Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2017 at Oxford Liquor Shoppe

At the end of every year, Wine Spectator comes out with their Top 100 Wines of the Year. Once the wines are announced, there typically is a mad dash to obtain these wines. The Wine of the Year instantly becomes very hard to find and goes up in value. Some people say it might be a little over-hyped and there are plenty of good wines not on the list but one thing that can’t be denied is the wines on the list are all high quality.  The list contains a nice variety of red wine, white wine, sparkling wine and dessert wine as well as a good balance between imported wine and domestic, including selections outside of California. Oxford Liquor Shoppe has done a good job over the years bringing in these wines, most of the time we have them in stock before the list is announced.  For the last few years we have been posting what wines we have in stock from the current year’s list as well as wines we may have from a previous years list.

Top 100 Wines of 2017

nv roederer estate brut

#25 NV Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley Price $23.99

Wine Spectator 92 Points

“A voluptuous and expressive sparkler, with floral red apple, brioche and cinnamon spice aromas and rich, vibrant flavors that finish on a luxurious note. Drink now through 2018. 80,000 cases made.”
2015 kendall jackson vintners reserve chardonnay

#28 2015 Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay California Vintner’s Reserve Price $12.99

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Plush, with loads of richness to the well-honed flavors of beeswax, baked pear and lemon tart. Minerally midpalate, with a fresh and zesty finish that finishes with pastry notes. Drink now through 2020.”
Sidebar 2015 Sauvignon Blanc

#32 2015 Sidebar Sauvignon Blanc High Valley Price $19.99

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Focused and precise, with detailed lemon meringue, orange blossom and lime zest flavors that are intense, fragrant and harmonious on the long, crisp finish. Drink now.”
2016 Matua Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

#40 2016 Matua Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough $10.99

Wine Spectator 90 Points

“Succulent, fleshy peach and nectarine flavors are accented by Key lime, mango and ruby grapefruit notes. Shows nice intensity on the long, expressive finish. Drink now.”
2015 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino

#46 2015 Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino Price $19.99

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Bright, delicate and vibrant, with berry and floral flavors. Accents of earth, tobacco and spice add interest as they linger on the finish. Well-rounded and long. Drink now through 2023.”
2015 the Calling Chardonnay Dutton Ranch

#67 2015 The Calling Chardonnay Russian River Valley Dutton Ranch Price $34.99

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Ultra rich and extracted, offering a firm core of pear, apple, melon and spice flavors. A truly impressive effort, with depth and dimension. Drink now through 2022.”
Past Glories Still Available

Top 100 Wines of 2016

2014-vina-montes-cabernet-sauvignon

#42 2014 Vina Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Classic Series Price $9.99

Wine Spectator 90 Points

“There’s minerally freshness to the ripe dark plum, blackberry and cherry flavors, with peppery hints. Well-structured and crisp midpalate, featuring Asian spice and black fig notes on the finish. Drink now through 2020.”
2013 kung fu girl

#45 2015 Charles Smith Riesling Kung Fu Girl Price $12.99

Wine Spectator 90 Points

“Tangy and zingy, with lively acidity that balances against gobs of ripe pear and apricot flavors, carrying through the long, lime-accented finish. Drink now through 2020.”

2014-ravines-riesling-dry

#70 2014 Ravines Riesling Finger Lakes Dry Price $16.99

Wine Spectator 90 Points

“A taut, dry style, with pure lime, kiwifruit and pippin apple flavors backed by a slate note that gives the finish good tension and length. Very solid. Drink now through 2017. 5,475 cases made.”
korbel-brut-organic-grapes

#73 NV Korbel Brut California Organic Grapes Price $14.99

Wine Spectator 90 Points

“Crisp and luscious, this is a winning bubbly for a big party. Aromas of cinnamon, ginger and citrus lead to creamy flavors of pear and blanched almond. Drink now.”
 2014-vina-godeval

#75 2014 Bodegas Godeval Vina Godeval Valdeorras Cepas Vellas Price $16.99

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Pear, peach and quince flavors mingle in this expressive white, while notes of mineral, tangerine and ginger add complexity. Shows depth and focus, with a clean, juicy finish. Drink now.”
#83 2014 Mud House Pinot Noir Central Otago Price $15.99
Wine Spectator 90 Points
“Fleshy and appealing, with vibrant cherry and plum notes that have nutmeg and black tea flavors lingering on the finish. Offers good intensity and a velvety texture. Drink now through 2026.”

Top 100 Wines of 2015

#16 2009 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Port Price $22.99

Wine Spectator 93 Points

“Dense and rich, with amply spiced flavors of ripe dark plum and cherry compote. Mineral notes emerge midpalate, leading to a lush, chocolate-filled finish. A fresh and engaging style. Drink now.”

#21 2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Price $29.99

Wine Spectator 93 Points

“Stylish and generous, exhibiting a complex array of flavors, from white grapefruit and lemon curd to candied ginger, lemon verbena, honeysuckle and lime zest. Achieves elegance, power and refreshment in lovely harmony. Drink now.”

