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.