Good Wines/Good Value
Good Value Wines...
We can't think of any California wineries that have much respect for a ten dollar bill. Many in Napa ask you for
$20-$50 merely for the privilege of them
"allowing" you to taste their wines (in hopes you'll spend the king's
ransom it takes to secure a bottle of wine).
We have a great selection of wines in the $6-$20 range which have character and
are good examples of their type and style.
We spend a lot of time and devote much effort into searching for wines which
over-perform for their price.
The San Francisco Chronicle printed an article on "Bargain Wines" (a
few years ago now) and
our little wine emporium was cited as being a Bay Area leader in value-priced
We've found some customers only think to come to Weimax when they're looking for
a "special" bottle of wine, but please know we have really fine
"everyday" bottles, too.
Many stores offer "wines they can sell." Our philosophy is quite
different: We feature "wines we can recommend." Heck, we
like to enjoy a great wine for which we've not spent so much money.
A low price does not make for a good value. A wine must be of good
quality, first and foremost. A good "value" is a wine which
tastes more expensive than its price tag indicates. Simply being cheap
does not make for "good value."
We hear from some people, speaking about some famous cheap wines, "Well,
it's not bad for the price."
We disagree, especially when "it's
not good for the price," either.
In any case, please know we have more respect for a ten dollar bill than most
Here are some suggestions from our current offerings:
Updated November 2022
BORSAO GARNACHA Still SALE PRICED
the Aragon region of Spain comes this amazingly "soulful" wine.
It's dark in color and teeming with berryish fruit and a mildly spice note.
It's a bit reminiscent of Beaujolais but with raspberry-like notes instead of
A blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo....this delicious!
We typically chill this for an hour in the 'fridge...
Please note: Aside from the fact that this is a dynamite bottle of wine for
eight bucks-and-change, it makes a superb Sangria!
ROQUEVALE'S "COZINHA VELHA" RED
WINE SALE $5.99
The wine is a blend of Castelão, Aragonez and Trincadeira.. They claim
it's been matured for 6 months in wood. French oak, even.
We are not sure how they make such a nice little wine and get it here for six
bucks, but you ought to taste it and see what you think.
FAMILIA BASTIDA "ALCEO"
From La Mancha, this is a surprisingly good wine and it's
well-priced at just ten bucks a bottle.
We're told the vineyards are dry-farmed (low yields translates to greater
concentration of character) and they even cultivate organically!
Hand-harvested grapes are vinified and then the wine is matured several months
in a combination of French and American oak cooperage.
It's a medium to full-bodied red with softer tannins and dark fruit notes with
the oak on the nose and palate.
Ten Bucks! Wow.
((Thanks to an honest, local importer who buys directly in Spain...))
VIU MANENT CABERNET SAUVIGNON
SALE PRICE $9.99
big fans of this producer. While you can buy thin, watery, sweet wine from
California's Central Valley under labels such as Mondavi's Woodbridge or other
dry, medium-full bodied red of exceptional intensity in this price range.
No oak. A couple of weeks' maceration on the skins, so this even has a bit
of tannin! And it's dry.
TAMMELINI SOAVE $14.99
Brothers Gaetano & Pio-Francesco Tammelini keep a rather low profile.
We drove around the hills just north of Soave looking for their winery and the
place is well-hidden.
No sign. No winery tanks visible from the road...
But damn, they make a great bottle of Soave.
So many Soave wines resemble a bottle of Crystal Geyser water and then these
Here's a great bottle of white wine with a remarkably fruity fragrance...peaches
It's dry and crisp on the palate and has the intense flavors you'd expect given
I brought a bottle to dinner at the home of a prominent winemaker in Italy...we
were disappointed that I didn't have a second bottle in my bag as this
disappeared much too quickly.
Our former colleague Kareasa sent a text after we insisted she buy a bottle:
Yes, it is "damned good."
If you've been drinking simple Pinot Grigio,
check out a bottle of this.
- CHIROULET CÔTES DE GASCOGNE "TERRES
The Fezas family owns this excellent estate in Gascony and we view this as a
"top of the market" white wine from the Southwest of France.
The name "Chiroulet" refers to the sound the wind makes as it
whistles over the hills of their vineyards and a spalsh of this in a big
wine glass will certainly whet your whistle.
The wine is typically 50% Gros Manseng and then there's about 40% Sauvignon
Blanc with 10% old vines Ugni Blanc.
