Thursday, April 14, 2005

Does California Make Comparatively Good Value Wines or Not?

Interestingly, two recent articles regarding the search for value wines produced different results. Lettie Teague, who (as Alder at Vinography points out) is a James Beard writing award nominee, finds no value wines from California yet the San Francisco Chronicle found quite a few.

Why the difference? Perhaps Ms. Teague, like many others these days, dislikes wines made by the larger producers (Kendall-Jackson and Gallo have a number of wines in the Chronicles list), or finds little "terroir" in sub-$10 California wines, but more than likely she prefers to promote wines made by smaller producers be they foreign or domestic.

I understand why this is the case. Larger producers usually have their own promotion, PR, and marketing departments and don't need the publicity in the same way. However, as far as wine style, I've said it before and I'll say it again, big wineries can make wines that are just as good (be they 10,000 case lots or 150 case lots) as small wineries and I have yet to find someone who can explain the difference in winemaking processes that automatically makes small-winery products better.

That said, there are still many California wines made by smaller producers under $10 that I would recommend to Ms. Teague. If anyone would like to make suggestions, please do and I will include them with my email to Ms. Teague.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marietta (Geyserville in Sonoma County) makes a great blend called "Old Vine Red" for $8-9.


April 14, 2005 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Tim Elliott said...

A few come to mind from my recent tasting notes:

- La Crema, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
- Beringer Founders’ Estate Pinot Noir
- Bogle, Petite Sirah
- Kempton Clark, Petite Sirah

Depending upon where you live, all these wines can be had for around $10 or less on sale. I'd call these "values".


April 14, 2005 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd add the La Crema Chard, and their Viognier as well (look for these on sale, sometimes they're available at $10).

Trentadue's Old Patch Red was pretty good last I had it, and was ~$10 if my memory is correct.

Hopkiln has an interesting un-oaked North Coast Chard around $11.50

And Sebastiani Vineyards also has some nice Zin from time to time, and a Barbera which were both very nicely done. Unfortunately, most of their prices have gone to ~$15/bottle, but still good value there...


April 14, 2005 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tasted a nice inexpensive chardonnay and Pinot from Camelot Winery (Sonoma County) this weekend. They were $7.50 each, and the quality was very good for what I paid. Also I had a Collage (made by Kendal-Jackson) cabernet/merlot blend, and a zin/shiraz blend which were good too (& I paid less than $9/bottle).

April 18, 2005 9:25 AM  
Blogger caveman said...

I must admit that I agree with Ms Teague. If I drink California I tend to drink expensive as I find that most of the cheaper wines tend to be too sweet and lack acidity (especially the whites). Under $10 for me is Spain and the Languedoc in france.

April 18, 2005 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Frank said...

Caveman's right. I'd add Italy to the under $10 list though.

April 19, 2005 1:16 PM  

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