Demystifying Wine: The Five Wine Pillars

Demystifying wine is essential today as it has always been… perhaps much more important today than at any other time in the past.  The world of variety, region and style is as complicated and misunderstood as it has always been and instead of wine becoming less demystified it is still in the complex and mystified strata.

Many regions and even wine countries have been misunderstood or mystified and those regions deserve to placed on tables to be tasted. 

I attended a conference where Eric Asimov NY Times wine critic talked about the need to consider ‘mystifying’ wine once more. He was a superb speaker and was completely engaging–he talked about the nuances of childhood travel where he his brother would debate if landing at an airport counted as a new state visited or did you have to actually touch terra firma.  I was amused as have thought the same thing. 

While I don’t agree summarily with mystifying wine. I don’t take offense at what I think his aims were – while I didn’t get to speak with him I did interpret his word as being a need to re-appreciate wine via its alluring qualities. I appreciate loving wine for its enduring and even difficult-to-put-into-words sentiment; which I think get’s us to appreciation.

What I do want to advocate for wine is a continuous journey to demystification. There are the essential qualities and characteristics: style, state, variety, vintage, region, nose, palate, and price. As an example, an overly extracted red wine is speaking of that wine or even regional style but the immensely extracted red wine is not a superior wine–it is a wine that expresses regional or even winemaker preferences.

I do believe strongly in a need to demystify and support appreciation and there is room to make for optimum experiences for wine appreciator/consumer.

The pandemic certainly shown that wine is oh so mystified.  Here is a good example of a mystification on wine: sparkling wine sales during the pandemic plummeted. 

According to the International Wine and Spirit Record sparkling wine sales were down:

  • Champagne down 18%
  • Prosecco down 7%
  • Cava down 14%.

On a normal year the British consumed 26.9 mm bottles of Champagne with a population of 66.5 million people.  The US consuming 25.6 million bottles with a population of 328 million people (and 2020 numbers are 20.8 mm bottles). The story of decreased sparkling wine consumption showed that sparkling wine is still treated as a celebratory wine in the US. While British consumption of Champagne too was down in 2020–there is a more normalised behaviour of Champagne consumption in any given year. It is not just a celebratory wine but a wine to be enjoyed more frequently.

I’ll start with some specific top levels areas of wine demystification: Five Wine Pillars:

Wine Pillar #1 You don’t have to pay a lot for good wine

The question or belief that you have pay a significant sum of money for a good wine is still with us today. I have spoken quite a bit in my videos and have stated that there is no correlation that wine quality gets better for every monetary unit spent.

Wine unlike many consumer products has a very finite lot. Compare with beer and spirits where in general the base material (ingredient) does not have to come from one place or that each year the production is limited by what is grown on estate or contract. Yes, there has been a few producers of spirits who use the word “estate” but in general it is not a root or common word for spirits or even beer production.

There are many confounded reasons why there is confusion. Some wine critics live by the “if it costs a lot; then a high point score is warranted”. I rarely see a wine reviewer give according to the wine itself i.e. lower priced point wines rarely, rarely get a high point score (say in the 93-96 point score range; let alone any higher point score). There is some shame with warranting a high point score to a reasonably priced wine of some wine critics. I do believe that wine is exceptional and when I review wine I do it as blindly as possible:

A) Not knowing wine scores from other wine reviewers

B) Not knowing price point

It can be hard to review blindly and it is not always possible because it is plastered on all of the material you might get when you open up your wine samples–i.e. tech sheets can sometimes supply wine scores. I am not concerned with what someone else might rate a wine. Nothing against another wine review but it is in my “I don’t need to know” as I need to rate without any influence from anyone else.

Brands do manage their prices and raise prices accordingly–this is not the vast majority–there is a pricing in prestige with increasing points scores and accolades (not all producers will price that in but some will). There are some very spectacularly successful producer who sell through their offerings with great ease but that is rare. Perhaps they were first to market a variety or have some special feature that has piqued customer curiosity and reception.

Yes, wine brands are all trying manage their offering and their appeal and many if not most work quite hard to do so. Accolades, praises and points do raise consumer interests in wine and especially when they are shopping for wine.

In the last twenty wines, I reviewed I have noted the following:

Esporão Quinta dos Murças Minas 2019 – SRP $24 my rating 94 Points other rating was Wine Enthusiast with 91 Points

Esporão Vinho Bico Amarela 2020 – SRP $12 my rating 93 Points other rating was Wine & Spirits 90 Points

Observation: I have found that I give the warranted point score regardless of price. If a wine warrants a specific point score then I issue it–I am price and by that extension brand agnostic. I don’t think this is how the wine reviewer community does this in awarding points. Wine scoring, unfortunately, is predictable. So in one regard, I can see how many consumers might be confused about price score and wine and even pricing. There is a greater need for blind scoring as possible to offer consumers the most reliable scoring.

Bottomline: a great wine does not have to cost a fortune


Wine Pillar #2 Region

Demystifying wine includes region. If someone thinks of an old world wine country is expensive it is not the correct way to view a region. If a wine region is compared or depends on another region for marketing their wines that is a not a realistic or even warranted view of wine.

Why?

Simply wine stylization can be co-opted in order to sell a regions wines. It is unfair to compare one region to the next for many reasons. Can or should Old World wines taste like New World wines and vice versa? I remember hearing a California winemaker talk about his style of his Italian varieties had to have an American stylization. He said he macerated in the vinfication process longer than he might normally do with his Sangiovese. He said if I used an Italian wine making approach “I would not sell my wines.”

If there were a Judgment of Paris held today, I am not sure the results would be, at least, on a percentage level of “winners” would be the same. In fact, given what occurred, judges Patricia Gallagher and Steven Spurrier scores were not tabulated were a bit of high drama. I would trust what happened in ’76 would not be repeated but it would need to be not just a American v. French competition. A new competition or judgement would need to include Washington State, Oregon, Australia, Chile at minimum and other wine countries as well. The results would be mixed or more accurately distributed and not just a two way competition.

I think of Bordeaux as a region that some people think that it is an expensive region. I have never thought of as I have tasted and reviewed from this region for years. Bordeaux’s total wine production is 95% is affordable and within reach and 5% of Bordeaux wines are expensive wines. So the 5% doesn’t represent the overwhelming majority. Many wines are so approachable and inexpensive that even for a person buying a wine most likely will buy a delightful wine and the investment is not too prohibitively expensive. There are a considerable number of reviews to help hone in consumers coupled with wine merchants helping consumers to find wine they wants to buy.

