Another Bigtime Rhone Value – 2011 Chateau de la Negly $16.95

October 27, 2014 Uncategorized  No comments


Here's another killer value from the up-and-coming Languedoc appellation in France's southern Rhone Valley.  I drank this last week with friends at Chicago's Bite Cafe and it was a big hit at the table.  It's a deeply concentrated blend of 50% Carignan, 20% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah, which in addition to the concentration, features complex dark berry flavors and great length.

In addition to the complex flavors, this wine features a complex name: Chateau de la Negly Coteaux du Languedoc la Clape Cuvee de la Cot.  As I've said before, France, and especially Rhone, needs to take care of their naming conventions and they would sell tons more wine.  This one's naming convention is the name of the winery (Chateau de la Negly) the name of the

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Chappellet Winery: Pioneers Then and Now

October 9, 2014 News and Opinion  No comments

Chappellet Modern ArtOur most recent visit to Chappellet Winery concluded with a chance meeting with Cyril Chappellet, who had just pulled up in his Chevy Volt – a fitting end to a beautiful afternoon where the family’s focus on the place, their product and most important, the sustainability of both, became a theme.

 A ‘Natural’ Passion

We were greeted by our gracious hosts, Mary Pat and Candice when we arrived in the reception lobby of the winery, where we also found founder Don Chappellet hard at work at his desk.  Uniformly, the natural passion displayed by Chappellet’s staff exceeds that of any winery staff I’ve met.  Nothing is contrived, but their excitement about their property, vines and wines permeates everything they do.

As we made our way

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Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs – Zinfandel At Its Finest

September 30, 2014 High End Values  No comments

Ridge Geyserville 2012

If you're talking about Zinfandel (really American wine in general) you would be hard pressed to find a better producer than Ridge.  Ridge's iconic label has graced the world's best Zinfandels for decades and 2012 is turning out to be a banner vintage for Ridge, along with the rest of California.  My favorite of their releases are the Lytton Springs and Geyserville bottlings, both from Sonoma County.  I've been drinking these wines since the 2006 vintage and have never had a bad bottle.  You can't go wrong with either - the Geyserville tends to be a bit more overt and the Lytton tends to age better.  But in reality, they are more similar than different.

What makes Ridge Zinfandels so good?

They aren't actually Zins.  Both of these wines contain less

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A Top CA (Under $20) Chard with Simple Belgian Beer Mussels

September 29, 2014 High End Values  No comments

Chalk Hill and Mussels

Chalk Hill is known for their Estate Chardonnay. But what do you do if you don't want to spend the $48 for that wine but you still want their signature quality and style?  Until 2012, there was nothing you could do.

New for the 2012 vintage, Chalk Hill is releasing their first wine that is not from their namesake appellation.  This Chardonnay comes from the very cold Sonoma Coast appellation, not to be confused with the larger Sonoma County (of which it is a part) or the Southern Sonoma Valley appellations. Sonoma needs to rename these to lessen the confusion, but that's for another time.

The proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean makes this Chardonnay very crisp, but it still possesses the signature Chalk Hill oak influence.  The wine was a perfect

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What I’m Drinking – Week of 9/14/2014

September 26, 2014 News and Opinion  No comments

These posts are meant to provide commentary on my favorite wines, independent of price or value.  I will be scoring these wines as a point of reference.  The price listed is the average retail price.  Many times I have been able to purchase the wine cheaper at online auctions and discount retailers like LA Wine Company.  Often, I use a Coravin device to pour a single glass from an unopened bottle.
2006 Montagna Tre Vigneti Napa Valley Cabernet ($50)
The first release from this fantastic Pritchard Hill winery, this 2006 is tasting better than ever.  As with many 2006s this wine is starting to come alive aromatically.  It seems to have gained weight in the last few years as well.  This winery, which borders David Arthur, Colgin, and Continuum, is one to seek out - and the vintages only

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90 Point Rhone under $12 – Chateau Bizard Grignan les Adhemar Montagne de Raucoule (WA90, $11.95)

September 25, 2014 Under $12 Deals  No comments

Chateau Bizard 2011

From the Southern Rhone appellation of Grignan-les Adhemar (new to me), comes this killer Syrah-based blend from Chateau Bizard.  As the years go by, my daily drinker wines have experienced some "price creep".  Besides spending more, the other problem with this phenomenon is I'm getting quite a bit more picky about what I consider a quality wine.  The grading curve has simply been raised.

