indigenous grape that may in fact be the key to unlock zinfandel’s mystery.

In 2001, it was confirmed through DNA testing that zinfandel and an indigenous Croatian grape called Crljenak Kastelanski are the same. Additional research determined that Tribidrag is the oldest known Croatian name for the Crljenak Kastelanski grape variety, which appears in print as early as 1518.

George West from Massachusetts made California’s first white zinfandel at the El Pinal Winery near Stockton, California, in 1869; the first varietally labeled zinfandel was made in 1944 by the Parducci Winery; and the first rosé zinfandel was introduced in 1955 by Pedroncelli Winery. Sutter Home was the winery that defined and popularized the white zinfandel category and craze in the early 1970s.

The zinfandel grape’s history is not only fascinating but ponder this … winemakers can produce a white zinfandel, rosé zinfandel, red zinfandel, sparkling zinfandel, late-harvest zinfandel and port wine zinfandel.

A few recommended zinfandel wines I recently tasted are:

2015 Ravenswood “Dickerson,” Napa Valley

2015 Pedroncelli “Bushnell Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2014 Pedroncelli “Mother Clone,” Dry Creek

2017 Pedroncelli “Dry Rosé of Zinfandel,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Teldeschi Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Del Barba Vineyard,” Contra Costa

2015 Kunde Estate Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley

2015 Kunde Reserve Century Vines, Sonoma Valley

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

A view of the Barone Cornacchia winery with sunflowers in the foreground.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

The Barone Cornacchia winery is situated in the region of Abruzzo (known as Abruzzi in Italy) located in a mountainous area east of Latium in the south-central part of Italy off the Adriatic Sea. In this region the two most prolific and popular grape varieties are trebbiano (a white grape) and Montepulciano (a red grape).

The winery, which dates to 1577, is run by Barone Cornacchia’s son Filippo and daughter Caterina. It specializes in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a single vineyard Le Coste wine in addition to the everyday Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a reserve from the prestigious Colline Teramane DOCG.

I tasted some of the wines with Caterina Cornacchia on several occasions and here are my notes:

2016 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (100 percent trebbiano grapes): If you don’t like trebbiano because it’s thin and neutral tasting, well you’ve been drinking mass-produced examples. What a wine! Medium bodied with citrus notes of orange along with almonds, apple, cantaloupe, hazelnuts, melon, pears and wild flowers.

2015 Pecorino “Colli Aprutini” (100 percent pecorino grapes). No, not the cheese! Pecorino is a white grape that deserves considerably more attention. Straw colored with flavors of apples, citrus, figs, peaches, pears and tropical fruit. Quite dry, with a bitter almond aftertaste.

2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). Dark almost purple color with plenty of dark fruit, blackberries, black cherries, jam, anise, chestnuts and a spicy warming aftertaste. Not a mass-produced wine! Forget a bottle, buy a case!

2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigna Le Coste” (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). This elegant “single-vineyard” wine was aged for 14 months in Slavonian oak barrels. Deep ruby color with flavors of plum, spices, black currants, cherries, and earthy overtones of mushrooms and chestnuts.

2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Colline Teramane” DOCG “Vizzarro” (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). The wine was aged for more than 2 years in oak barrels. Rich, dry, full bodied and powerful with concentrated fruit; flavors of jam, blackberries and black licorice; with dried leaves, vanilla and plenty of tannin to ensure longevity.

Two cheeses from Abruzzo worth searching out are scamorza and Scanno:

Scamorza, a cow’s milk cheese, similar to mozzarella is light yellow, with a rindless pear-shaped exterior and soft to semisoft texture. It is mild and slightly salty tasting and often smoked (affumicato). In southern Italian dialect, the name scamorza means “dunce.”

Scanno, a sheep’s milk cheese from the mountain village of Scanno is traditionally eaten with fresh fruit. The exterior is black with a buttery pale-yellow interior. The flavor has a mild burnt tinge to it.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Amari (plural of amaro), the Italian term for “bitters,” refers to distilled spirits containing an infusion of bittering “botanicals” such as herbs, roots or barks. Some of the many botanicals used include gentian, rhubarb, quinine, aniseed, saffron, peppermint, cloves, bitter orange and cinnamon. Bitters were originally produced to soothe and relax the stomach after meals and therefore are often referred to as “digestives.” They are also used as ingredients in some cocktails.

Aperire, a Latin word, that means to open, is the origin of the word apéritif — a beverage that usually “opens” lunch or dinner as a stimulant to the appetite. Most apéritifs have an initial sweet taste with a somewhat bitter aftertaste because of the use of quinine, a bitter compound that comes from the bark of the Cinchona tree. This slight bitterness whets the appetite and cleanses the palate.

