Twin Cities Articles
Sad News No TC Wine Ninja
I was looking so forward to someone who works for a wine distributor giving the consumers of the Twin Cities the best buying advice. Well according to Jason Kallsen the TC Wine Ninja did not and will not happen. I guess you will not know about some of these deals I found in the past.
A quote from Jason Kallsen about this Ninja:
"Three years ago when I did the massive overhaul of twincitieswine.com I added some cool categories and features that I simply haven't had the time to implement (such as the TC Wine Ninja ... which was going to be a secret shopper of sorts to ferret out wine deals around town). These features simply didn't fall under my definition of good work, and thus I'm not going to do them. Instead, I'll put my energy into other ideas such as..."
My wine Ninja has found these deals and more:
2005 Fernand & Laurent Pillot Pommard 1er Cru Rugiens $6 ($40 plus elsewhere).
Joh Jos Prum wines $7 (Kabinett, Spatlese and Auslese wines for $7, try $20 to $50 elsewhere).
Andrea Oberto Albarella Barolo $14 (Try $60 and up).
I am staring a new wine buying advice service which will run your $30 a year and I guarantee you will save that in your first month. Stay tuned for more details.
Fellow Local Wine Educators Changing it up???
While Wineglas stays the same and offers the best wine advice in Minnesota others are venturing into new businesses and I can't say they are offer the consumer great advice.
Tons of hype and no product in 2012. I am not sure what happened as potential was there. Of course some of the local biased media got behind this project prior to it even getting off the ground.
Our local go to gal for wine is somehow involved in promoting Aldi wines. While I am sure they are fine for the price I have a zero desire promoting super market wines. I hope it pays well.
Reverse Wine Snob
If you know anything about me you know price of the wine has nothing to do with quality however I don't camp out in the under $20 wine isle. With all the adds and the ability to buy based off of reviews I am not sure this advice isn't compromised.
A Good Local Wine Blog
Bill Ward does a nice job overall offer interesting articles, interviews and occasionally a good wine review.
Check him out at: http://www.decant-this.com/
Great Local Wine Shops & More Info to Make 2012 a Great Wine Year for You!
Let's start with where I buy locally. My top shops are:
Hennepin Lake- Best everyday pricing in the Twin Cities along with some really nice wines to sample on weekends. Just tell Phil you know me and see what he pours you! Check or cash only so bring your wade of hundreds. They also have by far the best tasting of the year in the fall. For $25 the best tasting in the Midwest and makes the Food and Wine Show look like a joke which to me it is.
Winestreets- Best wine shop in town for wine over $30 and maybe in the nation depending on the sale. Best for Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone in the Twin Cities. One shop has more inventory but their prices are terrible on fine wines.
Sorella- is solid when they have a sale. They at times have some decant free tastings so get on their email blast.
Best of the rest. Haskell's, Surdyk's, Lakeside (Long Lake), and Big Top and I am not talking about their normal wines on their shelves. All are solid when they have a sale but prices tend to be high when they don't.
My competition including the glossy magazines seem to promote the highest priced shops in town and I can't figure out if they get a take or just don't understand wine that well. Maybe a combo of both. To me it is silly to pay $40 for a Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs when I get get it from Phil at Henn Lake for $22. Don't listen to a food critic for you wine choices or a gal pal that promotes any brand for whatever reason I don't know. Let the wine review professional inform you on the best wines and deals in town.
Other Great Things in the Wine World
1. Cellar Tracker
As a professional wine reviewer even I like a balanced approach to making certain purchases and this site not only shows what other "wine geek's" think but has a feature that allows you to see who has it in around the country. Check it out at:
2. J J Buckley
A solid wine shop in California that offers some really good deals especially on their private client offerings. Email me if you are a serious buyer and I will set you up with my contact.
A lot of bad wine but when they have a good deal they are hard to beat. Lot's of emails everyday that I delete. Best customer service in the wine industry.
An aerator and yes they work. I use them on just about any red wine I drink.
You can find them locally for around $35.
5. Wineglas on Twitter
All my reviews come right to you!
6. Wineglas Grand Cru Newsletter
I don't do a free Newsletter anymore as I need to be paid for my time and when I find the best deals on wine in America I am sure you can afford the $25 to sign up for my private newsletter.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for payment information.
Thanksgiving Wines 2011
When you finish preparing for the Holiday Feast there usually is at least 10 side dishes, a Turkey, Ham, etc. and dessert to worry about. I have some suggestions for pairing wine with all this food that are available at Hennepin Lake and on sale!
Trying to pair this feast is really not an exact Science but here is what I do:
Champagne to start
N.V. Piper Heidsieck $26.95 (Wonderful new non vintage)
N.V. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut $13.99 (nice acidity and fruit)
The Main Course
2009 Dr. Loosen Dr. L Riesling $9.99 (always a crowd pleaser)
2009 Ridge Lytton Springs $29.95 (Zinfandel Blend)
2009 Ken Wright Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $21.95 (Great producer)
Also the Etude Rose of Pinot Noir is outstanding ($19) along with a Rhone White Blend from Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas ($24).