That said, this is a rock solid Syrah.  It blends southern Rhone and fruit exuberance with northern Rhone cut and focus (it's from the north part of southern Rhone).  You might say it's the best of both (old) worlds. Furthermore, finding a domestic wine, Syrah or otherwise, that even approaches this quality is completely impossible.
Buy Here: 2011 Chateau Bizard Grignan

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94 Point Bargain – Chapoutier Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem (WA94, $24.95)

September 22, 2014 90+ Bargains  2 comments

Chapoutier Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem

Michel Chapoutier is pretty much the man in northern Rhone.  His family winery makes some of northern Rhone's top wines including a couple of $500+ Ermitage wines have racked up TONS of 100 point ratings.  But for $500, I guess they should!  You might say Chapoutier is becoming the man in all of the Rhone valley, because his Southern Rhone wines from Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cotes du Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon are receiving tons of praise. That's great for the consumer because Southern Rhone wines are becoming more and more popular and represent some of the best values in France and beyond.

Enter the 2012 Domaine de Bila Haut Occultum Lapidem from Southern Rhone's Cotes du Roussillon Villages, a wine that has received some massive scores in the past and a

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Top 10 Wine Sales Tricks (8-10)

September 19, 2014 News and Opinion  No comments

Hot SaleIf you're anything like me, you get around 10,487 wine related emails per hour day.  Most retailers will do about anything to sell a few cases of wine and you know what that means? Caveat emptor.  Here are some of the common wine sales tricks to watch out for.
10. "Amazing 96 Point Vintage Cabernet"
Only $12.99 for a 96 point Cabernet?  That's amazing!  Too bad the Cab they are trying to sell doesn't have a rating at all.  You see, the wine critics rate each vintage on its overall qualities.  This retailer tried to trick you into thinking THIS wine was rated 96 points but it's really the vintage that has that high rating.  We all know there is a massive quality spectrum even within a great vintage, so for this $12 wine, 96 points is meaningless.
9. "Amazing 96 Point Rated Cabernet"

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What I’m Drinking – Week of 9/8/2014

September 15, 2014 News and Opinion  No comments

Today begins a new weekly segment called "What I'm Drinking".  These posts are meant to provide commentary on my favorite wines, independent of price or value.  I will be scoring these wines as a point of reference.  The price listed is the average retail price.  Many times I have been able to purchase the wine cheaper at online auctions and discount retailers like LA Wine Company.
2010 Alta Colina "Old 900" Syrah, Paso Robles ($48)
Alta Colina makes some excellent Syrah and the Old 900 is no exception.  Massive concentration, well focused and persistent, the only change I would make in this wine (and all of Alta Colina's Syrah) is to back off the new oak a bit to allow the nuance of the wine to shine through.  Also, though I haven't tried them side-by-side, I have trouble

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We’re Back! Update: New Deals Enclosed

September 8, 2014 90+ BargainsHigh End ValuesNews and OpinionUnder $12 Deals  No comments

You may have noticed (or likely didn't notice at all), that Nickel and Dime Wine has taken an extended break.  Why?  Luckily not because I stopped drinking wine nor did I stop buying it.  In the roughly nine months since the last post, I have done something that can only be done in nine months - I learned a new language with Rosetta Stone!  I also had a baby.  Not personally - my lovely wife did the hard work.

So Nickel and Dime wine is coming at you with baby in tow. We'll have more wine deals along with wine commentary, travel logs and general wine greatness!

Let's start with what I would buy this month. Deals abound and these are my top choices.  I will follow up when I get a chance to write an in-depth review, but don't wait to pick these up.
Top Pick Under $12: 2010 San Felice

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