the Class of 47: tBoW Year One Top U20 wines

The Best of Wines has a simple objective: finding, tasting and praising the best wines that are under $20. Sounds easy enough. But, as an old pal used to love to say…it ain’t easy!!
tBoW is not lost in his own world of wine. We have perspective. mccain_obama.jpgWe know there is a national election, state budget crisis and US economic meltdow with enough special considerations and odd balls to keep a fleet of experts, commentators, strategists, economists, lobbyists, legislators and the general voting public in an uproar for months. SaraLT 9.jpgNevertheless, consider the following hurdles that must be surmounted every week so that tBoW can report on U20 wines [ed. special thanx to BeKaLin ARTfor the Palin-toon. Now back to MY OWN LITTLE WORLD].
Finding the wines is greatly eased if you have a dependable retailer. tBoW has Woodland Hills Wine Co for a neighborhood drive, North Berkeley Wines palate steve g 2.jpgfor the online source, and the Palate conglomerate (Steve Goldun’s retail sales, restaurant and wine bar) for the consummate wine experience. Each source has plenty of great quality wines in the target zone. However, in the process of finding U20 wines there is always temptation to break the U20 limit and indulge in higher-end product.
Tasting wines becomes less onerous when the right friends and freeloaders who are happy to throw in their own palates and bottles get involved. Of course, the danger is that sometimes a crew member (almost always peripheral) has unusual tastes that actually conflict with tBoW and Co. A matter to be handled with delicacy including resisting the urge to “educate”. A condescending sense of humor helps.
Praising wines would seem to be the easiest part. Wines that hit the spot and meet the U20 criterion are easy (and a pleasure) to describe. snidely1.jpgThe dark side is when a nasty wine is discovered. We pray the wine is corked as that takes the winemaker off the hook. Sometimes it is unavoidably clear the wine itself sucks. Like spousal management, sometimes we report it, sometimes we simply pass on the option.
With this in mind, tBoW went through blog posts from July 2007 through the end of June 2008 and found 47 U20 wines that were tasted and praised in the first 12 blogging months that are worth buying again.
Call it the Top 47 List.
These wines were really good. In the end the surest measure of admiration is a repeat purchase. While tBoW would re-purchase any of the wines, sometimes they are not available, or the season changes and the Moscato d’Asti mood so strong in June goes into hybernation just like bears and squirrels. However, some of these very wines presently rest in tBoW’s cellar for re-emergence over the next 12 months.
Whatever. Here is the list of 47 wines the tBoW tasting team tasted, praised and in many cases bought again. If you find them, we suggest you buy them. Especially if they are on sale.
The list shows the wine name and vintage, price when purchased (nearly all in 2007/08) then the importer and/or retailer.
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What does it all mean? We like wines from France. More than half (27) of the picks are French. We are not talking Bordeaux and Burgundy. We be slumming. Does France make better wine than other regions?
When talking U20 it would appear to be the truth. Others will tout current Spanish and Italian wines. The tBoW team would disagree, usually on the basis of price alone. U20 selections from Spain and Italy exist. But not in the quantities we see from unfashionable regions of France.
There is the obscurity argument. Who knows. There may be great inexpensive Hungarian and Romanian wines (someday maybe but not yet). The French wine pipeline goes around the world so we get to see their trophy and off-off-Broadway products. After France the Top 47 pie gets cut up by Paso Robles, Argentina (the real challenger to France) and a few Italians and Austrians.
You might also notice tBoW likes young wines. As well as reds, pinks and whites. We have reviewed plenty of older vintage trophies – classics and new style – but we just are not that impressed.
Finally, any list is a function of personal taste, whether it is tBoW, Parker, any Wine Speculator columnist, or any other wine blogger.
We stand by our list. We make no claims to its significance beyond our U20 criteria (price, quality, pleasure, lower alcohol). We hope that contributes to your wine drinking pleasure. Vote for me.
Attention data freaks…Click HERE for the excel file, searchable and with bonus information. Click HERE for the pdf.
Now check out Rey Maualuga making like a short seller while ending another Big 10 fantasy.
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[ed. credit LA Times photo]

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