#35 2013 Rombauer Chardonnay Carneros Price $38.99

Wine Spectator 93 Points

“A creamy-textured, charming style that’s easy to drink yet is deceptively complex and layered, with a mix of vanilla-scented oak and vibrant peach, nectarine, honeydew and apricot flavors. Long on the finish. Drink now.”

#78 2012 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Price $29.99

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Exhibits ripe and juicy yet firm flavors of currant and blackberry amid a gravelly earthiness before finding focus on the finish, where the tannins are chewy, revealing a licorice touch. Drink now through 2025.”

Top 100 Wines of 2014

#16 2012 Two Hands Shiraz Bella’s Garden Price $79.99

Wine Spectator 95 Points

“Utterly seamless, focused, powerful and elegant, layered with cherry, boysenberry and red plum fruit, revealing glints of coffee, jasmine and cardamom that add extra nuances. Delivers complexity without extra weight. The finish won’t quit. Drink now through 2022.”

Top 100 Wines of 2007


#7 Robert Mondavi 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve Points Price $102.99

Wine Spectator 95 Points

“Weaves together a complex array of ripe, rich currant, anise, smoky oak and black cherry. Dense, concentrated and persistent, with great depth and focus. Ends with an amazingly long, richly flavored finish. Best from 2008 through 2018.”

Top 100 Wines of 2002

#37 Rosemont 1999 Syrah McLaren Vale Balmoral Price $32.99

Wine Spectator 93 Points

“A bit more aristocratic than most Aussie Shirazes, this one strikes a beautiful chord of rich blackberry and currant fruit, hinting at anise and pepper. Has a fleshy frame, with sweet spicy notes darting in and out through the long, harmonious finish. Drink now through 2010. 10,000 cases made.”

7 Great Wines from our Wine Club Meeting

Our Fall wine club had some great wines and delicious food. There was no theme so people could bring whatever wine they wanted. For food, we had stuffed breads (eggplant and pepperoni) smoked salmon that was caught in Alaska by one of our members, shrimp scampi, some breads and cheeses and blueberry pie for dessert. Overall it was a really fun meeting. Quite the diversity in wines but they were all quite good!

  • 2015 Hartford / Hartford Court Zinfandel Old Vine – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Tasted Blind. Aromas of huckleberry, raspberry, pepper and licorice. Flavors of raspberry, blueberry and wild cherry. Upon first tasting this it was still a tad tight but when I re-tasted 30-45 minutes later it had really opened up so I raised my score. Ended with a great 25-30 second finish. This really packs a lot of flavor in there without any heat. My wine of the night and the Group’s #2. (94 pts.)
  • 2011 Ponzi Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Tasted blind. This nose was really closed down upon my initial tasting. Believe it was served too cold. Once it warmed up it started to show aromas of mineral, lime and flowers. Had flavors of graham cracker. Touch of oak on there was quite nice. Had this pegged for a White Burgundy. I had this tied for 3rd and it was the group’s 5th wine of the night. (92 pts.) In stock!
  • 2015 Dark Horse Wines Chardonnay The Original Dark Horse – USA, California
    Tasted blind. Aromas of kumquat, mineral and tropical fruit. Flavors of tropical fruit, lime and slate. Had a nice finish of 25 seconds. I had this pegged as a Viognier because it was cold and that’s what it really tasted like. Certainly not a Chardonnay. I had this tied for 3rd and it was the group’s 4th favorite of the night. I tasted this after the big reveal when it had some time to warm up and it changed quite a bit. Definitely not a Viognier at that point and would have dropped my score. So the secret here is to keep it really cold and this can be a really nice, inexpensive wine. (92 pts.) In stock!
  • 2014 Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Tasted blind. This has some big aromas of blackberry, plum and current. Got flavors of blackberry, currant, cherry, touch of earth and a touch of green pepper. Ends with a nice 30+ second finish. This is a big wine in the style of Caymus but leaves a little to be desired in structure. Still, for those that like the style this is considerably cheaper than Caymus and in the same ballpark. I guessed a Malbec because of the big fruit on this. This was my 2nd favorite wine of the night and the Group’s wine of the night. (93 pts.) Available
  • 2010 Cantina Terre Del Barolo Barbaresco – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Tasted blind. Aromas of rosewood, tar and flowers with more tar, cherry and earth on the palate. I guessed Chianti because I did not get big overwhelming tannins on this so figured it could not be Nebbiolo but I was wrong. Ended with a 25+ second finish. I did enjoy this wine but the group rated it 6th on the night. (91 pts.)
  • 2015 Cherry Pie (Hundred Acre) Pinot Noir – USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Tasted blind. Aromas of mushroom, leaves and toast. Flavors of cherry, mushroom, strawberry. Lots of cherry on this. Big wine but not incredibly complex. Finish last about 25 seconds. I had this pegged for a Oregon Pinot Noir because of the earthiness but was shocked to see the Cherry Pie. This has always been a good value. I had this in 6th and it was the group’s 3rd wine. (90 pts.) Available
  • 2000 Di Meo Fiano di Avellino Selezione Erminia – Italy, Campania, Fiano di Avellino DOCG
    Tasted blind. Aromas of mint, mineral and crushed rock. Flavors of mineral, stone and a touch of slate. Ends with a 20 second finish. Certainly a unique wine but certainly not the 95 points Wine Advocate gave it. I had this tied for 6th and the group had it tied for 5th. (90 pts.)

