|You too can be as discerning as Alan Rickman in Bottle Shock!|
I'm here to help. Careful research - alright, haphazard combined with pure luck - at Thursday night's tasting has led me to do these quick recommendations.
There are many fine wines here - 791 wines in all from 181 wineries - but you can't taste them all in a week, let alone one night.
So here are some surefire picks where everything poured at the table is a clear winner wine.
That means rather than drinking three so-so wines to get to one good one, you can park yourself at the table and try them all.
There are no doubt other fab four tables - hope to find more tonight when I return to the tasting room - but these are ones I can vouch for already.
Sacred Hill Wines - New Zealand
One of the best chardonnays in the room - Riflemans Chardonnay 2010 at just $39 - and the fabulous Deerstalkers Syrah 2008 - are joined by Prospectors Pinot Noir 2009 and Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011.
Paul Hobbs - United States
Another great new world chardonnay - Russian River Chardonnay 2009 - POW! - explodes in your mouth. Then the great Russian River 2010 Pinot Noir, excellent Crossbarn Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and fabulous Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 at a cool $100 a bottle.
Domaine Laroche -France
I love Chablis and this is great stuff - the entry level $24 Chablis St. Martin 2010 is great value, the $44 Chablis 1er Cru Le Vaillons VV 2007 is killer and the $84 Chablis Gran Cru Les Blanchots will make you weep tears of joy - if you can buy a bottle that is! Also an entry level $20 Pinot Noir de La Chevaliere 2010.
Domaine de la Solitude - France
The most expensive bottle in the room - the $250 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Reserve Secrete 2001 is stunning - and was almost sold out in the on-site Liquor Store on Thursday night. Just wow! A slightly more economical $129 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Barbarini 2001 is also fantastic and was sold out. But you can't go wrong with the baby brother $100 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Rouge either. Lastly, a modest $50 for the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Tradition Blanc. This is one table not to miss!
Perrin et Fils - France
Starting to notice that France is not skimping at this event? The flagship $92 Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2009 is a killer wine - and always one of my favourites. 2009 was a great year in the region. For a more affordable drink try the baby sister $35 Coudoulet de Beaucastel - lots of the same great fruit but drinking now rather than a cellar selection. Another personal favourite - the $27 "Les Christins" Vacqueyras 2009 is great value and the $22 Cairanne Peyre Blanche 2009 is also there.
Le Vieux Pin/La Stella - Canada
BC's' Okanagan Valley can make wine every bit as excellent as France - these wines show it!
The flagship $90 La Stella Maestoso Merlot 2008 is amazing! I hadn't tried it before and I was blown away by it's intensity and power. The $30 2008 La Stella Fortissimo - a blend of Cabernet/Merlot/Sangiovese blend - is also great at that price. Also try the Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2009 and $35 Le Vieux Pin Ava white Rhone blend.
There's way, way more and lots of great wines hiding with more modest fare - especially some fantastic Chilean cabernet sauvignons and carmeneres but if you start with these, you will go home happy!
Cheers and hope to see you there!
Bill Tieleman - the Wine Barbarian