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Everything posted by Echezeaux

  1. 1) I've heard some barrels are so sought-after that they are actually "allocated" to various wineries. A winemaker mentioned that there are even, essentially, "scalpers" who buy these allocated barrels only to sell them to others, buying less costly cooperage... 2) What wine publications do you find interesting and informative? 3) What wines do you especially enjoy drinking and what wines are you most willing to actually pay for?
  2. Mel... How do new oak barrels affect the numerical scores for various wines? What do you think about the "work" (if you want to call it that) of various wine critics? Do the critics have an affect/effect on barrel sales, do you think? What size straight jacket does Mr. Clendenen wear, by the way? Thanks!
  3. Echezeaux

    Spencer Roloson Wines

    I have tasted various wines of Spencer Roloson and think they would be well served to hire a winemaker. Their wines are often not technically well-made. Their enthusiasm is admirable, but putting better quality wines in bottle is a good idea.
  4. I would highly recommend a recent and very complete, well-written book by British wine writer Andrew Jefford, The New France: A Complete Guide to Contemporary French Wine. The maps are good, the summaries of each area are complete and he profiles the leading estates in even the most obscure regions. It's $45 full price, but now that it's been available for a year and half, you may be able to find it cheaper...
  5. One advantage to being signed up for regular shipments is that you may have access to wines you wouldn't normally find in shops. However, on the down side: You do limit yourself by being fairly committed to drinking wines from the same vintner on a rather regular basis. If you have a great shop or two in your area, you might find getting some sage advice from them can open up a whole new world of wine to you. There is so much good wine being made all over the world, it's a shame to experience only a tiny percentage of it! When you're subscribing to a winery's "club," you do allow them to pawn off less-than-their-best wines on you. The winery knows its subscribers will take what they are offered, allowing a winery to sell, for reasonable (and sometimes unreasonable) money a fair bit of wine. Since many of these "subscriber's wines" are not sold in the market, the winery doesn't have to worry about fussy merchants and sommeliers rejecting their wares. You allow some winemakers the opportunity to "learn on the job" by making some experiment batches. Sometimes these may be good...sometimes they're a bit odd. I spoke with a fellow who told me he's "on the list" for a certain famous winery's Pinot Noirs and is the proud owner of 14 or 15 cases of them...but he doesn't drink wine very often and now he's got wines decaying and going over the hill in his storage area instead of wines getting better...the wine is backlogged in his garage and most probably won't ever be opened when they're approaching their peak... You ought to take a look at your own drinking habits and your options with repsect to the availability of good wines in your own backyard.
  6. Echezeaux

    Feel-good finds

    Isn't Monastrell "Mourvedre" or "Mataro? Anyway, thanks for the suggestions of bargain wines...Barco Reale for $9??? You sound disappointed in a lot of the wines you've been buying...don't you have a good wine merchant to help guide you towards a higher "batting average"???
  7. Perhaps Craig can respond to this curious bit of marketing: Calvano's US importer Kobrand has Point-of-Sale material stating the Vino Nobile is 95% Sangiovese and 5% Prugnolo Gentile! Is this just nonsense or can you shed some light on this, per favore!
  8. In visiting a California winery we were poured the first wine and it was accompanied by "Robert Parker rated this wine 90 points." I accepted the glass, swirled the wine and asked "Who the hell is Robert Parker?" The ensemble laughed. The next wine was poured and we were told "This wine got a 93 from Robert Parker." I asked again "Who the hell is this Parker fellow and why should I care?" The tasting room fellow explained that Parker is this wine guru and the most fussy palate in the world. I explained that "Mr. Parker won't be dining at my house any time in the near future, so I don't really care what he thinks of the wines. I am here to taste your wines for myself and see if any of them appeals to me enough to actually want to pay you money for some bottles." This totally shocked the fellow and the others in the tasting room. Imagine! Someone having the idea that they can determine for themselves which wines are attractive enough without having to calculate a numerical score. Of course, Mr. Parker has contributed some good things to the world of wine, but he has also contributed to winemakers around the globe attempting to create point-worthy wines. It's sad when you can't tell if a wine was grown in Tuscany, Napa, Bordeaux, Chile, South Africa, Argentina or Washington. I've often felt the numerical score is more a personal reaction to a wine rather than a qualitative assessment. There's also a big difference in wines for wine tastings and wines for drinking.
  9. Echezeaux


