Archive for the Wine Lists Category

THE FIVE TOP WINES OF THE PAST YEAR

Posted in Favorite Wines, Food and Wine Lists, Info on Wine, Tasting Notes, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , on July 27, 2010 by ballymote

When it comes to choosing my Top Five wines of the past year a couple come quickly to mind. A few others take some thought. After giving it that needed amount of thought I have reduced a year of joyous wine consumption down to a quintet of memorable elixirs. The first three I mention were all extremely enjoyable and helped make either a dinner or get together a special event.

Coming in at #5 of my best wines was the 2007 AUTEUR, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. I had this during a great meal at Blackbird in Collingswood, NJ back in March. Here is what I wrote in my post at that time “2007 Auteur, Sonoma, Pinot Noir. Everything I had heard about Auteur wines said they needed lots of time open to reflect their true flavors. I uncorked this bottle on Friday morning and left it in the fridge until it was time to go to dinner. The wine was a dark ruby color, much darker than most Pinots and actually drank more like a cabernet. Great, intense flavors that gave a rich mouthfeel and a lingering finish. It’s the kind of wine that you wish you had a case of in reserve.”

Checking in at #4 on my best wines list was the 2005 Larkmead, Oakville Estate, Cabernet Sauvignon. This one was enjoyed up in New York at the Marriott Hotel with Jerry and JoAnne B. prior to dinner at Tribeca Grill back in November. This is what I posted at that time “The Larkmead showed much better and although Parker gave it a 92, I think all of us thought it deserved higher. I’d give this one a 94. It’s not quite as full-bodied as the O’Shaughnessy but it felt more balanced and the flavors were crisp and precise with undertones of rich spices and blackberries. 

Numero 3 was another classic that helped make dinner at Gilmore’s in West Chester a Top 5 Dining Experience. The 2000 Phelps INSIGNIA was a first glass drinking treat that evening and prompted these words in that late March post “The  Insignia seemed to me to be underrated by the experts (94 WS, 91 Parker). It displayed class and strength and loads of smooth plum and blackberry flavors that could stand up to any steak or lamb dish. I’d compare this to any other Cabernet blend in the $100 price range.”

It was a tough decision on these next two wines because both of them were true highlights. After much soul-searching, my number 2 wine was the 2006 Mollydooker, VELVET GLOVE. This wine was so special I devoted an entire post to singing it’s praises. Here is what I wrote at that time. 

The Wine Advocate scored the 2006 Mollydooker Velvet Glove 99 points and Wine Spectator bestowed it with 97. Yesterday afternoon, with my wife Kathy and our friends Jerry B. and his wife, Joann,  we popped and poured this Aussie powerhouse. They had often teased me that I had a phobia about opening my “good stuff” and that one day, when I was gone, they would be toasting me with all of the bottles that I had never opened through the years. Well, the Velvet Glove will no longer be one of those wines.

Much too intense for even the heartiest of red meats we sipped this delicious wine with some cheese and crackers prior to going to dinner. There may not be another wine anywhere that is so appropriately named. The nose virtually filled the room with a sweet bouquet of berries and lavender before it even hit the glass. The first sip grabs you like, like…ok, I’ll say it, like a velvet glove!.  We all thought it reminded us of those 2001 and 2002 Shirvingtons which were also the handiwork of Sarah and Sparky Marquis. It should be mentioned this blockbuster wine checks in at 16.5% alcohol so be prepared.

Sweet, dark berries of all types, coated in vanilla cream and spice, fill the palate  with a liquid smorgasbord of flavors. The inky purple juice entices with a rich, smooth texture that is totally in balance and devoid of tannins. The finish lingers while you swirl and again breathe in the garden of intense scents that echo from the glass.  All  too soon the last of the magic elixir flows from the bottle and a special moment comes to an end. Mollydooker makes a great variety of wines but the Velvet Glove is their crowning jewel.

It was a great start to a wonderful evening of food and wine and very fitting that when I finally did open some of my “good stuff” that it was in the company of good friends who appreciate good wine.”

