A 2013 Yountville Napa Cab $40 (RP91)

February 20, 2016 90+ Bargains  No comments

IMG_5970Yountville is one of the top appellations in the Napa Valley, that much is for sure. Dominus certainly thinks so, with their wine selling for close to $200 per bottle. Kapcsandy's "Grand Vin" from Yountville's State Lane Vineyard is close to double that. That's why a Yountville Cabernet, at the entry price for generic Napa designated wines, got my attention.

The Liparita "V Block" Yountville Cabernet is rich, bold and opulent, especially for Yountville, where the wines tend to be more restrained. The aromatics are beautiful and pronounced. Chalk it up to the 2013 vintage where perfect weather allowed winemakers to hang their grapes as long as they pleased. Oh and about the 2013 vintage: I thought Napa Cabernet couldn't get better after drinking a bunch of 2012s. I was wrong.  This is

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2007 Rioja Reserve Under $30 (RP94)

February 9, 2016 90+ Bargains  No comments

thumb_1393_botellas_labelAt our Saturday blind tasting, we tasted through a lineup of 10 different wines, from Chablis to red Burgundy, Paso Syrah to Napa Cabernet.  All of the wines had some debate around them, until I broke out a "bonus bottle".  Everyone pinned it as well-aged, high-end Rioja - and they were right.  Furthermore, they were impressed.

For Rioja, the 2007 Viña Ardanza Reserva from La Rioja Alta is about as traditional as it gets.  A smokey nose of tobacco, dill and vanilla lead to a palate of bright red fruit with excellent length, all at a modest 13.5% alcohol.  The winery doesn't release this until it's ready to drink, so consumers have an opportunity to buy an aged (and well stored) Rioja at the surprisingly low price of $30.  In a perfect world, more wineries would release aged wines like

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A Favorite Pinot Value – 2013 Talbott Kali Hart ($14.95)

January 15, 2016 Uncategorized  No comments

Talbott Kali Hart 2013 Pinot Noir LabelDuring a recent trip to the Monterey peninsula, I made it a point to stop by Talbott's Carmel Valley tasting room.  I've always admired their wines, especially their Kali Hart bottling which represents one of the very finest values in both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

We tasted through all of Talbott's bottlings, and though their higher-end pinot and chardonnay is excellent, the clear value is the Kali Hart.  This wine is 100% estate fruit from Talbott's highly regarded Sleepy Hollow Vineyard.  It's up-front and juicy yet has the depth to age for several years.

Talbott was recently sold to Gallo winery.  Hopefully they allow Talbott to continue the roll they've been on for the last decade.
Buy Here: 2013 Talbott Kali Hart Pinot Noir $14.95

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A 1er Cru Red Burgundy Under $50

January 11, 2016 High End Values  No comments

jadot_beaune_1er_cru_LRGLet's get this out of the way early.  Burgundy is overpriced.  Forget Napa, Bordeaux or any other of the top winemaking regions.  Burgundy is where the world's most expensive wine is made.  To make matters worse, the region's marginal climate makes for some bad vintages and bad wines.

Ferarri's are overpriced too.  They are fussy and hard to keep running, but much like the wines of Burgundy, when they are performing, they are brilliant.

That brings us to the wine at hand.  Louis Jadot's 2012 Beaune 150th Anniversary 1er Cru.  Unlike the "reserve" moniker here in the U.S., "Premier (1er) Cru" actually means something in France.  It's a designation given to only the best vineyards in the best regions.  Jadot only makes this wine in the best vintages and if the 92-94 point score from

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The Best Cabernet Value in the U.S.

December 17, 2015 90+ Bargains  No comments

Daou_14CabSauv_750ml_ftDaou wines has arguably the most stunning property in Paso Robles.  The winery is perched at the top of a mountain at 2200 feet above sea level, with panoramic views of Paso below.  It's that elevation that allows them to grow amazing Cabernet in an area that's usually too hot to produce great Cabs.

At $22, which is the lowest price in the country, this is the greatest value in California Cabernet.  This wine has something that virtually all Cabs, and indeed most wines in this price range, are lacking: character and uniqueness.  The nose is outstanding with fruit, oak, and spice blending to create something really special.  On the palate, it's just top-notch Cabernet; seamless and textured.

The lowest price in the country, a 91-93 point rating from the Wine Advocate, and an

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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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