    Here are a few suggestions: VAL DI MAGGIO--ARNALDO CAPRAI MONTEFALCO (Perugia) località Torre Tel: 0742/378802/378523 They actually maintain are rather California-like tasting room. Many consider Caprai's Sagrantino wines to be the benchmark. They collaborate with the University in Milano (which sells Caprai clone budwood of Sagrantino). COLPETRONE - SAIAGRICOLA GUALDO CATTANEO (Perugia) via della Collina 4, località Marcellano Tel: 0578/76772 Very "internationally-styled" wines...I believe Tiziana Mazzetti takes care of tours and tastings... FATTORIA COLSANTO BEVAGNA (Perugia) località Montarone Tel: 0742/360412 or 0432/757173 They make a nice "rosso" blend with Sagrantino, etc. and a pretty good Sagrantino on its own. LA FIORITA-LAMBORGHINI PANICALE (Perugia) via Soderi, 1 Tel: 075/8350029 This is the Lamborghini automotive family...stylish wines, too internationall-styled for some folks, but well-made, in any case. SPORTOLETTI SPELLO (Perugia) via Lombardia 1 - Capitanloreto Tel: 0742/651461 This family run place is near Assisi. They make a lovely dry white of Grechetto and some excellent red under the Villa Fidelia banner. If you can taste (or buy) their olive oil, don't miss it...it's sensational, too! Buona fortuna e buon viaggio!
  10. I'm intrigued by the poor performance of the Guigal sweet wine. Your tasting notes are only personal in nature and don't quite make clear what, if any, flaws are apparent in that wine. Nor do you state what was wrong with the Feudi di San Gregorio dessert wine. Given that so many of the wines you had were of such poor quality, was this some sort of Masochist's Club Wine Tasting gathering, or what?
  11. Echezeaux

    Wine for a Wedding

    I understand that most people don't really care about the quality of the wine at an event and some people will drink virtually anything if it's "free." But still, if you can elevate the quality of the offerings, be it wine or food, without significantly changing the price, I'm with Katie in wanting to do so. Given those dreadful choices for wine, I think I'd be hoping they have plenty of cold mineral water available...
  12. Echezeaux

    Loire Wines

    For some estates in your "local" area... DOMAINE PHILIPPE ALLIET L'Ouche Monde Cravant-les-Couteaux Tel: 02-47-93-17-62 This fellow makes top Chinon (Cab Franc) wines...very fine and much sought-after. DOMAINE HENRY MARIONNET Domaine de la Charmoise Soings Tel: 02-54-98-70-73 This famous enologist produces some deliciously fruity Sauvignon and Gamay wines. DOMAINE DE LA TAILLE AUX LOUPS 8 rue des Aitres, Husseau Montlouis-sur-Loire Tel: 02-47-45-11-11 One of the two leaders in Montlouis...splendid dry Chenin Blanc is Cuvee Remus...very fine! FRANCOIS CHIDAINE 5 Grand Rue Montlouis-sur-Loire Tel: 02-47-45-19-14 Makes good Montlouis wines, dry and off-dry...also has a small wine shop along the river with many wines from around the Loire... DOMAINE PICHOT 32 rue de la Bonne-Dame Vouvray Tel: 02-47-52-62-55 Recent vintages of their basic Vouvray have been really delicious and quite inexpensive. They have a modest stock of older sweet wines, too, also well-priced. Nice bubbly, too. Hope that helps.
  13. I'm not sure the name Maximus is a good one. How about "Hernius"? In any event, I'm not one to applaud vintners for making a bottle of wine the size of a bath tub... Beringer, by the way, is most grateful to Morton's for making a significant amount of its 1998 Private Reserve Cabernet "disappear." It was sold to Morton's for less than $20 a bottle...Wonder what Morton's sold it for???
  14. We often ask ourselves "Just how DID they manage to make such good wines way-back-when at only 12-13% alcohol?" Part of today's "problem" is not only chasing points and making wines for competitive tastings, but greed. Given the amazingly high prices, many vineyards are pushed for quantity. I've heard some grower/winemakers say "The only way you can squeeze a bit of character out of these over-cropped vines is to pick the fruit later and at higher sugar levels." There IS a difference between wines for drinking and wines for "tastings." This distinction, however, is not an important one for many wine buyers.
  15. Echezeaux

