Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baron De Ley: Spain's Largest Winery

Country: Spain

Region: Rioja

Production: Large and expansive

Grape: Mostly Tempranillo

Crate design: The Baron De Lay wine crate has a quaint but highly detailed picture on both the front and back long side.  The design is of the ancient Benedictine monastery on which the winery is built. The winery makes only 6 bottle crates, so there are no other sizes.

Rarity: Fairly mainstream. Baron De Lay is one of the largest wineries in Spain

Crate designation: Collector's Class ($30.00)

Our opinion/history: The Baron De Lay winery is owned and operated by a large Spanish conglomerate. Production is very high, but there is certainly no compromise of quality. You can get a very good bottle for around $15 - $20.

The wine making process of De Lay is based heavily on Tempranillo grapes, working with fermentation processes that are tried and true, and having the patience to allow the wine to age properly. The reults have been quite successful, and they're not changing what works.

Historically, the Baron De Ley land has been yielding wine since the 16th century when the property was a Benedictine monastery. The company/label is  a fantastic blend of both ancient and modern strategies of wine making.

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Domaine Janasse of Chateauneuf Du Pape

Country: France

Region: Rhone

Subregion: Chateauneuf Du Pape

Production: Approx. 3,000 cases imported into the United States every vintage year.

Grape: 70% Grenache and 30% Mourvedre

Crate design: Domaine Janasse is one of a handful of French wineries that brand their crates on the long side. It's a beautiful picture of the winery and Chateau. It also has color embossed lettering, and the same picture is on the short front side as well. It's just smaller.

Rarity: Very Rare. Just over 1,000 cases are made on average. At least half of the cases stay in France. The rest are shipped out worldwide.

Crate designation: Collector's Class ($35.00)

Our opinion/history: Domaine Janasse, like the vast majority of Chateauneuf Du Pape wineries are spectacular. Grown in the ancient fields of Southern Rhone, the vines date back to before Jesus Christ. The winemaking in this region is more like a religion than a profession, and the term "Chateauneuf Du Pape" translates from French to English as: Home of the Pope. The Vatican; up until fairly modern times owned this part of France, and sacramentalized the wine.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Remelluri: The Cult Wine of Rioja

Country: Spain

Region: Rioja

Production: Approx. 3,000 cases imported into the United States every vintage year.

Grape: 90% Tempranillo, 10% blend of both Garnacha and Graciano

Crate design: A favorite of mine. The front and back sides are gently engraved with the highly detailed picture of the winery's vineyard. The picture is oversized and eye-catching.

Rarity: Very Rare. Production is incredibly small. This picture represents the only crate we ever acquired. It was sold quickly.

Crate designation: Exclusive Class ($50.00)

Our opinion/history: Remelluri is a Spanish cult, that has recieved high marks from critics. Their wine making process is revolutionary, and they mix traditional and modern fermentation processes brilliantly. They use both steel vats and oak barrels at two different times. The result: An outstanding creation. The wines are also meant to be put down for a decade or so for optimal enjoyment.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hundred Acre of Napa Valley

Country: USA

Region: Napa Valley

Production: 300 - 600 cases per year

Grape: Kayli Morgan: Cabernet Sauvignon - Ancient Way: Shiraz

Crate design: This is a gorgeous crate. The pine wood is premium, and built very well. Every part of the crate is thick and durable. The lid has a flip-top, and both sides are engraved with a different design. The front of the lid has the 6 star logo, and the back has a story about the Trojan War. Both designs are deeply engraved. All four sides are also engraved, each with the Hundred Acre text in a robust font. In some vintages even the tops of the inserts are engraved as well.

Rarity: Very Rare. The production of Hundred Acre is very small, and most collector's keep their crates with their cases.

