Now that’s a mouthful! Yes, pun intended. Let’s go to the southern hemisphere for a change in order to recommend another special holiday wine which represents a great value. Casa Lapostolle, located in the Colchagua valley of Chile has a 150+ year history of making wine and spirits. You’ve probably heard of Grand Marnier cognac liqueur, well this is the same family who now makes excellent wines.

Their flagship wine is called Clos Apalta ($85), a blend of Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, which has won previous “wine of the year” awards.

The Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet is can be found for around $20-$25. Currently, Total Wine carries it for $22. This beautiful Cab received 92 points from the Wine Spectator and made into their top 100 wines of the year list.

A perfect Cab for a standing rib roast, it is dark, smoky, and fully bodied, carrying fine tannins, which lead to a long finish. It’s ready to drink now and can be enjoyed for the next 6-8 years. Don’t wait too long to get some, there were only 10,700 cases made. A value like this won’t stay on the shelves very long.



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Australia is best known for its big shirazes, but certain areas are well suited for other varietals. The Limestone Coast is one area that does very well with cabernet.

Australian cabernet is a very different style than California cabernet, which always brings us back to the dirt or terroir as the French like to say. Many Aussie cabs are ready to drink young and this one is definitely ready now.

This cab is smooth, velvety and carries the typical up front fruit profile of Australian red wines. But is still has a solid structure and a clean finish. We recently had this with filet mignon covered with gorgonzola cheese sauce and it was outstanding.

The Wine Spectator rated it 90 points last April. I found it at Total Wine for $15. I was surprised to find it because there were only 2000 cases produced. I hope I can get there again before its gone, maybe you can too!



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The best pinot noirs are elegant, graceful, and balanced. Here is a pinot that is dark, rich, and flamboyant in style. Belle Glos is the winery and they are known for producing outstanding single vineyard pinot noirs under their Belle Glos label which fall in the $45-$50 price range.

However, the Meiomi label which has only been around for a few vintages can be found in the $16-$20 price range and is well worth the few extra dollars beyond my normally under $15 value wines. I found it in Costco for $17.99. Since this is the holiday season I wanted to suggest a few special wines that are still very reasonable for what they deliver.

Now back to the wine. This vintage of Meiomi recently received 92 points from the Wine Spectator. It was sourced from vineyards in Santa Barbara, Monterrey, and Sonoma. Take your time to enjoy the rich dark berry and vanilla aromas along with a very long and satisfying finish. You can drink this pinot for the next 8 years if you can hold on to it that long. This is a very versatile wine and will pair well with grilled salmon, rotisserie chicken, and even a standing rib roast.



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I know it has been a while since we had an entry from “The Wine Buddy”.  I have missed him, but then I can make a call and get all my wine questions answered.  It’s a new year and every meal can be special when accompanied by a wonderful wine selection.

Calling all Chardonnay lovers!  Here’s a fantastic chardonnay for a great price, especially if you live near Costco.

Chateau Ste. Michelle, located in the Columbia Valley of Washington state is one of my favorite value based wineries, just like Columbia Crest.  They make several levels of many varietals.  The Indian Wells line is comparable to the H3 series that Columbia Crest produces.

This sleek chardonnay brings lemon, pear, and spice to the forefront and leaves a subtle intensity on the finish.  It is refreshing and offers enough complexity to keep you coming back for more. I found this for $13 at Costco, but if you can find it for $15 or under you are getting a great deal.  Another Wine Spectator outstanding selection, this received 90 points recently.

Great with light appetizers like humus, cheeses, or perfect with shellfish and light chicken dishes.  There were 20,000 cases made and it should be great for 3-5 years.  But there’s no need to hold onto it because Chateau Ste. Michelle will certainly produce similar quality year after year.



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Co-nun-drum: “An intricate and difficult problem with a seemingly impossible solution.”  That’s one of many definitions I found when searching multiple dictionary sources.

The Wagner family produces this intriguing red. They are most famous for their Caymus (Cabernet) and Belle Glos (Pinot Noir) labels which are highly sought after high-end wines. You may be familiar with their Conundrum white blend, which has been around for a long time, but this is only their second vintage of this red blend.

As with the white blend, they won’t tell you exactly which grapes are used in the red, thus the “conundrum” in trying to figure it out. But it doesn’t take but a sip to figure out that this wine is intriguing, delicious and very versatile. I picked up on the dried berries and chocolate tones and found it to have a medium length finish that makes it easy to keep coming back to even after your meal is finished.

My good friend Jim brought this to a dinner party last month and it was a big hit, so “thanks Jim”! The winery lists the price at $22 but we’ve been able to find it for $13-$15. No need to wait on this one, it’s ready now and will satisfy for several years to come.



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Have you heard of Mourvedre? It’s a grape of French origin and is often used as a blending grape in what are known as GSMs (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre). It adds structure and complexity when blended with other grapes.

