Holiday wine picks, both red and white
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 4:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
This week's column zeroes in on a number of domestic value wines I've evaluated and enjoyed over the past year. All are priced at $20 or less. I've tried to stick with recommendations that are in good supply and readily available, so some of the more obscure value finds have been left out.
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale.
Hahn 2010 "GSM," Central Coast ($12) -- It is a truly delicious red blend that exhibits layers of red and black fruits, tantalizing spice notes and juicy acidity. Rating: 91.
Clayhouse 2010 Syrah, Paso Robles ($15) -- This wine that has everything you want in a classy syrah: intense aroma, in this case ripe blackberry, blueberry and red currant, and a gorgeous nose that's spicy and peppery. Rating: 90.
Rodney Strong 2010 Pinot Noir, Estate, Russian River Valley ($20) -- No kidding, this is a gold-medal-winning estate-grown Russian River Valley pinot for $20. It is beautifully structured and well balanced, exhibiting red and dark fruit and subtle hints of spice. Rating: 90.
Kenwood Vineyards 2009 Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($14) -- Here's a zin with a modest (by zinfandel standards) 14.5 percent alchohol content, and, yep, it's very tasty, too. Rating: 90.
Bridlewood 2010 "Blend 175," Central Coast ($15) -- This blend of syrah, merlot, tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon makes for an inexpensive red that is absolutely delicious, easy to drink now and complex enough to make you think it costs considerably more. Rating: 90.
Fat Monk 2010 Pinot Noir, California ($15) -- I won't pretend this pinot will remind you of Burgundy. It won't. It simply doesn't have the structure. But it is a delicious example of New World pinot, with soft, ripe fruit and true pinot character. Rating: 89.
Bridlewood 2010 Pinot Noir, Monterey County ($20): Regrettably, we've become conditioned to the $40-and-up pinot noir, so it's a pleasant surprise to come across Bridlewood's 2010 Monterey County Pinot, which is anything but thin and bland. Rating: 89.
J. Lohr 2010 Syrah "South Ridge," Paso Robles ($15) -- Jerry Lohr produces above-average wines that rank high on everyone's value list. This is a gorgeous syrah that is well balanced, with plenty of complex fruit aroma. Rating: 88.
Dry Creek Vineyard 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley ($16) -- This is a sensational sauvignon from Dry Creek Vineyards, which should surprise no one. It's fresh and clean and delicious to the last drop. Rating: 94.
Benziger 2009 Chardonnay, Sangiacomo Vineyard, Carneros ($20) -- Easily one of the best value wines from the gold-medal winners at the San Diego International Wine Competition, this is superb. Rating: 92.
Zocker 2010 Gruner Veltliner, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley ($20) -- This is the finest Gruner made in America. It is the perfect wine with freshly shucked oysters. Rating: 92.
Navarro Vineyards 2010 Gewurztraminer 'Cuvee Traditional,' Anderson Valley ($15) -- This wine exhibits a lovely rose petal and honeysuckle nose, with spicy notes on the palate, and a long, balanced finish that avoids the bitter aftertaste that afflicts many dry gewurztraminers. Rating: 91.
J Vineyards & Winery 2011 Pinot Gris, California ($15) -- The popularity of J pinot gris is now such that the winery must source grapes from throughout California, including spots well beyond its Russian River Valley base. It's great as an aperitif or with light appetizers or steamed shellfish. Rating: 90.
Rodney Strong 2010 Sauvignon Blanc 'Charlotte's Home,' Northern Sonoma ($14) -- Though this wine was once made from an estate vineyard in the Anderson Valley, the quality has remained very high despite expanded grape-sourcing. It has long been a favorite, an exquisitely balanced sauvignon with a fair amount of complexity. Rating: 90.
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