It’s now a several-years running tradition that while attending GenCon (coming up in August), the Best Four Days in Gaming, I get together on Thursday evening with good friends Scott and BDM for a trip to Harry & Izzy’s. We tend to avoid gaming discussions, since we’ll have those all weekend, and instead focus on the other passions of cinema and baseball. Earl Weaver’s tomatoes will come up at least once.
Our habit these past several years has been the same: without looking at the menu, order the World’s Spiciest Shrimp Cocktail and the Prime Rib Sandwich. I’ll then grab something off the wine list that we’ll all enjoy. Harry & Izzy’s has a serviceable list, but the super secret tech I’ll share with you is that they also have access to the cellar at St. Elmo’s, the high-end steakhouse next door (which is owned by the same folks). While you’re going to pay steakhouse mark-up for them, there are nonetheless some selections worth considering from St. Elmo’s list. To prep you for your trip, whether it’s to GenCon or to downtown Indy for any other reason, I’ll give you my five top picks (or fewer, if the section isn’t extensive) from each of the major sections into which the list is broken down.
Bin 5743: 2004 Clarendon Hills, Syrah, Hickinbotham $147
Anything Clarendon Hills makes, I’ll drink. Prices have crept up a little in the last 5-7 years, but this is still pretty reasonable.
Bin 4676: 2004 d’Arenberg GSM, The Ironstone Pressings $134
Another “I’ll drink anything” producer, The Ironstone Pressings might ruin you for cheaper GSMs.
Bin 5686: 2010 Mollydooker “Two Left Feet” Shiraz/Merlot/Cab $50
One of the great bargains on the list, and one of the most popular wines at our house.
Bin 6007: 2009 Mollydooker Shiraz “Velvet Glove” $299
Remember the story about the million dollars worth of wine that got broken while unloading it off the ship? That’s this stuff. Drink a piece of history.
Bin 5212: 2005 Longview Shiraz Block 3 $109
A hidden gem from a not-particularly well-known producer.
Bin 5150: 2004 Chateau Sociando Mallet $109
My top pick for bargain Bordeaux. A nice deal on an off-vintage that’s drinking well right now.
Bin 6276: 2004 Chateau Chasse-Spleen $55
Bin 4593: 2003 Carruades de Lafite $144
The second wine from a great house, a very good vintage, and a ridiculously low price.
Bin 3023: 1986 Chateau Lynch Bages $359
If you want to stretch the budget a little on something spectacular, here it is.
Bin 5340: 2005 Chateau Gloria $98
Affordable Bordeaux from a great vintage. If you order this one, make sure they decant it early so it’s ready by the time your food arrives.
I think that everything on the list is too young to drink. YMMV.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends
Bin 5642: 2006 Andrew Will, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard $114
Some of the best Cab in the country is being made in Washington State. I encourage you to let Andrew Will prove it to you.
Bin 5034: 2006 Concha Y Toro, Don Melchor $147
The price has crept up a little on Concha Y Toro’s top line stuff, but this might be the perfect thing to have with a well-marbled steak. Great tannins, great flavor make the perfect package.
Bin 4558: 2007 L’Ecole No. 41, Apogee, Pepper Bridge Vineyard $99
Another hidden gem, this is on my short list of what to drink while we’re there.
Bin 5882: 2007 St. Clement, Oroppas $77
A Bordeaux-style blend from a great producer at a low price.
Bin 5999: 2007 Quilceda Creek $352
Another budget-stretcher that might need to be decanted in one of those paint can shakers, if you can afford it, go for 100-pointer.
Bin 3919: 2002 Pio Cesare Barbera d’ Alba $127
A lighter effort that might get overwhelmed by the steak, it might be a nice thing to start with in a large group.
Bin 4796: 2005 Pio Cesare Barolo $124
This, however, probably has enough structure for your food.
Bin 5738: 2007 Masi Costasera Amarone della Valpolicella $122
On the sweeter end, I might suggest it with the dessert course (even though it’s not a classic dessert wine).
Bin 6521: 2006 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino $86
Well-known producer, outstanding vintage = combo.
Bin 3671: 2002 Brancaia “IL BLU” Rosso di Toscano $129
Probably not too much of this left in the cellar, so it’s worth grabbing.
Bin 5019: 2009 A to Z Wineworks $43
One of the best budget producers in Oregon, it’ll be light-bodied, so a nice starter.
Bin 5500: 2008 Penner Ash $99
Maybe a little young, but a good, refreshing drink from a great winemaker. Also good to start with.
Bin 6476: 2009 Ken Wright $60
Really stretching the youngness theme with the Pinot, Ken Wright is always drinkable.
Bin 5380: 2009 Argyle Nuthouse $109
Also quite fresh, but given some time to open up, spectacular.
Bin 6438: 2010 Siduri Pisoni Vineyard $104
Since the rest of the Pinots I’ve listed are very young, I thought I’d finish the list in kind. A great drinker.
Bin 5162: 2005 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape $209
The Rhone list is small, but has some powerhouses. This is a brilliant wine that you’ll also want to revisit 20 years from now.
Bin 5039: 2004 Domaine Du Pegau Chateauneuf-du-Pape Reserve $124
Another one on my short list, it’s just entering the drinking window, but I’d rather drink them too young than too old. This is the one Scott is going to lobby for. I probably won’t offer up too much resistance.
Bin 5016: 2007 Domaine Du Vieux Telegraph Chateauneuf-du-Pape $179
Also pushing the drinking window, I’d suggest ordering it early and drinking it late.
My limited knowledge of Spanish wines and their limited selection means I’d rather not make suggestions.
Bin 3808: 2008 Ridge Lytton Springs $66
Great value from a great producer.
Bin 5985: 2008 Novy Papera Ranch Vineyard $59
This should be supple enough and sufficiently fruit-driven to go with anything spicy, especially that shrimp cocktail.
Bin 5935: 2007 Ravenswood Old Hill Vineyard $109
The tannic structure might be off-putting to some folks, but if you like the monsters, this one’s for you.
Bin 6190: Segehesio Sonoma County $39
Best value on the entire wine list, hands down. Whether you’re on a budget or not, this stuff is fantastic.
Out of curiosity, I just checked Harry & Izzy’s list to see if some of these same bottles were on it. If found the Penner-Ash at $69 (instead of $99) and Ridge Lytton Springs at $42 (instead of $66). I didn’t do an exhaustive search of the wines that I didn’t pick, so it might be worth taking a look at both lists side-by-side.
I always look forward to the entirety of the show at GenCon, but nothing so much as continuing the tradition of discovering great food and great wine with great friends.