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Month December 2008

James the Wine Guy Champagne Picks for New Years – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Champagne and sparkling wine is a wondrous thing; in fact so wondrous that it should be enjoyed more than just once a year.  I do think there are plenty of occasions beyond New Years; there are birthdays, anniversaries, because it’s Wednesdays or as a weekly treat; an homage to life and your enjoyment of the simple pleasures.  This doesn’t mean you need to drink an expensive Champagne or sparkling wine.  In fact, your enjoyment should come from a broad range of Champagne or sparkling wine–there is a wide world out of superb sparkling wine and Champagnes today.

And for New Years, I do like to have an exceptional bottle of Champagne; I prefer to always have Champagne on this occasion and I want a wine that only Champagne can deliver.  I do find Champagnes in general to be dryer and have a wonderful bread toast – Brioche, cream, subtle spice and tropical fruit; Champagne being the most northerly sparkling wine zone produces wines that are zesty and acidic; rarely watery.  The vibrancy of dryness and the fine art of blending wines brings complexity an consistency in a world where consistency is only possible on a vintage year not every year.

Celebrate the past but brighten your 2009 with sparkle and generous continuous bubbles.  Here are my recommendations for this New Years eve which you will notice have some fun and lesser known Champagne houses and all are non-vintage to hone in on what are good values and not breaking the bank.  Also a good way to discover an excellent wine that you might not have had before:

– Ayala Brut Majeur NV

Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne NV

– Bruno Paillard Brut Première Cuvée NV

– Canard-Duchêne Brut Champagne NV

– Deutz Brut Classic Champagne NV

– Charles Ellner Brut Champagne Cart d’Or NV

– Alfred Gratien Brut Champagne N.V.

– Heidsieck & Co. Monople Brut Champagne Blue Top NV

– George Vesselle Brut NV

Happy Holidays,

James the Wine Guy

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

James the Wine Guy 2008 Top 25 Wines – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

James the Wine Guy 2008 Top 25 Wine Picks

I tasted many wines this year; I am still going through my notes to get the firm number that I tasted – this year probably over a couple of thousand.  But there were several that seemed to call out a uniqueness; a special quality that differs them from their brethren varietals or appellations.  It is a dash of terroir, wine making skills and perhaps some time on the bottle for a few but there is a marked difference.  Many of the wines are a current release or at least within 10 years.  What was noticeable this year was that Alsace is sterling, dependable and still a bargain with currency flux.  I had to seek all the wines I tried this year and to find unique and outstanding wines.  Through the myriad and complexity of the wine trade it is tough to find excellence; easy to just find wine if that is your intended goal.

An example of seeking outstanding wines is nearly accidental; I was on Silverado Trail and decided to pull into Baldacci Vineyards; compared to the other wineries on Silverado Trail it is not an architectural marvel; in fact, the tasting counter is relatively high and quite small.  There was a close out on their Carneros Merlot and I do think that Carneros Merlots are coming of age—it was a gamble but not much of a gamble when the price point was low—I paid under $15 and I only wished that I picked up a case.

There are outstanding wines that are landing on shore from places that are not top of mind.  Portugal’s non-fortified wines are terribly under-recognized. I have written that Portugal is the un-discovered wine country and still waiting to be discovered.  Many of the Portuguese wines utilize native grapes or grapes that go by a different name in Portugal than say Spain.  I think at some point these varietals will be de-mystified.

While 2008 is a year of turmoil and trouble it is a year that screamed for change.  But at days end we want to sit down to an outstanding meal with our friends and family and seal that meal with an incredible wine so that we may renew our outlooks and passion for life and say despite the toughness it was all worth it.  Wine is our social pizza and taking a “slice” and sharing is one of life’s great joys.