It's dry and fresh, with notes reminiscent of ripe peach along with a touch
of melon-like fruit.
Despite Philippe Fezas spending much of his week selling French oak barrels
to the top Bordeaux wineries, this wine has no wood influence.
It doesn't need oak...
This is one of the best dry whites from the Gascogne appellation...it's
seriously good and yet costs a mere $13.99.
As you can see, the bottle is standard and the label is a bit bland, even if
the wine is not.
TOPO Portuguese Red Blend $9.99
From Casa Santos Lima, a terrific
value-driven winery north of Lisbon comes this delightful blend featuring
Castelão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca and Syrah.
They do a day of pre-fermentation "cold soaking" and then leave
the juice in contact with the skins following the fermentation to extract
the maximum color and character possible.
Some of the wine then goes into oak barrels and the resulting wine is big,
dark and impressively intense. There's dark fruit fragrances and
flavors with just a touch of oak. And it's just ten
GATO NEGRO CABERNET/MERLOT SALE $5.99
- This is vinified
in the style of Beaujolais, so you'll find a very fruity, berryish quality
to the wine. We find it enjoyable as a picnic red and like it served
moderately chilled, since it's smooth and virtually without
They now are sold in a screw-cap bottle.
- COMTESSE MARION CHARDONNAY $13.99
There's nothing particularly "fancy"
about this wine.
It comes from vineyard not too far from Narbonne...no fancy vinification or
oak barrels...it's simply a bright, beautifully aromatic dry white with
notes of apple and pear-like fruit on the nose and palate. It tastes
good and has a surprisingly pleasant character for a wine made without the
use of oak to boost its personality.
Chardonnay can be a rather bland, neutral white wine and so it often relies
on the winemaker to put some fingerprints on it to make it interesting.
That's not the case here...clearly this is a hands-off production, yet it
DOMAINE DU HAUT BOURG SAUVIGNON BLANC $12.99
Western Loire Valley, not far from the Atlantic
Ocean, is a haven for well-priced, bone dry, crisply acidic white wines.
These pair beautifully with the local seafood, as you might imagine.
The winemaking hub for this region is the city of Nantes.
The Choblet Brother's estate of Haut Bourg is located about 4 or 5 hours (by
car) southwest of Paris and they make quite a range of wines, mostly white.
We were shown this remarkable wine recently and were delighted by the intensity
of the Sauvignon Blanc character.
It's bone dry and has zesty, crisp acidity which pairs handsomely with the local
oysters and other seafood from the area.
(We had a similarly-priced Sauvignon from Henri Bourgeois, the "Robert
Mondavi of France's Loire Valley," but the importer ran out and we
immediately brought in this delicious white.)
JF QUÉNARD CHIGNIN $16.99
Everyone in the town of Chignin seems to be
named Quénard and there are signs for each Quénard winery as you arrive in
We've long been fans of the wine of Jean-François Quénard...the wines are
always good and they arrive here with a most attractive price-tag.
The grape for the basic Chignin wine is Jacquère.
It grows in a stony terroir on a lovely hillside that makes cultivating these
vines a challenge.
The wine has no oak and it's mildly aromatic and stony.
We routinely order a bottle of this in a favorite San Francisco restaurant where
they ask about $40 for this $16.99 bottle.
But you know what? The wine is terrific and worth it.
CHÂTEAU DE CUGAT BORDEAUX SUPÉRIEUR $14.99
When we first tasted this well-priced Bordeaux we
were delighted to find such a good wine at an attractive price.
The property was owned by a fellow named Benoit Meyer and he was really serious
about making good wine. In fact, we discovered he was a bit of a wine geek
and we opened some bottles of far more fancy wine when we dined with him.
He relished driving around the Right Bank and pointing out the really
prestigious estates along the way. He knew them all and he knew their
This, perhaps, was one reason he made such good wine. He knew what the
neighbors made and wanted to produce something worthy of comparison even though
his wine sold for much less.
Some old bottles appreciated and enjoyed by Benoit Meyer...
FORMERLY IL POGGIO SANGIOVESE Sale
This comes from a rather large winery in Emilia Romagna and it's not a
particularly profound or exceptional red wine.
It's not supposed to be profound or exceptional.
Yet we have many fans who buy this as an accompaniment to a simple plate of
Spaghetti & Meatballs or Lasagna...the wine simply "works"
well on the dinner table (no table cloth, please!).
It's a well-made, easy-to-drink, lighter bodied red wine.
