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[May Not Be The Best In The World But] Great Gifts For Dad

June 12, 2015 11 comments

During 2011 I wrote a number of posts for the project called The Art Of Life Magazine – of course talking about my favorite subject, wine. The project was closed and  even the web site is down, but as I still like the posts I wrote, I decided to re-post them in this blog. To tell you the truth, if I would write such a “Father’s Day Gifts” post today, I would write it differently. But I can always write it differently some other time, and for now – here is the original.

Note that the series was written for a slightly different audience – I hope none of my readers will take offense in the fact that sometimes I’m stating the obvious…

Considering that Father’s Day is rapidly approaching, let’s talk about gifts for Dad. Even if Father’s Day is not celebrated in your country, remember – any day is a great day to get a present for your hard-working Dad.

This is the wine blog, so of course our gift suggestions will be related to the wine. And while I’m sure everybody wants to buy the best gift ever, not all of us can afford that ideal present, so let’s look for a few options in different price categories. Let’s start.

Under $15:

You think it is impossible to get a great bottle of wine under $15? Think again. Here are two suggestions:

What: Bodegas Volver La Mancha DO, Spain

Why: This is a serious man’s wine. There is nothing wimpy about this wine. It has super-broad shoulders, it is bone dry, and it has strong tannins grip, strong as dad’s handshake. At the same time, it is very balanced and elegant, and if you will try it with a mildly sharp cheese with some fig jam on top of it, you might find heaven on earth.

Bodegas Volver

What: Le Petit Chambord Cour-Cheverny, Loire, France

Why: Same as the one before, this is the wine for a real man. Brighter than sun acidity, supported by good fruit, very balanced. Another trait which many dads possess – it needs patience, as it will greatly improve with age. Give it 10-15 years and prepare to be amazed.

Cour Cheverny 2007

Under $100:

A different game, seems to be lots of choices, but it is not always the case. Let’s look at some suggestions.

What: Peter Michael Chardonnay (there are many options, but either one will do).

Why: When Dad will try this wine, he will experience [very strong] emotions. Who knows, he might even cry. This wine will remind him of his true love – wife, if he is happily married, and his dreams – if he is not. Incredibly balanced, with all components (fruit, acidity, vanilla, toasted oak, tannins) being in perfect harmony. Once Dad will experience this wine, it will be one and only Chardonnay he will be willing to drink.

Peter Michael Chardonnay

What: Adrien Camut Calvados 6 years old

Why: It is reminiscent of a Dad in a tuxedo. Calvados is a cognac’s relative, only made out of apples. Calvados has the same alcohol content as cognac, but it is not aggressive at all compare to many cognacs which are. It is pure elegance and class, exactly as a man in tuxedo feels like.

Camut Calvados

What: Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal

Why: Because it will make Dad to think of adventure. May be he will finally go to safari, after dreaming about it for more than 20 years. May be Dad will recall the warmth of campfire under an open starry sky. Pleasant roughness paired with deep smoke flavor – it will make dad’s heart to pump faster and happier.

Mezcal Del Maguey 

Unlimited, or at least above $3000

This is the category for those who has everything – but even when you have everything, something is probably still missing… Let’s look for some options – and I guarantee you, it will not be easy to find.

What: Taylor-Fladgate Scion Very Old Port

Why: Because I want one for myself? Okay, but on a more serious note, this port is made out of the pre-Phylloxera grapes in approximately 1855, so this wine is about 160 years old! It is awe-inspiring for any wine lover, and to say it has limited availability would be an understatement. But – if you can afford it, make an effort, find it – and Dad will thank you profusely.

What: Domaine De La Romanee-Conti La Tache, Burgundy, France

Why: Because I want this one too? Domaine De La Romanee-Conti, or DRC for short, makes literally the most amazing wines in the world. These wines are literally impossible to find, so it you will present such a bottle to Dad, I’m sure he will really appreciate the sacrifice(s) you had to make to get it for him.

