Subtitled: “Consistently tasty selections selling for $10 to $15”
The article from Dan Berger (published 12/1/04 in the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, Ca) makes some excellent points, and is worth reading in its entirety.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to locate an online link to the article, so I’ll use excerpts here.
“You want a good bottle of wine, you want it to be cheap (meaning inexpensive /Huge), and you want to be able to find it.
“That is the question I get bombarded with most by readers of this column. And it’s seemingly impossible to answer for about 34 reasons, each of which entails a number of sub-reasons, corollaries and theorems.
“Well, for one thing, if I gave you the best lower-priced wines in each varietal category, it would have to be a wine that is made in large amounts. (This column appears in many newspapers.) Which generally means that such a wine comes from a large winery.
“And some readers believe that nothing great can ever come from a large winery.
“I have said this before, and can’t repeat it enough: some of the best wines in the world are made by giant wineries, and the main reason is consistency from bottling to bottling.
“Also, larger wineries are well funded, can buy the best equipment (such as barrels for aging and sophisticated bottling lines) and can pay for a consistent source of high quality grapes.
“One person’s bargain is another’s splurge, so I have decided to shoot for the mid-point, about $10 to $15. Here is a current list:”
(Tasting notes from the following have been truncated to fit my schedule, but it contains all of the wines he recommends. Please see his article for the notes /Huge)
- Most consistent Chardonnay: Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve…
- Most dramatic Sauvignon Blanc: Geyser peak…
- Best Pinot Gris: Rancho Zabaco… (owned by E&J Gallo)
- Most consistent Cabernet: Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve…(second place goes to Hess Selection)
- Merlot: Pepi… (owned by Kendall-Jackson)
- Syrah: Delicato…
- Sweeter Riesling: Fetzer… (also notes Fetzer’s Gewurztraminer as being rather good /Huge)
- Bargain red wine: a blend simply called "Reds” from Laurel Glen Vineyards
- Pinot Noir: Firesteed (from Oregon)
- Petite Sirah: Bogle
- Zinfandel: Rancho Zabaco “Dancing Bull” (owned by E&J Gallo)
[MORAL: Familiarity breeds contempt, or so they say. Please don’t let yourself fall into the “Small artisan wineries will always be superior” pretense. Most of that BS stems from people trying to be "exclusive" or attempting to be the person to find the newest "garagiste" wineries. Large wineries can and DO produce good wines at good prices. Just watch out for large bottlings of plonk from the Central Valley, as that 1970's business model (just making huge insipid blends of jug wine without regard to quality) is where the 'large producer" reputation came from.
As I've said before, commercial success is not the enemy. Producers who grow large by ignoring their quality, while not dropping their prices are the enemy.
Those who expand their business while still paying due attention to their quality & reputation are OK by me. /Huge]