BLISS Mendocino County SAUVIGNON BLANC $11.99
A fellow named Irv Bliss had visited Mendocino
back in the late 1930s and was taken with the landscape. Some years later
he bid on a property there, sight unseen. Apparently he felt
"ignorance is bliss." Lo and behold, it was the same place
he'd falling in love with on his lone visit.
Bliss grew figs, had a few vines and mostly raised sheep and cattle.
Today Irv's heirs make wine there and their main label is Brutocao with Bliss
being their more modestly-priced wines.
We were looking for a good value in California Sauvignon Blanc and narrowed it
down to this and one from Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley. The Sonoma Sauvignon
comes from what most would consider to be a more "noble" appellation,
but we chose the Bliss wine because it was simply the superior wine.
It would be easier to sell the first bottle of the other wine, but we're more
interested in quality than image.
This is a light, dry white...one of the few California white wines in this price
category that's got some character and that's dry.
Heck, we taste a lot of stupidly-priced Sauvignons that don't have this quality
and yet they're expensive.
FILIPPO GALLINO NEBBIOLO LANGHE Sold
The late Filippo Gallino passed the vineyards
and winery to his son...
They're in the Roero region of Piemonte and they make good, solid wines.
We were delighted when mentioning Gallino's name to other winemakers how all
spoke glowingly about Filippo and his work. He's well-respected by his
neighbors and this certainly validates the efforts made by the Gallino family.
We have a small display of the Filippo Gallino Nebbiolo Langhe in the front of
the shop. The wine is well-priced and it's a good example of Nebbiolo:
brickish in color, light cherry notes with a mildly floral tone...bone dry,
crisply acidic and moderately tannic. Given how many people come into the
shop requesting low acid California wines which often sport some residual sugar,
we're thrilled to see people return to buy a second (or third or fourth) bottle
of this Nebbiolo.
It's NOT a universally-appealing wine as it's made for Adult Palates, not kids.
The snappy acidity and mild "bite" from grippy tannins is so different
from the wines found in grocery stores and chain liquor stores which feature
wines made at the direction of a marketing department.
This Nebbiolo is made by people who "toil in the vineyards" and who
make wine with the idea that it's a meal-time beverage, not a cocktail with a
piece of fruit and a drinks umbrella in the glass.
If we have not scared you off yet, bravo!
You're likely someone who enjoys "real" wine.
So come snap up a bottle of this...the price is right and the quality is in the
"Wine and music make the heart rejoice"
ERCOLE "BARBERA DEL
A fellow who imports a nice range of wines from
Italy's Piemonte wanted to offer a well-priced red at a sensible price.
He sells a fair bit of this to restaurants and it's a pleasant "by the
glass" red made of Barbera.
Low in tannin and medium-full in body, the wine offers some dark berry fruit
It's smooth and ready to drink, so make a nice meat sauce and get ready to boil
Or grill some sausages or dial up for a pizza.
Best served at cool cellar temp.
CASTAÑO "Monastrell" SALE $9.99
The Castaño Family makes a good range of
We've been fans of their simple Monastrell, as it's a medium-bodied, easy-drinkin'
red at a sensible price. The vines range from 30 to 60 years of age (they
consider these to be their younger vineyards!).
It's a non-oaked red...berries galore.
DOMAINE DE COLETTE BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES
We asked winemaker Jacky Gauthier why the winery
isn't named after his lovely wife Evelyne, but after, apparently, some other
woman named Colette.
As a result of such a query, Gauthier and Evelyne this we are out of our mind.
"Colette," you see, refers to the hill where Gauthier's home and
neighboring vineyards are situated.
The main thing is the Domaine de Colette wines are great examples of
Beaujolais...teeming with red fruits such as strawberry tones and raspberry.
The Beaujolais-Villages is a delight. Best served lightly chilled, this is
as gentle as a white wine but with lots of fruity notes.
Gauthier was amused and delighted when we contacted him recently to help in
translating the Colette website. We told him we sell far more of his
Beaujolais than we do from the famed "King of Beaujolais," Georges
We finally informed Jacky that we do not sell DuBoeuf's wines...so, of course we
sell more of Domaine de Colette.
But still...this is a really good Beaujolais and it's from a steep slope with 80
year old vines.
The local importer requests the wine be bottled without being filtered.
LOOSEN'S "DR. L"
RIESLING SALE $11.99
Brothers Ernst and Thomas Loosen make so stellar Mosel
Rieslings from their Dr. Loosen estate. They own parcels in many famous
sites and make an impressive array of impressive wines.