Diversity in choice is something we have today that even in a short two generations ago didn’t quite exist in the US and elsewhere; a large universe of wine regions available to buy. The wine world is still relatively new–not meaning that there are newly established wine regions but more availability in the US today.

I remember just a few short years ago I was in Montreal and I got a lovely Syrah from Wahluke Slope which, of course, would be available in the US but only years later. On my return to San Francisco, I went to several wine merchants and I knew the answer right away–there was not a single bottle of Washington’s Wahluke Slope anywhere in the Bay Area–it simply was not part of any wine retailer assortment or on any restaurant wine list. Yes, while the Bay Area backyard of Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains and Livermore Valley but it did not preclude imported wines being readily available.

Keep an open mind on wine countries is to develop a sense of place. Pinot Noir doesn’t taste the same even in say California – Anderson Valley to Carneros to Sta Rita Hills and further afield Willamette Valley is not Burgundy, and so fourth.

Take your favourite variety say Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah and try wines from near and the far flung wine regions in the world. Old World and New World: South Africa, New Zealand, Uruguay, Chile, Loire Valley, Alto Adige/Südtirol, Paso Robles, Rhône Valley, etc. to get a taste of terroir. At minimum it is a fun journey.

There is also the quest that I suggest – in many wine regions is variety that is specific to region and thus is a great way to discover region and variety–some thought starting ideas:

Austria – White: Grüner Veltliner, Red: Blaufränkisch

Croatia – White: Debit, Red: Plavac Mali

Romania – White: Fetească albă, Red: Fetească neagră,

Greece – White: Assyrtiko, Red: Agiorgitiko

ItalyAlto Adige/Südtirol – Lagrein; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Refosco, Schioppettino, Riobolla Giala, Tazzelenghe; Franciacorta – Sparkling Wines; Piemonte: Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto di Dogliani, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera d’Alba, Alta Langa – Sparkling Wines; Valle d’Aosta – White – Petit Arvine, Red – Petit Rouge; Cinque Terre DOC; Emilia-Romagna Lambrusco di Sorbara; Toscana: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chianti Colli; Umbria Sagrantino; Lazio – Bellone variety; Marche – Verdicchio, Pecorino; Abruzzo – Montepulciano, Pecorino varieties, and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo; Campania – Aglianico, Fiano, Greco, Falanghina varieties; Basilicata – Aglianico, Primitivo; Puglia – Primitivo, Negroamaro, Uva di Troia, Verdeca, Bombino Nero; Calabria Cirò – Gaglioppo and Greco varieties. Sicilia – Etna DOC – Nerello Mascallese and Caricante; Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG – Nero d’Avola; Catarratto, Grillo and Perricone; Sardegna Cannonau di Sardegna DOC and Vermentino di Sardegna DOC.

France – Jura, Savoie Sud Oest, Val de Loire, and many more regions.

Spain – Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano, Empordà, Terra Alta, Alicante, Ribeira Sacra, Txacolí de Bizcaia, Txacolí de Getaria, Txacolí de Álava, Cava, Jumilla, Bullas, Bierzo, Toro et al.

And I specifically didn’t call out well known regions but, of course, have their offerings of lesser known producers and even varieties. My Intention is to highlight many regions not all and hence I did not include every single region.

And many more wine countries to consider getting wines from: Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Georgia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Lebanon, Cypress, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, UK, Canada, Peru, Argentina, and Chile and others. And many US states: New Mexico, Washington State, Oregon, Virginia, Texas, New York, Colorado, Michigan, Maryland, North Carolina and other states.

Wine Pillar #3. Brand Over Dependence

There are brands that have been in the spotlight for longer than 20 minutes of fame and are on a nonstop repeat mode. I have several friends that will only drink Pinot Gris/Grigio from only ONE producer. No matter how much intervention via suggestion and pouring better examples of this variety they don’t want to consider buying on occasion another producers Pinot Gris/Grigio. I do think ‘tasting is believing’ and I thought I could provide a wide array of possibilities. The brand dominance has emblazoned that only this producers Pinot Grigio is the boiler plate of what each wine drinker ‘thinks’ Pinot Grigio should taste like. The price is easily 40-60% higher than other brands Pinot Grigio. Being a former off-premise wine marketing manager is that well known brands have ultra thin and unsustainable margins and this equally applies to on-premise establishments.

Mystification is alive and well today–go to a club warehouse and see what wines are being sold by the palet. This is a signal that consumers believe that only one brand can fulfill their needs. Consumers are reaching for wines that under deliver in value and palate experience. Cracking this wine code is not only what I do it is also what consorzi, conseil and trade associations have been doing as well. Consumer wine events unfortunately have little power to sway wine purchases to change or consider other brands (but I do believe that ‘tasting is belivieng’ will win the day someday).

Wine Pillar #4. Not just Scores; How does it Pour

Scores and I have already touched on are automatic sales points. I have sat in the consumer seat and have had rigid and uncomfortable tastings in Sonoma and Napa in particular and the selling points are “allocations” and point scores. Allocations are not my “on” button and in fact I do find it a turn off. The need to try to reach my emotional connection that a wine is exclusive and available to me and a few others is a weak sales strategy. I do understand that this is how some people feel about wine and the allocation perspectives keeps some people hooked. There are thousands and thousands of brands producing stellar wines and you do not have to join or be part of an allocation to acquire.

In the off-premise world a point score of 88 points and above is considered the minimum threshold to post a wine point score. While I do advocate that one not only buy on point scores alone I also am skeptical of those reviewers who give a higher than bell curve average of points scores and often issue 98, 99 or 100 point scores routinely. Those that give this give it to a predictable set of producers. I have reviewed the thousands of my point scores and I have given and what feel are within bell curve pattern–I am comfortable that my average score is not some number like 97 points because that would render my ratings useless. My scores have always been about discipline and again price and brand agnostic.

There, unfortunately, is not a one site that lists all point scores for all wines and it would be nice to see that. Yes, some online wine retailers list some but key word is “some” not all. I do think point scores will be what help a person decide on say a 94 and 95 Point Champagne (as an example) and the decision has been made. I am more aware that consumers are increasing looking at wine in terms of several key areas: sustainable, biodynamic and vegan friendliness.

I do think the next frontier for consumers is the front and back labels with more data points about the wine in the bottle.

Wine Pillar #5. Staying Away from Trends

I remember my wine marketing days where the topic was “what is the latest trend in wine.”  

“Ughhhh” to quote a Peanuts character and I said to myself  “not that topic again.”  I did explain that only following trends is not good for business–time and again I used data to help drive the point that margins and profitability were hurt when only following trends and not having a singular point of view and retailing authorship.  

