• Frank opened up the lid to the coffee maker, and found a fish. The fish was actually looking at him with its bug eyes and fishy lips going… well doing that fish kiss lip thing that they do. Frank immediately dropped the lid out of shock. He used the coffee maker every day and yet here was a live fish just looking at him.

    Frank paused a moment and before he had a chance to think through what was going on he opened the lid again. Yup. It was still there swishing its tail back and forth just enough to keep its head out of the water.

    The first thought Frank had (after the initial OMG there’s a fish in my coffee maker making lips at me thought) was that his coffee would taste fishy with a fish in the brewing water. He immediately after having the thought realized it was foolish to think about such a trivial thing when he should be flaberghasted do to the strange predicament he’d just found himself in. Frank decided to think this through logically.

    First he wondered how it got there. Frank lived alone in a small studio apartment to which only he had a key (he had recently changed the locks and had yet to copy the key). Also, Frank had brewed coffee the previous morning and had not refilled the water. This meant that somehow overnight water and a fish devaporated into the brewer, or someone picked the lock and placed this surprisingly cheerful fish into his coffee maker for safe keeping. Oh! Oh! or maybe they wanted it dead, but couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

    Frank grabbed an old glass flower vase that looked like a big fish bowl and poured both fish and water into the bowl. Not two minutes went bye when a large pelican flew in the opened window and grabbed the fish up from the bowl.  Frank lunged for the bird, but it was already out the window. Just then there was a knock on the door…

    It was the mail man with this year’s Top 100 Wine Spectator.

    The Wine Spectator (WS) reviews a gazillion wines every year and then at the end of the year puts out a list of their picks of the year. Some years I feel they are just way to commercial, but this year was much more diverse. This I like.

    I’m going to eat this list and then regurgitate my own narrowed down list of relatively easily found affordable wines.

    Chomp chomp chomp chomp




    The producers that made my cut were

    Achaval-Ferrer, Calera, Domaine Schlumberger, Folonari, Domaine Lafond,  Marchesi di Barolo and Can Blau

    Achaval-Ferrer makes several different Malbecs out of Mendoza, Argentina. They vary in price from $20 to over a hundred, and while WS listed the $120 version I really enjoy the entry level $20 Malbec.


    Achaval Ferrer 2011 Malbec 

    Robert Parker captured its essence well –

    “The 2011 Malbec is sourced from Perdriel, Uco and Medrano from vines located at around 900m altitude. The wine is fermented in cement tanks and raised in third use French barrel for 11 months. The nose demands a little coaxing from the glass, but eventually reveals a crisp, pointed nose of black fruit laced with bell pepper that is well-defined, awakening with each swirl of the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with a taut, crisp entry. The tannins are bold and ripe, although it needs a little more weight of fruit towards the back end, a little more “girth.” Still, this is a well-crafted, accomplished, entry-level Malbec – a perfect introduction to the genre. Drink now-2017.”


    I think its one of the absolute best Malbecs for the price.


    Calera is a really well known Pinot Noir producer that produces an entry level Pinot from Central Coast.

    Calera 2011 Pinot Noir Central Coast

    Cautionary note: this wine is contrary to the style of all their other Pinot Noirs. Its a bolder inkier fruit forward wine whereas their other wines are really bright high acid red cherry and strawberries. It is a dynamite $21 on the shelves though.


    Can Blau 2011 Monstant Blau

    This wine is from Spain and is a red wine blend made up of Carinena, Syrah and Garnacha. Aged for a year in French oak it consistently gets rave reviews every vintage. The WS reviewed the 2009, but as is often the case it is now into the 2011 vintage.

    For a whopping $12 you can get this Top 100 wine.


    Domaines Schlumberger 2010 Pinot Gris Alsace Les Princes Abbes

    This producer is a name you can trust for a great white wine. Nearly everything they produce is fantastic. Crisp, fresh fruit with lengthy finishes and an affordable price. This one is listed at $20, but if their name is on it grab it.


    Folonari 2010 Chianti

    As with all Chiantis this wine is made with 100% Sangiovese (a minimum of 80% is required by law), and because, in part, its made with stainless steel tanks they can keep the price waaaaaay down.

    K&L wines sells it for $7. Number 41 on the list and its only $7. Sweet.


    Domaine Lafond 2011 Roc-Epine ‘Tavel’


    Made with a blend of Grenache 60%, Cinsault 10%, Syrah 10%, Carigna 5% and with Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Mourvèdre.

    They describe their $17 rose as:
    The LAFOND DOMAINE TAVEL is characterized by a lovely pure tender pink colour. The predominating aromas are complex: red and white fruit associated with floral notes. With time, these fruity aromas will evolve toward more mellow notes with a touch of spice and stone fruits, and the colour will take on amber tints. As of its first year, it disposes of all the necessary aromas to be appreciated, but it also has an exceptional ageing potential.


    Marchesi di Barolo 2011 Barbera del Monferrato Maraia


    Wine Spectator describes this $12 wine as:

    ” A dark, succulent red, exuding black cherry, blackberry and violet aromas and flavors. Pure and focused, with a long aftertaste of sweet fruit, flowers and spice. Drink now through 2016. 4,250 cases imported. “


    I am just finishing up this year’s schooling and thought it appropriate that I should mention this year’s top wines. I am going to celebrate with some wine..