Archive for Screaming Eagle


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:







The article and their selection process can be found on this site. Pages 52-53 list the selections.…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!!


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

art wine 1

The most valuable wine collection in the world is reported to belong to one Milestii Mici of Moldova who claims to have 1.5 million bottles lying peacefully in his cellar.

Although I have not tried this wine myself, I have had it recommended to me so many times that I should mention it here because it is currently one of the Chairman’s Selections at PA State Liquor Stores. It’s the 2007 Bommarito, a Napa Cabernet made by the good folks at Whitehall Lane who consistently turn out good cabs year after year. At the mark-down price of $13.99 it won’t last long and it won’t be back once it’s gone.

Speaking of bargains across the river, the PLCB is practically giving away magnums of 2004 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon at the bargain price of $5,999.00. If you have any money left after grabbing one or two of these, pick up a few Bommarito’s!

This next little tidbit is actually important enough to merit its own post so the least I can do is change my color to emphasize this.

If any of you would like to be kept up to date on wine activities happening in SOUTH JERSEY or in Philly there is an excellent source of information that you can have e-mailed to you every morning. Eric Orange is the creator of something called “The Juice”. His website is Go to the website, sign up for the SOUTH JERSEY or Philly addition and you will never miss an important event. This information is available for any major area of the country and is free. A premium edition is available for a monthly charge that provides even greater advantages.

more later…………….SLAINTE !!


Posted in Info on Wine with tags , , , , , , on October 5, 2009 by ballymote

It’s only natural that China should celebrate it’s new found wealth and place in the world as one of the leading nations. What better way to celebrate than with a glass of wine. It used to be that the wine the Chinese would drink would be something from a chateau in France. Today, it’s just as likely to be something made from home-grown grapes.  chinese_wineThe three leading Chinese wine producers are Changyu Pioneer Wine, Great Wall Wine Co, Ltd and Dynasty Wine, Ltd.Chinese wines None of these have yet reached a sales level that threatens the winemakers of Napa or Bordeaux but experts believe that it won’t be too long before China is turning out wines as good as many other premier grape-growing regions of the world.

Once the Chinese focus on something that can be done they usually have the resources to make it happen. Many of the newly rich in China who have made their money in any one of numerous endeavors in their native land now drink wine as a symbol of their wealthy status. 90% of the wine consumed in China is red wine and every year the number of new wine drinkers and total tonnage of grapes produced rises dramatically.

Wine is not new to China. It is widely believed that Confucius drank wine from Shandong Province and some believe that wine may have been produced in China as early as 220 B.C. What is new is the recent popularity of wine in China. Many wine enthusiasts fear that China’s wealth and desire for the things that such wealth can acquire will soon see rising prices for the great wines of France, Italy and Napa. At a recent auction of California wines, a young Chinese entrepreneur, David Li bid $500,000 for 6 magnums of Screaming Eagle. grape-wall-challenge-beijing-2009-grape-wall-of-china-blog-6When interviewed by the Wine Spectator magazine Li gushed “I love the wines of Napa Valley.”

Recent visits to China by some of the great wine producers of the world seem to indicate they are scouting the area for the best wine-growing locations. It’s only natural that a country as large and diverse in land mass would have some areas that are perfect for growing outstanding grapes. The early visitors hope to take advantage of a trend that they are sure will continue to increase as China expands its interest in this area. It’s becoming  apparent that it’s only a matter of time before you peruse the wine list in your favorite dining establishment and ask the sommelier to bring you a nice bottle of the  2014 Shandong Cabernet.


Posted in Favorite Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by ballymote

There is a hierarchy within the world of wine geeks. I’m afraid I am not in the upper echelon of wine geeks. There are probably a few reasons for that but the primary one might be that my budget does not enable me to drink the high end wines very often and precludes me from drinking the highest of the high at any time. At least, so far. One never knows when a wine miracle might take place.

If I were a member in good standing of the highest echelon of wine geeks my favorite wine might be one of the true classics like Chateau Petrus, Screaming Eagle, or a Domaine Romanee Conti. Unfortunately, none of those grape spectaculars has ever met my palate. I have had the opportunity to taste a couple of the first growth from Bordeaux at a wine tasting but they didn’t impress me all that much.

The wine that did make me go “wow”, and it has done so on more than one ocassion was the 2001 Shirvington Shiraz from McLaren Vale in Australia.IMG_2436









This beauty from the land of Oz has it all; a nose of incredible scent that simply intoxicates the senses. There is a bouquet of rose petals, soft cherries, ripe raspberries, chocolate and even cotton candy. The first sip brings a powerful taste of an array of red and black fruits mingled with that same cotton candy with a touch of licorice all balanced perfectly with tannins that are soft and warm. The finish continues for a full 60 seconds and you just know you are experiencing near perfection in a wine.

The 2002 Shirvington was equally enjoyable and was rated 99 points by Robert Parker. I believe the 2001 garnered 98 points. Both of these superb wines were crafted by the outstanding Aussie winemaker, Sparky Marquis. He no longer makes Shirvington as he was replaced by Kim Johnston in 2004. The current Shirvingtons are still excellent but none have achieved the greatness of the 01 and 02’s. Sparky Marquis and his wife Sarah are now owners and winemakers for a brand called Mollydooker and I will write at length on those excellent products in a future post. There are still a few of the 2001 and 2002 Shirvington’s available online at prices starting around $125.00. If you can afford them and want to experience a truly great wine then I would suggest you grab one or more before they are extinct.