Category High End Values
September 30, 2014 High End Values
If you're talking about Zinfandel (really American wine in general) you would be hard pressed to find a better producer than Ridge. Ridge's iconic label has graced the world's best Zinfandels for decades and 2012 is turning out to be a banner vintage for Ridge, along with the rest of California. My favorite of their releases are the Lytton Springs and Geyserville bottlings, both from Sonoma County. I've been drinking these wines since the 2006 vintage and have never had a bad bottle. You can't go wrong with either - the Geyserville tends to be a bit more overt and the Lytton tends to age better. But in reality, they are more similar than different.
What makes Ridge Zinfandels so good?
They aren't actually Zins. Both of these wines contain lessRead More
September 29, 2014 High End Values
Chalk Hill is known for their Estate Chardonnay. But what do you do if you don't want to spend the $48 for that wine but you still want their signature quality and style? Until 2012, there was nothing you could do.
New for the 2012 vintage, Chalk Hill is releasing their first wine that is not from their namesake appellation. This Chardonnay comes from the very cold Sonoma Coast appellation, not to be confused with the larger Sonoma County (of which it is a part) or the Southern Sonoma Valley appellations. Sonoma needs to rename these to lessen the confusion, but that's for another time.
The proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean makes this Chardonnay very crisp, but it still possesses the signature Chalk Hill oak influence. The wine was a perfectRead More
You may have noticed (or likely didn't notice at all), that Nickel and Dime Wine has taken an extended break. Why? Luckily not because I stopped drinking wine nor did I stop buying it. In the roughly nine months since the last post, I have done something that can only be done in nine months - I learned a new language with Rosetta Stone! I also had a baby. Not personally - my lovely wife did the hard work.
So Nickel and Dime wine is coming at you with baby in tow. We'll have more wine deals along with wine commentary, travel logs and general wine greatness!
Let's start with what I would buy this month. Deals abound and these are my top choices. I will follow up when I get a chance to write an in-depth review, but don't wait to pick these up.Read More
Top Pick Under $12: 2010 San Felice
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