Category High End Values

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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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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93 Point Bordeaux for $34 – 2012 Fleur Cardinale (RP93 $33.95)

July 8, 2015 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

ETIQ.-Fl-Cardinale-2012 ScaledDespite Bordeaux having a reputation for high prices, even in so-so vintages, tons of values exist outside the collectible wines.  By collectible, I mean wines that are purchased to be resold, vs. purchased to age and drink.  When it comes to Bordeaux, I look for strong labels in middle-of-the-road years. These are years that aren't total flops (2013) nor mega hyped (2009, 2010).  Strong labels produce great wines in all but the worst vintages, but because Bordeaux's pricing is highly volatile, mostly on the perceived quality of the vintage, middle-of-the-road years tend to produce the best values.

That brings us to the 2012 Fleur Cardinale, a wine whose 2005 vintage - which scored a single point higher - is now selling for $70.  Why?  See above on highly pumped years combined with 10

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3 More Winners from L’Aventure (Up to 98 Points)

July 6, 2015 High End Values  No comments

EstateCuvee2013v65The latest release from my favorite winery unfortunately comes with a significant price increase.  For better (for the wineries and the region) or for worse (for the savvy consumer), Paso Robles is now on the map and top wineries have taken note.  L'Aventure, along with Booker, Saxum, Torrin and a handful of others, have waiting lists so long, they could double their price and still sell out.  So are these wines still buys?

To put things in perspective, the top wine from L'Aventure is $90.  The same quality in Napa, would cost 3-10x.  Better yet, their entry bottling, Optimus, which drinks better than 99% of the wines from the region, is $47 and at that, can still be called a value.

Another year for L'Aventure came with another round of huge scores, with a barrel sample of the

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Mondavi Oakville – Best Napa Cabernet Under $40

July 2, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Mondavi Oakville LabelUnless you go way down into bulk wines, $40 is pretty much the entry price of Napa Cabernet now.  It's too bad, but the glory days of the 2005-2007 vintages are over and this is the new reality.  That's why Mondavi's 2012 Oakville Cabernet is a remarkable value.  It could be labeled "To Kalon Vineyard" as the vast majority (usually 99%) comes from that legendary soil.  But that would pose a problem for Mondavi.  You see, their $145 Reserve Cab is now labeled as "To Kalon", so labeling their Oakville bottling as such would devalue the Reserve, not to mention the $200 Schrader wines, or $350 Paul Hobbs from To Kalon.

So here we are with a fantastic wine, from an historic vineyard, at an entry level price.  I have been through a case of the 2005, and today that wine is drinking better

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Napa Cab Round-Up (Round Pond, Keenan)

June 9, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Every so often, I like to do a round-up to showcase some of the best deals on Napa Cabernet.  And while the deals aren't what they used to be, you can still find some values if you know where to look.
Keenan currently has two late release 2010s both of which are excellent values.  Their 2010 Napa Cabernet comes from 61% Spring Mountain and 39% Pope Valley.  At $39.95, it's one of the best Napa Cabs in its price range.  Better still is the 2010 Keenan Mernet (pronounced Mer-Nay), a blend of Cabernet, Cab Franc and Merlot.  On a recent trip to Napa, this was my second favorite wine behind Chappellet's Pritchard Hill, which costs 2x.  The Mernet is currently discounted to $59.95 - $15 off the next lowest price I can find.  This is a heck of a deal on a top tier Napa

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Two States, Four Appellations, One Wine – 2012 Luminary Red Blend

February 10, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Luminary Red Wine

I've often wondered - What would happen if someone took a few bunches of grapes from each of the top vineyards in the world and combined them to make a single wine?  It seems the owners of Pine Ridge wondered the same, as they pulled grapes from four different vineyards they own across California and Washington and made a remarkable wine.

The 2012 Luminary is a blend of 55% Cabernet from Pine Ridge Vineyards in Napa, 19% Syrah from Double Canyon Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills Washington, 8% Syrah from Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley, CA, 16% Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vineyards in Sonoma and finally 2% Merlot from Pine Ridge.   I have to question the efficiency of making a wine from such geographically distant locations but the result is impressive.

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A Paul Hobbs Made Single Vineyard Chardonnay For Under $25

February 2, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Ahnfeldt Chardonnay Estate 2012Paul Hobbs is the original Winemaker Superstar creating some of the most highly rated wines ever under his own label and, more recently, as a consultant.  Under-the radar winery, Ahlfeldt, which I've raved about before, hired him as consulting winemaker a few years back and they are going through a major quality renaissance.

This particular wine comes from a single vineyard in the Sonoma Valley AVA called Thornton Ranch.  Paul Hobbs is best known for his single vineyard wines and the single vineyard Chards from his own label start at around $65.  For around a third the price, this wine has all of the Paul Hobbs' signatures. It shows richness while staying well-balanced and very focused.  California Chardonnay has the ability to be a buttery oaky mess and though this was raised in 50%

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A Chianti Classico to Age – ’12 San Giusto a Rentennano (AG90, $24.95)

December 9, 2014 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

2012 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico

The more wine I taste, the more I realize the quantity of great wines out there.  Budget and space allows me to only connect certain wines (domestic Rhones, domestic Cabernet, Barolo and  Chateauneuf-du-Pape), but wines like this make me wish I could expand my horizons.

This wine is Sangiovese from start to finish.  Bright cherry and flint on the nose lead into a highly concentrated palate with strong acid to balance the fruit.  The balance on this wine is really excellent and suggests it will be still be going strong in 10+ years.  Classy.
Buy Here: 2012 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico $24.95
Antonio Galloni 90 points

"San Giusto’s 2012 Chianti Classico is wonderfully pliant, open and generous. Dark red fruit, smoke, tobacco and wild flowers are all

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