10 Questions to Consider When Trying to Scoop the Spectator

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We're a couple days into this year's Scoop the Spectator contest and we've gotten some fantastic entries. The snipers are out early this year but there are plenty of viable wines still available to be claimed.

This year we're playing for a $200 Amazon gift card, courtesy of New York wine retailer Grapes the Wine Co so it pays to give this some thought.

Here are 10 questions to consider when selecting your entry...

1. Do you have be a Wine Spectator subscriber to have a chance of guessing correctly?

I would think so. If you're not familiar with which wines they rated this year, and specifically which they're rating favorably it seems extremely difficult to get a sense for which wines have a chance of winning. Check back later this week and next and I'll share some entries I think are likely which haven't been guessed.

2. How likely are they to repeat a recent winner?

Not likely it seems. Since Spectator started running their Top 100 list, only one wine has repeated: Caymus Special Selection won in '89 and again in '04. That doesn't bode well for the Clos des Papes which won in 2007 (for their 2005 vintage), but then again it's got incredibly strong metrics this year with their 2010 (98 points/$128/5,600 cases produced).

3. Does it have to be 95 points or better?

It almost always is. The lone exception: The winner in 2002 was the 93 point/$30 E. Guigal Chateauneuf du Pape. Point chasers must have been sad that year.

4. Does it have to be $100 (or $150, or whatever) or less?

The trend I see is that they're not afraid to go with a pricey wine. But they try to keep it out of the stratosphere because value is a consideration. Mapping that to current wine prices I think they like to keep it south of $100. They might stretch a little over $100 if it's a really incredible bottle. But $200+ is out of the question I think. It alienates too many readers and disregards the value quotient.

5. How likely are they to repeat from a recent category?

I think this is a something they're very mindful of. One (quite elaborate  theory I recall from last year is that they tried to rotate the selection around their senior editors. So it was pre-determined, for example - to an extent, that Laube would only have to do a write-up for "his" wines every three years or so. That doesn't seem to be the case however with the last two wines coming from California (Kosta Browne and Saxum). It's been domestic the past three years though so it definitely feels like it's time for a return to the old world. 2010 Rhone specifically.

6. Are recent Top 10 wines (that didn't take the top spot) more likely to win this year?

I definitely see this as a trend. It's kind of like the Oscars or the Grammys: By the time they recognize someone the public has liked for a long time, after nominating and snubbing them for years, they finally bestow the award upon them when they're old news.

But with wine we call that pedigree. This bodes well for the Donjons and La Craus of the world this year. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride - but expect that to change.

7. How much are they trying to make a statement about a category with their selection?

I think this is hugely important as well and we've seen it with the past two winners. Spectator called the 2009 California Pinot Noir vintage the best ever and selecting Kosta Browne (a wine that was also frequently in the Top 10 in prior years) served as notice that California Pinot is a category to be considered in everyone's cellar. Similarly with Saxum the year before, they wanted to put Paso on the map. But Columbia Crest Reserve wasn't so much a coronation of Washington as a statement about value during a down economy I think.

8. Are advertisers more likely to win?

Columbia Crest surely advertises heavily, but Kosta Browne, Saxum, and many of the moderate production imported wines don't advertise at all. I don't see a correlation here.

9. Do they like to select "actionable" wines?

When I say actionable I mean it's widely available at retail and moderately priced. When they do go this direction I think it's been the funnest years in the contest. How many times did people walk past the $27 Columbia Crest Reserve Cab and ignore it? Then it gets named wine of the year and it sells for north of $100 at auction. This is when the contest is at its best and I'd like to see more years with winners like these. This year that wine would be the $41 2010 St. Cosme Gigondas which is available for signifcantly less if you look around.

10. Do quirky categories have a chance?

They do actually. Sauternes and Ports have won in past years. A Chilean red has won. I considered Saxum a curve ball as well. But I think they go this direction when there's not a standout vintage from a famous category. The famous categories are: Napa, Bordeaux, Tuscany and Chateauneuf. And Burgundy, and Piedmont to a lesser extent because of lower production levels. Anything else is a curve ball. Look for an obvious year with something from the Rhone. Oh, did I mention 2010 Rhone already? Either the St. Cosme Gigondas or a moderately priced CdP like Donjon or La Crau. I'm leaning towards the St. Cosme Gigondas because of the wide availability, lower price point, and the fact that it's drinking better early than the CdPs are.