A fabulous White Bordeaux and 3 Outstanding Cabs

DINNER WITH FRIENDS – Home of the Slywka’s (4/15/2017)

Got together with friends and drank a great white along with 3 great Cabs Cooked a great Surf and Turf with stuffed lobster tails I got at Stowe’s in West Haven and filet mignon.

IMG_2227

  • 2013 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc – France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan
    Lovely nose of apricot, pineapple, cut grass, lime and mineral. Wine is really unique with a lot going on. Flavors of mineral, guava, blood orange and like this sour patch kid thing going on. Sounds kind of weird but it had this crazy sour but sweet thing happening. Ended with a 30-35 second finish. Been a while since I’ve had the regular bottling since I’ve been drinking the second label. Not as good as the great 2005 but this is a killer bottle. (95 pts.)
  • 2014 Myriad Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Three Twins Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Decanted for 3 hours. Big nose of vanilla, currant, blackberry, cherry and a touch of earth. Nose was really jumping out of the glass. On the palate, flavors of blackberry, currant, toasty oak and fig. This really had a big attack and the finish sailed on for 40-45 seconds. A big wine for sure but well made and tons of fruit. My favorite of the 3 Cabs we had but really splitting hairs. (96 pts.)
  • 2013 Sinegal Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Decanted for 3 hours. Nose of blackberry, bell pepper, currant and cherry. The nose on this started off the same as the Myriad but quickly changed in the glass with some air. Flavors of currant, cherry, raspberry and earth. This came through as more balanced than the first wine with out that bombastic attack. Ends with a beautiful 40 second finish. A fantastic showing for this wine. (95 pts.)
  • 2013 Stone the Crows Cabernet Sauvignon Three Twins Vineyard – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Decanted for 3 hours. Tough to follow up the Myraid and Sinegal but this really held its own. Aromas of vanilla, blackberry, earth, iron and black cherry. This was more different than similar to the first two wines. Flavors of blackberry, cherry, currant and a touch of earth. Again, not as bombastic as wine 1 and more balanced like wine 2. Ended with a great 40 second finish. Thomas Rivers Brown does a great job with Schrader and you can see a bit of the same style in this wine. (95 pts.)

Overall had 4 really strong wine. It was interesting seeing the difference between the 2014 and 2013 Cab’s. Obviously, winemaker and vineyard play a part hear but the Myriad and Stone the Crows are from the same vineyard so it was nice to see the comparison. The Cabs were exceptionally high quality but all under $100, which is the going rate for high end Napa cabs nowadays. For what they were, they were a relative bargain.

Tasting Notes on 6 Wines from our Winter Wine Club Meeting

On February 25th, we got together for our Winter wine club meeting. We didn’t have a theme for the meeting so everyone could bring whatever they wanted. We were fortunate enough to have someone bring some Pepe’s pizza which was very good. We also had some homemade perogies, an assorted mixture of apps, some desserts and probably the greasiest eggplant rollatini I have ever had (I brought that, can’t always pick a winner). The meeting proved to be very interesting with a lot of the wines scoring very closely together.

WC_022517

SEYMOUR WINE CLUB MEETING 2/25/17 – Home of Lew Stanio (2/25/2017)

  • 2014 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Tasted blind. Aromas of Honeysuckle, lemon, beeswax and flowers. Flavors of citrus, honeysuckle, lemon and melon. Had a beautiful acidity on this. Finish went on for 30+ seconds. I guessed the Merry Edwards that I brought and I was right. This was my wine of the night and was the #2 wine overall. Available to order. (93 pts.)
  • 2014 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir Vintner’s Reserve California – USA, California
    Tasted blind. Aromas of plum, cherry and earth on the nose. Flavors of cherry, earth and raspberry. Fruit really shines through on this and nicely balanced. Finish went on for 25 seconds. I had actually tried this earlier in the day and recognized it as the Kendall Jackson. Excellent for the money. This was the #3 wine on the night. In stock. (90 pts.)
  • 2012 Adobe Road Redline – USA, California, Sonoma County
    Tasted blind. Aromas of plum, fruitcake and coffee. Flavors of plum, cherry pie, mocha and a touch of iron. Ended with a long finish of 25+ seconds. Guessed a red blend from California. Definitely tasted some petit sirah in there. Turns out I was right. This wine finished 5th on the night. (91 pts.)
  • 2014 Calera Chardonnay Central Coast – USA, California, Central Coast
    Tasted blind. Aromas of honey, mineral and slate. Flavors of pear, apple, mineral and note of star fruit. More settle than the previous wines. Finish lasts about 25 seconds. Guessed a Chardonnay from France. Note surprised when the bag came off. Wine finished 6th on the night. In stock. (90 pts.)
  • 2015 Daou Vineyards The Pessimist – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Tasted blind. Aromas of licorice, cinnamon, and Asian spices. Smells older than it actually is. On the palate, this had flavors of plum, licorice and smoked herbs. Finish went on for abut 30 seconds. This one threw me for a loop. I guessed a Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This was my #2 wine and it was the wine of the night. (92 pts.)
  • 2015 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Côtes du Rhône
    Tasted blind. Aromas of peach, honeysuckle, citrus and flowers. Flavors of citrus, grapefruit and tangerine. Great acidity on this. Took me a while to figure this out. At first though it was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc because of the grapefruit but settled on a Viognier from the Rhone. This is going to be great in the Summer. Finished 4th on the night. In stock. (90 pts.)