Trends and fades in the wine world are simply exhausting and do not tell the full story of wine.  A wine retailers invests in stock keeping units (SKUs) at the expense of margin to sell “a whole bunch” but what they sold often doesn’t help the store in terms of profit instead it takes other non-trend wines to pay to keep the lights in that store.

I am not sure why wines need to be trended–it is never good for both consumer and retailer. Why is it bad? Grape varieties have been uprooted to say in Napa Valley to plant Cabernet and remove a vineyard with mixed black grapes, Grenache, Zinfandel or other varieties. I am not saying that Cabernet is a trend but i do think we wine appreciators do look back and wish a region like Napa Valley had kept some of what was originally there. Yes, you can find Napa Valley Grenache or Zin but it is rare and getting rarer year over year.

I have lost track of how many trends we have seen: Malbec, Moscato, low sugar, low alcohol. I do think he wine pendulum should do less swinging and be more centered and perhaps we could stop using the word pendulum.

Wine demystification and wine appreciation is needed now. And I do think the greater community of wine writers do aim for that. I do think there is a lot of reporting and reviewing and in doing so has not changed the dialogue or perhaps gathered the interest of readers. Yes, there are some popular wine writers but the many people who imbibe in wine have not started down the journey of wine demystification.

I do think wine demystification can begin on the wine label itself and more data points is a good thing not a bad thing. I do think demystification is a journey and a long haul but it is a long haul worth doing.

Santé,


James

© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Family Winemakers 2021- August 22, 2021

(Image courtesy of Family Winemakers)

The last time I attended which feels like a lifetime ago was in 2019 – the previous decade. I took this photo in this nice space in San Francisco’s Dog Patch district.

I had to compare and contrast a glass looking through Rosé coloured wine glass and those holding promise to be filled. It was last decade and it feels like it. But it is the hope to taste from family and independent producers – Family Winemakers represents a yearly event of tasting all varieties and all styles under the California sun.

I am relieved to see that in 2021 there will be a wine event in San Francisco. It is a yearly event except last year for both trade and consumer. The event will be held at the Midway 900 Marin Street in San Francisco on Sunday, August 22. I have attended for over a decade. There will be 65 producers in total representing known and not often poured regions at a San Francisco wine event. At minimum there will be at least 280+ wines and 40 different varieties to taste. I desire to taste every wine every year which is a near impossibility. But what I do get to taste and it is usually 5-6 dozen (and yes I spit) is more than I got to taste during one event. Wine events for me represent and opportunity to experience wines in ways that I could not during the pandemic period when no wine events took place.

While the pandemic saw many producers increase their DTC but a rising tide lifts some and not all boats. Smaller producers had to readjust their channels last year and the same maybe what has happened thus far this year. Family producers are always challenged in the best of years to come to the market place with the best of wines and this year is no exception. I do think this year will be extra special and I will be delighted to have my foot in place and being able to talk with producers that I know and producers that I have yet to meet.

Family Winemakers of California annual tasting is easily one of the best tasting to attend in any year not just in California but anywhere.

More information on attending FWC21

Santé,

James


James

© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Second Quarter 2021 Reviews

Second quarter 2021 is showing much more optimism that had been absent for the past year. Optimism to travel and to seeing family and friends, be in public spaces and dining out.

And to enjoy sparkling wine–yes–there is a different perspective on sparkling wine in the US say compared to the UK. In the good category is that people in the US are finding a reason to enjoy sparkling but in the not so good category is that sparkling wine is still an ‘occasion only’ wine. Sparkling wine has not made it past as a normalised wine drinking experience. I don’t wait for a special occasion; I enjoy a glass once weekly. I cannot imagine subjugating sparkling wine as something you might drink once/twice a year? So it is not uncommon and, in fact, that is how people enjoy sparkling wine in the US. And yes there are people who enjoy a bottle more frequently but those people are certainly not in the majority of sparkling wine consumers.

I have seen a few wine events announced but it is still a trickle. I do think wine event producers want to start having wine events sooner rather than later. While there is a pent up demand the wine event we have seen in the past I believe will change considerably. I hope we are in a pattern of being in public wine event recovery but at the time of this writing.

I do think traditional wine event cities that have hosted trade and consumer wine events will be fewer. On premise, while it is showing sales increases it is no where near 2019 in terms of sales but perhaps it might be by EOY. Regardless trade events will come back to some US cities but I do expect a change in how often and where a region will visit–certainly I doubt we will see the grand tours of the past.


I have seen many Somms leave the trade and some have left because simply they lost their job during the pandemic. Being a Somm has meant challenging compensation (in the best of times) and yet having to dress as if you made much more income. Some left the trade as being exhausted by a demanding role with few benefits and challenging compensation. I did a survey which had just a few responses but what was selected for leaving the trade was ‘compensation/benefits’. And the hours of weekends and evenings is hard for many people to balance a family life. If the survey had more respondents I am sure it would look similar to this below:


Luxury Napa Valley Wine Tastings

Napa Valley’s super luxury tastings came out in the #surprising and yet #notsurprising departments. Napa’s $500-$750 per person (PP) tastings, taking flight in a bi-wing plane and Baccarat glasses, etc. caught a lot of attention this quarter. I use to think $125 per person tastings as expensive!

I am not sure what one would get from spending $500-750 PP in that tasting to be compelled to pay that price?

One could enjoy a fine, fine dinner for way under $500 a person. I also think of this as my personal Burberry Index – this is the cost of a Burberry Trench Coat divided by the cost of an object or experience (to put costs into perspective). The $750 PP tasting at Theorem Vineyards is 1/3 cost of a Burberry trench coat?! I guess you can relish the memory of a tasting but I might relish a coat that I will always have. And, of course, for those who can afford it may not think in those terms. But the cost of something tangible versus something that goes as quickly as it comes can highlight the cost of expensive. You can create your own index and do the math for what experiences cost. Is this a fade at this point? NO. Napa Valley expensive tasting fees are here to stay and I think what will happen is the creeping of tasting fees will be a minimum of $100-$125/PP for many tasting rooms. And I do think the soon to be former $125/PP tastings will move upward to $175-$200/PP shortly–this is way beyond simple inflation. But I do think there are limits–we will see.

Until next quarter – I hope you have a wonderful summer with your family and friends and enjoying being out and about in the world.

