"Wine is water come of age." - Father Capon

Monday, April 04, 2011

Renegade Wine Co. Horse Heaven Hills Red 2008

This was great find. Renegade Wine Co. is the second label for Slight of Hand Cellars in Walla Walla, WA. It is a blend of 39% Cabernet, 39% Cabernet Franc, 13% Grenache, 9% Syrah. Rumor has it that the blend is constructed from lots of juice purchased from famous vineyards in Walla Walla that routinely go in to bottles priced at 30.00. The quality of the wine bears that out. This is a fine bottle of wine for 10.00. It is very well structured, with lovely red fruit, minerality, and a finish you don't find on most wine at this price point. I thought the freshness of the Cabernet Franc was particularly lovely in this blend. All in all, it's a great value and from reports, it sells out quickly. Snatch it up if you find it, you won't be disappointed.    

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Importers are your friend

When choosing a bottle of wine few people think to look at who the importer is. It's a big mistake. Wine importers act as screening agents, combing through the vast world of available wine to find jems to grace their portfolio...and thus your table. According to Mark Oldman, wine importers' effect on quality wine is enormous. "They have the ability to influence producers to make wine of the highest integrity and then export it with the utmost care. And producers listen...Appearing on the back label of imported wine bottles, an importer's name is one of the great clues to a good wine, though few casual drinkers even know to look for it. The name of a high quality importer acts like a seal of approval - a sign that a fastidious expert has secured the best possible wines under the best possible conditions." Here is a list of quality importers for you to take to your local wine shop.

Eric Solomon/European Cellars - Eric Solomon is a justly famous importer of wines from Italy, France, and Spain. As the owner of my local wine shop put it, "if it's from Eric Solomon, I buy it."

Grateful Palate/Dan Philips - Grateful Palate sources "distinctive wines of pleasure" from Australia. As well as gourmet bacon and coffee.

Jorge Ordonez/Fine Estates from Spain - Jorge Ordonez is to Spanish wine, what Warren Buffett is to investing. That is to say, iconic. He is especially known for his affordable selections. Watch an episode of WLTV featuring Jorge here.

Peter Weygandt/Weygandt-Metzler Importing - Peter Weygandt is another fabulous importer of European wines. Watch a double feature of WLTV with Peter here and here

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant  - No list would be complete without the iconic importer of French wine, Kermit Lynch. Find the WLTV series with Kermit herehere and here. Kermit has also written a famous book about his journeys as a wine buyer available here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thoughts on value

I love great wine, but I can't afford great wine.There are moments when I fantasize about being invited accidentally to a first growth Bordeaux tasting, but short of a miracle I realize that my chances of tasting such exalted juice are pretty close to nil. But, I was reminded yesterday that with a little savvy and patience, you can drink great wine on a budget. You are not condemned to drink Woodbridge and Barefoot forever. On Sunday we enjoyed the Sabbath at one of our dear friend's home. She treated us to a simple but magnificent dinner of lasagna made with lots of marscapone and fresh noodles, drown in rich red sauce and crisp Italian sausages. It was heaven. I supplied the wine. We drank three bottles, a Washington Cabernet from the Waluke Slope, a small production Syrah from California, and a dolcetto/nebbiolo blend from the Piedmonte in Italy. The combined value was around 80.00. I paid 25.00 (8.00 vs. 27.00 a bottle). That's lower than supermarket prices for mediocre wine. All three of them were distributor closeouts that I found at my local wine shop and at our Grocery Outlet. What's more, they were all fantastic wines. Deals like this don't grow on trees, but they are consistently to be found, especially in our economy. Read how a place like Grocery Outlet gets great deals here Bottom line, you don't have to drink bad wine just because you can't shell out 20-30.00 for a bottle. Beat the system. Think of wine shopping like you do yard sales. Keep your eyes pealed for the overlooked gem and then pounce.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Casa Marin Lo Abarca Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005

This was another of those crazy Grocery Outlet deals. The Casa Marin Lo Abarca Hills Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 is a serious wine. It scored 92 points in the Wine Advocate (#171, Jun. 07) and sells for 30.00+. At the GO it was 16.00. When my father and I opened the bottle and poured our first glass, we were impressed by the vivid strawberry, cranberry, and smoky nose. There was a hint of funky tire rubber that blew off with a little air. The palate was really seductive - powerful and intense layers of red fruit (unusually strong for a Pinot) surrounded by smoke and bacon fat. It was so smooth and seamless. Over the next two hours it changed as we drank it and got even better. Wow, this was good. Unabashedly new world in its profile, but with integrity and seamless integration. It would go superbly with boeuf bourguignon or a tenderloin.