Monthly Archives October 2013

Under $12 Deals – Guigal Cotes du Rhone is Great EVERY Year (RP89, $11.95)

October 24, 2013 Under $12 Deals  No comments

Guigal Cotes du Rhone LabelOccasionally I find myself in two separate circumstances where I am in need of reasonably-priced, good wine (vs. reasonably-priced bad wine).  1.) I'm traveling and need to pick up a go-to wine at an unfamiliar liquor store or grocery store and 2.) I'm having a group of people over and I don't want to break the bank.  Guigal's 2010 Cotes du Rhone would work perfectly for both circumstances.  They make over 1 million bottles per year, so it's easy to come by and it's consistently really good.

In France, where all but the best wines (and sometimes even those) are made by purchasing grapes from village communes, there is one way to make good wine.  Pay higher prices for the best grapes.  That's precisely the approach the famous Guigal family takes with their generic Cotes du Rhone

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Paso Report #1: Epoch and L’Aventure

October 22, 2013 Uncategorized  No comments

L'Aventure
L'Aventure Limestone

I’ve written about L’Aventure several times on these pages, visited the winery several times and own more of their wines than any other producer.  Each one of their wines is absolutely top-notch, including the entry-level Optimus, which can be found for under $40 retail.  I own this wine back to the 2001 vintage and they all drink fabulously.  The highlight here is the Estate Cuvee, which is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet and Petit Verdot.   Like many Paso wines, it’s massive but balanced.  This is my favorite wine in the world to drink.
View Available L'Aventure Wines Here
Epoch Estate
Epoch Wine Lables

Pronounced “Epic” these wines truly fit their name.   Epoch owns two vineyards in Paso Robles, along with a new, yet to be planted

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Under $12 Deals – A 91 Point French Red for the Ages (RP91, $11.95)

October 14, 2013 Under $12 Deals  One comment

2011 Tessellae Vieilles Vignes Cotes CatalanesI brought importer Eric Solomon's  2011 Tessellae Vieilles Vignes Cotes Catalanes to a French restaurant last week along with some other more expensive wines.  To my surprise, the table was asking where they could buy this wine, which was unanimously the favorite.

A wine of impressive length and polish, this translucent ruby-colored 100% Carignan shows a focus that can only come from old vines.  And I'm talking super old.  Luckily France has a plethora of old vineyards, because 70 year old vines in the U.S. (the few that exist) are priced at a major premium.  This wine is another wine from the Roussillon region of France, which is producing some of the very best wine values in the world right now.

Until now, all of the 100% Carignan I've had has been from Chile and I have not

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Visit Paso Robles to Participate in a Wine Revolution

October 11, 2013 News and Opinion  No comments

We've been hearing about the Rhone Ranger movement for a while.  These prophets of Rhone varietals, which the rest of the world has enjoyed for centuries, have been expounding their virtues when grown in the U.S.  Indeed, great Syrah and Grenache has been grown here for a while, specifically in Sonoma, Washington's Columbia Valley, and Santa Barbara County.  Enter Paso Robles.

Halfway between San Fran and LA, Paso Robles has long been the home to generic "Central Coast" Cabernet and Zinfandel vineyards, but a shift towards the west side, to an area known as the Templeton Gap, has Rhone fanatics excited.  Greats like L'Aventure and Saxum paved the way close to 20 years ago for new wineries like Booker, Denner, Epoch and Torrin.  During a summer trip in July we visited these wineries

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2010 Napa Cabernet Roundup

October 8, 2013 High End Values  No comments

Any Napa Cabernet fans out there?  My hand is raised.  It’s getting expensive again, post recession, but values (and the occasional deal) can still be found.  As usual, I’m looking at producers, not vintages, though 2010 is proving to be great.  Many of these names will look familiar to longtime readers.
 2010 Robert Craig Affinity (WA92, IWC93, $44.95)
This wine, from legendary producer Robert Craig, is great every year and 2010 is no exception.  92 and 93 point scores (Wine Advocate and IWC) tell the story.
2010 Chappellet Signature (WA91, $45.95)
One of my favorite Napa wines to drink, and favorite wineries to visit, Chappellet just gets it right every year.  The 2010 has exceptional polish and that special quality only Pritchard Hill vineyards can

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One of the Best Syrah in the US for $31.95 (RP94-96)

October 4, 2013 High End Values  No comments

tensley_cc_syrah_LRGName some of the top U.S. Syrah.  Sine Qua Non, Cayuse, Saxum and Alban come to mind.  All of those wines have two things in common.  They are between $90 and $200 per bottle and they are impossible to get - mailing list only.  In the last 10 years, Tensley has joined those ranks but at almost impossibly low prices.

Joey Tensley admirably keeps the price on this flagship Colson Canyon Vineyard Syrah very reasonable, despite over 10 years of scores from 90 to 96 points.  These wines are so legendary, that the Wine Advocate's Jeb Dunnuck recently did an entire article dedicated to Tensley's wines!  In the article, Dunnuck calls Tensley "one of the superstars of the Rhone movement" and notes "If you haven’t already discovered Tensley’s wines, now is a good time!".  I couldn't agree more.

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Under $12 Deals: 2011 Tres Picos Garnacha ($10.95, IWC91)

October 3, 2013 Under $12 Deals  No comments

Tres Picos 2011Jorge Ordonez.  Spanish value.  QPR. You've heard all of this before.  What more is there to say about all of these incredible Spanish wines?  A bit more actually.  I've written about this wine three other times.

This is a wine of impressive concentration, depth and complexity.  French oak comes through but not overly so, like some wines in this category.  It has a peppery flavor which seems to be a common trait in Spanish Garnacha (Grenache).  Impressively, a quick check of The Wine Advocate shows it hasn't scored below 90 since 2002.  At $11 plus $25 case shipping this is an absolute steal!
Buy Here: 2011 Tres Picos Garnacha $10.95
International Wine Cellar 91 points

"(fermented in stainless steel; half of the wine was aged in small French oak barrels, 40% new,

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90+ Bargains: Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva (RP93, $17.95)

October 1, 2013 Uncategorized  No comments

monsantochianticlassico_riserva08__19954__14906.1358534403.1280.1280Critics say the regulations that go along with the Italian DOCG designation squelches innovation and creativity, but there is a reason it is the most coveted (and strict) designation.  Wines with this designation have complied with a series of standards created to ensure top quality.   On top of that, the 38 month minimum in the barrel to achieve the Riserva label explains how this medium-bodied Chianti scored #31 on Wine Spectator’s top 100.

This wine gets off to a modest start but the black cherry notes take over and the long dry finish brings together this top notch Chianti.   Four scores of 92 points and higher pretty much sums up the consensus.

Seems like a pretty good $40 Chianti, right?  It is.  But it’s an insane $18 one.  And that’s what it sells for.
Buy Here: Castello di

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