Fine Bordeaux – by Anthony Foster MW

Fine Bordeaux is always recommended for laying down – but for how long? That is the eternal question. When we study the dramatic movement in prices as the wine matures, is the liquid inside actually getting more and more special? Or could we be like Abe and his sardines – do you remember what happened when he opened the can? “The sardines were terrible. He telephoned Joe from whom he’d bought them only to be told ‘But Abe, those sardines are for trading, not eating!’" This was clearly the case with the now infamous Jefferson Bordeaux wines that were supposedly bottled at the latter part of the eighteenth century. When Michael Broadbent MW was flown in to New York on Concorde to witness the opening and first tasting of one of these special bottles, his comment was “interesting”!

I have tasted a few old bottles and some have been more than “interesting”. In particular a bottle of red Malaga from 1790, offered at a private dinner by David Molyneux Berry MW, who was then director of Sothebys Wine department, was truly magnificent oozing fruit and elegance. But I digress, this is not Bordeaux!

One thing that it is important to remember with old bottles is never decant. Don’t let the decanter enjoy that luscious first moment when the wine finds the outside world. Your best decanter for such wines is your glass. Then watch it, observe it, appreciate it and drink it. I remember to my great regret producing a bottle of Ch Palmer 1929 at a dinner we had at home to celebrate my passing the Master of Wine exam. I opened the bottle and poured. We all marveled at the prospect of enjoying such an icon wine and then talked too much about the treat of it all while the wine quietly died. Slowly cobwebs -I am speaking figuratively – came over the flavor and all of a sudden it went. With hindsight, we should have nosed and consumed the wine within ten minutes. The fruit of an old wine is very special and departs like a phantom into the ether. So catch it and marvel at it straightaway!

clip_image001I had three bottles of Chateau Margaux 1892, an awesome wine in its time. I drank the first with friends and reminded them to focus on the wine. It took twelve minutes for the “cobwebs” to appear. Up to that moment we had delicate, elegant, fruit, clearly very old but well preserved. I have two bottles remaining and I am waiting for the right moment.

I also have a bit of an enigma and I need your help. The photo is of my enigma. It is a hand-blown magnum with a sticker on the side saying it is Chateau Margaux 1868! The cork is not leaking but I cannot see any chateau branding. Nevertheless the level is very low – in fact I have marked in the dust this level. So what do I do? I want some good ideas. I could attempt to bring it over to the States for a happening. As for provenance? I know it came from Christophers, a company founded in the seventeenth century that was based in St James’s London where the wine lived for most of its life.

Last minute gifts – Wine Clubs

A good friend in Virginia just let me know that she was at a loss for what to buy for those left on her list. She had to wait till Saturday because of payday, which meant she was out of luck for many standard shipping deadlines. My suggestion? WINE CLUBS, my dear friend, wine clubs.

Here is a guide for who to get what:

Discovery people – They like wine, but are stuck in a brand rut, only buying one brand of red or white. Get them the Discovery Tour! This helps someone discover new countries, regions, grape varieties… ideal for the novice or for someone looking to learn about new wines.

World people – They enjoy wine and they know wine, yet not everything about wine… they like tasting new varieties and discovering new regions. Wines of the World is totally the ticket – after tasting the past few months of wines, this is my favorite club.

90-point people – Quality all the way, the 90-point club is for those who want the best, or bottles for the cellar. This is for those who know and club_default_AEC_img_widelove their wine and are looking for amazing finds.

Avec Eric  – For that friend or family member who has every kitchen gadget, loves to cook and enjoy wine with every meal – this is the club for them. It offers amazing wines to go with all the wonderful recipes that come with Avec Eric, the PBS TV show.

So do not panic, you have a gift for this last minute!

How to make mulled wine

Mulled wine is a delicious holiday tradition. Just the smell of it reminds me of holiday parties and curling up by the fire. It’s a great way to make a bottle go a bit further, or use a bottle that isn’t quite up to your dinner table standards. That said, don’t use too cheap of a bottle as bad wine will not make good mulled wine. Here are some tips on which wine to choose:

-Don’t spend too much, but don’t spend too little!
-Don’t choose a wine with too much oak – Merlot, Zinfandel, Rhone blends and some Syrah are good choices.

What you’ll need:
7 whole cloves
5 whole peppercorns
zest of one small orange
4 cinnamon sticks
1 750mL bottle of red wine
1/4 cup of brandy 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Put the first 4 ingredients into a mesh bag or tie it into a cheesecloth.

In a non-reactive pot, add remainder of ingredients, including the bag of seasonings. Bring to almost a boil, then let simmer at just under a boil for about 10 minutes. You should taste and adjust sugar or water to your desired tastes. Serve into mugs and drink warm. Serve with cinnamon sticks!

All about our wine clubs – what makes ours different?

Wine clubs are everywhere these days. You can join wine clubs through newspapers or magazines as well as the more traditional form of winery wine clubs. At we offer a few different wine clubs with a range of themes. With all the wine clubs out there, it’s important to stand out. So what makes our wine clubs different?

