Thursday's tasting: More about Stan's Favorites'
By By Stan Torgerson / wine columnist
Juen 26, 2002
There aren't many red wine bases that won't be touched at Thursday night's wine tasting. We are calling it "Stan's Favorites" because that's what these wines are. Look at the line-up.
We will have wines from Washington State, California, Australia, Chile, Portugal and two from France, one from Burgundy and another from Bordeaux. Several of the wines are rated at 90 or above. Four of the seven wines to be served are in the $30 per bottle or above category.
At the end of the evening, in conjunction with the last wine served, we will have a surprise ending to the event. Don't ask. It wouldn't be a surprise if we told you now, but I do promise it will be both pleasurable and informative.
One of the most interesting wines of the evening will be the Concha y Toro Don Melchor Private Reserve. This winery is best known for its lesser everyday wines, which offer reasonable quality at low prices.
Concha y Toro is a solid staple on the American wine market, but the Don Melchor is something special. Many wineries hold out their very best grapes and make a premium wine for customers who are willing and capable of paying for the best. That's what Concha y Toro does. The Don Melchor is almost $40 a bottle, the most expensive wine of the evening. It also has history behind it.
Over 100 years ago, Don Melchor de Concha y Toro brought winemakers from Bordeaux to the Maipo Valley of Chile to introduce and develop noble wines from thousands of vines transplanted from France.
The French-Chilean cooperation achieved its goal not only to produce the finest red wine of Chile, but also to create a world-class wine comparable in stature to the finest wines of Europe. It was the Don Melchor cabernet sauvignon.
The Wine Spectator rated this wine at 90 and, while that is very high indeed, I believe it deserves another two or three points. It is a victim of the prejudice felt by both France and California toward South American wines. The theory is that there is no way "theirs" can be as good as "ours," so judges aren't overly generous.
Well, they can be and they are.
Also on the list
Other wines to be served tomorrow evening include another stranger to most wine consumers but one which I assure you is outstanding, the Quinta Do Crasto Douro Reserva from Portugal.
To the average wine lover, Portugal is famous for its ports and only its ports sweet, rich, thick dessert wines that take 10 years to mature and can easily live for 50 years or more.
The Quinta Do Crasto is not a port. It is a true red wine, juicy and packed with flavor. It is one of our discoveries of the year and we're pleased there was enough left in the state warehouse to allow us to serve it.
Australia's Clarendon Hills Old Vine Grenache is certain to get some votes as the best wine of the evening. Grenache is principally grown in Southern France where it is used in the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, one of the world's most popular wines.
It is also grown in Spain where it is used for blending in the wines of Rioja. It creates wines that are rich and warm with a high alcohol content (this wine has a 15 percent alcohol level) and, to be fair, it is best when used in a blend with other varieties. This is another favorite on my list.
Other wines to be served include the Pine Ridge Merlot, a blend of 82 percent merlot, 9 percent cabernet sauvignon, 7 percent malbec and 2 percent cabernet franc. The end result is a smooth velvety merlot that is lovely to drink.
The French wines are a bordeaux from the 1995 vintage, the second best vintage year of the 1990's in France with an overall vintage rating of 95. Only 1990 was a better year and then just a bit. It rated 97.
The other is a burgundy from the 1997 vintage. The 97 was only an average year but the winemaker produced a very drinkable product that carries an affordable price. We always enjoy it.
Our door wine will be the popular Columbia Crest cabernet sauvignon. It is a great value and one of the best-selling wines in the country.
It would be easy to go overboard on, say, the cabernets or zinfandels or the merlots or other varietals and pack the tasting with an assortment of the same type of wine. But we like variety in our red wines and that's what we were aiming for in this case, wines from different grapes and different countries to give the tasters the opportunity to compare.
We've kept the price at $25 although there is no wine on the list, other than the door wine, that sells retail for less than that. The tasting starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be at the usual place, Northwood Country Club.
Attendance is not restricted to club members. Please call in your reservation to 482-0930 so that we know how much to purchase for the tasting. You are welcome to stay for dinner at the club.
If you like red wines, many of these wines will be among your favorites too at the end of the evening. All of them are among mine.