Christopher Pratt (cpratt) wrote,
Christopher Pratt

Four wines you owe it to yourself to rush out and buy (Puget Sound edition)

I've been doing quite a bit of driving around the Puget Sound region this week - we got back from Portland Sunday night, and then I had to go up to Woodinville to see the doctor today. Because I'm categorically unable to drive past a Costco without stopping to see if there's anything cool and weird in the wine section, and because Dan's insatiable lust for bananas makes the perfect excuse to stop [hey, the bananas there are like 99 cents a bunch], I stopped a few times over the past week and a half or so.

1. Costco Tumwater has Quixote's "Panza" red wine for $22.99. I first heard of this winery while reading up on Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the eccentric Austraian architect who died recently. It's the only thing he built in the Americas; it's not open to the public yet, but is schedule to open early in 2007. Anyhow, this is straight up and down Napa cabernet: super rich, perfectly ripe, with very sensible French oak that wraps the whole thing in an exceedingly expensive-feeling cloud of spice and smoke. I absolutely adored the bottle; sadly, I only bought the one, and the Costcos around here don't have any. If you're in Tumwater, you're be remiss not to pick up a few bottles.

2. Penfolds 2004 Koonunga Hill cabernet shiraz. If you're careful, you can find some of the 2004 mixed in among the leftover 2003s at the Costco in Woodinville. This stuff is only $7.99 a bottle, but The Bob gave it 91 points. Here's Mr. Parker for you:

Penfolds has been producing the Shiraz/Cabernet Koonunga Hill for 30 years and it remains an excellent bargain (early releases cost about $1 a bottle). The 2004, an outstanding blend of 62% Shiraz and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, was aged in old 300 liter hogsheads. Its dense purple color is accompanied by scents of blackberries, truffles, old leather, licorice, and pepper. Heady ripeness, a fleshy mouthfeel, decent acidity, and a long finish suggest it should drink well for 10-12 years."

3. Penfolds 2002 St Henri shiraz. I haven't tasted this yet, and I haven't read any reviews of it either, but I can tell you that the St Henri is Penfolds' second best shiraz. It's unusual in that it's not aged in small oak barrels, so what you get is basically fruit and nothing but. Thing is, though, the fruit they use is among Australia's finest, so what you're tasting is the very best shiraz there is, period. I had one bottle nearly five years ago and it's still a memorable experience for me. I picked up a six pack; James Halliday, Australia's best known wine writer, suggests that this wine will improve until 2060, so I'm not in any hurry to drink some right away, but I think I'll have some at my retirement party.

4. OK, this isn't at Costco, but at Pete's in Bellevue. They have a monthly sale over there and this month they have the Hamilton Russell 2005 chardonnay from South Africa. We stopped in for a visit in early September and were fortunate enough to meet the man who owns and operates the winery. The wine is fabulous chardonnay; its style is neither Californian nor Burgundian but definitely takes its influences from both. It's got rich, ripe fruit thanks to the relatively warm climate of South Africa (even if it's from a fairly cool spot in SA), and yet it's been vinified in a very Burgundian manner, so you get a lot of the wonderful secondary tastes from that (without feeling like you're drinking grape juice that had toothpicks soaking in it for a few years). It's fantastic stuff and I really need to go buy a few of them tomorrow.

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