Santé, James

Here are the wines I tasted this quarter:

Cartuxa EA Vinho Regional Alentejano 2018

‘This wine is a composition of Aragonez 35%, Trincadeira 30%, Alicante Bouschet 20%, and Syrah 15%. ABV 13.5% ABV – SRP: $9.00

Nose: Underbrush in autumnal forest, Boysenberry, black cherry, suede, lavender, and freshly ground spices.

Palate: Black cherry, clove, white pepper and Thyme

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Adega de Borba Premium Alentejo DOC Red Wine 2018

This wine is a composition of Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon (the tech sheet doesn’t list it and the back label has a portion where it is not legible to read the breakdown). This is a 14% ABV wine and a very nice SRP of $15 and it spends six months in The wine aged for six months in a combination of French, American oak and chestnut barrels.

Nose: Cassis, blackberry, clove, suede, dense forest and purple flowers

Palate: Black cherry, red pepper, violets and freshly ground spices

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Herdade do Rocim Amphora Alentejo DOC Tinto 2019

This wine assembles Moreto 50%, Tinta Grossa 30%, Trincadeira 15%, and Aragonez 5%. I routinely drink wines consisting of Trincadeira and Aragonez from Portugal and rarely do I ever get to taste Moreto or Tinta Grossa–a very nice experience. The SRP is $18. As the name might suggest ‘Amphora’ this wine is vinified in clay pots and indigenous yeast is utilised. 13% ABV. All around the wine to me represents a marked difference of wines from this specific area in Portugal but a very nice approach to winemaking style and it certainly comes out that way in the glass.

Nose: Red fruit, suedey, forest floor, wood pile and crushed dried flower petals.

Palate: Black cherry, blackberry – Bordeaux-esque in terms of its lovely herbaceous character, hit of chocolate powder, white pepper and red floral notes.



Roaming Dog Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

This wine is Cabernet Sauvignon 88%, Malbec 11% and Merlot 1%; This wine is aged in tank and barrel aged for 18 months and a $15 price point.

Nose: Blackberry, freshly ground spices and dried flower petals.

Palate: Black cherry, freshly ground clove and pepper, violets and Thyme.


Video Reviews

Santé,

James

© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Mother’s Days Wines and Beyond

President Wilson Mother’s Day proclamation made it is holiday that is now observed in the US each May. I certainly think it is a great day to have one day out of the year focused on mothers. I do hope and I feel many people celebrate their mother on this day and many other days as well.

I do hope it is an opportunity to celebrate with food and wine (if your mother does enjoy wine). A great way to highlight mom is to celebrate with a nice meal, perhaps a picnic where you surprise the mom in your life, or a BBQ or even dining out. So as long as mom is the celebrant and is not cooking or cleaning but is being treated to a special experience. Any why not add a few nice touches like a few wines I am suggesting below:


Château de la Ragotière Les Vieieles Vignes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie

This producer is owned by Amélie Dugué-Couillaud. This wine is a delight to palate and spirit. A wine that is completely approachable and appreciable from first sip to finish. This wine is 100% Melon de Bourgogne and has a definitive connection to the Atlantic. This wine has contact with lees for 10 months which give an uplift of sophistication and elegance. This wine possess a super low ABV of 12%.

Nose: fresh wine, highly nuanced notes of passion fruit, Kiwi fruit, moist stones and fresh flowers.

Palate: appreciable weight and body, initially it seems there would be effervescence but there are no bubbles whatsoever–a clean, crisp wine with expressive notes of oyster shell, green apple, Bosc pear, and beeswax.

Pairing: triple-crème cheeses, oysters, roasted chicken, vegetarian white pizza and much more.

A completely reasonable Suggested Retail Price (SRP) of $17.99




Lievland Old Vine Paarl Chenin Blanc 2020 

I love Chenin Blanc and South African has been doing a very good job of producing delightful Chenin Blanc year over year. I am found of this producer and have recently tasted their Pinotage which is superbly produced. As I understand it this producer was the first to have a female winemaker in South Africa which extends with their current Assistant Winemaker Mahalia Kotjane.

What a very enduring and memorable label – the label depicts an orphaned Bokkie (a small antelope) which was adopted by the farms two horses – a touching label with the cupid on top of the Bokkie.

This producer is a seventh generation family wine producer – Briers-Lauw Family and they have been in South African since 1693. I understand that this wine is all dry farmed and one third of this is sourced from their 1976 planting of Chenin Blanc. This producer is sustainable and certified by IPW (Integrated Production of Wine). I am a fan of Chenin Blanc – a wine with the weight that is appreciable and a wine filled with character and delight.

Nose: rich with lovely minerality, yellow citrus zest, and fleshy Comice pear.

Palate: is appreciable and certainly dry–there is a moment when you are beginning the palate journey that you might expect a hint of sweetness then the full palate exposure informs of dryness. The palate notes are Granny Smith green apple, green pear, and oyster shell imparting salinity and minerality.

Pairing: aged Gouda, white pasta dishes, Salmon, Branzino and much more.

SRP of $18.99


Marqués de Cáceres Rueda Verdejo 2020

A high quality producer owned and operated by Cristina Forner. This producer certainly known for their Rioja wines and are also producing this stellar wine from Rueda. The wine variety of Verdejo is easy to like on many fronts–the palate will thank you and the price point of $12.99 is certainly another. This region is certainly getting more accolades and attention; it is something of an undiscovered country to be discovered.

Nose: Sauvignon Blanc-esque, notes of golden and green citrus zest, lemon curd and moisten minerals.

Palate: Amalfi lemon, crushed seashells and fennel

Pairing: Salmon cakes, shrimp, pizza with clams

SRP: $12.99


And also add a sparkling wine to the mix–I love this Crémant de Loire and endless possibilities of serving this special wine with food.


And be sure to do more than one Mother’s day per year (not including her birthday) to show mom your love and appreciation and do so without telling her it is another mother’s day and I am sure she would appreciate it.

I would also say if you are going out for Mother’s Day in May (or another date as I understand that people are still not gathering on 9-May of this year but will carve in another date) bring one or a couple wines of these wines to the restaurant you are taking her to if you will be dining out. There maybe a corkage fee but you will be bringing a special wine that she, you and everyone will also appreciate. So many restaurants have wines on their menus but they may not have these available – so why not bring one or several of these wines for a special touch!

I hope you have a wonder mother’s day on 9-May or another date you will be celebrating mom!

Cheers,

James

© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Wine Club Memberships – Strategically Manage Your Memberships

I’ll begin by saying this is not an anti-wine club article. If I was a wine producer I would have a wine club program as it is a legitimate offering of any wine producer.

