Elegant & Pretty
These are wines that play well with others, and oft en work exceptionally well at the dinner table.
Cave des Vignerons Saumur Champigny
Lively and delicate, this wine offers a laser-like concentration of flavors. If one could reflect tart cherry and lingonberry into a laser beam and cut through granite and coriander seeds, well, you would have a glass of this wine.
Sella and Mosca Terrerare Riserva
A show-stopper of wine, it offers a delicate array of varietal flavors and scents (lavender, tar, and kirsch) but also the complexity of a flower and the edge of mineral: a beautiful wine and one of the most undervalued wines I have ever seen.
These two wines remind me of why California is such a great wine region.
Byron Wente Clone Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
More evidence of the quality explosion in Santa Barbara County. Tree fruit and lemon zest are layered with allspice and mango. A densely packed wine but still maintains its freshness.
Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
My description of this wine makes it sound like a golem, but it’s much friendlier than that:
Notes of earthen clay and damp wood rise from under a strong tannic grip. Fresh red fruit and Chinese five-spice come into play as well, along with a hint of graphite.
I have a soft spot for classy monsters, the kind that stomps around to gain a crowd’s attention, then starts singing a beautiful and quiet ballad. Many of my friends are like that. There are also some wines like this, too: brassy but complex. The two top picks, which also happen to be the wines I am drinking tonight, are the Bellum El Principio and the Copain L’hiver Syrah
Here’s a quick lesson in buying Pinot Noir: in cooler climates, vintage matters. The Expression 44 from Eola-Amity Hills is amazing. Eola-Amity is my favorite AVA in Willamette Valley, Oregon, which is my favorite spot in the US for Pinot Noir.
Then there is the Saintsbury Pinot Noir Stanly Ranch. This is one of the finest Pinot’s Saintsbury has ever produced. It is layered and gorgeous, and nearly everything one would want from a Pinot Noir.
Most wines –and I mean 99.9% of all wines–are not meant for aging. A few years is about all you can expect before they start falling apart. The wines made for aging are typically priced in the hundreds of dollars, which makes the Duorum Douro (Portugal) such a remarkable wine.
This is the rarest of rare wines: an inexpensive wine that will age well for ten years. If you are interested in aging wines but are not a gazillionaire, then buy a case of this and try a bottle every year for the next decade.