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stirring the lees with james molesworth

Looking For The Tiger Woods of Wine...

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Aug 28, 2006 4:08pm ET

With his win this past weekend, Tiger Woods continued his amazing run - four straight. He did it in the pouring rain, too.

(On a side note, I advanced out of the qualifying round in my club championship, playing in the pouring rain on Sunday as well).

Four wins in a row - that's consistent. Especially in golf, where the fickle nature of the game's bounces ensures a wide variance in one person's scores from round to round. No matter what, though - bad weather, tough course, bad bounces, or not even being at 100 percent - Tiger is always there at the end.

Which got me thinking about the most consistent wine in the game. Weather plays cruel tricks on winemakers all the time. There's also more competition than ever, and more talented young winemakers starting their own projects. It's just like the PGA Tour that way. Yet through it all, there are consistent wineries that keep up with the times. They keep making great wine that you never get tired of drinking,

For me, one that comes to mind is Etude - with a Cabernet and Pinot Noir portfolio (not your typical combo either) that hasn't had a clunker since I started buying it in the early '90s. For whites, I'd have to nominate Joh. Jos. Prüm - a winery that has been so consistently good for so long, you have to wonder if it's on steroids.

There are others of course. Who garners your votes? Who do you think does the job year in and year out?

Hoyt Hill Jr
Nashville, TN —  August 28, 2006 6:00pm ET
Reds - Lalou Bize-Leroy. Her commitment to quality, illustrated by declassifying all of the 2004 premier crus and grand crus, is unparalelled.Whites - Chateau d'Yquem. While there is debate regarding the premier estate in almost any wine region in the world, Yquem is unquestionably THE great estate in Sauternes.Champagne - Krug. No challengers.Isn't it interesting that they are all French!
John Wilen
Texas —  August 28, 2006 6:10pm ET
Lewis Cellars, without hesitation. Chardonnays, cabernet, merlot, syrah, blends.......
Michael Mock
West Des Moines, IA —  August 28, 2006 6:11pm ET
For me, Rosenblum is an elite producer that never misses the cut. I'll put it this way, Rosenblum is the only mailing list I'm on.