1.    Anglim Paso Robles Roussanne – 2006 – 9.1 –
2.    Baldacci IV Sons Carneros Merlot – 2002 – 9.0
3.    Barlow Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 2004 – 9.2
4.    Baron di Paolo Enosi Dolomitti Alto Adige – 2006 – 9.0 –
5.    Brander Au Natural Santa Ynez Sauvignon Blanc – 2001 – 9.2 –
6.    Callabriga Reserva Douro – 2004 – 9.1 (Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional)
7.    Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Franc – 2004 – 9.1
8.    Clos de los Siete Mendoza Red Blend – 2006 – 9.
9.    Dios Baco Pedro Ximenez – 9.4
10.    Ecluse Lock Vineyard Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – 2005 – 9.1
11.    The Eyrie Vineyards Dundee Hills Pinot Gris Estate Estate – 2006 – 9.1
12.    Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Hirsch Vineyard – 2006 – 9.3
13.    Ft. Ross Ft. Ross Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Reserve – 2004 – 9.2
14.    Herdade Dos Grous Alentejo Reserva – 2006 – 9.1 (Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Touriga Nacional)
15.    James Cole Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 2004 – 9.1
16.    Laird Family Diamond Mountain Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon – 2003 – 9.1
17.    Melville Santa Rita Hills Clone 76 Chardonnay – 2005 – 9.2
18.    Merry Edwards Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 9.1 – 2006
19.    Bodega Mendel Mendoza Malbec- 2005 – 9.0
20.    Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs Champagne Vintage – 2000 – 9.4 –
21.    Domaine Roland Schmitt Alsace Pinot Gris – 2006 – 9.2
22.    Tenuta Rocca Nebbiolo d’Alba Vigna Sorì Ornati – 2004 – 9.0
23.    Trimbach Alsace Pinot Blanc – 2006 – 9.0
24.    Two Hands Angel’s Share McLaren Vale Shiraz – 2006 – 9.1
25.    W.H. Smith Marimar Estate Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 2006 – 9.4

Happy Holidays,

James the Wine Guy

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Lucien Albrecht Cuvee Balthazar Alsace Pinot Blanc – 2007 – 8.2 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

This Pinot Blanc gives notes of white nectarine, pitted fruit, crushed almond and hint of fennel– a disappointment was that this bottle had a non-cork closure.

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars ARTEMIS Napa Valley – 2006 – 8.8 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

A Cabernet Sauvignon with a slight amount of Merlot; a wine with very thick red-black fruit; winter simmering spices; orchard wood and cigar box.

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Rancho Chimiles Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc – 2006 – 8.7 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

This Sauvignon Blanc is abundant in essence of star fruit, green apple,, crush almond, and Bosc pear.  Highly acidic and a wonderful thing to enjoy with seafood.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Bollinger Champagne Brut Rosé NV – 9.2 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I yearn for Brut Rosé–it is simply a wondrous wine that I look forward to each time I have it.  I try to not make it a special occasion wine but a wine that should be enjoyed frequently.  J’adore le grande marque Bollinger but I put aside my liking for a rational look at this particular wine–it is a bit irrelational–irrelational exhuberance.  At over $100/bottle I stop adoring this wine– it is a non-vintage; understood there is limited supply but I do not feel compelled to buy this wine nor do I feel left out.  I feel there are options without breaking the bank.

This wine exhibits Brioche, wild strawberry, slight black pepper, red pear and violet.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Bollinger Special Cuvée Champagne N.V. – 9.2 – James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez

Despite it’s popularity I still really look forward to each bottle of Bollinger.  This cuvée continues to increase in it’s retail price point but the quality still shines through.

This wine presents with crisp and zesty acids; Citron rind, Comice pear, and freshly baked bread; a dryness that excels with food and as a stand-alone wine.  Delicate and no doubt an easy glass lifting wine.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Benziger Sonoma County Merlot – 2005 – 8.7 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

This wine with formidable tannins presents Boysenberry coulis, graphite, cedar and vanilla.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Bodegas Palacio Rioja Glorioso Reserva – 2004 – 8.9 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

A balanced wine with the a seamless relationship between acid, fruit, alcohol and tannin; mid-red fruit washed with gorgeous spice of ground allspice and cinnamon and a gentle fennel finish.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Bruno Rocca Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Trifole – 2006 – 8.9 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Another adventure in high acid; a senses delight with dark red berried fruit, rose petal, cinnamon and winter wood.

¡Salud!

***

A plethora of wine reviews from wines regions around the world. Read more of my wine reviews: jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2008 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez – All Rights Reserved.  James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy