Black Friday: Round Pond Estate Cabernet ($46.95, RP93)

November 27, 2015 High End Values  No comments

IMG_5682It's rare that I write up a wine twice, but this one deserves it.  Even though it's young, I opened a bottle of Round Pond's 2012 Estate Cabernet for Thanksgiving and it really is spectacular.  They recently hired Thomas Rivers-Brown as their consulting winemaker and it shows all his hallmarks.  I buy his (much more expensive) wines from Schrader, Outpost, Mending Wall and Rivers-Marie and if you want to taste a TRB wine without spending 2-5x, this is your wine.  It's hard to describe what makes his wines so unique.  The nose is a sweet combination of fruit and oak with neither jumping out - it's actually hard to tell the difference.  The palate is incredibly refined, pure and seamless.  There is huge concentration, but I wouldn't call this a huge wine.  In summary: WOW.

Every day is

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A 93 Point Toro for under $20

November 2, 2015 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

AlmirezMaybe it's LA Wine Company's spectacular pricing, but I feel like this was much more expensive when I first tasted it around the 2007 vintage.  Spanish wines have fallen out of favor somewhat, and I have to admit, I drink less of them, but this spectacular Toro might make me take a second look at some old favorites.

Made from 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo), this is certainly a modern expression of the grape, but the high level of concentration does a great job of absorbing the new oak - better than in previous vintages.  The result is an incredibly polished wine with great depth and a very lengthy finish. This is, in a word, impressive.

Three scores over 90 and a price under $20 puts this wine on my top 5 value list, easily.
Buy Here: 2012 Bodegas Teso la Monja Almirez $19.95

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Ridge Scores Again with ’13 Lytton Springs (AG95, $31.95)

October 29, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

IMG_5471Another year and another post on Ridge's Lytton Springs.  This Zinfandel-based wine is a perennial favorite of mine, but unlike most of my favorites (I'm looking at you L'Aventure), pricing on Ridge wines remains remarkably low for what's in the bottle.  The Ridge 2013's have been very well reviewed (the Lytton Springs just received 95 points from Antonio Galloni) and a visit to the stunning mountaintop winery last week confirmed the hype.


As I was driving up to the winery, the GPS said 4 miles and 20 minutes.  I thought it must be a mistake, but sure enough, after winding up the steep mountain road for 20 minutes, I arrived at the tasting room.  The tasting room soars over Silicon Valley and from its perch, you can see Apples new "space ship"

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Charles Krug is Back… In a Serious Way

October 18, 2015 High End Values  No comments

KRUG_FR_VS_NoVintageIt's easy to forget that Charles Krug winery is what made Robert Mondavi famous.  Before a family rift caused Robert to split off from his brother to found the winery bearing his name, he owned Charles Krug, one of a handful of wineries to put the Napa Valley (back) on the map following prohibition.

Still owned by Robert's brother, Peter, Charles Krug is perhaps best known for their good, if not particularly noteworthy, Yountville Cabernet that sells for around $25 and is widely available at grocery stores.  But, as competition has ratcheted up in recent years, particularly in higher-end wines, Charles Krug's Vintage Selection Cabernet is showing its best stuff in years.

I drank this wine recently, during a two and a half hour dinner, and by the end I started to get a glimpse of

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Beaucastel’s Gigondas la Gille- A Pegau Lookalike ($25.95)

October 9, 2015 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

perrinn_gigondas_gille_LRGPerrin et Fils is best known for their Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($80), but they have extensive holdings throughout the Rhone valley.  In fact, their "reserve" Cotes du Rhone , at around $13, is a go-to wine for me when I'm trying to find something drinkable in a Florida grocery store (no easy task).

Moving up a significant step to the second greatest appellation in Southern Rhone (next to CdP), the 2010 Gigondas la Gille is a very impressive wine.  With three 92 point scores, one would expect something special, but this really blew me away.  Though one would expect some Beaucastel character in this wine, I found it to be a dead ringer for Pegau.  One of the most identifiable wines in the world, Pegau has a wild black olive character that this wine possesses in scores.  At 1/3 the

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A Top Notch Tempranillo Blend from… California ($14.95)

October 6, 2015 Uncategorized  No comments

firefall_red_blend_LRGUntil a few years ago, I had only experienced good Tempranillo, make that any Tempranillo, from one place: Spain.  That was until I had Epoch's Tempranillo from Paso Robles.  That is a mind blowing wine that will make you wonder why more California growers aren't experimenting with this grape.

