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October 2020

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Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2017, Australia Cost: $82-86 My wife and I have been diligent about staying home as much as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. We really miss going out to nice restaurants, and we miss seeing plays and concerts. But we also don’t want to get sick. So last weekend we had a special date at home with dinner theater in the den. Teri and I watched ‘“Death of a Salesman,” presented by the Goodman Theater in Chicago. It was staged several years ago, starring the late Brian Dennehy, and it was terrific. They streamed a filmed version of the Broadway cast, which won four Tony awards, including best revival, best actor, best featured actress and best director. We moved a table in front of the television so we had front row seats, added a tablecloth and candles, and had a wonderful meal. Of course, we needed…

Sinful Grin Petite Sirah 2018California I am in the mood for cheap. So tonight we are having $7.99 wine with a $3 salad kit and blueberries from Lidl paired up with a Publix $6.99 lemon pepper rotisserie chicken. This is one good, but very inexpensive meal. Mrs. Dan and I were at Lidl last Sunday afternoon and I naturally wandered over to their wine aisle. When they first opened years ago their wine display was fancy and had everything displayed by value and was pretty snazzy. No wines you’ve ever heard of but they were pretty good. Now it’s down to some simple shelves and about 1/2 the selection of different wines. Cheap is still the mainstay here. I saw this one lonely bottle, the only thing on the shelf, and it called to me. The fact it was under $8 had something to do with it too. I got…

La Jota Vineyard Co. Merlot 2017, Napa Valley Cost: $82-86 There is something special about mountain wines. Struggling at high elevations in rocky soils pushes vines to produce grapes with more depth and complexity. Wines from mountain vineyards usually have a little extra flavor. The grapes get a lot of sun, but because they are at a higher altitude with cooler temperatures, it takes the grapes longer to ripen. All of that gives them more intense, complex flavors. The mountain soils also usually impart a mineral flavor that I particularly like. The La Jota Merlot is a great example of a mountain Merlot. La Jota also gives the grapes a lot more attention than most wines, showing what a premium wine is all about. The wine is a gorgeous deep garnet in the glass, with dark fruit aromas. On the palate I picked up flavors of black cherry, ripe raspberries…

Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2018, Austria Cost: $14-16 J ust because we are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t mean we have to limit our wine horizons. Like most of my readers I drink a lot of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. Those are all wonderful grapes, but I like to try a few other things once in a while. Grüner Veltliner is one of those wines I keep coming back to when I want to try something different. I have had it so much it’s likely to become one of my staples, because Teri and I enjoy it. Dick Benjamin from Wine World used to rave about Grüner Veltliner all the time. Before I tried it, I thought he might be exaggerating, but he wasn’t. It is one of the most under-appreciated and least known wines in the United States. And…

Decoy Merlot 2018, Sonoma County Cost: $24-26 I love October for many reasons, not the least of which is it’s Merlot month. I know, it’s a made-up celebration, but I applaud anything that draws attention to this versatile, delicious wine. I have been drinking Merlot for at least 45 years, when I first tried Sterling Merlot and loved it. Later I heard about this great Merlot made by Duckhorn, but I couldn’t find it anywhere until I found it in a boutique wine shop in Chapel Hill, N.C. It was every bit as good as I had hoped. It was a little more than I usually spent for wine, but then Duckhorn came out with the Decoy label, which the winery called the every day wine for the well informed. I could drink it every day, and at this price I could afford to. This lush Merlot is a deep,…

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