A few fun reds to sample:
2008 Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red - Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway
Certainly the best value wine I tasted with spice, cherry, blueberries and sweet fruit on the palate. Medium finish and just an easy drinking wine. (89 pts.) $10
2007 Two Angels Petite Sirah Shannon Ridge - USA, California, North Coast, High Valley
Nice wine with dust, floral, cherry and spices. Not a fruit bomb and balance overall. Medium finish. Drink now. (90 pts.) $18?
My list is a little more detailed than a fellow wine educator who just offers the generic ideas of Zinfandel, Riesling and Vouvray. Doesn't really help one get a quality wine.
My Top 3 Wines of 2011
The first quarter is over and I have sampled a ton of wines and 3 wines stand at the top and they are all whites!
1. 2004 Weingut Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Schloßberg Riesling Spätlese - Germany, Rheingau (3/22/2011)
My current wine of the year! Super rich and expressive with candied pineapple, petrol, apricot, peach slate and a real thick texture. Super long finish and complexity is off the charts. Very few wines under $50 are this impressive and a leading candidate for wine of the year. 95-97. (95 points)
*This wine will be a tough wine to dethrone for the year as I only paid around $30 for it.
2. 2005 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series - Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Margaret River (1/19/2011)
Minneapolis Wine Club: Chardonnay (Gail's House): Easily the best Chardonnay in recent memory. It is rare to see reviewers agree on anything and this was wine of the night by the group with over 80% in agreement. Very fragrant with orange peel, almonds, apple, pear and lemons. The palate shows some oak that is nicely integrated into the wine. Very complex finish and long. No flaws in this wine. Back the truck up if it could be found for under $50 but I will buy a few more bottles to see this wine evolve. I love the fact that it is a screw cap! (95 points)
*This is one of the best Chardonnay's I have ever tasted. Hard to find this for under $75 but if you can buy it!
3. 2006 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos - France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru (3/19/2011)
Minneapolis Wine Club does Burgundy (Cote D'Or) (Beth's House): A wonderful wine with lemon, chalk, tropical fruit and minerals on the nose and palate. A really long finish and concentrated wine. Great acidity and one of the best Chablis wines to date. (94 points)
*The best quality in regards to quality is found in Chablis. Fevre is one of the best producers in the world of Chardonnay and this wine can be found locally on sale for $60.
We will see what the next quarter holds but whites rule this time.
Top Five Wine Bars in the Twin Cities (2010)
After 60 plus hours of researching, visiting and annualize wine bars in the Twin Cites I believe this top five list is the most comprehensive examination ever published. Many wine bars fall short of offer quality wine and unlike too many critics I look at the quality of the wine and food instead of the ambience.
Bonny Doon Tasting at Sorella's
Randall Grahm was in town promoting his new book and we were able to sample some interesting and amazing wines. To get more in site into this unique man check out Grape Radio.
2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant en demi-muid - USA, California, Central Coast (6/28/2010)
60% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 4% Cinsault. Medium purple and features raspberries, tobacco, cherry, and spices. On the palate the wine is showing a touch of sweet fruits and subtle oak. The finish is pleasing and medium tannins present. An enjoyable US CDP experience. 92 points
Day 3 Experience is even better!
Roasted meats, scorched earth, raspberries, blueberries, minerals and spices. A wonderful, long finish packed with flavor. A beautiful wine. 94 points (94 pts.
2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare - USA, California (6/29/2010)
Really nice Rose wine with strawberry, minerals, rose petals and cherry. Medium finish. (89 pts.)
2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc - USA, California (6/29/2010)
Very interesting wine with floral, orange peels, melons, honey suckles, and minerals. Medium finish. (89 pts.)
2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Albariño Ca' del Solo - USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County (6/29/2010)
What a great wine and as good as anything I have had from Spain. Medium gold with minerals, floral, tropical fruit, and spices. Good acidity and I can see this going really well with shell fish. Dynamite wine. (91 pts.)
2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Muscat Ca' del Solo - USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County (6/29/2010)
Subtle nose with a touch of sweetness on the palate along with minerals, lemon, and tropical fruits. (87 pts.)
2006 Bonny Doon Vineyard Nebbiolo Ca' del Solo - USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County (6/29/2010)
Cigar, earth and forest floor. Certainly not guessing Piedmont on the effort but it is interesting. Really tannic at the moment and could use some cellar time or a serious decant. (87 pts.)
2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vinferno Vinferno - USA, California, Central Coast, Arroyo Seco (6/29/2010)
Sweet wine with apricots, floral, peach and honey. Thick in texture and solid medium finish. (90 pts.)