These are some of the types of messages I got about people’s wine club memberships in 2020 and 2021.”

I need to reduce my club memberships

“Help–I have too many wine”

I am surprised in 2020 and 2021 that I got more of these types of messages more than ever before. There is a belief that more people drank more wine last year; more people were buying less from restaurants (on premise) and more from DTC. Also, some people and I did ask in detail more questions: ‘why were they drinking less’ or at least not drinking their wine club wines – many responses were that they had fewer special occasions. Some people felt the cost of their membership, in particular, as many wineries were closed due to the pandemic for large part of 2020 and some part of 2021 that they could not benefit from in person tastings. The wine club membership felt weighty.

Wait…fewer occasions?

Dependency on visiting a winery to feel engaged?

So many of these people felt their wine club wines were only for special occasions and hence they were collecting more wines and not drinking some of what they are collecting. Also people do excuse wine inventory build up if they feel they experience their wine club producer in person. I did ask how about attending virtual tastings their wineries offered? Interestingly, while many did attend no one opened a bottle of that producers wine up during the virtual tasting?!

But this reach out to me signifies that people are still afraid to enjoy what they buy and especially wine club wines because these are often higher bottle price points than what they buy at a wine retailer.

So there are two bookend holders for what is creating stress in wine club memberships and it is an extension of what people feel about wine in general: if you will the left book end is fearing drinking more expensive bottles of wine and the right book end is fearing too much aging on wines or perhaps fearing the wines that are past their prime.

I have suggested to people to remove these book end mindsets about wine. I’d say when I walked someone through these mindsets they didn’t know they had them or were at least conscious of them. Probably obvious but wine is to be enjoyed and not feared (there is plenty of wine out there and you can buy a new bottle to replace the last one enjoyed) and also developing an appreciation of wine by enjoying more aged wines. We are still in a mystified wine period and it is not just based on particular generation but it is all generations from my observation We are still in this conundrum and in my chief mission has been to demystify wine.

Simply if a winery club wine price points are higher than you feel comfortable drinking then why be in that particular wine club? The benefits you get from a membership may not be worth what you spend per year. One of the benefits people do enjoy is a free tasting for two or more people and yet the cost of paying for those tastings would be less than if they purchase one years worth of wine club wines. Yes, California wine tasting fees (particularly Napa and Sonoma) are expensive, very expensive; higher than Oregon, Washington and well any regions in the US and even abroad.

I have very much enjoyed the wine club memberships I have participated in and I strategically managed them and felt I got value out of them. The gratis tastings were not the driver – the whole experience is what drove me to enjoy them and maximize my experience. I engaged with special events for wine club members and I took advantage of wine club-only wine offerings and even purchased more because I thought were compelling and were important to me. Also, I let some of the wines enter into my cellars library and was very comfortable for letting my wines age. I have been comfortable with drinking what I did get in my shipments and not just for rarefied occasions. In the past, I have made a special event in my own home to enjoy it–and maybe that is with a few people for a nice dinner.

Your wine club membership should fit in with your comfort level of wine acquisitions on a per bottle cost basis.

Five Things to Think About In Acquiring Wines: write each of these down in your journal or a spreadsheet from the five points below

  1. What is your wine budget?
  2. How many bottles does your household drink per week?
  3. When do you drink your wines? Rarely, Only for Special Occasions, Routinely
  4. What is your per bottle spend that you feel comfortable in spending?
  5. Write down on a spreadsheet or in your journal your spending on wine (easy to do and I’ll show you a budget below); knowing what you are spending can help to ease your discomfort with your wine club and/or wine purchasing in general and you can make course corrections if necessary

Annual Wine Budget Example

I do not know anyone who does this. I do recommend it because it is a measure that might make you feel more comfortable or at least feel more certain about your wine purchases. In this example, this wine club consumer spend 44% of their annual wine budget in one wine club and the difference of $806 is what one has to spend for the year outside of the wine club.

Empower yourself and take strategic ownership on your memberships and by this extension this can be how you view your other annual budget items. I do this to manage my online subscriptions.


Five Strategies to Manage your Wine Club Memberships

  1. Start and stop memberships as needed: elevate club level membership level – decrease or increase quantity, styles (all reds, all whites or mixed), pausing membership for quarter, etc.
  2. Find a membership and producer with prices you feel comfortable with (review your budget match your comfort in spending to your wine club)
  3. If you are okay with more expensive wines in your club membership when do you plan on drinking them? Have a plan – write it out
  4. Be okay with engaging with what you have – create a special occasion, gift your wines as well
  5. Find comfort in laying down your wines – taste from the wine club memberships library wines – tasting aged wines and see if it fits your palate. Sometimes your wine club winery has opened up a library wine for tasting when you visit–ask them

I think if you have knowledge on how to manage your winery club wines you can make the decisions to make your purchasing more comfortable. I paused my membership on one producer and unfortunately the allotment I wanted had changed when I joined again and that can happen. If you take a break from your wine club membership you can re-start at anytime in the future. You will, of course, be welcomed back–no need for feeling guilty.

Being engaged with what you own is important and I would urge don’t “collect” wine in anticipating it will be worth a fortune in the future. But collect so that you can consume with those near and dear to you. As one of the people who reached out to me wanted to sell their wines. Most likely if they could find a place to sell their wines (auction house, retailer) they would not get the full price they paid for the wines and well why should they–the intermediary needs to make a profit as well. The wines this person had amassed was not filled with remarkable or even rare wines.

There are no expirations on wine and with that being said there are no guarantees that wines will age infinitely. Take ownership in the wines you buy insofar as feeling comfort and confidence in what you are buying–actively managing your membership and your purchases so they are in line with your budget and palate. Take control and strategically manage your wine club membership and non-wine club wine purchases to find satisfaction in what you are buying.

Santé,

James

© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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First Quarter 2021 Wine Review

The very first few weeks were quiet on the wine front and no anteprima’s to attend anywhere.  I wondered where I was going to taste the equivalency of last years wines.  Thou I have receipted wines equivalent to last year’s quantity I am still missing tasting more wines that shows/events offer.   I hope that I will get to last years numbers of wines tasted but I am doubtful that will happen.  Perhaps second half of this year will offer shows but I am doubting that they will happen.  I don’t think wine regions outside the US will present their wines in the US this year.  At the time of this writing more things are opening up across the US but I am cautious to think that this will be smooth sailing.  The covid variant is out there and while the US rates of vaccination are leading Europe but are still a long way from herd immunity.

