Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Selecting Wines for a Wedding

Posted by JonDerry, Mar 28, 2011.

I've just offered to help some friends select wines for their upcoming wedding, and thought i'd drop in to see if you all had any fresh suggestions.  The price range/bottle is $10-$20, and it will be for at least two types of red wine. 

Right off the bat, I'm pretty sure I can easily find a good Malbec blend from Argentina that fits the criteria.  Amalaya 2009 is what i'm thinking, any better suggestions for South American Malbec?

Have had some pretty good Chianti Classico's in the $18 range, so this is also a strong consideration.

If I have to throw a Cabernet in there, think it would probably have to be Waterstone.  If a Pinot is asked of me, i'd probably have to go Melville if i'm to be south of $20.00

Thanks in advance,

-Jon

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 29, 2011.

Update: They're requesting 1 sweet wine, and 1 dry white.  1 dry red, and another "not so dry" red.

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Reply by rolifingers, Mar 29, 2011.

For sweet wine you can go with Muscato, which is a white and also Riesling which can range from $7-$$$$. Hermann Wiemer has great Rieslings for $19.99.

For not so dry reds go for Beaujolais' and Zinfindals.

Trapiche is also a pretty cool Malbec from Argentina and sells for around $9.99.

For a dry red, maybe a Bordeaux 2005 vintage, you can get something from $8.99 - $$$$

Dry white you can go with Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay.

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Reply by rolifingers, Mar 29, 2011.

God speed to the bride and groom.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 29, 2011.

Waterstone is a done deal. Can't do better for an American cab at that price. You'll also gain more kudos than for a Chianti, pretty much guaranteed. Malbec, if fruitbomb enough, can be your 'sweet' red alternative.

If I cared about the couple and their guests, I'd go to the trouble of arranging German riesling for one of the whites. Better than any from North America. And a much more drinkable wine over the hours than a moscato. Full stop. Kabinett class is good, with some residual sweetness.

Dry whites remain. I'd go French, but obviously American options are possible. Please don't say NZ sauvignon blanc... ;-(

Where's the wedding?

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Mar 29, 2011.

I ditto Kabinett for the sweet white wine--reasonable prices, just a touch sweet, enough balanced acid that non-sweet drinkers like me like it.  Also can be found in lower alcohol, which is a plus at a wedding.  Good values can be found with shopping.  For a dry white, chenin blanc from South Africa can be a nice choice.  MAN has one that is very inexpensive.  You could get an off-dry from the Loire or a dry one from the Loire, but I think the dry chenins from SA are a deal, and you might not need as much guidance as you would with the Loire.  Domestically, I just had a Hanna SB that was very good. BevMo and Wine.com have it for under $16.

Much as I approve of chianti, I think that cab is a better choice because guests will be more familiar with it.  Since you have one you like, that's a really safe bet. Plus it's perceived as more formal and serious.

I have no opinion on the less dry red, but D's reco makes sense in the context of Eric Asimov's recent "only use two words--savoury and sweet-- to describe wine" idea.  I don't really embrace the idea, but I do think that a really fruit forward wine can have a strong perception of sweetness even if vinified dry. 

I would also consider buying 2-3 wines of each type (unless you are very certain, as with the Waterstone), and having your friends taste them to see if the wines are consistent with what they meant. 

Most guests don't say much about the wine at weddings, IMO, but when the wines are well-chosen, the compliments do come and are particularly gratifying.  Our wedding (10 years ago now!) had some wine professionals in attendance who provided the wine at winery cost, so our budget went quite far.  The feedback was positive, as many of our friends also like wine, but most of the feedback was in the context of the whole day--the setting, the ceremony, the band, and, oh yeah, the wine.  Blending into the whole affair is actually part of the skill.

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 29, 2011.

Appreciate the feedback guys, this is going to be for a backyard wedding, only about 30 guests, but i'm really looking forward to taste testing the wines with the bride and groom and serving them on their wedding day.

Any specific Kabinett's or vintages I should look for Dm?  I'm pretty sold on the German Riesling idea.

Fox, yeah I was thinking South African Sauv Blanc anyway, so i'll plan on picking one SA - Sauv Blanc and one Chenin Blanc for them to taste against, and maybe something from the Loire.  Also, good point on the Chianti, i'm going to throw that varietal out completely!

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 29, 2011.
Edited Mar 30, 2011

The SAfrican whites proposals are good ones. I'd vote chenin blanc first, SB second, but doing all that grungy tastetasting ahead of time will give everyone a clearer idea. Start with multiple options in each category. Hey, tough work, but somebody's gotta do it, right?

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Reply by Stephen Harvey, Mar 30, 2011.

Jon

If I was doing it for an Aussie Wedding I would go

Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay NV or Janz NV for around 15-20 at the discount stoes

Clare Riesling, probably Jim Barry, Mitchells or Crabtree at the 15-20 range

If I had too cater for SB drinkers probably get Wicks or Chain of Ponds, although Pernod/Jacobs Creek do a Three Vines which is Sem/Sav B/Viognier Blend.

Yalumba Scribbler which is a Cab Sav/Shiraz blend is a great value red for all occasions and around $18.

Grant Burge Moscato for the sweet tooths.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 30, 2011.

Yeah, don't know why I didn't have my thinking cap on but a sparkler is a no-brainer under the circumstances. Call it the dry white if you want. Plenty of California options, from Schramsberg and Gloria Ferrer and the transplanted French houses.

