For those of you who drink really high end wine, the prices over the last few years have been sky rocketing. I am not speaking about the price of DRC, Lafite Rothschild or Screaming Eagle. Luxury goods will always be expensive and the top and rarefied air items will always receive a premium based on scarcity and distribution. No, I am speaking of wines that don’t approach that level.
If you drink with enough older wine lovers, eventually the stories come out about how inexpensive wine used to be. They will regale you with their exploits of getting a case of Chateaux Margaux for a few baseball cards and some chewing gum as trade. Well, ok, maybe not quite, but tales of buying 1982 First Growths for $20 a bottle seem to abound. And that’s understandable, just as stories about buying a home thirty years ago or a fancy car re told.
The Napa Valley’s landscape is renowned for its rolling hillsides and lush valley floor where endless waves of vineyard create glorious stretches of views. The Napa Valley’s terroir gives life to vines that produce famous California wines and this place is where prestigious wineries and estate vineyards make their homes. When you encounter the Napa Valley it is impossible not to be enraptured by the beauty, abundance, and romantic atmosphere this place exudes. Visiting wineries adorned with the best views of Napa’s luscious landscape pairs perfectly with the extraordinary wine produced by them. Napa Valley wineries place an immense value on the sweeping vineyard scenery thus securing it as one of the many Napa Valley luxuries sought out among wine novices and connoisseurs alike.
California has actually been making outstanding wines from the Pinot Noir grape for a long time. Sure, not long in the Burgundian sense but going back at least to the middle of the last century there were good bottles of Pinot Noir being produced in California. Not many to be sure, but there were some. Starting slowly, in the 1990’s, and then exploding when the movie Sideways came out, there are now more and more offerings of good to excellent Pinot Noir being produced in California.
Forty-five dollars is a lot of money to spend on a bottle of wine. Yet, it is also a threshold pricing for wine. For many people, that is the most they are willing to spend on a bottle. For others, that is a typical Tuesday night pizza wine. The real question is what kind of quality you can get for that price. Unfortunately, the best wines often cost more. On the other hand, spending more does not guarantee quality. With that in mind, this article turns its attention to Italy in general and Tuscany in particular.
I am often asked which wineries mailing lists I should sign up for. Before I answer that question, let’s back up a bit. What are mailing lists? They are different than wine clubs. A mailing list is an offering from a winery to buy their wines. Many wineries offer their wines to allow a consumer to buy directly from the winery. Typically, the prices are not any lower than one would find at retail and at times, they are even priced a bit higher. For the wineries, it’s a great deal as they can avoid the middleman and capture more profits from the sale of a bottle of wine. But, why would a consumer want to do this?
In 1855, the Exposition Universelle was held in Paris to showcase all that was good in France. Emperor Napoleon III requested the leading Bordeaux merchants to rank the best wines. The top wines were rated as First Growths. Over the years, many people in the rest of the world have discussed what wines from their country would be First Growths. I am often asked what I think the First Growths of California are. It is an interesting conversation with lots of room for debate.
In putting together a list of the top California Cabernets, there is sure to be some disagreement. I tried to include those wines that have a track record, the wineries still making great wines, those that seemed to have the commitment for the future and some personal favorites. I am sure I left some out.
1. Shafer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select – It’s always hard to name the number one wine. But this has a track record that’s very long. Even in less than stellar vintages, it is an outstanding wine. They just don’t seem to make a dud. My only complaint is the price at over $200 a bottle. But, in comparison to other Napa Cabs or elsewhere in the world, this is a fair price.
In my last article, I listed the Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking. In this article I look at the “non-dump bucket” list for wines from California. This proved to be a different task. First, very few wineries have a long track record of making great wine. Secondly, while California is diverse, it does not have the diversity of climates and terroir and grape varietals of France. Still, it does produce some of the best wines in the world and any wine lover should make it a point to try as many of them as they can. Here is my list:
1. Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s hard to pick the first wine. This one is a great wine in every vintage and has been for a long time. Expensive but still possible to afford and made in large enough quantities to be found in grocery stores. Every lover of Cabernet should try this once.
If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world. Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare. Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history. Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good. Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category. A few caveats. I have not tried every wine on this list. Some I have and others I hope to. Many of these wines are rare and hard to find. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list. After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it.
Summer is here (or close enough anyway) and for many people, that means taking out the grill, inviting friends over and having a barbecue. For many of us wine lovers, choosing the right wine for a barbeque can become challenging. There are a lot of reasons for this. It’s usually hot or at least warm out and some wines just don’t work in the heat. Further, parties often involve groups of people and that means finding easily obtainable wines that don’t cost an arm and a leg to buy multiple bottles. Finally, the wine needs to match the food. Barbecue is big food with a lot of flavors. A wine needs to stand up to that otherwise why not just drink water.
To start with, here is a break down on the types of wines to look for and then a few, but far from complete list of suggestions.
Let’s face it, Mom probably drinks because of you (I know mine does). So IntoWine.com wanted to celebrate Mom with a dozen rosés, wines that are similar yet wildly diverse. Provence is the undisputed birthplace of rosé and the ancient Greeks brought vines to southern France around 600 BC, something the Romans improved upon when they arrived in the area in 125 BC. So rosé has a long history but as these wines show, rosé is truly global.
Discovering the interior of Napa Valley wineries is as exciting as experiencing the exterior of this magnificent place. Napa Valley wine caves offer visitors a chance to see a winery’s inner beauty, you’re able to witness the more refined details pertaining to the production of Napa Valley wines. Whether they’re chiseled into famous Napa Valley mountainsides or dug deep into the rolling hills, the Napa Valley’s wine caves are very cool (literally and figuratively speaking). The views from the depths of these hidden spaces are intriguing and provide insight into the complexities of winemaking; the bottling and aging, the importance of a wines environment, the temperature and storage. All these aspects of different wine making styles offer a glimpse into how a vineyard produces unique characteristics for their wines. Historically, wine caves reach as far back in history as wine itself, the idea of storing wine in an underground cool climate apparently made a lot of sense then as it does now, and the art of constructing highly functional modern wine caves has now been perfected. In order to cruise around in a Napa Valley winery’s wine cave, you’ll need to plan in advance and make a tour and tasting reservation, most tours include a wine cave excursion but feel free to ask. Here is a list of the Napa Valley’s five best wine caves:
Sauvignon Blancs grown in the Napa Valley region have striking aromas that translate into even more specific palate characteristics. This varietal is extremely versatile and the characteristics change from region to region, for instance, in France Sauvignon blanc is labeled “Sancerre” or “Pouilly-fume” named after the actual places and can take on grassier aromas then one would find in the Napa Valley. Sauvignon Blancs grown in the Napa Valley provide visitors with such specific tasting profiles and these easily diversify your wine tasting. Experiencing a Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc will give your wine flights a more well-rounded wine range ultimately aiding in furthering your wino knowledge (sometimes a goal among visiting wine novices). Here in the Napa Valley our Sauvignon Blanc is fully ripened in the heat creating bright citrus, grapefruit, and passion fruit aromas, alongside juicy peach, nectarine and melon nuances. These flavors and tastes contrast perfectly with the rich oaky chardonnays that are often highlighted in Napa Valley wine tasting. Also, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc is known to make many ladies swoon with excitement, women tend to be its biggest fans. These Five wineries produce the best Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc in addition to the perfect place to taste them.