Category Cellar Worthy

2008 Hartwell Miste Hill – Stag’s Leap Greatness Continued

April 18, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Anyone remember which appellation put Napa Valley on the map?  It was a little area on the east side of the valley called the Stags Leap District.  A bottle of 1973 Stags Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon beat out the likes of M0uton-Rothschild and Haut -Brion to win the Judgement of Paris in 1976.  Lucky for all of us, the entirety of the Napa Valley has continued that momentum, but it's wines like this 2008 Hartwell Miste Hill Cabernet that remind me what makes the Stags Leap District such a special place for growing Cabernet.

Hartwell Miste Hill is one of my absolute favorite Cabernets.  I've been hoarding my last three bottles of the 2006 vintage and, though I have many more expensive bottles, this is the one I think about most often.  When it came time to celebrate my birthday

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A 91 Point 2005 Rioja Reserva for $16

April 6, 2012 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Unlike the US, where we can call fermented Welch’s, “Reserve”, Spain has laws about what wines can be labeled as Reserva.  It has to do with the length of bottle aging and oak aging and is frankly very antiquated, but it does at least help you know what you’re getting.

In the case of the 2005 Marques de Caceres Rioja Reserva, you can expect a true reserve wine with a few extra years of bottle age for a table wine price of $15.95.  Maybe this wine is just now being imported or perhaps it was found in a back corner of a distributor’s warehouse, but it’s hard to understand how a wine of this quality (and scores) wasn’t sold years ago.

After one sip, my questions of “where did it come from” turned to “how I can get more?”  A nose of toasty cedar and sweet vanilla, leads to a broad

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A 93 Point Margaux Bordeaux For Under $25

March 29, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

The 2009 Bordeaux vintage saw prices hit their highest level ever.  That vintage also arguably saw quality hit its highest level ever which means, though prices are high, there are more diamonds in the rough if you're willing to look beyond the well-known players.

This is certainly one of those diamonds in the rough.  Hailing from the renowned Margaux appellation, home of the $1600/bottle first growth Chateaux Margaux, Chateau Marsac Seguineau produced a heck of a wine in 2009.  Get used to that theme because we are only at the beginning of the 2009 release cycle.

Moderate oak influence on the nose is well-balanced with blackberry and spice scents.  A full-bodied palate is indicative of the ripe vintage and though drinking great now, this is a firmly tannic wine that will improve

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A 93 Point Sbragia Cabernet under $30

March 23, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Ed Sbragia is the guy responsible for Beringer's modern day success.  He was the winemaker that made Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet a wine with cult scores for very fair prices, high quality and production levels.  In 2000, Sbragia took a more passive role at Beringer to focus on his own label headquartered in Sonoma County's Dry Creek Valley.

It's amazing how a winemaker's signature style comes through, even in totally different wines.  Sbragia's 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Andolsen Vineyard has Beringer Private Reserve written all over it, despite being from Dry Creek Valley.  Sbragia's style is pure fruit with elegant but obvious French Oak influence.  Where it differs from a Beringer PR is in its slightly lighter weight and lower 13.8% alcohol levels.

Nonetheless, this is

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The 2009 Clio Might Be The Best $40 You Ever Spent

March 14, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Clio's worst score from Wine Advocate was its debut year of 2002.  It got 93 points that year and hasn't received less than 94 since.  It's is made of 70% Monastrell (AKA Mouvedre) and 30% Cabernet.  Mouvedre isn't generally used as a primary grape with the exception of one very famous wine.  Ever heard of Beaucastel?  Yeah, it's a majority Mouvedre.

Clio is a joint venture between Juan Gil, Jorge Ordonez and Chris Ringland - three legends of the wine world, who came together to create a legend of their own.  The unique blend of Rhone and Bordeaux gives this wine a finesse and a power that combine to create a very compelling wine.  Copious amounts of new oak produces a vanilla nose but as the wine hits the palate, oak takes a backseat to the fruit.  Fruit is where Spain is unmatched in

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A $100 Togni Cabernet for $35

March 12, 2012 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Okay, the title of this post might be a little misleading.  The wine discussed here is not THE $100 Philip Togni Cabernet but it is made by the same person, comes from the same vineyard, and ages in the same 40% new French oak barrels as the $100 wine.  This wine, at 1/3 the price, is simply from the barrels that didn't make the cut for the more expensive version.

