Editor’s note: Southern Wine & Spirits territory manager Tony Goitia has been selling wine for 30 years, so it’s fitting that he would have his favorites—wines that he would recommend to the novice wine drinker as well as to his wine-geek friends. Both will descend in expected record numbers on UNLVino’s Grand Tasting on April 20 at Paris Las Vegas (UNLVino.com).
With more than 300 wines being poured at this year’s event there is definitely something for everyone. From bone-dry to super-sweet, and ranging in price from $5 up to $75 per bottle, no matter what your favorite style, you will find some treasures here—and hopefully, you’ll remember them the next day!
1. I like to start my tastings with Bubbles. But since I’m not dating her anymore, I now begin with Champagne. Real Champagne, which means it comes from the Champagne region of France, not some sparkling wine from Nebraska. Try the Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut. Pronounced “Perry-AYY zhoo-ETT,” (yes, you do pronounce the T!), the crisp acidity of this nonvintage Champagne will seduce your taste buds, begging you to have another sip. It’s Saturday night, and we’re drinking some PJ in the “Entertainment Capital of the World.” What could be better? And we’re just getting started. Find it: Booth 51. Buy it: $40, Lee’s Discount Liquor.
2. Mer Soleil Silver Chardonnay is not to be missed. This is an un-oaked chardonnay, so if you are a fan of chardonnay that tastes like buttered popcorn, this may not be for you. However, if you like to actually taste the grape, this is a big winner. Crisp, clean, aromatic, and it comes in a very cool ceramic bottle. This is from the Wagner family of Caymus Winery fame. Think about enjoying this wine with oysters, lobster, crab … or all of the above. Find it: Booth 61. Buy it: $25.50, Smith’s.
3. En Route “Les Pommiers” Pinot Noir was named for the apple orchards that once flourished in the Russian River Valley area. This 100 percent pinot noir is from the Far Niente folks—although produced at a separate winery and by a different winemaker—and is beautifully balanced, with loads of raspberry and plum flavors. It’s great alone, but big enough to pair with just about anything. Yum. (Technical term.) Find it: Booth 21. Buy it: $65, Marche Bacchus Wine Shop.
4. From Jayson Woodbridge—the guy who brings you Hundred Acre wines at a few hundred bucks a bottle—comes a new wine called If You See Kay. An Italian wine from Lazio, it is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, petite verdot and primitivo, and it lives up to the wineries’ motto: “Wide-open throttle or don’t bother doing it at all.” Big and delicious! Find it: Booth 15. Buy it: $21.50, Smith’s.
5. Located in the heart of Sonoma, B.R. Cohn Winery was founded in 1984 by Bruce Cohn, who is also the manager of the legendary rock band, the Doobie Brothers. His B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon is medium-bodied, full of black cherry flavors and it’s a great value, meaning you won’t have to sell one of your kids to be able to afford a bottle! Unless, of course, you want to … Try it: Booth 15. Buy it: $16, Total Wine & More.
6. Are you a fan of “monster cabernets”? This one is a mouthful! Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon from the Stags Leap District is one of those wines that makes you go, “Whoa!” Huge, full-bodied, rich—however you want to describe it, this cab rocks now but is also one for the cellar. In a few years, savor it with a bone-in rib eye. Good things come to those who wait! Find it: Booth 16. Buy it: $50, Total Wine & More.
7. I’m a big port fan, and Graham’s 20 Year Tawny is the Master Blender’s quest for excellence as well as one of my favorites. A great age for port, this 20-Year is wonderful by itself, with nuts, dried fruits, robust cheeses or, if you aren’t hungry, try it with a great cigar. By the way, this port should be slightly chilled when served. Also, it really lingers on the palate, so you might want to save this one for the end of your UNLVino Grand Tasting adventure. Find it: Booth 10. Buy it: $60, Lee’s Discount Liquors.