Wines Made for Food. Not Investment. Not Trophies. FOOD.

martin_OVPX_2011WEBAfter 45 minutes reading about the New Wave of Napa Cult Cabs I had to have a wine that not one post economic meltdown real estate food importer online gaming new Napa mogul would ever reach for; a wine that if it was presented to the owners of the new wave Napa cult Cabber Patch Kids would produce the same look Karl Rove had when he was told by Megan Kelly Romney really did lose. You know the look – “uh you’re kidding.” Now YOU are looking at my fantasy wine right above this paragraph: a white wine from Argentina made from an obscure if very respectable grape that is M-A-D-E-F-O-R-F-O-O-D. If you like the concept please continue reading.

Napa cult wines definitely took a hit following 2008. A dear pal recently asked if I knew someone who could unload her collection of Napa cult Cabs. I do. I asked. He said he could not sell most of the Cult Cabs of 2003 to 2009 because the bottom had dropped out of that market. Not even the Chinese want it. Harlan, Screaming Canary, all of the wines trophy hunters had to have in 2006 – 2010 had hit the skids. If I sound carp-ish or unsympathetic I am guilty of the former and a person of interest with the latter. We wish no ill will on billionaires who like to play high-end Napa vintner and dine in Kellerville I mean Yountville. Ultimately, ostentatious folly at this level of expense whether for wine or dining is testimony to the legacy and impact of Robert Mondavi. 40 years after he self-started the Napa Cult Cab Cult it is still going strong; so strong that an elite class of winemakers are able to do very well hiring themselves out to the stream of wannabes that are anxious to take their place among the next wave.

We saw Shrying Eagle in Costco over the holidays in a locked case all by itself. Price tag was $1395. More than the Omega watch on the other side of the warehouse.

Here are wines that cost less than a collectible cork that go wonderfully with food and which we believe would easily win a blind tasting with the Cult Cabs long as the bottles were bagged and the wines were not mentioned until after all were sipped and logged. Each one of these wines is all about true regional character. It is one thing to say it; another to make it.

erindira2010WEB2010 Erendira Wllamette Valley Pinot Noir $35: Wintergreen nose out of the chute. Cinnamon, light red color. Outstanding spicy flavor. Back label has all the info you could ever want. A blend from five vineyards around the Willamette Valley. Cloves! This wine is flying high. It is rich and light bodied. A great job by this outfit. From Southern Wine Group which is based in Bend OR. Figure this is a flagship special kind of effort. Worked great with chicken dinner. Extra kudos for keeping the alcohol low at 12.5%.

Sperino08WEB2008 Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio $24: Nebbiolo-based blend from Italy: 65% Neb, 20% Vespolina and 15% Croatina. The very definition of “local.” Tight when opened. Needs a little time to collect itself. Has stuffing. Dark blood red color. Ferrous. Good acid spine. Seductive. More of the spicy style. Good body. Piemonte traditional like we did not know existed. Would buy another. xx%

monteraponi2010WEB2010 Monteraponi Chianti Classico $25: Another Manny pick (like the Sperino) at Wallys in Westwood. Two winners – Manuel and this wine. Terrific Old World fruit: restrained, acidic, light to medium weight. “If we were there this is what we would be drinking” said Dotoré [ed. he always says that]. The acid is perfectly balanced, almost rustic if it were not so refined [ed. that really made sense]. Some cocoa in the flavors. Manny said it was a high mountain region – Radda is the Chianti land of legend. Love this label… and this wine. 14%

such a nice girl!

such a nice girl!

2011 Martino Old Vine Pedro Ximenez $15: This wine is made for food. It is not the kind of wine you can even enjoy very much without food except for the oddity factor. The ratings on wine-searcher suck! But… put it with sauteed shrimp and mushrooms over risotto out of a box and it comes to life. The secret is the acid. This has tons of it. And it has an oily viscous quality in the weight. Like a Verdejo with more body. Briny and nutty. On the ripe side of oxidized! If you think Juliette Lewis is sexy then you will appreciate this wine. The acid cuts the sharp flavors from the meal and the oily character goes great with the risotto spices and hearty shakes of salt Mrs. tBoW is famous for. The Southern Wine Group brings this in from Argentina. They say they found a 60 y.o. old plot in Alta Mira and “challenged” the Martino winemaker to make wine from the vines. Hooray for SWG for laying down the gauntlet and to the winery for accepting the mordida. This is my first dry PX wine. I have only had the Spanish dessert version which is also a steal and a knockout in dessert wine. U20 deal! 13.5%

I found this trailer from an old film that anticipates the Napa Cult Cab boom. Power, transformation, beauty… from beyond. The symbology is all there. It’s all so beautiful.


  1. Yes, SWG and Jeff Miller get the nod for daring the winemaker at Martino to make this wine. It’s my favorite white food wine!

  2. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    And what about Juliette Lewis?

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