Several of my picks were home runs at Zachys Auctions

July 21, 2014

I would like to recommend two good summer reads. Tim Geithner’s “Stress Test” is a bit difficult in parts but comprehensive, fascinating, filled with anecdotes and personal history. A page-turner! “Empire of Debt,” coauthored by Bill Bonner and Addison Wiggin, is a romp through various significant and insignificant empires and the similarities of their rise and decline. The authors are Libertarians, and their irreverent jibes at the “great men” who presided over the decline of once-great and even minor empires is very entertaining while providing a wealth of historical perspective.

Viticcio Bere 2011 is 50 percent Sangiovese and 25 percent each Cab and Merlot, findable under $14 and rated 92 points (2 price points). Fresh fruit nose, lots of currant, cherry and strawberries with smooth tannins riding a well-balanced frame. This Super Tuscan will cellar for at least five years. It is my standout, ST QPR pick for the past two years.

Greg dal Piaz at Snooth wrote an article concerning wines few people follow. If Picpoul, Muscadet, Vermentino, Alvarinho or Rioja Blanco are names that pique curiosity, go to and click on “5 Wines You Need to Discover.” As an added bonus, several are $10 buys.

Zachys Wine Auctions is still killing it. To stay informed, go to Those visiting the site will notice several of my recommendations were home runs. Barolo Monfortino Riserva Giacomo Conterno was recommended here in 2007, when my guru Tony Galloni rated it 98 points. Big-buck buyers got in at $328, and it went out at $1,100 plus 5 percent dealer in the past auction.

Egon Muller Riesling Auslese Scharzhofberger 1999, also recommended in 2007 at $167 per bottle, is now going out at $386. This game is not for the faint of heart, or those with teenagers, or intemperate drinkers, those with little self-control or unbridled generosity. However, unlike some retirement plans and annuities, stocks and bonds, Las Vegas real estate or business deals with your brother-in-law, at least you will be drinking the good stuff while you are licking your wounds.

I just took a small break and strolled into the kitchen to eat a plum. I bought the plum last Monday, and it was so ripe the juice ran into my hands as I ate it, forcing me to lean over the plate. While doing so, I was reminded of a frequent occurrence at my wine lectures. Most folks at those classes can easily discern lemon, vanilla, strawberry, oak, raspberry and a host of other familiar flavors and aromas.

Those same people seem to have a problem with plum. Now, I love plums and I will eat them even partially ripened, on occasion. However, it is a rare treat when they are perfectly ripe and running with juice. The aroma and flavor were perfectly, perfumed, plum ambrosia, which I wish could be captured for use as a teaching tool. It would be a rare person who, after savoring a perfectly ripened plum, would fail to recognize the flavor or aroma. On the same note, next month eat a peach, tomato, corn or nectarine beside the best canned or thawed selection you can buy. Train your palate, and I promise you will enjoy life to a fuller extent.

Another under $10 gem from Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo (Devil's Castle) Reserva Carmenere 2012 is a dark garnet lovely with juicy cherry and plum aromas supported by a bouquet of chocolate and a hint of oak. On the palate, more cherries, some leather and loamy flavors shine. The finish is long and spicy, and my pal Kate at Creative Palate assures me it goes great with barbacoa and grilled meat. Side note: Carmenere was thought to have been wiped out by phylloxera in France but some pre-phylloxera Carmenere had been planted in Chile mixed with Merlot. This caused the early Merlot from Chile to taste a bit green due to the fact that Carmenere takes longer to ripen than Merlot.

Remember, friends, “Age is just a number. It is completely irrelevant unless of course you are a bottle of wine.”

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