Tag Archives: expensive wine

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.

Winebits 156: Direct shipping, expensive wine, 7-Eleven wine

? Retail shipping appeal: A group of American wine retailers is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision that limited the ability of out-of-state retailers to sell wine over the Internet. The Specialty Wine Retailers Association wants the high court to decide if retailers enjoy the same protection the court gave to wineries in its landmark Granholm decision in 2005. The retailers are appealing Wine Country Gift Baskets v. Steen, in which the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said a non-Texas retailer could not sell wine in Texas.

? A $233,000 bottle of wine: From our friends at the Wine Spectator: A bottle of 1869 Ch teau Lafite, estimated to fetch $8,000 at auction, sold for $233,972 — making it the most expensive 750ml bottle of wine on the planet. The Spectator reports that an unnamed Asian bidder bought the bottle, and it's no wonder the bidder wanted to remain unnamed. That $233,972 would have bought 1,950 cases of $10 wine, or enough wine to last most of the rest of us about 150 years.

? New 7-Eleven wine: The convenience store chain, which sells the $4 Yosemite Road brand, is expanding its wine lineup. Look for Cherrywood Cellars, a private label wine that will sell for about $9 a bottle, and will come in three flavors — chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. I wasn't overwhelmed by the Yosemite Road, but it was a huge success with consumers, selling out quickly.

Chris De Burgh’s wine collection

Dear Mr. De Burgh:

I'll be honest. I'm not a huge fan of your music. It's a little too pop for me, and I'm a punk and New Wave kind of guy (though Working Girl, which featured your hit "Lady in Red," wasn't bad). But, apparently, we have wine in common.

Decanter magazine reports that you are going to sell your wine collection, which contains some of the finest wines in modern history. It includes Lafite 1945, Latour 1961, Mouton 1982, Cheval Blanc 1978, and Margaux and La Mission Haut Brion '61. Your reason? You told the magazine that it would be a "sacrilege" to open the wines and drink them.

That's your privilege, of course, though the Wine Curmudgeon has always been puzzled when people buy wine but don't drink it. Having said that, however, I'd like to offer my help in disposing of your collection.

These are not only exquisite wines (my one and only Cheval Blanc tasting was amazing), but they're wines that 99 percent of wine drinkers will never taste, including those of us who do it professionally. So I have a proposal for you.

The blog's third birthday is next month, and I have a variety of events planned to celebrate. I'll give away some wine, and Sony Music has donated some classical CDs to the cause. The blog has been a huge success since I started it in November 2007, and I always like to thank my visitors and readers for their help. So what about using one of your wines for the party? It doesn't have to be a '45 or '61, or even one of the 1982s. Anything you think is fair will be fine with me.

I can't pay you what it's worth, obviously (one of the things that goes with being a punk and New Wave kind of guy no doubt). But I can offer you some Texas wine in exchange, plus the vast amount of publicity this will bring. I understand you have a new record to promote?

Let me know if we can work something out.


Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon

Expensive wine 19: Grange 2005

The setting was Fearing's, the restaurant in Dallas' Ritz-Carlton hotel that is run by Dean Fearing, one of the top celebrity chefs in the country and where you can drop $100 a person for dinner without even thinking about it. The Ritz, of course, is the Ritz. And, if that wasn't enough, some of Dallas' top wine collectors would arrive in a few minutes to attend a re-corking clinic for their vintage bottles.

Which just goes to how dedicated the Wine Curmudgeon is to his craft. I was about as far as possible from my $10 wine. But this was a chance to taste Penfold's Grange ($500, sample), an Australian shiraz blend that is one of the world's great wines. And how often does that happen?

I needn't have worried. Winemaker Peter Gago, like so many Australians, is not overwhelmed with his self-importance. How many California (or even French) winemakers who make super-premium wine would have had a thoughtful discussion about whether a $500 wine was worth $500? How many would have said, as Gago did, that the wine business needs to do more to educate consumers — to demystify how wine works. "We have a challenge globally," he said, "about spreading the word about wine, and at whatever level of wine we make."

So how was the wine? Impressive, if not nearly ready to drink. Much Australian wine is loud and boisterous, with concentrated fruit and high alcohol. It slaps you on the back. The Grange, on the other hand, was almost unfriendly, as if it wanted to size you up first. The fruit was there, and in another five or 10 years will start to show itself. Gago says the wine is hiding a lot up its sleeve, to be revealed as it ages. In all of this, the Grange truly is a great wine, a bottle to be appreciated not for immediate pleasure but for what it will become.