Haven't entered yet? Have a look at the entries so far and see if you can find an angle nobody else has yet. Enter here:



How could it not be 2010 Rhone?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just as a reminder Scoop the Spectator 2012 runs through this week and next. I thought I'd take a moment to talk about what goes into a likely candidate for Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year.

Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year is based on four criteria:
  1. Quality (represented by score)
  2. Value (reflected by release price)
  3. Availability (measured by cases made or imported)
  4. And what we call the “X-factor”–the excitement generated by a rising-star producer, a benchmark wine or a significant milestone for a wine region.

    But no equation determines the final selections: These choices reflect our editors’ judgment and passion about the wines we tasted.
As best as Wine Spectator's ratings search allows you to filter on these, if we look at the following criteria we narrow it down to 47 wines:
  • 95+ rating
  • $150 or less release price
  • 1,000 or more cases produced
Here is the list if you have a Wine Spectator online subscription.

Of these 47 wines, 10 are from France's Rhone Valley. If we look at the wines rated 96 or better, and toss out bizarre categories like Sauternes or Cornas, 5 out of 15 are from the Rhone Valley. The others are a mixture Napa, Bordeaux and Barolo. 2009 was a great year for Bordeaux but did Napa in 2009 or Piedmont in 2007/2008 rise to truly great heights? Not really, at least according to Spectator.

So I really think this year belongs to the Rhone Valley. Specifically 2010.

If you look at vintage charts, Spectator rated both the Northern and Southern Rhone Valley 98 points in 2010. Even better than the #CdP07 - Robert Parker's beloved best Chateauneuf du Pape vintage ever! So there's a case to be made here where Spectator tries to separate itself from The Wine Advocate and declare 2010 as their best vintage ever.

And I think they will. But will they pick 2010 St. Cosme Gigondas (full report here) to represent the North? Or something like a Donjon or St. Prefert (if so which bottling?) to represent Chateauneuf?

Or will they surprise us with a non-glamour vintage like they did with the 2007 Saxum James Berry?

We shall see.

If you haven't entered yet there are still a lot of great wines which haven't been guessed. Have a look at the contest page to see if you can find one:


Starts Now! Scoop the Spectator 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Update: This contest has closed and we're waiting to see who Spectator names Wine of the Year!

This post serves as the official beginning of Scoop the Spectator 2012. This is the third year we've run this contest. The idea? To guess Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year before they announce it and prices for that wine shoot through the roof.

Demand for Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year often skyrockets, perhaps irrationally. Last year's winner -- the 2009 Kosta Browne Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (95WS/$52 Release Price) -- now sells for upwards of $200.

This year we're playing for a $200 Amazon.com gift card - sponsored by New York wine retailer Grapes the Wine Company (mystery shopper store review).

The Spectator unveiling begins Monday, November 12th 2012. Our contest runs from right now - Monday, October 29th 2012 at 9:00 am Eastern to Friday, November 9th 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern.

Here are the rules we're playing by:
  1. Guesses are submitted as comments to this blog post. Select a specific bottling and include the vintage. For example, one of the past winners was the 2005 Columbia Crest Columbia Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Another was the 2007 Saxum James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles. Here is a link to previous years as a reference. And here's what some of the guesses were last year.
  2. One guess per person.
  3. The first person to guess a specific wine "owns" that wine as their entry.  Subsequent guesses of the same wine aren't useful so look at the previous comments before submitting your entry.
  4. If nobody guesses the Wine of Year, the guess with the highest position on the list will win the prize.
  5. Not that they'd try, but Wine Spectator editors aren't allowed to enter.  And if you have inside information please don't spoil the fun for others by entering.  But if you do know please E-mail me and let me know. ;)
  6. The winner will receive a $200 Amazon.com gift card.
This contest is sponsored by Grapes the Wine Company - a fantastic New York wine retailer. Sign up for their newsletter. If you like wine deals like I do you won't be disappointed. My thanks to owner Daniel Posner for this sponsorship.

Subscribe to The Wellesley Wine Press to receive email notifications as the contest unfolds over the next few weeks


Bin Ends Wine Bargain Bin Bonanza

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bin Ends Wine in Braintree, MA is having a Bargain Bin Bonanza Sunday October 21st. The event promises 100+ cases of wine offered at 50% off plus an additional 10% off 6 or more bottles.

