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Great Wines, Good Restaurants and a Book Signing

LUCA 2012

A Top Recommendation From Argentina


My top recommendation for this month has to be Luca Malbec from Uco Valley, Argentina. Every vintage since 2005 has been outstanding, and the 2012, recently tasted, is no exception. The bottle itself, tall, heavy and bold, foreshadows something special. And it is. My vote for a perineal best buy. Laura Catena is the owner/winemaker, and until recently, in a dazzling display of multi-tasking at the highest level, was an emergency room physician in San Francisco for six months a year! Big, rich and luscious with mixed grill recently. Incredible buy at $28

Of several hundred wines tasted in the last month or so, here are the best values in their respective price ranges:


Torresella Prosecco Extra Dry — Just the right amount of residual sugar and price for me. $11

CHLOE Prosecco — Best I’ve had recently in this price range. Elegant and almost opulent. $12

Complicated Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2014 — From the Taken Wine Company, a joint venture of Carlo Trinchero and Josh Phelps. Opulent with tropical fruit flavors. Great bargain. $15

Cairdean Picpoul Blanc Rutherford 2014 — Surprisingly good for a wine traditionally from France and Spain. In fact, better than some of the better-known ones! $24


Anderra Carmenere Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2013 — Are you kidding me? $9.99

Cupcake Black Forest Decadent Red 2013 — How could you not try this? Hedonistic. $10.99

Shatter Grenache Maury France 2012 — From Joel Gott and Dave Phinney. Shatters expectations. $16

Olema Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2013 — Made by Amici Cellars. ‘Nuff said. $22.50

Benziger Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2013 — Certified sustainable farming. Ripe cherries. $29

Willamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir 2013 — A first-class operation with in-house chef preparing daily pairings. Excellent balance. Delightful. $30

Benovia Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2013 — New wine for me. Big surprise from this great vintage. Bright fruit from a collection of heirloom clones. $38

Miner Stagecoach Merlot 2012 — A big, rich, 14.7 percent alcohol Merlot that has maintained balance, tender tannins and grip. Perfect with roasted duck. $40

Wayfarer Pinot Noir The Traveler 2012 — From Cleo Pahlmeyer, who might know something about wine from just osmosis! “…raspberry, violet and lilac mingle with delicate notes of forest floor, juniper berry and oolong tea.” Big-time Christmas present for your favorite Pinot Noir collector? $150


Chateau Ampelia, Castillon-Cotes de Bordeaux $16.99; Chateau Senejac Haut Medoc $23; Chateau Pontac Lynch Margaux $33; Clos Marselette Pessac Leognan $35; Chateau Phelan Segur $40; Clos de l’Oratoire St. Emilion $45; Chateau Croix St. Georges Pomerol $85; Chateau Leoville Barton St. Julien $100; Chateau Leoville Poyferre St. Julien $100; Chateau Pichon Lalande Pauillac $136.

Restaurant Kudos

Capital Grill, 5365 Westheimer

Among the amenities here is the striking décor, reminiscent of walking into the lobby of the Connaught in London. There is no happy hour, but the bar menu more than makes up for that. In addition to 6 ounce pours by-the-glass — some charge the same prices for 5 ounce pours, which makes my blood boil — I think about the lamb chops, which are perfectly cooked-to-order and easy on the wallet. And there are 30 wines on the wine list for $30 each!

Paulie’s, 1834 Westheimer

At a casual lunch, three of us ordered a small vegetable plate, a chicken parmigiana (which was accompanied by a side of spaghetti) and a sausage pizza — all excellent and priced right. After lunch, I took a box home with enough of each order to provide dinner for two. If you go for dinner, stop at Camerata next door and have a glass of wine selected by former opera singer and wine superstar, David Keck!

Denman is the Texas broker for Dr. Konstantin Frank wines, Finger Lakes, NY.


Denman Moody was the Editor and Publisher of Moody’s Wine Review for six years and Con­tributing Editor on Rare Wine for International Wine Review in New York for six years. He has published or had published over 400 articles on wine, including The International Wine and Food Society Journal in London, Revue du Vin de France in Paris and The Robb Report in Malibu. He is or has been a member of The Inter­national Wine and Food Society, Confrerie Saint-Etienne d’Alsace, The German Wine Society, Commanderie de Bordeaux, Chaine des Rotisseurs, Les Amis d’Escoffier and The Knights of the Vine.

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