Some years ago they had the idea of making a good, entry-level Riesling in hopes
of introducing Mosel wines to a broader audience.
As a result you won't find a litany of hard-to-pronounce words on this label.
No Ürziger Würzgarten Grosses Gewächs Alte Reben Riesling Spätlese on the
Instead all you have to remember is Dr. L Riesling.
The wine is floral and fruity with noticeable sweetness. However, the
sugar is offset, as is normal for good German wine, with ample acidity.
If you're looking for a good quality white wine with a touch of sweetness, we
prescribe a bottle of Dr. L.
GOTA DE ARENA Spanish
Gota de Arena is a Spanish Tempranillo from
vineyards not far from Zamora.
This is about 116 miles northwest of Madrid and some 150 miles southwest of the
famous Rioja region.
The Bodegas Tridente makes this wine and they are owned by the famous Juan Gil
The wine is made entirely of Tempranillo and it's matured in both French and
It's a smooth, supple wine with some cocoa notes and a bit of dark fruit.
The tannin is very low and the wine is not intended to be cellared, so you can
easily enjoy a bottle tonight.
Medium to medium-full bodied...
DOMAINE DES GUIDOIRS MUSCADET
- Muscadet is a delightfully dry, crisp, light white wine from the western
part of France's Loire Valley. It's made of a grape called "Melon
de Bourgogne" and this sort of wine pairs handsomely with
oysters, We've enjoyed it with fried calamari, too.
People who know something about French wine know Muscadet.
People who know "a little bit" about wine are befuddled.
Typically this is the conversation in a wine shop:
Wine Shop Staffer: "If you're looking for a good seafood
white that's economical, perhaps you might enjoy a Muscadet."
Customer: "Oh, but we don't like sweet wines."
Wine Shop Staffer: "Muscadet is actually a dry wine.
It's not sweet at all."
Customer: "Oh please! I know more about wine than you
do. Muscats are always sweet."
Wine Shop Staffer: "Never mind. Would you like to see
a bottle of Kendull Jackson Chardonnay?"
CHÂTEAU LA CROIX CALENDREAU BORDEAUX
How's this for confusing?
The man who owns this estate also has a winery in the St. Emilion appellation
and that wine is also called
La Croix Calendreau!
It costs a lot more money though.
Here's a nicely made Bordeaux that's based on Merlot. It's from a 3
hectare estate which is on clay soils and is flat enough to pick the grapes
using a mechanical harvester.
The wine is vinified in stainless steel and they leave the skins in contact with
the juice/wine for about a month.
This contributes a bit of weight and intensity to the wine, though it's not a
heavy or ponderous red.
We enjoyed a few glasses of this with a Cassoulet...a good pairing for simple
peasant cuisine for simple peasants.
It's quite drinkable now and we expect the wine can last for maybe five or six
years, though it's not intended for extended cellaring, so don't think you're
going to have a wine such as Château Lafite-Rothschild.
DOMITIA PICPOUL DE PINET $15.99
Domaine Guillamarine sells most of its fruit to
a local grower's co-op winery, but they keep a small quantity for their own
production and make this Domitia wine.
Domitia refers to a road the Romans built 2100+ years ago starting in Italy and
finishing in Spain.
Marion and Guillaume Allies live in the Languedoc village called Pomerols and
they're not far from the Bassin de Thau, a hotbed of oyster cultivation.
Guess what white wine pairs handsomely with oysters?
In the Occitan language the word "picpoul" translates to "lip
That's likely because the wine made of the Picpoul grape used to be screamingly
high in acidity.
Warmer growing seasons and better cultivation methods (and picking decisions)
allow for the production of a wine that's easily drinkable. Oak barrels
are not used to produce this wine, so you'll find it light, crisp and dry
DISTRICT 7 MONTEREY PINOT NOIR SALE
The name "District 7" is not some notion from the
Hunger Games movies.
It stems from California having 17 numbered grape-growing districts.
Monterey is, according to the California Agriculture department, District 7.
If you're keeping track, District 3 is Sonoma and Marin, while Napa is District
The Scheid family launched the District 7 brand some years ago
and it's a reasonably-priced red that actually shows notes of Pinot Noir on both
the nose and palate. It's a medium-bodied, gentle red wine.