We do need to get to herd immunity for things to truly open up again.  I am concerned that number may not be reached by those not planning on being immunized.  We may be on this permanent course of this pandemic where a percentage are vaccinated and another percentage are not.


I do anticipate that virtual wine tastings are not only not going to go away or decline – we are going to have more of them.  Simply consumers have relationships with their favourite producers and may not live in the same state and will want to maintain even a virtual connection even post-pandemic.

I did conduct a very fun wine tasting of Blanc de Blancs Champagne.  I decided after the event to complete a video as I spent much time to develop.  So why not share?  Here is the video:

 

Here are the wines I tasted this quarter:

Blackbird Arise Napa Valley Red Wine 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wine is 55% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot.  21 Months in French Oak 50% new and 50% seasoned.  14.1% ABV.  SRP: $45.

Nose: mix of blackberry and black currant, outdoorsy notes of Autumnal forest,

Palate: Blackberry confit, freshly ground spices, white pepper, and Tarragon.


Raeburn Russian River Valley Rosé 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wine is a composition of 74% Pinot Noir, 22% Zinfandel, 4% Grenache; 13.5% ABV, screw cap,  $19.99 SRP.  A lovely rosé with a pale, pale Salmon almost gris; the wine tastes like a Pinot Noir wine the Zinfandel are supporting partners and don’t overtake the Pinot Noir.

Nose: clean wine; strawberry, citrus peel and moistened minerals
Palate: mountain strawberry, dried citrus, and oyster shell.


Red Phoenix California Red Wine Blend 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wine is a blend of 75% Napa along with 25% Lodi fruit; Zinfandel 57%, Petit Verdot – 14%, Petit Sirah 12%, Syrah 7%,  Merlot 5% and Cabernet Sauvignon 5%.  Aged 24 months 60% American Oak medium toast, and 40% French Oak medium toast. 14.5% ABV and a $25 SRP

Nose: red and black bramble, cedar, suede, Thyme and red rose petals.

Palate: cassis and red bramble, pepper corn, violets and freshly ground spices.


Herdade do Esporão Alentejano Monte Velho White 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wine is Antão Vaz – 40%, Roupeiro – 40% and Perrum 20%  14% ABV, SRP $10 – an outstanding wine and such an easy price point.

Nose: Yellow citrus zest, almond, and moistened minerals.

Palate: Golden stone fruit, citrus, almond and crushed sea shell.


Herdade do Esporão Alentejano Monte Velho Red 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aragonez – 40%, Trincadeira – 35%, Touriga Nacional – 20%  and Syrah – 5%.  13.5% ABV, SRP $10 – an outstanding wine and such an easy price point.

Nose: Early season red cherry, spice rack and dried wood pile.

Palate: Cassis and red bramble, baking spices and fresh Taragon.


Mosketto Mosto D’Uva White

Nose: pear, apple, Asian pear

Palate:Pear, green apple, and beeswax 

Mosketto Mosto D’Uva Sweet Pink

Nose: Strawberry and cherry

Palate: Rainier cherry and apricot

Mosketto Mosto D’Uva Red NV

Nose of Cherry confit and cassis

Palate: black cherry, red plum

 

These are low ABV wines of 5% for white and pink wines and the red wine has an ABV of 5.5% and with a slight effervescence.  These wine have partially fermented grape juice.  The SRP is $12.00 per each wine.

Score for each wine:


Video Reviews

 


Until next quarter–I hope you have a wonderful wine tasting experience soon!

Santé,

James

© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Alentejano, Alentejo, Arroyo Grande Valley, Blaufränkisch, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Dundee Hills, Etna, Lodi, Low Alcohol, Nero d'Avola, Paso Robles, Pinot Noir, Portugal, Portuguese Wine, Red Blend, Red Wine Blend, Rheingau, Russian River, Sant'Antimo DOC, Santa Rita Hills, Sicily/Sicilia, Taurasi DOCG, Yakima Valley, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

Don’t Buy Wine Just from One Online Wine Retailer: Consider Small Retailers and Producers Directly

I am constantly asked for wine recommendations.

I have noticed recently that those that are asking but requesting only from one wine retailer’s site–they are asking because of their shipping commitment with one wine retailer.  Sometimes, but rarely so, does that one website have wines that I would recommend.  I do point out that not all wines will ever be on that site and that keeping an open mind can help a small, medium-sized and independent producer and wine retailer.  They are insistent that I only pick from that particular website and I always come back with additional wines that are not on that site.

First that site will not always be able to have an assortment of all available wines in the US. There is a limited shelf space even for online wine retailers – simply because most wines are quite limited.  And maintaining webpages and back end inventory systems for a specific SKU is time consuming–yes even now.

I also recommend a physical wine retailer in their area for purchasing wine and I suggest they visit perhaps once a month or quarterly if they are time starved.  While even a physical retailer will have limited shelf space the opportunity for organic discovery is compelling that no online wine retailer customer experience can ever match.

Small and medium sized wine producers certainly want to build their house DTC program and sometimes they do offer shipping deals and sometimes they do not.  I find satisfaction that I have been part of an effort to bolster a small and medium sized wine producer by buying direct shipping deal or not.  I do not want only one place to buy wine from in the future.  My advocacy is for import wines as well.  The requests are not just for US wines but all wine regions and I do think even import wines can be purchased DTC from importer (depends on state) and from small independent wine retailer’s websites. Supporting all wine retailers online and brick and mortar can keep the pipeline of optimum selection available.

Prices from that one monolith online wine store are not always optimum either. I have done a lot of comparison shopping and find lower prices at smaller DTC wine retailers which are most often a brick and mortar wine retailer.

So it does take me time to assemble a list which, of course, I do free of charge.  I do include wines found at other wine retailers or from the producer directly and urge purchasing from those sources if superior to what I have found on that one wine retailers website.
While there seems to be a sense that this wine retailer is rocketing year-over-year there are limits of the growth of 2020 moving forward.  Growth yes, of course, but at the 2020 percentage growth rate for that one particular online wine retailer will not repeat the growth rate this year (2021).  I do think some producers and importers will find their avenues to distribute their wines online in the future at a greater rate.  And, of course, competition being what it is will only increase for share of wallet for wine purchases and keep the potential for selection at an optimum.

Santé,

James

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in DTC, Wine Buying, Wine Distribution | 1 Comment

My Artwork and Your Wine Label? Take a Peek

My art work is contemporary, often non-representational works.  I am fascinated by approximating mathematical models and other inspiration from science and nature in my drawings and paintings.  I am not going to leave it to guess work and hence writing to see if there are any wine producers looking for art work for their wine label–perhaps a special cuvée?