2005 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant - USA, California (6/29/2010)
My favorite of all the Bonny Doon wines sampled. Roasted meat, spices, raspberries, dust and minerals. One would be fooled on this blind and guess it is a CDP in my opinion. Very nice wine and good concentration. Well done! (94 pts.)
2006 Bonny Doon Vineyard Syrah Le Pousseur - USA, California, Central Coast (6/29/2010)
Drinking really well with ripe fruit, spices, earth and black pepper. Medium finish and a great value for under $20. (91 pts.)
2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Carignane Contra - USA, California, Central Coast (6/29/2010)
Great fruit forward styled wine with spice, cherry, plum and cigar. Medium finish and great concentration to the wine. Drinking well right now! (91 pts.)
2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant en foudre - USA, California, Central Coast (6/29/2010)
Mineral and earth driven wine with spices, raspberries and medium tannins. Medium finish. (92 pts.)
Kitchak Cellars Release Party Minneapolis
Peter Kitchak and Ralph Bashioum started Kitchak Cellars a few years ago with the simple goal of making World Class wines from California. Everything they make is outstanding! Here are the notes from the event.
- 2007 Kitchak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Scherzo - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (5/12/2010)
One of the best domestic rose wines I have ever tasted made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cherry, rose petals, spice, subtle oak and vanilla are the components of the wine. It has some tannins present and could be enjoyed with a steak. Dry in style and really an interesting wine. (90 pts.)
- 2009 Kitchak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Scherzo - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (5/12/2010)
Completely different then the 2007 and more Provence like. Nose of strawberries, minerals, spices and earth. Lively acidity and a solid finish. Again a well made Rose wine from 100% Cabernet. (89 pts.)
- 2006 Kitchak Cellars Vivace - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (5/12/2010)
A delicate wine featuring chalk, grapefruit, lemon and a candied apricot finish. Drinking well right now but I would not wait to long on consuming this wine. (90 pts.)
- 2007 Kitchak Cellars Vivace - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (5/12/2010)
A wonderful wine with a nose of lemon, subtle oak, chalk, pineapple and minerals. On the palate this wine picks up a candied apple note and the oak is subtle. Medium finish and good acidity. This mainly Rhone style wine is 47% Marsanne, 47% Rousanne and 6% Chardonnay (adds a nice element to the wine). (92 pts.)
- 2008 Kitchak Cellars Vivace - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (5/12/2010)
My favorite of the three Vivace-Ermitage Blanc wines sampled but not by much. Floral, honey suckles, lemon and minerals make up the nose. Very light oak compared to the 07 with an interesting carmel and buttery quality that picks up on the finish. Medium finish and really balanced wine. No flaws here! (93 pts.)
- 2006 Kitchak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Adagio - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena (5/12/2010)
A blend of 47% Cabernet, 32% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Medium purple and the nose is powerful with pepper, blackberries, cherry, floral and spices. There is a gravel note on the palate and medium finish. A wine at 15.2% alcohol that does not show any heat on the nose or palate. Well balanced and drinking really well right now. I was amazed how subtle the oak was for being aged 29 months. (93 pts.)
- 2006 Kitchak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Concerto To-Kalon - USA, California, Napa Valley, Oakville (5/12/2010)
This is an amazing effort! Cassis, spices, oak, vanilla and minerals on the impressive nose. Full of life on the palate with flavors bouncing all over the mouth. Dark fruits, integrated oak, vanilla, spices and minerals are present and the wine is perfectly balanced. Medium and concentrated finish. Easily this wine will age for a decade. (12 views) (95 pts.)
Simple Burg Tasting at Haskell's
I tasted some Red Burgundy wines at a local wine shop and was disappointed. For $15 to $20 (some more) these Pinot Noir wines lack quality for the price. Burgundy is the most expensive region in the world for the quality you get back. My advice head WEST my friends and drink some Oregon Pinot Noir for under $20.
- 2004 Ballot-Millot & Fils Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
Spice and earth dominate the nose and palate. Still tannic and drinkable overall. Good started Burg. (86 pts.)
- 2005 Domaine Dubois Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
Medium purple. Water, spice and a weak finish. Pass. (80 pts.)
- 2006 Henri de Villamont Pinot Noir Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
Light color. Bubble gum and cherry. Short finish and too acidic. (81 pts.)
- 2005 Jean-Philippe Marchand Bourgogne Cuvée Alexis - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
Light purple. Nose of spice, cherry, and minerals. Nice overall palate and medium finish. Solid intro Burg. (87 pts.)
- 2007 Louis Latour Pinot Noir Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
Subtle nose with spice, cherry and floral on the palate. Short finish. (85 pts.)
