Sometimes those ‘really great deals’ just aren’t

December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! I know this is just a bit premature, but the calendar controls.

Great advice on buying party wine, from Greg Del Piaz writing at Snooth: 1: Stick to the most popular wines. 2: Offer your guests some variety. 3: Spend enough to make sure the wines are delicious, so $8 to $12 a bottle.

This dollar amount works for most, not all. You can search online by typing in: wines rated 90 priced less than (fill in the blank).

For those searching for a last-minute gift or two who wish to spend a little time looking over some very nice artwork, slide on up to Nassua Valley Vineyard just off Route 9 or Route 1 on Nassau Commons Boulevard.

The safest entrance is off Route 9; the bridge on Route 1 blocks your view of the 75 mph oncoming cars from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

You probably weren’t aware that NVV is Delaware’s first and only award-winning winery. I am a longtime fan of the winery and the people who work there.

They are open for tastings 11 a.m.-4:45 p.m., Monday through Saturday. You can sample product, then choose something for that difficult-to-find-something-for wino you know and love. Every family has a redneck, and NVV has Redneck Rouge. I prefer their peach or blueberry or Cape Rosé, because so few folks ever try these lovely styles of wine.

They always please. NVV also has Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Grigio and several other native grape varietal wines. There’s a semidry red made from Chambourcin and a Seyval Blanc-Vidal Blanc blend named Meadow’s Edge that is aimed at those who prefer semisweet whites with a clean finish. This is a great way to spend an hour or two while sampling some great wine. If you are lucky, you will be able to meet the owners, Peggy and Suzanne. Please say hello and Merry Christmas from me.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut is a sparkler I haven’t tried in a while. Priced under $10, great QPR.

Pale ginger ale colored, with a lively, tiny bead, it is acid crisp, but a lovely apple and pear bouquet provides balance. Palate of apple, pear and citrus follows the nose. The finish is clean with just a touch of ginger. Goes especially well with salt oysters, clams, Smithfield ham shaved w/biscuits, anything salty and tapas.

Regular readers know I think Steve Tanzer and Jancis Robinson are superior to most raters, especially those from WS and Parker. Ridge Monte Bello is a perfect reflection of how differently they rate wine. To date, older wines have confirmed my worst suspicions. Recently I opened a bottle of the 2001 which RP gave 99 and Tanzer 93, and a 2004 93 Tanzer, 19/20 Robinson (this is her best rating in a while) and 86 from WS. The 2004 came in at $92 and is currently $145. There is absolutely no doubt that Tanzer and JR did a better job in these two cases.

WS consistently underrates the Monte Bello, and RP rarely writes them up favorably, relative to others. Anyway, if you have a “commonsewer” you love, it is possible to find the 2004 for less than $120 and worth every penny for those who enjoy a red made in the St. Julien style. Pure fruit, cedar, spice box, herbs, oak, red and black currants plus silky tannins. Ready to drink now or through 2022 at least. I also want to tell you that Ridge Monte Bello is one of the USA’s premier wines. It is priced cheaply relative to others in its class.

By comparison, Screaming Eagle 2004 came in during 2007 at 94 points and opened at $1,400 and is on the market at $1,775. Do the math: a case of Monte Bello or a bottle of feathers?

You may recall the Willm Riesling Reserve I wrote of recently. It just came on line priced under $144/case with free shipping. This Alsatian Riesling is not a good deal at that price. The wine is excellent, and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy dry Riesling. However, I would not pay more than $120/case. Sometimes those really great deals are a pass.

Have a very Merry Christmas full of peace, joy and love.

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