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Snooth User: John Andrews

My Wine Top 10 List

Posted by John Andrews, Aug 8, 2008.

I recently (re)watched the movie High Fidelity with John Cusack. The basic premise of the movie is that the lead character goes through his life categorizing things into a Top 5 list. These lists are for any situation or topic. The topics of the lists range from obscure music to life events. So what does the movie have to do with wine? Not much at all but it did get me into the mode of Top Lists.

While thinking up Top Lists for other things, like my 'Top 5 List of Motorcycles I Want to Own', I tried to come up with my Top 5 List for Wines I want to try if money was not an object. Keeping it to just 5 was way too tough so I just went with 10. Even at 10 it was tough but I narrowed it down. These wines are extremely rare, extremely hard to get or extremely expensive. I many cases they are all of the above.

So here you go, My Top 10 List of Wines If Money Was No Object. They are in no particular order. If I had to order them

1. 1999 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti - DRC is the pinnacle of Burgundy. Any argument will not be accepted, listened to or even acknowledged. To say access to DRC is exclusive is an understatement.

2. 1990 Chateau Margaux - I was looking to see if the vintage for Chateux Margaux on my birth year was any good but I can’t find anything about it so I compromised on the 1990. Apparently 1990 was a good hear for Bordeaux. I think I need to try this bottle and let you know.

3. 1990 Chateau D'Yquem - Chateau D’Yquem is the only Grand Cru Sauterne in Bordeaux. It is legendary for aging ability. I’ve have found some cheaper Sauternes that helped introduce me to the style but if you really want to know what the big deal is you have try D’Yquem.

4. 2004 Marcassin Blue Slide Ridge Pinot Noir - I think the term ‘cult wine’ was created after the introduction of Marcassin wines. The label is owned Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer. Arguably the most profound wine maker in California, Helen Turley is the creator of Marcassin Wines. The wines are completely allocated to a very private mailing list. The waiting list for an allocation is incredibly long and I still haven’t figured out where or how I can get on the list. 2004 is considered one of the best years for Sonoma Pinot Noirs and a 2004 Pinot Noir made by Helen Turley should be awesome, so this puts the 2004 Marcassin Pinot Noir on my list.

(2003 Marcassin Blue Slidge Ridge Pinot Noir - )

5. 2005 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild - It would have been easy to go with vintage version of this classic Bordeaux but 2005 was acknowledged by many people as one of the greatest Bordeaux vintages ever. With that in mind, I’ll take two of these, drink one now and store one away for another ten years.

6. 1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil - Vintage champagne is something a really appreciate. After years of having bad champagne or sparkling wine at weddings I finally understand what good champagne is. Krug Clos du Mesnil is a rarity amongst rare Champagne. It is a vintage single vineyard Champagne. When everyone else in Champagne is blending from multiple vineyards, Krug figured they would try a single vineyard Champagne and it worked.

7. 1998 Penfolds Grange - Most people have heard of Penfolds Grange, a lot less people have had a chance to actually try some. Being one of those people who haven’t tried it and that I keep hearing about it means that this gets on the list. Having it expensive and highly rated does help put on this list.

8. 2004 Screaming Eagle - If Marcassin didn’t start the cult wine movement in California, Screaming Eagle did. New vintages start at $500 a bottle and cellared examples often top the price list at auctions. I gotta find out what the fuss is.

9. 1999 Royal Tokaji Wine Company Essencia - Okay, I’m buying into the hype. This wine is routinely rated as one of the best in the world so I want to see what the hype is all about. However, at $500 a bottle this may not happen any time soon.

10. 1988 Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame - I have a soft spot for Veuve Cliquot. There is an emotional attachment to this label. This would be the most accessible of the wines in my top ten list. Chances are that I might actually get a chance to have this wine.

So there you go, my Top Ten List of Wines If Money Was No Object. I am extremely proud that only two of my top ten wines are from California as I do have a California wine bias. I guess it makes sense that many of my Top Ten are not California wines as they would be harder to get.

John Andrews is a software product manager during the week and is a professional Tasting Room staffer at Loxton Cellars in Glen Ellen, CA on the weekends.


Reply by oceank8, Aug 8, 2008.

Sounds like someone needs to win the lottery :) I have often toyed with the idea of getting a group of people together (about 5) and all going in on a great bottle but none of my friends like wine enough.

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 8, 2008.

I'm surprised to not see any Italian wines on your list. Do you think Italian wines don't carry the same cult/novelty factor that some of these other wine categories you mention above do?

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Aug 8, 2008.

I've not yet had the pleasure of trying any of these.

Next time how about when money is an object?

Reply by John Andrews, Aug 8, 2008.

@oceank8 ... that is the same struggle I used to have. Now the problem is deciding which friends to _NOT_ include.

