Here at JJ Buckley, January brings with it thoughts of Bordeaux, as the Union des Grand Crus travels the country pouring the latest releases while we make plans for attending the en primeur tastings in France. And with Bordeaux on the brain, it’s not too hard to start dreaming of Paris, the city where we land before traveling south, and where I always make sure to get in an extra day to check out the latest and greatest culinary pit-stops.
Like almost every major city these days, Paris is undergoing another seismic shift in their dining scene. With strong influences from American cuisine (including the arrival of many expat chefs), the plates arriving on today’s Parisian tables highlight bold colors, fresh ingredients and light-handed cooking techniques. In short, they are quite different from the requirements of haute cuisine, which dominated French cooking for decades. Traditional French dining once meant maintaining a large staff and paying rent in pricey neighborhoods. All of the required overhead kept prices too high at a time when diners started tightening their wallets and eating out less. At the same time, the strong traditions surrounding French cuisine and service left little room for younger chefs to innovate in the kitchen and promote a relaxed environment in the dining room. Paris was ready for change and (thankfully) that change has arrived. (more…)
Over the course of the past few months, evidence has been put forth that Bordeaux, as Rodney Dangerfield might say, “ain’t got no respect”. It’s an observation that Matt Kramer made in a recent Wine Spectator piece as well as by Eric Asimov in the The New York Times. These articles attempt to discern the “whys” of it all. For instance, why is it that Bordeaux doesn’t get much love these days? But we aren’t asking that question at JJ Buckley, as our third annual tribute to Bordeaux sold out in record time, once again.
Each year, our tasting highlights one of Bordeaux’s frequently forgotten attributes—they are wines of incredible value. And this year, we decided to investigate another important quality of Bordeaux—the capacity of Bordeaux’s flavors and aromas to be transformed with time in the cellar. Spanning vintages from 1998-2003, with prices ranging from $25-$45 per bottle, this tasting was a great opportunity to examine the evidence firsthand.
Getting wind of a Burgundy tasting sends most of us in the wine trade into a vinous tizzy. And so it was last week that we jumped across the bay to
Some '06 Burgs, ready to taste
RN74, San Francisco’s shrine to Burgundy and location for a tasting of assorted releases from the Vineyard Brands portfolio. Founded in 1971 by Robert Haas, a former New York City retailer, Vineyard Brands quickly became one of the country’s top importers of quality Burgundy and we looked forward to exploring their collection of estates.
Rather than the new releases we were expecting, we were fortunate that Vineyard Brands had decided to give us another look at reds and whites from 2006. Four years after vintage, it was an ideal time to assess the development of these wines and get a feel for where they are headed. Upon release, Stephen Tanzer observed that the ’06 whites were “rich, powerful wines, often high in alcohol. Their glycerol textures and often exotic tropical fruit character give them great early sex appeal.” At the same time, Bruce Sanderson noted in the Wine Spectator that “the young Pinots also amazed me, with their immediate charm, seduction and balance.” (more…)
The Institute of the Masters of Wine is a London based organization devoted to the education of the wine trade which culminates in the famous Master of Wine exam, a rigorous four day series of tastings and essays. Equivalent in study to a Ph.D., there are currently 289 members who have completed the study program and are involved in the wine trade in occupations as varied as journalists to grape growers.
MW Tim Hanni digs deep to pour some more Champagne.
The average consumer will probably not have too much direct contact with an MW; that is something that usually occurs with members of the trade. Once a year, however, The Institute hosts a tasting where both consumers and the trade mingle with local MWs to raise funds for their scholarship program.
To do so, they assemble a formidable amount of top-shelf champagne and limit attendance to a few hundred. (more…)