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Tag Archives: Grgich Hills

Christmas wine 2014

winereview

• Order by noon Monday for holiday delivery for the cheap wine book


Christmas wine 2014Wine suggestions for the holiday next week, whether you need to buy a gift or aren’t sure about what to serve family and friends, be it for dinner or just because:

Sileni Pinot Noir 2013 ($16, sample, 12.5%): This red wine from New Zealand has been winning awards around the world, and why not? It tastes like pinot noir, with dark cherry fruit, soft but still noticeable tannins, and no hint that the wine wants to be anything other than pinot noir, like lots of alcohol or over the top jamminess. If it doesn’t taste like red Burgundy, and I don’t know why it should, it tastes like what it is — one of the best pinots at this price from anywhere in the world.

Grgich Hills Merlot 2010 ($42, sample, 14.8%): Another remarkable effort from Grgich, which has been making this sort of wine for so long we tend to take it granted. This California red somehow combines high alcohol with style, finesse, and even some earthiness. Look for red fruit and an almost licorice finish. It’s big enough for red meat, but well made enough to enjoy without it.

Chateau d’Archambeau 2012 ($14, purchased, 12.5%): Just when I’ve given up on finding white Bordeaux that tastes like white Bordeaux — minerality and crispness without an overabundance of citrus fruit — along comes this French white, made with two-thirds sauvignon blanc and one-third semillon. Nicely done, and worth the extra couple of bucks compared to something like Chateau Bonnet. Sip on its own, or with holiday turkey.

Argyle Brut 2010 ($22, purchased, 12.5%): Argyle always seems to show up in holiday wine roundups here, but there’s a reason for that. It’s one of the best sparkling wines, dollar for dollar, made in the U.S. — about half the price of its California counterparts, and with that much better quality than California bubblies that cost one-third less. Lots of apple fruit, but also some creaminess. Drink for toasting or with almost any food that isn’t prime rib.

Hacienda Araucano Reserva Carmenere 2013 ($10, sample, 14%): Carmenere is a red grape from Chile that is supposed to vaguely resemble an earthy merlot, but mostly tastes like grocery store merlot. This wine, from the same family that owns Bonnet, is carmenere the way it should be, and especially at this price. Look for black fruit and some grip, a welcome change from all of the flabby carmeneres on the market. Beef wine without a doubt.

Expensive wine 60: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2011

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Expensive wine 60: Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2011Year in and year out, regardless of wine trends, fads, and the latest critical darlings, Grgich Hills is a model of consistency. Want quality wine at a fair (if expensive) price? Grgich rarely disappoints. My notes for previous vintages are amazingly similar: Classic. Rich. Tasteful. Balanced.

The 2011 chardonnay ($42, sample, 13.5%) is no exception. It’s everything one expects of a Napa chardonnay at this price — oak and vanilla balanced by apples and pears that play off each other; a rich mouth feel that doesn’t overwhelm, which is not easy to do; and a long finish that has you swallowing for many seconds after the wine is gone. In other words, classic and tasteful.

This is wine for celebration, whether birthday, anniversary, or even a dinner with someone you care about and want to share a great wine with. In this, it proves something that I learned a long time ago — wine isn’t about price or scores or trying to impress someone else, but about who you drink it with and where you are when you do.

Mini-reviews 33: Grgich, Leese-Fitch, Edna Valley, Colby Red

Reviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

•  Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc 2010 ($30, sample): This is about as good as California sauvignon blanc gets, with lemon grass and some sort of green apple fruit, a kind of subtle tropical middle (lychee?) and a long, clean finish. Still a little young, and would benefit from six more months in the bottle.

Leese-Fitch Pinor Noir 2010 ($13, sample): This is a very fruity (berries?), modern-style California pinot noir from The Other Guys that has more in common with Beaujolais than traditional pinot. As long as that's OK, it's more than acceptable wine and a decent value.

Edna Valley Chardonnay 2009 ($15, sample): Nice value with good fruit (apricot?) and freshness, though too oaky for me. Though, to be fair, not as oaky some old-school chardonnays.

Colby Red 2010 ($12, sample): California red blend with normal enough tannins and acid but what seems to be an almost cherry lollipop sweetness in the middle. It throws the wine off kilter, though people who like that sort of thing probably won't think anything of it.

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