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The Million Dollar Label

Posted: Aug 30, 2006 3:23am ET

I drank a bottle last night in Mykonos of what is supposed to be one of Greece’s greatest wines, the 2003 Alpha Estate Alpha One. The wine was good but slightly too jammy and disjointed to be very serious in quality. I would put it at 84 points. My friends didn’t like it at all.

At least the back label was helpful. Check it out:

Alpha One is a highly selective bottling of the best wine produced on the 39 ha Alpha Estate and is released only if it achieves excellence. In 2003 the wine came from a vineyard whose greek name means “The Tortoise Nest” and which is planted with Montepulciano and Tannat. 4,796 bottles of the wine were produced and released in January 2006 after 10 months in cask and 16 months in bottle. It can be aged for more than fifteen years. Alpha One 2003 has deep colour, an intense concentration of complex flavours and a superb length.

It could have done without the tasting note, but nobody is perfect. The label also showed the amount of Tannat and Montepulciano – 60 percent Tannat and 40 percent Montepulciano.

Just to let you know, I served this wine against a bottle of 2003 Ducru-Beaucalliou and a bottle of 2003 Cos-d’Estournel. My wine collector buddy said that he would “give me $1 million” if he couldn’t tell the difference between the Greek wine and the Bordeaux. He took one whiff of the glasses in almost complete darkness at the dinner table and got it right. So much for my million bucks!

The 2003 Bordeaux were showing wonderfully, with loads of fruit, velvety tannins and long finishes. These two wines show why I like the vintage so much. And the Ducru and Cos are two of the best wines from that year.

David A Zajac
August 30, 2006 3:07pm ET
Anybody that is seriously into wine should have been able to do what your friend did, lights or no lights! I have the 2003 Cos and Ducru, and although I haven't had them, I am familiar enough with their wines that if I couldn't tell the difference between those and some Greek wine, I would just give up drinking wine or simply switch to Two Buck Chuck as my wine of choice! For whatever its worth, I have had enough Greek wine to know it does not yet compete on the world stage, lets leave it at that.
William Newell
Buffalo, NY —  August 30, 2006 4:22pm ET
Recently, we were at a family dinner at an Italian restaurant. My nephew was drinking a red wine and asked me to try it to see what I thought. I took a sip and said: "Pretty good; it's a Barbera d'Asti". I was right, but unfortunately there was no bet involved.
Guus Hateboer
Netherlands —  August 30, 2006 4:30pm ET
James, now for something different: would you see, smell and/or taste the difference between the Cos and the Ducru? That would be something else, and worth a bet. By the way, did you guys carry all those bottles to Mykonos or is the island indeed so well provided with wine shops and restaurants with ok wine lists (besides the good or bad food)?
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  August 31, 2006 4:41am ET
Sometimes I find that friends and family think that just because I own a lot of nice wine that I'm some James Suckling professional wine tasting guy....I try to avoid all efforts to predict or identify wine by taste and smell lest I make myself look more stupid than necessary. Although I would like to think I could identify the aroma of a nice Bordeaux. Practice makes perfect!
James Suckling
 —  August 31, 2006 6:52am ET
Gus. Bought the Ducru and Cos in Mykonos at Cellier wine shop.

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