Hess select Chardonnay 2009 is a real steal

May 21, 2012

What a strange world this is.  Two weeks ago, I mentioned that the bargains were not in Chile. Several producers actually sent samples to prove me wrong. Normally I review positively, eschewing the verbal brickbats some wine writers employ. I prefer venting my spleen toward DelDOT and judges who break laws but steal their pensions through judicial chicanery. Now I see the commentators’ tactic. Take a gratuitous swipe at some country or region and all their buddies send you free stuff. To date, I have not sampled the wares, but as I do, you’ll  be informed.  Hopefully no samples of our august Delaware court system. It is little wonder folks deplore it.

Hess select Chardonnay 2009 has been on sale under $10. For those who drink Chard this is a steal. From Hess’ own vineyards in Monterey, it's pale golden colored, with tropical aromas of  pineapple and ripe pear, well-balanced fruit and oak plus a fairly long finish with honeydew and crème brûlée lingering. Enough acidity to cleanse.

Here’s a snippet prompted by a Dal Piaz article. Back in the day, Vega Sicilia, an iconic Spanish wine, would only release their wine when it was ready to drink. The vagaries of finance, however, required them to shorten this window to “only 10 years.” This piqued my curiosity enough to search some out. After quite a search and getting over the sticker shock, I treated us to a bottle of the Unico Reserva Especial. This is an interesting concept in that it blends several Reserva vintages to get the best qualities of each. The  release (2003) is a blend of 1985, '90 and '91. Rather than a vintage, there is a release date on the bottle.

I decanted and aired 2003 out for a few hours to allow the alcohol fumes (14 percent) to disperse and for the wine to show itself. It is still dark ruby-purple, with high alcohol,  the tip-off the wine needed cellaring. After coaxing, though, with aeration it started to show its balance and finesse. The palate is quite complex. Berries, plum, dark chocolate and toffee, a long finish with great mid-palate persistence. I truly wish I had waited another four or five years.

I tout Chateaux Rieussec, Suiderat or Guiraud Sauternes  for those who can’t or won’t buy D’Yquem. D’Yquem  is in a class by itself.  Guiraud Petit Guiraud Sauternes 2009 was excellent. A 95-point Sauterne under $25/bottle and $15 for 1/2s. Probably less, per case while still allowing your store buddy to eat. Guiraud was bought by Peugeot and three winemakers in 2006 and started selling this second label shortly thereafter. Parker and WS both rated the wine mid-90s on release, and it surged in price.  There were 4,200 cases produced. Vintage sensitive - buy the 2009; the 2011 at 89 points and 2007, 92, are both nice wines but not value. Molesworth of WS got it on the money. ”The Petit has a  broad feel to its coconut, fig and creamed pear notes. The long finish sports mouth-coating tropical papaya and guava flavors, with a toasted hazelnut hint. Quite rich, but still forward and approachable now. Drink through 2020."

Justin Isosceles Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, 94 points, has been advertised around $50, “on sale.” Caveat emptor, amicus meus. Although the Cab is excellent, it is no deal at this price. Do a little research. Value under $45.

Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra Vigna Casa Mate 2008 can be found  under $75. It ran up to $90 after Anthony Galloni rated it 98 points. Dark and still young, the nose shows tar, menthol, licorice, pie spice and hot gravel. The nose is picked up through the palate. This is a huge, structured, complex wine with a very long finish. We’re talking five more years in the cellar here. I think placing it on your bucket list is best. The troubles in Euroland are not going to abate, and you should buy cheaper in a few years. Still, it is reasonable at the current price.

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