Tales of legendary, expensive wines fascinate wine lovers from all walks of life. Although most of us will never buy a $1,000 bottle of wine, let alone pay tens of thousands of dollars for a historic, collectible wine, we still find the world's most expensive wines intriguing and captivating.
When the wines of Bordeaux were classified in 1855 all of the wines were from the Left Bank of the Gironde River. In fact, with the exception of Haut Brion, which is from Graves, all of the wines classified were from the Medoc. Since that time, the winemaking areas of Bordeaux have greatly expanded. Some of the best wines in Bordeaux are now made on the Right Bank including some of the most expensive wines in the entire world. While there is no official classification system for all of Bordeaux, there can be no doubt that if such a system was implemented today, at least a few Right Bank wineries would make the list. Perhaps no winery deserves the mythical first growth of the Right Bank title more than Cheval Blanc. In fact, the wines of Saint Émilion, a commune on the Right Bank, were ranked in 1955 and Cheval Blanc was one of two that received the highest rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé (A). Those rankings were redone in 1969, 1986, and 1996 and most recently in 2006 (although that ranking is the subject of an ongoing legal dispute not relevant to Cheval Blanc) and Cheval Blanc has remained a First Growth in every subsequent ranking.
In this episode of IntoWineTV, host Lisa Kolenda and wine experts Bartholomew Broadbent and Loren Sonkin convene among the vines at Crushpad in Napa Valley to taste and discuss the cult wine brands of Crushpad. Theme: Cult Wines of Crushpad Wine: 2008 Ellman Family Vineyards "Alexis Skye" Pinot Noir , $49 Buy this wine Vineyard: Gap’s Crown Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA Region: Sonoma Coast Alcohol %: 14.5% Varietals: Pinot Noir
IntoWine recently caught up with Affaire de Coeur Founder Chris Wadden to discuss his venture into artisan winemaking.
In this episode of IntoWineTV, host Lisa Kolenda and wine experts Bartholomew Broadbent and Loren Sonkin convene among the vines at Crushpad in Napa Valley to taste and discuss the cult wine brands of Crushpad. Theme: Cult Wines of Crushpad Wine: 2008 Calicaro Liberty Bridge Pinot Noir , $45 Buy this wine Vineyard: Split Rock Vineyard Region: Sonoma Coast Alcohol %: 14.8%
In the series on the 1855 Classification of the First Growths, I spoke exclusively about red wines. In that same year, however, the sweet dessert wines from the Bordeaux communes of Barsac and Sauternes were also classified. All of the dessert wines listed were rated as either premier cru (first growth) or second growth status. That is, all but Yquem which was rated Premier Cru Superieur (First Great Growth), a higher rating even than any red wine achieved in their 1855 Classification. Yquem is quite possibly the greatest wine made anywhere and has a history dating back four hundred years! While every wine region has its stars, there is probably no other winery that so dominates the quality of a region and has such as a lofty reputation as Chateau Yquem. What makes these wines so special is that they develop a rot called botrytis cinera also known as Noble Rot. When certain grapes are attacked they get moldy which, in a wonderful twist of fate, causes the grapes to lose much of their moisture, concentrating the flavors. The resulting grapes look like moldy shriveled raisins that produce a sweet nectar.
At IntoWine, we've had the great fortune of being able to interview some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people in the wine world. Below is a list of the interviews conducted to date...
I never knew that The HoneyBaked Ham Company had the monopoly on honey-baked hams for many years until spiral cutter inventor Harry Hoenselaar’s patent finally ran out in 1981. At that point other companies, such as Smithfield, joined the game. These other companies used cutters based on the same principle as Hoenselaar’s, creating one continuous slice around the bone. However, Hoenselaar wasn’t only known for the cutter, but he also devised a secret marinade, smoked each ham for hours over assorted hardwood chip types, then sealed the ham with his sweet, signature glaze, resulting in a crunchy, crackly wrapper. The Honey Baked Ham Company started in 1957 as one store in Detroit and has grown to over 400 stores run by his children and grandchildren.
This might be the most interesting back story of any wine ever made: An ex-CIA spy (excuse me... "Case Agent") with a Classics/Latin background becomes a winemaker. This should be the basis for Harrison Ford's next movie but it's actually the real-life story of Richard Hart, founder of Ricardus Corculum. We recently caught up with Richard to chat about his wine venture.
At this time of year, many wine sellers create elaborate promotional displays, hold special tastings and suggest gift wines galore. As you head out to buy your holiday wines, you may find yourself thinking along the lines of, "I'm shopping on a budget. How do I know which wines will offer the best value and still pair well with my holiday menu choices?"