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Wine Review and, "Are more expensive wines always better"?

Posted on September 30, 2019 at 4:16 PM Comments comments (235)
     Ahhh, that old adage;  "Expensive wine always tastes better."  There is some truth to this statement however.  As a sommelier and avid wine drinker I must admit that the majority of wines that are more expensive are better quality and generally taste better.  Although as you know, taste is subjective and what tastes great to you, may taste like broccoli to me (I hate broccoli).

Now, let's talk about a wine I have been tasting over the years and spending no more than $12 a bottle, sometimes even catching it at $8 a bottle at some stores "Crazy Deals".  It's a Riesling (not from Germany) by Charles Smith from Columbia Valley, Washington State. It's called Kung Fu Girl and the name was inspired by the film "Kill Bill".  It's a delightful white wine full of acidity and fresh fruit flavor (not too sweet like most associate Riesling with).  It has nice complexity and viscosity due to the fact that the wine while aging, is left on the lees (yeast sediments) for at least two months.

And if that's not enough, it was voted #45 on WS Top 100 List in 2015!!
So Grab a bottle and pair with a nice lightly spiced Asian dish!


Posted on March 3, 2012 at 8:43 PM Comments comments (254)
Ahhh, the "million dollar" question.  I taste hundreds of different wines monthy from all over the world, ranging  from $6 to $160 and some bottles more expensive than that. We all have our budgets when scouring the isles at the wine store to find the wine that pleases your palate or completes a marriage with your favorite cuisine.   But does price always dictate the quality of the juice?  Will your significant other feel special because you paid more than usual for your Saturday night vino?  If you spend more, will the wine taste better?'s pretty hit or miss..... But through my experience over the years i will say this.  About 60-70% of wines that are "considerably" more expensive than their counterparts, will be of better quality.  Does better quality mean better taste?  Yes, sometimes, but not always because taste as we all know, is very subjective. 
Now, what makes a wine more expensive besides better quality care and grapes?  1. Real Estate: You all heard about location, location, location.  Well when it comes to wine, location will dictate price structure.  Just look at the price of a Cabernet from Napa Valley and a similiar Cabernet from neighboring Sonoma county. Price is a dominant factor for the shear fact that an unplanted acre of land in Sonoma goes for around $50,000 and in Napa, about $80,000, and Lake county CA. about $17,000.00.  So actually,  if you took the exact same soil, grapes, climate, and vinification process, the wines would be very close in quality but would cost more due to the real estate costs.
Another factor is 2. Production:  If a vineyard only makes a thousand cases of their so called Cabernet, and it is good, then the demand will be larger than the supply, soooooo........ it may be higher priced because the winery knows they can charge more since demand is high and production is low.
3. Hype:  This is where Bordeaux wines rule this category...  Parker and wine spectator reviews, hundreds of years of past winery experience, and low production all factor into Bordeaux's overpricing of their wines..
I recently attended a grand cru tasting in NYC of some of the top producers of Bordeaux on the left and right bank, and came up with this very intuitive sumation...   Bordeaux is overpriced mainly because of years of over hype, over scored wines, and top Chateaux's putting out low production..   Most of the Bordeaux's I tasted averaged at around eighty dollars a bottle, but to be honest, I have tasted many wines from CA, Spain, Italy, and other parts of France, that were just as good or better for half the price.....
So in conclusion to this blog about does price mean better wine, I would have to say more that 70% of the time it is true, but in some cases like Bordeaux or some high priced Napa wines, it would be  about 40%.  
This is all based on my experiences tasting wines over the years and I know you may all feel differently, or maybe the same, but this is  the beauty of the wine biz, that everyone's palate is different and tasting wine is subjective... 
I would love to hear comments on this topic.. and before I close, I would love to recommend wines that over deliver for price, and a few that are overpriced and in my opinion, not worth buying for the money........
Ok, let's start with the bargains:
Artesa Elements, (Napa) Bordeaux style blend:  Recently Artesa dropped the price of this wine from twenty a bottle to fifteen and at twenty, it was very good.. At fifteen, it is extremely good red juice.  I found it on sale four months ago at twelve a bottle and I honestly think you will not find better red wine for twelve dollars a bottle..  I challenge you!!!!
Ventinoux Cote du Rhone, France Red Wine..  Purchased this at Wegmans Supermarket and it was such a smooth easy drinking southern rhone wine.. And here is the best part, it was only six bucks!!!!  Are you kidding me......
Buy it by the case and serve to your friends to impress... They will never guess you paid six dollars......
Now for the Busts:
Opus One, Napa Valley:  I know I will get some flack for this but I was at the winery in August and tasted the 07 with friends and we all agreed........It was a thick, mess of components, with a sweet cloying quality to it.......I would not pay more than $30 for this wine...  I have heard that earlier vintages are different and better,  but still, at $175.00 a bottle, how much better can it get??
Brunello-Italy:  Ok, no specific vineyard or wine but in general after tasting over one hundred Brunello's in the past six months I have one observation to make.....Can you say "OVERPRICED"?  Wow, there are some good ones, but for the most part, they are so dry and austere, you mouth freezes for about a minute before it can recover to normal palate functionality.......  Yes, it is a food wine, and yes, I know it is the better quality Sangiovese clone grape, but it still is tough on the palate.....
To its defence, it is made to be aged and requested to be drunk after a min. of ten to twenty years and when you go to trade tastings the oldest wine you  usually taste is  about 5 to 7 years old......
Similiar situation with Bordeaux.... If Bordeaux's credo is to cellar their wine and taste it twenty or more years later,  then why don't distuibutors or importers do this:   Have one bottle 20 years old of the same 09's they are pouring so you can see that it actually does soften to a silky smooth wine.......Otherwise, you just have to put out the big bucks and hope their right?
Anyway, enough of my commments....... Let's hear yours..... please don't just read, I hope you will  post your comments of your experience on tasting cheap and expensive wines and your evaluation on the subject......

American and Italian Wine: Movin' on Up!.

Posted on November 6, 2010 at 4:13 PM Comments comments (375)
Did you know that  for the first time ever in history British wine drinkers, those notorious Francophiles, are buying more American Wine than the French!!  The implications of this are quite staggering when you think about it. What this really means is that California wine (95% of US exports) outsold French wine in the UK for the first time in recorded history.
Commentators chalk this up to "television advertising, big brands and cheap rosé" a claim that makes me wonder as I'm not entirely sure what TV and cheap rosé have to do with it. Rather, I think we've probably been aided more by the falling strength of the dollar and perhaps France's own difficulties in the wine department.
Speaking of which, I also heard that, Italy is poised to become the number one producer of wine, knocking France out of a position it has held for the last decade.
Of course, judging success by purely the volume of wine produced is a tricky business as the French can tell you. But we have no reason to believe that this development results purely from growth in Italy's lowest quality wines. In fact, if statistics are to be believed, the number of Italian wines that receive some level of certified quality designation continues to rise at a greater rate than production. Which means Italy is not only making more wine, it's making more higher quality wine than ever.
Wondering what your thoughts are on Italian Wine available here in the U.S. and what is available in Italy and Europe.... My experience tells me that the majority of the quality wine stays in the country, as is the case in South America, according to many clients of ours visitiing those countries.