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Category Archives: Expensive wine

Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

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Expensive wine 61: Adelsheim Elizabeth's Reserve Pinot Noir 2011The Wine Curmudgeon has long lamented the state of pinot noir, in which much of the expensive stuff doesn’t taste like pinot any more. And that the expensive stuff is way past expensive, priced so that only tech moguls and Chinese generals can afford it. And that many winemakers get annoyed when someone asks them about this, as if we’re questioning their ability.

Fortunately, there are still producers who can remind us of pinot’s greatness, and Oregon’s Adelsheim Vineyard is one of them. The Elizabeth’s Reserve ($55, sample, 13%) is beautiful and classic Oregon pinot noir. Look for elegant red fruit, a subtle but full middle that is almost coy, and tannins the way they should be in pinot noir — a hint and not a kick in the teeth. The oak shows through more than I would like, but that’s probably a function of youth. The wine is still a little young, and could use another year or two in bottle.

This is not necessarily a food wine, but would be even better with it, including and especially the classic pinot pairing of roast lamb. Highly recommended; in fact, I found another bottle after I drank this one. Don’t know where it came from, but I’m glad it did. I’m going to let the second bottle age and save it for a special occasion.

Expensive wine 59: J Vintage Brut Late Disgorged 2003

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Expensive wine 59: J Vintage Brut Late Disgorged 2003There won’t be a specific post for wine and Valentine’s Day this year, but I will cover the subject today, tomorrow (featuring Valentine’s Day suggestions from around the Internet), and Wednesday. I did a Valentine’s post last year because I wanted to emphasize sparkling wine, but that job is pretty well done. And I’m not a big fan of the holiday that must not be named, anyway.

I am, however, a huge fan of the J Vintage ($90, sample, 12.5%), price be damned.  Is “very yummy” too technical a wine term to describe it?

Look for layers and layers of complexity and flavor – some pear fruit, some yeastiness (but not overdone the way many French wines at this price are), and even some melon. Don’t often get that in a bubbly. In all of this, the wine is not as aggressive as J’s non-vintage wines, which means less citrus and more subtlety in the fruit flavors. But there are still lots and lots of tiny bubbles, for those of us who love that.

Is it worth nine bottles of a quality $10 Spanish cava? That all depends who you are going to share it with.

Expensive wine 58: M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2007

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Expensive wine 58: M. Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2007Most of the time, for most of the wines we drink, it doesn’t matter if the wine is too cold. Or if you don’t open it ahead of time. Or decant it. We drink them, we enjoy them (or not), and then we move to the next wine.

And then there are wines like the La Sizeranne ($125, sample, 13.5%), which require all the care and comfort we can give it.

That’s because this is an exceptional wine; if you don’t fuss over it, it will be that much more difficult to discover how exceptional. At first glance, it’s a classic wine from the Hermitage in France’s northern Rhone — made with syrah, featuring red fruit, mushroom earthiness, and some peppery spice.

But take care with it, and you’ll discover the sophistication that only great wines have, and which makes them so difficult to describe to those who haven’t tasted them. It’s like reading Hemingway. The Nick Adams stories are wonderfully written, but you can’t feel them — the fish on the fire, the chill of the early morning river, the northern Michigan wilderness — until you read them.

I know this because I didn’t take great care with this wine, mostly just opened it and drank it, and I didn’t realize what I was missing until it was almost gone. One day, the La Sizeranne will be powerful and intense. Today, it’s young and controlled, like a boy at a school dance who is afraid to talk to girls. But the promise is there of what could happen in another three or four or five years, and of what it could turn into in its prime, for years and years after that.

Expensive? Certainly. But given how many expensive wines are so disappointing, it’s not much of a stretch to say this delivers value. Just remember to fuss over it.

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