2007 Rhone Deal: Domaine des Escaravailles Rasteau La Ponce RP 91-93 $18.95

April 9, 2010 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

2007 has been an amazing year for Rhone reds and here is the great thing about the best vintages: they turn traditional "great values" into knockout classics.  70% Grenache and 30% Syrah, this wine pours a deep opaque purple/red color that suggests good things are to come, and it doesn't disappoint.

At first, I thought the nose was a little closed with a touch too much alcohol, but after an hour in a decanter it totally changed, showing a great peppery scent framed by ripe fruit and nice smokey overtones.  This wine tastes dense and bold, if a little rustic, without being overblown.  What differentiates old world Rhone from many of the new world Rhone blends is they show a great constraint and clarity while still being aggressive, concentrated, bold and lengthy.

This wine will only

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Update: 2001 Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee $18.95- Even lower price!

April 3, 2010 High End ValuesSpecial Occasions  No comments

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of the 2001 Gloria Ferrer Royal Cuvee.  At the time, the lowest price in the country was $21.99 .  Well, LA Wine Company just listed it on their website for $18.95.  At that price, this aged sparkling wine is amazing and is worth buying by the case (or at least the half case).  Again, it was rated 93 points from Wine Spectator and the same from Wine Enthusiast.  It was also number 55 on Wine Enthusiast's top 100 of 2008.

2001 Gloria Ferrer Brut Royal Cuvee- LA Wine Company $18.95

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2007 Hahn Estates Meritage- Money from Monterey $11.95

April 2, 2010 Daily Drinkers  No comments

I don't think I've ever had another Monterey County Bordeaux blend, but since the 2005 vintage, this has been one of my favorite daily drinkers.  On this cool (for California- it's probably 60 degrees) evening this really hit the spot.

The 2007 Hahn Estates Meritage is a big, bold wine with a unique character.  It pours an almost opaque deep burgundy.  Dark fruit on the nose is followed by nice mouth-coating berry flavors and a round tannic bite at the end.

I read up on the Hahn Estate website and discovered what makes this wine so unique: it's blend.  31% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Petit Verdot, 12% Malbec, and 9% Cabernet Franc is quite heavy on the secondary Bordeaux varietals (aka. not Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon).  I've only had one other wine that was that heavy on

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Review: Wine Enthusiast BYO Deluxe Double Wine Cellar Kit

April 1, 2010 Cellar WorthyNickel & Dime RetailersUncategorized  One comment

I decided it was time to move my wine out from under the bed, in the closets, cabinets, corners and hallways and get a proper wine cellar.  I've had a 50 bottle wine refrigerator for a couple of years but that has pretty much been full since the day I bought it (on Criagslist).  Until now I only had my most collectible bottles (think  Beringer Private Reserve, George de Latour, Caymus) in a temperature controlled setting but I wanted to move some of my second tier but no less ageworthy wine  (Mondavi Oakville, Mas Doix Salanques, Faust Cabernet etc.) into a cooler as well for proper aging conditions.

Since I'm always looking for a deal, I set out to find the best wine cellar under $2,000 that could accommodate my growing collection.  I visited the Vinotemp factory and was impressed by

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Deal Alert: 2007 Robert Craig Affinity RP96 $39.95

March 30, 2010 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

Note: This post was originally published on March 30th with a price of $44.95.  LA Wine Co. has blown out the price at only $39.95.  Buy it up!

From time to time I come across great deals that I have not yet tasted, usually because the wine isn't ready to drink.  Rather than keep the deals to myself, I will alert my loyal followers.

Robert Craig has been producing top notch mountain wines for years, but this year appears to be their best, at least according to Robert Parker.

This Cabernet was rated at 96 points and at under $40, this is a serious value.  96 point Robert Parker reviews are typically reserved for mailing list only, $150+ per bottle wines- Harlan Estate, Schrader, Pride Mountain Reserve come to mind.