The Perfect Bubbly to Ring in the New Year!

Let’s face it, people try to drink sparkling wine all year but it’s synonymous with one particular holiday: New Year’s Eve! There is nothing quite like popping a nice bottle and ringing in the New Year (along with the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy)! Oxford Liquor Shoppe has you covered for all of your New Year’s needs. Here are fours great bottles to celebrate and won’t break the bank.

korbel-brut-organic-grapes

Korbel NV Brut California Organic Grapes $14.99

#73 on this year’s Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2016, this is a clear step up from the normal Korbel bottling.

Wine Spectator 90 points

“Crisp and luscious, this is a winning bubbly for a big party. Aromas of cinnamon, ginger and citrus lead to creamy flavors of pear and blanched almond. Drink now.”
gloria-ferrer-blanc-de-blancs
Gloria Ferrer N.V. Blanc de Blancs Carneros $19.99
Another very affordable bottle from California. This comes from one of the best sparkling wine houses in the United States, making quality stuff for decades now. A step up from the Korbel.
Wine Spectator 90 Points
“This sparkler agilely balances crisp and creamy details with lemon tart and toasted nut aromas, showing layered flavors of lemon zest and cinnamon brioche. Drink now. 5,400 cases made.”
aria-cava
Sigura Viudas Aria N.V. Cava Estate Brut $12.99

Sigura Viudas has always been a house favorite but this is a nice contrast to the entry level style. While the entry level aims for crispness and acidity, the Aria goes for creaminess. Almost like a mini version of the Vollereaux but at a fraction of the price!
Vollereaux Champagne Brut

Vollereaux NV Champagne Brut $31.99

This is a bit more expensive but a great value for a Champagne. This is better than Moet’s Imperial or Veuve Clicuot and less expensive to boot! Been carrying this for a long time and it never disappoints. A creamy style that is sure to please!

Wine Spectator 92 Points

“Rich and refined, with layers of pear pastry, black cherry, hazelnut, lemon cream, honey and floral notes. A spicy thread of minerality winds through this wine, as does the precise and seamlessly integrated acidity.”

Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2016 Available at Oxford Liquor Shoppe!

At the end of every year, Wine Spectator comes out with their Top 100 Wines of the Year. Once the wines are announced, there typically is a mad dash to obtain these wines. The Wine of the Year instantly becomes very hard to find and goes up in value. Some people say it might be a little over-hyped and there are plenty of good wines not on the list but one thing that can’t be denied is the wines on the list are all high quality wines.  The list contains a nice variety of red wine, white wine, sparkling wine and dessert wine as well as a good balance between imported wine and domestic, including selections outside of California. Oxford Liquor Shoppe has done a good job over the years bringing in these wines, most of the time we have these in stock before the list is announced.  For the last few years we have been posting what wines we have in stock from the current year’s list as well as wines we may have from a previous years list.

Top 100 Wines of 2016

Intrinsic Cabernet Sauvignon

#32 2014 Intrinsic Cabernet Cabernet Columbia Valley $19.99

“Firm in texture, brimming with raspberry, black cherry, violet and herb flavors that come together harmoniously on the finish against refined tannins. Offers presence and persistence. Best from 2018 through 2024.”

2015-kono-sauvignon-blanc-marlborough

#41 2015 Kono Sauvignon Blanc $13.99

“This refreshing white offers a clear, focused mix of passion fruit, lime, mango and green apple flavors on a light, smooth body. Finishes with a succulent juiciness, showing echoes of lemon verbena. Drink now.”
2014-vina-montes-cabernet-sauvignon

#42 2014 Vina Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Classic Series $9.99

“There’s minerally freshness to the ripe dark plum, blackberry and cherry flavors, with peppery hints. Well-structured and crisp midpalate, featuring Asian spice and black fig notes on the finish. Drink now through 2020.”
2013 kung fu girl

#45 2015 Charles Smith Riesling Kung Fu Girl $12.99

“Tangy and zingy, with lively acidity that balances against gobs of ripe pear and apricot flavors, carrying through the long, lime-accented finish. Drink now through 2020.”

