Vintage ratings matter less today than they ever did. Advances in viticulture and winemaking, along with selection, have elevated quality and leveled the playing field. The highs and lows that used to separate the great years from the lesser ones have been marginalized. Want proof? Try tasting a vertical of wines from a given producer. If it’s blind, odds are you’ll be surprised by the results. The vintage everyone thought was a bust will be far better than you imagined. And the monumental years, the ones everyone clamored for, won’t seem head and shoulders above the pack.
His pet peeve:
…how many people continue to equate price with quality. In our 2012 Top 100, the average bottle price is $46.
…Stop fretting about when a wine is ready to drink! I used to really care about when a wine was “ready to drink.” No more. Yes, I continue to hold wines in my cellar for a better tomorrow. But here’s the catch: I don’t wait anywhere near as long as I once did (or intended, anyway). And I’ve concluded that after, say five years of all but a handful of wines, additional cellaring soon reaches a point of diminishing returns.
Bottom line: Buy interesting wines. Store them in a cool spot for up to five years. Then pop and pour…
His pet peeve,
…”bottle variation” because of cork taints, aka TCA, affecting roughly one bottle per case…he says give up the corking and go to screw tops.
His pet peeve,
…the pricing of wine in restaurants…hard to swallow the blatant overpricing. I recommend frequenting restaurants that gain an “inexpensive” pricing designation in our Restaurant Awards programs or the have moderate BYO prices ($25 or less per bottle).
Her pet peeve,
…having my wine class filled to the top, not giving me any room to swirl.
- CF Note: not complaining here about ordering wine by the glass and getting a generous pour, rather when buying the bottle, or bringing your own, the overenthusiastic server tries to keep the glass topped off.
The monthly beauty contest, Spectator Ratings, of note, Cali favorites
- 96 Points: 2010 Lewis, Napa Valley, Hillstone Vineyard, $135
- 95 Points: 2009 Paul Hobbs, Oakvill Beckstoffer To Kalon, $275
- 94 Points: 201o Lewis, Napa Valley, $90
- 93 Points: 2009 Justin Isosceles, Paso Robles, $62
- 93 Points: 2010 M. Etain, Rutherford, $125
- 92 Points, 2009 Vineyard 29, Saint Helena 29 Estate, $225
- 91 Points, 2009 Cliff Lede, Stags Leap Cinnamon Rhapsody, $95
- 91 Points, 2010 Lewis, Napa Valley Mason’s, $60
- 90 Points, 2009 Chimney Rock, Stags Leap GanyMede Vineyard, $125
Grenache & Blends
- 94 Points, 2010 Epoch, Sensibility Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles, $65
- 94 Points, 2010 Epoch, Veracity Paderewski Vineyard, Paso Robles, $65
- 93 Points, 2010 Linne Calodo, Sticks and Stones, Paso Robles, $72
- 97 Points, 2007 Marcassin Sonoma Coast Blue Slide Ridge Vineyard, $90
- 96 Points, 2007 Marcassin Sonoma Coast Marcassin Vineyard, $125
- 95 Points, 2007 Marcassin Sonoma Coast Three Sisters Vineyard, $75
- 92 Points, 2010 Paul Hobbs Russian River Katherine Lindsay Estate Cuvee Agustina, $100
Syrah & Blends
- 95 Points, 2009 Araujo Napa Valley Eisele Vineyard, $135
- 95 Points, 2009 Shafer Relentless Napa Valley, $63
- 93 Points, 2010 Epoch Estate Blend Paderewski Vineyard Paso Robles, $40
- 93 Points, 2009 Linne Calodo Booker Red Paso Robles, $80
Zinfandel & Blends
- 92 Points, 2010 Epoch Paderewski Vineyard Paso Robles, $55
- 92 Points, 2010 Linne Calodo Cherry Red Paso Robles, $70
- 92 Points, 2010 Linne Calodo Outsider Paso Robles, $55
- 92 Points, 2010 Linne Calodo Problem Child, Paso Robles, $55