- 2003 Domaine Dubois Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits
Spice and a funk on the nose. The palate shows dirt and spice. Medium finish. Over the hill. (80 pts.)
- 2005 Jean-Claude Boisset Mercurey - France, Burgundy, Côte Chalonnaise, Mercurey
Medium purple. Nose of spice, floral and earth. Medium tannins and medium on the finish. Overall a nice wine. (87 pts.)
- 1999 Francoise Chauvenet Volnay Les Richarmes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Volnay
Overall the hill. No fruit, some floral, a funk that is not positive. (80 pts.)
- 2004 Henri de Villamont Savigny-lès-Beaune - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune
Medium purple. Nose of spice and floral. Simple palate. (86 pts.)
- 2005 R. Dubois Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru
Medium purple. Nose of spice, floral, and cedar. On the palate cedar, floral and earth. Good acidity overall. (87 pts.)
- 2005 Hospices de Beaune Beaune 1er Cru Cuvée Rousseau Deslandes Bouchard Père et Fils (Hospices Auction Group) - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune 1er Cru
Second time trying this wine. Nice nose of floral, spice, cedar and truffles. On the palate it shows some fruit with strawberries and raspberries. Medium finish and an interesting stone quality is added. (90 pts.)
Minnesota Monthly Food & Wine Experience
I thought the event was better then I expected and the reserve room featured some nice wines. Is it worth $80 including the Reserve Room? For me no but for the average wine drinker I can justify the price and being able to sample a variety of wines without being rushed.
A few ideas for next year:
*Upgrade the Show Floor. Haskell's Spring Wine Sale was free and it had far superior wines. With the exception of the Meek Family Estates the Show Floor was disappointing.
*Better glassware. You can not smell out of the bulky stems they gave everyone. I never leave home without a good stem.
*Better seminars and more educational. I poured for over 500 people and not one of them knew about the tasting process. There should be professional wine educators teaching about wine to benefit the consumer.
*Best of Show. The best wines at the show were not even entered in the Best of Show. What is the point in giving out medals?
*Teach people about a spit bucket. I had more people say you really didn't like that wine when I spit it out. We really don't need over 1,000 people on the highway that are double the legal limit.
Charity Minnesota Medical Foundation
City Pages Article
Buying Wine on a Budget
People are still drinking wine in a down economy, but they are shifting their buying habits. Wines $15 and under are flying off the shelves but the Great Growths of Bordeaux, Grand Cru Burgundies and high end California Cabernet Sauvignon are collecting dust. With global competition and strings of solid vintages, great wines are available from Germany, New Zealand, Washington State, Australia, Argentina, and the Rhone. Finding everyday wines is easier than ever before with local wine shops increasing in-store tastings, posting professional wine reviews from Wine Spectator and Robert Parker, and training staff to have a better understanding of what consumer’s desire. In the past year the following shops have done a great job allowing consumers to try before you buy: Hennepin Lake, Surdyk’s, Haskell’s, Sorella and Aurora Wines & Spirits. Many of my friends in our local wine club have been exchanging everyday wine favorites ($15 average) with each other. It is almost a game to see who can claim the best wine recommendation without breaking the budget and in blind tastings some of these wines have even finished in the top three against wines four times the price. I encourage you to have a themed wine tasting of everyday wines at your next social gathering with friends. The following wine regions highlight specific wines even your “wine snob” neighbor, coworker, or family member can appreciate.
Germany is known as the farthest Northern quality growing region in the world. Along with France, Germany has produced great wines consistently for over 100 years. The rest of the world started to catch up in the 60s, 70s and 80s. German Riesling has been misunderstood by consumers in the belief that it is sweet. The reality is that German Riesling from the Mosel, Rhine and Nahe River Valleys is made in a trocken (dry) style and features wines with higher acidity. The soil in the best vineyard sites is dominated by slate which helps absorb the sun to ripen the grapes. The higher acidity is perfect for pairing with foods, especially spicy Thai food, fish and white meats.
2008 Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling $12
This is my go to everyday Riesling as it features apple, pear, minerals and a touch of honey.
2007 St. Urbans Hof Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Riesling $15
This features the classic slate quality along with floral, pear and apricots and a medium finish.
2007 Leitz Rudesheimer Klosterlay Kabinett Riesling $18
Sweeter than the other 2 and features ripe peaches, minerals, and honey suckles. The term Kabinett means it is a wine with special qualities and is sourced from better vineyard sites.
Marlborough, New Zealand
A few thousand miles away is the farthest Southern quality growing region in the world, New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the 3 principal grapes from this country, but the Sauvignon Blanc put them on the map. Most of the wines at the various price points show consistent quality and feature characteristics of grapefruit, limes, minerals and grassy notes. One feature many consumers enjoy is the stainless steal fermentation technique over the bitter qualities and tannic quality you get from oak barreling. A few consistent producers are:
2008 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $15
A popular wine featured in most wine shops and restaurant lists. This wine is balanced with grass, lime, grapefruit and minerals. Enjoy this wine with shell fish or a garden fresh salad with a citrus vinaigrette dressing.