DRC La Tache

Our session is over – hope I was able to help! Good luck with all the presents, and Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

Just When You Least Expect It – Last Bottle Festivus Marathon Madness, December 18th!

December 17, 2014 4 comments

LastBottle Marathon LogoIn its typical style, when you least expect it (meaning – the day before the event), Last Bottle, a purveyor of the fine wines at the value prices, announced yet another “Madness Marathon”. The promise is to make it the most over the top ever, and considering that at 1 PM Pacific time Last Bottle plans to offer Domaine de la Romanee Conti (yep, the sacred DRC!), that might not be an empty threat.

Here is all you need to know:

The event takes place on Thursday, December 18th, starting at 9 AM Pacific time (Noon Eastern), the wines will be offered at a neck-breaking (hmmm, may be, finger-breaking? ) speed at the Last Bottle web site. No notifications of any sort, not even on twitter – you have to click “refresh” all the time. No minimums, all the wines you will buy will ship free, shortly after the event will be over. The event will last for two days or until all the wine will be sold out.

You will need to have an account with Last Bottle, and I also highly recommend to be logged into your account all the time during the event, with your payment information filled it – if you are not fast enough, you are not getting that amazing wine at an amazing price – there is always someone who clicks faster than you.

As usual, when I mention Last Bottle, in case you don’t have an account with them already, I always offer an opportunity to sign up – if you will sign up using this link, you will get $5 off your first purchase, and yes, I will get $20 after your first purchase. The beauty is that moving forward, you can sign up your friends, and now you will be the one to get $20 after they will buy the wine from the Last Bottle.

Okay, enough reading – go make some room in your cellar – you will need it. And if you will be the one to buy the DRC, can you please at least leave a comment here, so I will be able to envy you?

Happy [great value wine] Hunting!

Weekly Wine Quiz #20: How Much Does It Worth To You?

July 14, 2012 2 comments

As you might remember, last week’s quiz was about numbers – quite large numbers, err – prices, I have to say. But if you think about it, those $168K are paid mostly for the bottle and not for the wine – you can acquire exact same wine for a tiniest fraction of that price.

Today, continuing the subject of wine and numbers, I want to talk about auctions, where for the most cases you actually pay for the wine. And while auctions take place all the time all over the world, this particular auction took place in France (mind you, not in Hong Kong or China), a little more than a year ago, and the buyer of the wine was French. He paid €57,000 for a bottle of wine, beating another (also a Frenchman) bidder in a tight battle (nobody expected that particular wine to fetch such price).

Assuming money is not an issue, which wine do you think was worth acquiring for that amount?

Have a great weekend! Cheers!

Must Try Wines, with Updates and Explanations

May 6, 2012 Leave a comment

After publishing the first post about Must Try Wines, I had an extended dialog with @PeterZachar on Twitter, where Peter provided good suggestions as to more ”must try wines” to be added to the list. Then I thought about whole rationale of ”must try”, ”must do”, ”must see”, ”must experience”, and I believe it makes sense to talk about it first.

When it comes to ”must experience” in the wine world, I believe there are few deciding factors to get a given wine into that category. First one probably is a price. In the end of the day, this is how first known ”must try” classification came about – famous Bordeaux 1855 classification was made out solely on the price of the wines sold by various Chateaux. Of course price is just a consequence, an artificial showing of other, more fundamental factors, such as quality, reputation, demand and availability – but it is easy for us, humans to comprehend numbers, so the price serves as an aggregate measure instead of quantifying all other fundamentals independently. Looking at Chateau Petrus, Screaming Eagle or Seppeltsfield Port, each one faring at about $2500+ a bottle, it is easy to say ”if ever possible, I really really want to try it”.

