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#1 Christian

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 04:56 PM

The wife and I discovered that a new Total Wine had opened in our neighborhood -- a discovery which, providentially, coincided with a planned trip to restock our wine rack.

We're on a budget, but even if we weren't, I don't know that I'd feel the need to pay more than $10 for a decent bottle of wine. As much as I've read about wine (I've even completed the "Total Beverage 101" wine-tasting class, and I have the certificate to prove it! Bow in awe, earthlings!), I've never been compelled to shell out the big bucks to satisfy my demands for the great grape.

Here, then, is a list of our purchased wines, which totaled $128 and should last us 8 months to a year, depending on consumption. Some are highly rated by the various wine magazines, or by Consumer Reports, while others are tried-and-true Hamaker favorites:

Rosemont, Australia, Grenasche/Shiraz, 2003

Oak Grove, California, Pinot Grigio Reserve, 2003

Cotes de Castillon, France, Bordeaux, 2001

Falesco Vitiano, Italy, 2003

Luc Pirlet, France, Pinot Noir, 2003

Washington Hills, Washington, Riesling, 2003

Yellow Tail, Australia, Shiraz, 2004

Chateau Morrisette, Virginia, Red Mountain Laurel (dessert wine)

Chateau La Gordonne Les Gravieres, France, 2003

Sauvion Rose D'Anjou, France, 2003

Villa Maria, New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc 2003

Hardys Whiskers Blake Tawny Port Australia

--Anyone want to congratulate me on my fine decision-making? Anyone want to pick a fight? Rich Kennedy (coffee snob!)? Anyone?

#2 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 05:15 PM

That Villa Maria from New Zealand jumps off the page. Probably the sleeper of the bunch.

You want to keep it cheap and good? Three words: Spanish Sparkling Wines.

#3 Darrel Manson

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 06:19 PM

You are certainly baiting me. We probably do 3-5 bottles a week. (And there have been times when we had wine every night.) One episode of PBS's version of Brideshead Revisited, the butler was bemoaning the cut in family income and said, "we have enough wine to last for 10 years, but what will we do after that." I thought it funny at the time, but now that I have about 20 cases, the question seems much more serious. And we often do pay more than $10 for a bottle, although we enjoy finding the good wines that are below that. Most of those, these days come from Australia or Chile, although there are exceptions from California. Often the really pricey ones we take to a restaurant and pay the corkage.

We rarely have a sweet wine, such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer (finding a dry version is usually a cause for celebration - which means we drink it.)

My personal favorite varieties are: Sangiovese (the stuff they use to make Chianti), Zinfandel, occasionally a good strong Petite Sirah (not to be confused with Syrah), Pinot Noir (depending on style).

Favorite inexpensive wines include Louis Martini Merlots and Cabs. A very good sangiovese that we got for $11 is Vitae (Italian, Puglia)

Whites: Pinot Grigio is usually a good choice, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay (depending on style), occasionally a nice Viogner.

#4 Darren H

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Posted 13 March 2005 - 11:17 PM

Joanna and I are remodeling a home that we bought a year ago and that was owned previously by the guy who teaches most of the wine tasting courses here in Knoxville. You'd be amazed by some of the places that we have found corks and wine stains. Apparently he stored more than $100k worth of wine in our basement.

I'm an absolute wine novice who tends to drift indiscriminately toward $8 Merlots, so please keep the suggestions flowing.

#5 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 01:27 AM

QUOTE(Darren H @ Mar 14 2005, 12:17 AM)
I'm an absolute wine novice who tends to drift indiscriminately toward $8 Merlots, so please keep the suggestions flowing.

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AHA! Is there a Trader Joe near you? They have really offbeat wines. They have an Italian red that is a variation on a Barolo (real good ones fetch $25-$45). Apparantly, only a certain small portion of the harvest each year is set aside for that region's Barolo. What to do with the rest of the harvest? They make this great, robust "Bastardo" is what they do. $7.99. Never seen it anywhere else.


#6 Darren H

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 10:02 AM

No Trader Joe's in Knoxville, but I heard a story about that wine on NPR -- "Splendid Table," I think. Apparently it was not uncommon for wine enthusiasts to walk into a Trader Joe's, buy one bottle from each case, sample them in the parking lot, then rush back into the store to buy the few cases that sported the great wine.