We've had maybe 5 vintages now and it remains a popular wine with Weimax
MARIANA (Herdade do Rocim) PORTUGUESE
Mariana is the name of a Portuguese girl who's
widowed father farmed her off to a local convent. When she was an adult,
she struck up a relationship with a French military man who was assisting the
Portuguese army in battling the Spanish in a war lasting more than a couple of
Their relationship was eventually discovered and caused great embarrassment and
somewhat of a stormy scandal.
The Herdade do Rocim winery honors this bit of Portuguese history by making a
wine named after Sister Mariana.
It's quite a good wine, made entirely of the Alicante Bouschet grape.
Small French oak barrels are used to mature the wine and it's fairly full-bodied
without being heavy or ponderous. We like the touch of a cedary note on
CHÂTEAU LESTRILLE Entre Deux Mers
Estelle Roumage learned viticulture and
winemaking from her father, Jean-Louis. She spent a harvest season in New
Zealand to have a bit more experience in making wine and her simple white
Bordeaux from her vineyards in the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation is routinely
It's predominantly Sauvignon Blanc and the wine is fresh, citrusy and dry.
Really good and classy.
UNDERWOOD Oregon PINOT NOIR (Sale) $11.99
The Union Wine Company in Oregon makes some good wines at affordable
This is typically found in most places for $12-$15.
We sale price it to introduce budget-mind customers to Pinot Noir that actually
tastes like Pinot Noir.
It's not a fancy red, but it is easily recognizable as Pinot Noir.
Most entry-level wines label Pinot Noir are rather anonymous and weak.
This is a good example of Pinot and well-priced.
OISLEY-THESEE "TOURAINE" SAUVIGNON BLANC
a smallish grower's cooperative in the Loire near Touraine called
Oisely-Thesee, a name which doesn't roll off the tongue of most American
We've tasted this wine for many vintages and I think the 2010 is the first
one we've brought in to the shop.
It's always well-made and, from our perspective, a shade skinny.
The 2018 isn't a big wine, nor is it a medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc.
But for a nice, crisp, dry and light wine, this shows well, especially for
it's eight-buck price.
It's not as intense as our Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume wines, but most of
those will set you back $17-$25.
If you're steaming some clams or enjoying some fresh Dungeness crab and
looking for a budget-priced bottle, this is worth trying.
STONECAP Washington State MERLOT
The Monson family has been farming in
Washington State's Columbia Valley for many years and in the late 1990s they
decided to plant grapes.
The Monsons had been cattle ranchers before planting apples and cherries.
They hired a feller named Walter Clore who's regarded as the father of the
Washington wine industry. Soon they had well more than a thousand acres of
We gather they sell a lot of fruit and they make wine for their premium Goose
Ridge Estate Vineyard wines and they make this daily-drinker label called
It's a really well-made, simple version of Merlot. Now many California
wines costing much more than ten bucks betray the wine-grower by displaying a
decidedly vegetal, herbal fragrance. This "green" element is a
result of the fruit not really being mature, despite having sufficient sugar to
produce a 13 or 14% alcohol wine. There are often too many grapes-per-acre
being harvested and the fruit isn't really ripe, hence the herbal or green
Stonecap, on the other hand, doesn't have that character and instead you'll find
some red and black fruit notes.
Someone told us this wine was on the by-the-glass list at a prominent San
Francisco restaurant. $15 for a glass.
CHÂTEAU LA ROSE DU PIN
ENTRE-DEUX-MERS SALE $10.99
The Ducourt family have a fairly large
winemaking enterprise in Bordeaux.
They own something like 14 different Bordeaux estates and make all sorts of
wines, nothing especially prestigious.
But this white Bordeaux from the Entre-Deux-Mers region is quite attractive and
it's well-priced for its quality.
One of the Ducourt family had purchased two properties in the Entre-Deux-Mers
appellation and they mostly grow red grapes.
But they have 6 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon to produce this tasty
dry white and costing less than ten bucks, it's a winner.
You'll find mildly citrusy notes...the Sauvignon Blanc takes center stage here.
CASE IBIDINI NERO D'AVOLA SALE $14.99
comes from a good winery in Southeast Sicily. It's a family-operated
property and they make a really charming, fruity, berryish Nero d'Avola.
Some of the Nero d'Avola wines coming to the US market are made to a formula
of what some marketing people think American wine drinkers want. As a
result, some Nero d'Avola wines are styled similarly to Chianti, Cabernet
and other red wines, losing their originality.