Hahn 2013 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands

#67 2014 Hahn Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands SLH $19.99

“The texture is plush, with lots of complex flavors, ranging from plum to anise to dusty, cedary oak. Satisfying from start to finish, ending with dusty, nutmeg-scented tannins. Drink now.”
2014-ravines-riesling-dry

#70 2014 Ravines Riesling Finger Lakes Dry $16.99

“A taut, dry style, with pure lime, kiwifruit and pippin apple flavors backed by a slate note that gives the finish good tension and length. Very solid. Drink now through 2017. 5,475 cases made.”
korbel-brut-organic-grapes

#73 NV Korbel Brut California Organic Grapes $14.99

“Crisp and luscious, this is a winning bubbly for a big party. Aromas of cinnamon, ginger and citrus lead to creamy flavors of pear and blanched almond. Drink now.”
 2014-vina-godeval

#75 2014 Bodegas Godeval Vina Godeval Valdeorras Cepas Vellas $16.99

“Pear, peach and quince flavors mingle in this expressive white, while notes of mineral, tangerine and ginger add complexity. Shows depth and focus, with a clean, juicy finish. Drink now.”
2014-carpineto

#76 2011 Carpineto Vina Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva $24.99

“A rich, powerful style, this evokes black cherry, black currant, plum, leather and tar flavors. Balanced and ready to enjoy, with lingering accents of spice and tobacco. Drink now through 2023.”

Past Glories Still Available

Top 100 Wines of 2015

#16 2009 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Port Score 93 Price $22.99

“Dense and rich, with amply spiced flavors of ripe dark plum and cherry compote. Mineral notes emerge midpalate, leading to a lush, chocolate-filled finish. A fresh and engaging style. Drink now.”

 

#21 2014 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Score 93 Price $29.99

“Stylish and generous, exhibiting a complex array of flavors, from white grapefruit and lemon curd to candied ginger, lemon verbena, honeysuckle and lime zest. Achieves elegance, power and refreshment in lovely harmony. Drink now.”

 

#35 2013 Rombauer Chardonnay Carneros Score 93 Price $38.99

“A creamy-textured, charming style that’s easy to drink yet is deceptively complex and layered, with a mix of vanilla-scented oak and vibrant peach, nectarine, honeydew and apricot flavors. Long on the finish. Drink now.”

 

 

#78 2012 Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Score 91 Price $29.99

“Exhibits ripe and juicy yet firm flavors of currant and blackberry amid a gravelly earthiness before finding focus on the finish, where the tannins are chewy, revealing a licorice touch. Drink now through 2025.”

Top 100 Wines of 2014

#16 2012 Two Hands Shiraz Bella’s Garden Score 95 Price $79.99

“Utterly seamless, focused, powerful and elegant, layered with cherry, boysenberry and red plum fruit, revealing glints of coffee, jasmine and cardamom that add extra nuances. Delivers complexity without extra weight. The finish won’t quit. Drink now through 2022.”

#43 2013 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling Score 91 Price $12.99

“Crisp and sleek, with juicy, expansive nectarine and peach flavors that play against citrusy acidity, finishing with zing and a sense of softness that lets the finish keep singing. Drink now through 2020. 128,806 cases made.

#54 N.V. Mumm Napa Brut Napa Valley Prestige Score 91 Price $22.99

“Packs in a lot of complexity, with aromas of apple, fresh ginger and rubber that lead to crisp and layered flavors of raspberry and spice. Drink now. 173,000 cases made.

 

Top 100 Wines of 2007


#7 Robert Mondavi 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Reserve Score 95 Points Price $102.99

“Weaves together a complex array of ripe, rich currant, anise, smoky oak and black cherry. Dense, concentrated and persistent, with great depth and focus. Ends with an amazingly long, richly flavored finish. Best from 2008 through 2018.”

Top 100 Wines of 2002

#37 Rosemont 1999 Syrah McLaren Vale Balmoral Score 93 Points Price $32.99

“A bit more aristocratic than most Aussie Shirazes, this one strikes a beautiful chord of rich blackberry and currant fruit, hinting at anise and pepper. Has a fleshy frame, with sweet spicy notes darting in and out through the long, harmonious finish. Drink now through 2010. 10,000 cases made.”

Tasting Notes on 6 Wines from our Fall Wine Club Meeting

Our wine club got together for our Fall meeting and it did not disappoint. We meet 4 times a year to break bread and drink wine. Sometimes we have a theme, other times we don’t. This week’s past meeting there was no theme so people could bring whatever they wanted. It proved to be an interesting assortment of wines. You would be surprised how tough it is to guess the grape when your drinking it blind. It could be quite challenging, especially with even the most popular grapes. This meeting saw 2 whites and 4 reds, which went nice with the buffalo chicken pizza, turkey quesadillas (what else are you suppose to do with leftover turkey), spring rolls and an assortment or cheese and meats.