#7 Darrel Manson

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 03:52 PM

Last night's wine was interesting. It was an 01 Zoom Zin, D'Ambrosia Vineyard. It didn't have typical zin character of blackberry and black pepper. In stead it wasvery fruity - like drinking cherry juice. It was harvested at 28 Brix and ended up with an alcohol content of 15%! In spite of that high alcohol, it didn't taste hot. It would be better with dessert than with dinner. We'll probably use the 1/2 bottle left (my wife switched to wine in a box) to stew strawberries in.

#8 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 07:04 PM

Never quite took to Zin myself. I always wanted to cut it with a different wine.

#9 Christian

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Posted 14 March 2005 - 07:10 PM

QUOTE(Rich Kennedy @ Mar 14 2005, 07:04 PM)
Never quite took to Zin myself. I always wanted to cut it with a different wine.

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I'm not a big fan either, as evinced by my list.

#10 Darren H

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 09:46 AM

Christian, you should be happy to know that I literally printed out your wine list and carried it with me to the liquor store last night. I picked up a magnum-sized bottle of the Rosemont Grenasche/Shiraz, which seemed a steal for $9.99 (and which will come in handy when my parents visit this weekend), and a bottle of the Falesco Vitiano, which provoked some interest from the clerk. He'd never tried it and was hoping that I could give him more feedback than, "Well, a friend recommended it." Joanna loves sweet whites, so she took the recommendation of another clerk and picked up a Gewurztraminer. I can't recall the label.

#11 Christian

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 09:56 AM

QUOTE(Darren H @ Mar 15 2005, 09:46 AM)
Christian, you should be happy to know that I literally printed out your wine list and carried it with me to the liquor store last night.  I picked up a magnum-sized bottle of the Rosemont Grenasche/Shiraz, which seemed a steal for $9.99 (and which will come in handy when my parents visit this weekend), and a bottle of the Falesco Vitiano, which provoked some interest from the clerk.  He'd never tried it and was hoping that I could give him more feedback than, "Well, a friend recommended it."  Joanna loves sweet whites, so she took the recommendation of another clerk and picked up a Gewurztraminer.  I can't recall the label.

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Now I feel a heavy sense of ... responsibility.

I hope you enjoy the wines. The Falesco Vitiano was recommended by a co-worker, and when I arrived at the wine store, they had an open bottle for tasting. It was to my liking, so I grabbed bottle. Wish I'd grabbed two.

#12 Darrel Manson

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Posted 20 March 2005 - 09:54 PM

For those of you bargain wine drinkers, we had one tonight you might be interested in. 2003 Trinchero Chardonnay. We bought it this month at Trader Joe's for $7, although my wife says it's pretty ubiquitous. It had decent fruit with a bit of pinapple. It was slightly astringent, but pretty good for the price. We're planning on buying more.

#13 Darrel Manson

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 10:11 PM

QUOTE(Darrel Manson @ Mar 20 2005, 06:54 PM)
For  those of you bargain wine drinkers, we had one tonight you might be interested in.  2003 Trinchero Chardonnay.  We bought it this month at Trader Joe's for $7, although my wife says it's pretty ubiquitous.  It had decent fruit with a bit of pinapple.  It was slightly astringent, but pretty good for the price.  We're planning on buying more.

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I love quoting myself mf_clown.gif

Adding to this, let me tell you about Sat. night dinner. we had folks over, so we had more than one bottle ready. My wife bought some more Trinchero at Ralph's (s. Calif. version of Kroger). She didn't note that she got 2001 and 2002 vintages. Those both had the %age of grapes by county listed on label (2003 may have as well, but I didn't note them.)

2001: 20% Napa, 14% Santa Barbara, 53% Monterrey, 13% Lake
2002: 37% Napa, 26% Santa Barbara, 17% Monterrey, 20% Lake

These were two very different wines. The 2002 was difinitely more of a toasty chardonnay with more wood than the 2001. Both were certainly servicible, but not interchangable.

If you can find these $7 bottles around in different vintages, it will give you a shot at doing a little self-education via vertical tasting.

Edited by Darrel Manson, 28 March 2005 - 10:13 PM.