Luckily for those of us "in the know" (the readers of this blog), another winery is doing just that.  As the Sierra Foothills region of California is starting to make a name for itself with Rhone varietals, Firefall, from a single 2400 ft elevation vineyard called "Little Rattlesnake", blends Rhone grapes with 27% Tempranillo to create a delicious red wine.

This is a polished wine with big fruit and great length.  It's a true crowd pleaser and would make a fun wine to throw into a blind

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One of the Top Domestic Values – Andrew Murray Esperance ($19.95, AG91)

August 31, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

andrew_murray_esperance_red_LRGWhen searching for domestic red wine values, one must look beyond Napa Cabs and Sonoma Pinots where the cheap wines are no good and the good ones can't be found under $40 (with FEW exceptions).  I look toward an increasing number of Rhone Ranger producers and when it comes to value, Santa Barbara County is at the top of my list.

Coming in at the top of the Rhone Rangers value list is Andrew Murray.  He recently relocated to Curtis Winery where he signed a long-term lease on the facility and the vineyards.  As such, this is the first year that his GSM blend, Esperance, comes completely from an estate vineyard.  I've enjoyed this wine in every vintage since 2008, and the hype around the 2013 vintage in California suggests this could be the best yet.

It's difficult for me to find wines

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Another Mega Value from Roussillon (RP90, $16.95)

August 12, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

deveze_cotes_rouu_LRGI've written many times about the incredible values coming out of Roussillon, France and here is another - but this one comes with a twist.  60% Mourvedre, usually a supporting grape, is taking a lead role in this wine.  Perhaps taking a page out of the Beaucastel playbook, this wine from Mas de la Devèze is, at the same time, exotic but very modern in style. Imagine a hypothetical blend of a Rhone Ranger from Paso Robles and Beaucastel and you might end up with this wine, except at a much higher price point.

At $17, this is one of the top deals of the year.  A 90 point rating by the Wine Advocate confirms that (as though you needed it).  I would go a point higher, perhaps due to a little more time in the bottle.
Buy Here: 2012 Mas de la Devèze Cotes du Roussillon Villages $16.95

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The Best Chardonnay Values Right Now (from $12.95)

July 22, 2015 Uncategorized  No comments

Summer is white wine season and the best Chardonnay values are coming from France - you know, the people who put Chardonnay on the map!  The Burgundy region of France produces some of the most collectible whites in the world, but if you know where to look, there are great values as well. Burgundy's Mâcon region and neighboring  Pouilly Fuissé are where I look for values and there are none better than two wines from Marie-Pierre Manciat.

The 2012 Les Morizottes is from a 25 year old vineyard and is one heck of a $13 wine.  It already has going on three years of age on it and has a crisp mouthfeel and great length.  It received 89 points from the Wine Advocate with the following rating:

"The 2012 Macon Morizottes is a little delight. The bouquet is very

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93 Point Bordeaux for $34 – 2012 Fleur Cardinale (RP93 $33.95)

July 8, 2015 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

ETIQ.-Fl-Cardinale-2012 ScaledDespite Bordeaux having a reputation for high prices, even in so-so vintages, tons of values exist outside the collectible wines.  By collectible, I mean wines that are purchased to be resold, vs. purchased to age and drink.  When it comes to Bordeaux, I look for strong labels in middle-of-the-road years. These are years that aren't total flops (2013) nor mega hyped (2009, 2010).  Strong labels produce great wines in all but the worst vintages, but because Bordeaux's pricing is highly volatile, mostly on the perceived quality of the vintage, middle-of-the-road years tend to produce the best values.

That brings us to the 2012 Fleur Cardinale, a wine whose 2005 vintage - which scored a single point higher - is now selling for $70.  Why?  See above on highly pumped years combined with 10

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