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  • 2010 Crowley Pinot Noir Entre Nous – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Tasted blind. This was a pop and pour. Boy did it need a decant because this was an 84 when I first had it. Lot of wet leaves on the nose and a simple wine with short finish. Upon retasting, got some cherry, matchstick, tobacco and earth on the nose. Flavors had plumped up with some cherry, earth and beet. Like a totally different wine. I gave this wine 88 points and it finished 6th on the night. (88 pts.)
  • 2013 Lavau Gigondas – France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Gigondas
    Tasted blind. Similar to the first wine, this needed some air to open up. Not as big a difference as the first wine but was noticeably better upon retasting. Aromas of cherry, earth red fruits and licorice led to flavors of cherry, plum and dark red fruits. Ended with a 20 second finish. I gave this wine 90 points and it finished 3rd on the night. (90 pts.) In Stock.
  • 2015 Jules Taylor Pinot Noir – New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
    Tasted blind. Decanted for over an hour before serving. Nose of citrus, which is strange for a red wine, tea and cherry. It then had flavors of cherry, green tea, earth and mineral. Closer to Burgundy than anything from the states. Still the citrus nose is pretty unique. I gave this wine 92 points and it finished 2nd on the night. (92 pts.)
  • 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Chardonnay – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Tasted blind. Nose of beeswax, mineral and wet stone. Got some honey, lemon, mineral, stone and melon on the palate. Ended with a 25+ second finish. This one had me stumped. Guessed a Sancerre. Shocked when the bag came off. Never really liked their chardonnay’s before but this was nice. I gave it 92 points an it came in 5th on the night. (92 pts.)
  • 2014 Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Signature Series Napa County Napa Valley – USA, California, Napa Valley
    Tasted blind. This was a bit closed down initially but opened up with some nice cherry, raspberry and boysenberry aromas. Ended up having a lot going on there. The palate had some flavors of plum, cherry, earth, blackberry and a floral thing going on. Ended with a 30+ second finish. Pegged this as a Sonoma Cab in the $40 range. Everyone was shocked when the bag came off. This was my wine of the night and I gave it 93 points and it finished 4th. Bought a bottle of this a week later just to see if it showed as well and it was just as good. Curious who makes this for them and what the grape source is. (93 pts.)
  • 2014 Viña Godeval Valdeorras Cepas Vellas – Spain, Galicia, Valdeorras
    Tasted blind. Nose of tropical fruit, honeysuckle and mineral. More tropical fruit on the palate with lemon, honey, pear and a hint of grapefruit. Nailed this as a Godello. Just a nice wine for the money. I gave this 92 points and it finished 1st overall. (92 pts.) In stock.

The Jules Taylor and Vina Godeval ended up being on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2016.

Exploring Malbec, a Grape with a Bright Future

The world of wine is just as trendy as anything else. Wines become the hottest thing then all of the sudden they’re not. Over the years things like Blue Nun led the rise of Riesling from Germany, California introduced their version of barrel aged Chardonnay as well as the White Zinfandel craze, and more recently Shiraz from Australia had it’s time in the sun. Only the quality of the wine and pedigree of the grape dictate whether it sticks around after it’s hot streak. The current hot trendy wine currently belongs to the Malbec grape from Argentina but the grapes origins come from the old world.

Malbec’s birthplace is in the French region of Cahors. The wine was grown there for several hundred years enjoying great notoriety from the middle ages until the 19th century. The grape, known locally as Cot, had a great reputation for quality and was shipped all over the world. “The black wine” of Cahors rivaled Bordeaux to the Northwest but the region had two devastating events. The first was phylloxera, an insect that attacks grape vines and kills them. Whenever they hit, the vines need to be grafted to American root stock which the insets won’t go after. The second event was a frost that decimated 75% of the regions vines in 1956, effectively wiping them out. It takes years, even decades, to recover from something like that. After that the grape went dormant. The grape is one of the six red grapes allowed in Bordeaux wines but it was never a major player there. It wasn’t until Argentina came along and made the grape it’s own that Malbec became a major player again.

It’s easy to see why Malbec has become so popular over the last 6-7 years. The wines are typically fruit forward, easy drinking and aren’t as heavy or tannic as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Most importantly, the quality is high but the wines are inexpensive which has really fueled it’s popularity. Steak houses can serve it by the glass cheap, offering a tasty compliment to a juicy steak. Argentina has been the epicenter of this movement and it’s the most widely planted grape in the country.They have done some great things with it, including some high altitude vineyards that are some of the highest elevations for vineyards in the world.

With the popularity of Malbec comes other regions trying there hand with the grape. Versions have surfaced from Bordeaux, California, Chile, Washington and of course Cahors trying to get back in the game. I thought it would be fun to pick out three and taste them against each other. Here are the results.

  • 2009 Château de Chambert Cahors – France, Southwest France, Cahors
    Nose gravitates more towards the old world with notes of blackberry, kirsch liquor, smoke and violets. Trends more towards the black fruits than the red fruits. Very dark color, almost black with a magenta rim. More blackberry and kirsch liquor on the palate of this along with an earthy note and touch of iron. Finish lasts maybe 20 seconds. Wine will definitely peak your interest in Cahors if your a fan of the grape. (90 pts.)

  • 2010 Waterbrook Malbec Reserve – USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
    Nose is more fruit forward than the Chambert and you can tell it’s new world. Color on this is very similar to the first wine being almost black. Trends more towards the red fruits with cherry and plum but still get violets and kirsch liquor like the Cahors. Palate is also fruit forward. Really get smacked with it in the beginning with flavors of cherry, plum, kirsch liquor and a earthy note on the finish. Finish lasts about 20 seconds as well on this. (90 pts.)