Next factor is a reputation of the wine. Reputation in general is hard to assess, right? Well, when it comes to the wine world, one side of reputation also happened to be quantified for us – in the form of the infamous wine ratings. All over the wine blogosphere you can find beating and bantering of the various point rating systems – however, whether good or bad, consumers like to have some simple numerical indication of one ”thing” being better than another ”thing”. No, I’m not planning to divert into the 100-points scale discussion – what I’m alluding to is the fact that it is very easy to include wines rated 100 points into the ”must experience” category. Probably 98 to a 100 points will do just fine, as I can bet I would never be able to tell the difference between 98 and 99 rated wines, so 98 to a 100 is a good range. Should all 100 points rated wines be included into ”must try” list? I don’t think so, simply because you have to draw a line somewhere.

Another side of reputation shows up in the form of someone’s opinion – not a single person, but rather as a collective opinion. If the wine receives multiple [substantial] praises from multiple people, it is probably worth considering for the ”must try” subject – however, all these praises will most likely become reflected in the price, and almost certainly will affect one more ”must have” deciding factor – availability.

What do we usually want the most? That’s right – something we cannot have. In the industrial world, if we run out of something, we can make more of it. It doesn’t work the same way in the wine world. Deeply engrained in the concept of terroir, the most sought after wines are produced from the very specific vineyards – yes, you can plant more vineyards, but they will not bear the same fruit and you will not be able to produce the same wine. Therefore, you can’t address the increased demand by just making more – and your wine becomes less available (and its reputation most likely is increasing). The next step is for the wine to be sold only through the mailing lists thus injecting some sanity into that supply and demand equation. And in many cases price of wine goes up, completing the full connection between our three key ”must have” factors – price, reputation and availability.

I hope I gave you enough insight into my logic. To come up with the additions to the original ”must try” list, I did two things. First of all, I used the exact recommendations from Peter. Second approach was based on using the Wine Spectator online and searching for the wines with 98 to 100 ratings in particular regions and countries – then looking at the prices and styles to decide if I would be interested in experiencing that wine. The result can be found in the updated table which is available as a standalone page on this site (please click this link).

Few more comments, if I may. For most of the wines from France, actual vintage is not essential – all these wines show remarkable consistency in good years and in bad years. Also for Bordeaux, Burgundy and Sauternes the actual ”must try” wine is a flagship which usually goes under the same as the winery itself. Same is true for California ”cults” outside of Rhone Rangers. For all other wines, the exact wine is listed. Also for Port, Madeira and Spanish wines the exact vintage is listed and important.

I just want to repeat the same disclaimer as last time – this list is a personal reflection – feel free to criticize it or make it yours and change it. I’m sure there are plenty worthwhile wines which can be added to this list – this is why I’m sharing it with you. Yes, you are welcome.

Let’s raise the glass for the best experiences of our lives! Cheers!

Must Try Wines

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

It is not so simple to talk about ”must have experiences” – as we move on in life, the idea of ”must have” can be changing dramatically, taking something which was considered divine to something you can literally despise.

Our experiences are personal, and they have value within our view, our picture of the world. This is true pretty much for everything, but this is ultimately true when it comes to food and wine. If someone is strictly a white zinfandel drinker, convincing him or her that this Chateau Latour is a good wine would be an impossible task. Therefore, does it make sense to come up with the list of ”must try wines”? I believe so. This doesn’t have have to be a ”must try” list for everyone, but this is rather a personal belief based on the present relationship with the wine world. By reading books, blogs and magazine articles, talking to people (twitter conversations included), and then doing more reading, talking and thinking (and drinking!!!), this list came by as my personal reflection. These are the wines I would like to experience at least once – nothing more and nothing less.

Few notes about the list. First, it is built by country, and then sub-regions. The primary idea behind including most of the wines you can see on the list is their reputation, which is based on what I read and heard. Yes, majority of the wines in the list are super-expensive, but this just a consequence of their reputation, I guess. Considering that, I also included possible substitutes for some of the wines – some of the substitution suggestions are based on the official (and semi-official) ”second labels” (here’s a link to the post I wrote for The Art Of Life Magazine on the subject of the second labels) – for instance all of the Bordeaux First Growth have their official second label wines (some of them even have third labels now). Some of the other suggestions are simply based on geographic proximity and ownership – for instance, Chateau Hosanna is located next to the famed Chateau Petrus and both are owned by the same owner, Christian Moueix.

