Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sometimes, You're Worth It!

As regular readers know, I seldom drink a wine that creeps much above $20. Occasionally, however, I make a little splurge and try a wine that is around $30 (or above...) just to see what (if anything) I'm missing. Some of my regular splurges include Larkmead cabernets; almost anything by Tablas Creek, Owen Roe, or Kris Curran; pinot noirs from Fort Ross, Sineann, and Eric Kent; and Eric Kent chardonnays. Sometimes, it's worth it to splurge even if it's just for a meal after a long day at work. It makes me feel pampered to open up a wine that costs a little bit more, especially if it delivers more in the flavor department.

There are few guarantees, however, that spending more on a wine will necessarily result in a wine delivering more bang for the buck. As a result I'm careful with my splurges. In the past, I've only splurged on wine when I know that I like how the winemakers in question handle the grapes based on my experience with wine tastings at the winery, at wine shops, or at big events like Pinot Days. In other words, I have to know I like the cleanness of the wine, the quality of the fruit, and the deliciousness of the end product before I plunk down more than $20. Recently, though, I've been taking more and more recommendations from folks on the 'net, including consumers on CellarTracker! and fellow bloggers.

Among the consumers over at WineQ--another site that has great reviews from folks who have had the wine you're thinking about buying--there was a fair amount of consensus that the 2003 RustRidge Chardonnay was a wonderful wine that was worth the money ($29.99, WineQ). I put it in my Q a few months back and received it before the summer heat. It was waiting for me when I needed something to pair with a chicken pasta dish tossed with some green beans and a compound butter made with cashews (note: I threw in some parsley and garlic with the butter and cashews, as well). This was one of the best domestic chardonnays I've had in a while--probably since my last Eric Kent. When I poured it out into the glass it had the color of bright straw, and aromas of pineapple, apple, and vanilla-cream. These delicious aromas dominated the flavors, too, and added to them came a lovely butterscotch note as you held the last drops in your mouth. It was a perfect foil to the rich, subtly-flavored pasta dish. And this is how I like my chardonnays to be oaked--with finesse and restraint. (RustRidge uses a mix of 1-3 year old French oak barrels, and leaves the wine in there for a year).

The overall impression that was left was one of cleanness and richness. This chardonnay was just as wonderful as my fellow Qers said it was, and even at just shy of $30 represented very good QPR given its balance and complexity. And that's what I'm looking for when I splurge a bit on a wine--more balance, more complexity, and all the great varietal characteristics that make wine distinct (and a distinct pleasure). What have you splurged on recently?

8 comments:

foodette said...

Very glad to hear that your splurge paid off! I am the same way - constantly buying the "cheap" stuff. But I have never had a problem with it.

Orion Slayer said...

Cool post. It pays to have access to folks who can steer you towards wine you will enjoy. That's how I feel about "Good Wine Under $20." I recently had the Four Vines "Naked" Chardonay you reviewed recently and really enjoyed it. The flavors reminded me of how I remember Chardonays tasting!

I did splurge recently, but have not tasted. I bought a 2003 Guigal Cote-Rotie Brune et Blonde with my last employee discount when I recently quit working at a local wine store. I read about the wine in "The Wine Bible." I'm waiting for a special occasion to try it!

Jill said...

Orion Slayer, interested to hear how the Guigal is, though I am guessing you could age it for a while and it will only improve.

Dr., as usual, thanks for the tip. I may have to start a Q myself!

Dr. Debs said...

Hi everybody. I don't have a problem 360 days of the year drinking wine under $20, but I do love the splurges on the other 5 days! It's like getting a "wine spa day" to me. Glad you liked that Four Vines Chard, Orion Slayer. It's sooo good and sooo well-priced. And I think Jill might be right about the 2003 Guigal. I might hang onto that for another year or two provided I had somewhere to put it where it would be safe. It will be fine, now (maybe with a roast beef dinner this winter?) but be even better NEXT winter. Check here (http://tinyurl.com/297vks) for more advice.

Marshall from WineQ.com said...

Incredible review, Debs! I sent it to RustRidge for their enjoyment.

Also, I'm glad you find our member reviews valuable in helping you to choose wines.

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marshall. It was a beautiful wine--I'm happy that RustRidge will hear from at least one very satisfied drinker, but if they really want to be happy they should of course check out the other Q member reviews. After all, that's what led me to the wine! Glad the weather is cooling down and I could activate my Q once more!

el jefe said...

heck - I just added the RR to my Q!

Dr. Debs said...

Hah! I just added The Spaniard to mine. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the RR.