The Case Ibidini is a medium-bodied to medium-light-bodied Nero d'Avola and
it has a modest level of acidity. It's not as tart as a good
Chianti. We typically chill this to about 50-55 degrees before putting
it on the dinner table (or picnic table, too, for that matter).
LA CABOTTE COTES DU RHONE Sale $12.99
most entry-level bottlings of Cotes du Rhone come from co-op wineries, this
one is a good, smallish, family-operated place owned by a family from
The patriarch of the family had found this property some years ago and was
enchanted by the prospects of having a warm climate, summer vacation
Today they farm about 50 acres, most devoted to grapes, but some to
We'd tasted the wines over the past decade, or so, and it's only since about
2006 or 2007 that we've felt they're on the right track. It's by far the
best twelve buck Cotes du Rhone in the market.
DOMAINE DUFFOUR CÔTES DE GASCOGNE $9.99
Duffour is a brilliant producer of white wines...this is a delightful blend,
but predominantly Ugni Blanc and Colombard.
Fresh, dry, and light (lower in alcohol than California Chardonnay, for
example). And yet is remarkably flavorful.
Nobody, tasting this without seeing the price tag, pegs this as a wine
costing ten bucks.
- VIU MANENT RESERVA SAUVIGNON BLANC $9.99
clearly pushed the vineyards to produce an abundant crop of Sauvignon
Blanc as the wine is a bit light, but still has enough character that you
won't mistake it for anything other than Sauvignon Blanc.
It's dry and non-oaked and is a remarkably nice little wine for cocktail
service or to pair with seafood.
BODEGAS LAN RIOJA CRIANZA
- Bodegas Lan offers a remarkable Rioja of the "Crianza"
The wine is made entirely of Tempranillo and the wine is matured in both
French and American oak barrels (about a year in wood).
This is classic Rioja and for fifteen bucks, it's a bargain!
We offer it for a low price to introduce customers to Rioja in general,
hoping they will be sufficiently intrigued that they'll explore some of
the $20+ bottles.
This seems to work nicely, as Spain offers some remarkably good wines at
sensible price levels.
In Spain they'd serve this with chuletillas, small
grilled lamb chops. Not a bad way to go. But this can pair
beautifully with a hamburger, too, though for a mere ten bucks for the wine,
maybe you could afford a small rib-eye or New York steak?
Barrels in the cellars of Bodegas Lan
PEDRONCELLI FRIENDS.RED SALE 11.99
County fruit...Merlot, Zin and Cab Franc. A touch of oak.
Smooth, medium-bodied red...they had this on the drawing board well before
the current economic downturn, but then Pedroncelli has always had good
wines at honest, old-time prices. It's quite good.
We also have the white wine of friends.white...$11.99...most Sonoma
L'HORTUS "Le Loup dans la Bergerie"
RED SALE $11.99
- The Orliac family makes some terrific wines in the Pic Saint Loup
appellation...and we're delighted to find a really affordable little red
wine from them with a name like a wolf-in-sheep's-clothing (more
literally, a wolf in the sheep house).
It's vinified to be immediately drinkable...mostly Grenache with some
Syrah for color and body and a bit of Merlot for marketing.
It's a delightful ten buck red wine...best at cool cellar temp.
TRENTADUE "OLD PATCH RED" SALE 13.99
The Trentadue family owns extensive acreage in Northern
Sonoma...their grapes go into the famous Ridge "Geyserville" wine.
They make a bit of wine of their own and especially price-worthy is their
simple Zinfandel-based blend called "Old Patch Red."
There's Petite Sirah and Carignane in the blend as well, so it's sort of a
Zinfandel-Meets-The-Rhone kind of red.
Medium-full bodied and with a touch of spice.
TALMARD 2019 MACON-CHARDONNAY $15.99
Talmard is a smallish estate in France's Macon
region and they make a simple, easy-going Chardonnay of good value.
We've carried this wine routinely for more than two decades.
Some years ago we we passing through the Macon region on our way to Italy and
stopped for a quick visit.
Gerald Talmard was a bit surprised, asking why in the world someone would come
visit his unassuming digs in Macon?
I explained that we've had the wine for so many vintages, I was delighted to
stop in to say hello and "thanks for making such a good wine at a good
The 2019 is fresh-off-the-boat...simple, easy-drinkin' white Burgundy.
The Engel winery continues to produce really good wines in Alsace...we've
been fans for more than 20 years and met winemaker Xavier Baril back in the
late 1990s. Now his daughter Amelie is working in the family business
and she's passionate about the world of wine.
