Monday, October 25, 2010

California Wines That Won't Spook Your Budget

As Halloween approaches, we thought it appropriate to offer up 10 California wines that won't make your blood run cold or spook your budget. We speak to people all the time that assume California does not offer as many great wine bargains as some other wine regions such as, say, Chile, or Argentina. Drink up and help us prove them wrong! You won’t be able to argue with these utterly enjoyable treats.

2008 Lucky Star Chardonnay California
Price: $9.99
This value Chardonnay is no joke. Quality fruit, subtle richness, and bold flavors combine to make a wine that drinks way above its’ price point. Seriously, we didn’t believe we could sell it for $10 bucks! And if you don’t believe us, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator have mentioned Lucky Star Chard in many lists based on the best of the best of global value wines.

2007 Avalon Winery Cabernet Sauvignon California
Price: $11.99
Avalon Winery only makes Cabernet Sauvignon and it is their goal is to make great inexpensive Cabernet. Well, we think they did just that! This wine is a ‘crowd’ pleaser for sure but that moniker seems to do it some injustice; it’s filled with ripe, juicy fruit and is impeccably smooth and balanced. A little birdie tells us that Avalon Cab is the house wine at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse.

2008 Laurel Glen Reds Red Wine Lodi
Price: $11.99
Raise your glass to this charming blend of Zinfandel, Carignane, and Petite Sirah from Laurel Glen. A great complement to burgers, pizza, pasta, or jovial conversation among friends, the Reds is full of sweet spice
and dark fruit. Trick or treat?! Neither; power to the people!

2009 Dante Reserve Pinot Noir Sonoma County
Price: $12.99
Always fans of the Dante Cabernet, we recently discovered the Pinot – 2009 is the first vintage – which offers a lot of bang for your buck as well as appealing raspberry, dark fruit, and cola flavors. The wines are named after Michael Pozzan’s eldest son, Michael Dante Pozzan, and the Pozzans descend from a family winemaking history that began in Italy more than 150 years ago.

2009 Urbanite Cellars 'Amplio' Cabernet Sauvignon California
Price: $14.99
Urbanite Cellars is an urban (based in San Francisco) winery committed to dealing exclusively with small family California growers who employ responsible farming practices. You can consider yourself pretty conscientious for buying a Cab of this caliber for such a low price. This is classic Cabernet with blackberry, currant and some balanced oak spice -- and the alcohol is in check at 13.5%.

2006 Teira Wines Zinfandel Sonoma County
Price: $14.99
Teira Wines was founded in 2002 and is named after the proprietor’s daughters, Thea & Keira. We have had the Zin in the store since we opened and we really believe in Teira’s plumy, fleshy expression of Zin – as opposed to the over ripe, port-like examples out there. If you don’t drink it for Halloween, save it for Thanksgiving as it will serve your feast well.

2009 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir California
Price: $15.99
This project involves finding fabulous quality Pinot Noir at an affordable price, which is something we are always trying to do for the store. Coincide? We think not. There are great deals out there right now on high quality grapes and juice and some smart people, such as those running the Pinot Project, are making awesome wines that could sell for at least twice the price.

2009 Morgan Sauvignon Blanc Monterey
Price: $17.99
The addition of a small amount of Semillon adds some body and further complexity to this Sauvignon Blanc whose predominant flavors include grapefruit and citrus. Morgan Winery has been around since 1982 and consistency is one of their noted qualities. No exception here.

2009 J Vineyards & Winery Pinot Gris California
Price: $18.99
In 1986, Judy Jordan, a second generation vintner (her family owns Jordan Winery) founded J Vineyards & Winery in the Russian River Valley. J is dedicated to sustainable winemaking and this California Pinot Gris is an elegant and refreshing blend of Pinot Gris grapes grown in Dry Creek and the Russian River Valley with lots of nutty, citrusy goodness.

2008 Lee Family Farm Rio Tinto Silvaspoons Vineyard Lodi
Price: $19.99
This eclectic red blend includes many of the Portuguese varietals typically used to make Port, consisting of Touriga Francesa, Alvarelhao, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz. The catch is that the grapes for this particular blend are grown in the Lodi region of California. Lee Family Farm was started, incidentally, by the Morgan Family (see above) and this bold, dark, delicious wine is from the first saleable vintage.

If you have any favorite California wines under $20 you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear about them. Cheers.

1 comment:

  1. Just a note, Elisa from J Vineyard has kindly let us know that the sources for the 2009 J Pinot Gris include Clarksburg (50%); Russian River Valley (43%); and Monterey (7%.) Thanks!