    The Zillah area...

    Zillah is one little area in the Columbia Valley appellation...Covey Run is a winery owned by Corus brands. The winery was founded as Quail Run years ago and they made some delicious little white wines. Today their offerings are fairly commercial and pretty standard to ordinary. Hyatt is another property in Zillah. From time to time a red from Hyatt is good and they have made a few really nice sweet wines. Don't recall tasting exceptional wines of the Bonair winery... In any case, Zillah cannot yet be compared with an area such as Walla Walla as a prime or special vineyard region.
  16. Echezeaux

    Wine Spectator Award

    I appreciate this sentiment, of course, but I don't see the point in honoring someone whose pricing structure is so unfriendly towards consumers. Wines imported by Paterno (Chapoutier, Gaja, Santa Margherita, Josmeyer, etc.) are sold at sky-high prices. Santa Margherita's Pinot Grigio is routinely a "buon mercato" in Italy, retailing for about six Euros. It's the same price as Santa Margherita's Cabernet and Chardonnay, which retail here for $10 in the US. That it takes $20 (or more) in the US to buy a bottle of standard quality, ten-buck Pinot Grigio is not going to encourage people to drink wine. But I am all for people taking off their training wheels!
  17. Echezeaux

    Wine Spectator Award

    Don't people have to "pay" to own a Wine Spectator "award"? Restaurateurs can pay a fee to have their establishments listed as being "cited" for their "award-winning" wine lists. Perhaps Mr. Terlato has reached some monumental plateau in terms of advertising dollars in Mr. Shanken's various publications and now has "earned" himself a citation???? I am not sure that charging ridiculous sums of money for modest wines should earn one plaudits. The word "Paterno" is Italian for "laughing all the way to the bank," while "Terlato" is the Italian name for P.T. Barnum.
  18. I can tell you : IT IS MUCH LIKE NAPA VALLEY! We had attempted to make an appointment for a visit/tour/tasting. The "public relations" person at Feudi was, initially trying to sell us a "tour", asking us to select from their web site. They offer three "programs." One is a $15 tour and tasting...the other two cost $50 and $60 respectively. We visited the winery, having a quick walk through the facility (and it does appear as though it could be a facility one might find in Napa or Australia)...not having "signed up" for one of their programs, we were unable to taste any of their wines (this, despite the fact that the appointment had been arranged by a member of our party who actively sells Feudi wines in the U.S.)!!!
  19. What's the difference between "gifts" and being shown a set of wines in the context of a lavish dinner at some fancy dining establishment, I wonder? Mr. Parker is routinely "hosted" by certain luminaries, especially in France. As y'all know, most of the wine critic publications DO NOT GO OUT AND BUY WINE. They are "shown" wines, samples which might be rigged to sandbag the critics and their audiences. Some of these publications also accept advertising (WS, Wine Enthusiast, etc.). Hard to believe there is not some influence (some wineries who don't advertise won't have their wines critiqued, for example). Aside from the Wine Angels' "study," you have micro-biologist Leo McCloskey whose company claims to be able to analyze some producer's wines and guide them towards what steps need be taken to assure 90+ point ratings. It's not a perfect world.
  20. How about a nice 2003 vintage Rose from the Tavel appellation (Domaine Amido makes a good one)? Or perhaps the Cotes du Luberon Rose of Chateau La Canorgue? You might also consider a good Bandol Rose or the Domaines Ott from the Cote de Provence...
  21. Echezeaux

