The $10,000 Cellar, Part One

Tipping the scales with $100 wines



There are just a few super Tuscan’s based exclusively on Sangiovese, and fewer still that try only to express Sangiovese. By that I mean with a particularly light wine making style. Le Pergole Torte is one of those wines. Perfumed, red-fruited, bright, succulent and yet layered with notes of earth and herbs; it’s like being assaulted by fairies pelting you with fruit and elfin magic!

While not the first producer to leave the DOC system in pursuit of better wines, Sergio Manetti was one of the most decisive; breaking cleanly with tradition to produce wines based solely on the best varieties. The true best was Sangiovese in purezza. These are such lovely wines that I am saddened to see them rise in price, if for no pther reason than that second thought I have when pulling corks today.

Le Pergole Torte $85

Tip: Montevertine’s Pian del Ciampolo is a classic Chianti blend made from young vines which are getting less young each year. Hint, hint.

San Giusto a Rentennano

If you’ve followed my recent tastings, one in particular where Percarlo vastly underperformed, you’re probably asking yourself what the hell this is doing here. Percarlo, even when embarrassed by bad showings in vintages like the wildly over-rated 1997, still has the potential to be a great bottle of Sangiovese.

The wines through the 1980s and up to 1996 were all well crafted, if notably more modern with each passing vintage. 1997 and 1998 were aberrations, though 1999 saw a return to sorts. It may very well be too early to tell if more recent wines which seem to be full of potential have the balance and raw material to evolve like their older brethren, but my gut tells me they do. There are painfully few obviously modern wines that make me want to keep trying them. Percarlo remains one of them.

Tip: San Giusto a Rentennano makes a great Chianti Classico Riserva. It’s made in small quantities so it can be a challenge to find, but it is worth the effort!

Percarlo $85


Ah, the northern Rhône Valley, home to the world’s greatest Syrahs. Unlike many other regions, Syrah’s promise here is built on elegance as opposed to power. I’ve always loved northern Rhône Syrah and while I continue to buy them with some regularity, it is a small region with relatively few producers.

Once upon a time, Hermitage was the object of my desire. To a certain extent, I’ve broadened my horizons to include more wines from the Côte-rôtie as well as Cornas. Two reasons for this are simple: pricing for Hermitage has become pretty daunting recently and the style of many of the wines has changed.

If you’re looking for affordable elegance, it is time to move on!

Photo courtesy Megan Mallen via Flickr/CC

Allemand Cornas

While Cornas may strike some as an odd place to look for elegance, Chez Allemand is not. These are, to my mind, the most compelling Syrahs made in the world today. Beautifully pure and fragrant with remarkable balance, they are wines that are almost impossible to keep one’s hands off of, if it wasn’t for the price.

Allemand Cornas $85

Photo courtesy

Jasmin Côte-rôtie

Côte-rôtie is well known for a more elegant, perfumed style of Syrah. It is here that the style of Sryah which is fermented with a bit of Viognier was first born. Jasmin continues this practice, relying on vineyards that include 5% Viognier in addition to their 95% Syrah.

Jasmin Côte-rôtie $70

Photo courtesy via Flickr/CC

Ogier Côte-rôtie

Ogier is a relative newcomer to the wine making business having previously sold their grapes to some of the big négociants of the region. The style of their wine, 100% Syrah if memory serves correctly, has bulked up over the years but remains a lovely example of Syrah at its best.

Ogier Côte-rôtie $75

Want to Learn More?

Be sure and check out all recommendations for lower price point wines to add to your cellar!

The $2,500 Cellar Part I
The $2,500 Cellar Part II
The $2,500 Cellar Part III
The $5,000 Cellar Part I
The $5,000 Cellar Part II


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  • Snooth User: JonDerry
    Hand of Snooth
    680446 3,110

    Been waiting for the $100 and under Barolo rec's, also good to see some sub-$100 Northern Rhone suggestions...looking forward to installment II

    Apr 05, 2012 at 1:34 AM

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