Posts Tagged ‘The Wine Cellar’

The Wine Cellar

Friday, April 16th, 2004

Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino are two outstanding Italian wines that are perfect for any wine cellar, but they can be a bit pricey. I recently have been buying two lower cost alternatives.

A common alternative to a Brunello is its baby sister: Rosso di Montalcino. It’s from the same region of Tuscany, using many of the same grapes. It’s, however, aged for a shorter period of time, and is lighter. I recently tasted a Rosso called Fattoria Poggio di Sotto 2000 by E&P Palmucci, and it was the best Rosso I ever had. The Brunello by this producer costs about $100, while the Rosso was $45- expensive but worth it. This was not a simple, one-dimensional wine, it was a masterpiece. Note that many of the other excellent Brunello producers also make a very good Rosso.

Bricco Manzoni 1997 is a great alternative to buying the current Barolos. Currently the Barolos from the 1999 vintage are on the shelf, and you should age these wines for 5-10 years to best enjoy them. The current Bricco Manzoni is from the 1997 vintage, and it’s drinking perfectly today. It’s a blend of nebbiolo (the grape used in Barolo) and barbera. It’s full bodied, but the barbera adds acidity to the wine, making it very approachable.

Either wine would be delicious today, but could be aged for the next 5 years.

The Wine Cellar

Thursday, March 18th, 2004

The 2002 vintage for the white wines of the Loire Valley is spectacular. Sancerre, Pouilly Fume and Vouvray are all delicious white wines from this region. Sancerre has long been one of my favorite whites. It is 100% sauvignon blanc. Sancerres are known to be clean, fresh, acidic wines, without that oakiness you find in a chardonnay. You taste layers of slate, minerals, grass, and sometimes citrus fruits. Sancerres are very refreshing, and an excellent complement to seafood, especially shellfish. Two Sancerres I like are: Les Coutes by Pascal & Nicolas Reverdy and Domaine du Carroir Perrin by Pierre Riffault. Vouvray is composed entirely of the Chenin Blanc grape, which if done well, is superb. It is also a very acidic wine, but typically a bit sweeter and more fruity than a Sancerre. I recently drank a Vouvray by Francois Pinon that was superb. This wine had layers of apricot, pear, melon and honey; but was perfectly balanced due to the high acidity. If you have never tried a good Vouvray, now is the time to try a bottle. Although these wines can certainly be cellared for years due to their high acidity levels, I prefer them young and fresh and would drink them this spring and summer. The above wines I suggested are excellent, yet there are many superb Sancerres and Vouvrays in this 2002 vintage. Try a few this spring.

The Wine Cellar

Monday, February 23rd, 2004

During the last 10 years, the weather has been excellent for the wine crops around the world. Some years have been better than others, but in general, most of the wine released during that period has been above average. However, be prepared for some radical changes. Did you notice The Wine Spectator’s rating for the 2002 vintage? Both Southern Rhone and Tuscany scored in the 70s, which is an extremely low score. And do you remember the heat wave this past summer in Europe? It should make 2003 a very challenging vintage.

Now would be a prudent time to accumulate some pre 2002 vintages from these regions. More specifically, I would buy Chateauneuf du Pape and Bandol from Southern Rhone. From Tuscany, I would buy Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and your favorite Super Tuscans.

The Wine Cellar

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

Australia has been getting an awful lot of press as Shiraz becomes more popular. Although they offer dozens of overly plummy $10 bottles of Shiraz, Australia also makes some blockbuster wines which are perfect for the cellar. 2001 & 2002 being excellent years, the timing is perfect to look at Australia.

Penfolds’ Grange has been the “superstar” of Australia for many years, and continues to rival the world’s best. Near perfection comes at a price, expect to pay in the $200 range. But there are some magnificent wines for less than half the price that I would add to my cellar. D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz and Yarra Yering Shiraz are two of my favorites. Vasse Felix is another winery that I would recommend which makes some killer reds. Australia also has some excellent producers of whites, typically Chardonnay. Two of the best are Leeuwin Estates and Cullen.

The Wine Cellar

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003

December is a time to celebrate. Now is the time to open some of your better bottles of wine and share them with family and friends.

It is also a great time to find new wines that really excite you. If you go to a restaurant for a special dinner, try something new. Ask the sommelier to recommend a great bottle in your price range.

Another fun way to find wines that you love is to throw a dinner party for friends, and ask everyone to bring a bottle of wine. But be specific, for example a St. Joseph from the Rhone, and give the desired price range.

Cheers!