Unfortunately, many consumers cringe at the bitter flavor of some amari, preferring sweeter beverages to run across their palates, while others look upon bitters as a “cult” or “rite of passage” beverage. There appears to be growing interest in this category, which can easily be shown by the vast number of articles and cocktails about bitters in the news.

Although Italy has the lion’s share of amari, we also find delectable offerings from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the United States and many other countries. 

Here are some of my favorites from Italy:

Aperol (22 proof, Veneto): Luminous orange color. Made from an infusion of aromatic herbs, spices and roots, including bitter orange, gentian and rhubarb.

Averna (68 proof, Sicily): Dark brown with colalike aroma and bittersweet taste; hints of black pepper, cloves, licorice and vanilla.

Branca Menta (60 proof, Lombardy): Dark, red-brown color; bouquet and flavor of spearmint, chocolate, citrus, menthol and herbs.

Campari (48 proof, Lombardy): Ruby-red, bitter beverage; bouquet and taste of bitter orange, cherry and strawberry, with a bittersweet aftertaste.

Cynar (34 proof, Veneto): Brown color; bouquet and taste of almonds, herbs, honey and walnuts.

Fernet-Branca (80 proof, Lombardy): Dark brown, extremely bitter; contains more than 40 herbs and spices.

Ramazzotti (60 proof, Lombardy): Dark brown, bittersweet; made from 33 different herbs, roots and spices.

There is no one correct way to serve amari; they are great served “neat” (room temperature), refrigerator chilled or on the rocks. Each can be served as a tall drink, filled with sparkling mineral water (or sparkling wine) and garnished with a wedge of lemon, lime or even orange. A maraschino cherry on top may provide a finishing touch.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc, 2016 (Sonoma, California): Perfumed bouquet loaded with honeysuckle, melon and stone fruit. Flavors of dill, pineapple, citrus and passion fruit. Don’t miss a bottle. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally taste and evaluate more than 100 alcoholic beverages (wine, spirits, beer and sake) per week. Some are good, some are very good to excellent, while others are not very good. During the last month I had an opportunity to taste some very interesting wines and spirits that I’d like to share with you.

Moletto Grappa di Prosecco, Italy (80 proof): Crystal clear with a delicate, refined and perfumed bouquet of pears, fennel and chamomile flowers. Surprisingly smooth with hints of ginger, orange and apples. Serve slightly chilled.

Lazzaroni Amaro Liqueur, Italy: Dark brown colored with an intense bouquet of ginger, spices, cloves, rhubarb and cola. Semisweet with flavors of peppermint, black pepper, herbs and a touch of bitterness. Great over ice or as a tall drink with some sparkling mineral water.

Laird’s Straight Applejack 1780, Scobeyville, New Jersey (86 proof): Made from an astonishing 17 pounds of apples including Winesap, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith and Jonathan. Amber colored with overtones of baked apples and cider. Very complex and full tasting with flavors of apples, burnt sugar, vanilla and orange peel. Warming, smooth finish and very long aftertaste. I love this straight with some ice cubes with perhaps a splash of water. Superb!

Richland Single Estate Rum, Georgia, USA: Made from pure sugarcane grown in Georgia. Amber colored with a distinctive bouquet and flavor of cinnamon, grass, vanilla, nutmeg, maple syrup and spices. Smooth with virtually no burn. Excellent rum.

Absolut Ruby Red Vodka (Sweden): I am a Scotch n’ soda drinker and generally don’t drink “clear spirits” with seltzer. Boy was I surprised when I added ice and seltzer, then gave it a stir with my swizzle stick and brought it to my nose. Powerful aromas of grapefruit abounded. I drank deeply and was rewarded with flavors of grapefruit that continued well into the second sip. Absolutely (pardon the pun) delicious!

Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé, 2017, France (blend of grenache, cinsaut and vermentino): Dry and very clean with flavors of strawberries, red cherries and plums and a lingering berry aftertaste. Perfect for summertime!

Steele Zinfandel Pacini Vineyard, 2015,  Lake County, California (aged 12 months in oak): Bouquet and flavor of spicy cherries, cranberry cola and menthol with undertones of vanilla, nutmeg and dried plums. Big mouthful of a well-made wine.

Rei Manfredi Bianco, 2017, Basilicata, Italy (blend of Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer): Really perfumed with citrus overtones and flavors of litchi, jasmine and tropical fruit.

Rapitalà Piano Maltese, 2017, Sicily, Italy (blend of catarratto, grillo and chardonnay): Dry, clean and crispy with an aroma and flavor of citrus, pears, delicious apples and roasted almonds. Slightly tart with a wonderful aftertaste.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Store bottles with corks horizontal to keep the cork wet. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

“A man, fallen on hard times, sold his art collection but kept his wine cellar. When asked why he did not sell his wine, he said, ‘A man can live without art, but not without culture.’” — Author Unknown

Wines are best stored at a temperature of 52 to 55˚F, which is perfect for those who have temperature-controlled cellars or perhaps live in old castles with stone foundations. However, most people live in homes or apartments that are kept at a constant 68 to 72˚F, which creates storage problems.