Oh yeah, for consistent quality across a wide range of price points, Penfold's is a perennial contender.
Totv
La Quinta, CA —  August 28, 2006 7:34pm ET
Cabernet-Harlan Estate. Pinot Noir-DRC. Chardonnay-Marcassin. Shiraz-Penfold's. Merlot-Paloma. Zinfandel-Rosenblum. Those are my Tiger, Jack, and Arnold all rolled into one! Dustin
Michael Digiovanni
Huntington beach —  August 28, 2006 8:36pm ET
How about the best and also the most consistant Cab producer in Ca, maybe the world. Harlan!!! Rolland/ Levy have 3 100pointers, and never less than world class...
Scott Mcintyre
August 28, 2006 9:15pm ET
James: I'm pleasantly surprised by your choice of Etude. Very underrated wines, and great whites too (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc). I'd also have to say DuMol has been unbelievably consistent over the past five years with their pinots and chards, although they don't make a cab -- so can they compete?
Scott Gerdes
Nashville, TN —  August 28, 2006 10:15pm ET
Cabernet - Caymus (Special Selection and regular), a wine that was my first ethereal experience to this world as a young wine lover. For value, although it might not demand as much respect as some of the old world producers, can you beat the Marques de Case line from Concha y Toro? The merlot, cab, syrah, and chardonnay have all been in the 90+ point range the last several years, not to mention the Don Melchor.
Bert Pinheiro
Baltimore Maryland —  August 28, 2006 10:28pm ET
How about Two Hands with there wonderful Bella's Garden or Casanova di Neri and theirbrunello,
James Mccusker
Okemos, MI —  August 28, 2006 11:20pm ET
Paul Hobbs gets my vote. From his Chardonnays through his line of Pinots and, of course, his awesome cabernets, Hobbs makes some of the most consistently outstanding wines year after year.
Neil Wiesenberg
New York, NY —  August 28, 2006 11:40pm ET
Dear James, I had recently 1994 Etude and bottle after bottle it drunk smoother, richer and tasted delicious. I have enjoyed other vintages from Etude too, but 1994 as my wife would describe was orgasmic. Soldera also produces outstanding wines.JJPrum is a great wine and a great buy - other great white is Leon Beyer 1998 Gewurtztraminer SGN simply spectacular!
Steve Lenzo
PHX, AZ —  August 29, 2006 12:34am ET
I'd have to say that Shafer is got to be on the list. Harlan, Screaming Eagle and a like can be there but who ever gets the chance to drink them. If having a wide variey of wines counts I'd consider Peter Michael or Marcassin as someone else pointed out. But one must turn to Latour or Margaux if longevity counts. Good question James, it stirs a lot of thoughts.
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  August 29, 2006 8:21am ET
In the line of Joh Jos Prum, I always nominate selbach oster. Damn consistent so far.
David A Zajac
August 29, 2006 8:28am ET
Interesting question is right, I read peoples responses and am somewhat surprised to see so many wineries that do nothing but $100+ bottles listed. As for Leroy, I must admit I have had nothing but bad experiences with their wines...it seems at least every other bottle I have had is either corked, cooked or defective in some way - I have dropped them off my purchase list. How about Zind Humbrecht? They make unbelievable wines for $20 - $75 and all are outstanding, unfortunately no reds, but their whites are across the board guarantees of excellence.
Paul M Hummel
Chicago, —  August 29, 2006 8:44am ET
The reason the winner would be a bordeaux is because of the length of the track record. No one has been better for longer at a reasonable price than Chateau Lynch-Bages, which I have going back to 1961 and have drunk older wines.At a higher price, it is Latour, hands down, from the 1800's until today.For California, Diamond Creek and Ridge have been consistently great since the "70s and Ridge has done it with their zins as well as their Monte Bello Cabernet.
D Fredman
Malibu, CA —  August 29, 2006 10:55am ET
At the top of my list of perennially excellent producers would be JL Chave, Thierry Allemand, and Raveneau. All excel in difficult vintages and rise above their peers in the great years. I'd put Muscadet producer Marc Ollivier into this category (and at a much lower price than the above), and I've been very enamored of the white wines made at Movia over the past 5-6 vintages. Donnhoff should be mentioned alongside JJ Prum and Selbach Oster when great German wines are discussed, and when it comes to Italian producers, Paolo Bea has been on quite a roll for the past decade.
Jeffrey Ghi
New York —  August 29, 2006 10:56am ET
David Zajac: The Zind is definitely up there with the likes of Kracher!!! but the selbach oster is only 12-20$ and you'll definitely get your money's worth =)
Mark Owens
Cincinnati, Oh. —  August 29, 2006 12:38pm ET
Great question. I agree with Etude, Lewis and Lynch-Bages but what about the last ten years of Staglin? I think that they have showed consistency in a great Cabernet. At the top of my list would have to be Harlan. Isn't it amazing when talent and passion meet up with the best resources and the results? Greatness is a fleeting goal for most, but thankfully, not for all.Mark, Cincinnati, OH.
David A Zajac
August 29, 2006 12:48pm ET
Jeffrey, no argument with Selbach Oster, have some in my cellar and they are always outstanding too - good choice!
Rob Dobson
Regina, Sask. —  August 29, 2006 12:50pm ET
Don't know who the Tiger Woods of wine is. But have noticed that Molesworth looks a lot like Phil Mickelson! Good luck in the club championship James...
James Molesworth
August 29, 2006 1:07pm ET
Rob: 1. I definitely do NOT have Phil's short game!

