the years, as a filmmaker, I have enjoyed the very good fortune
to make more than 300 films of all kinds (shorts, features,
TV commercials, TV productions, and documentaries) and to
win over 115 international awards. I have had the great and
good fortune to visit almost every country on the globe, from
Afghanistan to Zanzibar, with a great deal of France, England,
Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Italy thrown
those years I have had the tremendous pleasure to enjoy some
really wonderful wines, from countries and regions that I
never had even heard of or been to. I wanted to share some
of my great favorites with you, so you can 'join me in a toast'
to the good life. Many of these brilliant wines are the ones
we have poured at the WorldFest Awards Dinners. I have two
rules, my favorites must taste wonderful, and they cannot
be expensive. All these wines will be under our $15 maximum.
I have found that any wine that costs over this amount is
charging for marketing, advertising, prestige and good old
greed. And you can't really taste any of these. We have enjoyed
some of these wines that are priced at $5 and that taste far
better than some highly over-rated $150 bottles we all know.
please enjoy with us the fruits of our travels and tasting,
while saving a rather significant sum of money. I will add
to this short list from time to time as new discoveries are
made. We taste more than 200 wines a year to share our favorites
with you. Think of me as your 'budget vinophile' and cheers!
Here is the 44th Annual WorldFest 2011 list in no particular
order: I have learned some amazing things about wine from
Bear Dalton, the wonderful wine guy at Spec's in Houston...
the largest wine 'store' in the world... they have more labels
than other stores have bottles... for our 'secret' in finding
truly great wines for little dollars, go to - http://www.specsonline.com/
and search on THE 12's - 12 Under 12 ... which is, as you
might think, 12 bottles of wine, 6 red, 6 white that are under
$12 each and taste like $120.00 bottles of Silver Oak... or
better... you will thank me for this tid-bit of truth for
a long, long time! JJHT & EKHT
VINEYARDS - Director's Cut (Cabernet Sauvignon),
just returned from a wonderful visit to
Francis Ford Coppola's Winery in California.
Just one hour North of San Francisco, just
South of Geyserville. A superb luncheon
at their lovely restaurant, Rustic,
sampling several brilliant Coppola wines!
The Eleanor Red is truly amazing, but the
Director's Cut is just plain exceptional.
A little pricey, but worth it for special
times! This is a ripe, juicy, densely-packed,
flavorful Cabernet featuring lots of rich
fruit and some welcome black pepper and
garrigue notes. Long and dusty, dry but
full of fruit and flavor. Not at all complex
but really tasty. Solid and flavorful, a
very approachable and enjoyable wine, not
Fine. Score: 89 points. Under $25
"Texas Iconoclast" Cabernet Sauvignon,
Texas, 2010 - Superb!
our great personal favorite, that we buy
by the case. For the price, better than
Silver Oak, a true "Jammy Giant."
Blended from grapes grown in three different
Texas vineyards, this Becker Cabernet is
dense, dark, juicy, and complex with blackberry
and lush blueberry fruit. Rich with lots
of ripe Cabernet flavor. The ripe tannins
and oak give it a nicely chewy texture.
Long in the mouth with sweet fruit to the
very end. Really flavorful. Bunny Becker
and her hubby Dr. Richard make some great
wine. Their vineyard is in Fredericksburg,
Texas ... well worth a visit. Fine. Score:
92 Points. Under $10.
ROAD Shiraz Reserve, (South Australia),
Shiraz fruit but with plenty of ripeness
and a good balance. Long and lively in the
mouth with plenty of crushed black-and-red-berry
fruit and notes of black pepper and sweet
wood. Nice bit of chewiness and good texture
but maintains a lively feel. Layered with
many complex flavors. Rich and satisfying
but not too heavy, almost zingy. Fine. Score:
90 points. Under $10
Brut Sparkling Wine, Southeastern Australia,
methode Champenoise (hand-picked, grape
by grape, in the French fashion) Australian
brut is a toasty, lively, rich-style bubbly
with good yeasty Champagne-like notes and
ample fruit in the mixed apple-pear-and-citrus-peel
range. Long and well-focused, it has plenty
of flavor but finishes fresh, dry, and clean.
Fine everyday fizz. Comparable to Moet White
Star. Very Good. Score: 91 points. Under
BONNET, Entre Deux Mers (Bordeaux Blanc),
down Bordeaux way, on the long Gironde peninsula,
thus the name, Between Two Seas. This is
the latest vintage of a perennial favorite
white Bordeaux. The 2000 edition features
fresh, juicy, lively Sauvignon Blanc fruit
in the freshly cut grass, white peach, and
lime range with hints at grapefruit, figs,
and honeysuckle. The wine is clean and alive
in the mouth with an invigorating feel.
Long and clean, everyday-priced white Bordeaux
doesn't come any better (or more consistent)
than this. Fine. Score: 90 points. Under
Domaine St. Michel, Cotes du Rhone Villages,
have actually stayed several times at this
very Relais & Chateau here in Rochegude,
just off the Route de Soliel, on the way
to down to Cannes from Paris. A magnificent
Chateau, with a true castle feel. Their
dining room is wonderful. This offering
from the village’s vineyards is a
delightful rich, fat, sweet and fruity Grenache-dominated
Rhone red with lots of mixed berry fruit,
a note of peppery earth and the slightest
hint of garrigue. It is a medium-weight
red, well balanced with a fine texture and
just a soft touch of tannin. Not at all
one of the usual “Elegant” French
red that tastes so “thin” to
me. Serve this one cool, around 55 degrees
and you will find it a delightfully pleasant
French red. We buy this one by the case
at under $8 a bottle. Very fine, 89+ points.