Here are a very few of my artworks -I have many more – you can ask for colour or theme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would love to have an art work help to promote your wine by a label that is as distinct as your wine.  It is my goal to find a winery to partner with.  If you are a wine producer and are interested or if you know of a wine producer that might be interested please let me know.

Please contact me – james.melendez@jamesthewineguy.com

Thank you and regards!

Santé,

James

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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December 2020 Wine & Spirits Reviews

Here are the wines and two spirits I have reviewed this month.  December is the busiest month of the year on so many levels: I completed my annual top 100 wines which takes more than what one might expect.

Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez


Blackbird Dissonance Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pale, pale straw color; 14.X% ABV, SRP: $20

Nose: bright citrus tones, white stone fruit, moistened minerals, and white flowers.

Palate: Meyer lemon citrus zest, hint of fennel and oyster shell

An appreciable Sauvignon Blanc that will be optimum for seafood, white pizza and white sauce pasta cheese, and rotisserie chicken

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Esporão Alentejo Reserva Red Wine 2016 93 Points

This wine is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet; ABV is 14.5%; the SRP is $24.99.  The wine is aged 12 months in American 60% and American and 40% French oak.  Dark ruby colour.

Notes: red cherry, suedey/leathery notes; fresh crushed spices and violets

Palate: rich red cherry, pepper, allspice and crushed dried red rose petal

I served this with pork loin and this wine completed the dish and neither losing their robust and rich flavours.


Aerena North Coast Chardonnay 2019

 

 

 

 

 

I like the art work is by artist Tony Hernandez this is title “Conversations in Yellow.”

This wine is produced by Blackbird. Nose of apple, Comice pear, honeysuckle, and nutmeg and a palate of green apple, spice, and moist stones.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Raeburn Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2019 92

14.5% ABV, SRP: $19.99; 150,000 case produced, winemaker: Joe Tapparo

Nose: Comice pear, autumnal fruit, orchard, moist stones and ground nutmeg

Palate of autumnal fruit – Comice pear/green apple, sea shell, flowers and nutmeg


 

 

 

 

 

Raeburn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019 

14.5% ABV, SRP: $24.99; 20,000 case produced, winemaker: Joe Tapparo

Wine is aged 11 months French oak barrels, 25% new.

Nose: blackberry, pepper, wood pile and violets

Palate: cassis, pepper, graphite and rose petals.


Battuello Vineyards St. Helena Napa Valley Valdiguié 2018

 

 

 

 

 

Light-medium bodied wine; mid garnet coloration,

Nose: Black cherry, dense forest, underbrush, spice rack and violets.

Palate: boysenberry, pomegranite, pepper, clove and Cardamom


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Battuello Vineyards St. Helena Napa Valley Valdiguié Rosé 2019

Pale salmon color, slight frizzante.

Nose: Lemon peel, strawberry, crushed minerals and flower bunch

Palate: crushed red candy, cherry, almond, and flower


 

 

 

 

 

Il Bastardo IGT Sangiovese 89 Points

SRP: $8.99; 13% ABV, 100% Sangiovese, Dark garnet color.

Nose: red currant, spice, red floral and pepper

Palate: black cherry, fennel, pepper and cardamom.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Eden Red Blend 2018 90 Points

This is a blend of Saperavi and other grapes from Georgia.  It had been quite sometime since I have tasted a Georgian wine.  Vitreous ruby red colour.

Nose: bright red cherry, spice, winter forest, violets.

Palate: fresh red cherry, strawberry, dried red flowers, and simmering spice notes.


 

 

 

 

 

Domaine Bousquet Pinot Noir/Chardonnay Mendoza Brut NV 91 Points

Sparkling wine from organic grapes.  75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay; Dosage 12 g/L, 12% ABV.  SRP: $13

Nose of strawberry, citrus zest, and flowers.

Palate: mountain strawberry, almond and moistened minerals.



I hope you had a wonderful wine and spirits month!

Santé,

James

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Aleatico, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Argentina, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, Rep. of Georgia, Sangiovese, Saperavi, Sauvignon Blanc, Sparkling, Toscana IGT, Valdiguié | Leave a comment

Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

Yes, 2020 was a year that we will always be remembered or a year we will always want to forget!  I also try to capture as many wines before publishing my top 100 – some wine reviewers publish in October—not sure why anyone feels the need to do that?  Declaring a top 100 list is not a race but a collection of great experiences best shared when you can taste from January to December not January to August or October but a full 12 months worth of tasting experiences.

I cannot believe I was in Europa this year – I was fortunate to visit Alba, Italy this year to attend Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  It was a delight to taste the wines of the Langhe and tasting was a glorious in-depth experience.  Looking at beginning of the year was so different that it is today.  I was looking forward to so much including tasting more wines.

This year I did taste a lot of wines and attended four events in addition to the Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  I attended Tre Bicchieri, Great Wines of Italy, Oregon Wine Trail, and Milano Wine Week in San Francisco.   Additionally, I attended singular brands on zoom also Consorzio and other wine events.  I had never attended more online virtual tasting as I had said in past videos and podcasts–I thought there would never be anymore virtual tastings post 2019–I was wrong.


Italy and Italian wines were on fire in 2020.  Conzorzio, wine producers and US importers were firing on all cylinders.  I tasted more Langhe’s wines this year than all years before–also, I tasted DOC/DOCG and IGT wines from many known and those that need to be known – Alta Langa DOCG, Lugana, and Buttafuoco and others.

I tasted almost no wines from Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece, Eastern Europe and the new world was nearly absent except from Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona from tasting from producers or trade associations.  Since travel was limited I was only able to get to Napa and Sonoma four times this year which would have been 3-4x more.

Wine events and traveling to wine regions is essential to get an in-depth experience so I was very limited this year but can still stand by my top 100 wines.   I always begin with a preamble I don’t believe in naming a ‘wine of the year’–that I would find to be sacrilegious.  So I don’t get or pretend to understand why a wine writer or publication would do that.  Look at Wine Spectator’s Top 100 has wine scores that are all over the map and yet to create an ascendancy of wines and to think about a wine that is “number 1” is to call obviously one brand to the number one position and by that extension means that standing goes to the region and variety….  I don’t agree with such an assessment and not only do I know agree it simply doesn’t make any sense.  Wine Spectator named Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial as number 1 wine of the year – so why isn’t the highest rated wine not the number 1 wine: an Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére was one of 5 wine with 97 points not number 1?  There really isn’t a great explanation for it.

