Better than (Most) Champagne and Half the Price (RP92, $18.95)

May 26, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

gaudrelle_cremant_LRGIn the infamous words of golf commentator Gary Koch, this wine is "better than most" - most Champagne that is.

I found a little wine shop in Chicago that had this sparkler for $22.  Every time we had guests in town, I bought a couple of bottles - one to drink with the guests and one to drink without!  Every time, I was blown away by this Loire sparkling wine because it outperformed many of the recent $50 Champagne, at half the price.  Sadly, after a few months, the Chicago store sold out and I was forced to move on to less tasty sparklers. Until today...

L.A. Wine Co. has this awesome sparkler, which received 92 points from Robert Parker, for $18.95.  Buy it by the case, serve it to guests, and even those with the most sophisticated palates will assume it's Champagne, unless they

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A $32 Cab for under $20 (AG90, $19.95)

May 21, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

beringer_knights_LRGBeringer's Knights Valley Cabernet sells for $32 at my grocery store and most grocery stores around the country.  I know this as I've gladly paid $32 for this wine, because at many grocery stores, it's the only great wine they carry.  Until I got smart... I bought a case of this wine to put an end to the grocery store trips, and a few bottles in to the case, I'm more impressed than ever.

If you avoid their "Founder's Estate" line of wedding caliber wines, Beringer's entire lineup is excellent, but the Knights Valley Cabernet may be the best value of them all.  It routinely scores 90 points or above from a range of critics and at $20, you certainly won't find a Napa Cab close to this good (Knights Valley is in Sonoma County).  It's polished, balanced and frankly just excellent - with no

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Two States, Four Appellations, One Wine – 2012 Luminary Red Blend

February 10, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Luminary Red Wine

I've often wondered - What would happen if someone took a few bunches of grapes from each of the top vineyards in the world and combined them to make a single wine?  It seems the owners of Pine Ridge wondered the same, as they pulled grapes from four different vineyards they own across California and Washington and made a remarkable wine.


The 2012 Luminary is a blend of 55% Cabernet from Pine Ridge Vineyards in Napa, 19% Syrah from Double Canyon Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills Washington, 8% Syrah from Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley, CA, 16% Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vineyards in Sonoma and finally 2% Merlot from Pine Ridge.   I have to question the efficiency of making a wine from such geographically distant locations but the result is impressive.

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A Paul Hobbs Made Single Vineyard Chardonnay For Under $25

February 2, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Ahnfeldt Chardonnay Estate 2012Paul Hobbs is the original Winemaker Superstar creating some of the most highly rated wines ever under his own label and, more recently, as a consultant.  Under-the radar winery, Ahlfeldt, which I've raved about before, hired him as consulting winemaker a few years back and they are going through a major quality renaissance.

This particular wine comes from a single vineyard in the Sonoma Valley AVA called Thornton Ranch.  Paul Hobbs is best known for his single vineyard wines and the single vineyard Chards from his own label start at around $65.  For around a third the price, this wine has all of the Paul Hobbs' signatures. It shows richness while staying well-balanced and very focused.  California Chardonnay has the ability to be a buttery oaky mess and though this was raised in 50%

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A Potential 92 Point Vacqueyras for $16 – Domaine du Terme (IWC 90-92)

January 26, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

IMG_4300When it comes to France's Rhone Valley, it's hard to beat Vacqueyras for value.  Wines from this appellation are a step up from Cotes-du-Rhone villages, and when you find the right wines, on par with the much more expensive wines of Gigondas.

This particular wine from Domaine du Terme is outstanding with the flinty, mineral characteristics typical of the region but with broad fruit, notes of black olive, tons of depth and excellent length.  The nose is also great, with bright raspberry and flowers.  This is a very complete wine at any price and at $15.95 is a daily drinker with weekend drinker quality.  I had a glass of 2011 Pegau last night and while this isn't quite that good (Pegau is a $60 wine), it's certainly reminiscent.

