It started in 2010 when my wife and I invited several top local wine professionals and collectors to a blind Champagne tasting at our home, calling the event a “Champagne Smack-Down.” Admission was a great bottle of Champagne.
There was well over 150 years of professional wine tasting experience in the room. We employed the 20 Point UC-Davis Scoring System, an industry standard for judging wine.
Being a cheap Greek, my contribution was the ringer, unbeknownst to everyone, a bottle 1/10 the price of some of the other entries! The outcome was nothing short of a mini bottle shock moment for all of us, as Virginia’s very own bubblicious 2007 Kluge (now, the Trump brand on sale here!) came in second place over some of the most acclaimed, most expensive, and highly rated Champagnes in the world!
The surprising results were published in Virginia Wine Lover magazine and prompted the creation of a new series by the publication, “Try This At Home.” See the astounding results and their estimated retail prices back in 2010 below.
1st Place: 2002 Gatinois $75 (I can order you the latest vintage of this Champagne, if you want!)
2nd Place: 2007 Kluge Blanc de Blanc $29 (Now available here for less, the2008 Trump Blanc de Blanc, made by the same French winemaker as the 2007 Kluge!)
3rd Place: 2002 Cristal Brut $299
The rest of the Smack Down entries…
2000 Dom Perignon $179
NV Nicholas Feuillatte Brut $60
1998 Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame $219
2000 Perrier Jouet Fleur $155
NV Armand de Brignac
Ace of Spades $339
NV Krug Brut $229
We have also hosted industry pinot noir, cabernet, and merlot blind tastings with surprising results as well. Most noteworthy, two under $20 Virginia wines (2005 Chester Gap Merlot and 1998 Rock-bridge Meritage) each finished 4th place in the merlot and cabernet tastings out of a dozen wines, ahead of several with big price tags.
What I’ve learned is one simple truth. Inexpensive wine can be every bit as interesting, complex, and pleasurable as the pricey stuff. Of course, finding these inexpensive gems is the trick. The good news is nowadays winemaking has become such a science that more fantastic wines can be made cheaper and with more consistency than ever. In other words, a $15 bottle of sauvignon blanc can be super-delicious in its own right and taste like a $15 bottle should taste this day and age—and that’s good! The bottom line at DB’s Wines To-Go is this. We’ve quaffed, slurped, swished, and, yes, spat a whole lot of wine to get down to the ones that make the cut and end up on our shelves. You don’t have to search out the gems. We already have and hope you agree.