The following summarizes Tweets issued during the past two months to highlight good finds in red wines – from those being blown out of stores at discount prices under $10 to make room for new wines, to a fresh crop of value reds in the $12 to $15 range, to the spectacular 2004 Penfolds Grange from Australia at $375.
The approach is to try and summarize in as short a space as possible information about wines I think are worth buying: name, vintage, aroma and bouquet characteristics (called the “nose” in wine judging circles), structure, flavor, finish and possible links to food. Wines are typically dry, except where I’ve raised a question about traces of residual sugar in the wine, often done to make it more palatable to new wine drinkers. In some instances, the 2007 vintage wines are being replaced by their successors from 2008. Value wineries in the better wine growing areas can usually maintain consistency from year-to-year. It’s the high-priced spread where vintages make a different, particularly in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the best areas of Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal. For your current tasting pleasures:
Value Cabernet Sauvignon
$15 Cabernet 06 The Wisdom, Alexander Valley. Berries/wood (Amer. oak) nose; balanced; varietal fruit; soft tannins. w/beef, soups.
Value Cabernet 06 Guenoc California $9. Light Cab nose; mid-body Cab flavor not high-alc grape bomb as some in this $ range. Beef wine.
Value St. Estephe 05 Petit Bocq $17. Mint/berries metallic nose; 55%Merlot, 40+ Cab. Mid-body; good structure/style. w/any meat dish.
Pizza, Pasta, BBQ Wines
Pizza/pasta value wine Hahn 08 Syrah Central Coast $8. Odd nose (mint/prunes) but flavor/fruit to match red sauce.
Cold weather wine Norton 06 Cabernet Mendoza Arg. $10. Ripe jam nose; Syrah-like structure; round, grapey. w/ burger/chili/BBQ.
Fat Cabernet 07 Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills 14.5 alc $14. Prune nose; grapey, residual sugar?; one dimension. w/chili dog?
Left-over pasta or pizza wine: Guenoc 07 Lake County Petite Sirah $9. Jam/berry/mint nose; mid-big body; good fruit/finish.
Chili dip wine 08 Gassac vins de pays d L’Herault FR $12. Cabernet 50% Merlot/Syrah 20@ Grenache 10. Big fruit bomb.
Spicy sausage/pizza wine Tait 08 Barossa Ball Buster $15. Port-like. Prune/mint/jam nose; thick as 30w motor oil. Long finish.16% alc.
Party/pasta/pizza Petite Syrah 07 Guenoc Lake County $8. Jam/berry/mint nose; mid-body; good finish.
Burger/pizza wines when hordes arrive: Redwood Rd 08 Lodi Cabernet $11; Ch de Brandey 08 Bordeaux $12; HJ Fabre 08 Mendoza Malbec $12.
High Priced Spread
Another boutique Cabernet find. Diamond Terrace 06 Howell Mtn $75. Deep purple; spice/jam/ripe grape nose; intense fruit; age for 5-10.
Cabernet find: Kelleher, Oakville. Used to sell their grapes. 1st vintage 04 $67. Berries/mint Napa nose; balanced, tasty fruit/finish.
Small wineries, BIG Cabernet Sauvignon: Geoffrey, B Cellars, Parallel, Portfolio, Cornerstone, Diamond Terraces, Kelleher.
Sunday beef wine Chappellet 07 Mtn Cuvee $28. 51 CabSauv 46 Merlot 1@Malb/CabF/PV. Berry/chocolate/oak nose; round, long rich finish.
Beringer Priv Res 06 Cabernet. Distinct varietal nose, hints of oak. Mid-body, tight tannins, rich finish; needs time.
Beringer Private Res Cabernet 05. Cab nose, hints of oak; mid/big body; layers of fruit; good structure w/tannins; long rich finish.
Beringer Private Reserve library tasting 89 92 01 05 06 Cabernet Sauvignon. From mid-brick color, older varietal nose to dark/minty/big.
ChStJean Cinq Cepages library tasting 96 01 03 06. 96 holding, 01 thinning, 03 fine structure, 06 top w/complex nose, best fruit/finish
89 Lynch Bages Pauillac. Older Cabernet nose/oak/earth; good tannins/structure. w/fine beef. Mmm.
Les Forts de Latour 2000 (Latour second label). Rich Cabernet nose, earthy Pauillac terroir; balanced, ripe, great fruit/finish.
2004 Penfolds Grange $375. Dark purple; big mint/berry/jam/wood nose; concentrated fruit; big but balanced; brilliant finish; best of the decade.