My number #1 wine of the past year, edging out the Velvet Glove only because I did not have the lofty expectations on this one, and at $75.00 a bottle it is only one-third the cost of the Velvet Glove is the 2005 Lillian, White Hawk Vineyard, Syrah. Created by winemaker, Maggie Harrison, former assistant to the legendary Manfred Krankl of cult wine SINE QUE NON, this was to me the ultimate in drinkability for the past year. Purchased from the wine list at Tribeca Grill in lower Manhattan, this wine made not only the dinner but the weekend. Here is what I posted at that time. ”  I had always wanted to try this wine having read so many rave reviews on the various wine boards. The fact that winemaker, Maggie Harrison, was the former assistant winemaker at Sine Que Non, which I have also never experienced, added to my excitement. The first taste was magical. Very seldom to you get a wine that delivers everything you are looking for in the beverage you are so passionate about. The Lillian Syrah delivers on so many different levels. It’s dark and brooding and packs so much flavor that you grasp for the right words. If Sarah and Sparky Marquis didn’t already capture the name “Velvet Glove” for their ultra-premium Mollydooker Wine, it would be perfect for the Lillian. It’s like getting hit with a velvet glove. The wine has smoothness down to a science and drinking it with my duck breast entree was like a meal designed in heaven. I’d give this one a 98 and place it #2 on my all-time list of wines. It was, as the sommelier mentioned when pouring at our table, “like drinking Sine Qua Non for one-third the price”.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to finding five more gems like these in the coming year and when I do, all of you will be the first to know.

IT’S OFFICIAL: THE WINE SPECTATOR 2009 WINE OF THE YEAR IS:

Posted in Info on Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , on November 17, 2009 by ballymote

  2005 COLUMBIA CREST CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVE

This wine received 95 points and it’s selection as WOTY is drawing the usual criticism on the Parker Board. People tend to love lists and if you are one of those people, then a list of the Top 100 wines will always hold a certain amount of interest. As usual, the selection has automatically caused the price of the wine, in this case $27.00 – $30.00 depending on where you buy wine, to greatly inflate. It is now being offered at $99.00 per bottle in an auction on Wine Commune. You can expect to pay at least $50.00 per bottle if you can find this wine. Hops & Grapes in Glassboro has for the past few weeks been featuring the 2006 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet . Remember, the 2006 is NOT the wine selected.

I have never tasted this wine. I will say that Columbia Crest has long been a producer of good wines at excellent prices. They were a producer you could trust and for very little money you could be sure of getting a quality wine in almost all of their varietals. Don’t chase this wine at inflated prices as I am certain there are much better bottles available for what you will have to spend for this one. The entire Top 100 List is not yet available online, but should be in the next day or two.

THE FIRST GROWTHS OF FRANCE AND NAPA VALLEY

Posted in Info on Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2009 by ballymote

The First Growths of France were created in 1855.first growths  The five wines  (Premier Gran Cru) in this prestigious grouping are, in no particular order, Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau Lafitte- Rothschild, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Margaux and Chateau LaTour. These are the names you hear bandied about in movies where a couple sits at a table in a fancy restaurant and the man perusing the wine list announces to the sommelier, “we’ll have the 82 Margaux, no, make that the 59 Mouton  Rothschild.” Here is how those wines were chosen for that list that represents the epitome of French wine making: In 1855 wine brokers were asked to create a classification of the wines of Bordeaux. They didn’t sit around a table and taste all of the wines from that region. They simply based the classification on how much wines were selling for at that time and the wines from the Medoc area of France were drawing top francs and therefore headed the list. The one exception being Chateau Haut-Brion which is produced in Graves. Mouton Rothschild did not make that First Growth Classification initially but decades of lobbying for inclusion by Baron Phillipe Rothschild who owned Mouton were successful in 1973 when Mouton made the big five.

Are they the best in the world? As with all wine opinions the answer is subjective. It depends on many things; the vintage, whether you like that style of wine, your mood at the time of tasting, so many variables. I have had two of the first growths, they were very good, they were not the best wines I have ever had.

America’s Napa Valley has no such grading of wines. There are no American first growths. However, a European wine magazine, Fine Wine, which for the first time is now being sold here in the USA, has now come out with their list of Napa First Growths. The list has produced a lot of debate on the wine forums as any list of “the best” will do. I present that list here to give you an idea of which wines are often referred to as “the best the America has to offer”.

Fine Wine Magazine named the following six wines as American First Growths:

HARLAN ESTATE

SCREAMING EAGLE

COLGIN CABERNET, HERB LAMB VINEYARD

BRYANT FAMILY

ARAUJO CABERNET SAUVIGNON

HEITZ, MARTHA’S VINEYARD

The article and their selection process can be found on this site. Pages 52-53 list the selections.
http://fine-magazines.epaper.fi/rea…896a1e6&lang=en

It makes for interesting conversation but, as usual, the debate is destined to rage on forever because the only truly great wines of the world are the ones YOU think are the best. Start sampling some today!!

SHOPPING FOR WINE ONLINE – and finding lots of bargains in one place !