  • 2011 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec – Argentina, Mendoza
    Amazing how different the 3 noses on the 3 wines are. The Catena is the most forward of the 3 wines. Aromas of dark cherry, kirsch liquor, plum and smoke jump out of the glass. Again a very dark wine, almost black in color. The palate is again very forward with flavors of dark cherry, plum, kirsch liquor and a mineral note on the finish. This had the longest finish of the 3 wines as well, going on for about 25-30 seconds. Outstanding quality for the money. (92 pts.)

I have to say this was fun. It was interesting to compare and contrast the three wines plus I love to see diversity in wine. It’s good to see Cahors trying to establish itself back in the quality circle. That wine really opened my eyes to the region. Washington seems like it can do interesting things with the grape although they need to try and keep prices in check to compete. Argentina is certainly doing great things with the grape and I firmly believe that the wines will have some longevity because the quality is clearly there.

Could you tell the difference?

Being a sommelier and known as a “wine guy,” people often ask me if you could really tell the difference between a $100 bottle of wine and a $10 bottle of wine. I usually tell them “It depends.” There are so many factors that go into that question. Let’s assume that the price above for each bottle is the actual cost and not discounted. Let’s also assume that the comparison is between two bottles from the same or similar regions. The reason for this is if your comparing a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  to a Bordeaux they are very different wines. If you have the Napa Valley first, these wines typically have more alcohol and are more fruit forward with bombastic personalities. Following up with the Bordeaux would make it seem too rustic and simply overpowers the wine. Having the Bordeaux first has the opposite effect. A Bordeaux, typically with lower alcohol and more finesse, makes the Napa Valley Cabernet too alcoholic and flabby. So you really need an equal comparison. The last factor is it depends on the taster. If you have someone that doesn’t have that much experience tasting wine try the two bottles they probably aren’t going to see a difference. So the answer would be no. Unless you enjoy wine, I would not advocate spending that much money on a bottle of wine.

So let’s say that the conditions above are met. Now what? Well I believe that there are good bottles of wine at every price point. So there are nice bottles to be had for $10 and there are some bad bottles to be had at $100. So if you picked out your best $10 could it beat a bad $100 bottle? While it’s certainly possible it’s still a long shot. When a winery is making a bottle costing $100, they are aiming for a very high quality level. To bring the 100 point wine rating scale into the picture for a moment, someone buying a $100 bottle may be expecting at least a wine rating of 95 points. Anything below that may be a disappointment. But for a $10 bottle, a really high quality one may get 90 points. So although that may be a nice bottle, especially for the money, it might not be enough to say it is better than the $100 even though it may not reach that 95 point threshold. No don’t get me wrong, there are some bottles that cost $100 that aren’t even hitting that 90 point mark.

My general feeling is that someone who does enjoy wine will be able to tell the difference. They don’t have to be a wine expert either! They really just need to enjoy wine. Well this past weekend I did a little experiment. I have a friend who I get together with every so often and he too loves wine. So of course we crack a few bottles when we get together, typically some really nice stuff. The past couple of times we have been tasting blind. Now if you don’t know what that means there are two different definitions. Single blind means you don’t know the wine but you may know the region, the grape or the vintage. Double blind means you know nothing at all. So for the wines we cracked, we only knew the grape: Cabernet Sauvignon. He said to bring your “A game” so we both picked out two really nice bottles. I then decided to make it interesting by throwing in a $20 bottle I recently had. The $20 bottle was excellent and I thought it would make it difficult to identify in a blind tasting. All wines were decanted for 1 hour. Here are the results:

Wine 1

We both agreed the aromas on this were closed, meaning it was not giving up much. What I did get was some plum and iron. After sitting in the glass for a while the nose started to open up. Tasting this wine was a different story. It had some nice plum, cherry and iron flavors. It certainly had some complexity to it but my friend and I then argued over the finish. I said it lasted about 30 seconds, which to me is long. My friend argued that 30 seconds was not a long finish and it was shorter than the other wines. Overall I gave this wine 92 points and my friend scored it a 90. Interestingly enough, my friend called this out as the ringer before even tasting the other wine!. Since I had it a week or two before, it was pretty easy for my to identify it immediately as well.

Wine 2

This was a much bigger wine than the first one. The nose exploded out of the glass with aromas of blackberry, black cherry and roses. It was much more intense and very much from Napa Valley. The color on this was a very dark red, somewhat similar to wine 1. Drinking this was sheer joy! Favors of blackberry, currant, vanilla and a touch of iron dance across your palate. This was not just a monster wine though. It was beautifully put together that balanced power and elegance. The finish lasted about 45-50 seconds, clearly longer than the first wine. My friend’s impressions were similar to mine. I gave it a 96 and he gave it a 98.

