The best producers make good wine happen no matter what

June 16, 2014

I just finished an interesting Forbes article written by Kathy Kelly Bell. It discussed the merits of using the proper stemware, a fine bit of arcana. The best advice it contained was, and I paraphrase, “Be sure to wash those ‘tres cher fragile’ Riedel or Schott Zwiesel Tritans the day following the event.” Some aspersions were cast toward her friends’ abilities to function after tastings.

There is no doubt in my mind that stemware adds to the wine-tasting experience. However, I think it is the bowl shape, and the rest is fluff.

I would much rather see my reader pals attend a few Grand tastings than spend the cash on stemware. I’m absolutely certain that the best way to develop your palate is exposure to as much highly regarded wine as possible, in an evaluation environment. If you must have the “proper glasses” and you are on a limited budget go here and read pages of info -

Trivento Torrontes Reserve 2012 is drop the paper and run out to buy delicious. Excellent value and available locally at Banks in Millville, Milford Discount in Milford and Atlantic in Rehoboth. Torrontes is the Chardonnay of Argentina whites. Many Argentinans drink them. Trivento 2012 is light green-tinged golden in your glass, with a mixed bouquet of roses and violets accented with citrus notes. On the palate, grapefruit, peach and tropical fruit riding a crisp, well-structured frame through a dry, clean finish.

Best of all, this food-friendly porch sipper can be found under $12. The 2011 Reserve Malbec is another award winner that is a good buy under $12; 90 points McD.

I’m a longtime fan of Concha y Toro. Their Cab was on my list in Ocean City in the ‘70s through 2000 in Rehoboth. They were rated in the top 100 wineries of the world by Wine and Spirits, and WS awarded Winemaker of the Year in 2013. Somehow these folks continue to produce quality wine at very reasonable prices. Those who bought Concha’s Carmin de Puemo Carmenere 2007 when I referred it in 2010 at $56 will be delighted to hear it is now on the market at $726/6-pak.

After my recommendation, made on the basis of a 2010 tasting I attended, all the big boys and girls started releasing reviews ranging from 92-96 points, and the wine popped over $100.

Carmin will continue to improve and will store well into the 2020s. If you aren’t familiar with Carmenere, start with a Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Carmenere Peumo Vineyard Rapel Valley Chile 2009. This is an 89-point gem that can be had for $20. A good starting point for any new sampler. Lots of cherries and 14.6 percent alcohol.

Big-buck Italian buyers who want to bring in some of the prized Antinori Tignanello 2010 should shop carefully. The range is $85 to $115. Got a lot of 95s and 96s, and high praise from all. There are halves around for $90.

Zinfandel season is upon us. No red goes better with barbecue and smoked food. You are all aware of Turley, Ravenswood, Sattui and Ridge. They get a ton of ink.

When it comes to Cali Zin though, Cline and Seghezio are my favs. Both have gnarly old vines, some more than 120 years old. They’ve been focused on Zinfandel when others were grafting and replacing, and they produce a very wide range of Zins.

Smart buyers would ask their local wine store operating pal to bring in a mixed, disparate case, plan a barbecue or cookout and compare the various styles and terroirs represented with their wino pals.

Zins also go well with burgers and pizza, and many are priced well under $20. Exposure is key. Please remember, vintage is critical to wine, but the best producers make it happen even when conditions are poor.

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