Growing up, my mom always had a list for me that required a bucket. Wash the kitchen floor, pick up the apples in the back yard and clean the downstairs bathroom. Now that I have been out of the house for some time, and have no kids, I have a bucket list of my own. Happily, it doesn’t require me to be on my hands and knees with a bottle of Pine Sol.
On my bucket list are seven wines that I would like to try before I kick the bucket. Some people have a list of places to see before they die. I have wines that I would love to try.
This little side job writing about wine, and a few good friends, has kept my glass filled with some mighty fine wine over the years. I am very blessed and fortunate. However, there are a few wines I would love to taste, just to see what all the commotion is all about.
First on my list would be a bottle of the 2054 Mila Family Vineyards cabernet. My thinking is that in 2058 when the wine is released, I will be 94 years old. Hey, if you are going to make a wish, reach for the stars.
Angelo Gaja is one of Italy’s legendary winemakers. I have enjoyed several bottles of his $53 Sito Moresco and $50 Ca'Marcanda Promis. Both are amazing wines. Gaja is the king of Italy’s Barbaresco region and its noble Nebbiolo grape. No. 2 on my list would be to taste one of his single vineyard Barbaresco wines. A quick online search revealed that his Gaja Sori Tildin Barbaresco was fetching a mere $576.
A few years ago, I made it to the front door of the Gaja Estate in Barbaresco. You have to know someone who knows someone to get in for the $300 Euro tasting, which is about $350 US dollars. Needless to say, Gaja is still on my list.
Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is considered to be one of the world's greatest wine producers. Located in France’s Burgundy region, their famed Romanee-Conti vineyard wine commands an average price of $23,135 per 750ml bottle, according to Wine-Searcher.com. Since Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are not close wine drinking pals, I have not had the pleasure of tasting this Burgundian beauty.
I did purchase a bottle of this wine at a WVIZ auction back in the late 1990s for $900. I traded it to my friend Sal for $900, and three lesser bucket list bottles of wine; Leonetti cabernet (which was to die for, by the way), 2005 Ceretto Barolo, and a bottle of the Martinelli Jackass Vineyard zinfandel. Also included in the deal was two slices of pizza, and a third round draft pick. Why am I feeling like the guy who traded away Tom Brady’s record breaking 600th touchdown ball?
Chateau Margaux is one of five First Growth estates in France’s prized Bordeaux region. I have been privileged to taste their second label Pavillon Rouge on several occasions. It's a spectacular wine. “How much better can a bottle of the first growth be?" The question has kept my mind in a tizzy for years. Then there’s the $639 average price tag too. And good luck finding a bottle at that price.
Give me a bottle of Bonfadini Franciacorta any day of the week and I will feel like a king. Francesca Bonfadini is my favorite sparkling wine producer. The security cameras at DeVItis Italian Market have recorded me purchasing her $29.99 Brut on many occasions. But who wouldn’t want to try a $200 bottle of Dom Perignon or a $300 bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne?
Sure, there are other bottles. But who has this kind of jack? But if you are offering to buy, then put me down for a $5,000 bottle of Screaming Eagle cabernet. McArthur Beverage in Washington D.C. has two bottles on hand of the 2001 vintage. That’s the store where a lot of U.S. presidents have been known to pick up a wine for their collection. To be fair, I had a chance to taste Screaming Eagle a few years back in Yountville, California, on my birthday. The Oakville grocery had a bottle in their Enomatic machine. This was pretty cool because I had the chance to pay $120 for an ounce pour, which amounts to a six teaspoon tasting. Hardly enough to swirl in the glass.
I combed the Akron-area restaurant scene and asked a few heavy-hitting enophiles what wines they had on their bucket list. Here’s what they had to say.
David Sheffer, head distiller at Towpath Distillery in Akron and former assistant winemaker at Pahlmeyer
The vintage after WWII was supposedly phenomenal in France. This godsend vintage came in 1945. What would this 1945 vintage taste like? My dream would be to go back in a time machine and taste them (all the First Growth Bodeaux’s) five, 10 or 15 years after they were released. What would a 1945 Romanee Conti taste like? I drove by Romanee Conti but didn’t have the opportunity to go in. Obviously, they are very exclusive. They control their inventory and who comes in.
I would like to try the Guigal La Las ( La Mouline, La Turque, and La Landone), Chateau d'Yquem and some of the 1982 First Growth Bordeaux’s. There’s also some really small production stuff like Le Pin.
Anthony Piscazzi, owner of The Merchant Tavern in Akron
I’ve had a lot of great wines. The Merchant was my Uncle John. He would open (Bordeaux) first growth’s at Sunday dinner. I was too young to appreciate that until I got into my early 20s before he passed away. I was fortunate. He opened a magnum of Petrus at his birthday and it was gone like it was a $5 bottle of wine. But he had all the stuff in his basement. So it was really cool to get that exposure.
