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!