This estate flies below the radar in the world of wine and wine
critics. They make a good bottle and offer it for a sensible price.
As a result, European visitors flock to the cellar door and depart with
cases to take back home.
The brand lacks the fanfare of some of their well-marketed neighbors but the
quality is good and the pricing is attractive for actual wine drinkers.
ENGEL PINOT BLANC d'ALSACE $12.99
- This is a really good dry white from a little family vineyard and winery
along the Route du Vin in Alsace...no oak. This shows a lovely appley
fruit aroma and it's dry and has a modest level of acidity.
It's as good as Pinot Blanc from more famous estates.
SOQUEL VINEYARDS "TRINITY
The Soquel Vineyards winery is the work of two Bargetto
family members and one of their good friends.
We've had their Trinity Rosso in the shop periodically, skipping the vintages
which show dehydrated fruit notes...this occurs when some of the grapes are
raisined and shriveled, contributing a decidedly jammy character to the wine.
Happily their latest bottling is on target, displaying some ripe, dark fruit and
a mildly woodsy note from its aging in small oak cooperage.
It used to be a three grape blend, but this new release is a mix of five
varieties. It's based on Zinfandel with Petite Sirah. Add to the
blend, a modest amount of the Italian Teroldego grape and some Cabernet
Sauvignon and a drop of Merlot.
It's a medium bodied to full-bodied red with light tannins so it's quite
$16 a bottle at the winery door. $12.99 here.
SOBON ESTATE "OLD VINES" AMADOR
ZINFANDEL Sale $10.99
The Sobon family has been making good Amador
County wines since the late 1970s. Back then vineyard land didn't cost an
arm and a leg like it does today. As a result the Sobon family has been making
sensibly-priced wines for a few decades.
So many California wines selling for less than $15 usually have a
"California" appellation and come from over-cropped vineyards in the
Central Valley. These wines are typically soulless and "empty,"
relying on some sugar to fill in the gap left by poor quality grapes.
Meanwhile, Sobon's "Old Vine" Zinfandel comes from good,
sustainably-farmed vineyards in Amador County in the Sierra Foothills. The
youngest vines are 35 years of age and the oldest are just over 100. The
wine is matured in seasoned American and French oak barrels, so the bright berry
Zinfandel fruit is prominent here.
As this is on the softer side of the spectrum, we like popping a bottle in the
'fridge for 30 to 60 minutes to get it to cool cellar temperature.
It's one of the few bargains in California wine.
TRE MONTI SANGIOVESE "Campo di Mezzo"
From a smallish estate southeast of Bologna, here's
a young, fresh, exuberantly cherryish Sangiovese.
It's not "fortified" with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, like many
Chianti Classico wines these days.
It doesn't rely on oak, either.
We had been enchanted by this wine and shortly after being introduced to it, we
had a chance to taste some far more costly Chianti Classico bottlings.
Several of those had Cabernet blended into them and this really changed the
character of the Sangiovese.
We did find a Felsina Chianti Classico to be really good, but rejected a number
But high on the hedonism scale was/is this remarkably juicy red.
BADIA DI MORRONA CHIANTI Sale
The current bottling of Morrona's little Chianti is Delicious with a capital
It comes from a lovely winery that's close to Pisa (hence
you'll notice it does not say "Chianti Classico" on the label as it's
outside that appellation area.
The estate comprises about 500 hectares but only 90 are devoted to vineyards.
The cellars are in an old monastery.
It's snappy Sangiovese called "I Sodi del Paretaio"
and the wine is medium-bodied and brightly cherryish.
The wine does not see any oak, as they leave it in stainless steel or cement
Not fancy, but for Spaghetti & Meatballs, Lasagna or Italian Sausages on the
grill, this is a nice accompaniment.
Perfect pasta wine as this has the acidity of Sangiovese and it balances the
tomato sauce and grated Parmigiano you'll put on top of the pasta...
SASSOTONDO'S TUFO ROSSO Sold
have had several vintages of this little Tuscan red in the shop and I
finally had a chance to go visit the estate...
It's way out in the middle of nowhere and it's a beautiful little property cultivated
by a charming couple who are dedicated to making good wines (and a
reasonable prices, too!).
The wine is predominantly Sangiovese but the modest 'twist' here is
winemaker Carla Bernini uses a bit of Teroldego, a grape from her homeland
in Trentino, in the blend..
