So on this wonderful Saturday morning I’m sitting here browsing the web and I came up with the idea for a “safe bet” list of wineries that I feel could be very helpful to my readers in a more broadly ranging and general sense than my otherwise very specific wine reviews. This list comprises wineries with which I feel I am very familiar and is limited to those who I feel offer very consistent quality and value at their respective price points. My goal here is to put these wineries’ names somewhere back in your mind so that the next time you are at the grocery store or wine shop, you might just recognize a few of these labels and be confident that the wine in the bottle will be well made and enjoyable for whatever occasion might call for it. I took the extra step of pairing this list down to wineries from which I have never had a disappointing wine. Please also feel free to add your comments on any additional wineries you might be fond of and be sure to include the price range of their offerings:
Price Range: $5-$25
Mumm Napa (primarily sparklers) Mumm Napa Website
Casillero Del Diablo (division of Concha Y Toro, Chilean reds and whites) Casillero Del Diablo Website
Price Range: $20-$40
Coturri (very rustic wines, “sulfite free”, and various varietal wines) Coturrio Website
Mollydooker (readily available fruit bombs from Australia) Mollydooker Website
Michael David (famous for 7 Deadly Zins and Petit Petit ‘petit sirah’) Michael David Website
Gundlach Bunschu (‘gun-lock bun-shoe’, good red blends and cabs from Sonoma) GunBun Website jjj
Alexander Valley Vineyards (their cabernets taste more expensive than their price, a good thing) AVV Website
Price Range: $40+ (I could list a ton in this category, but have stayed with those that are readily available)
Silverado Vineyards (cabernets and super-tuscan blends from Napa) Silverado Website
I may augment this list in the future, but I feel this is a good starting point. Let me know if you have had or do have any of these wines, and give me an earful if you think they were junk (you won’t ).
$25 (on sale!), 14% alc., Mendoza-Argentina: Argentina is not exactly what you think of when you think Sangiovese, but I purchased this bottle a while back having sampled it at a tasting. The proprietor of this shop stated it outright when he said that this was a wine that he had to pour from his tasting bar because a Sangiovese from Argentina doesn’t exactly scream Buy Me, I’m familiar! which is what most people look for (including me) when confronted with a wine shop carrying hundreds of different kinds of wines. I think most people like to see wines they recognize and tend to enter a store knowing how much they want to spend, and then buy from their list of familiar wineries or types of wine, whether they be wines that they have actually tasted or have just heard that “it was good” from a friend. Tastings seem to be one of the main sources people have for adding to that list, and I certainly know that nothing helps bolster your confidence and knowledge in wine then to drink (different wines) constantly. The end of the novella and beginning of the review are segway-ed by me saying that I knew this wine was good and interesting but it had been long enough since its purchase that I forgot all the wonderful details.
The color of this wine is actually quite light, and it may be my lack of knowledge of Sangiovese, but this surprised me. That may be a matter of so many other typically Italian wines being so dark and brooding. I might actually classify the color as “fuchsia” which might lead some to question my sexuality. The bouquet of this wine is just starting to develop and is both jammy like a Zinfandel, but earthy (think mushrooms) like a Pinot Noir, and I’m starting to get interested. The complexity of the aroma is helped by oak and black cherries as well as a sweet tinge of molasses. Up front (what I will call the attack) this wines carries the earthy qualities seen in the smelling portion of the program and adds a little spice note (think cinnamon). The mid-palate (what I will call the sustain) falls off slightly as some acidity comes through with lighter fruit notes. The finish (what I will call the decay) is very deliciously toasty like campfire marshmallows and the acidity remains to become slightly tart (think fresh cherries). All in all, I wish I had another bottle. 89+ pts.