Wine prices can go from cellar to clouds just on hype

June 4, 2018

Resellers who bought Chateau Troplong Mondot 2005 (100 points Parker) on my recommendation in 2013 for $93, after the price had recovered from Leve & RP overhype, will be delighted to learn recent auction pricing was in the low $300s. Some stores in Illinois are advertising it for $265-$279.The McD window is 2015-29. Those who enjoy cocoa and alcohol will be pleased when they drink it. Parker wrote 2019-43 in June 2015. My decision was in 2013 and I'm sticking to it. It is no longer a bargain buy. For those few Screaming Eagles who may have bought any, don't you dare touch the Chateau Ausone 2005. It still needs six more years at least before it is ready, but your patience will be rewarded. I think it is the best Chateau Ausone since 2000, and it was barely ready since 2014; will store through 2034. Auction at $1,600-$2,000. That's per bottle, folks! Alain Vauthier and his daughter Pauline, who currently run Ausone, are direct descendants of the 17th century owners. I love their wine but am running out of cellar time, and no wine is worth $2,000/bottle to an old Gaelic/Etruscan.

Back to affordable, everyday delightful wine. First this quirky bit. Farmhouse Wines is named for an old schoolhouse on Green String Farm in Petaluma, Calif. Just what one would expect of Fred Cline. He and his relatives parlayed the family Jacuzzi company into a wine empire called Red Truck and sold it for huge bucks. This is his latest venture. The Farmhouse Natural White wine is made in stainless to preserve fruit notes, no malolactic fermentation. Opens to lime and stone fruit with a hint of spice. Acidity supports the nose. I thought the blend was interesting: Palomino, frequently used for dry sherry, plus Viognier, Pinot Gris and Muscat Canelli. Nice party wine under $10. The Natural Red does use toasted oak. Look for boysenberry and dark cherry with hints of pepper and spice. Good tannic support and barrel hints. A lot of wine under $10.

Although winemaker Charlie Tsegeletos is quite experienced, he is a new name to many. He is one to keep an eye on. Very nice touch. While I'm in the neighborhood, Cline also owns Jacuzzi. I would be remiss not to mention that Nancy, nee Bunting, is the very able wife and partner. They met at UC Davis and bought a small winery with 100-year-old vines to produce Mourvedre and other Rhone varietal grapes such as Syrah, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. Here is a cool video to observe a 100-plus-year-old vine:

Recently I sampled some "canned wine" from Stella. And a bottle of their Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane IGT 2016. Don't let the low price put you off. Look for pears and citrus, medium body, with bright acidity, very clean finish. A 100 percent Pinot Grigio on sale under $8 is worth looking into. OK, as longtimers know, I am excited to try new products and ideas. Canned wine raised a specter of "I don't believe I'll drink the whole thing." Stella's Pinot Grigio comes in a 250ml 4-pak (equals 1 1/3 bottles) that goes for around $13. It is every bit as good as the bottled product with the added facility of not being in glass. A wise choice for the pool, beach or a hard patio. Please recycle the cans. One final thought, if the can doesn't fizz, it is not a problem. This is not beer or a carbonated drink, just a nice little wine for a day at the beach. Remember, folks, there are quite a few alcohol-restricted beaches in our area with the Untouchables lurking about to enforce Prohibition.

Finally, how long before those 95 percent modelers will start claiming that global cooling and atmospheric pollution were provoked by clouds of poisonous gases emanating from Kilauea? I'm all for cleaning our environment. We are capable of it. The Cuyahoga River was so polluted it caught on fire in 1969. This had happened several previous times, but the '69 fire riveted attention that finally resulted in a cleanup. During that era, you couldn't see 30 feet in downtown Pittsburgh most days. The U.S. has come a very long way, baby. The Orient and India, not so much.