It's a medium-bodied red intended for drinking in its youth.
As the wine is bright and fruity (but dry with snappy Sangiovese acidity), we
like to serve this at cool cellar temp. Pop your bottle in the 'fridge for
maybe an hour to get it to 55 degrees, or so.
The wine pairs handsomely with rigatoni and tomato sauce (as seen above), but
it's a good accompaniment to sausages, pizza, etc.
SOBON ESTATE "ROCKY TOP"
The Sobon family makes some terrific and
well-priced California wines in the Sierra Foothills.
Their "Rocky Top" bottling is less fruity than the "Old
Vines" listed above on this web page. It comes from a high-elevation
site where you'll find some seriously old vines...some are 100+ years of age and
produce a small, but flavorful crop.
The wine sees a bit of American and French oak, with perhaps 30% of the barrels
being brand new.
This contributes a mildly woodsy spice note in the wine.
The tannin level is low and the wine is remarkably showy.
"VALE DO BOMFIM" DOURO RED $11.99
The famous Port house of Dow's has offered a pretty impressive
"house red" called Vale do Bomfim.
It comes from two vineyard sites in the Douro and half the wine is a mystery
blend in that the various varieties are from mixed plantings, to there is no
precise idea of what's in the wine.
But they do know that 30% of the blend if from a parcel of Touriga Franca and
20% is Touriga Nacional, though those are also likely planted in the mixed
The wine is hardly a shy, retiring little red. It's got a modest amount of
tannin, so you won't find this to be a good "cocktail red."
(Better buy a Beaujolais or Dolcetto for that!)
Instead, this has some "grip" to it, so it's ideal partnered with
something a bit fatty such as red meat or cheese.
It's remarkably good and if you can bear not spending a fortune for a good red
that's intended for adults (many ten buck reds are engineered by marketing
companies who cater to people who don't drink much wine or who are just starting
to enjoy wine and so they tend to leave a bit of sugar in the wines.
Not here...this is made by wine drinkers FOR wine drinkers.
We've noticed it benefits from being open for a while and really hits its stride
after the first glass.
See what you think.
BIRICHINO 2022 MALVASIA BIANCA
Malvasia grape can make a wonderfully floral and intensely aromatic
Years ago, Beringer made Malvasia as did Santa Clara's San Martin winery...
- Bonny Doon had produced good Malvasia and the guy who gained much
experience there launched his own label, Birichino, and is making this
wonderful wine today.
This has such a beautiful fragrance...perfumy and reminiscent of jasmine
blossoms and a fruit basket, though the wine is actually dry despite all the
Pairing it with Asian dishes is ideal, though a seafood salad with pineapple
or mango works well, too.
There's also a "Pet Nat" sparkling wine made of Malvasia...$22.99 for
the bubbly version which is beautifully dry yet sweetly aromatic.
MAROTTI CAMPI "RUBICO"
Lacrima di Moro d'Alba SALE $16.99
a most amazing red wine produced in small quantities in Italy's Marche
The area is best known for its Verdicchio wine, a white grape found near
the Adriatic coast and a bit inland...
But there's a red grape called "Lacrima di Moro d'Alba" which
grows around the town of Moro d'Alba. Many people expect this name
to refer to a wine from Piemonte, since there's Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and
The grape nearly had died out but it's on the rebound and makes a
wonderfully distinctive red wine that you'll either love or hate.
The color is dark and inky. The fragrance and flavors, though,
poured into a black glass (so you can see the color) would be identified
by most experts as some sort of Gewurztraminer.
The fragrance shows notes of grapefruit and rose petals, much like great
Gewurztraminer from Alsace or the Alto Adige.
We generally chill a bottle of this to cool cellar temp. It pairs
with all kinds of foods...best with nicely seasoned dishes, though.
Pork, chicken, turkey...we had it with some Chinese take-out and it was
FOXGLOVE 2021 Paso Robles CABERNET
The Varner brothers periodically have some
well-made, well-priced wines under their Foxglove label.
We were pleasantly surprised by the 2018 Cabernet and succeeding vintages have
been terrific, as it's more elegant and less
"ripe" than so many reds from Paso Robles...these tend to have a jammy
character and this wine avoids that, displaying bright red fruit notes and a
faintly woodsy note.
It's ready to drink, having been vinified with the idea of making something for
consumption over the short-term.
Medium-bodied...not a fruit bomb...and it's well-priced!
Stop by the shop...we'd be
delighted to show you our latest discoveries.