The Bin Ends Bargain Bin is my favorite part of their operation. I've picked up some great deals there over the years. It's typically a 3 x 3 wooden box of miscellaneous wines offered at healthy discounts. An eclectic mix of Burgundy, German Rieslings and who knows what else are usually available. Bellweather wines often find there way in there as well -- like 2007 Ridge Monte Bello half bottles a couple years ago. But this event should amplify the savings.

The event runs from noon - 6 pm. Get there early if you're in the area and available. If you do let us know how it went!
Check 'em Out:
236 Wood Road
Braintree, MA


First Look: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House

Since they opened in Boston in 2011, I've been hearing good things about Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House. It's part of the ambitiously redeveloped Liberty Wharf complex along Boston's waterfront in the Seaport District that includes the impressive Legal Harborside, Jerry Remy's, Temezcal Tequila Cantina and the newly opened 75 at Liberty Wharf (same folks as 75 Chestnut in Beacon Hill).

Boston's steakhouse scene has really exploded in the past 10 to 15 years. It used to be just a handful of local joints like Grill 23 and Abe & Louie's but national chains have invaded with some compelling offerings.

But what is Del Frisco's all about? What's it like? What differentiates it from Morton's, Ruth's Chris', The Capital Grille, and Smith & Wollensky? From their website:
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House planted its roots in Dallas more than 20 years ago. We embody the rich tradition of fine American steak houses, amazing guests through our impeccable chef-driven cuisine, extensive award-winning wine list and unparalleled hospitality. We offer our guests an unforgettable experience in a stunning, energetic atmosphere perfect for special occasions, business affairs or a grand night on the town.

Current locations include Boston, Dallas, Charlotte, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, Las Vegas, New York, and Philadelphia. Chicago coming soon.

They're part of the Del Frisco's Restaurant Group with also includes Sullivan's and Del Frisco's Grille (which is coming soon to Chestnut Hill, MA I hear).

Reservations are hard to come by. I've tried on two prior occasions to make a reservation unsuccessfully with a couple days notice. This time, I was able to get a table for 5:30 pm booked the same day via Open Table. A little earlier than ideal but not unreasonably so. The only problem is getting through the South Station traffic at rush hour. (Is there a better way to get to the Seaport area from points west of Boston? Let me know.)

Valet parking is $16. Metered street parking that needs to be fed until 8:00 pm is also available.

The restaurant is gorgeous.

You enter on the first floor to a lobby sort of area and are greeted by a hostess who directs you upstairs. Immediately you'll notice a jaw dropping display of wines behind glass. It looks like the Fort Knox of wine. Definitely worth a peak on your way out.

The theme of the building around glass enclosed wine conveys on the second floor. Behind the hostess stand is a polished, sophisticated bar area with a nice combination of a large bar and low slung seating areas for 3 or 4. A circular outcropping overlooks the harbor.

I've wondered how easy it would be to grab a seat at the bar for dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. From the looks of it on our way out at 8:30: Not easy. The few open spots I saw were marked "Reserved".

We were a few minutes late so we were immediately directed to our table in the center of the dining room on the window with sweeping views of the harbor. It would be even more impressive on a clear night (it was rainy with low clouds the night we visited). Outdoor seating is perched outside the main dining room for warmer months and would be amazing on a late summer evening.

We were immediately greeted by our server Adam and, since it was our first time visiting and we asked, a quick overview of Del Frisco's (the Double Eagle refers to a signature double-thick cut of sirloin) and pointers for navigating the experience.

Their leather-bound wine book drawfs the main menu which is printed on glossy cardstock.

Although this is a wine blog, I'm not one to go too crazy on wine at restaurants. I can't justify the markups in my mind. But complaining about this is like whining about how expensive oceanfront property is. And like oceanfront property - it's fun to look at. So here's what I saw...

First a few benchmark Napa Cabs to orient myself with the average markup. Click to enlarge, but the current releases from Cakebread and Caymus are $155. With a street retail price of $59 that's a markup of about 2.5x. Typical for a steakhouse.
Looking for something a little more special? They've got you covered. Schrader, Scarecrow and Screaming Eagle are ready to go from $795 to $4,995. $1,250 for a glass of wine? I don't think I want to come to terms with that in my lifetime.
The California Pinot section was "okay" I'd say. At $72 for the benchmark Belle Glos Meiomi that's a scorching 4.2x markup over street price.
Some nicer California Pinot Noir options existed as well, but overall markups were insane and I felt they could have gotten a bit more adventurous with producers.
I was tempted by a few half bottles - 2009 Ridge Lytton Springs at $50 seemed fair, and 2009 Patz & Hall Sonoma Coast Pinot for $56. But wanting to try a couple different things I went by the glass.
I went for a 2009 Hitching Post Pinot Noir for $16/glass which turned out to be, I thought, a very good wine and a nice start to the evening with the first couple courses.