My top 100 is not about number 1 being number 1 it is a list that is in alphabetical order.  It is a list of top 100 but a selection of wines of excellence and impression in beauty.  I am not creating a list of hierarchy or a descending order list.  My top 100 is about giving a list of beautiful wines and no hierarchy – you might interpret that the highest score is the “best” wine but I caution against that.  I would say that the score represent a score of the wine’s region, variety and vintage and can be compared with other wines from the same variety, vintage and region and cross comparing regions, vintages or variety is not my intention.

I hope you find this top 100 wine list of 2020 valuable and insightful!

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Adami “Col Credas” Valdobbiadene DOCG Rive Di Farra Di Soligo Brut 2019 94 Points
Alloro Estate Chehalem Mountain Riservata Estate Pinot Noir 2018 – 95 Points
Aridus Barrel Select California Chardonnay 2015 94 Points
August Kesseler The Daily August Rheingau Pinot Noir 2018 94 Points
Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015 95 Points
Barone Ricasoli Roncicone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 97 Points
Bava Barolo DOCG Scarrone 2012 94 Points
Beni di Batasiolo Barolo Riserva DOCG 2012 94 Points
Bera Alta Langa Brut DOCG 2013 95 Points
Bera Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 94 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 95 Points
Boroli Cerequio Barolo DOCG 2013 95 Points
Brezza Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC Vigna Santa Rosalia 2017 94 Points
Bricco Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Vigna Vigia 2016 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barolo DOCG Contain Del Commune di Diano d’Alba 94 Points
Calla Lily AUDAX Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’15 – 95 Points
Calvi Vigna Montarzolo Buttafuoco 2015 94 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Badiòla Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Siepi Toscana IGT 2018 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Vicoreggio 36 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Verduno Campot Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV – 95 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV 95 Points
Château Bianca Van Duzer Corridor Pinot Gris 2018 94 Points
Château Climens Asphodèle Grand Vin Blanc Sec 2019 94 Points
Claudio Alario Barbera D’Alba DOC Valletta 2017 94 Points
Colli Vaibò Lugana DOC 2018 94 Points
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 94 Points
Costa di Bussia Tenuta Arnulfo Barbera d’Alba DOC Vigna Campo del Gatto 2017 94 Points
Cowhorn Sentience Estate Applegate Valley Syrah 2015 94 Points
Curto Marco Barolo Riserva DOCG La Foia Arborina 2013 94 Points
Diego Morra Barbera d’Alba DOC 2016 94 Points
Domaine Matrot Maranges Vieilles Vignes 2017 94 Points
Domaine Xavier & Agnès Amirault Crémant de Loire Les Quarterons NV 94 Points
Donnachiara Taurasi DOGC 2016 94 Points
Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Sicilia DOC Rosato 2019 – 94 Points Episode #2930
Donnafugata Fragore Etna Rosso DOC Contrada Montelaguardia 2016 – 95 Points
Donnafugata Passito di Pantalleria DOC Ben Ryé ’17 95 Points
Fratelli Alessandra Verduno Pelaverga DOC 2018 94 Points
Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Cannubi Riserva Barolo DOCG 2005 95 Points
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Coste e Fosati 2018 94 Points
Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vyd Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Gary Farrell Ft. Ross Vineyard Ft. Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Ghiomo Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC Ruit Hora 2017 94 Points
Ghiomo Nebbiolo d’Alba Superiore DOC Sansteu 2017 94 Points
Girard Napa Valley Mixed Blacks ’18 – 95 Points
Giuseppe Cortese Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Hawk & Horse Red Hills Lake County Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 95 Points
Icardi Starderi Barbaresco DOCG Starderi 95 Points
Josetta Saffirio Barolo Riserva DOCG Millenovento 48 Del Commune di Monteforte d’Alba 2014 94 Points
Kunde Reserve Century Vines Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ’17 95 Points
La Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
LAN Culmen Rioja Reserva 2011 94 Points
Le Cadeau Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2017 94 Points
Le Colture Valdobbiadene DOCG Spumante Superiore di Cartizze 2019 95 Points
Lenné Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay 2018 95 Points
Malabaila Pas Dosè VSQ Metodo Classico 94 Points
Malabaila Pradvaj Roero Arneis DOCG 2018 94 Points
Marcarini Barolo DOCG Brunate 2015 95 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Dolcetto D’Alba DOC Monte Aribaldo 2018 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 1971 98 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 2005 97 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Langhe Virtus Rosso 2009 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Villa Giulia Bianco 2018 94 Points
Marsuret Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut Rive di Guia 2019 94 Points
Masottina RDO Le Rive Di Ogliano Prosecco Extra Dry 2019 – 94 Points
Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG Gallinotto Berri 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Centobricchi 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2016 94 Points
Michele Chiarolo Cerequioi Barolo DOCG 2015 95 Points
Moccagatta Barbaresco DOCG Bric Balin 2012 95 Points
Montonale Montunal Lugana DOC 2018 – 95 Points
Negro Angelo Barbaresco DOCG Basarin 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Barolo DOCG Baudana 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Roero Riserva Ciabot San Giorgio 2016 94 Points
Pace Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC 2016 94 Points
Pace Langhe DOC Pinot Nero 2017 94 Points
Palladino Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC 2018
Peccheinino Bricco Botti Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore DOCG 2016 94 Points
Pelassa Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo di Verduno 2015 95 Points
Perrone Fabio Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Perrone Fabio Langhe DOC Nebbiolo Vigna Ciabot 2017 94 Points
Pietro Colla Extra Brut Spumante VSQ Metodo Classico Millesimato 2016 94 Points
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Barolo 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Piodilei Langhe DOC Chardonnay 207 95 Points
Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo DOCG 2004 96 Points
Sassetti Livio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Pertimali 2004 96 Points
Selva Capuzza Minasso Lugana DOC Riserva ’15 95 Points
Silas Eola-Amith Hills Pinot Blanc 2016 94 Points
Tenuta di Fessina a’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2017 95 Points
Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rosato DOC 2018 94 Points
The Eyrie Vineyard Dundee Hills Trousseau 2017
Val D’Oca Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 94 Points
Valdinera Roero Riserva DOCG San Carlo 2016 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Marlboroguh Sauvignon Blanc 2019 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 94 Points

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Santé,

James

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Posted in Aglianico, Arneis, Barbera, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Chardonnay, DOC Etna, Dolcetto, Etna, Lake County, Lugana, Marlborough, Napa Valley, Nebbiolo, Pantelleria, Pinot Noir, Roero, Santa Maria Valley, Taurasi DOCG, Top 100 Wines, Uncategorized | 3 Comments