Father’s Day an excuse to buy good wine
By TOM MARQUARDT and PATRICK DARR
Every time we think that no one is interested in expensive wines, we walk around some of the wine stores and look at prices tags that can exceed $300. Someone is buying them.
We’ve had the opportunity taste a lot of very expensive wines, but rarely can we afford to buy them. Yet we are amazed to find these wines in various cellars of people who can afford them. These wines are icons in the wine world.
With Father’s Day coming up next Sunday, you may have an excuse to buy an expensive wine for the guy who wouldn’t open the wallet for himself. Or maybe someone has done you a big favor and would appreciate a good wine. If that’s the case, we have a few of the icon wines for you to consider.
Why are some wines expensive and others not? There are many influences on the price of a wine, the most notable being demand. Many collectors covet their small allocation of expensive wines that cost well because it gives them the bragging rights that come with exclusivity.
There are more tangible influences on the price of a wine. A top-quality French oak barrel cost about $1,000. Some producers choose to pick only the best grapes and either drop the inferior grapes or put them into another wine. Vines are trained to produce smaller yields to make more intense grapes. And there are consultant fees, special labeling and heavier bottles that add to the cost.
Are they better? Oftentimes, yes. But price is no guarantee of quality and it certainly is no guarantee of consumer satisfaction.
Paul Hobbs Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir ($100). This California producer is a legend. His cabernet sauvignon cost $300, so the pinot noir is a bargain. Expect to find dense dark cherry fruit, depth, balance and a long finish.
Col Solare ($75). This partnership beween Marchesi Antinori and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates has resulted in one of the more outstanding red wines from Washington state. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc focuses on grapes from Red Mountain with help from the Columbia Valley, Wahluke Slope and Horse Heaven Hills. It is complex with black fruit and espresso aromas, black berry and chocolate flavors with a dash of spice and soft tannins.
Beringer Vineyards Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($115). Continually one of the reliable blockbusters from Napa Valley, this monster takes advantages of superb grapes grown on Beringer’s St. Helena Home vineyard. Bright blackberry and blueberry aromas with concentrated blackberry, dark chocolate and cassis flavors with hints of mineral and cedar. Destined for greatness with a few years of aging.
Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Insignia 2008 ($200). From one of the most respected producers in Napa Valley, this colossal blend of cabernet sauvignon, petit verdot and merlot is a wine that will last for decades. Dark as ink, this concentrated, full-body monster breeds cassis and dark berry fruit. Layers of floral aromas, anise and coffee make every sip a new experience.
Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($130). An icon among icons, Caymus makes a spectacularly dense and rich cabernet from grapes grown in 15 sub-appellations in Napa Valley — hardly the pattern followed by winemakers who customarily use grapes from a single vineyard for their reserve wines. Sweet blackberry fruit and a surprisingly creamy texture and loads of chocolate and mushroom notes.
J. Davies Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon ($80). Very bold in style, this well-balanced cabernet — blended with 12 percent malbec and 4 percent petit verdot — is jammed packed with complex black cherry flavors and layers of tea, oak and mocha notes. Very aromatic and poised for improvement in the cellar.
Amapola Creek Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($70). Winemaker Richard Arrowood has latched onto a blockbuster with this premium cabernet sauvignon from Sonoma County. Concentrated black cherry flavors with hints of sweet vanillin oak and dark chocolate.
Antica Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($48). It’s hard not to be impressed with Antica’s visita about 1,800 feet up Atlas Peak. Equally so, it’s hard not to be impressed with its full-bodied estate cabernet sauvignon made from mountain-grown grapes. Fresh blackberry and violet aromas are followed by cassis and blackberry flavors and long finish.
Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon ($49). This Napa Valley producer makes some stellar red wines, including this Signature cabernet from grapes grown in rocky soils. Expressive aromatics of plums, violets clove and mocha are followed by blackberry and cassis flavors. Good depth and finish.
Rodney Strong Rockaway Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($75). What is there not to like in this colossal single-vineyard cabernet from Sonoma County? Well, maybe the price. But there’s no denying the full-body structure and complex fruit from the blend of 84 percent cabernet sauvigon, 9 percent malbec, 4 percent merlot and 3 percent petit verdot.
Hess Collection 19 Block Cuvee Napa Valley Mt Veeder ($36). This wine is a very pleasant proprietary blend of cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, syrah, cabernet franc, and petite verdot that exhibits a beautiful nose and flavors of berries, cherries, and a hint of herbs.