France, Australia, Spain and the U.S. use Mourvedre mostly for blending, but there are some wine makers who have done a great job of crafting this grape as a single varietal bottling. Here we have a California grown Mourvedre by Cline.

Cline Cellars produce a lot of wine, specializing in Zinfandels from northern California, but they have quite a few value wines and are worth keeping an eye on from vintage to vintage. In this case, they have delivered a Mourvedre from Contra Costa County in the bay area near San Francisco.

I’ve had several bottles of this wine and I love it. It has left me lingering on the aromas and provides a lengthy finish for a wine in this price range. It received 88 points from the Wine Spectator and I found it at Total Wine for $11.99. The release price is listed at $16. Here’s the write up from James Laub:

Well-focused mint and wild berry fruit is supple and generous, with a spicy, road-tar edge. Well-balanced, intense yet graceful. Drink now through 2018. 14,788 cases made.

Drink it now or hold on to it for the next few years and see how it develops. Cheers!



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I have previously written about Columbia Crest’s H3 line of wines and how great a value they offer. The Grand Estates level is one notch below the H3 line in price and often is very similar in quality. This merlot recently received 89 points from the Wine Spectator as did the 2009 vintage so you can’t go wrong either way.

I found this at Total Wine for $7.99 and there were 69,000 cases made so it is easily found in grocery stores or big box wine stores.

Merlot is to red wine what Chardonnay is to white wine. Popular, plentiful, and one of the first “go to” wines for Americans because it is easy to find and drink.

Rather than me give you my own description, it’s easier to give you the official write up from Wine Spectator:

“Lithe, polished and approachable, with generous raspberry, cranberry, floral and white chocolate flavors that linger easily against refined tannins. Drink now through 2016.”

This is one of those perfect weekday wines and it doesn’t take a lot of contemplation. Just go get some and enjoy it. I promise you there will be more Columbia Crest writings because they are one of the best values in the USA.



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value wine of the week: artezin 2010 zinfandel

September 7th, 2012 | Posted by admin in WINE - (0 Comments)

Zin wins the value wine of the week once again. As a reminder, my goal is to find high quality to price ratio wines for you. That means I’m looking to keep the price under $20 and in most cases keep it under $16. In addition these wines should be widely available so that you can find them relatively easily.

Here’s a California Zinfandel from Mendocino County that recently scored 90 points from the Wine Spectator. It has beautiful dark berry and licorice aromas that make you want to take your time pondering these and other nuances while the wine opens up in the glass.

After about 15-20 minutes the zesty and spicy flavors really begin to take over leading to a medium length finish that leaves you wanting to savor every last drop. We enjoyed this wine with marinated grilled chicken that enhanced both the chicken and the wine.

There were close to 13,000 cases of this Zin made and I hope there’s some near you. You should be able to purchase it in the $15-$17 range. As I’ve said previously, high quality Zins in this price range are hard to find, so this one won’t last long on the shelves. Get some to enjoy now while you can find it, or you can cellar it for about 5 years.



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Is it still summer time? Then we must still be grilling. And if we’re still grilling then I’m writing about the best red wine to pair with grilled meats. Zinfandel! When I say Zinfandel I’m always talking about the red varietal.

Predator is the first “Zin” review since I’ve started writing for you. I’m sure there will be more. Zinfandel is the most versatile red wine I have experienced. There are a few different styles based on the region the grapes are grown along with the wine maker’s preferences.

Predator is from the Lodi Appellation of California and is harvested from “old vines”. If you look closely at the label you will see that the Lady Bug is the Predator, implying the organic approach to controlling pests used by this winery.

Predator is characterized by bacon, vanilla, smoky barbeque and spice on the nose. When it hits your pallet there is a jammy and robust dark cherry flavor that mingles with the characteristic spiciness that often accompanies Zinfandel.

Good Zinfandels can get very pricey, but this one can be purchased for $14-16. Grill a burger, steak, lamb chops or marinated chicken and pop open a bottle of this full bodied red wine.



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It’s always a parent’s joy when your children like at least some of what their parents like.  So I want to give props to my son for sending this refreshing white blend from California to me for Father’s Day this year.  Since then, we’ve shared several bottles with friends and family through the summer months and it’s been a big hit.

Chenin Blanc (79%) is a white wine varietal from the Loire valley of France.  Its high level of acidity means it is very versatile and its neutral palate allows it to take on the flavors of the soil it is grown in.  The bright fruit character shines through in this Napa Valley grown grape.

Viognier (21%) is also a grape of French origin and in this case comes from the Lodi region of northern California.  Viognier is typically characterized by a floral and spicy nature.

You won’t have to think hard when you drink this wine, just simply enjoy it by itself or with light appetizers, fish, or a grilled chicken salad.  It’s widely available between $11-13 and was awarded 90 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.



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