Wine 3

An important distinction between this wine and the other wines was the color. As a red wine ages it gets lighter in color and this one was starting to show some bricking around the rim, a clear sign of age that my friend quickly pointed out. The nose on this also exploded out of the glass with sweet cherry and plum but also showing some more mature aromas of mushroom. Similarly on the palate it had some nice flavors of plum, cherry and blackberry but started showing mature notes mingled in with earth. The finish on this was about as long as wine 2. My friend and I both gave this 96 points.

The Wines

Wine 1 – 2014 Intrinsic Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley Washington Release Price $20

Wine 2 – 2012 Lail Cabernet Sauvignon J Daniel Cuvee Napa Valley Release Price $225

Wine 3 – 2004 Opus One Propriety Red Napa Valley Release Price $180

Overall

Tasting the Intrinsic on it’s own was one thing but tasting it next to two high end wines was another. It first got my attention by getting 92 from Wine Spectator. On it’s own it’s a fantastic wine for only $20 and could probably sell for three times it’s price if it came from Napa Valley. My friend is a more experienced taster and it was easy for him to pick this out without even trying the other wines. He actually used deductive reasoning to pick out his wine as well. Since he guessed wine 1 was the ringer and he knew that he didn’t bring an older wine (wine 3), he concluded wine 2 was his. The Lail received a perfect score, 100 points, from Robert Parker. Opus One, when the 1979 vintage was released, was the most expensive wine from Napa Valley at the time. It’s had its ups and downs over the years but the 2004 recently got a 96 from Robert Parker.

Conclusions

This certainly wasn’t highly scientific but it was fun to put the above theory to the test. The less expensive bottle definitely stood out compared to the other two wines. I’d like to do this again but with a larger sample size. It’s pretty safe to say though that on this day the less expensive wine was identified as inferior to the other wines.

Champagne for the New Year!

Everyone always thinks of Champagne for celebrations. Weddings, birthdays, promotions, but New Year’s Eve is where everyone can get in on the action! We always stock a nice selection of sparkling wine to meet any of your needs. We also offer it chilled for your convenience! Here are 5 great selections we have in house that are perfect for New Year’s Eve!

Segura Viudas Cava

NV Sigura Viudas Brut Cava $9.99

One of the best values for sparkling wine comes from Spain! Cava is the Spanish equivalent of Champagne but it’s typically a fraction of the cost! This cava offers some delicious flavors for only $9.99! Quality like this in Champagne would start at $40! We have been stocking this for years and it never disappoints! Find out why!

Korbe; Champagne Extra Dry

NV Korbel California Sparkling Wine Extra Dry or Brut $12.99 (Connecticut Bottle Minimum)

Always reliable, Korbel is typically widely available and we have it for the CT bottom min, meaning you can’t find it any cheaper than this in Connecticut by state law. If your looking for something that tastes good, is easy drinking, affordable and not have to think too much about, this is the wine for you!

Mumm Brut Prestige Napa Valley

NV Mumm Brut Prestige Napa Valley $19.99

Mumm does an excellent job in their Napa Valley venture of providing a delicious and complex sparkling wine. This is consistently a favorite of Wine Spectator and appeared on their Top 100 Wines of 2014.

Wine Spectator 91 Points

“Packs in a lot of complexity, with aromas of apple, fresh ginger and rubber that lead to crisp and layered flavors of raspberry and spice. Drink now.”

Vollereaux Champagne Brut

NV Vollereaux Champagne Brut $31.99

When Champagne is done right there is really no better sparkling wine in the world. The Vollereaux is something we have stocked for years and is always on the money. Costs less than both Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot but is better than both in my opinion. Here’s the last time is was reviewed in Wine Spectator.

Wine Spectator 92 points

“Rich and refined, with layers of pear pastry, black cherry, hazelnut, lemon cream, honey and floral notes. A spicy thread of minerality winds through this wine, as does the precise and seamlessly integrated acidity.”

2002 Dom Perignon

2002 Dom Perignon Champagne Brut $189.99

For those looking for a New Year’s splurge, look no further than the 2002 Dom Perignon. I’ve had this wine several times and it is just an unbelievable Champagne, truthfully one of the best I’ve ever had. 2002 was an excellent year and this one is going to go down as one of the all time greats for Dom Perignon. Other vintages are available. Call for pricing and availability.

Wine Spectator 95 Points

“A rich and smoky Champagne in a graceful package, with a beautiful, fine-grained texture to it and layers of flavor—biscuit, candied lemon peel, coffee liqueur, chamomile, pine, crystallized honey and wood smoke. This is the haute couture of the Champagne world—all about elegance, texture and attention to detail.”

Wine Advocate 96 Points

“The 2002 Dom Perignon is at first intensely floral, with perfumed jasmine that dominates the bouquet. With time in the glass the wine gains richness as the flavors turn decidedly riper and almost tropical. Apricots, passion fruit and peaches emerge from this flashy, opulent Dom Perignon. The wine’s volume makes it approachable today, but readers in search of more complexity will want to cellar this for at least a few years to allow for some of the baby fat to drop off. Geoffroy describes the vintage as very ripe and adds that some of the Chardonnay showed the ill-effects of the hot growing season in the somewhat burned, dehydrated fruit that came in that year.”