Wine Talk

Snooth User: edwilley3

Checkerboard Vineyards - What's the deal?

Posted by edwilley3, Apr 29, 2013.

So, I was at a pre-performance dinner before an opera this weekend and a fellow diner/patron told me that her household is in love with a wine named Checkerboard. I've read a little on the interwebs and so far it sounds good. I was wondering if any of you Snoothers had tried this stuff and could provide any feedback.

What does it most clearly compare to? Is the QPR reasonable? Should I be setting down my beautifully (cellar) aged Beringer Private Reserve and Hermitage La Chapelle to invest in some Checkerboard?

I can get a fairly good number of very good wines here in Dallas with names like Peter Michael (I'm hoping to arrange a tour through friends when I get out there next) so I'm not exactly thirsty when it comes to really top notch wine. Obviously, of course, that's not everyday wine. Plus, i loved the 2001 Oreno and have been thinking about getting some shipped. (A year ago it was drinking quite well.)

BTW, Fox (whom I assume will see this), I am working on arranging a head to head tasting of 1993 BV Georges de Latour (from a cellared 3L) against one of Anthony Bell's 1993 Clone 6 bottles.

So there you have it. Fire away!



Reply by outthere, Apr 29, 2013.

Checkerboard is in a ripe fruit big extraction camp if that's your thing but based on you examples I would say no. If you are into scores then by all means dig in. For my money I would rather buy 2-/12 times as much Hobel Cab and cellar it instead.

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 29, 2013.

All the wines and brands you mention in your post are much more esteemed than Checkerboard. If you'd like to add a new Napa Cabernet to the mix here are a few suggestions: Vine Hill Ranch, Myriad, and Continuum.

Dunn, Corison, and Seavey are a little more reasonably priced and more classic in style.

Reply by EMark, Apr 29, 2013.

Sorry, Ed, I have nothing to suggest to help you with your question.  Rather I have a couple back at you.

How was the opera?

What did you see?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 29, 2013.

I always swore I would never go back to Texas, but that's an interesting head to head.  I know that in some years the Clone 6 grapes came from that vineyard, where Anthony had pretty much planted/isolated it back in the day.  The all-Clone 6 Bell is really stunning, but that kind of aging in such a large format might close the gap a bit.  Can't really do it blind unless you decant some of it, but I'd be reticent to decant that for very long--at 20 years, it shouldn't need more air. 

You're obviously a longer-time fan of Anthony's wines than I am.  I'm lucky that Larry Wheeler left us a bottle when we rented his house in Stinson Beach one summer. Otherwise, I might never have come across them.

Reply by edwilley3, Apr 30, 2013.

@OT - I can sometimes enjoy the super extracted wines, but I like a little more complexity and earthiness. I don't get the fruit bomb approach. If you wait for the fruit and alcohol to back off a bit, you may find that it lacks any real structure or complexity and just becomes a dud. If you drink it right away, it takes like concentrated grape juice, which ought to cost a lot less than $200/btl. What's the deal?  Crazy Amurrikans!

@JONDERRY - Thanks. I will put those on the list. I always like to try new things.

@ EMARK - Daughter of the Regiment at the Fort Worth Opera. It's one of the up and coming opera companies in the US with a growing reputation for modern works. They schedule 1 traditional comedy in each annual Festival. This production was well done and very funny.

@FOXALL - I would like to put a BV-branded Clone 6 into the mix. I've never had one.  I had a lovely BV Tapestry last weekend, however, and quite liked it. Of course, I've been sucking down the Rhone wines lately, which are threatening the cabs in my drinking pecking order.

Cheers from Texas!

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 30, 2013.

What kind of Rhone wines Ed, what regions?

French Rhone wines had a tremendous vintage in 2010, as did most of Europe.

Reply by EMark, Apr 30, 2013.

Daughter of the Regiment--awesome.  Can't go wrong with Donizetti.

How did Tonio do with his 9 high Cs?

Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 30, 2013.

JD, put those 2010 Rhones down and slowly back away... until at least 2015.

Reply by JonDerry, Apr 30, 2013.

Fox, don't worry I'll save a few for our horizontal ; )

There's a St. Damien Gigondas in my cellar that goes for about $30 that could be the QPR of the vintage.

Reply by edwilley3, May 2, 2013.

Tonight we tried the Chateau de Saint Cosmes Gigondas. Wow...what a wine. It's drinkable and enjoyable now with a little decanting, but is a big, deep wine with major (silky) tannins and a definite BBQ meat crust (yes, the crust on the outside of the brisket) back end; fecanting helps bring out nice herbal qualities and lovely cherry and stone. Just a great effort by Saint Cosmes. The Domaine Santa Duc Gigondas "Tradition" is great - big fruit, plenty of spice, potential to do quite well with aging. We are going to try the "Prestige" version next week.  Last week we sampled a CdP - Gradassi. All 2010.  I'm intentionally sampling across the vintage in order to figure out what I want to lay down. The Saint Cosmes was a remarkably different wine than the DSD. I have to respect both winemakers greatly for what they can do at this price point.

Reply by JonDerry, May 2, 2013.

Great going Ed, that's exactly what I've tried to do with 2010 myself.

the Saint Cosme Gigondas is great by all accounts, though it's tough to find at a reasonable price since Wine Spectator named it their #2 overall wine last year. I grabbed some of their St. Joseph, which is also great value if you like N Rhone, Syrah.

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 2, 2013.

Everywhere I look that St. Cosme Gigondas seems to be sold out.  I balked at the price because it used to be more reasonable.  Kind of kicking myself. 

I've got a bottle of the '05 Santa Duc Prestige des Hautes Garrigues that I've been holding back on because RP gave it a huge window for drinking, and one taster suggested waiting till 2016.  Sounds like the Gigondas market generally is getting more expensive but more age-worthy.

Reply by edwilley3, Jun 5, 2013.

As an update, I found a pretty serviceable 2007 Gigondas (don't remember the producer) while I was in Toronto on business for only $27, which is a good $13 less than what we pay in Dallas/Fort Worth. Oddly enough, some scotches were dramatically more expensive. 

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 5, 2013.

EW, I haven't been to Canada in quite a while, but I remember that beer was really reasonable, wine was only in restos (but it was before I would have spent a lot of time looking), and liquor was expensive.  I think the government has kept the price of hard liquor pretty high historically.  I love Canada, but they do have some quirks that I can do without. 

BTW, just tasted at Bell a few weeks ago and our pourer mentioned that Bell's big markets outside CA are in Fla and TX.  We bought 6 bottles, they waved our tasting fee, and the pourer was really knowledgeable.  She had worked in a winery in Missouri before coming to Napa, got an oenology degree there, so highly qualified. Also got the sad news that Sandra's mother had died and she and Anthony were in VT tending to arrangements. 

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