If you were presented with a lineup of wine and had to pick only one, could you do it? Are you influenced by certain factors such as grape variety, producer, region or country, price or points scored? Is there a particular reason why you drink what you drink?
This has been on my mind as of late, and just for fun, I’ve put together a couple of lineups of products to see what the wine of choice would be and why. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine with whom I took Diploma with, and we were discussing Champagne. He was singing the praises of (most) Champagne and telling me how much he loved it, and could very easily consume it daily. I on the other hand, would never choose it as my first choice in drink. There would always be something that comes before Champagne. In fact, it would likely be my last choice in a lineup of wine. That being said, those that offer me Champagne, I’m highly unlikely to refuse!
Are you likely to choose Champagne? What about an aged Bordeaux? If you like French, why not some classic white Bordeaux or a Condrieu? Italy is strong with their Super Tuscans, or a Barolo even? Nothing like a good Napa or Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon right? How about some of the more innocuous wines like Verdicchio, or 100% Marsanne from a well known producer in Hermitage? Or perhaps you prefer one of the Rioja Tempranillos with a Reserva or Gran Reserva label on it? Are you more of a geek and prefer something different like a Brachetto or Nerello Mascalese? Put your thinking caps on if you can, please give me your choice and why. Everyone has that special “niche” in their palate, and I know what I would choose in these lineups, so I’m wondering…what would YOU choose?
Bollinger – Classic Champagne House in the Classic Brut style with 85% of the grapes coming from Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 15% Meunier, this Champagne is nothing to sneeze at. $86
Les Hauts de Smith – check out the Graves Blanc post for more info on this wine. 100% Sauvignon Blanc. $57
Faury Condrieu – a stunning Viognier from the Northern Rhone where they specialize in this particular varietal. With some new oak and battonage, the body on this wine is pretty spectacular – $86
Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon – from the makers of Duckhorn, a Sonoma County Cabernet; the baby brother – $45
Chateau Cadet-Piola – an aged right bank Bordeaux from St. Emilion. This one’s a ’99. Still great structure but certainly the tertiary aromas are at the forefront with nostly Cab Franc and Merlot. Might be a bit TOO old for right bank, but if you love stinky, aged wines, this might be a good choice – $73
Rizieri Barolo – from La Morra, this 2011 is so pretty on the nose with intense floral rose aromas along with ripe red cherry. This would be cool to see some age on it. Barolos on the left(Barolo, La Morra) drink much earlier than those on the right (Serralunga and Monforte for example) – $60
Tignanello – this wine needs no introduction as the Antinori family has done a masterful job with marketing as when one says Super Tuscan, Tig usually comes to mind. Mostly Sangiovese, there’s 5% Cab Franc and 15% Cab Sauv in the blend. Definately meant for ageing, but many would crack it open, and after a good decant, imbibe – $125
Quinta do Vesuvio Vintage Port – supposedly one of the best Quintas in the Douro, if not one of the most famous. Owned by the Symington family, only the best grapes are used. Mostly Touriga Nacional, you might not want to open this for several years yet (2012). But if you do, the thing with Vintage Port, is once you open it…you gotta drink it. So if you don’t mind sharing… 🙂 – $118
Having trouble choosing? Not me. Hands down, I’ll pick the Barolo out of this lineup. Given that it’s from La Morra, so easier to drink sooner, I absolutely love the nose on this wine, and I’ve met the producer (who is lovely by the way), and not cost prohibitive. It meets my budget, it’s well made, and super tasty! Having said this, my second choice would be a bit more difficult…
Hmm, this lineup might look a lot like the first one. Same Champagne, a Barolo, Napa Cab, a Super Tuscan…but I’ve thrown in a couple of new ones. Would you choose the same bottle? If you chose Champagne the first time, would you choose it yet again?
Chapoutier Chante Alouette – who doesn’t know who Chapoutier is? This is a stunning 100% Marsanne that is ridiculously delicious. You Chardonnay lovers out there would be fooled by this one. Great oak integration with full mouth feel and some serious complexities – $95
Marotti Campi Salmariano – 100% Verdicchio from the Marche, again you Chardonnay lovers would be blown away by this wine. Slightly oaked with full flavour, and totally ageable – $29
Valenciso Rioja Reserva – 100% Tempranillo, a 2008, so above and beyond the ageing requirements for a Reserva. This wine still exhibits lots of fruit, but with earthy, smoky undertones. For the price, it’s fantastic – $45
Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon – a serious wine from a serious producer in a serious district of Napa- Stags Leap, with a price tag to match. Might be a first choice for many – $115
Azelia Barolo – a reputable producer of Nebbiolo from single vineyard Margheria. On a fun note, I went to a producer tasting where we tasted several Nebbiolo from their various vineyards and a few different vintages also, along with a “surprise” wine that we tasted blind. We were to guess the vineyard and the vintage. I nailed it. Chalk it up to luck, but my logic in getting there was sound (I think!) With some decant, this drinks good, but of course, like any Nebbiolo, give it some age and it would be outstanding – $114
Ornellaia – does more expensive mean better? One of the “great” Super-tuscans in a Bordeaux blend style with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. A big bold wine to be sure. Would you choose this one?-$215
This lineup, my choice for white is the Verdicchio from Marotti Campi, and hands down, the Tempranillo. I’ve had both of these wines before and they are impressive, and certainly the lowest prices of this lineup. But I’m not choosing them based on their price either. I’m choosing them for their quality. So what about you? Which would you choose and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts…
I have another lineup to show to you, but will wait until Friday to post. There’s some cool, geeky stuff in there, and for those that have perhaps tasted any of it, I wonder how you will choose from this lineup! Salute!