You can look at my suggestions around the $20 price point in this old-but-useful thread:

Good sparkling wines not from France, Italy or Spain

Of course there's more to be gleaned from reading all the way through its several pages...

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Reply by JonDerry, Mar 31, 2011.

I'll definitely have to ask them about the sparkling.

Sparkling aside, here's where my head is at...i'm obviously somewhat limited by the "major" wine shops here in southern california. Think I can get by on Hi Time Wine Cellars, Lincoln Fine Wines, and the Wine Exchange.

Taste Testing Ideas, for April 8th
 
Whites:
Neil Ellis – Sauv Blanc “Groenekloof” 2008 (South Africa) –$15.99 Southern Right – Sauv Blanc 2008 (South Africa) – $13.99
Laffourcade Savennieres Chenin Blanc 2008 (Loire) – $18.99
Monchhoff 2009 Estate Riesling (Germany) – $13.99
Piesporter Goldtroepfchen 2007 Kabinett Reuscher-Haart - $19.99
 
Reds:
Amalaya – Malbec Blend 2009 (Argentina) – $13.99
Grand Nicolet 2008 Rasteau Grenache (Rhone Villages) - $18.99
A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir (Oregon) - $15.99
Altovinum Evodia OV Grenache Calatayud 2009 (Spain) – $7.99 
Waterstone – Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Napa Valley) – $19.95 Bodegas Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 2005 (Spain) – $21.99

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 31, 2011.

Why don't you go mailorder from KL (and they do have an LA shop, too, I believe)?

Should be a pleasant tasting just with the above, though. Would be interesting to hear your overview of that drudge of an event (the pre-wedding tasting I mean).  ;-)

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 1, 2011.

Seriously, it's all about the pre-wedding tasting, think we might do it next Saturday.  So I can basically go about collecting the wines and modifying the list all of next week.

Good call about KL...though the drive over there could be daunting.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 1, 2011.

Getting lazy in my dotage, but I'd have them deliver... ;-)

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 10, 2011.

How'd the tasting/selecting go?

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 11, 2011.

Had a great time tasting and the bride and groom to be were super appreciative as they could tell there was quite a bit of preparation involved, and most importantly they left with some wines to serve at their wedding next weekend.

The dry white and red flights went pretty much as expected. Kind of regret not finding better competition for the Neil Ellis and the Waterstone, but at the same time it was gratifying to see the "favorites" come through.  I had tried the 08' Neil Ellis last year and it became an instant favorite of mine. The 09' gives me hope that this can be a consistent import for years to come. It's a good clean balance of acidity, soil, and sugar (fruit) with a nice medium finish.

The Waterstone definitely lived up to the hype. Hard to ask any more from a $20 Cabernet, especially when it outperforms most CA Cabernet's in the $20-50 range.  It's actually holding up pretty well here on the 2nd day.  Leans toward the old world in style, not over-oaked, with good tasting fruit, and finishes well.

The 1st flight of reds was probably the most interesting and surprising.  What made this a great flight was that all wines were the same exact price and while my wife and I arranged for this to be a blind tasting for our guests, this was the only flight where I was tasting blind.  Here I was expecting the beaujolais first and instead it was the old vine Garnacha, which ended up being the WOTN. We nicknamed the wine "Cinnamon Call Girl", for it's cinnamon, spice, and smokiness.  Compared to the whites, this was hedonistic.  The Malbec tasted like a nice chianti, nothing very special, and while the beaujolais was also enjoyable, it just couldn't match the Garnacha's flair.

We had the sweet whites after breaking for dinner at a thai restaurant, and heading over to the wine shop to pick up the Neil Ellis and Garnacha.  The couple actually went with a case of the Garnacha!  The owner of the shop couldn't believe it as he saw me there the day before and didn't give me the time of day.  Anyway, after getting back we all found the Piesporter to be marginally better than Monchloff, but i'm not sure any of us were big Riesling fans or knew much about it, so this wound up being a bit of an indifferent experience as we grew in drunkeness and moved our focus to the television. 

 

Dry Whites:

Yellow + Blue Torrontes 2009 (Cafayate/ Argentina) - $9.99/ Liter
Pine Ridge - 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier 2009 (California) - $9.99

Neil Ellis – Sauv Blanc “Groenekloof” 2009 (South Africa) - $15.99

 

Fruit Driven Reds:

Amalaya – Malbec Blend 2009 (Argentina) – $13.99

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages 2009 – $13.99 

Atteca Old Vines Garnacha Calatayud 2008 – (Spain)  $13.99


Dry Reds: Luberri "Biga" Tempranillo 2006 (Rioja/Spain) - $16.99

Waterstone – Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Napa Valley) – $19.95 

 

Sweet Whites - German Riesling:

Monchhoff 2009 Estate Riesling – $13.99

Piesporter Goldtroepfchen 2007 Kabinett Reuscher-Haart  - $19.99


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Reply by dmcker, Apr 11, 2011.

Good reporting.

So how many bottles of each were picked up for the wedding?

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 11, 2011.

Case of the Garnacha, but i'm assuming they'll keep half of that at least for themselves.  (5) bottles of the Neil Ellis, and i'm assuming they'll want me to pick up (5) of the Waterstone at least.  Will have to ask about the sweet whites, no idea where we stand on that.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 11, 2011.

Still not clear why they're avoiding the champers...

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Reply by JonDerry, Apr 11, 2011.

Champagne?  They already got a bunch of Cava independent of me.

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Reply by dmcker, Apr 11, 2011.

Well that makes things clearer. How many people does the final list look like being for that number of bottles?


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