And few more points. If you want to get that list in the form of the PDF file, here is the link for you. If you are interested in my logic as to why particular wines and wineries are there – I will gladly explain, just ask a question. If you think there are other wines I should include in the list, let me know – I will greatly appreciate the suggestions. However, if you think that I’m wrong and some of the wines shouldn’t be on this list – well, tough luck – the is is my personal list, and this is the way I see it at the moment.

Without further delay, here is the list. Cheers!

Country/Region
Winery/Wine

Potential Alternative

France

Champagne

Krug Clos du Mesnil Krug Grand Cuvee NV
Krug Clos d’Ambonnay
Salon Le Mesnil

Bordeaux

Chateau Latour Les Forts de Latour
Chateau Lafite Rothschild Carruades de Lafite Rothschild
Chateau Mouton Rothschild Le Petit Mouton
Chateau Haut Brion Le Clarence de Haut-Brion
Chateau Margaux Pavillion Rouge
Chateau Cheval Blanc Le Petit Cheval
Chateau Petrus Chateau Hosanna
Chateau Le Pin

Burgundy

DRC Grand Cru Échezeaux
DRC Grand Cru Richebourg
DRC Grand Cru La Tâche
DRC Grand Cru La Romanée-Conti
DRC Grand Cru Montrachet

Sauternes

Chateau d’Yquem

Northern Rhone

E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne
E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline
E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque
Chateau Grillet

Southern Rhone

Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage a Jacques Perrin
Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee da Capo
Italy

Piedmont

Gaja
Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Riserva Asili
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Falletto

Tuscany

Ornelaia Masseto
Antinori Solaia
Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto
Ornelaia Le Serre Nouve, Le Volte
Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna del Piano

Veneto

Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone
Spain

Rioja

1964 Lopez de Heredia “Viña Tondonia” Gran Reserva Rioja

Ribero Del Duero

Vega Sicilia Unico Valbuena 5°
Bodega Dominio de Pingus
US

California

Bryant Family DB4
Colgin Family
Harlan Maiden
Screaming Eagle Leviathan
Sine Qua Non
Alban Vineyards
Saxum

Washington

Cayuse
Quilceda Creek
Portugal
Taylor’s Scion Very Old Port
Australia

Barossa Valley

Penfolds Grange
Seppeltsfield 100 year old Para Vintage Tawny

Best Wine Reviews Ever

March 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Aren’t you tired of reading wine reviews about “hint of apple”, “cinnamon and clove”, “coriander and last year’s rain”? Especially when you can’t find that specific flavor profile in your glass no matter what? Today I managed to come across two wine reviews which were much easier to assess and appreciate.

First, here is review of the Corison Cabernet Sauvignon (not so widely known but excellent Cabernet from Napa Valley) by Joe Roberts, a.k.a. 1WineDude (@1WineDude on twitter): “07 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Sort of like owning a trained black panther; dark, piercing & gorgeous.“. How do you like that? Is this is the wine you want to try or what? I don’t know about you, but I will be glad to meet this black panther at any time.

And the next one was a review by Adler Yarrow, who has one of the best wine blogs called Vinography. Latest two posts in that blog are on the subject which is an ultimate treasure for any wine lover – wines of Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC, as it is typically called). DRC wines are considered best of the best, in any vintage and any time. So I think all people who are serious about wine can be divided into two categories – those who tasted DRC wines, and those who are dreaming about it. I belong to the second group ( sigh). Adler Yarrow belongs to the first, and he recently tasted full line of DRC 2009 wines – you can find his detailed notes here. But one particular review attracted my attention. It was for 2009 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grand Cru Montrachet, the only white wine produced by DRC and considered the rarest of the rare. While the descriptions there allude to the usual taste elements such as nuts and apples, one sentence I think puts that review in a totally different prospective: “In the mouth the wine has an incredible texture that I’m prompted to describe as liquid sex, and gorgeously balanced flavors that…“. Once you read this description, do you really care about the rest of the grapefruits and nuts, or do you really get one pounding question in your head: “where can I try this wine”?

