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Wine & Spirits; MATTERS OF TASTE; When the second best is even better; A website finds bargains by comparing critics' scores with a wine's retail cost. The results can be surprising.
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Ratings & rankings; Internet; Wines
Author: Shaw, David
Date: Dec 8, 2004
Start Page: F.8
Section: Food; Part F; Features Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

So, according to [Neil Monnens], the best value among the 2000 Bordeaux is Clos du Marquis, the second wine from Leoville-las-Cases. The average critics' score for the wine was 93; the average price of all 2000 Bordeaux with a 93-point rating is $115. So Clos du Marquis, at an average retail price of $43 -- 38% of that average -- is what Monnens calls a "great value."

Although Monnens' ratings for the 2000/2001 Bordeaux are available without charge, subsequent ratings are available only to subscribers, beginning with issue No. 2, which contains his value ratings of 2001 and 2002 Pinot Noirs from the West Coast. Among the more than 350 Pinots he ranked, he found 15 "great values," his description of wines that sell for less than 50% of the average price for wines with the same scores.

In fact, of the four groups of wines he's examined so far -- 2000/ 2001 Bordeaux, 2001/2002 Pinots, 2001/2002 California and Washington Chardonnay and vintage/nonvintage Champagne -- he found the most "great values" among the Pinots. When I looked through all his findings so far to come up with his 12 best values overall, seven were Pinots. The single best value of all the wines he's rated, the only one listed as an "outstanding value," is the '02 Sebastiani Sonoma Coast Pinot, a 90-point wine selling for $11.

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