2008 Nobilo “Icon” Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc $16
This is the best Sauvignon Blanc I have sampled in quite some time. An intense wine featuring grapefruit, lemons, sour apples and fresh cut grass. Try this with a red snapper and vegetable dish.
One would think Washington gets too much rain to grow the Vitus Vinifera grapes, but on average the Columbia Valley, Walla Walla and Yakima Valley receive less than 20 inches a year. This is due to the Cascades trapping the moisture and not distributing it to Eastern Washington. While the number one planted grape is Riesling the reds are what make Washington great. Corporate producers such as Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Hogue dominate the shelf space and produce nice wines. I highly recommend the Columbia Crest Two Vines line for those on a $7 and under budget.
A few smaller producers are making great wine that will pair well with a burger, pizza and steak.
2006 Meek Family Vineyards WJ Yakima Valley Syrah $16
A powerhouse wine with smoke, bacon, red currants and a medium, concentrate finish.
2007 Barnard Griffin Columbia Valley Syrah $15
This wine features wild flowers, minerals, and dark fruits. It has a long finish and sure to be a crowd pleaser.
2006 Sheridan Vineyards Kamiakin Yakima Valley Red Blend $13
This wine is very smooth and drinking well right now. It features oak, chocolate, plum and cherry flavors interwoven into a suburb wine for the price.
In the last ten years Australia has focused more attention on making good wines at the $15 price point. While Penfolds Grange and Torbreck Run Rig are over $200 a bottle, there is plenty of inexpensive, quality wines to choose from. The main red wines feature Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. The Western regions such as Margaret River and Pemberton will offer nice Chardonnays that pair well with sea food.
2007 Marquis Philips Sarah’s Blend Southeast Australia Shiraz $14
The last handful of vintages have been great and this wine delivers with blackberries, pepper and floral notes. Pair this with barbeque ribs or Mexican food. If you want to splurge try the Marquis Philip’s S9 Shiraz at around $30 a bottle.
2007 Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Padthaway Red Blend $10
This wine is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot and is balanced. It features smooth tannins and combines fruit and earth components beautifully. You can enjoy this with your favorite show.
2006 R Wines Chris Ringland Cr Shiraz $15
One of the best wines under $15 I have sampled all year. Chris Ringland makes one of the most expensive wines in Australia, but now offers a value series. It is a powerhouse wine with blackberries, black pepper and spices. A medium and concentrated finish is sure to complement any steak.
Malbec is one of the original grapes of Bordeaux along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Rarely used in the final Bordeaux Blend Malbec made its mark in Argentina where it is the countries signature grape. The main wine region in Argentina is Mendoza which is adjacent to the Andes Mountains. While there are some expensive Malbec wines, the bulk of them are sold under $20. I would highly advise spending between $12 and $20 for these wines as the ones under $10 have been extremely disappointing.
2005 Conquista Reserva Mendoza Malbec $16
One of the best Malbec wines I have sampled under $30. This wine exhibits a wonderful concentration of smoke, toasted oak, plum, cherry and crushed rock. It is hard to believe a wine could be this good for under $15. Drink solo and enjoy!
2008 Crios de Susana Balbo Mendoza Malbec $12
Pepper, spice, and blackberry on this medium finishing wine. Try with a red sauce pasta and meat.
2007 Clos de Los Siete Mendoza Red Blend $16
Michael Rolland one of the most sought after wine consultants in the world has created this value wine in the Mendoza Region of Argentina. It is a blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This wine features blackberry, pepper, floral and sour cherry notes. It is tannic and requires a slab of ribs or juicy burger.
The Rhone Valley in Southern France might be the best wine region in the world right now, in relation to quality and price. Everyday Côtes du Rhône wines and Roses from Tavel are affordable and offer enjoyable tasting experiences. The Rhone is known for two main grapes, which are Syrah (Northern Rhone) and Grenache (Southern Rhone). Grenache is the focus for these wines and often times they are blended with additional grape varieties from the Rhone.
2007 Perrin & Fils Côtes du Rhône-Villages $15
Floral, cherry and spices explode out of the glass with a medium finish to follow. Try with a variety of beef dishes.
2007 Delas St. Espirt Côtes du Rhône $13
A super bargain and often under $10 on sale. This is an earthy based wine with minerals, floral and tar. Not a wine to be drunk solo so try with wild game.
2007 Domaine Lafond Roc-epine Tavel $15
Tavel is a sub region of the Rhone which produces just Rose style wines mainly out of the Grenache and Cinsaut grapes. The way they get the light color is the grape skins have limited contact with the wine and are quickly removed. This wine has wonderful flavors of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Try this as a starter wine for Thanksgiving dinner or enjoy with the turkey.
