The national office of the Les Amis du Vin wine club recently held a series of blind tastings to rate various wines for its Friends of Wine magazine. At a tasting of 25 Alsace wines, the most pleasant surprise was a 1975 Jos. Meyer reisling. The wine sells for around $5 -- a good value given its rich varietal character, age and complexity.
A week later, the group tasted 30 champagnes and other sparkling wines. While the non-champagne sparkling wines did not equal the champagnes, two lower-priced sparkling wines from France did show surprisingly well -- St. Germain and Bouvet brut. Both are relatively dry, with the St. Germain being more light and delicate and the Bouvet being much more aggressive and intense. Both sell for around $8 to $9. Though makers of champagne need not fear being rendered obsolete, at a picnic or large cocktail party, where sometimes people can't distinguish champagne from shampoo, these two substitutes are nice to have.
With the approach of fall, people begin to think of red wine, and there are presently two bordeaux sales in Washington that merit attention. A & A Liquors at 19th and Pennsylvania has put together a large selection of recent bordeaux vintages. Even if you don't need any bordeaux, you should pick up a copy of their extensive booklet for future price reference. I conducted a blind tasting of nine of their lower-priced wines to discover the best values, and a 1975 Cha teau Pedesclaux claimed first place. At the sale price of $8.49, this is an honest bordeaux with fruit, structure and some complexity.
On September 14, 1981, MacArthur Liquors will begin its bordeaux sale. With the English pound at low ebb this summer, proprietor Addy Bassin scored another of his now legendary coups at a London auction. The results will be seen in the form of some good values on red bordeaux and port at MacArthur.
William Hill, a newcomer to the ranks of those producing top quality California wine, visited Washington this summer and presented his 1978 cabernet sauvignon and 1979 chardonnay at an elegant tasting hosted by A & A Liquors at Le Pavillion Restaurant. Mr. Hill's philosophy is that cooler, well-drained vineyards, such as those found in mountain areas, produce wines with both a high concentration of flavor and sufficient acidity for balance. I am relieved to see a California winemaker concerned about low acidity.
Pursuing this philosophy, Hill syndicated a number of vineyards on Mount Veeder and Atlas Mountain in California's Napa area and has just released his first wines. The 1978 cabernet is exceptional -- the best first-release wine I have tasted. It has complex, intense, berry-like fruit with sufficient acidity for balance and structure. Only two stores in Washington, A & A and MacArthur, have the wine, and its price tag, around $15, makes it something other than your everyday cheeseburger wine. With such an auspicious beginning, one must look forward to future vintages and increased production from William Hill.