Vin Connections Wineries that Get It (September 2005)


Wineries that Get It

We all have them: a winery or two (or three) to which we are devoted. It seems like everything they turn out is delicious, and their pricing structure just enhances our goodwill. Great wines flowing from Ch. d’Yquem or  Ch. Lafite Rothschild decade after decade may not be a surprise. But in our opinion, the wineries that get it right…and keep it real…are also to be treasured.

So M.J. from San Diego’s question inspired this month’s topic: wineries you can typically count on to turn out grapey goodness on a consistent basis.

This Month’s Reader Question:
“Is there such a thing as a safe-bet wineries?”

This Month’s Wine Pick: 12 wines from high-performing wineries
International Ruby Gems
White Hot
Out of the Ordinary and Beyond the Pale
Zin and the Art of Great Wine

This Month’s Quote:
Dear Abby…How does wine improve with age…?


We All Need Somebody to Lean On

Q. “I don’t always have a Wine PocketList with me, and sometimes I can’t find the exact wine that’s on my list. But I see some of the same wineries over and over again. Is there such a thing as a safe-bet winery? Can you give me some suggestions?”
— M.J., San Diego, California

A. We like to call these guys ‘wineries that get it.’ They keep the quality high and the price affordable, and year after year turn out consistently high-quality wines. Some specialize and some seem to be able to do it all, and while no one is perfect, in our opinion, there are several wineries out there that you can usually count on.

And now for some names that VinConnections readers and Wine PocketList users undoubtedly know: the sublime Ridge wines, Rosenblum’s delectable fruit bombs, Oregon’s Sineann and neighboring winery Owen Roe (whose new releases are now online), the talented group up at L’Ecole No. 41, the terroir-driven Rieslings of Dr. Loosen, and the award laden folks at Alexander Valley Vineyards. They say you can’t make good wine from a bad grape, but you can easily make bad wine with a good grape. So let’s hear it for the double whammy of good fruit and stellar winemaking skills, and having the common sense to not ruin a good thing.

(And no, Wine PocketList doesn’t get paid to endorse anyone. We just get excited by some of these guys.)

Though, in our opinion, their wines are currently under-represented in the Wine PocketList database, we also love France’s organic Chateau Bousquette, distributed by San Francisco-based Organic Wine Company; and Anderson Valley-based Handley Cellars, with their especially delicious Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. 

The truth is, there are dozens of consistently good wineries, though the majority have a few standouts and a broader selection of wines that, though often OK, just don’t quite measure up. So here is a sampling of wines from wineries that we feel are as close to a safe bet as you can get in the sometimes confusing world of wine buying.

Enjoy, and we hope you’ll join us in raising your glass to toast, and opening your pocketbooks to assist, all the wonderful people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by visiting:

[Do you have a wine-related question you’d like to ask? If so, contact us and you may see it answered in an upcoming issue!]


Wineries that Get It

International Ruby Gems

2001     Malbec,  Catena
Mendoza, Argentina
IE: A-$25, Grade A-
1999  Cabernet Sauvignon/Cab Franc/Merlot, Lindemans
Coonawarra, South Australia
IE: A$30, Grade A
2002     Other Reds,  Boutari
Náoussa, Greece
IE: A-$11, Grade A-

White Hot

2002  Riesling,  Dr. Loosen  Spätlese, Erdener Treppchen
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
IE: A$25, Grade A
2003  Viognier,  Geyser Peak Block Collection, Preston Vineyard,
Dry Creek Valley
Sonoma County, California
IE: A-$19 Grade A-
2003  Chardonna,y  Girard Russian River Valley
Sonoma County, California
IE: A-, B+$20, Grade A-

Out of the Ordinary and Beyond the Pale

NV  Sparkling,  Segura Viudas Heredad, Reserva
IE: A- $20, Grade A-  
2003  Rosé,  Moulin de Gassac  La Mazet, Vin de Pays de L’Herault
IE: B+$11, Grade B+
2003  Semillon,  Elderton Golden Botrytis, Barossa Valley
South Eastern  Australia
IE: A-$17, Grade A-

Zin and the Art of Great Wine

2002 Zinfandel, Rosenblum   Rockpile, Rockpile Vineyard,
Dry Creek Valley
Sonoma County, California
IE: A, A, A-$26, Grade A
2002  Zinfandel, Ridge  Ponzo Vineyards,
Russian River Valley
Sonoma County, California
IE: A$25, Grade A
2002  Zinfandel,  Alexander Valley Redemption Zin,
Dry Creek Valley
Sonoma County, California
IE: A$25, Grade A

Wine Quote

“It’s true, some wines improve with age. But only if the grapes were good in the first place.”
Abigail Van Buren


Understanding our System

Grade: [A-]
Our grades represent a composite score developed using our proprietary system to blend wine quality and scoring information.

Vintage: 1999
This describes both the year of the actual grape harvest as well as the year the wine was made.

Price: $12
The prices quoted in the WPL are the “suggested retail prices” quoted by the wineries and the distributors. Though these are close to what you’d pay at the winery, you’ll often find discounts of 20% and more off these prices at retail.

Individual Evaluations: IE: A, A-, B+
This represents the number of individual reviews and ratings on which the composite grade is based, primarily representing individual reviews in top wine periodicals converted to our scale, and ratings by our tasting panel.

Wine PocketList Exclusive Categories: WPL: BBC, W, S, B
These are four exclusive WPL categories, and many wines rated by the PocketList will fall into one of these special designations.

[W] Widely Available:
These wines typically have bottling of 20,000 cases or more, making them widely available in most regions of the U.S.

[BBC] Top Buy-by-the-Case:
Based on multiple, outstanding reviews and a solid history, these are wines you can purchase by the case to grow your cellar with confidence today, and into the future!

[B] Bargain Wines:
Top-rated wines for $10 or less. Most of these can go head to head with a typical $30 bottle sporting a fancy label . . . and beat it hands down.

[S] Splurge Wines:
For most of us, spending more than $20 on a bottle of wine isn’t something we do lightly. These are wines that, while more expensive, are well worth the price.

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