Vin Connections Wines for Restocking (January 2005)


Twelve Wines for Restocking After the Holidays

The holidays were a time to feast, and now it’s time to clean up the wreckage. The house, the neglected job, the vastly diminished wine cellar. Since you broke the bank last month, you’ll want to make sure the wines you choose now aren’t (too) precious or expensive. So in this issue, we feature some great wines that will help you overcome your January blues.

  • This Month’s Reader Question:
    “We drank a lot of Chardonnay and Cabernet…but I’m bored and…wondering if you have any new ideas as I restock my wine…”
  • This Month’s Wine Pick:
    12 Wines to Restock and Refresh
    Refreshing, Aromatic Whites
    Sparkling Wines to Chase Away the Blues
    A Selection of Fruit-Forward Reds
    A New Year Gift to You from VinConnections: 3 GREAT Buy-by-the-Case Wines!
  • This Month’s Quote:
    Diogenes and Myra Waldo, for tired hosts…


Q. “This year I hosted and I’m beat. We drank a lot of Chardonnay and Cabernet, partly because it went with the food and partly because that’s what people seemed to bring…I’m wondering if you have any new ideas as I restock my wine cellar…”
— Amy Ballantine, Detroit, Michigan

Chardonnay and Cabernet can be great, but because the varietals are so popular, uninformed wine buyers often equate the name of the varietal with the quality of the wine. Not that that would happen to you, of course….

While no varietal is a sure thing, the right Cabs and Chardonnays can still be great choices, so don’t pass them up just because they seem ubiquitous. At the same time, January is a great time to restock your cellar with – and of course drink – something new.

Maybe something lighter and livelier than you drank during the holidays? And of course, something that will help you build your savings and your spirits back up. Naturally, we have some strong recommendations.

Which White? Chardonnay is great, but “new world” ones tend to be big, heavy, and oaky. For your winter pick-me-up, how about something medium bodied, refreshing, crisp, fragrant and fruity like a Riesling, Pinot Grigio or Chenin Blanc? And why not celebrate winter nesting with a sparkling wine on a Tuesday night, as long as you don’t serve it too cold (kills the fruit!).

The Right Red. Again Cabernet may be too full bodied and tannic to match your current mood. So look for fruity, spicy, medium-bodied reds with low tannins. A great rosй goes with almost anything, and is an unusual treat, a good Pinot Noir can’t be beat, and if you’re really pining for a big fruit red, try this month’s delectable Petite Sirah.

Speaking of pining, if you find yourself missing December’s social whirl, have an informal wine tasting party with friends and family. Our highly informal wine tasting methodology is to open five or six bottles at once, and let everyone at it. Conversation will elicit feedback (the good and the bad) and you can keep an eye on which wines disappear first. Voila, there’s your winner! Of course, if you have a guest that keeps a bottle to him/herself and isn’t shy about drinking up, the results can skew dramatically, but we’re not naming any names here.

[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!]


12 Great Wines to Restock and Refresh!

Our picks this month cover the full range of types, flavors and regions. I know several of these will end up in your glass and cellar… so please, enjoy them as much as we expect to!

Refreshing, Aromatic Whites

2002, Chenin Blanc, Chalone, Chalone
Napa Valley, California
IE: B+$22, Grade B+
2003, Pinot Grigio, Chehalem, Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley, Oregon
IE: B+$16, Grade B+
2003, Riesling, Columbia Crest, Two Vines, Columbia Valley
Columbia Valley, Washington
IE: B+$8, Grade B+

Sparkling Wines to Chase Away the Blues

NV, Sparkling, Segura Viudas, Cava, Brut, Aria Estate
IE: A-, B, B+$12, Grade B+
NV, Sparkling, Scharffenberger, Brut, Mendocino County
Mendocino County, California
IE: A-$18, Grade A-
NV, Sparkling, Chandon, Reserve Blanc de Noirs, California
Napa Valley, California
IE: A$24, Grade A

Fruit Forward: The Right Reds at the Right Time

2003, Rosй, Moulin de Gassac, La Mazet, Vin de Pays de L’Herault
IE: B+$11, Grade B+
2002, Pinot Noir, Williams Selyem, Central Coast
Central Coast, California
IE: A-, A+$29, Grade A
2002, Petite Sirah, Rosenblum, Pickett Road, Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
IE: A, A$24, Grade A

A New Year Gift for You, from VinConnections: 3 GREAT Buy-by-the-Case Wines!

And if your local bottle shop doesn’t have some of these in stock, we found every one of these great wines available online from multiple sources at We’re stocking up our cellars…

2003, Sauvignon/Fumй Blanc Warwick, Professor Black, Simonsberg
Stellenbosch, South Africa
IE: A, A-$18, Grade A
2000, Syrah, Consilience, Rodney Vineyard, Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County, California
IE: A-, A$22, Grade A
2002, Zinfandel, Sobon, Old Vines, Shenandoah Valley
Sierra Foothills, California
IE: B+, A$24, Grade A

Wine Quote

“I like best the wine drunk at the cost of others.”
Diogenes the Cynic (Greek philosopher c. 412 BC)

“The primary purpose of wine is to make food taste better.”
Attributed to Myra Waldo in Wine Quotations, Helen Exley, 1994

Our mission is to inform and educate everyday wine lovers like us who enjoy a good bottle of wine, help locate great wine values and confidently broaden both your and our tasting horizons.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to contact us directly. We are very interested in hearing from you!


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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