Posts belonging to Category Alta Rioja



The Fall, Rise and Fall of Beaujolais

she ruled the 60s

she ruled the 60s

Beaujolais has been forgotten more often than whatshisname. Beauj wines were top shelf in the 14th century until the Burgundy farmers chased the Gamay Noir grape – crossed with the blessed Pinot Noir – and its wannabe producers south. Gamay lost its prestige in the wake of Marie Antoinette’s gehackt kopf.

Gamay grown south of Burgundy can produce a lovely light to medium weight red wine with floral qualities and the requisite acid to buck it all up. Until the 1960s. Yearning for fanfare the Beaujolais producers led by Georges Dubouef came up with Beaujolais Nouveau which became fashionable as Twiggy. And half as interesting. This pompy silly era was Fall #1 for Beaujolais in the Modern Era: Beaj Nouveau. Like the Beatles, still popular.

The Rise. In 2006 the earth around Beaujolais began to move. Suddenly, gratefully, amidst an avalanche of rocketing collector prices and the relentless quest to win a Parker 100 point score, Beaujolais winemakers began producing some very nice wines. The value quotient (VQ) was an island in a sea of [ed. better metaphor please] an outpost in a wilderness of [ed. not wilderness] an outpost in the back country of forgotten appellations. Gamay returned to wine snobs. The 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages were superb. The ten crus offered more variety than Bourdeaux along with far better pricing and far more availability. Superb Gamay cru wines were priced near $15. Beaujolais was on the RISE.

Fall #2. The 2008 economic crash took about 18 months for Parker and the Wine Speculator to concede the 100 point game was over. Tostado. This should have been the tipping point when Beaujolais secured its new position as leader in the quality and value game. But it did not. Instead, the producers raised prices. Dumb. Da Dumb. Dumb. The market was in their hands… and they let it slip away. The last vintages we bought were 2009 2010. We are tasting through them now with no plans to replenish.

Very good Beaujolais costs close to $30. At the same time we are buying outrageously great Chablis for the same price. And super Red Burg for the same price and up to $10 more… except we are buying wines Beaujolais will never become, except for Clos de la Roilette which we still buy. Welcome to the new top shelf.

Here are two more wines from the Not Ready For Prime Time Tasting.

Ridge-Montebello-00WEB2000 Ridge Montebello $120: A-L-M-O-S-T R-E-A-D-Y. At 14 years this wine can be enjoyed. Ridge Montebello is regarded as the Lafite of US wines. Justifiably so. This wine was gorgeous, not voluptious, not lean. Classically beautiful, something like Lauren Bacall. Perfect California mountain blend with just enough oak to give it the classic style. Last domestic Cabernet we had like this was the 1987 Dunn Howell in mag. Dunn is more rustic. Montebello more refined. Truly spectacular wine and not Bordeaux. Honestly. At $120 and being the benchmark for California GREATNESS in wine, this is a bargain. 13.5%

Tondonia-91WEB1991 Lopez de Herredia Tondonia $105 (sorry, it’s a secret for now): tBoW asked Goldun will this wine be ready in another 10 years? “Maybe 100” came the comeback. 23 years in the bottle and the color is not even golden. Yellow as a five year old Chablis. Flavors enchanting but the wine is n-o-t r-e-a-d-y. We must have another bottle taking into account predicted auto-longevity and the likelihood I will be around to enjoy with the Geezer Troop. 13%

Maybe this could also be “the discrete charm of the Beaujolais?” Cue the electric sitars please. It’s all… so beautiful.

Hidden Treasures in Hidden Treasure Chests

"Hunting Wines" talent

“Hunting Wines” field team

The Animal Planet show “Finding Bigfoot” is fun to watch except we never get to see the critter. Storage Wars, Antiques Roadshow, Bering Sea Gold would be nothing without the payoff. Show me the buried treasure. The same principle holds when hunting for worthy wines at even more worthy prices. Here is the premiere episode of Hunting Wines. (more…)

BEST of Truly Superb Wines PLUS Focus on Alta Colina

Today: Lopez tasting room

We love to find the U20 wines that are today’s hot ticket. Let me reach around here for a moment and pat myself on the back. Ah. That’s good. HOWEVER…good as those U20 wines are with their high value to quality ratio, it is not often they will make a list of Truly Superb wines. And what are those? And why are they? (more…)

Pink Savages: BEST of the Large Fantastic

tBoW team taster The Large got inside the ropes at the premiere party for Savages. Being this close to Benicio del Toro [ed. the Hunted, Fear & Loathing], and Salma Hayek [ed. lead vampire From Dusk Till Dawn – see video!] sent Large for a Loop crossing his appetite for blush wines with movie star fever. We all benefit from his pyretic vision shared herein: tasting notes, sexy babes, paired foods. Welcome to the Large location food truck.

Summer is the season of blush. You see it in the cheeks of that beguiling and shapely post-teen prancing the beach!…in her bikini — tiny sparks of sand fly off her electrically as he turns to notice her staring at him; she’s caught with an embarrassed smile, pale perfectly smooth skin scattered with freckles turning deep pink… her deep red hair masking the sun like some flaming halo…. Or is it just the way the late afternoon sun disperses as you twist your glass, its dancing rays sparkling atop a sea of pink. It’s the season of hotter days… our ecosphere is boiling over, starting to fry large swaths of the Eastern seaboard into the midwest.

Hollywood spews out sizzling summer thrillers, with tall blondes in pink dresses sharing bong hits while manacled, held hostage by a ruthless, decapitation-happy enforcer working for a struggling, ruthless Baja cartel (Benicio del Toro, could it be any other, I ask you?). And after cutting a maniacal workday short and putting your feet on the patio furniture, it’s time at last to savor another wine of countless variations: Rosé.. (more…)

Wine School: How to Value Wine From $10 to $100

Recently we’ve been thinking how the wine world has it all figured out now. The recession blew the socks off trophy wines taking down everyone with them. The “survivor-type” wine producers foresaw the end of the “wine bubble” and started moving to lower pricing without sacrificing quality. The intersection of CHEAP and QUALITY is precisely where most wine consumers get lost. The old signals no longer work. You really just have to taste the wines to know for sure. There are other indicators such as knowing the importer or distributor but that gets into advanced wine studies. Here are some tips for selecting and detecting which wine to buy and which wine to pass on. (more…)