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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Sterling SVR Reserve 2006- Tastes like 100 bucks for $21.73

March 16, 2010 Cellar WorthyHigh End ValuesSpecial Occasions  One comment

I haven't been a big fan of the 2006's from Napa.  In fact,  so far, the BV Tapestry has been the only one that I really liked, especially compared to prior (and future) years.  But this is a serious exception and Internet Wines have taken exception to its normally serious price.

Sterling's SVR Reserve is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  I decanted for a couple of hours and was rewarded with a big oaky, complex nose.  This is a full bodied wine with tons of dark fruit, that I'm confident will only improve with age.  The SVR (does that stand for Stevie Ray Vaughn?) is a mouthcoating wine that reminds me of some of the high end valley wines like Groth and George de Latour.  Buy a few.  Try one now and hold onto a few bottles for at least 3 more years and it should develop nicely.

After my first bottle, I bought four more of this wine locally for $28 and still feel like I got a great deal (after shipping it's about a wash anyway).  I recently drank an '06 Chateau Montelena at a restaurant (and had ample opportunity to taste it as our table of six went through six bottles), and this blows it away.

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Single Vineyard Howell Mountain Cabernet Under $20 WE91

March 15, 2010 Cellar Worthy  No comments

It's not often that you can find a Napa Cabernet for under $20 let alone a single vineyard Howell Mountain Cabernet.  Mountain wine is notoriously expensive and, in my opinion, for good reason.  The 2005 Bella Vetta "Ami's Vineyard" Howell Mountian Cabernet has a knock out nose and a long,  lingering finish, in typical mountain style.  It's medium to full bodied with lots of fruit, but not in an over-ripe style sometimes found down the hill in the valley.

Watch for this wine to get much more expensive as the vines get some age- this is the wineries first offering from the 2 acre Ami's Vineyard.  But if you had told me the vines are 15 years old, I wouldn't have thought twice.  Only 248 cases were made, and I wouldn't be surprised if K&L bought a healthy percentage of it.  I

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Gloria Ferrer Brut ‘Royal Cuvee’ 2001- Great Sparkling Deal WS93

March 13, 2010 Special Occasions  4 comments

Last night I had the pleasure of celebrating a special occasion with this awesome bottle of sparkling wine from Carneros.  Gloria Ferrer is usually known for their Sonoma wines, but this vintage reserve bottling uses Napa grapes, to great effect.  Unlike many California sparklers, this wine is nuanced and very dry, much like a Champagne.  With 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay, you get some of the smokey and nutty flavors of the Pinot coming through as well.

For me, it's fun to drink vintage sparkling wine, not just because of complexity gained during the 7-8 years in the bottle, but because I like to think about all the effort that went into creating it.   If you haven't read up on the complicated process of making champagne and other sparkling wine, it's worth a read.  It will make

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Top Wine Deal Site:

March 11, 2010 Nickel & Dime Retailers  3 comments

From time to time I'm going to be discussing the best places to buy wine (for great prices).  One of my favorite online wine retailers is a.k.a Wines 'til Sold Out.  I've bought a few cases of wine from these guys and I've always been impressed.  WTSO lists wines a few times a day- with the main event at midnight EST- and sells them until, you guessed it, they are sold out.  It's a great way for an unnamed major wine retailer to get rid of excess inventory and, truth be told, wineries and distributors are selling wines to WTSO at MAJOR discounts to get rid of their own inventory.

Major benefits:

Free shipping with minimum purchase (usually between 1 and 4 bottles)
Quick delivery
Major names unlike some "one wine deal a day" sites

Let me give you some examples of the

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Dead Soldiers: Avalon Cabernet 2005, Faust Cabernet 2005, Monte Antico 2006, San Simeon Chardonnay 2006

March 8, 2010 Daily DrinkersHigh End ValuesSpecial OccasionsWines under $10  No comments

Tonight I start my weekly dead soldiers post.  Sundays or Mondays I will be summarizing the prior week in wine with my "dead soliders" post.  I've already blogged about a couple of these wines, and the other two are likely to show up in later posts so we will leave it at this:  3 under $10 wines (Avalon, Monte Antico and San Simeon) and a $50 wine (Faust).

It's not every week that I drink a $50 wine, but wow- this is a great one.  If you can still find the 2005 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley at under $50, get a few bottles.  It's made by Quintessa and shows as such.  Avalon Cabernet is a great go-to wine that is widely available at groceries and wine stores.  And the other two have already been reviewed.

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