2. I am trying NOT to have Phil's physique!

;-)
Alan Vinci
springfield, n.j. —  August 29, 2006 1:19pm ET
In the short term "Tiger Wood's" wines I would have to say that the "cult" cabs have to be up there. Like Tiger Woods in his career being short so far but oh so sweet and consistent, all the cult cabs have done it so well in their short careers. in the long term careers I would give it to the first growths latour, haut brion etc... Yquem has been very consistent, and marcassin and kistler.I know there are many more, these just came to mind first.
Joshua Masur
Redwood City, CA —  August 29, 2006 3:44pm ET
Across varietals, vintages, and price points, it's hard to find anything less than delightful from Chappellet.
James Molesworth
August 29, 2006 3:51pm ET
Josh: That's a bold call. Although some might consider Chappellet the Fred Funk of wine (very consistent, but much shorter off the tee than Tiger), I like that you didn't mail it in with a Harlan or Chave pick ;-)...
Peter Czyryca
August 29, 2006 5:01pm ET
I really enjoy Saintsbury's wines (esp the Brown Ranch chards and pinots), Etude and for the money, Clos du Val.
Steven Roberto
Wakefield —  August 29, 2006 5:02pm ET
Lewis would be my choice. Just had a chardonay and a cab in the last month and everyone was happy. Patz & Hall is also pretty good with Chards and pinots.
Mark Mccullough
GA —  August 29, 2006 5:36pm ET
If you are talking about a Tiger Woods comparison, it's not consistency, it's being consistently the BEST. You have to go with Harlan, Latour, Margaux, Yquem, Quinta do Noval, Roberto Voerzio, Gaja. Some of the choices mentioned in posts are Davis Love III comparisons, not Tiger Woods, ie. usually top 10, never the best. You may call those obvious choices mailing it in James but your own (WS) ratings over the past decade would agree. :)
Patrick Birch
Redondo Beach, CA —  August 29, 2006 6:30pm ET
Paul Draper of Ridge is the Arnold Palmer of wine, Richard Arrowood of Arrowood would be Jack and Helen Turley has to be Tiger. However, none of them will come work for me when I buy my run down winery in the Sierra foothills. Maybe Paul would come visit to see if I had any old vine zin worth checking out.
Totv
La Quinta, CA —  August 29, 2006 7:08pm ET
Yeah James, you said Tiger, not Sergio or Ernie or Duval. That's why you keep seeing HARLAN! Call a spade a spade. You asked for the best. Harlan is one of the top 1 or 2 in Ca. cabernet. There's a reason why they are the best, and there's a reason why Tiger is the best. Hard work, passion, and dedication. While a lot of Ca. cabernet's don't merit their price tag, Harlan does. I'm sure you would agree. Dustin
Scott Gerdes
Nashville, TN —  August 29, 2006 7:30pm ET
If we were truly naming a "tiger woods of wine" wouldn't it be a relatively new superstar, rather than an estate with much history and longevity? Say Latour and Margaux are Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods would be Screaming Eagle.
Mark Lewis
Napa —  August 29, 2006 9:42pm ET
Cabernet- Heitz Cellar Great consistency year after yearZinfandel- Elyse Winery Wonderfully crafted winesChardonnay- SaintsburyPinot Noir- Ceja
Joshua Masur
Redwood City, CA —  August 29, 2006 11:33pm ET
Thanks, James. I went against the "obvious" choices because, for one thing, they're too rich for my blood. But for another, I interpreted your request as calling for more than being the best in a single event/varietal, but also for what might be called bench depth.

High-end cab, check (or high-end for me, anyway -- my cellar tops out with birthday bottlings of Monte Bello for each of my kids, some Rubicon, some Profile, and yes, some Chappellet Pritchard Hill). I guess it comes up short against Harlan, Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Bond, and the like, but I wouldn't know.

But Chappellet's chenin blanc kicks those four's butts... at chenin blanc, anyway.
James Peterson
San Antonio, Texas —  September 9, 2006 3:34am ET
James, you know I will support you 100% on the J.J. Prum pick (based on my previous raves and the fact that I know Manfred and his family). I have more Prum in my cellar than any other white (and I think any other wine). When it comes to reds, though, I have such a scattered collection that none can really live up to a Tiger Woods moniker. Just remember that Tiger is good at everything, so a single-focused estate really doesn't meet the criteria.

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