I hope these recommendations help you select good wines at affordable prices.
John Glas conducts a variety of wine related events for corporations and the general public. Visit him on the web at www.wineglas.com.
John Glas of Wineglas
Available at Lakeside (Long Lake)
One of the biggest breakthroughs in the wine world in the last 5 years is the serious upgraded Rosé category. Rosé wines are made with red grape varieties, but are less tannic due to the production technique. For example, when fermenting Rosé Pinot Noir the winemaker will quickly remove the skins from the process to add just a slight pink color.
Areas that produce good Rosé wines are Provence, The Rhone (Tavel!), Languedoc-Roussillon, California and Oregon. These top wines are always made in a dry style meaning almost all or all of the sugar has been fermented. Some common grapes used in make Rosé wines are Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Syrah.
The top Rosé wines in the world are from Champagne, France and are made from the Pinot Noir grape. These Sparkling wines are extremely expensive and rare.
For more budget friendly recommendations try (all under $18):
2008 Boedecker Cellars Reflection Pinot Noir Rosé
This wine features fresh strawberries, banana, and floral aromas. It is well balanced and will be perfect on a hot day.
2007 Domaine Pique Rogue Cotes De Provence Rosé
This pink wine will wow you with pleasant minerals, lemon, and strawberry aromas and flavors.
2006 Simi Roseto Syrah Rosé
A light wine with strawberry, rhubarb, and crushed rock. Chill and serve.
Does Temperature Matter?
Normally people ask the serving temperature of wines but I thought I would dive into the shipping temperature of wines to see if it matters. The experiment: Serve a wine cellared perfectly, serve a wine stored a week in 90 degree temperatures and one that is stored in my freezer. The reason for the experiment is far to often wine delivered to your local wine shop goes through this abusive process. I see local delivery trucks driving around on 100 degree days and no refrigeration on board.
Normal Storage Review:
2004 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero $$$
Color: Medium purple
Nose: Oak, mineral, vanilla
Taste: Oak, mineral, plum, raspberry, cherry, firm tannins
Finish: Medium with a nice balance of earth and fruit
Evaluation: The wine drank well overall but still needs cellar time. 88 points
2004 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero $$$
Color: Dirty purple
Nose: Oak, stewed prunes
Taste: Stewed prunes, oak, earth
Finish: Medium but repulsive
Evaluation: Heat did some serious damage to this wine 70 points
2004 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero $$$
Color: Medium purple
Nose: Oak, vanilla
Taste: Oak and earth dominate
Finish: Oak, vanilla, and earth tones
Evaluation: While better then the Heat damaged wine it lack the fruit component 80 points
Keep your receipts on all wine as you never know how long your wine was sitting on a palate on the coasts as it gets imported into the US. Also this reinforces the fact that you should follow a taste process on drinking wine as when I didn't use my 5 step process it was much harder to detect the flaws in the wine.
Does Temperature Matter?
While this focused on the shipping of wines at various temperatures follow my 15 minute rule for serving at home.
Pour a glass of white from the fridge and wait 15 minutes before sampling to enjoy all of the flavors of the wine.
Some people will actually chill reds for 15 minutes before serving. For me I don't notice a major difference but give it a try.
Oregon Wine Tasting
The Wine Company (Artisan Vineyards)
A Benefit for the Land Stewardship Project
This was the most amazing tasting for $20 I have attended in my career. Open to anyone in the Twin Cities, this tasting was perfect for learning about the wonderful world of Oregon wines. My wine flight of the night was from Bergstrom and while the most expensive wines at the event they certainly made some winners from a less then stellar vintage.
Why Wine Shop Recommendations Don't Work!
When the average consumer walks into to a shop they are at the mercy of the wine shop owner when it comes to getting the best bottle of wine for the money. Unless you are on Parker Online, Wine Spectator, Cellar Tracker, or try as many wines as me, it is difficult to know which wines are the best buy for the money. Even at my level, wine shop owners don't always deliver on their recommendations. Here is a great example: A friend and I wanted to try an Oregon Pinot for $20 and were given the following: 2007 O'Reilly's Oregon Pinot Noir $20
This past weekend (2010) a friend who listens to my picks went to a local shop to grab the 2008 Dr. Loosen Dr. L but they were out and recommended Dillman Delight Riesling. This is the closest thing to water that I can recall in recent memory.