Posted in Info on Wine, Shopping for Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , on October 8, 2009 by ballymote

wine blog pics 41I went online last night to see if I could find enough good to very good wines that would make up a case of wines (12 bottles) for under $100.00. It was my intention to split up my shopping amongst several local wine outlets. Where I went wrong was in beginning my search at Hops and Grapes in Glassboro, NJ. I found so many wines on sale that I was able to fill my case without leaving their “online” location. These are not just any wines. They are wines that I have enjoyed, most within the last year. Lots of them have excellent scores from Parker or the Wine Spectator and not one of them cost more than $9.99. In being totally honest, the case I selected actually totaled out at $103.77 but who is gonna quibble about $4.00 and for all I know, you might get a case discount.

wine toastHere are the 12 wines I selected for my bargain case and their individual prices. Keep in mind, these are all good wines that I would recommend to friends and family. They represent a variety of wine making regions and all are currently priced at under their usual retail prices. They may not fall into the category of “special” wines but they certainly qualify as excellent “everyday” wines that would compliment virtually any meal. In no particular order, here are the 12 wines that made up my ONLINE SHOPPING Case.

2007  FALESCO VITIANO (ITALY) a Cabernet/Merlot/Sangiovese blend    $8.98

2007  BORSAO RED WINE (SPAIN)  (stick a couple of these in the case if you are intent on keeping the cost under $100. This is a steal!) $6.99

2005 FLAVIUM, CRIANZA (SPAIN) $8.99

2005 COLUMBIA CREST, TWO VINES, VINEYARD 10 (CALIFORNIA)    $7.99

2007 FINCA LUZON, JUMILLA (SPAIN)  $7.98

2006 YARD DOG RED (AUSTRALIA)  $8.99

2007 CUPCAKE , PETITE SYRAH (CALIFORNIA)  $8.98

2004 E. GUIGAL, COTES DU RHONE (FRANCE)   $9.98

2007 CASTANO, MONASTRELL, YECLA (SPAIN)  $7.98

2006 CLINE, RED TRUCK (CALIFORNIA)    $8.95

2008 BITCH, GRENACHE (AUSTRALIA)   $8.98

2006 PAUL JABOULET, PARALLEL 45, ROUGE (FRANCE)   $8.98

REMEMBER – FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRINK WHITE ZINFANDEL !!

EVERYDAY WINES – AFFORDABLE PRICES

Posted in Favorite Wines, Info on Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by ballymote

We can’t always afford to drink the absolute best wines. Well, maybe some of us can but, I’m not in that elite group. That’s why I am constantly searching for the best QPR wines. QPR stands for Quality Price Ratio and simply means that for the money spent you are getting a better wine than what you might expect at that price point. Defined in other terms it means you are drinking a $12.00 wine that tastes like a $30 wine. These are wines that don’t break our budget. They are wines we can open with pizza or just to sip on the deck on a warm summer evening. There are many such wines and each person has their own favorites. here are a few of my current favorites:IMG_2503

Keep in mind that “everyday wines” can be constantly changing and are certainly not limited in any way to the six bottles pictured above. These are simply good representatives of the group. From left to right these wines are

2002 Thorn-Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz

2005 Domaine “La Garrigue” Cotes Du Rhone

2005 Sainte Leocadie, Les Clauses, Minervois

2005 Green Lion, Napa, Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses, Cotes du Ventoux

and resting comfortably in the forefront is my perennial favorite in the QPR group the

2007 Pillar Box RED

The Pillar Box Red is from Australia and each year is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Some years are better than others but all of them are very good. A couple of years ago this was available for $7.99 but obviously the word got out and it’s now going for $12.99 in most stores (Circle Liquors has it for $10.99 (shhhhhhhhhh..don’t tell anyone).

The Thorn-Clark Terra Barossa Shiraz is also from Australia and is loaded with lots of berry fruit flavors and usually sells for about $15.00.

The Chateau Pesquie, Terrasses is a steal at $14.00 and is a delicious blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from the Cotes du Ventoux. It almost always scores 90 points from Parker and Wine Spectator.

The Sainte Leocadie, Les Clauses is from the Minervois region of France, it is light and fragrant and matches up well with a wide variety of food items from pasta to beef. It usually sells for about $13.00 but I bought a case for $9 per bottle from the Wine Library in North Jersey after watching Gary Vaynerchuk, the marketing mastermind from Wine Library TV. Great Value!!

