What Wine Did You Drink Today #1?


And therein is the real difference between the Bay Area and where I live (OC). I have never, ever seen corn labeled with a variety type in a market here, and only sometimes will a grower name be shown at a farmers market. Gotta love that about SFBA.


A 1984 Hermitage, tasted around 2005, was one of the most profound wines I’ve ever had. I might have written this before, but the wine had aromas (garrigue?) that reminded me of when I lived in the Santa Monica Mountains in 1984, in the afternoon when the sun had gone below the mountains but their peaks were still sunlit, the air all fragrant with dried grasses and flowers. It was remarkable that Hermitage could capture that, from 5000 miles away.

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #283

Thanks, Robin, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as it may sound . . . or at least , I don’t think it’s all that impressive. You have to remember that I spent a long time ITB (“in the biz”), and as such, I was lucky enough to have access to some pretty nice wines at some very nice prices. These days, now that I’m retired, not so much . . .


(Jason Brandt Lewis) #284

Actually, to be fair, Brentwood is the area of Contra Costa County where the corn is grown – locally very famous. Even Safeway will label this as “Brentwood Corn” when they have it, albeit only for a short window of time.

(Yes, this is the other Brentwood; not the one I used to live in when I was in LA.)

(Robin) #285

Sounds like a good gig. It’s the age thing that kills me. We have some decent wines around but sure wish I had purchased and cellared a lot more when we were younger. It’s gets pretty pricey paying for someone else’s cellaring time. Oh well, all good. First world problems and all. I love looking up the wines you drink and learning more.

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #286

True dat. On the other hand, prices for wines today are outrageous, and outrageously overpriced!

For example, I used to sell 1970 Château Ducru Beaucaillou, Cos d’Estournel, Montrose, and Lynch Bages – among others – for $6.95. With inflation, that would be $33.98 today. Now, on futures¹, 2015 Ducru Beaucaillou is $164.99; Cos d’Estournel is $159.99; Montrose is $139.99; and Lynch Bages, $114.99.

All the 1970 and 1971 First Growths were $19.95, save for Pétrus – it was $24.95. That would translate to $97.54 and $121.99, respectively. And yet . . .

  • Château Ausone, $879.99
  • Château Cheval Blanc, $699.99
  • Château Haut-Brion, $539.99
  • Château Lafite Rothschild, $569.99
  • Château Latour, n/a
  • Château Margaux, $639.99
  • Château Mouton Rothschild, $539.99
  • Château Pétrus, $2,595.00²

Who can afford to buy this $#|+ nowadays?!?!?!


In terms of what I still buy for my wine cellar, virtually all of my purchases fall in the $15-30 range, with Champagne and Vintage Porto going up to $100 (but mostly much less).

¹ Future prices are from K&L Wine Merchants, unless otherwise noted, as of 8/9/2016.
² The price for Pétrus is taken from JJ Buckley.


I smile at the thought that some of my homemade plonk is stored in wooden Petrus cases scored at Premier Cru. They were just throwing the cases out.


Do you think the gap between adjusted 1970/71 prices and today’s dollars can be noticeably closed by selecting a First Growth’s “second” wine. Carraudes de Lafite, Behans Haut Brion, Forts de Latour, etc. come to mind as chips off the old blocks you could be glad to know today.

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #289

Keeping in mind that I haven’t had ANY of the new vintages of these wines in, figure the last 25-30 vintages . . . .

I loved the 1967 Les Forts de Latour at $7.95, or even the 1968 (!) for $5.95 . . . and the 1966 Carraudes de Lafite was only $17.95, compared to the '66 Château Lafite at $33. And if the currently available (off the shelf) these types of wines were, today, in the $30s, 40s, or even (maybe) in the $50-range, then maybe, MAYBE, I would say “yes.” But when these are in the hundreds . . . I have to say “no, not really.”

My problem is that these are not like “Bud Light vs. Budweiser.” Historically, Les Forts de Latour comes from the estate’s younger vines; Carraudes de Lafite comes from vineyard parcels deemed not good enough for the grand vin. In other words, how the wine is made, what the wine is made of (the grape blend), may be – and probably is – different from the grand vin, and those differences will vary from one estate to another.

For the same price, or less, I would prefer to buy the grand vin from a top-quality but lesser ranked château.


The second labels were recommended as a reasonable way to experience the First Growths’ terroirs and winemakers’ craft, as well as a means of tracking the aging of the prestige bottles. To be sure the grape selection and higher proportion of Merlot does not make them completely comparable, but the suggestion could be there . . .

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #291

Yeah, I used to say the exact same thing to my clients – that there were “a reasonable way to experience the First Growths’ terroirs and winemakers’ craft” – when I was selling 2nd labels back in the 1970s. And at $6.95, I think they were totally worth it! But not when they are in the triple digits . . .

As for being “a means of tracking the aging of the prestige bottles,” I would strongly disagree. The fact that the Grand Vin may be (e.g.) 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon while the 2nd label may be 50 percent Merlot means it’s doubtful anything can be learned about being able to track the aging potential of one by tasting/drinking the other. The same applies to the difference in winemaking regimen/technique. And considering that the terroirs between the Grand Vin and the 2nd label may vary considerably . . .


Not in a position here to have seriously experienced the second recommendation.


Any recs for Ridge winery zinfandel . I had the east bench and was very good . Have you had any of the other zins ?

Emglow101 ---> re: Ridge Vineyards

Lytton Springs.

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #295

I took the liberty of breaking out your question into a brand-new topic HERE

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #296

Consumed in San Diego with oysters on the half-shell . . .

2012 Argyle Brut (Oregon): A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, this was a very youthful, lively, and austere sparkling wine, crisp and clean, with hints of minerality and chalk (?!). Indeed, I’d be hard-pressed to identify this is a domestic sparkler; I am sure I’d guess this to be a true Champagne . . . really, really good!

(Robin) #297

Champagne (or sparking wine) and oysters…my perfect starter. My husband has some weird tasting issues (he’s probably a super taster), and he can’t/won’t have any seafood with wine. He says the combo for him, whether white/red etc., always results in an very strong and unpleasant metallic taste. More for me!

(Robin) #298

Had this zin with a nice grilled tri-tip and crispy smashed potatoes. The tri-tip had a ton of garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary which went perfectly with the spices in the wine.

(Jason Brandt Lewis) #299

Served last night with roasted chicken and corn-on-the-cob . . .

2012 Teruzzi & Puthod “Terre di Tufi” (Toscana IGT, Italy)

This straw-colored wine, a blend of native Vernaccia di San Gimignano grapes, combined with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc – barrel-fermented and then aged in 30 percent new, and 70 percent used oak – is a layered, beautiful wine, loaded with complexity. The aromatics are closer to Vernaccia, but a little rounder and more forward, with light spice, green apple, and a touch of fig; on the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, satiny in texture, and round on the palate, with a lush feel; the flavors highlight the varietal qualities of Vernaccia and Chardonnay, with a firm core at the middle and a very long, complex finish. Truly excellent.


Jason , Your pictures of your wines are not visible . Just wanted to let you know . By the way thanks for the Ridge winery write up . I’ m bringing some bottles of the Lytton springs and the Geyserville to my nephews BD party next week .