Here is my less than favorable review:
2007 O'Reilly's Oregon Pinot Noir $$$
Nose: Violets, cranberries
Taste: Weak wine with a hint of violets
Finish: Light and too acidic
Evaluation: Terrible recommendation from a wine shop 80 points
The 2007 Castle Rock Monterey Pinot Noir is a much better wine and half the price. Here is my recent review:
2007 Castle Rock Monterey County Pinot Noir $$
Color: Medium purple
Nose: Intense with spice and smoke
Taste: Cranberries, sharp acidity, smoke and spice
Finish: Medium and good concentration for a cheaper wine
Evaluation: The best Pinot under $10 on sale I have ever tasted 88 points
While some shops are better than others at recommendations, the overall majority of help is useless, in my opinion. There are not many Twin City Wine Industry folk reviewing wine at a high level and concerned about you, the consumer, getting the best bottle in your hands.
Anyone who took advantage of these recommendations were treated to one of the better Pinots under $20 in recent memory.
2006 Stangeland Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Wineglas 92 points -A huge hit at corporate events
2005 Fess Parker Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 89 points
Too often consumers don't pay attention to details when buying wine and shop closest to where they live. This is not a good if your salesperson is 22 and doesn't know the difference between Pinot Noir & Pinot Grigio.
Other than my wine recommendations, the number one ranked salesperson in town, according to me, is Taylor Stein at Hennepin Lake. If you want someone to explain wine and say this is good and this one is bad then see him. Far too many shops buy bad wine at a good discount and push it out the door. Also, don't forget the great free samples on Friday and Saturday at Hennepin Lake. Tell them John Glas sent you.
Other shops that can deliver (depends on who you talk to):
Haskell's (really varies)
Valentines Day Champagne and Sparkling Wines
Champagne is on the label of bottles only from the Champagne Wine Region. No one else can use the name in the world. The category is call Sparkling Wine and you will see a variety of names around the world. Here are some useful educational points about the Sparkling Wine.
Check out Grape Radio the World's Best Wine Show on the Internet for tons of shows about Champagne & Sparkling Wine Producers around the world.
Champagne is located 90 miles northeast of Paris
3 Main Grapes in the creation of Champagne.
Pinot Meunier (muh nyay)
Types of Champagne:
Vintage (A year will be on the bottle)- Vintage Champagne is made with the best grapes only and not every year is good enough to be classified as a Vintage year.
Non Vintage (NV)- 75 to 80% of all Champagne is classified as NV. The quality is good overall but these wines are not the Premier Cru Champagnes.
Rose- Adding a small amount of still red wine which adds a pinkish color.
Blanc de Noirs- 100% Chardonnay Champagne
Blanc de Blanc- 100% Pinot Noir Champagne
*Most Champagnes will have a blend of 2 or 3 of the grapes listed above.
Extra Brut- Bone dry
Extra Dry- Medium dry
Sec- Slightly Sweet
Demi-sec- Fairly Sweet
Doux- Very Sweet
What the World Calls it:
Champagne in France (Only legal area that can call it Champagne)
Sparkling Wine- US
-Dom Perignon was not the inventor of Champagne but was created with the art of blending different still wines.
-There are about 49 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne
-Methode Champensoise is the technique of making quality sparkling wine
General Information on Champagne:
-75,000 acres of grapes
-A cooler climate that does not always allow for the grapes to ripen. The grapes usually have a higher acidity due to the lack of ripeness.
-Soil is chalky which was created millions of years ago. This soil has proven to be the best in the world for sparkling wines.
-Champagne has a classification system for rating the quality of the grapes. There are 270 villages that grow grapes and only 17 with a Premier Cru label. 90% to 99% quality represents the premier cru rating and these are the most expensive grapes. A rating of 80% to 89% is considered good quality.
How is Champagne Made?
30 to 40 different still blends to make Champagne
Methode Champenoise technique
Champagne is made from only 3 types of grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Most of the time it is a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The grapes are picked like table wine at harvest but the skins are removed to keep the appearance lighter in color. The grapes go through a fermentation in Stainless Steel Tanks (oak is rare). Once the grapes are turned into wine, it is then put into a bottle. A second fermentation takes place in the bottle which is what gives the wine its bubbles. The bubbles are formed from the carbon dioxide being trapped in the bottle after the yeast eats the sugar. The last phase is to freeze the neck and remove any sediment. Finally a small dosage of sugar and reserve wine is added. This gives the wine a little sweetness.
Recommended Sparkling Wines
NV Henriot Champagne $$$
Color: Medium gold
Nose: Lemon, lime, dough, mineral
Taste: Power with mineral, dough, chalk, lemon, pear and very crisp acidity
Finish: Complex and a lot going on
Evaluation: This is one of the best NV Champagnes 92 points
NV Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne $$
Color: Light gold
Nose: Mineral, chalk,
Taste: Chalk, pear, sour apple, little bitter
Finish: Chalk and dry with sour lemon, apples, mineral
Evaluation: A steal at $19.34 at Haskell's Winter Sale 88 points
2004 Scramsburg Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine $$$
Color: Light gold
Nose: Pear, dough, and apple. More intense then the Laurent
Taste: Apple, pear, strong acidity, mineral, and lemon pie
Finish: Medium and balanced.
