I am sure there are many wine drinkers who go to a store’s wine section, get overwhelmed by all of the different bottles, labels and names that are lined up on the shelves. Yes, it can be quite confusing. And because of that, I have heard countless times, how people select wines based upon the eye catching label, pretty packaging, the 96 point rating or the fact that the wine was on sale. There is so much marketing jargon and image building in today’s world, it is hard to find out what the real dealio is on wines, even for the professional.
With a little research and digging around, however, one can find great values, which will deliver much more quality for your dollar spent.
For example, one of the aspects of wine I relish is those where a family owns the vineyard. The really passionate and dedicated ones are then vested in the wine from the ground to the bottle.
Another good sign then is if they farm their vineyard sustainably and try to create a “living” vineyard, one they can later proudly turn over to the next generation. This says something about them & their core values.
I then usually dig around in the less en vogue wine growing areas to find true value, where the land is much less expensive, especially if it was bought a generation or so ago, as this can greatly affect the store shelf price tag.
To help you get started, here are a few of our favorites.
2014 HYBIRD CHARDONNAY–The Schatz family purchased their vineyard in the 1950’s, out in Lodi, California. They farm sustainably, the first grower In the region in fact to certify 100% of their acreage by a third party. The resulting estate Chardonnay is wonderfully tasty, pure, refreshing, thirstquenching & hard to beat for the price…and on many different levels.
2013 ANCIENT PEAKS MERLOT “MARGARITA VINEYARD”–The Ancient Peaks estate vineyard is roughly 1000 feet in elevation in the hills of southern Paso Robles, California and is owned by three ranching families. Certified “sustainable in practice”, the 2012 Merlot comes from 3 different parcels, each with ancient seabed soils. There is therefore nothing simple or tooty fruity here, just lots of “mountain grown” flavor, depth and earthy character, which is why its perennially gets so much accolades and acclaim. It really is too hard to beat for the price and therefore well worth searching out for.
2012 ERNESTO CATENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON “TAHUAN”–Ernesto is the oldest son of the iconic , Argentinean wine legend Nicolás Catena. He decided in 2002 to branch out on his own to fulfill his vision of what the foothills of the Andes Mountains could create in the vines and the resulting wines. Like his father, Ernesto also has vineyards high up in the foothills, which he organically farms. The Ernesto Catena Cabernet Sauvignon is one of our favorites in terms of great value, as it is elegant, suave, classy in style and certainly over delivers for the price.
2013 DOMAINE de FONTSAINTE CORBIERES–Historically, the vineyards of this domaine were planted by the Romans, way back when. The Laboucarié family came on the scene sometime in the 17th Century and have been farming their vineyards & making wine since. This is one of our all time favorite southern French “country” red wines, because of how delicious, lighter bodied and gulpable it is year in and year out. You will also be amazed how diverse this wine can be with foods, from pizza, to meatloaf to vegetarian oriented foods to lighter pasta dishes to even more complex fish preparations when served slightly chilled. With every cork popped and subsequent taste, I am always utterly re-amazed at the still very reasonable price tag.