Try this analogy: I recently bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  The sales guy told me "you're basically getting a Mercedes ML350 for $20k less".  You see, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was built on the same platform as the Merc.  Same frame, suspension, steering, some of the interior bits.  Sure it doesn't have as many gadgets and it's not quite as flashy, but the most important parts are Mercedes.

The same goes for Philip

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Why We Love Champagne

March 6, 2012 Cellar WorthyHow To  No comments

Here are some facts of Champagne: It grows in a crappy climate, it's overpriced and many people think it's only for celebrations.  Ironically though, each of these facts has contributed to making this fizzy beverage something we love to enjoy. Let's examine each a little more closely.
Champagne Grows in a Crappy Climate
The Champagne region lies just East of Paris along the 49th parallel.  Also on the 49th parallel: North Dakota.  Sounds like prime wine country, right?  Not exactly, but this less than ideal climate has really made Champagne what it is today.  Most Champagnes are bottled non-vintage (N/V) which really means that they are a mix of multiple vintages.  This is because dramatic variations from vintage to vintage meant the grower needed a way to ensure quality and

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More Proof Syrah Rules: Novy Santa Lucia Highlands 2009

March 4, 2012 Cellar WorthyDaily DrinkersHigh End Values  No comments

If you aren't drinking California and Washington Syrah yet, you're missing out on perhaps the best value in domestic red wine.  The French made it popular hundreds of years ago and the Aussies more recently, but for some reason it just hasn't blown up here... yet.  There are some indications that it's heading that way, so savvy consumers better hurry and stock up before it goes the way of the Pinot.

The Central Coast is a hot spot, or rather cool spot for California Syrah, producing polished, mineral influenced wines with plenty of backbone.  Novy Family Wines produces a number of single vineyard designated wines, but Antonio Galloni of The Wine Advocate describes their Santa Lucia Highlands bottling as "equal of most, if not all, the vineyard designates", but at a lower price.  He

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d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz Splits – RP95 for $21.95

December 20, 2011 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Three or four years ago Aussie wines were hot.  Really hot.  And I'm not just talking about their alcohol content.  Premium wineries like d'Arenberg were selling high-end Shiraz like it was going out of style.  Well, it turns out it was going out of style.  But you know what?  These are the same great wines that were flying off the shelves a few years ago and savvy consumers are starting to rediscover Australia - at a lower price tag.

The Dead Arm is d'Arenberg's top Shiraz and the 2006 vintage was absolutely spectacular.  It scored 95+ points from Parker and 93 from Tanzer with the former saying it will last 30 years beyond its vintage date.  That's a serious wine.  Since this deal is only available in half bottles, it's a perfect purchase for solo drinking (I can personally attest to

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The Top Deal of 2011 – ’09 Volver Tempranillo 92 pts for $11.95

December 15, 2011 Cellar WorthyDaily Drinkers  No comments

Disclaimer: Spain has, by far, the best wine values in the world.

Remember what I said about Jorge Ordonez? No?  Well read up on him here on my post dedicated to his wine.  He's a legendary wine importer and the 2009 Bodegas Volver Tempranillo is probably his best value ever.  Call me a fanboy.  Go ahead.  Jorge Ordonez is to me what Steve Jobs is to Apple fanatics.

I've had this wine for the last three vintages and the 2009 is the best yet.  Volver routinely scores 90 points but this year Robert Parker gave it 92 points saying "I would unquestionably drink as a house wine."  Parker doesn't review Spanish wines anymore, but he had this and thought it was so good that he wrote it up in his quarterly publication.  Need a back-up rating? Tanzer gave it 90+ points which

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