Trust your own taste buds, not the wine’s price tag

November 12, 2018

Let’s start with an FYI about evaluating wines: This link supports my very basic premise about wine evals: Trust your own palate. You frequently get better advice from your wino pals than from experts’ opinions. Most consumers have very little exposure to wine that has been laid down or was produced using only the best grapes, oak, wine master, methodology and blending, etc.; which has fine value but is too damn expensive to risk your hard-won cash on spec. These folks wouldn’t think of eating unripe fruit or cake batter or raw cocoa powder or a cup of sugar, but they’ll dive right into a brand-name 2017 Cali Cab and smack their lips. I truly enjoy watching neophytes in my classes who think that very dark, tannic, oaky reds are the standard for the best Cabs or Bordeaux. You see, many read the critical pieces by experts almost to the end but fail at the last gasp, “Drink 2025 thru 2040.” My favorite close is to present for comparison a yesterday’s vintage and a 2010 Bordeaux with the same label and rating, “Drinking well now.” I also present 10-year-old and 25-year-old white wines to dispel the myth, “Drink white wines young.” Or show a Warres Port from 2000, 94 points, $88 compared to a 2011, 94 points, $87. I find great joy in watching the lights come on. By the bye, I don’t think people are stupid. I do think many have been bamboozled, buffaloed, beguiled or burned by self-promoting, scribbling sales satraps. Trust your buds. If you make a face, like the first time you drank straight whiskey, the wine ain’t ready or it is poorly crafted. Or maybe it’s just not your cuppa tea.

Looking for PN or Chard from Cali’s Russian River that doesn’t break the bank? Check out Raeburn 2016 Chard, which runs under $15 and won gold at San Fran Chronicle, McD 89. Jasmine aromas with peaches, pears, vanilla and toasted oak on the palate. Great value. The Pinot Noir 2016, 88 McD, won silver but is findable under $20 a bottle when you buy a case, gets 2 price points.

Lovely cherry crimson-colored, with cranberry, pie spice, mocha bouquet. On the palate, look for blueberry and raspberry with herbal notes. A juicy wine with good tannic/acid balance.

M. Chapoutier hits another home run with Agly Brothers Cotes du Roussillon 2014 that surprised most reviewers. This was a tough-weather vintage but a long, late, grape-ripening warmth and an extremely talented winemaker produced a winner. It’s 60/40 Syrah and Grenache, and shows cherries, violets, raspberries, warm gravel and olive bouquet.

Smooth tannins and good concentration support fruit. A lot of wine for $40. I recently had some of the 2009, 90 points. I think 2014 will come in at 93 points. Drinking well now thru 2025.

Jimmy asked about Late Bottled Vintage Port and as luck would have it, I sampled a bottle of Dow’s 2012. Slightly floral nose, roses, with cassis and white pepper notes. On the well-balanced palate blackberries, chocolate, soft tannins and supporting acidity. Long, dry finish.

Drink now thru 2019. If you pay less than $20, these are 91 points. The ‘12 is just a tad better than the highly touted ‘11 and compares to the IWC gold 2007. Don’t buy these for price appreciation, but you will truly enjoy drinking them. Those who wish an in-depth look can go here:

Take a moment for our veterans this Monday, Nov. 12. Originally named Armistice Day. Initiated 5/13/1938. Changed to Veterans Day in 1954. Why the fuss? Because many who have served to protect your freedoms and to aid folks worldwide to secure theirs, deserve recognition. You may disagree with U.S. policy, but the troops don’t make it.

Being in the military means submitting your will, your right and your decision making to that of the president, Congress, and by extension the citizenry. Sadly, when things go awry, the scoundrels who erred cop a plea, flee or are not re-elected. They rarely accept blame, and none are ever jailed or publicly mocked and excoriated. Start thinking turkey wines. Next week I’ll review several.

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