I’m really glad to find those reviews – now I got a frame of reference for my own reviews to aspire to. What is your favorite wine review, the one which forced you to resolve “nothing can stop me, I will find and drink this wine”? Anyway, while you are thinking, let me go back to my dreams. Cheers!

The Wines To Dream Of

December 25, 2010 1 comment

What do you think I plan to talk about? No, we are not going to talk about “best in the world wines” – we did it before, and that discussion is closed for now. In general, does it make sense to dream about some particular wine? There is such an abundance in each and every wine store, what’s that dreaming is all about? Well, first, it is a special time of the year – Holidays, Friends, New Year resolutions, new hopes and new desires – so a little dreaming is appropriate, right? Second, reality is often made out of things which were dreams before. Wine is as good of a material for the dreams as any other object – once you have an opportunity to taste, to experience the wine which YOU will deem “amazing”, it will give you a happy memory you can always come back to. And that is the great quality of the great experiences – they serve as an object of desire, and once achieved, they become a staple for the happy state of mind.

How one can come up with the list of “dream” wines? There are multiple ways to go about it, but for now, let’s just use wine ratings as a reference. More specifically, let’s use wine ratings from the major wine publications – Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate. Both use 100 points rating systems, with 100 being an absolute top rating (many other wine publications use the same 100-points scale). And if we are dreaming, let’s aim high – let only look at 100 point wines.

I can safely assume that you know perfectly well by now my approach to the wine ratings – you are The One who has final say on the wine – good or bad. However, when I look at 100 points ratings from magazines which rate tens of thousands of wines per year, I believe the 100 points represent some higher level of truth. Such ratings are not assigned left and right. If you will search on the Wine Spectator web site, you will find only 73 wines rated at 100 points – so I think this is something we can rely on. To connect the dreams with the reality, at least a little bit, I used one of the recent e-mails form Benchmark Wine  Group, which listed available 100 point wines:

Chapoutier Hermitage Le Pavillon 2003 ~  WA100
Chateau d`Yquem 2001 ~ WA100, WS100
Domaine Romanee-Conti La Tache 1990 ~  WA100
Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne 1999 ~ WA100, WS98
Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne 2003 ~ WA100, WS98
Guigal Cote Rotie La Mouline 1983 ~ WA100
Guigal Cote Rotie La Turque 2003 ~ WA100, WS98
Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1978 ~ WA100, WS99
Jaboulet Hermitage La Chapelle 1990 ~  WA100
La Clusiere St. Emilion 2000 ~ WA100
La Mission Haut Brion 1982 ~ WA100
La Mission Haut Brion 2000 ~ WA100
Lafleur 1982 ~ WA100, WS99
Le Macchiole Messorio 2004 ~ WS100
Margaux 1990 ~ WA100, WS98, IWC98
Mouton Rothschild 1982 ~ WA100
Mouton Rothschild 1986 ~ WA100, WS99
Rieussec 2001 ~ WS100
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1997 ~ WA100
Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select 2002 ~ WA100
Taylor Port 1992 ~ WA100
Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Madonna del Piano 2001 ~ WS100

If you are interested in prices, you should check them out on the Benchmark Wine Group web site. Just to give you a range, the cheapest wine in this list is Rieussec at $154 and the most expensive is Domaine Romanee-Conti at $4200.

Will this wines be really amazing? Who knows? Are they worth seeking and dreaming about? You bet. Don’t know about you, but my wish list is ready! Keep on dreaming…