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Don’t let wine snobbery keep you from finding bargains

August 20, 2018

I'm so looking forward to October. Grove Market, my other job, is busy with a full house every night. Last week, a crew came in that included Capt. Forney plus several friends and acquaintances. I barely had time to chat. On the wine front, things were chockablock. So, let's get to it. 2015 Bergstrom Old Stones Chardonnay is a relatively new entry to the Oregon wine scene, and it is catching the scribbling class by storm. Oddly, Oregon does not produce oodles of Chardonnay. Most are tied up in Pinot Noir. I say oddly, because in most locales where Chardonnay is grown, you will find PN nearby. PN prefers a bit cooler temperatures, but generally, PN favors the same terroir. I think that PN is more difficult both to propagate and to vinify. The berries are very tiny compared to Chardonnay and produce less juice. Following are two sites for in-depth analyses. The first is a short PDF; the second is a 28-page, comprehensive exploration: http://www.gencowinemakers.com/docs/How Much Wine Can a Small Vineyard Produce.pdf and http://arec.oregonstate.edu/oaeb/files/pdf/EM8969-E.pdf

Wow, got off track a bit there. Bergstrom Old Stones has had a four-year run of excellent buttery, complex Chards, all rated 91 McD. Some of the more generous wine touts, WS and WE, have them at 93- 94. Regulars know I am one of the few rattlers that takes price into account. These are a good value but lose a bit by comparison to better values. Patz and Hall Sonoma Coast 2015, Iron Horse Unoaked 2016, Sandhi Santa Rita Hills 2015, and Au Bon Climat Nuits Blanches Au Bouge Chardonnay 2014 are several buys in the $25-$45 range. That said, 91 is nothing to sneeze at. If you can find some, go upscale to their Sigrid label, 93 points. Expect to pay $80-$90. All vintages 2009 to present are 93 McD. Reminds of Cru White Burgundy. Lovely mixed bouquet includes green apples, trop fruit, a touch of floral notes and barrel aromas. The intense, medium-bodied, complex palate reveals lemon, peach and mineral flavors all riding a supportive, bright but balanced acidity through a long, reverberating finish.

Those who enjoy well-made Merlot should look into Mollydooker The Scooter 2015 under $30. Deep reddish-purple, fresh berries and spice aromas lead to red currants, raspberries and stewed plums with hints of chocolate, peppercorns and coffee on the palate. Pleasing finish shows cherry, anise, silky tannins and cedar-driven oak. 

I try not to be a wine snob. When I saw Ducourt Chateau Larroque Bordeaux Superieur 2015 on sale for $13 and rated 95 by Decanter, I had to give it a try. A decent wine, but grossly overrated by them. The price is right. Roger Voss wrote it at 89 points. I concur. Shows the ripe Merlot in the blend. Still not ready. Maybe next year. Look for barrel-aged flavors, black-currant fruit supported by crisp acidity. A very nice wine to drink during the winter and leave lying around for your 21-and-up children and their pals to glom at 2 in the morning.

Shifting gears to Sauterne, the Chateau Rieussec 2015 is around priced near $60, rated 95 points McD and ready in 2024. Nice thing about most Sauternes is they are approachable young. The 2015 compares favorably to the vaunted, perfect now 2001. The ‘15 is a great spec buy for resellers, IMO. I expect at least a double from this price. These will cellar into 2040 and drink well. As usual with Sauternes, I recommend the halves at $40, unless you have several friends to share. They are ready sooner and a half will satisfy four people. The 2015 opens to spice, dried fruit, honey and botrytis. On the creamy palate, citrus and lemon curd ride proper acidic frame. The key is 2015's balance. Although the alcohol is elevated, the wine is not "hot." Finally, Acker Fine & Rare has a great list of older Bordeaux for sale. If you have anyone coming down from NYC, they may help you out.