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Wine Guide - Price guides for old wine, perfect for your wine selection. The Wine PocketList is a guide to top-rated wines, using our system to deliver solid, usable ratings. We've rated thousands of wines, with new wines added continually as they are released and judged.


This Absent-Minded Professor Solves a Wine Problem
Sandra Silfven,The Detroit News, July 2000

How would you expect a college professor to grade wines? Seems only natural to give the better ones A’s and B’s, which is what you will find in the unique...Wine PocketList.

....Vankat compiles the wines with the best numbers from 10 well-known wine magazines, puts them in a database along with his own evaluation and adjusts them for differences in how they are rated. He recognizes that just like grades in college, an A from one professor might not equal an A from another.

He then assigns the wines a grade of A or B, sometimes with pluses and minuses.

The Wine...PocketList only contains wines that cost $30 or less. To be in his lists, the $20 wines must be rated no lower than an 88 in the various publications; $21 to $30 wines must rate from 90 to 100. Also, to be included, a winery must produce at least 1,000 cases. That’s cool, because then you might be able to find these wines in stores and restaurants.

But remember, if a wine gets a B- and costs $20 or less, some noted critic rated it an 88 in the last 10 months. Makes you wonder how tough he is on students in his plant ecology course.

 “I could never remember the wine evaluations when I went to the store,” says VanKat, who also writes a biweekly wine column for the Cincinnati Enquirer and a column for Navigator in-flight magazine. “That’s what inspired me to produce this,” he says, admitting that his reason probably qualifies him as an absent-minded professor.

VanKat, 56, says some readers expect more than just lists, but that’s all he provides — nothing about aromas or body. This little publication only tells you the name, vintage, state (if it’s not California), individual evaluations, estimated price and a composite evaluation. Those individual evaluations may list as many as six grades, but not the sources, so you will never know what Robert Parker thought.

VanKat uses Connoisseur’s Guide to California Wine, International Wine Cellar, Underground Wine Journal, Wine Access (Canada), Wine Advocate (Robert Parker); Wine Enthusiast; the Wine News, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Wine X.

They are all credible sources, so if you are satisfied with his bare-bones lists, he can save you hundreds of dollars in subscriptions, and the time it takes to read them.

Three of the Quarterly PocketLists judge American wines, the other European. In the current issue, which looks at U.S. wines, here’s how the lists go:

Category Top Grade Example of Best Scorer
Top Bargains for $10 A- 1998 Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling
Top Wines for $15 A- 998 Ferrari-Carano Sonoma County Fume Blanc
Top Widely Available Whites A- 1998 Bonterra Chardonnay, Mendocino County
Top Widely Available Reds A- 1997 Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Merlot
Top Buy-by-the-Case Wines A 1998 Landmark Chardonnay, Overlook, Sonoma - Santa Barbara-Monterey Co.
Chardonnay A 1998 Burgess, Napa Valley
Gewürztraminer A 1998 Martinelli Dry Select, Martinelli Vineyard, Russian River Valley
Riesling A- 1998 Bonny Doon Dry, Pacific Rim
Sauvignon Blanc A 1998 Murphy-Goode Fume II, The Deuce, Alexander Valley
Other Whites A 1998 Arrowood Viognier, Arrowood Estate, Sonoma Valley
Cabernet Sauvignon A 1997 Villa Mt. Eden Grand Reserve, Napa Valley
Merlot A 1997 Pride Mountain, Napa Valley
Pinot Noir A 1998 Argyle, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Syrah/Shiraz A 1998 Meridian, Home Vineyard, Paso Robles
Zinfandel A 1997 Ravenswood, Belloni, Russian River Valley
Other reds A 1996 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Franc, Cold Creek Vineyard
Rosé B+ 1998 Zaca Mesa Z Gris, Santa Barbara County
Dessert A 1998 Columbia Crest Semillon Ice Wine Reserve, Columbia Valley
Sparkling A NV Roederer Brut Rose, Anderson Valley

For taking to the store or a restaurant, the Quarterly PocketList makes it easy to pick out a winner. The question is whether your personal taste runs along the same line as the experts’.

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"You, too, can play the game – and buy a decent bottle of wine without having to choose the pretty label….."
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"There is nowhere near enough good wine to go around. It is a lesson that I have never seen spelled out in a beginner's guide."