The 2005 Domaine “La Garrigue” Cotes du Rhone is good stuff. Here is what Robert Parker had to say about it in his rating:

91 Points – Robert Parker (Wine Advocate)

“The 2005 Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine, a blend of 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, and 10% Syrah, is a fabulous example of how high quality Cotes du Rhones can be. Made under the auspices of the brilliant oenologist Philippe Cambie, this wine comes from the estate`s oldest head-pruned vines of 60 to 90 years old. Dense ruby/purple with terrific black cherry and black currant fruit, full-bodied essence of Provencal fruit, herbs, incense, and spice, this essentially tastes more like a Vacqueyras than a Cotes du Rhone and is beautifully ripe, full-bodied, opulent, and also vibrant, which is in keeping with this top-notch vintage.”

I would simply add that if you are lost in a wine store with NO IDEA what to buy. It’s hard to go wrong with any Cotes du Rhone as they usually are priced very reasonably between $10.00 and $15.00 with a large selection to choose from. Do I have to tell you they’d be located in the section that reads “FRANCE”??

2005 Green Lion, Napa, Cabernet is a Chris Ringland product. Chris is a talented winemaker from “down under” who makes a wide range of excellent wines under the “R Wines” brand. He is teamed with importer, Dan Phillips who carries the Grateful Palate lineup of wines. It’s a wonderful example of a Napa Cab that could sell for 2 to 3 times it’s $16.00 price tag.

OK, there are 6 wines that should keep you heart-healthy and your thirst quenched. Enjoy!!

20 WINES TO AVOID-THE TOP 20 MOST ORDERED WINES IN RESTAURANTS

Posted in Info on Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , , on July 17, 2009 by ballymote

I find this list absolutely amazing. It’s from RESTAURANT WINE MAGAZINE and it’s a list of the TOP 20 wines ordered in restaurants in 2007. Honestly, there isn’t a single wine on this list that I can recommend or that I would order under ANY circumstance. I love wine passionately but if this were all the wine choices I had, I would be a devoted beer drinker.

This list speaks volumes about the wine, oops I meant to say plonk-drinking habits of the American public. They get into a rut and have no idea how to get out and consequently they miss the opportunity to experience the true joys of the grape. I publish this list to help you avoid the minefield of bad juice that floods America. This list was originally published in a BLOG titled “Spirit of Wine”.

RESTAURANT WINES TOP 20 WINES ORDERED IN 2007

  1. KENDALL-JACKSON CHARDONNAY
  2. BERINGER VINYARDS WHITE ZINFANDEL
  3. CAVIT PINOT GRIGIO
  4. SUTTER HOME WHITE ZINFANDEL
  5. INGLENOOK CHABLIS
  6. ECCO DOMANI PINOT GRIGIO
  7. YELLOW TAIL CHARDONNAY
  8. COPPERIDGE CHARDONNAY
  9. YELLOWTAIL SHIRAZ
  10. FRANZIA WHITE ZINFANDEL
  11. MEZZACORONA PNOT GRIGIO
  12. FRANZIA CHARDONNAY
  13. WOODBRIDGE CHARDONNAY
  14. WYCLIF BRUT
  15. SANTA MARGHARITA PINOT GRIGIO
  16. TAYLOR CALIFORNIA CELLARS CHABLIS
  17. MARTINI & ROSSI DRY VERMOUTH
  18. FOXHORN VINYARDS CHARDONNAY
  19. SUTTER HOME CHARDONNAY
  20. BLACKSTONE MERLOT

you have been warned!!

 

  

12 WONDERS OF SPANISH WINES (all under $10.00)

Posted in Info on Wine, Wine Lists with tags , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2009 by ballymote

In keeping with my theory that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to drink good wine here are 12 wines from Spain that offer tremendous value and will compliment virtually any meal.

All of these wines are currently available at Hops n Grape’s in Glassboro, NJ but should also be available at your local Canal’s.

The main grape varietals of Spain are Tempranillo, Garnache and Monastrell (Mourvedre). All of the wines listed here contain one of these three grapes as the primary flavor agent.

2007 Panarroz $7.99

2007 Wrongo Dongo $6.99

2005 Flavium Crianza $9.99 *

2007 Borsao Red Wine $6.99 *

2007 Paso a Paso Tempranillo $7.98

2007 Castano Monastrell Yecla $7.98

2006 Merum Monastrell $8.98

2007 Finca Luzon Jumilla $7.98

2005 Campo Viejo Temranillo $9.99

2007 Evodia Garnacha $8.98

2005 Capcanis Monsant Mas Donis Barrica $9.98

2006 Barahonda Nabuko $9.98

* PERSONAL FAVORITES

If you can be tempted to part with an extra dollar you can partake of one of the truly excellent values from Spain that is rated 91 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. That wine would be

2006 Las Rocas Grenache $10.98

With this many good wines available at these great prices you are sure to find a personal  favorite without breaking your budget. ENJOY!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers