Inexpensive, top-flight French Sauternes on the market

March 19, 2012

Move quickly, only 800 cases were produced.  Poggio Nardone Brunello 2006, WE 96, Suckling 93, McD 95 but hold fire, is on sale now for less than $200/six delivered. It is in its drinking window. Price spiked to $49/bottle due to reviews. In the same ad, Amelia Barolo 2006 was offered at $30. The wine is a 92-point gem at $30, two price points. This is not the Margherita, but it is delicious and affordable.  It is down about 30 percent from its high. For upscale Barolo folks go with Amelia Bricco Fiasco 2006 at about $68/bottle, 95 points.

Those who enjoy the profile and wish to go half price should look into the Marchesi di Barolo Barbera d'Alba Ruvei 2006. Since the 2003 vintage through 2008, the last release, the label has oscillated from 88-91 points. The 2006 is deep ruby red with crimson rim. Wild strawberry and vanilla nose with hints of cherry and licorice on mid palate. Subtle tannins and good balance. I’ve seen it for $20/bottle and the 2008 is definitely around for $20.

There are a bunch of inexpensive half bottles of top-flight French Sauternes around these days. The 2005 Chateau Rieussec, which was rated mid-90s by most, is on the market under $38. The fulls are around $90. I would look into a mixed case of four each: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, priced about $700. Don’t forget there are 24 of the 375s per case.

Please be sure you have read the entire newspaper, including the ads, before leaving. I’ll be watching via your phone or Apple machines.

Quinta do Noval Nacional and Fonseca Port may be best of the 2003 vintage. The Fonseca just came across my screen on sale around $60/bottle. I looked up my critique. The 2003 was a stunner. Black-colored with dark-purple rim, it blossoms into a bouquet of dark fruit and spice aromas that lead to a powerful wine with great body, depth and a viscous weight. Fonseca is a bit backward in its youth. Needs at least 10 or 12 years before it is ready. The 2003 shows a very long finish that coats your mouth with licorice, black fruits, and notes of dark chocolate and persists two minutes. Probably best from 2030 on.  If you have very young children, buy some, lay it down and crack it open when their children are born in celebration. Remember who tipped you off.

Oberon is a wonderful choice for those who enjoy Napa Cab.  Oberon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is killer. You should be able to buy it around $220/case. Drink it now through 2022. Very dark ruby-colored, Bordeaux-styled blend. It opens with an oak and saddle leather-like bouquet. On the palate, a medium-bodied, balanced wine tasting of black cherry, red currant and smoky oak with hints of cranberry and  black pepper. The finish is dry with dusty oaken tannins and a clean, bright finish. This is better than the Beringer Knights Valley 2009 that WS gave a 91 and costs more. The Shakespeare character was fun also.

Finally and best for last, searchers can locate Dow Vintage Port 2000 on sale under $70. If you enjoy Port you know what a bargain this is. For those who don’t, the 2000 is 95 points McD. Parker gave it 94 on release and it spiked to roughly $100. It settled back into the $80 range. Portugal’s budget problems and the decline of the Euro provide a great opportunity for you. I call it Wino Capitalism.  Dow 2000 is still opaque purple with a slight blue cast. This indicates to me it will continue to improve. Opens to a diverse bouquet of anise, blackberries, flowers and cassis. Dow provides us a study in structure and intensity with the 2000. The palate is still developing, but dark cherries, licorice, honey, a hint of malt and plenty of dark chocolate are apparent. Best, the wine just hit its drinking window. It will improve through 2015 and should cellar through 2030 with ease.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all my Mick friends and relatives. Take that, PC buckos.

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