@adam ... it was a struggle to keep it to just 10 wines. There are no Italian wines because I don't know very many but here are a few of my honorable mentions:

- ANYTHING from GAJA ... I couldn't decide on which one so it bumped the label off the list but I would definitely like to try anything from GAJA

- Opus One - Opus One has been on my list in the past but has moved off now that I know accessibility to the wine (at the winery) isn't that tough. It isn't cheap but I can get a bottle.

- Louis Roederer Cristal - too much hype and not enough omphf. Don't get me wrong, I would never turn this down but the above list would be chosen over Cristal.

Reply by RachelNYC, Aug 8, 2008.

"I was looking to see if the vintage for Chateux Margaux on my birth year was any good"

Wouldn't it be dust by now? ;)

Reply by John Andrews, Aug 8, 2008.

@RachelNYC ... I plead the 5th ... :-)

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Aug 8, 2008.

Great list!

I feel for you - its so hard to narrow something like this down to a top 10.

However, repeating Adam's comment, Italian wines are sorely missing. And what about Spanish wines? A little Vega Sicilia? A top Rioja from Finca Allende? You've included Champagne, but didn't have any room for the forgotten enchantments of Sherry, Port or Madeira! And can Penfolds Grange carry the torch for the entire southern hemisphere?

Reply by John Andrews, Aug 9, 2008.

@RBoulanger ... What can I say? I don't really know much about Spanish or Portuguese wines. My lack of knowledge of them is the reason for not having them. As for the rest of the hemisphere ... there are a few of that I want to try but they are not top ten:

- Vilafonte C or M series from South Africa ... widely available so it is just a matter of time before I try it.
- Vina Montes - The Alpha M or the Purple Angle ... interesting wines but not part of top ten.

I am sure that NZ has some great 'cult' wines that would be of interest. Perhaps Alan from NZ could share some with us?

Reply by WineGent, Aug 10, 2008.

There are SOOOOO many beautiful wines that I would love to try. Any of the first growth Bordeaux's are exciting ANYTIME I have one. A great TBA from Germany, Sauterne from Bordeaux or Tokjai is a wonderful experience. A California cab from a good producer and good year that has had the chance to mature in the cellar.

MORE exciting are the wines that you periodically find that you are NOT expecting great things from. Often a great value, finding these gems add to the excitement of the tasting experience...


Reply by Philip James, Aug 10, 2008.

Some real treats in there - I'd echo RBoulanger's comment and have liked to have seen at least a vintage port.

The top 10 wines i'd like to try would actually be quite different - less dream wines, just a few random wines ive always wanted to try. Things like Cristal, La Tache, a 100 year old Madeira etc

Reply by Philip James, Aug 11, 2008.

I'd like to add this to my list:

Sweet fortified wine made from 100 year old vines in the style of the Franciscan Monks who first made California wines.

Reply by John Andrews, Aug 11, 2008.

@Philip ... funny you bring up Angelica. Chris, the wine maker I work for, is making an Angelica from Viogner. Should be release sometime late next year or early the year after that.

@Philip and @RBoulanger ... tell me what vintage port I should add to my list? Also, tell me what I should bump out. The only one that can't be bumped is the Veuve Clicquot (for sentimental reasons).

Blog comment by Dan, Aug 11, 2008.

Ladies and Gents, fellow Snooth loyalists, I propose a future Snooth get-together, taking Oceank8's suggestion of compiling our coins and doing a smash out tasting. Maybe at the 2nd Anniversary or a day we define as a Snooth Wine Holiday. Great list, HondaJohn. My Top 10 would be a little different, adding an Italian or two and definitely Haut-Brion. The '85 was the first of many sublime wine drinking experiences.

Reply by oceank8, Aug 12, 2008.

I'd be there (if I could scrape up the coins), can we have it in New York? I need an excuse to go again!

Reply by RachelNYC, Aug 12, 2008.

I would be willing to add some coin to the pile and I vote for NYC because I am lazy and don't want to leave. Perhaps there should be two gatherings per year; one on the left coast and one on the right.

When is Snooth's 2nd anniversary?

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Aug 12, 2008.

Awesome idea! I am definitely in favor of this.

(Snooth launched on June 4, 2007.)

Reply by Adam Levin, Aug 12, 2008.

I vote for a Snooth Grand Tasting too!

Reply by Philip James, Aug 12, 2008.

Rachel - June 4th 2008 will be the 2 year anniversary of when the site was launched

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Aug 12, 2008.

@ Honda - I was just joshing you about the list. It's really so hard to make a top 10 list for something as subjective as food, wines, cars, artists, etc. However, if we must get a vintage port on there, I'd take the Lafite off (you already have a First Growth in Margaux on the list). Since vintage port needs needs a good 40+ years of age before it starts to sing, you'll want something from the 1960s. A Fonseca 1966? Dow's 1963? Warre's 1955?

@ Philip - Also funny that you mention Angelica as I had someone email me this morning looking for it. Where did you hear about it? Was there a recent newspaper article that I missed?

Reply by Philip James, Aug 13, 2008.

Rodolphe - it was mentioned in the Wine Brands book that was recently released:

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