What I like about some of my favorite restaurants is that every aspect of the meal is something I enjoy. When it comes to steakhouses, it's not just about the steak. I like it when the appetizers, the sides, the desserts -- everything -- are something to look forward to.

The bread they started us off with looked a little plain (I'd like to see more variety offered) but it was tasty. Slightly sweet.
Wanting to compare Del Frisco's to some of our classic favorites we split a wedge salad. A very nice rendition! Not as smothered with bleu cheese dressing as some, it impressed me with its cold crisp lettuce and was particularly well seasoned.
Adam recommended the crab cake and I'm glad he did. It was probably the single most impressive thing we tasted. Baked, not fried, it was again brilliantly seasoned with a little heat and a little sweetness I enjoyed. Spectacular.
On to the steaks. When I first looked at the Steaks & Chops section of the menu it looked a little boring:
  • Filet Mignon 8oz./12 oz. for $39/$46
  • Prime Ribeye 16 oz. for $46. 
  • Bone-In Prime Ribeye 22 oz. $53
  • Prime Strip 16 oz. $47
  • Prime Porterhouse 24 oz. $57
  • Lamb - 2 double cut 8 oz chop $46
  • Wagyu "Longbone" 32 oz. Ribeye $89
The prices seem to be setting the pace for Boston Steakhouses, and I'd say are on par with some of the best steakhouses in the country.

I went for one of the special steaks not on the menu. Three 4 oz. cuts prepared three ways: A red wine demi glace, bleu cheese, and oscar style (asparagus, crab cake, bernaise). I was interested in exploring their flavors more than just digging into a massive steak. They were well prepared and enjoyable for sure. 

I thought the bleu cheese treatment was a little too salty. It really clobbered the Lobster Mac & Cheese we ordered as a side (the pasta was a little overdone to boot). The red wine demi glace was pretty good. The oscar treatment was probably my favorite. The smaller cuts were interesting but I think I'd go for a more straightforward steak next time. I just don't know which one I'd get.

I had a glass of their house Del Friscos Cabernet Sauvignon. It was said to be made by Robert Foley and the style is what you'd expect: Generously fruit forward and delicious. I thought it went really nicely with the steaks and was good on its own too.

For dessert we went with their highly touted Lemon Cake. A massive slice of cake with a delicious lemon butter cream icing, it got to be a bit monotonous for my taste even when split.

Overall Food

I thought the food was "very good" and several items were "outstanding". I'd call the Crab Cakes a "must order" and I'll look forward to exploring more of their menu in the future.

Overall Service

The service was flawless and a real high point here. Our waiter's enthusiastic, attentive, polished yet down to earth style was just what I look for in a restaurant like this. Supporting staff was also excellent with several different individuals tending to us over the course of the evening but never in a confusing or disruptive way. We never wanted for anything and our table was magnificently tended to the entire evening.

Overall Ambiance

Some of the most impressive build out in a restaurant I've seen in Boston.The restaurant is absolutely gorgeous with a very rich feel to it. Sweeping views of the harbor remind you you're in Boston. There's a certain "New Year's Eve" bling to it that denotes it's a special occasion kind of place, but at the same time I felt comfortable wearing a half-zip sweater and dark denim.

Very comfortable seating and spacing between tables. We felt like we were part of the action yet could have our own conversation. One peculiarity: The dress code for female servers seemed to be tight fitting black with very short skirts. Gave it a touch of a Vegas cocktail vibe for better or worse.

Conclusion & Recommendations

Total bill came to $193 for the two of us, and we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse should be included in discussions about the best steakhouses in Boston.

93/100 Points WWP: Outstanding

Check 'em out:
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse
250 Northern Avenue, Suite 200
Boston, MA 02210


Vintage Variation and California Pinot Noir: Is 2009 all it's cracked up to be?

Monday, October 15, 2012

My average ratings from the last five vintages across a couple hundred bottles
How vintage sensitive should we be in our wine purchases?

