Category:Expensive wine

Expensive wine of the month 6: Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Groth's 2006 cabernet sauvignon is $60 well spent. The Wine Curmudgeon ?s apprehension when he sees pricey Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon is well known. There seem to be an infinite number of these wines and each seems to cost more than the next. (They also seem to be suffering greatly during the recession, but that ?s not news to regular visitors here.)

Which is why I ?m pleased to report that the Groth, for those with $60 to spend for a Napa cabernet, is $60 well spent. It compares more than favorably with more expensive wines of its kind, including those that cost $20 and $30 more. The Groth includes what ?s best about Napa cabernet ? the ripe, juicy cherry fruit ? and it doesn ?t have what isn ?t best. The oak is notably restrained, the fruit isn ?t over the top, the tannins are correct, and the alcohol is manageable at 14.9 percent.

This is, obviously, a food wine. Pair with classic red wine dinners like prime rib or rib eye, and save it for a special occasion, be it birthday, anniversary or holiday.

Expensive wine, July 2009 edition: Olivier Leflaive Meursault 2002

Some wine, like the Leflaive Meursault, delivers value for its $40. I found the Leflaive Meursault on a closeout a couple of years for $40. In my notes, I wrote: ?I overpaid for this, but it is a 2002. I'm going to let it sit for a couple of years, at least, and get my money's worth out of it. ?

Once again, the Wine Curmudgeon amazes himself with how little he knows about wine.

I have no idea what I was thinking when I wrote that. Leflaive is a top Burgundian producer and 2002 is a top Burgundian vintage. The wine more than lived up to its price, and my regret is that I didn ?t buy a second bottle. It was full of green apples, almost a clove-like spiciness, and the oak was wonderfully integrated. It was a bit young, but still eminently drinkable. I have a flock of $40 California chardonnay in the wine closet (white Burgundy is the same thing as chardonnay) that wouldn ?t come close to this in a trillion years.

I drank this with roast chicken, green noodles tossed with some of the chicken fat rendered during cooking, and a green salad with lettuce from the Wine Curmudgeon garden. Anyone who wonders why some of us get so excited about wine need to try that dinner, and they ?ll understand.

Expensive wine of the month, June: Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine 2006

image And when the Wine Curmudgeon says expensive, he isn ?t kidding — $95 for a 375-milliliter bottle, or half the size of a normal wine bottle. But it certainly was fabulous wine.

Ice wine is usually made with white grapes, which give a better base for the acid the wine needs to balance with its rich, lush, sweetness. (Ice wine and dessert wine primer here.) That the Inniskillin was made with cabernet franc, which can be tricky to handle even as a table wine, speaks of the talent and daring of winemaker Bruce Nicholson.

So what does that mean for the wine? It ?s not as honey sweet as white ice wine, and the fruit is strawberry instead of lemon, lime or apricot. In this, the sweetness is different and surprising than what one expects from an ice wine. Think of strawberry ice cream taken to a place it has never been before. Drink this on its own, reasonably cook, and enjoy.

Expensive bottle of wine, May edition: Bressan Cru Pignol 1998

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The Wine Curmudgeon does not often quote back label wine descriptions, but this is one of those times that it is warranted. Bressan, a producer in northeast Italy — where most of the wines that anyone has ever heard of are white — has this to say about its red Pignol: ?The flavour is almost hidden, as though it is fearful of being discovered. ?

I can ?t do better than that.

The Pignol (about $80) is one of the most interesting and unique wines I have ever tasted. How, at this age, it can still be almost too young to drink is amazing. I decanted the wine for an hour, and it wasn ?t enough. It kept changing over the next 90 minutes as we drank it, getting darker and more Italian over time. It was a completely different wine when we finished — less fruity, more acidic and more earthy. Pignol, incidentally, is the grape, one of those dozens of Italian varieties that are little known even in Italy.

Was it worth $80? Not if you're looking for something that you feel comfortable with, because it doesn't in any way resemble a Super Tuscan (or a Bordeaux or a Napa, for that matter). But if you want to try something that doesn't taste like what you ?d expect, something that is an example of old-fashioned regional Italian winemaking and Parker be damned, then take the chance. And it does need food — top-quality cooked sausages and the best hard cheese you can find, plus real European-style bread.

Expensive wine, April edition: Chateau de Fonbel 2005

image This red Bordeaux (mostly merlot) is an excellent example of modern French winemaking. The Fonbel, a grand cru from St. Emilion on the right bank, combines traditional Bordeaux strengths, like balance and aging ability, with more intense fruit than many right bank Bordeauxs have.

Isn ?t the intense fruit (mostly blackberry) a problem, given that Bordeaux is supposed to be more subtle? I don ?t think so. For one thing, this is the celebrated 2005 vintage, where fruit shows itself more intensely. For another, the back of the wine, and especially the tannins, show that the Fonbel will age nicely for four or five years. In that time, the wine should round off and become less fruity and more interesting.

Suggested retail is about $30 ? if not a great value, then a fair one, and especially if you let it age. Serve this with lamb or steak frites.

For more expensive wine reviews: