Monday, December 22, 2008

Website coming soon!

After about a week's delay our website should be up and running this week! We should be up and running soon. The site before publication is at
Comments are welcome.

Friday, December 19, 2008

High End California Tasting, Wed. 17th

There were several really nice wines in this tasting. I will note specifically Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2007, which I thought was awesome, and the Silver Oak 2004 Alexander Cabernet, which I thought for this vintage underperformed. I think that the Silver Oak will be much better a couple years down the road, which makes it a good buy if you plan to put it away for a while.

That being said, I'm a huge fan of anything Spottswoode. I don't know much about the winery, but I do know that some of the founders like Tony Soter (who does Etude wines) and Daniel Schuster (who was one of the pinot noir pioneers in New Zealand) make some of the best wines in the world. Schuster in particular makes some really good pinot noir from New Zealand that tends to be on the minerally side, and Soter is one of the world's best viticulturalists. I am particularly a fan of his pinot noir under the Etude label, and Paul notes that he's involved in an Oregon property that is doing some really fun stuff with sparkling wines.

I have tasted the 2003 Spottswoode cabernet sauvignon a couple of times. Most memorably, I tasted it with Sarah Cyr at the Wine Cellar and Bistro in late 2006. We judged it to be very complex and dynamic and a wine that would take well to some time in the cellar. It's a phenomenal wine. I'm lucky to have been given enough to try this wine on at least one occasion.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Reflections on the Champagne Tasting

The Champagne tasting was excellent, though dangerous. There were 13 different wines and even with pours under two ounces, I was more than a little tipsy after the tasting. The nominal star of the tasting was the 2002 vintage Cristal. Not having had that wine before and not knowing how it ages, I don't feel qualified making a judgment about the price/quality ratio though I'll note it was young and somewhat tight, though excellent.

The other interesting wines at the tasting were the Deutz Brut and the Henriot were also favorites of mine.

More more later. I will be much better about posting next week when I have fewer obligations.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Champagne Tasting tomorrow!

I'm very excited about tomorrow's Sparkling/Champagne tasting; the big attraction is that one of the champagnes in the lineup is Cristal. I've certainly never had that wine, primarily because it remains prohibitively expensive at $270 a bottle. Here's the rest of the lineup:

Sparkling Wines

Simonnet-Febvre “AOC” Cremant de Bourgogne Brut $20
Simonnet-Febvre “AOC” Cremant de Bourgogne Rose $19
Scharffenberger Brut $18
Roederer “Anderson Valley” Brut $22
Domaine Chandon “Reserve” Chardonnay Brut $26

Mumm “Cordon Rouge” Brut $42
Henriot Brut Souverain $45
Piper Heidsieck Brut (6 pk gift wrap) $50
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut with Glasses (6pk cs) $50
Deutz Brut Classic (6pk cs) $55
Roederer Brut Premier (6pk cs) $55
Moet & Chandon “Brut Imperial Rose (6pk cs) $55
Roederer Cristal 2002 $275

THe one thing that I like to remind people about is that the distinction between Champagne and sparkling wine is simply that Champagne is a geographic trademark for sparkling wine from Champagne, France.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Reflections on the Port Tasting

The port tasting on Wednesday went well. The most intriguing wine to me was the Warres White Porto, which we mixed with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime for a pleasant, slightly sweet apertif. The recipe can be varied to substitute tonic for ginger ale and lemon or another citrus instead of lime.

Paul's pick for the most interesting port was the 1992 Colheita (a single vintage tawny port), which for a 16 year old wine was remarkably full bodied and robust. The only wine on the list that wasn't a fortified wine, the 2005 Warres Altano (a blend of the portuguese grapes Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz), is an excellent buy for a dry red wine, being interesting and complex and well balanced.

There are a couple other events coming up soon, but I'll note those in the next post I make.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Port Tasting, Dec. 3rd

Top Ten Wines

Warres Port Tasting

Joe Ancona
Vineyard Brands Regional Representative

Warres "Fine Selected White" Porto $18
Warres "Warrior" Porto (Vintage Character) $17
Warres "Otima 10 yr Tawny" Porto (500ml) $24
Warres "Quinta da Cavadinha" Vintage Porto 1989 $45
Warres "Late Bottle Vintage" Porto 1999 $30
Warres "Colheita Single Year Reserve" Porto $37
Warres "Vintage" Porto 2003 $75
Warres "Douro" Altano 2005 $9

As usual, we do ask that reservations be made over the phone at 573-442-2207. It's $10 per person for the tasting and a two bottle purchase is requested.

Port is one of the more interesting styles of wine to me. The idea of preserving wine by fortifying it isn't new, but the particular style and quality of Port is an invention attributed to the British, who began importing Portuguese wine during a period of war with France circa 1703. The wine often spoiled during maritime transport and the addition of brandy as a preservative became fairly common. Most of the famed and historic port houses bear their names as relics of British involvement in the Portuguese wine trade; a couple examples are Graham, Dow, Warre, Taylor Fladgate, et al. Port itself because an object of tradition and ritual in English culture; the most common is the prohibition on failing to pass the port after it's been served post-dinner along with the dictum that one must not leave the table until after the port has been finished.

We certainly hope you're able to make it out for the tasting!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Economics and Wine, a Sober Post

What the financial market crisis and its implications for the broader economy as a whole is a very hot topic right now. Unfortunately, there are few people who understand either what happened during the explosion of the subprime market or how to mitigate its broader impact on the economy as a whole. What I'm immediately concerned about, of course, is what the impact on the wine industry will be. My thoughts aren't always clear, but hopefully starting a discussion will bring some clarity to the table.

For the consumer or wine merchant, the news is mixed. First the good: global equity markets have lost over 45% of their value as trillions of dollars have been lost in transactions backed by subprime loans that were repackaged in ways that few people understand. This means a couple of things. First, a lot of money that went into using commodities such as oil or tin that are important to wine production and shipping has vanished, meaning that the these assets are now far cheaper. That's why gas is now $1.79 at the local gas station (hooray). Additionally, the dollar has gained in strength tremendously; investors are panicking and becoming far more risk averse. It's also true that as investors trying to meet margin calls denominated in US dollars are liquidating assets denominated in foreign currency, adding to demand. For us, this is a good thing: the combination of high fuel prices and investors fleeing the dollar meant that price increases in wine from Europe were happening almost weekly. The trend downward for wine prices might have a little bit of lag as producers, negociants, and shippers seek to recoup profits foregone earlier in the year, but it's inevitable that prices are headed downwards.

Robert Parker is probably pleased at the notion that wine prices are heading south. Though it's probably true that he bears a great deal of responsibility for igniting the stellar price increases that high-end wines have seen over the past 3 decades, particularly first growth Bordeaux, I hesitate to pass judgment on the linkage between his rating system and high wine prices. I would say that it's probably true that it was inevitable that high-end wines would trend upward during conditions of explosive economic growth worldwide and that some focal point for driving those prices up would have emerged, with or without Parker.

What does this mean? It means that good buys in wine are going to remain the same: Argentina, Chile, Spain, the Languedoc region of France. The obscure wine regions where unnoticed producers are making excellent wine from lesser-known varietals that remain regionally distinctive and universally tasty.

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update on St. Cosme

Update: The 2006 Chateau St. Cosme Gigondas just received recognition from Wine Spectator at #88 on their Top 100 Wines of 2008. They ranked it a well-deserved 92 points. This is the big brother to the St. Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone that I mentioned in my last post and I'll mention here that the Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone is composed primarily of fruit that didn't make it into their Gigondas-specific bottling and in our collective opinion here at Top Ten is an excellent buy ($17) at about half the price.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Wines ~ Friday, Nov 21 7:00PM

The next tasting at Top Top Ten Wines is on Friday November 21 at 7:00PM
We will taste a variety of White, Rose and Red wines we feel will pair well with traditional Thanksgiving meals; turkey or ham. (Should you have less tradition meals there are plenty of other choices in the shop right now). As a general rule the wines will be fruit forward, low tannin wines with reasonable alcohol levels so you can sip wine though out the 4 hour meal. They should also work with the sandwiches the next day when you start you second eating marathon.

Chuck Johnson and Tays will be in attendance to help answer questions and tell very bad puns. The tasting costs $10 per person and there is a two bottle purchase request per person / 4 per couple.

Please make reservations by calling 442 2207 during business hours. The store is closed on Sunday and Monday. Please do not make reservations via email.

