Category High End Values
December 2, 2013 High End Values
Napa Valley isn't exactly known for Syrah, especially on the rugged slopes of Mt. Veeder where Cabernet grapes fetch extremely high prices. But married couple Steve Lagier and Carole Meredith bought a few acres high on the mountain and planted Syrah. They have no employees, and with the exception of harvest time, everything is done by Carole and Steve, from tending the vineyard to making the wine. If you want an artisan wine, it doesn't get much more artisan than this.
That's all well and good, but "artisan" is meaningless if their product isn't special. With Lagier Meredith Syrah, it is. Every year. Here is a quick review of the last decade of scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:
2011 – 90
2010 – 94
2009 – 94
2008 – 95
2007 – 94+
2006 –Read More
November 22, 2013 High End Values
You could say this is becoming the Paso Robles wine blog, and I wouldn't blame you. But when the most exciting wines in the country are coming from that region, I consider it more of a public service announcement.
The latest Paso deal comes from my favorite winery in the world - L'Aventure. For more on this incredible winery click here to read all the posts I've done.
Optimus is L'Aventure's entry-level red, but entry is relative in this case, as this wine really drinks as well as just about anything out there. At $41.95 it also isn't particularly cheap, but it's certainly well worth the price. L'Aventure's lowest Wine Advocate score in the 2011 vintage was this wine.... at 94 points. Many wineries never get a single score like that. Furthermore, Optimus has a history ofRead More
November 13, 2013 High End Values
This is one of the misleading email titles I usually hate. But give me a chance here. The Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco is made from the same Barolo vineyards and actually made using the same exact formula as Vietti's famous Castiglione bottling, save for a slightly shorter (16 month) oak aging process, which results in a wine that's more approachable early. You also save around 20 bucks, because this one is made from the "young" vines. "Young" in this case means an average age of 35 years, so they aren't really that young. Basically you are getting a Barolo for half the price.
Okay, all of those stats are interesting, but how does it taste? In a word - great! All of the Vietti wines are awesome, but Barolo notoriously needs time. This is the one to drink while you are waiting onRead More
October 8, 2013 High End Values
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 canRead More
October 4, 2013 High End Values
Name 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.Read More
September 19, 2013 High End Values
I love Napa Cabernet. A recent check of CellarTracker.com shows my cellar is made up of 43% Napa wines (mostly Cabernet). Why? It's reliably, consistently good. Quite good, in fact. But that consistency and quality comes with a price. Deals were available during the recent years of economic meltdown but sadly, many of those deals have dried up. Luckily, for those looking for top notch domestic Cabernet, deals can still be had in what many have called the next Napa Valley: Columbia Valley, Washington.
As Washington Cabernet goes, Woodward Canyon is at the top of the heap. Their Artist Series Cabernet has scored over 90 points every year since 2003. The 2010 version, available now, is a 94 point beauty that would go for twice its $35 price tag if it had a Napa Valley label on it.Read More
September 9, 2013 High End Values
After visiting Napa Valley several times in recent years, I've come to an important (as wine goes anyway) conclusion. The best wines come from the mountains. Yes, it's called Napa VALLEY but it's really the mountains surrounding the valley that produce the best stuff.
One of the top wine estates, Keenan, is on Spring Mountain on the northwest side of the valley. On our last visit, we stopped into the rustic winery and were greeted with incredible cheese and even better wines. It makes sense when you look at their neighbors: Pride, Vineyard 7 & 8, Juslyn and Cain to name a few. These are some of Napa's best and increasingly where the very best winemakers like Heidi Barrett of Screaming Eagle fame go to make their wine (Fantesca is her new project).
Enough about otherRead More
June 10, 2013 High End Values
A quick search on Nickel and Dime Wine reveals that I've written about Paso Robles' L'Aventure winery on six separate occasions. Stephan Asseo embraced the limestone hills of Paso's west side long before this area was known for $80/bottle Rhone Ranger blends from the likes of Saxum, Booker and Epoch. Today, the west side of Paso is cranking out some of the best and most desirable wines in the country, but L'Aventure has been doing it since 1998.
Much like most of Europe (you know, the guys that have been making wine for a thousand years), Paso winemakers have abandoned varietal labeling in favor of blends that showcase site over grape. L'Aventure is one of the few Paso wineries to successfully use Cabernet, blending it with Syrah and Petit Verdot to make their signature EstateRead More
February 19, 2013 High End Values
Caymus was one of the first Napa Valley wineries to release their 2010 vintage. Why? Because their wines are so popular they release almost a full year before everyone else. Popularity certainly doesn't always equal quality, so just as I have with the 2007, 2008 and 2009 vintages, I tried the 2010 soon after its release. I've since tasted quite a few 2010s and this one keeps rising to the top.
2010 was the first of two difficult growing seasons in California, with low yields, cool temperatures and a late season rainstorm. Despite the difficult season, Caymus managed to do what they're known for - putting out a remarkably consistent and remarkably good wine.
Style is a preference, so if you aren't into the rich, sweet and extracted style Caymus is known for, you won't like thisRead More
February 14, 2013 High End Values
Our last Spanish wine sold out within minutes of the post going live, so here is another, albeit a couple of notches up. If I could buy just one under $50 Spanish wine each year, this would be it. It has this exotic element to it that I haven't found in any other wine, and an energy and concentration that's really spectacular.
What makes this so exotic and concentrated? It's made from 70% Monastrell or Mourvedre and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, a unique blend I haven't seen anywhere else. Furthermore, the Monastrell vines are an incredible 70 years old and yield a minuscule 1,500 pounds per acre. As a point of reference, the typical yield in Napa is 6,000-12,000 pounds per acre. Less grapes per vine equals more concentration and flavor. It's that simple.
El Nido ClioRead More