Here's help with fine wine; for a boat, well, you're on your own

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3D
Last Modified: Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 - 3:42 pm

The best advice I can give a young adult with great hedonistic ambitions but little money is to make friends with someone who owns a boat and someone who has a fabulous wine cellar.

I bought a boat once. I named it "Albatross." The expense and frustration taught me the wisdom of having a pal with a pleasure craft.

I have a little wine cellar, but nothing like one of my rich friends who once opened 52 bottles of top cabernet sauvignons at once so a famous visiting wine writer could come get tasting notes, then put the bottles on a table and invited 20 of his closest wine friends, including me.

For most of us, with kids in braces, mortgages and 401(k) plans, this is the only way we will ever taste the world's great wines.

True, as a wine writer, I sometimes get invited to tastings set up by distributors for wine shop owners, restaurant wine buyers, the media and such. I've tasted 1961 Bordeaux, top Burgundies and exotic pinotages this way.

But it's a half-ounce pour, and you have 30 seconds with it before moving on to the next one. In any case, featured today are some of those fabulous wines.

Here's where you need that friend with a cellar. Alas, I still don't have friend with a boat.

Highly recommended: 2009 Williams Selyem "Unoaked" Chardonnay, Russian River Valley: floral aromas and flavors of intense, pure fruit, including tart white grapefruit and ripe peaches, steely and crisp; $60.

• 2011 Darioush "Signature" Viognier, Napa Valley: intense floral aroma, powerful flavors of vanilla, white peach, ripe pear and spice; $50.

• 2011 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma Mountain/Napa County: intense, pure fruit, white grapefruit, cut grass and gooseberries; crisp; $36.

• 2008 Ardore Napa Valley Red Wine (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): concentrated black raspberry fruit, silky tannins, flavors of minerals and citrus; $125.

• 2009 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains: intense, tart pineapple aromas and flavors; $55.

• 2009 Pahlmeyer Merlot, Napa Valley: light body, intense flavors of black cherries and minerals; $65.

• 2008 Altamura Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: intense black cherries and dark chocolate, very smooth; $90.

Correction: A recent column misstated the price of Nonvintage Pol Roger "White Foil" Brut Reserve Champagne. It is $50 for a 750-milliliter bottle.

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