Thanksgiving Mixed Case Special

Since the store is bursting at the seams with wine (I had to chain up the ping pong table outside for lack of room this past weekend)), I have decided to reduce the inventory by mixing up a special case for Thanksgiving. I have 24 cases at $110 which include: one Sparkling, 2 Rose, 4 White and 4 Red and 1 Dessert wine. All case are not all the same so there may be some variance. The average case would have cost $167; a savings of $57! With these specials I can not save cases for customers, first come first served.

Top Ten Wines
Thanksgiving Wines

November 21, 2008

$10 per person, 2 bottles per person / 4 per couple

White Wines

Luna Vineyards "Napa Valley" Pinot Grigio $18

Sacred Hill "Marlborough" Sauvignon Blanc 2007 $16

Hugel et Fils "Alsace" Gewurztraminer 2005 $23

Chateau Ste Michelle "Cold Creek Vineyard" Riesling (6pk) 2007 $17

Rose Wines

Domaine de Nizas "Coteaux de Languedoc" 2007 $15

Tenuta Guado al Tasso "Scalabrone" Rosato (6pk) 2006 $16

Red Wines

Vincent Girardin "Cuvee Saint Vincent" Pinot Noir 2005 $24

Domaine Chandon "Carneros" Pinot Meunier 2006 $34

Neil Ellis "Western Cape" The Left Bank Blend 2007 $16

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Liveblogging Noah Earle; '07 St. Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone

Noah Earle is finishing up the night for the BlueBird Festival here at Top Ten. He has something of a cult following around town and from the music he's making I can certainly understand why. He's very folksy and expressive and the acoustics here are excellent.

Paul pointed me to the 2007 Cotes-du-Rhone from Saint Cosme ($17), a 100% syrah wine made for the Gigondas firm of Louis and Cherry Barruol. The grapes for the 2006 vintage were mostly declassified Gigondas fruit, with some fruit from Vinsobres and Rasteau. To my knowledge the 2007 blend is the same. Parker is a big fan of Louis Barruol, a winemaker/negociant who learned winemaking at university and in his father's business. The Barruol wines are fairly sought after, typically being made from fruit culled from old vines, with long macerations, barrel fermentations, and bottling unfiltered.

That being said, the wine is really excellent. It's chewy and soft and really aromatic, with a lot of dense black fruit. Parker gives a 90 and I can see why; I think it's as good as most of the wine in the region and should be able to stand up to most of the wines of Chateauneuf, etc.

We'll be tasting a bunch of Rhones on Thursday, the 20th; I know there's some Cote-Rotie and Chateauneufs in the lineup. Paul's particularly excited about the wines from Domaine de la Mordoree. Hope you can make it!

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A Fort, Except with Wine

I'm sitting around looking through the wines here, and there are some really spectacular wines just lying around. Sea Smoke Pinot Noir, Torbreck's 'The Descendant', grand cru Burgundies from Domaine Vincent Girardin, lots of shiraz and cabernet from Clarendon Hills in Australia, 2001 Les Forts de Latour (Chateau Latour's second wine....and we haven't even opened the reserve cellar yet.

The Bluebird Music Festival is tonight, and there will be live music here.
5:45: Sal Retta
6:45: Travis Linville
8:00: Casey Reeves
9:00: Noah Earle

Hannah and Tim should be behind the bar tonight; see you around!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Con Sur Tasting ~ Oct. 29, 2008

Last year around this time of the year, I discovered the wines of Cono Sur when reading Decanter Magazine. They had just put out there year end edition and Cono Sur was featured in several "Best of" categories; many for Pinot Noir and other cool climate wines. These are all sound values that have been good movers for the shop. Cono Sur reintroduced me to the virtues of Chilean wine. I was pleased they were imported by my friend, Joe Ancona from Vineyard Brands, and distributed by Chuck Johnson and Tays. This will be a very fun tasting.

We are fortunate to have Jose Luis Lavin, Export Director, help host a tasting of their wines. It is always nice to have winery representatives tell their own story. I will serve Scallop Ceviche, for the white wines, and Cheese, Hanna's Olive Tapenad with crusty bread for the reds.

The tasting costs $10 per person and there is a 2 bottle purchase request per person / 4 per couple. Please make reservations by calling 442-2207 during business hours Tuesday through Saturday. I am sorry but I do not take reservation via email or left on the answering machine. Please be willing to pay for the tasting if you cancel with less than 72 hours of notice.

