User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Friday Fishwrap
Because We Cannot Live By Cult Wines Alone

By Charles Olken

I taste a lot of expensive wine in my day job, and, truth be told, I have a few of those fancy bottles stashed away. But my daily tipple, and your too in all likelihood, is something a lot less pricey. Good wine need not be a financial burden. Let those few great bottles occupy that demanding place in your life. With a little luck and a quick look around the shelves of your favorite retailers, you are bound to come in contact with some of the wines below that hit the Connoisseurs’ Guide BEST BUYS list. The wines are scored on the star-system that has been the basic CGCW rating methodology since our beginnings back some decades ago. There is a lot to like here, and we will back next month with another list of worthies. Any wine rated at two stars or above is likely to be memorable. Those rated lower are probably more suited for everyday drinking, and each of them rates very high on the QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) scale. Enjoy.

ZINFANDEL There was a time when Zinfandel ranked among the front runners when it came to good value, but the pickings have been somewhat slimmer over the last several years. Our recent tastings, however, have uncovered a host of fine wines at very fair prices, and the very rich HANDLEY Redwood Valley 2008 ($20.00), the keenly fruited GIRARD Old Vine Napa Valley 2008 ($24.00) and the weighty, optimally ripened CAROL SHELTON Wild Thing Cox Vineyard 2007 ($24.00) lead the way. Among top offerings, the very deep, slightly chocolaty PEACHY CANYON Westside Paso Robles 2008 ($19.00) and the gregariously fruity WINE GUERILLA Sonoma County 2009 ($15.00) are not to be missed, and the rustic TERRA D’ORO Amador County 2007 ($18.00) wins the nod for its classic expression of Amador fruit. Keep an eye out as well for the very solid McNAB RIDGE Zinzilla 2008 ($13.00), the brisky balanced SOBON ESTATE Cougar Hill Amador County 2008 ($17.00), the very mannerly, well-balanced VALLEY OF THE MOON Sonoma County 2008 ($16.00) and the berry-like WRITER’S BLOCK Lake County 2007 ($13.00) while the BOGLE Old Vine California 2008 ($11.00) is an eye-opening effort with far more fruity substance and depth than its modest price might predict. Finally, if coming up just a shy of full recommendation, the well-defined PEACHY CANYON Incredible Red 2008 ($12.00) and the easy-to-taste RENWOOD Sierra Foothills 2007 ($10.00) are bonafide Best Buys in every sense of the words.

SYRAH California Syrah has its fair share of detractors, but we like the richness that is found in the better examples. The very spicy ZACA MESA Santa Ynez Valley 2006 ($23.00) is a beautifully crafted effort that is nothing short of a bargain, as is the energetic, distinctively varietal 90-point FREY Redwood Valley 2006 ($15.25). The VINA ROBLES Huerhuero Red 4 Paso Robles 2008 ($16.00) is fleshy, fruity and very well-balanced, and the MICHAEL AND DAVID PHILLIPS Incognito Lodi 2008 ($16.00) will find favor with fans of rich, fully ripe, oak-sweetened Syrahs.

PINOT GRIS While the occasional stunner such as the wonderfully rich, highly recommended HAHN Estate Santa Lucia Highlands 2008 ($20.00) comes along, West Coast Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio is more often a light and engaging quaff that can afford very good value. The blossomy J WINE COMPANY California 2009 ($15.00) is just such a wine, and widely available, 86-point favorites priced at $12.00 and less include the LOREDONA Monterey 2009 ($11.00), the CYCLES GALDIATOR California 2009 ($11.00), the GEYSER PEAK California 2009 ($12.00) and the GNARLY HEAD California 2009 ($11.00)


Nice artilce
by John Krause
Posted on:4/12/2011 9:01:47 PM

I am not a Pinot Gris fan but I will have to try a few of the Zins and Syrah.  I openned a bottle of incredible Red.  This was not a bad bottle for the less than $12 I paid for it at Trader Joe's.  I did like one of Peachy Canyons Zins (Westside).  We openned 3 of theirs.


Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.