The Grapevine

What Your Wine Shop Customers Are Reading – Wine Spectator 7/31/14

July 10th, 2014

Wine Spectator for July 31, 2014 is all about Chardonnay. They rate 250 2012 bottlings and the cover story is on Napa’s John Kongsgaard. “A Chardonnay Master in Cabernet Country.” Before we get to the features, let’s take a look at columns and departments. [level-members]

First, a report that 2013 Bordeaux futures are not selling well. You may already know this if it’s any of concentration for you. If you only dabble, take heart that you’re not the only one seeing a down year. (Or be thrilled if you’re bucking the trend.)

Bottled sangria consumption is on the rise in the US. There’s some consternation, though, on the part of folks in the European Union, who contend that bottled sangria must come from Spain or Portugal. (A la Champagne being a sparkling wine but not all sparkling wines being Champagne …)

Spectator Selections include a the Highly Recommended Petite Syrah Howell Mountain Rattlesnake Ridge 2012 from Turley at $4, the Collectible Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Marcassin Vineyard 2009 for $125, the Smart Buy Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna Costamolino 2013 at $16, and the Best Value, Terras de Alter’s Trincadeira-Aragonez-Syrah Alentejo Fado 2013 priced at $9.

On the downside, James Laube reports that there is no medical consensus about whether moderate alcohol consumption has any effect on lifespan.

On the upside, Matt Kramer reports that the wine revolution in Portugal is a great thing with their wines being “among the most fascinating in the world right now.”

2012 California Chardonnays are a bit up and down, with Napa and Sonoma scoring in the 90-93 range while Santa Barbera lags in the 85-88 range. Carneros falls in between: 88-91. That said, WS reports that the wines are “intense with pure, ripe, vibrant flavors.”

Top choices include Marcassin, Aubert, Peter Michael, and Kongsgaard bottlings. Top values include Morgan, Smoking Loon, Amici, Beringer, and Calera. Those top values are mostly in the $20/bottle range with the Smoking Loon a notable exception at $8. Pont Neuf is their winery to watch.

South Africa is on the rise still, though the 87-90 rating for 2013 is a slight retreat from the 90 and 91 scores for the 2011 and 2012 vintages. A fairly lengthy list of top values is available for less than $20.

No such luck with the top-scoring Sangiovese bottlings they profile. Biondi-Santi tops the list at $750, but all the 90+ bottles are above $50, most above $75.

Whiskey has gained enough of a following to now support auctions devoted to the most collectible of them. The top of the list is rarefied, indeed, with two separate bottles selling in the $500,000 neighborhood. (Though the $50,000 range seems much more common.)