My Bucket List of Wines—Updated

By John ~ February 12th, 2010.

Last fall, I shared with you my “bucket list” of wines. As I said then, some of the wines on the list I already have, some are wines I’m hoping someone might give me as a gift, and some I’m hoping to be able to purchase if the slump in high-end wine prices continues. But in every case, the wine holds a special place in my mind as I visualize tasting it someday. And I promised that as I taste wines on the list, I would give you an update on whether or not the wine lived up to my high expectations and whether I believe you should put it on your bucket list of wines.

Since then I’ve had the opportunity to taste three of the wines on my bucket list, the 1996 Penfolds Grange, the 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 2006 Charles Smith “Royal City” Syrah. The Grange and the Quilceda Creek both more than met my expectations as you can see in the tasting notes below. However, while the Royal City Syrah was very good, it didn’t really “wow” me as I had expected. In fact, we found several other 2006 Washington Syrahs that we preferred.

1996 Penfolds Grange (South Australia, Australia): Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark, dense, almost opaque garnet in color. Gorgeous nose with blackberry, black cherry, sage, cinnamon, and caramel aromas. Blackberry liqueur, spice, and chocolate come through on the palate. Full-bodied and lively with high tannins and a very long finish. Big, bold, chewy, smooth, and extremely well balanced. Wow!
Quality: 5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where we purchased it: The Wine Center (Illinois), $175; Available elsewhere, $220 to $400

2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): Dark, dense purple. Very aromatic with black fruits, beef jerky, leather, bacon, fried okra, and a hint of asparagus on the nose. More black fruits, bacon, and earth come through on the palate. Full-bodied and smooth with high, drying tannins, and a very long finish. Well-balanced.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $125 [sold out]

2006 Charles Smith Wines “Royal City” Syrah Stoneridge Vineyard (Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep purple in color. Cinnamon and vegetal aromas lead to black fruit and spice flavors. Medium to full-bodied with medium tannins and a medium finish. Well-balanced.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 1 bang for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $80; Available elsewhere, $87 to $150

If you’ve tasted any of these three wines, please share your thoughts with me. And if you have some wines on your bucket list that you believe I should add to mine, please let me know.


Filed under: American Wine, Australian Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Five-Star Quality Wines, General Wine Information, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Mark | February 12th, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I’m totally infatuated with Charles Smith right now – no one near me in NJ carries Royal City. Planning on a trip to GaryV’s place next weekend!

    Bummed I can’t make Taste of WA this year either 🙁

    – Mark

  2. John | February 12th, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I doubt that you’ll find the Royal City anywhere. It’s been sold out for months.

  3. Greg | February 19th, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I’m kind of curious why the Royal City Syrah has such a low QPR relative to the QC Cab. You’ve noted in the past that you are comparing QC to other cult Cabs that cost hundreds per bottle, and thus $125 is a great QPR. I’d disagree that it’s the best QPR possible, but I understand your logic. Shouldn’t you thus be comparing the Royal City Syrah to other cult Syrahs given its recent press? I’m assuming that would be stuff like SQN, Alban and Guigal LaLa’s.

  4. John | February 23rd, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Greg, First comparing Cabs and Syrahs is like comparing apples and oranges. At our Qual rating level for Royal City Syrah, its QPR doesn’t come up that great. Remember, we’re comparing prices for all Syrahs that have the same Qual rating in order to determine QPR. Whether or not it’s considered a cult Syrah or not has no bearing on our QPR calculation.