Let's get one thing straight. I'm a Riesling fanatic. I'm working my way through MSR, little by little, and I make a beeline for the German wines whenever I go to a store.
But my absolute favorite producer, an unexpected delight, is Guigal. Guigal, Guigal, Guigal. It's rarely mentioned here, a surprise to me, as he's been one of my top ten wines and I'm curious as to why nobody else has said so, too. I've been gushing for years about the 1990 La Turque, and how utterly perfect it was. An absolutely captivating nose, flowing with deep, rich flavors, a finish that lingered for ages, and a great, mellow taste. This was in the winter of 2008.
But even with a bottle priced on the higher side of three digits, I found myself loving the standard 2006 Côtes du Rhône. Rough around the edges, a little harsh, but that nice forest taste and spiciness. It's fifteen bucks. It's amazing. Guigal makes me want to seek out more of these.
Dying to try some earlier La Landonnes. In the whites, I've extolled the virtues of Donnhoff and Trimbach. I'm a whore for Donnhoff, truly. Merkelbach is a favorite. I could go on for ages about my whites and Germans, but the Guigal was a fantastic surprise.
So, enough of the diatribe. Who are your favorite producers? Who has delivered, consistently, on your tastes? And what do you recommend?
Guigal - the Northern Rhône producer? I had no earthly idea that they had property in GR and did Riesling. This is major news to me, and might well account for why others have not made mention - Guigal would not be on my GR Riesling radar screen.
Now, knowing their Northern Rhône wines, were I to uncover them in the GR section, I would certainly give them a try, based on how nicely the handle Syrah.
For domestic pinot:
Windy Oaks (a little more ripe and oaky then the previous two)
Ayres, a relatively unknown star from Oregon
>>> It's rarely mentioned here, a surprise to me <<<
You need to a) like négociant wines, or b) be prepared to pay through the nose for the "La-La's".
IMHO, the 1978 Guigal Côtes-du-Rhône rouge -- for $3.99 -- was one of the great buys of all time, and the 1978 *regular* Côte-Rôtie was amazing. Since then, however . . .
One of my favorite producers hands down is Stefania because of the QPR factor. Have over 100 bottles of their various cabs, syrah, chardonnay, pinot, and Haut Tubee (red blend) in the cellar, with another 4 cases that I bought on futures pending delivery. Their cabs at $35 easily drink like cabs at twice the price once they get a few years on them. The syrah is another steal in the 30 price range, with fruit from Eaglepoint Ranch. The Haut Tubee as an awesome Rhone styled blend at $16, and one of the best QPR's out there. We've only opened 1 each of their chard and pinot, but enjoyed them both thoroughly. This is one of the few producers where I back up the truck, and buy everything I am offered. The 20% off for the top 10% of their mailing list is an incredible bargain for their futures program.
Some other producers that I love and buy a lot of:
Rivers-Marie - wish I could get more of the chard as it is incredible for the money. Love their pinot, and their cab is a bargain at $55. I look forward to geoing a case deep on the cab next week when it is released.
Fiddlehead - some of the best pinot and sauvignon blancs in the AVA in my opinion, and their rose, Pink Fiddle is a heck of a bargain as well.
Sea Smoke - love these wines once they get 7-10 years on them. Still one of my favorite producers.
Kosta Browne - have loved these wines through the '06 vintage, but the '06 wasn't as good as other vintages in my opinion. Regardless, I still buy them. Haven't popped any of the '07's or '08's yet though.
Antica Terra - what more is there to say other than Maggie Harrison, protege of legendary Manfred Krankl. Oregon pinot at it's finest in my opinion.
Lillian - this goes hand in hand with Antica Terra as it is another Maggie project. Really curious to see how her new wines are now that she has incorporated some Stolpman fruit along with the Whitehawk. Should be awesome! Really looking to try her Blue Label wines that are her version of the extended barrel aged wines.
Auteur - killer pinot and chards
Carlisle - yet another solid wine year in year out. Love the syrah and zins.
Sanford - love the pinot noir
Alma Rosa - same feelings as I have for Sanford.
That is just a few. Some of the big hitters I buy year in year out: Scarecrow, Maybach, Larkmead, Herb Lamb, Corra, Quilceda Creek. Realistically, I could ramble for days about producers I love...LOL! -mJ
I have to agree with you about Stefania, Paul makes some great juice and the price can't be beat considering the quality. And they should age well for years.
My other favorites for Cabs are Match and Karl Lawrence. I buy them every year.
I like KB and agree that the 2006 was not as great as previous years, but they are getting very expensive so I've been cutting back on how much I buy. (Besides, I have way too much Pinot Noir in the cellar.) For right now I'm sticking with the Sonoma Coast and maybe a Kanzler or two.
My wife loves the PNs from Dain. David makes some very good wines and the price is reasonable.
I buy a lot of Loring because the price is right and it includes shipping. I wish Brian hadn't gone with all screwtops, but I understand why he did. However, I've had a few leakage problems with a couple of them that I never had with cork. Better than the composit corks however.
Another favorite is Radio-Coteau, especially the Savoy vineyard. Both PN and Chard from that vineyard are excellent.
Couldn't agree more on the Match, and Randy is a heck of a great guy! Taken advantage of some of his offers as of late, and we've gotten some great deals! Gotta love it!
Dain makes great juice as well, and these wines remind me of toned down Lorings. Unfortuantely, there aren't many available out here. Princeton Cork Screw usually has some though. Will have to look. -mJ
D'Arenberg from Australia always makes good quality wines that are a lot of fun. From the Stump Jump line up to the Laughing Magpie and their grandaddy, The Dead Arm Shiraz all their stuff is consistently tasty & fun.
A current find and favorite right now is the Terra Andina line from Chile. They make three levels of wines and top to bottom everything seems to be good.
If you like the German Rieslings try Zind Humbrecht from Alsace. They also make top quality Riesling + many more.
Finally, if you like Rhones, Beaucastel is a long time favorite. Their Chat-du-Papes are always top of the line but if you can get the Coudelet wines they're like baby CDP's and probably a better value.
Someone else is paying? DRC. No question.
But the other producers who sprung immediately to mind:
Domaine le Sang des Cailloux
Fernando Remírez de Ganuza