Our tag line for our wine clubs is: Authentic wines. Premium brands. A great journey. We feature real wines from real wineries – sometimes they are larger wineries, sometimes they are boutique vintners, but they are wines you may find on a restaurant list or in a local wine store – no private labels that you can never find again. offers 4 different wine clubs that range from $30 per month to $70 per month. Each wine club includes two bottles, each with detailed tasting notes on the wine, region and food pairings, as well as an e-mail newsletter with a wine tip and a recipe. Also, you get 15% off any wines you’d like to re-order from the club selections!

Our wine clubs are:

Discovery Tour ($29.99/month)club_default_DIS_img_wide
Our most popular club, the discovery tour is an introductory wine club that features different varietals, styles and regions each month – all at a great value. The wines are meant to be drunk now, no cellar time necessary. The club is meant to help the recipient discover which wine styles, regions and varieties they like best. 
You receive two bottles, either a white and a red or two reds.

img_WOW_clubWines of the World ($39.99/month)
It’s like traveling the world through wine! This club is meant to help you expand your palate with premium wines from the world’s greatest wineries and regions. You receive wines from a different wine region each month, selected for their high quality and depiction of that region. It’s a great way to broaden your wine knowledge and palate. You can choose to receive a white and a red or two reds.

90-point Rated Club ($69.99/month)90pt
Ultra premium, age worthy wines rated 90+ points within the last two vintages by the world's top wine critics (see the 8 publications that cites). This is a red wine only club for those who want top quality. Wines are chosen for their flavor, character and aging potential.  This is a high end club that gives its members amazing wines that can be put down in the cellar.

club_default_AEC_img_wideAvec Eric Perfect Pairings ($59.99/month)
For the foodie who loves wine, this unique new wine club explores the intrinsic relationship between great food and wine. You’ve got a chef and a sommelier choosing wine, which can include white, red or sparkling – it changes each month. There are videos and recipes to go with each wine, too. A great way to put your food and wine  passions together.

Guide to Bubbly

Champagne and sparkling wine are a necessity during the holidays. What better thing to toast than friends, family, the joy of the season and occasionally a few days off? A few thoughts on bubbles.

You don’t have to spend a fortune – yes, once you try that Krug Grand Cuvee you will realize why Cristalino only costs $8. But there are plenty of wonderful wines in between and Cristalino is still an awesome value! So look for some wines in your price rangejeroboam champagne

It’s not just for toasts – too often people drink Champagne only with a toast or as an aperitif. And that’s a shame because Champagne (especially rose) is wonderful with food. The acidity and texture of Champagne make it a perfect match for lots of food. So try it at the table, not just the before and after.

There is just something about real Champagne… Yes, there are great alternative sparkling wines, and I’ll list a few, but having at least one bottle of Champagne during the holidays will really make your season brighter. Here are some helpful tips on picking the right Champagne, either for yourself or for a gift



Picking a Champagne Producer

By price:

Top picks for $50 and under (all are Non-vintage)
Charles Heidsieck Brut
Duval-Leroy Brut
Gosset Brut Excellence – one of my favorites, medium bodied – delivers an excellent wine every year.
Nicolas Feuillatte Blue Label Brut – another favorite, very clean wine, great acidity
Piper Heidsieck – reasonably priced, nice texture and body
Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label – a classic label, brand & wine. Delicious.
Pol Roger Brut – elegant non-vintage bottle
Taittinger Brut La Francaise

Top producers from $50 – $100
This is where you start to see some vintage wines coming out, as well as Tete de Cuvee
Bollinger – if I cannot have Krug, I will drink Bollinger – love this full bodied Champagne.
Deutz (vintage)
Laurent-Perrier Brut Millesime (vintage)
Gosset Grand Reserve (NV) and Gosset Grand Millesime (vintage)
Henriot (vintage)

Splurge on $100 +
Bollinger Grand Annee (vintage)
Dom Perignon (vintage)
Krug Grand Cuvee (NV) or Krug (vintage)
Louis Roderer Cristal (vintage)
Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne (vintage)
Salon Blanc de Blancs (vintage)
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame (vintage)

By Style


Lighter-bodied producers 
Nicolas Feuillatte

Medium-bodied producers
Charles Heidsieck
Dom Perignon
Gosset NV Brut
Piper Heidsieck
Pol Roger
Veuve Clicquot

Full-bodied producers
Gosset (Grande Reserve & vintage)
Louis Roederer

There are also some delicious grower Champagnes, which are wines coming from the growers themselves instead of the larger production houses. These are worth seeking out.

Sparkling Wine picks:
For domestic (meaning US), Try Roederer Estate in Anderson Valley – amazing wines, fantastic prices; Iron Horse (all their cuvees are wonderful), Argyle and Schramsberg.

In Cava, love the Cristalino for parties as well as Segura Viudas.

And in Prosecco, the NIno Franco is very Champagne-like in its style.

Drink some bubbly, drink it with food and enjoy your holidays!

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