One of wine's inherent advantages compared to other beverages is that each vintage provides new opportunity for exploration. But winemakers are often tasked with serving two masters: Customers seeking a consistent product year in and year out and those interested in seeing what each vintage has to offer in its purest form.

The best winemakers find a happy medium, producing wines that deliver the house style and are the best possible expression of each vintage. Others take a more dedicated approach on either side of the equation.

The Consumer

One way aspiring wine enthusiasts display their vast knowledge is by memorizing portions of vintage charts from prominent wine publications and ordering wines from "good" vintages while avoiding the "bad" ones. Good and bad are in quotes because true wine geeks revel in understanding and enjoying the differences between each vintage and exploring the way nature shaped what comes to be in their glass.

That said, some vintages are more aligned with what we're looking for than others. So yeah - they're better. At least for each of us.

The Critic

I've often thought about how professional critics determine their vintage ratings. I mean, I know they taste a boatload of wine from each vintage but specifically how do they recognize that one vintage is uniformly better or worse than another when tasting wines from mostly the same vintage?

I imagine it's a combination of expectations set from a variety of inputs, like weather patterns the year the grapes were grown and what winemakers tell them, in conjunction with stylistic traits they detect while tasting - especially in benchmark wines they've tasted over a number of years.

The Vintage

When vintages are good the quality of all wines rise. What this can do, as it did with 2009 California Pinot Noir, is create a sense of invincibility on the part of the wine buyer. There was a point when I didn't think I could open a bad 2009 - even south of $20. I was temporarily lulled into a sense that I didn't need to be selective in the category. That all California Pinot Noir was really good. Even the cheap stuff!

But I found that as I pushed the price points south of $20 things got quite a bit more difficult. Especially in vintages like 2008 and 2010.

So I thought it would be interesting to take a snapshot and see how my ratings of California Pinot Noir tracked across the last five vintages. As consumers, we taste quite differently than the pros. Rather than flights of wines from mostly the same vintage, we bop around and drink from a range of vintages only occasionally doing a side by side comparison of the same bottling from different vintages. I wanted to see if I really did tend to enjoy 2009s more than other vintages, and if so how much more?

Inside the Numbers

Although the magnitude of the swing between the highest and lowest rated vintages isn't as dramatic as I would have guessed it would be, it's likely the affect we see in other ratings comparison studies whereby since such a small portion of the 100 point scale is used small differences have bigger meaning than we might think.

For example, an average difference of 88 vs. 90 isn't a 2 percent difference it's more like a 90 point wine is nearly twice as exciting as an 88 point wine in terms of how we think about it when assigning a numerical rating. More on that phenomenon here.

Putting it to the Test

I had an accidental opportunity to do a comparative tasting between two vintages of Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir recently. It's a $28 release price wine from a well regarded Pinot Noir producer. I bought two bottles of the wine thinking they were both 2009s and later discover one was a 2008. I thought this would be a good opportunity to taste them back to back and compare notes. How much better could the 2009 possibly be? A lot better.

Here are my notes:

It's amazing how much better the 2009 vintage of this bottling is than the 2008. Where the 08 is limited aromatically and falls flat on the palate, the 09 has enjoyable classic CA Pinot markings on the nose and delivers vibrant fruit on the palate. 2009 California Pinot Noir is the real deal.


So where does that leave us in terms of my original question, which was how heavily to bias our purchases towards highly regarded vintages? California Pinot Noir vintage variation is nothing compared to Bordeaux, Burgundy or Piedmont for example. But there are some definite differences to be had even in California.

For me, I'll continue to pay attention to the story behind vintages and yes I'll likely buy more heavily in "good" vintages. But good wineries put out great wines even in mediocre vintages so I'll buy even in "bad" vintages from certain producers.

What do you think? How heavily are your purchases weighted towards better vintages?

Lots more to discuss in this area - like price variation according to perceived quality of vintage depending on region - and how to take advantage of this as a consumer. I'd love it if you SUBSCRIBED to The Wellesley Wine Press so we can keep in touch.


Value Alert: 2009 Honig Napa Valley Cabernet

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The latest issue of Wine Spectator arrived today and, like the arrival of pumpkin flavored treats, their Napa Cabernet tasting report is a sure sign of autumn. There's some surprises in the issue for sure but keeping it high level 2009 is hailed as the fourth Napa Cab vintage in a row rated 95+ points.