I have always wanted to try Penfolds Grange. Back in the 90’s and the 2000’s, it was considered one of the world's best wines. I still haven’t had Harlan (Estate) and I still want to try Saxuum and Chateau d’Yquem.
Maureen “Moe” Schneider, owner and chef at Moe's Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls
The only thing I think I would have on my bucket list is Chateau Margaux. When it comes to reds, Chateau Margaux is the one that has always alluded me. I wound up in a room with some pretty good wines over the years. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I would go out of my way to drink a $780 Margaux. There are some French chardonnays that I just don’t stumble over. Any Chassagne Montrachet.
Lauren Carpeta, owner of 750ml Wines in Akron
I am very passionate about Champagne. Ruinart Rose baby! Ruinart was the wine that hit me. I think wines taste better based on your experience. The first time I had Ruinart Rose was at a trade tasting. Later, I had it in the cave in Champagne (France) and it tasted even better. Whenever I have a sip, I think about my time in Champagne.
I’m dying to have Lakoya chardonnay. Of course, I’d like to have a (Chateau) Latour.
Raphael Vaccaro, chef and owner of Vaccaro's Trattoria in Akron
I’ve had Ornellia and Tiganello, but I have not had Sassicaia or Messeto. But I have a bottle in my cellar from 2000. I bought three bottles for a customer and didn’t know how expensive it was. Very expensive. He only wanted one bottle, so I had two and meant to send them back and I didn’t. I was afraid my dad would find out and go, "Oh my God what are you doing buying these expensive wines?" I got to tell you, they are legendary wines. Very rich. I don’t know what is going on with the soil over there.
Susan Mozingo, owner of Regency Wine Cellars in Fairlawn
I’ve had so many great wines but they change vintages all the time too. I think what I would like to do more so than have bucket list wines is be able to have some expanded multiple vintages side by side. Like maybe the best vintages in Bordeaux over the past 20 years. Because you had 2000, 2001, and 2009 and 2010. Then you had ’15 and ’16. And I think it would be really interesting to try those celebrated vintages and see how they compare and how they have aged over the years too. I would pick any of the First Growths. I don’t know if I would favor one over the other. I would like to do Petrus. I think that would be a bucket list wine for me. I had it once, but again that would be one I would like to try in multiple vintages. That probably would be my interest of the most celebrated years in Bordeaux.
I have a 1996 Latour that I will probably open for Christmas.
Brittany Wiley, co-owner of Magna Wine Boutique in Cuyahoga Falls
I want to try one of the oldest wines in the world. I want to try a wine that is over 100 years old. Before I die, I want to try one of those wines that they find in a cave that no one has ever tried before. I’d also like to try all of the different kinds of House of Ruinart Champagne. That Champagne house dates back to the 1700s and has a rich history. I believe that it may be the oldest Champagne house in the world.
Chris Studer, wine steward at Acme Fresh Market on State Road in Cuyahoga Falls
I would do all the top burgundies Romani Conti, La Tashe, Richebourg,Echezeaux, Grand Echezeaux. I’ve had them a long time ago and they are wonderful — some of the most memorable wines in my life. The ’71 LaTache was great. I’d like to be able to revisit them, but they are hard to find and a little bit out of the budget now. I’d be afraid to even price them. I had the Screaming Eagle with Joe Piscazzi.
Ken Stewart, owner of Ken Stewart's Grille, Ken Stewart's Lodge and Ken Stewart's Tre Belle
I never thought of it as a bucket list. I have been around for a while and I’ve had the opportunity and a privilege to try a lot of the best wine in the world. DRC’s — you know the Domain Romani Conti’s. I‘ve had the Richebourg, I’ve had the Echezeaux, and the Grand Echezeaux, I’ve had that entire spectrum of DRC wines. The only one I haven’t had is Le Montrachet. It's ranked as one of the best wines in the world and also one of the priciest. It’s a really sought-after wine. It’s supposed to be spectacular. The average price on Winesearcher.com was $9,467. Then there’s the ($14,689 average price on winesearcher.com) Domain LeFlaive. These white burgundies are just exquisite.
Jeff Bruno, co-owner Papa Joe’s in Akron
I’m a World War II buff. I have always loved WWII. My wife (Lisa) has an affection for Bordeaux. The Victory label in 1945 was the first label that they started the artist series for Chateau Mouton Rothschild. I would like to do the ’45 Mouton Victory Label, and the ’47 Lafite Rothschild and then the ’61 Mouton. We had a ’61 Mouton in the store and we sold it. I’d like to try the “61 because I was born in 1962. Nineteen sixty one was one of the best vintages in this century. The ’61 is drinking good until 2050, according to Robert Parker. I would love to try it at a restaurant in Paris with my wife.