Best, Paul Vernon

Top Ten Wines

Cono Sur Wines

White Wines

Riesling "Bio-Bio Valley" 2007 $12

Sauvignon Blanc "Central Valley" 2007 $11

Sauvignon Blanc "Vision-Casablanca" 2006 $15

Chardonnay "Sustainable Farming-Colchagua" 2006 $13

Chardonnay, "Vision-Casablanca" 2006 $15

Red Wines

Pinot Noir "Central Valley" 2007 $11

Pinot Noir "Vision-Colchagua" 2007 $15

Camenere "Colchagua" 2007 $12

Cabernet Sauvignon/Camenere "Organic Farming" 2007 $13

Cabernet Sauvignon "20 Barrels" 6 pk) 2005 $30

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Qupé Wine Tasting with Owner and Wine-maker Bob Lindquest

The Goat's Beard Farm Cheese and Wine tasting has sold out.....but...

We are fortunate to have Columbia native Bob Lindquist, owner and wine maker of Qupé Vineyards at Top Ten Wines for a tasting on Tuesday, October 21 at 7:00Pm. Bob is one of the pioneers of the wine industry in Santa Barbara. He is also one of the original Rhone Rangers, wine makers who specialize in Syrah, Grenache, Marsanne and Rousanne. We will be trying some of his very highly allocated Hillside wines. Bob Lindquist literally changed the face of the California wine scene.

“Qupé is dedicated to producing handcrafted Rhône varietals and Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast. We employ traditional wine making techniques to make wines that are true to type and speak of their vineyard sources. Our goal is to make wines with impeccable balance that can be enjoyed in their youth, yet because of the good acidity from cool vineyard sites can also benefit from ageing. We are committed to sourcing grapes from some of the best and most prestigious vineyards in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.”

- Bob Lindquist

We will start the evening at 7:00PM with Kir and Peche Royals. We will try Bob's wine served with an variety of cheeses, and finish the evening with some 20+ year old vintage Warre's Porto from 1985 with house-made Biscotti and Candy Factory dark chocolate.

There is a cost of $10 per person for this tasting and we hope you will find some of these stunning wines to take home. It is a good time to start getting your cellars ready for the Holidays.

Best, Paul Vernon

Qupé Tasting
with owner Bob Lindquist

October 21, 2008 7:00PM

Marsanne $21

Roussanne Hillside Estate $43

Syrah Central Coast $18

Grenache Purisima Mtn. approx. $40

Syrah Bien Nacido $30

Syrah Hillside Estate $47

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goat's Beard Tasting

The next tasting is on Wednesday, October 15 at 7:00 PM featuring 10 wines from around the world and the hand crafted cheeses from Goat's Beard Farm.

I have been looking to the tasting with Goat's Beard Farm for some time. If you are not familiar with Goats Beard, they are producers of award winning goat cheeses located just 30 minutes Northwest of Columbia in Harrisberg, Missouri. We will try 10 interesting wines paired with 5 different hand crafted cheeses; 2 wines with each type of cheese. We will have a guest at the tasting to discuss the process of making Goat cheese. Chuck and Tays will also be on hand. We will be taking orders for the cheese at the tasting. They are also available at the Root Cellar on Broadway and at the Farmers Market.

The tasting costs $10 and a 2 bottle purchase per person, $20 and 4 bottles per couple. Make reservations by calling 442 2207. Please do not leave reservations on the answering machine or via email. The list of what will be tasted follows.

Top Ten Wines
Goat's Beard Farm
Goats Cheese and Wine Tasting

Fresh Goats Cheese

Denis Gaudry “AOC” Pouilly Fume 2006 $27
Neil Ellis “Western Cape” Sauvignon Blanc 2006 $18

Osage Orange

Willamette Valley Vineyards “Oregon” Riesling
2007 $15
George Duboeuf “Des Capitans” Julienas 2007 $18


George Duboeuf “AOC” Macon Villages 2006 $14
Kings Ridge Pinot Noir Oregon 2006 $21

Prairie Bloom

Chateau Montfort “AOC” Vouvray 2006 $15
Dona Paula “Mendoza” Malbec 2007 $15

Montiteau Blue

Schlink Haus “QMP” Auslese 2007 $16
Rosenblum Cellars “California” Zin Port $19