They always claim there are two kinds of knowledge, “knowing something, or knowing where to find something.” With the dawn of the computer age the “knowing where to find something” has become even easier. I certainly don’t claim to know everything about wine but I do know places where I can go to look when I have something Id like to learn more about. Two such places are the popular wine “chat boards”, Wine Spectator and Wine Berserker. I make sure I stop by these two fonts of knowledge several times a week. In so doing, I often pick up ideas for new wines to try. A few weeks ago one of the main topics of conversation on Wine Berserker was “your favorite Under $15.00 wines”. There was lively discussion with scores of posters volunteering their personal favorites. One wine that garnered several mentions was the 2008 Altovinum “Evodia” Calatayud Garnacha from Spain. I have seen that wine many times on the shelves of local wine shops but it became just one of many Spanish wines I hoped to try one day. The chatter on the boards though was so favorable that the next day I picked up a bottle for $9.99 at a PA State Store near where I work.
My wife, Kathy, and I opened the bottle at a local restaurant on New Years Day and were both immensely disappointed. Kathy went so far as to call it “horrible’ and I struggled to find something redeeming about it to no avail. It could have been that the bottle was “corked” but it’s more likely that this wine just didn’t appeal to our palates. Remember, just because the majority may like something it’s no guarantee you will find the same wine equally charming.
Less than 24 hours later we were at my brother Tom’s house for a delayed family Christmas celebration. Tom has a very nice wine cellar and we can always count on him having something good in his wine fridge. This day was no exception and one of the wines we popped was a 2000 Justin, Isosceles, a Cabernet based blend from Paso Robles, CA. I have had other vintages of this same wine and it has always been enjoyable but this 2000 was absolutely stellar. A decade in the bottle had brought out all of the highlights of this delicious nectar. Bright strawberry, subdued blackberry, hints of caramel and some cotton candy, all perfectly balanced and topped off with a long, smooth finish. This was really a wine that had reached its apex of flavor.
That’s the amazing thing about wine. The Justin Isosceles sells for about $50.00. This one was worth it. Often times you can find a $15.00 bottle that drinks like a $50 bottle. It’s the experimentation and thrill of discovery that makes drinking wine such a unique pleasure.