    Barolo 2000

    I'm not a huge fan of the 1998 vintage in Piemonte, but we tasted the Le Strette and it is outstanding. Costs less than $40 and it offers wonderfully complex aromas and bouquet, it's nicely balanced on the palate...blah, blah, blah....So now I'm gonna have to start re-tasting some 1998s to see how they're progressing (tough work, I know). Went to taste the Empson portfolio of Langhe wines. The 2000 Barolo wines are certainly nice, but hardly worth (to me, anyway) the prices they're asking. The 2001 Barbaresco wines are nice, but costly. Given what's still available of previous vintages (bought with stronger dollars), consumers ought to explore that territory before buying the much more costly recent vintages.
  22. I have known Angelo Gaja since the early 1980s...when I first visited, we were even invited to make use of a couple of apartments near the winery. He showed us through the winery and we had a wonderful tasting of his wines.... Another visit, Angelo took us to lunch at an up & coming place where we had an amazing marathon of wine and food. And not featuring Gaja wines, exclusively. The man has been a wonderful ambassador for Piemonte in general, Barbaresco in particular. He has seen examples of other leading vintners who benefit when everyone in the "neighborhood" benefits. Gaja's neighbors may be unkind in their words about Angelo or his wines, but all of them are thrilled to be able to get the kind of prices they've been getting the past decade for their efforts. He has worked hard, too, promoting his wines for service in many settings, "not just for Italian food." Gaja is a sharp fellow. He is driven by an energy few people have. He's a very shrewd businessman, too. But the quality of his wines is exceptional. It's easy to target any winemaker for their ridiculously priced bottles of wine. And Gaja's bottles command hefty prices, to be sure. The fact is Gaja is not as "warm" in the company of some people as he is with those with whom he's more comfortable. It's difficult to be "on" all the time. I am delighted he is "on" all the time in terms of the wine production within the Gaja "empire." It doesn't bother me that some journalists may find him cold. They should simply taste the wines and judge them for what they are, not for the personality (agreeable or disagreeable) behind the bottles. As for Gambero Rosso's ethics: I am bothered when I see a page where they are supposedly rendering critical judgment of a wine and they write about the winemaker using a familiar name or nickname. I sense they are less critical of that winemaker's efforts than the ones who are referred to with a formal "Signor ____ " notation. In any case, Gaja does not make wine for the masses and his wines are costly. I have not found them to be cold and soul-less. I wish I could afford to put them on the table with greater frequency. If he couldn't "get" those prices, Gaja wouldn't ask those prices. I am curious to know what situation took place which would incite Mr. Cernilli to take the trouble to bash Gaja as a "primadonna." Curious.
  23. Echezeaux

    Corte Rugolin

    Fausto Maculan is not "mad". I saw him not long ago and he wasn't even the least bit angry.
  24. VIGNOBLES TOUCHAIS 02 41 59 14 06 fax : 02 41 59 96 27 They're in Doue-La-Fontaine. Hope that helps.
  25. Nice idea for a posting. I know this wine appears in the Gambero Rosso edition of Berbene (good value wines from Italy) and it's about $6 Euros. In the California market the wine retails from $19 to $28. The current wholesale price is $15.75. I had sent a note to the Santa Margherita people pointing out their Cabernet and Chardonnay, similarly priced in Italy to the Pinot Grigio, cost far less here than the Pinot Grigio. The current wholesale price for Chardonnay and Cabernet is $6/bottle. I received two interesting replies from different departments, both alleging the "taxes" in various states in the US are higher and this accounts for the curiously ambitious pricing of the wine. They ignored, of course, the notion that their other wines cost a normal amount here. The Paterno company has done a wonderful job in marketing this wine. But they are not a honest and honorable firm, so the scandalously high price for Pinot Grigio is not a surprise. Appalling, but not surprising. Not to single out Paterno, the Vinifera Imports company in the US (Fontodi, Felsina) also view the right to import Italian wines as a license to steal.
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