Category High End Values

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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Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs – Zinfandel At Its Finest

September 30, 2014 High End Values  No comments

Ridge Geyserville 2012

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 less

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A Top CA (Under $20) Chard with Simple Belgian Beer Mussels

September 29, 2014 High End Values  No comments

Chalk Hill and Mussels

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 perfect

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We’re Back! Update: New Deals Enclosed

September 8, 2014 90+ BargainsHigh End ValuesNews and OpinionUnder $12 Deals  No comments

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.
Top Pick Under $12: 2010 San Felice

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