Tag Archives: Grgich Hills

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Expensive wine 80: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2012

grgich hills chardonnayWant a classic example of Napa Valley chardonnay, with the just right amounts of fruit and oak, a proper mouth feel, balanced alcohol, at a fair price, and that speaks to Napa’s terroir? Then you could do much worse than the Grgich.

This is not damning with faint praise; rather, it says much about how wine is often made in that part of California — score driven, price be damned, and that the consumer will buy the Winestream Media tells them to buy. The Grgich, which has been around longer than I have been writing about wine, takes none of that into account. The 2013 Grgich Hills chardonnay ($42, sample, 13.5%) is no exception.

Look for green apple, a little citrus, and even some peach tucked away in the back. The oak is there, of course, but it’s integrated and part of the wine — not a flavor in and unto itself. Perhaps the most important quality is the wine’s acidity, something most California chardonnays don’t worry about. It helps the wine taste fresh and clean despite its richness.

Highly recommended, and the kind of wine to give as a holiday gift, drink at this time of year, and enjoy anytime.

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Christmas wine 2014

Christmas wine 2014Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, whether you need to buy a gift or aren’t sure about what to serve family and friends, be it for dinner or just because:

? Sileni Pinot Noir 2013 ($16, sample, 12.5%): This red wine from New Zealand has been winning awards around the world this year, and why not? It tastes like pinot noir, with dark cherry fruit, soft but still noticeable tannins, and no hint that the wine wants to be anything other than pinot noir, like lots of alcohol or over the top jamminess. If it doesn’t taste like red Burgundy, and I don’t know why it should, it tastes like what it is — one of the best pinots at this price from anywhere in the world.

? Grgich Hills Merlot 2010 ($42, sample, 14.8%): Another remarkable effort from Grgich, which has been making this sort of wine for so long we tend to take it for granted. This California red somehow combines high alcohol with style, finesse, and even some earthiness. Look for red fruit and an almost licorice finish. It’s big enough for red meat, but well made enough to enjoy without it.

? Chateau d’Archambeau 2012 ($14, purchased, 12.5%): Just when I’ve given up on finding white Bordeaux that tastes like white Bordeaux — minerality and crispness without an overabundance of citrus fruit — along comes this French white, made with two-thirds sauvignon blanc and one-third semillon. Nicely done, and worth the extra couple of bucks compared to something like Chateau Bonnet. Sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

? Argyle Brut 2010 ($22, purchased, 12.5%): Argyle always seems to show up in holiday wine roundups here, but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best sparkling wines, dollar for dollar, made in the U.S. — about half the price of its California counterparts, and with that much better quality than less expensive California bubblies. Lots of apple fruit, but also some creaminess. Drink for toasting or with almost any food that isn’t prime rib.

? Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carmenere 2013 ($10, sample, 14%): Carmenere is a red grape from Chile that is supposed to vaguely resemble an earthy merlot, but mostly tastes like grocery store merlot. This wine, from the same family that owns Bonnet, is carmenere the way it should be, and especially at this price. Look for black fruit and some grip, a welcome change from all of the flabby carmeneres on the market. Beef wine without a doubt.

More about Christmas wine:
? Christmas wine 2013
? Christmas wine 2012
? Wine of the week: Astoria Prosecco NV
? Wine of the week: Little James’ Basket Press NV

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Expensive wine 60: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2011

Expensive wine 60: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2011Year in and year out, regardless of wine trends, fads, and the latest critical darlings, Grgich Hills is a model of consistency. Want quality wine at a fair (if expensive) price? Grgich rarely disappoints. My notes for previous vintages are amazingly similar: Classic. Rich. Tasteful. Balanced.

The 2011 chardonnay ($42, sample, 13.5%) is no exception. It’s everything one expects of a Napa chardonnay at this price — oak and vanilla balanced by apples and pears that play off each other; a rich mouth feel that doesn’t overwhelm, which is not easy to do; and a long finish that has you swallowing for many seconds after the wine is gone. In other words, classic and tasteful.

This is wine for celebration, whether birthday, anniversary, or even a dinner with someone you care about and want to share a great wine with. In this, it proves something that I learned a long time ago — wine isn’t about price or scores or trying to impress someone else, but about who you drink it with and where you are when you do.

Mini-reviews 33: Grgich, Leese-Fitch, Edna Valley, Colby Red

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

Grgich Hills Fum Blanc 2010 ($30, sample): This is about as good as California sauvignon blanc gets, with lemon grass and some sort of green apple fruit, a kind of subtle tropical middle (lychee?) and a long, clean finish. Still a little young, and would benefit from six more months in the bottle.

? Leese-Fitch Pinor Noir 2010 ($13, sample): This is a very fruity (berries?), modern-style California pinot noir from The Other Guys that has more in common with Beaujolais than traditional pinot. As long as that's OK, it's more than acceptable wine and a decent value.

? Edna Valley Chardonnay 2009 ($15, sample): Nice value with good fruit (apricot?) and freshness, though too oaky for me. Though, to be fair, not as oaky some old-school chardonnays.

? Colby Red 2010 ($12, sample): California red blend with normal enough tannins and acid but what seems to be an almost cherry lollipop sweetness in the middle. It throws the wine off kilter, though people who like that sort of thing probably won't think anything of it.

Expensive wine 21: Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Another reminder why points are worthless.

The Grgich ($60, sample) is a gorgeous, beautiful wine with all elements in balance, and it's only going to get better as it ages. It's a lesson in winemaking — how to produce a Napa Valley cabernet that speaks to the terroir without the excesses (too much oak, too much fruit) that drive so many of us crazy.

So what scores did this wine get? How about 89 points from something called the Connoisseur's Guide? How about 92 from the Spectator? I've got $10 wines that score that well. To add insult to injury, Robert Parker wrote: ".. high acids and high tannin give the wine a monochromatic, clipped, lean character that will not age out. Rather, the wine is likely to dry out."

All of that negativity, of course, is because the Grgich is a gorgeous, beautiful wine without any of the excesses that drive so many of us crazy and that earn the wines with the excesses such high scores. Look for black cherries and a rich, long finish without any of the sweetish fruit that the excess wines display — and, at the risk of offending Mr. Parker, this wine is not going to dry out.

This is a holiday wine for prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, or nuy it as a gift for someone you really like and who will really appreciate it. And, thanks to the recession, it's available for as little as $45 at a variety of Internet retailers.