The holidays are upon us, friends! But so is the recession. How ever is a
cheap frugal wine drinker to survive?
Thank goodness good wine values abound this time of year. Wine Spectator released their “10 California Red and White Values” in October, and it included some of our favorites to pair with turkey, ham, and of course late-night Christmas cookie sessions:
AUTONOM Red Cuvée California 2008
Score: 91 | $28
A big, ripe, complex and intriguing mix of flavors, offering stewed berry, game meat, firm mineral, loamy earth, spice, cedar and cigar box, with plenty of muscle to back it up. Tannic as well. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Best from 2012 through 2022. 280 cases made.—James Laube
QUIVIRA Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2009
Score: 91 | $20
Deep and well-structured, with smoky wild berry aromas and layered black cherry, cracked pepper and loamy earth flavors that are wrapped in ripe but firm tannins. Best from 2013 through 2017. 5,363 cases made.—Tim Fish
WILSON Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Carl’s 2009 Score: 91 | $34
Big, ripe and zesty, with bold cherry pie and licorice aromas and vibrant wild berry, cassis and cracked pepper flavors that finish on a lively, sweet note. Drink now through 2016. 596 cases made.—Tim Fish
BECKMEN Syrah Santa Ynez Valley 2009 Score: 90 | $25
Distinctive for its restraint, with spicy, peppery notes on a trim body. The dried berry flavors are ripe yet not overdone, ending with a long, tight, focused finish. Best from 2012 through 2022. 1,800 cases made.—James Laube
FOUR VINES Zinfandel Amador County Maverick 2009 Score: 90 | $18
Ripe and jammy, with an appealingly rustic edge, offering aromas of blackberry cobbler and cracked white pepper that lead to soft, supple black cherry and licorice flavors. Drink now through 2016. 5,175 cases made.—Tim Fish
PEIRSON MEYER Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley Ryan’s Vineyard 2010 Score: 90 | $28
A wonderful undercurrent of honeysuckle and marmalade notes add complexity and charm to the fruit bowl of flavors, including peach, nectarine, melon and tangerine, that are equally tangy and juicy. It all comes together on the long finish. Drink now. 150 cases made.—Maryann Worobiec
SEQUUM Zinfandel Napa Valley Kidd Ranch 2007 Score: 90 | $30
Rich and supple, with aromas of baked cherries and ripe, zesty flavors of huckleberry, white pepper and licorice. Drink now through 2016. 120 cases made.—Tim FishDEL CARLO Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Teldeschi Vineyards Home Ranch 2008 Score: 89 | $32
Zesty and appealingly briary, with baked cherry and cracked pepper aromas and lively flavors of raspberry and smoky anise. The tannins are a bit rustic on the finish. Drink now through 2016. 330 cases made.—Tim FishCLINE Syrah Los Carneros 2008 Score: 88 | $20
Notably beefy and leathery, but in a pleasing way. Dense, chewy and extracted, with the core of dried berry and blueberry flavors ending with a minerally aftertaste and firm tannins. Drink now through 2020. 1,283 cases made.—James LaubeMCMANIS Merlot California 2010 Score: 86 | $10
Soft and juicy, with modest notes of red currant, tomato leaf and toasty oak. Drink now through 2017. 42,000 cases made.—Tim Fish
We also love Sunset Magazine’s under-$15 picks from the Western Wine Awards:
Clayhouse2010 “Adobe Pink” (Central Coast) The Adobe Pink sparkles in the glass with a pretty, light salmon hue. The nose is filled with strawberry, dusty spice, and vanilla aroma, and
round and lively flavors of berry and vanilla carry over to the palate. The finish is crisp, with just a touch of residual sugar.
Gruet Blanc de Noirs (New Mexico (Lower Rio Grande, New Mexico) The rich and toasty character of our Blanc de Noirs is balanced and superb. Aged for two-year minimum, the palate is developed and shows rich complex flavors. The amazing berries aromas and the creamy texture play a leading role and create a great finesse. Winemaker’s Note: A fine salmon color, aggressive mousse and a lovely fruity wine with plenty of immediate charm and toasty aromas. There is also an explosive juicy flavor of raspberry.
Liberty School 2009 Chardonnay (Central Coast) Fruit-driven in style, this Chardonnay offers up-front aromas of green apple and citrus blossom typical of the variety. Bright flavors of citrus, pineapple, bosc pear, honey and a subtle hint of toasted oak are balanced by a clean, crisp finish.
Hahn 2009 Syrah (Central Coast) On the palate, flavors of black cherry cola and tobacco give way to notes of leather, pepper and cinnamon. The tannins are silky and round, and the finish is long and memorable. Zesty acid ensures a pleasing pairing with food.
Project Paso 2009 Red Wine Blend (Paso Robles) A variety of multi-layered aromas gush out of this distinct Paso Robles blend: intense, jammy red cherry from the Grenache, followed by white pepper and spice from the Zinfandel, darker blackberry and blueberry from the Petite Sirah and Mourvedre, and a light, floral character in the background. The berry flavors continue on the palate, led by red cherry, raspberry, and cranberry. Subtle caramel and walnut nuances from the French and American oak aging lend complexity and structure to the blend, along with cinnamon bark and warm spices. Silky and medium bodied, the balance of eight Paso Robles varietals creates a complex and easy-drinking wine that shows off Paso’s signature red blends.
Waterbrook 2008 Merlot (Columbia Valley) Bright aromatics of black raspberry, clove and nutmeg swirl in the glass. The soft, juicy and plush palate presents interwoven layers of dark fruit. This easy-to-drink Merlot leaves a hint of star anise on the finish.
For those of you who don’t have a great wine shop nearby BUT have a Cost Plus World Market in town, check out the 2009 Pennywise Pinot Noir, which is available in stores at just $9.99 and received 90 points from Wine Enthusiast:
PENNYWISE Pinot Noir 2009 Score: 90 | $10
#18 on the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2011 and 90 points: “Surprisingly sophisticated for a Pinot Noir at this price. It’s dry, light in the mouth and elegantly structured, with a nice bite of acids and tannins. The flavors are delicate in sour cherries, sweet tomato jam and dusty spices.”
Another great steal is the La Crema 2009 Chardonnay, which our friend Steve Heimoff recently poured as one of his “picks” at the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association’s “Best of the Blue” tasting event. Available at both BevMo! and Cost Plus, this supple Chardonnay is a screaming deal at $15.00:
LA CREMA Monterey County Chardonnay 2009 Score: 91 | $15
Here’s a classically rich, barrel-aged Chardonnay. With a beautifully golden color, it brims with pineapple, golden mango and lemon custard flavors, enhanced with bright, citrusy acidity. Very fine and classy, at a great price. – Steve Heimoff
Whichever wine you end up drinking along with your feast, we here at Parker Sanpei & Associates wish you a happy, hearty Thanksgiving.