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46th WorldFest Independent
Film Festival

April 12-21, 2013

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Wine Notes

"Why, you ask, does a film festival have a wine list? To make a 50+year old story very short, when I had the crazed notion to start WorldFest as a film society in 1961; one of the things I loved most about filmmaking was going to charming little towns in strange foreign countries and enjoying their wonderful food and wine."
- Hunter Todd

Over 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 in.

During 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.

So, 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 - 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

COPPOLA VINEYARDS - Director's Cut (Cabernet Sauvignon), 2010
We 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 too 'elegant.'
Fine. Score: 89 points. Under $25

BECKER "Texas Iconoclast" Cabernet Sauvignon, Texas, 2010 - Superb!
Still 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.

HERITAGE ROAD Shiraz Reserve, (South Australia), 2010
Remarkable 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

SEAVIEW Brut Sparkling Wine, Southeastern Australia, 2010
This 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 $8. Remarkable.

Chateau BONNET, Entre Deux Mers (Bordeaux Blanc), 2010
From 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 $10.

ROCHEGUDE Domaine St. Michel, Cotes du Rhone Villages, FRANCE 2009
We 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.

BOGLE 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.

PENFOLD'S Rawson's Retreat Merlot, Southeastern Australia, 2010
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

BOUTARI 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.

BECKER 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.

PENFOLD'S "Thomas Hyland" Shiraz, Southeastern Australia, 2010
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.

IRONSTONE 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.

HILL OF CONTENT, Old Vine Grenache Shiraz, Australia, 2009
Well, 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.

RANCHO ZABACO Dancing Bull Zinfandel, California, 2009
A 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.

DOMAINE GALHAUD, Old Vine Grenache Vin de Pais de Catalan, FRANCE 2010
From 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


Wine Notes by Hunter & Kathy Todd, who have spilled a lot of grape juice, all over the world.



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