Evaluation: Solid Vintage Brut from California 89 points
NV Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne $$$
Color: Light gold
Nose: Honey, citrus, mineral, dough
Taste: Nice fruits, honey, and citrus dominate
Finish: Medium and complex
Evaluation: Excellent producer year in and year out 91 points
NV G.H. Mumm Cordon Rogue Brut $$$
Color: Light gold
Nose: Grapefruit, honey, peach
Taste: Nice with peach, grapefruit, and mineral
Finish: Medium and flavorful
Evaluation: Solid Champagne 88 points
NV Pierre Peters Brut Champagne $$$$
Color: Light gold
Nose: Pear, apple, dough
Taste: Mineral, pear, apples
Finish: Medium and solid with tons of flavor
Evaluation: Well made Champagne 89 points
NV Gloria Ferrer Brut Blanc de Noir $$
Color: Light pink
Nose: Spice, strawberry
Taste: Light with spice, strawberry, mineral
Evaluation: A great value that will please a party crowd 88 points
NV Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose Champagne $$$$
Color: Medium pink
Nose: Spice, floral
Taste: Intense with floral, spice, mineral
Finish: Long with Strawberry, mineral, floral, dough
Evaluation: A complex Rose that will impress 93 points
NV Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Brut Champagne $$$$
Color: Medium gold
Nose: Lemon pie, apple, minerals
Taste: Pie crust, lemons, mineral, chalk, crisp acidity
Finish: Balanced wine with a mix of fruit and minerals
Evaluation: 92 points
Party Wines for $15 and Under
as seen in the Cities Pages
When attending a party, don’t show up with an ordinary bottle. You will look like a wine pro with one of these featured selections from John Glas of Wineglas.
2007 Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Mosel-Saar-Ruwer QbA Riesling Germany ($12)
This is a great introduction to German Riesling from the Mosel Wine Region. This wine features apple, pear, peach, and slate notes with crisp acidity. German Riesling is a crowd pleaser, and will match up well with fresh water fish, white meats, Thai food and fresh fruit.
2007 Boedecker Cellars Old Vine Pinot Gris Oregon ($15)
You might know this as Pinot Grigio from Italy, however, Pinot Gris is the same grape with more zip. This light style Oregon wine features citrus fruits, apple, and spice along with tremendous balance. Enjoy this with light appetizers.
2006 Fontanafredda Briccotondo Piemonte Barbera Italy ($13)
Barbera is a juicy style wine from the Piedmont Region in Italy. The Fontanafredda features cherry, plum, and floral notes with an intense finish.
2005 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Vinas Viejas Garnacha Spain ($15)
Garnacha (Grenache in France) is native to Spain. This medium-purple wine features a mix of raspberries, blueberries, spice, and oak and features a long satisfying finish.
2006 Marquis Philips South Australia Shiraz Australia ($15)
The same grape variety as Syrah, Shiraz is Australia’s signature grape. This wine is complex with layers of blackberry, plum, black pepper, violets, and Asian spice woven together. Year in and year out, it is one of the top wines under $20.
I am always amazed at the world of expensive wines. Who buys wines like Silver Oak and Opus One? There are better wines for under $15 then these and these reviews illustrate this.
A series of wines were tasted in September that are not available in the US. Superior Wine Imports asked me to taste the wines and give my honest opinions on the quality and prices of the wines. I was pleased with what I tasted and check out the reviews.
Twin Cities Wine Shop Challenge 2007
This article is written about my shopping experience at ten local wine shops. You will find many Twin Cities Publications that misinform you the consumer in regards to wine. They are being paid to advertise wine shops and certain product lines. Wineglas is the only source for the real information regarding wine shops in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the greater Metro.
A few suggestions when shopping for wine:
1. Service: Unless you subscribe to Wine Spectator, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, and chat on wine chat rooms you really need to find a shop that can truly recommend good wine. If you say you want to try a good US Sparkling Wine and they say you mean Champagne then run!
2. Selection: You don't need 1,000 plus wines to pick from to have a good selection. Find a shop with enough from every country to satisfy your palate. Look for great values from Spain, Chile, Argentina, and Australia.
3. Prices: Paying more for the above 2 is fine. Some stores that have high prices have great service. Look for sales to occur and stock up.
4. Wine Reviews: Wine Spectator and Robert Parker reviews on the shelves help. They know more about wine then me and everyone else in Minnesota so take advantage of their knowledge. A 90 point wine for $13 is worth trying.
5. Don't buy the same wine by the case. Your taste change and there are too many great wines to try then drinking the same bottle.
6. Take a Twin Cities Wine Class as these are the best bottles under $50 at any tasting in town that provides education. If you like a bottle I can recommend several more.