Find the coolest spot in your home or apartment and keep your wines there. Prefabricated wine racks are fine, providing they keep bottles in a horizontal position, so the wine will always stay in contact with the cork.

If you purchase red wines that need aging and you don’t have a perfect wine cellar, these wines will mature at a slightly faster rate at warm temperatures. For example, if the recommended maturity of a red wine is 10 years, keeping it at warmer temperatures will advance the maturity date by maybe a year or so at most.

Most red wines are best enjoyed within four to seven years after the vintage date, while white wines within three years after vintage date. The exception are full-bodied, tannic red wines (including port), which will benefit from aging.

Wine’s longevity can be attributed to many factors, among them higher acidity, high alcohol, carbon dioxide, concentrated fruit, sugar (residual) and tannin, which is an antioxidant. 

For the proper storage and aging of wines:

•Ideal storage temperature is 52 to 55°F; no light; 55 to 65 percent humidity; no vibrations. Avoid kitchen, above the refrigerator or garage storage, which can be quite hot.

•Store bottles with corks horizontal to keep the cork wet. Avoid upside down storage, which may lead to leaking corks. Upright storage of “still” wines results in dried corks.

•Storing champagne and sparkling wine upright will keep it fresher and lasting longer.

•An empty corrugated cardboard wine or liquor box turned on its side makes a handy “wine rack.” Drainage tiles and concrete blocks are also ideal.

•Sparkling wines and champagne should be consumed soon after purchasing. The exception are the vintage-dated bottlings, which should be consumed within 10 years of the vintage date.

My aging rules are simple; I’d rather open a bottle of a young wine and say, “It tastes good now but will be better in ‘X’ years” rather than opening a bottle of wine aged for many years and say, “It was probably good several years ago, but now it’s over-the-hill!”

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

‘No, Agnes, a Bordeaux is not a house of ill repute.’ 

— George Bain 1920–2006, Canadian author, “Champagne is for Breakfast,” 1972

At a fabulous private wine event, I had the opportunity of tasting wines from three classic Bordeaux wineries dating back to 1982. The wineries were Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Château Branaire-Ducru, and Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Leading the sit-down discussion were representatives from each of the Bordeaux estates. My tasting notes of some of the wines are below.

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac; fifth growth—1855 Classification)

Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

2009: Dark red color with a complex bouquet of fruits, black currant, cedar, spices, licorice. Youthful.

2006: Bouquet of black currant liqueur with hints of cedar, black tea. Still tannic.

2005: Garnet-color with hints of cherries, black currants, spices and wet stone. Still quite youthful.

2000: Brick-color; bouquet of cherries, mint, licorice, and plums. Still quite flavorful and fruity.

Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien; fourth growth—1855 Classification) 

Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Wines are aged in oak barrels for 16 to 20 months.

2011: Dark color with a bouquet of cedar, sweet cherries, chocolate, and spices. Some tannin to lose. Overall quite young.

2010: Closed, tight nose; heaps of fruit, well-balanced, tannin and plenty of cherries.

2008: Perfumed bouquet, violets, dried red fruits, well-balanced, still tannic, some black currants.

2005: Bouquet loaded with brown baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), wonderfully structured, softening. Still youthful.

1989: Perfumed bouquet of roses, cherries and violets. Medium-full bodied and elegant but thinning out. Drink by 2020.

1982: Brick-color; certain sweetness of fruit; soft, elegant with some tannin, hint of tea and orange peel. Drink by 2020. 

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Martillac, Graves)

Red wines are made from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Red wines are aged in oak barrels for about 18 months.

2010 ‘Blanc’: (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon grapes) Bouquet and flavor of coconut, marzipan, citrus, peach, mango and ripe melons. 10 months in oak.

2012 ‘Blanc’: (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon grapes) Flavors of peach, apricot and citrus, with hints of caramel and star anise. 10 months in oak.

2012 ‘Rouge’: Dark colored with huge mouthful of black tea, black currants, spices and black cherries.

2009 ‘Rouge’: Full-flavored with red fruits abounding; spices, perfumed bouquet, cinnamon and raspberries.

2000 ‘Rouge’: Notes of sweet cherries, cranberry, licorice, and black raspberry with light tannins. Elegant.

1998 ‘Rouge’: Maroon-colored with an earthy bouquet; black currants, dark fruits, sweet cherries, leather, mushrooms. Velvety and very long aftertaste. Wow!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Gin, Vodka, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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