Crate designation: Exclusive Class ($100.00)

Our opinion/history: Hundred Acre is a went from "Basement Wine" to cult superstar of Napa Valley in a very short period of time.. Some vintages have received a perfect 100 points from Wine Advocate and Robert Parker. Jayson Woodbridge invented the Hundred Acre label, and he's considered a maverick of the wine industry. Woodbridge has inspired other cult Napa's to reach for the stars. It's possible that his 6 star logo on the lid wasn't a random design!

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oreno of Tuscany

Country: Italy

Region: Tuscany

Production: Approx. 25,000 cases per year.

Grape: 50% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon

Crate design: The crate is engraved on all four of it's sides and lid. There are small Roman pillars above an Oreno text done in a nouveau font. The lid engraving is fairly larger than the four sides.

Rarity: Fairly mainstream. Oreno has a fairly large production, and produces crates for every vintage.

Crate designation: Collector's ($30.00)

Our opinion/history: Oreno is a Super Tuscan winery, which is a fantastic and highly rated experiment in blending the finest Italian and French grapes. It seems that every vintage wins awards and is rated in the high 90's.

The crate is great because it's engraved everywhere. It's very easy to decorate with.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sandeman of Portugal

Country: Portugal

Region: Iberian Peninsula

Subregion: Douro

Production: Very limited with long periods of aging. Vintages are rarely released

Grape: Many different grapes blends such as: Tempranillo, Tinta Barroca and Touriga Francesa.

Crate design: Sandeman is one of the most uniquely designed crate. For one it's pre-finished with a walnut stain. The front and back sides have a brass plaque with the Sandeman "Don" logo embossed on it, and built into the crate. The top of the crate has a leather handle, and also has the Sandeman logo branded into the leather. The middle of the crate also has two leather latches with the embossed logo.

When you open the crate, there are two compartments made to hold (4) 375 ML Port bottles. The inside backing has a nice soft felt as well. It's an outstanding piece.

Rarity: Extremely rare. In the past 10 years Sandeman has produced 5 vintages, and all but one produced a wine crate.

Crate designation: Exclusive Class ($50.00)

Our opinion/history: Sandeman has been linked to wine making since the mid 1700's. They make a Port, Sherry and a red wine. Porto wineries are a bit different than wineries from Bordeaux, Italy and even California. The wines are fortified, and the fermentation process is much different.

The Sandeman wine crate is eye-catching, and makes for a good wine cellar, home or bar decoration.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Domaine Giraud (CDP)

Country: France

Region: Rhone

Subregion: Chateauneuf Du Pape (CDP for short)

Production: Limited to good quality years - Average: 200 cases per year

Grape: 100% Grenaches (This is one of three single vineyards from Giraud)

Crate design: Domaine Giraud, like most CDP's wineries produce remarkable wines. The logo has a classic style, with most of the design being the unique DG script. Both long sides of this crate are engraved.

Rarity: Extremely rare. With approx. 200 cases are made per year, These are hard to acquire. On top of that, the Grenaches blend often skips vintages based on the quality of yield that year.

Crate designation: Collector's Class ($30.00)

Our opinion/history: The Domaine Giraud crate is simple and tasteful. This standard of design is fairly common amongst Chateauneuf Du Pape wineries. We currently have them in stock, but they'll be sold out in a month. I doubt we'll get any more for a few years.

There are only a few CDP wineries that produce cases every year, and we can count on them being in stock frequently. Domaine Giraud isn't one of them.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Poliziano of Tuscany

Country: Italy

Region: Tuscany

Subregion: Montepulciano

Production: Limited to good quality years

Grape: 100% Sangiovese

Crate design: The Poliziano wine crate has a very elegant design, and it's engraved on all four sides. The branding and artwork are the same on each side, but they are slightly smaller on the shorter sides.

Rarity: Very rare. Crates are only made at peak years, so there is no guarantee that every year will produce a vintage.

Crate designation: Collector's Class ($30.00)

Our opinion/history: The Poliziano winery is highly rated by critics, and is young. Built in 1961, the founders are known for "excessive" attention to detail in all aspects of their wine production. Your guaranteed a fantastic glass of wine from a bottle of Poliziano.

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