If you're a regular reader of the WWP you know Pinot Noir coverage has outpaced other varietals around here lately. That's because, for me, California Pinot Noir is incredibly delicious and pairs well with 90% of the meals we enjoy.

But with the weather turning cooler, I reached into our stash and pulled a couple of nicer bottles of Napa Valley Cabernet recently. The first was a 2006 Lewis Napa Cabernet. Tremendous stuff. It really set me off on a mission to find more wines like it that didn't carry its hefty price tag. That wine sells for north of $80 - can we find similar for around $30?

But first, another Napa Cab that was a stunner:

2007 O'Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
14.8% Alcohol
2,900 Cases Produced (based on 2009 vintage)
$80 Release Price

Spectacular. Tasting this I had flashbacks to some of my favorite visits to Napa tasting rooms. What I thought was particularly notable about this wine was its prominent black currant preserves and cedar notes -- backed by supporting classic Napa Cab attributes. It's hard to find these characteristics at more approachable price points. Each sip made you want to come back for more. Sadly, bottles like this don't last forever. Even when they're 1.5L.

95/100 WWP: Classic

So two fantastic wines from Lewis and O'Shaughnessy. What separated them from more affordable wines were two things: Flavor profile -and- depth of flavor. Primary fruit is amply supported by more complex savory aromas and flavors. It's relatively easy to find an affordable, juicy Cali Cab. It's not easy to find one with these additional characteristics.

So where do we turn for a tremendous $30 Napa Cab? The 2007 Honig Napa has been amazingly reliable across a half dozen bottles. Every time I've opened one I've been amazed at the quality they've delivered.

And good news: The 2009 is out, Wine Spectator loves it (92 points, a Top Value), and I think it's as good as the 2007. Here are my notes on the 2009:

2009 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
14.1% Alcohol15,000 Cases Produced
$40-$45 Release Price

There's a freshness to this wine that's tremendously appealing, but it's made even more compelling since it's paired with earthiness and supporting complexity that's hard to find at this price point. Black currant, cassis, and cocoa power on the nose. On the palate it's light on its feet initially but quickly followed up with the same notes apparent on the nose with medium weight and serious flavor. And milk chocolate. This might exceed the tremendously reliable 2007. Back up the truck if you can find it in the $30 range!

93/100 WWP: Oustanding

Read reviews on CellarTracker
Find it at retail on Wine-Searcher

Question of the day: Are you a fan of Honig Cabernet? What are some of your favor Napa Cabs you can find for $30 or less at retail?


First Look: 2011 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buy this from Wine.com
And try this technique to get the absolute best prices from Wine.com

Ah yes, Meiomi. A benchmark sub-$20 fruit forward flavorful California Pinot Noir if there ever was one. With its screw cap and reliably delicious crowd friendly personality it's always good to have on hand. Or order by the glass at a restaurant.

The 2011 vintage has been popping up at retail for the last month or so. It makes me wonder - how many months does this wine spend in barrel? Or should the duration be measured in weeks instead? Whatever the winemaking regiment is, Joe Wagner has found a groove with this bottling that's been consistent over at least the last five years.

Does this vintage compare favorably to prior? I think it does. Here are my notes:

2011 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir
57,000 cases produced (2010 vintage)
13.9% Alcohol

Dark in color. Aromatically present with grape hard candy notes. Slightly sweet in the palate, but not overly so. Not as plummy as the 2010 but as delicious as the 2008. In keeping stylistically with prior vintages. These guys have found a house style and keep cranking it out.

91/100 WWP: Outstanding

Expect a bit of a price increase on this one. The 2010 was available at Costco in Waltham for the amazing low price of $15.99. They've got the 2011 at $17.79 - a 11.2% increase. Still a good value, but perhaps a sign of a recovering wine industry?

Winery Website: http://meiomiwines.com
Read reviews on CellarTracker
Find it at retailer on Wine-Searcher

If you've enjoyed the Meiomi you might also like the Belle Glos single vineyard wines. Check out how the Las Alturas bottling fared in this Oregon vs. California Pinot Noir showdown.

Update: Wine Spectator has released their rating of this wine and it is quite positive! Check it out

I've been working on a write up of current releases of California Pinot Noirs at Massachusetts warehouse clubs. I'd love it you SUBSCRIBED to The Wellesley Wine Press to be informed of new posts.



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