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Wine Spectator Releases Annual Cabernet Report

Thursday, October 23, 2008

First off, I'd like to say "Thank you!" and let you know how pleasantly surprised I am with the overwhelming response this site has gotten in its first week. We've gotten links from local web sites, visitors from social networks, friends passing the site along to their wine loving friends, and tons of great comments. Thanks especially to those of you who have left a comment already- I'm enjoying the discussions immensely. I'm looking forward to great things on this site- I've got ideas running around in my head like crazy.

The latest Spectator arrived this week. For me, this is the 2nd most anticipated issue of the year (right behind the 2005 Bordeaux issue.) James Laube does the tastings for most of the California wines for the magazine, and from reading his reviews the past few years, I've found his ratings to be both good and "appropriately stingy" with the points. Because of this, it's "In Laube We Trust" around here and I trust his ratings more than any other critic at this point in time.

I love this time of year for a lot of reasons. An autumnal chill is in the air, school buses are running outside, the leaves are falling ... and new issues of Wine Spectator seem to arrive every couple of weeks! They really do seem to "back load" their publishing to the latter half of the year to coincide with holiday wine purchasing. (Speaking of which I'm very excited for the upcoming annual Holiday Wine Show the Hingham Wine Merchant puts on. I attended last year for the first time and it is a great event. Food, music, and tasting hundreds of wines that you can actually buy- it doesn't get much better than that!)

Top ratings went to wines from Colgin, Paul Hobbs, Peter Michael, and Schrader. Schrader is one that has intrigued me for a while (see the "Ones That Got Away" box at the right of this page.) Last year they were coming in at $75 a bottle for some of their best rated wines; this year they're up to $95. But still, compared to the other top wines which range from $165 to $275, $95 seems "not so bad". I'm not planning on buying any anytime soon- even if I could get my hands on some. Their shipping costs alone are debilitating. Consider this: The average price of the California Cabs they rated between 90 and 94 points was $119!

Warren Buffet said: "The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don't have to swing at everything--you can wait for your pitch. The problem when you're a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, 'Swing, you bum!' " I view my wine purchases similarly, especially with the economy in the state its in.

I think of this every time I'm in a wine store and I'm right on the edge trying to decide whether to buy a bottle. The wine game is even more of a no-called-strike game than investing.

The value play of the vintage? The Buehler 2005 Napa Cab at $27 (and frequently available at Cost Plus World Market and other stores across the country) is a stunning value. Buehler continues to be one of my favorite producers and they've done it again. Great people, great wines, great winery tour- great wine company.

Other wines I'm newly intrigued by are after reading the magazine are Hewitt ($85), Ghost Block ($55), Stephanie ($45), and Cliff Lede ($50). Honig, Buehler and Chappellet continue to be high on my list.

Insultingly low ratings went to Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Jordan.

Most expensive award goes to Screaming Eagle (as usual, $750) followed by Harlan Estates ($450) and Levy & McClellan ($350).

Question of the Day: Which California Cabs (if any) are you buying? Any recommendations you'd like to pass along?

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