Old Vine Zinfandel, (California), 2010
We sometimes find Zins a bit too “raw”
but this one is a ripe, chewy, and juicy
Old Vine Zin that offer lots of black berry
and grapy fruit with hints of pepper, cedar,
briar and tobacco folding over a rich texture.
This is not a heavy Zin, but it does have
a pleasant weight and a satisfying feel
in the mouth. This is a perfect spaghetti
or Pizza wine, and serve it cool, at 55’
right out of the fridge. Very fine for a
Zin, 89+ points. Under $9 a bottle.
Rawson's Retreat Merlot, Southeastern Australia,
Here is a delicious and tasty Aussie Merlot
that offers juicy red and black cherry fruit
enhanced by notes of cedar and black pepper.
It is medium-weight, supple, bright, fresh
and lively in the mouth. The tannins are
quite soft enough to serve it quite cool,
around 50-55 degrees, making it a great
Summer red for the terrace. Very Good, 88+
points. Under $8 a bottle
Kritikos White, CRETE, 2010
This one wins on exotic locale alone, besides
being a delightful white. Who would have
thunk it, a wonderful wine from the island
of Crete. Just think, Cretians stomped these
grapes! It is made from the Vilana grape,
a white varietal native to the Island. This
is a crisp, lively white that has notes
of wildflowers and lemon tree blossoms,
with a hint of dryness that keeps it long
and fresh. It is focused and clean, this
Kritikos has a fine light texture and a
strong crisp finish. Very refreshing and
wonderful served very cool. It has no oak
at all, and is my perfect obscure seafood
white, from an exotic locale. Amuse your
friends with this one. Very Good, 88+ points.
under $8 a bottle.
Muscat, from the Republic of Texas, 2009
This one is sort of a curve ball, as this
wonderful Muscat is for sale only here in
Texas. So if you live in Texas or have a
Texas friend you can trust to send it to
you, then this is one to enjoy. It could
be a Muscat d'Asti from Italy, with lots
of classic and delicious Muscat grape flavor
and aroma with a candied orange peel and
lemon-drop feel. Lots of rich perfume from
peaches, apricots and honeysuckle and so
much suspended carbon dioxide it is quite
frizzante. It is lively, delicious and long
in the mouth. A superb dessert wine or even
seafood wine, serve well chilled around
50-55 degrees. Very Good, 88+ points. Under
$9 a bottle. A fun wine.
"Thomas Hyland" Shiraz, Southeastern
This one is a super ripe, juicy and flavorful
red with lots of dark grapy & berry
fruit, a lovely texture and good richness.
It is well balanced and it feels quite lively
in the mouth. Well blended and integrated
with good intensity, pack with rich flavor.
There are subtle notes of raspberry, cherry,
and hints of black and white pepper with
some tone of Madagascar pink pepper. Some
earth notes. The Aussies have developed
a remarkable wine industry, and they have
developed techniques that create remarkable
young wines that taste great fairly young
and age wonderfully. It is delicious and
a superb buy, $11 and Excellent. 92+ points.
Cabernet Sauvignon blend, California, 2010
This one is a delightful blend of 89% Cab
Sauvignon and 11% Cab Franc that has been
aged 12 months in an unusual rotation of
both French and American oak barrels. This
is a flavorful and juicy Cab with real depth
and good richness. Another “Jammy
Giant.” Yes, we do love the blends
and the Meritage wines, as the skillful
combination of certain grapes really creates
a whole that is greater than the sum. It
offers good black cherry and blackberry
fruit along with subtle notes of tea, black
pepper and tobacco. Quite tasty and not
at all shy. Around $7, Very Fine, 90 points.
OF CONTENT, Old Vine Grenache Shiraz, Australia,
we certainly climbed this Hill of Content
several times! This big Shiraz is a blend
of 63% Aussie Clare Valley Grenache and
37% McLaren Vale Shiraz. It is one of those
big reds that are great to drink tonight
or to lay down for several years, if you
possibly can. It’s a juicy and ripe,
fresh, lively red with lots of mixed raspberry
and blackberry fruit. Deep but fresh with
hints of black pepper and earth. A Jammy
Giant. Very Fine, around $12. 91+ points.
ZABACO Dancing Bull Zinfandel, California,
really great and colorful label for a great
wine. This is a fresh, juicy and ripe Zin
that is medium-weight, lots of up-front
fruit in a Claret style red that features
lots of fresh red berry and cherry fruit.
It is long and flavorful in the finish with
a medium chewy texture that offers fresh
red and berry tannins. This is an easy drinking
Zin that you should chill down to 55-60
degrees. Very Fine for a Zin. As you can
tell, my early Zin memories from college
have tinted my outlook/opinions about Zin.
Fine. 88+ points. Around $7 a bottle.
GALHAUD, Old Vine Grenache Vin de Pais de
Catalan, FRANCE 2010
far Southwest France, down near Spain in
the Pyrenees Orientales Region. In other
words, this is an exotic red, from Spanish
varietal grapes with French style. It is
a really ripe, juicy Grenache with lots
of big grapy blackberry character coupled
with a dusty-sweet fruit, a moderately chewy
texture and a great big feel in the mouth.
Plenty of richness, quite robust, solid
and satisfying with a rustic feel like you
are deep in the mountainous French countryside.
Take a trip down that way for around $8
a bottle. Really superb, 92+ points