LA Wine Co. is selling this 96 point wine for $39.99.  I

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Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2008 WS90- Another Wine Under $10

March 29, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

I definitely drink more red wine than white.  But, I like to keep a bottle of white open either to start the evening or to drink with fish or chicken.  The great thing about white wines is you can readily find great values, under $10.

Chateau Ste. Michelle, in Columbia Valley,  is the second largest winery in Washington with production in the hundreds of thousands of cases.  It's fun to find great wine deals from small production wineries, but some smaller wineries lack consistency- great wine one year but when you try the next year, something is missing.  I've found that a lot of the big guys are big for a reason.  Beringer and Robert Mondavi in Napa and Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest in Washington come to mind as huge wineries that consistently produce great wines and great

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Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs- Another Great Sparkling Deal!

March 28, 2010 Daily DrinkersSpecial OccasionsWines under $10  No comments

We hosted brunch for some great friends yesterday, and since I've been on such a sparkling wine kick lately, I figured this was the perfect chance to review Gloria Ferrer's other non-vintage offering- the Blanc de Noirs.  Made from 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, this wine pours with a hint of pink, though it isn't as pink as a typical Rose sparkling wine.

The Pinot flavors shine through, with a slightly mineral nose, along with the typical clean citrus scents of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines.  It has a fresh taste- a bit lighter than the Brut offering- but with nice round flavors infused by the Pinot Noir grapes.  Gloria Ferrer uses 5-7% cold soaked Pinot juice in this bottling and, besides adding the pinkish color, this comes through in a slightly bitter (in a good way) finish.

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2007 Castello Banfi Centine- Super Super Tuscan under $8

March 25, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

If you are looking for a “Super Tuscan” at a super price, try the 2007 Banfi Centine. It is widely available in the $9-11 range and right now, Argonaut Wines has it for $7.99.  At that price, it doesn't have to be great, but it is!  I have had this particular Banfi for several years but this was my first try of the 2007. My experience is that you have to spend thirty to fifty bucks for a good super Tuscan (with the exception of the 2006 Monte Antico Rosso reviewed a couple of weeks ago). There just aren’t many full bodied Super Tuscan offerings for $10-20. At that price they tend to be thin and weak.

The 2006 Monte Antico Super Tuscan made a big splash on the Wine Spectator top 100 list and can still be found for about the same price as the Banfi. The Banfi and the Monte Antico

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Under $10 Deal: 2006 Contado Mankas Cabernet Sauvignon Mankas Hills Vineyards

March 21, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

LA Wine Company scores again with the 2006 Contado Mankas Cabernet.  This single vineyard wine from the Suisun Valley AVA (had to look this up- it's just north of Napa County), is bright, oaky and delicious.  It's medium to full bodied and is well structured.  I would not call this wine soft, and it benefited greatly from a couple of hours of air.  I was going to call this a great pizza wine, but it's really good enough to stand up on its own.  As I sit drinking this Cabernet its second day, it has even improved over the first day.

The winery's website says its made using Italian techniques and I can definitely see that.  It reminds me of a Super Tuscan in that it's not quite as ripe, heavy and high alcohol as some of the Napa wines.  That said, it's not a thin wine by any means.  Very

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NV Gloria Ferrer Brut- WS90 for $12.95

March 20, 2010 Daily DrinkersSpecial Occasions  No comments

Every great night begins with some great bubbly and last night was no exception.  After last weekend's 2001 Gloria Ferrer 'Royal Cuvee', I decided to go for its less expensive label mate, the NV Brut.  For those new to sparkling wine, most top notch producers make vintage wine for aging and non vintage wine to be consumed within a year or two of release.  I have now tasted both versions from Gloria Ferrer and I can officially say this Gloria lady makes great, sophisticated sparkling wines that are possibly unmatched values.  Why would you ever buy grocery store Corbel when you can buy this for under $13?

The wine itself starts with nice citrus and apple on the nose but less toasty oak than the more expensive version.  This too is very dry with a light but not thin texture.  You certainly don't get any of that Welch's sweetness that comes through on many comparably priced California sparklers.  The finish is very nice- clean and tart. Textbook.

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