#14 Darrel Manson

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Posted 17 April 2005 - 09:12 AM

Hate to let such a great topic drop down the list. And some bragging to do.

Today is my wife's and my anniversary, so last night (more convenient than tonight) we did a nice dinner at a higher price steak place. Took a bottle from cellar and paid the corkage. Took a 1992 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir. (Farrell is one of the reaaly good winemakers in Sonoma County - works or has worked at various other wineries in addition to his own label.) This is from the Russian River Valley, which I think is the place for PN. There were some cork problems (slight shrinkage and leakage made it hard to open and it had to be decanted (which isn't every a bad idea with wine to get the esters moving around.) In spite of the cork, the wine was still good, nice fruit, very pleasant.

Then this morning, my wife showed me her anniversary present to us, a bottle of Hope and Grace Cabernet. (A higher priced cab that we'll no doubt lay down for at least 5 more years) Basically she bought it for the name, since I'm always hopeful and she's always graceful. [/sarcasm]

A much nicer present than my contribution - a new lawn mower. (The old one managed to die yesterday.) But mine cost more!

#15 Christian

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Posted 17 April 2005 - 09:31 AM

Congratulations on the anniversary, Darrell! Marriage is a wonderful thing.

We consumed our bottle of Falesco Vitiano last week. It was pleasant, although not as complex as I thought when I sampled it earlier. Still, hard to beat for a bottle under $10.

We've also finished the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (refreshing), and I'm about halfway through my Hardys Tawny Port, which, consumed post-dinner, always leads to crazy dreams.

Meanwhile, The Secrets of Wine, a library DVD from a label called Millenium Interactive, awaits me. The packaging is a bit dated, as is the approach to the summary on the back of the sleeve ("Just pop-in the DVD anbd let us show you how to 'BECOME A CORK MASTER!'"), so I was surprised to find that the copyright is 2004. It probably won't tell me much that I don't already know, but I could use a refresher.

As I write this, I'm home with a sick baby, while my wife and older daughter are at church, so maybe I'll go pop in the DVD ... right .... now.

Edited by Christian, 17 April 2005 - 09:40 AM.


#16 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 17 April 2005 - 04:24 PM

Congratulations Darrell! A LAWNMOWER!! You devil, you. I think I'd be shot for that.

I agree that this thread should occasionally be revived (as should the dinner thread). Shaking off the horrid things I've been reading for so long about California Chardonnays, I finally broke down and bought a Bogle Chard ('03) that I have to serve strategically (night before a mutual day off). Bogle has consistently been rated rather high and always "best value" by the couple I follow in "Weekend Journal".

Speaking of PN's, a vendor gave me a sample bottle of a Napa Ridge ('02) to try the other day. It'll be our first Pinot.

#17 Greg P

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 09:23 AM

Now for a little comic relief. For the record, I've never tried Cisco but after reading this review it's certainly tempting.

#18 Darryl A. Armstrong

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 09:47 AM

I used to work at a winery, Mount Hope Estate & Winery (there's a picture of the place I worked at on the bottom of the page). I probably don't know enough about wine as I should for having worked there, but my favorite part was when we gave tours and ocassionally we'd have some French tourists (visiting Amish country for some unknown reason) and they'd taste the wine and stick their noses in the air, or better yet, they'd refuse to taste it at all.

Personally, I usually drink a cabernet or merlot, although I try to experiment with other wines once in awhile.



#19 Darrel Manson

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 02:22 PM

So, now more people can steal our wonderful California wine (and the half-assed cheap stuff we make as well.) Anybody getting their order together to have shipped?

Supreme Court opens wine shipments

#20 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 19 May 2005 - 06:19 PM

Being in one of the two states who's laws were struck down, I welcome this. OTOH, the Liquor Commission will now lobby to shut down all mail orders within the state as well. We have suffered under the most arcane collection of post-prohibition laws short of dry in the nation. This silly flap is but the most recent dustup between '30's social activism and modern times. It took 10 years to clean up the brewery laws so that we could have brew pubs. Who knows how long this will take. In the meantime, it inhibits my chances of laying in more Mawby Redd (sparkling red wine from the wine country of the Lelanau Peninsula) for the future.