Category 90+ Bargains

Stunning Chablis from Louis Michel (Under $30)

April 18, 2017 90+ Bargains  No comments

Louis Michel ChablisThis weekend we held a blind tasting of three Premier Cru Chablis from Louis Michel.  I expected the wines to be good (they were), but what really surprised me was just how different they were.  Each 1er cru vineyard has a certain reputation and this tasting showed that the reputation is dead on - two tasters were able to correctly call all three of the wines.  The fact that 2014 is the Chablis vintage of the decade, doesn't hurt.

Before we get into the wines, let's discuss Chablis.  This is one of the few remaining cases where the very best examples of a grape can still be had for a value price.  Chablis is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes on the northern side of Burgundy.  The cool climate results in super crisp, high acid wines that, to my taste, are exactly what Chardonnay should

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A High-End Pinot for $24 – Calera Central Coast (WA92, $23.95)

October 12, 2016 90+ Bargains  No comments

Calera Central Coast LabelWith the domestic Pinot Noir boom in full force, it's increasingly difficult to find value in this hot category.  As with other hot categories, I look to the top producers' lesser wines.  Calera makes Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) from exclusive vineyards on Mt. Harlan and the $50+ price points reflect that exclusivity.  But each year they combine grapes from some of the Central Coast's best vineyards and make a Central Coast bottling.  The "Central Coast" label may be generic, but the vineyards are anything but.  Many of the vineyards are used for the flagship wine for other wineries.  Names like Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills are featured on the label which details the percentage that each vineyard makes up.

The look of this wine is decidedly Burgundian with a transparent ruby, but on

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A Wine I Buy Every Year – Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet (RP95, $89.95)

September 28, 2016 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

Beringer PR LabelI own, or have owned, the '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '11 and '12 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet.  That's really as much endorsement of this wine as I could possibly provide.  But since that doesn't make for a very entertaining or informative blog post, let's discuss why this is such a great wine year in and year out. Beringer owns tons of acres of vineyards all over Napa in many varied appellations (and many more beyond).  This diversity allows them to take the very best fruit of a given year and blend it to create a remarkably consistent and remarkably high quality Cabernet each year.  And while Beringer does make some ultra high volume bulk wine, their Private Reserve Cabernet is, and has always been, one of the very best wines in California.

I visited the winery in May

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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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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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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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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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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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