Nonvintage blends from Wily Jack are priced right, well made

August 5, 2013

If you find time, “Nick Nolte: No Exit” is a worthy watch on Sundance. It helps if you think Mr. Nolte is one of our better actors. "48 Hours" not withstanding, Nolte has done a bunch of great movies. Many of his best were not received as well as "Prince of Tides" and the movie with Midler and the Murphy pix, but I usually enjoyed his work. The anecdote about “one glass of wine” is worth the watch.

Diageo is marketing Wily Jack label Chard, Zin and Cab. The concept is nonvintage blends priced under $10. I found all three to be well made with great QPR, in the 86-88-point range. These are nice pours for we who enjoy wine for all occasions or with meals. Sometimes going for the middle ground works well. Wily decision by Diageo. Those who wish to make an inexpensive value check can pick up a bottle of William Hill 2011 Central Coast Chardonnay for $20 and compare it to Wily Jack. The exercise will be eye-opening to most.

Beaulieu Tapestry Reserve 2009, $35, is a very nice Meritage from Napa. Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the primary varietal grapes of Bordeaux, are expertly interwoven to extract the best qualities of each in this rendition.

Most writers awarded 91 points to Tapestry 2009 on release. You may recall I said 89 and avoid.

The buy is the 2005. 2005 is ready to drink through 2020 and priced around $52, worth the extra $17. Dark garnet with black cherry, fig, dark fruits, pencil lead and a hint of floral aromas; it opens on the palate to dark fruit, spice and tar flavors.

Properly balanced through a long finish. I have a longtime love-hate relationship with BV since they sold to Heublein in '69 and through its many changes of ownership to Nabisco, to RJR, to Grand Met which became Diageo. It appears winemaker Jeffrey Stambor’s decision to bring famed Bordeaux winemaker Michel Rolland on board as a consultant has pulled the better BV wines back up to a higher level after spending quite some time in the doldrums.

One of Cali’s oldest wineries, BV was founded by Georges De Latour in 1900 with the purchase of four acres, and one year later, he bought the original winery of California state Sen. Seneca Ewer, built in 1855. De Latour was the first to import phylloxera-resistant rootstock to Cali.

This decision plus his move to acquire a license to produce sacramental wine during Prohibition allowed BV to thrive to the point where it had acquired enough vineyard on the Rutherford Bench to produce more than 1 million gallons by 1933. It was, however, the arrival of Andre Tchelistcheff in 1938 that drove BV to the top of the pile. I could write reams about Andre, but here are two salient points. How did a Russian emigrant become the foremost authority on California Cabernet Sauvignon? View “André Tchelistcheff: the voice of wine” for a fairly comprehensive look or go to Wiki.  To verify his creds, following is a listing of some of those who credit his mentoring: Robert Mondavi; Joe Heitz; Rob Davis, Louis Martini Mike Grgich; Joel Aiken; John Statin and Robissow of Erath, to name a few. His nephew is Alex Golitzin of Quilceda Creek.

For those subsidized “green energy businessmen” who expect to live another 50 years, some of the few who still have any spendable cash, the 100-point RP and Suckling and no less than 95 by the rest Chateau Pontet Canet Pauillac 2010 is on sale for only $220/bottle. It will approach drinkability in 2020. Friends, you can buy three bottles of 2007 or two of the 2005 under $240 ready to drink now.

Unless you have a golden palate or are a reseller, go with the 94-95-point 2007. Tanzer, who I regard as the most stingy rater, gave the 2007 a 92. High praise indeed from him. The blockbuster 2008-10 Bordeaux have kept the lid on the wonderful earlier vintages. If you have Daddy Warbucks, buy as much of the 2005 and 2007 as you will wish to drink over the next five to 15 years.

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