By The Glass
Good values are available in '04 vintage
AS MOST avid wine enthusiasts have either read or heard by now, 2005 is a heralded vintage. I've heard from more than one winery saying this is "perhaps our best wines ever!"
As I taste more and more of them, I can see what the hype is all about.
But accompanying such acclaim and hoopla come price increases, in many cases. Coupled with the weak dollar, '05 prices are roughly 35 percent to 40 percent higher than for the '04s, at least in the "collectibles" category.
Which brings me to my recommendations. Some terrific values are still to be found with the 2004 wines. And the good news is there should be many '04s still available on wine lists and store shelves.
» 2004 Zilliken Riesling Medium-Dry "Butterfly" ($16)
» 2004 Christoffel Riesling Kabinett "Urziger Wurzgarten" ($18)
The 2004 vintage is sandwiched between the ripe, opulent '03s and the dramatic, well structured, age-worthy '05s. The best '04s, however, offer great purity, filigree, finesse, class and balance, exemplified by these two. They are perfect for summer weather and many of the islands' ethnic foods.
» 2004 A&P De Villaine Mercurey "Les Montots" ($28)
» 2004 Robert Chevillon Nuits St. Georges ($55)
These 2004s are what a friend of mine would call wines "of the vineyard," as opposed to "of the sun" or "of the grape." They are much more than just another couple of pinots from a "global warming"-influenced vintage. They offer great purity, finesse and loads of class and pedigree.
The DeVillaine & Chevillon wines are perennial favorites made by two masters able to capture the very essence of their vineyards in every vintage. Each vintage is a new learning experience for me and offers a very different perspective on their pinot noir.
» 2004 Perrot Minot Gevrey Chambertin "Vieilles Vignes" ($50)
Perrot Minot is a new face and one that thoroughly impresses me. This '04 is absolutely lovely, delicious, classy, delicately nuanced and seamless.
» 2004 Chateau Las Combes ($57)
Here is a stunning Bordeaux, full of class. After looking over the prices of the 2005s, I was even more thankful to find this gem.
» 2004 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape ($50)
I recently tasted the 1998 (out of a magnum) and it wowed me. It had so much complexity and intricacy, coupled with a lush, wonderful harmony that I dream about. I wish I had more. This 2004 is a vanguard wine, well worth stashing away for a few years. You will be thankful you did.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org