Miscellaneous Noteworthy Wines of Late

I’ve had a few really standout wines in the last few weeks and neglected to blog until now. I guess I thought I needed a “theme” or topical reason to mention them. But I’ve now decided the beauty of the blog, is its immediacy and informality. So – here’s some good stuff you should run out and drink and/or eat soon.


Bodegas y Vinedos Alion Ribera
Del Duero 2001

Having spent way too much money on vacation in Spain earlier this year, my hubby and I enjoyed a “vacation in
Chicago” just a few weeks ago. Our one big splurge was an all out feed at Custom House – or as I like to call it, “Shawn McClain’s Meat Emporium.” The food, service, and atmosphere were all just fantastic and the whole crew there deserves major props.


So after a huge bargain we got at the bar (Veuve Clicquot Rose NV for $15 per glass), I justified paying for a big guns Spanish red. I had high expectations and to quote Kathy Griffin, “it delivered like Domino’s.” Just a huge wine with all the structure of a high class
Bordeaux. A symphony of blackberry, currant, baked clay, minerals, black pepper, and coffee. Incredible. And just the kind of wine I like to share with the man who puts up with me year-round.


Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2003

During a recent dinner party with old friends, the beloved Best Man from our wedding looked up from his glass and said, “I don’t know anything, but I know THIS is really good.” I had to agree, even as the fourth bottle of the night, it was a major charmer. It had impressive foresty aromas along with seductive plum and sour cherry fruit. Full bodied, lush, and built to age. Kudos to gang at Martini! This was a press sample, so I’m not sure if its out on the market yet, but grab a bottle when you see it. Anticipated price is $35 and worth it.


Charles Krug Limited Release IX Clone 2002 (Cabernet Sauvignon)

Normally I don’t write about wines that are made in tiny quantity and only available to a select few on a mailing list or at the winery tasting room. I always think its kind of braggy and “Ha ha – look what I drank and you didn’t”. This wine warrants an exception. To add to the brag factor, I enjoyed this majestic wine with owner Peter Mondavi at David Burke’s Prime. Yeah, I know. I’m a lucky broad.


But truth be told, I mostly accepted this last minute dinner invite during my busy season because I was dying to try Prime and couldn’t manage to get a reservation on my own. I had visited Krug inNapa
Valley about 7 years ago and really enjoyed the family. The wines, I thought, were not as delightful. I didn’t expect much more from the evening than a nice chat and an incredible piece of meat. I was most pleased to learn that the Mondavi’s have spent much cash and effort completely revamping their winery and vineyards to really focus on what they do best – great Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines I sampled that night were extremely promising and made me rethink my previous impressions.


The IX Clone refers to the nine different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon that go into the blend of this artisan treat. I got a powerful whiff of black cherry, star anise, espresso, and dark chocolate as soon as my schnoz hit the glass. The wine was silky and rich with a long finish that begged me to keep drinking. So, I did. Ripe and juicy now, I can’t see any reason to cellar this Cab if you manage to get a bottle. This is a winery to watch; an old school family writes an exciting new chapter.


p.s. The steaks are fantastic and honestly, the sides are even better. Prime is all that and a bag of chips. Ask for a tour of the aging room and see the crazy expensive wall of pink salt blocks that add to the flavor of the house dry aged beef. Staff is sassy, professional, and fun. The kind of folks you’d want to have a drink with. Lucky for me, I wandered in to their local late night haunt after my meal and did just that. While my last wine of the night was a lackluster Italian red, it didn’t matter. I was in great company


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