I recently joined the throng of people looking to buy Hamilton tickets for my parents and in-laws as the hype around this show has piqued their interest. I was surprised to see the prices -anything on the floor with a clear view of the stage is $597! Obstructed view ground floor tickets can be purchased for $212. $75 will get you into the last row in the rafters but that’s not going to work for anyone over age 50.
While I love musicals (and my parents and in-laws), I’m not a big enough fan to pay that much for tickets. Instead my thoughts turned to what interesting wines I could buy for $600.
Starting on the high end, I could get a bottle of 1985 Château Mouton Rothschild. This is a Premier Cru Classé (meaning top growth) from Pauillac in Bordeaux. 1985 is a well-regarded year but imperfect weather conditions yielded less robust wines. As a result, this Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot) is ready to drink now and offers a chance to try a world- renowned wine that is usually much pricier.
Moving downward price-wise, you could purchase 6 bottles of 1989 Château Climens from Barsac in southwest Bordeaux, France. This is one of my favorite sweet wines and also from a heralded sweet wine vintage. Rich in complexity, with apricot, marmalade, and honey notes, this wine’s laser-focused acidity perfectly balances luscious sweetness from the concentrated Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes used to make this beauty.
Another sweet wine option is 6 bottles of 2011 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port, another of my favorites. 2011 is one of the best Port vintages in recent times and this wine will age another 30 years making it a good investment as well. Made from Portugal’s indigenous grapes Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa, as well as several others, this hedonistic wine tastes of dried prunes, cedar, violets, blackberry, and coffee.
If dry red wine is more your style, you can try 4 bottles of 2006 Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A well known producer in Napa, Joseph Phelps has been crafting this extraordinary Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc) from their best plots for several decades.
From the other side of the pond, you could also try 12 bottles of 2009 Massolino Barolo from Serralunga d’Alba in Piedmont, Italy. This spectacular wine is made of 100% Nebbiolo grapes and tastes of tobacco leaf, licorice, dried flowers, and black cherries. The notorious tannins of Nebbiolo are ripe and well integrated backing the harmonious structure in this wine.
An even better deal, you can get 30 bottles of Tascante Nerello Mascalese, one of my favorite summer reds. Made from the volcanic soil of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy, the Nerello Mascalese grape is at its finest in wines like these. It’s a less robust red than the two above which makes it perfect for hot weather. This wine tastes of black cherry and blackberry with refreshing acidity and a cleansing mineral note.
On the white wine side, you could buy 30 bottles of an orange wine like Pheasant’s Tears. This wine is from Georgia and made from Rkatsiteli grapes. Produced in an ancient method, this wine is aged underground in terra cotta vessels called qvevri. Orange wines get their name from the amber hue that prolonged skin contact creates. Skin contact also contributes a greater complexity and rounder mouthfeel.
You could buy 35 bottles of Affinitás Furmint. Furmint is one of the grapes responsible for Tokaji, the famous sweet wine from Hungary. Made in its dry form, it produces a wine of refreshing acidity with flavors of honeysuckle, citrus, and apple. This wine is beautifully structured and very food friendly.
Château d’Orschwihr Pinot Blanc is a full-bodied wine with lively acidity and apple, citrus, and slight honey notes. Pinot Blanc has a body and palate that Pinot Gris and Chardonnay lovers find appealing although it is less often seen in the marketplace. You could buy 46 bottles of this wine.
Or you could buy 60 bottles of the Starling Castle Gewurztraminer. Gewurztraminer has an occasional reputation of being too flabby but this particular one is refreshing with grapefruit, peach, and apricot in an off-dry (slightly sweet) style. It’s my mother’s new favorite.
Finally, if you’re looking for an interesting red sparkler, you could buy 30 bottles of Rosa Regale. Made from 100% Brachetto grapes, this wine from Piedmont, Italy offers a palate quenching, low alcohol, and semi-dry option. Perfect after a meal or on a hot summer day, this vivacious wine tastes of delicate cranberry and raspberry.
As you can see, there are a lot of fascinating wines you can try with $600. What wines would I buy? I’d go with 2 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Ports, 2 Massolino Barolos, 1 Château Climens, 1 Joseph Phelps Insignia, 1 Rosa Regale, and 1 Starling Castle Gewurztraminer (for my mom). What wines would you purchase if you didn’t buy that Hamilton ticket?
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