The Wine Advocate gave this wine 90 points and the

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My Top Wines of 2014

January 12, 2015 News and Opinion  No comments

This is the time to reflect on the year behind us and to anticipate about the year ahead.  So naturally, I'm reflecting on the best wine I drank in 2014.
Wine of The Year:
2007 Sine Qua Non Pictures (Grenache), Santa Rita Hills, CA

This is a wine that only those who have waited 10+ years for inclusion on the mailing list or are willing to pay the $500+ asking price on the secondary market, get to taste.  A generous friend brought this to dinner at my house and it did not disappoint.  Not only was it the best wine I drank all year, but it was the best Grenache I've ever tasted.
Honorable Mentions:
2009 Torrin Syrah Akasha, Paso Robles, CA

If it wasn't for the above mentioned wine, this one would have taken the cake.  This is a wine of outrageous

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A Chianti Classico to Age – ’12 San Giusto a Rentennano (AG90, $24.95)

December 9, 2014 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

2012 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico

The more wine I taste, the more I realize the quantity of great wines out there.  Budget and space allows me to only connect certain wines (domestic Rhones, domestic Cabernet, Barolo and  Chateauneuf-du-Pape), but wines like this make me wish I could expand my horizons.

This wine is Sangiovese from start to finish.  Bright cherry and flint on the nose lead into a highly concentrated palate with strong acid to balance the fruit.  The balance on this wine is really excellent and suggests it will be still be going strong in 10+ years.  Classy.
Buy Here: 2012 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico $24.95
Antonio Galloni 90 points

"San Giusto’s 2012 Chianti Classico is wonderfully pliant, open and generous. Dark red fruit, smoke, tobacco and wild flowers are all

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Correction: 90 Point Napa Cab Is $15 Not $17!

December 3, 2014 90+ Bargains  No comments

It's Nickel and Dime Wine readers' lucky day because the price of the Ca' Momi Napa Cab, which Robert Parker rated 90 points is $14.95 not $16.95, making it an even more incredible deal.  The original post has been corrected here or you can just click below to buy!
Buy Here: 2012 Ca' Momi Napa Cabernet $14.95
Wine Advocate 90 points

"The delicious, fruit-forward 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon has been produced by Ca’Momi. Its dark ruby/purple hue is accompanied by copious aromas of black currants and spice as well as richness and length that build incrementally on the palate. This tasty, high-class Cabernet Sauvignon can be enjoyed over the next decade or more."

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A 90 Point Napa Cab for $15 – Ca’ Momi 2012 ($14.95, RP90)

December 3, 2014 90+ Bargains  No comments

2012_CSNV-F

The days of the (drinkable) under $20 Napa Cab are over aren't they?  I think I've said that numerous times on this blog.  Well I'll be the first to raise my hand and say I was proven wrong here.  A relatively new winery called Ca' Momi has released a solid 2012 Napa Cab at the magical under $20 $15 price point.  This is the second coming of the 2005 Avalon.


Are there better wines for $15?  Sure, I think looking toward France, Italy or Spain will get you something a little better at the price point.  But are there better Napa Cabs for $15?  Absolutely not.  You don't have to trust me on this.  Robert Parker himself described this as "high-class" and gave it 90 points.  I followed a bottle over two days and this wine showed a nice nose of cherry with

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Michel Gassier’s White Rhone Hit – ’12 Lou Coucardie (WA93, $21.95)

November 21, 2014 90+ Bargains  No comments

Michel Gassier Lou Coucardie Blanc  2012

I first had a Michel Gassier wine in French Canadia (I believe that's the proper term) at a high- end restaurant.  I was impressed at the reasonable price at the restaurant ($12/glass) and was even more impressed when I subsequently discovered that same Syrah at some local wine shops for under $15 per bottle (though I was then less impressed with the glass price).

My next encounter with Gassier was the red version of today's wine written up here on this blog in 2012, a wine I wish I had bought more of.

Needless to say, Gassier is doing some amazing things in the Rhone valley and this white might be his biggest hit yet.  It's a huge, full throttle white with enormous complexity likely due to its blend of 59% Roussanne and 41% Viognier.  Honey, yeast and bitter citrus notes

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