My Top Ten QPR Wines For 1999, $12 Or Less - Printable Version

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- Bucko - 11-29-1999 10:29 PM

In the $12.00 or less category, in no particular order:

1997 Cline Cellars Zinfandel, California, $10. There is a lot of bang for the buck here, with rich strawberry fruit, hints of pepper and modest tannins that make this wine ready to drink now or over the next two to three years.

1997 Stone Creek Merlot, California, Special Selection, $8, 100,000 cases. An amazing value wine, with very nice black fruit, complexity, soft tannins and nice acidity. A good food wine.

1997 River Road Pinot Noir, Russian River, $12, 450 cases. This exceptional value wine is made in a very approachable style. Bright cherry fruit, a hint of smokey oak, and crisp acid makes this a nice match for pork tenderloin.

1997 Sonoma Creek Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, $12, 4400 cases. A very good bargain that is drinking well now. Currants and cherries on the nose as well as the palate, along with tea flavors, good acidity and soft tannins makes for a lovely wine that wine will match a host of foods.

1998 Simi Rose of Cabernet Sauvignon, California, $10. Worth the hunt to find this refreshing wine. Lots of strawberries and cranberries, with just a hint of sweetness. A great summer sipper.

1998 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, $8.50, 20,000 cases. This is another good value wine. Very clean, with crisp acidity, the wine is made is a moderately grassy, green apple style. This is a nice match for shellfish, or your favorite fish served with a leek coulis.

1998 Meridian Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, $11. 80% of the wine was BF in French and American oak, and 80% went thru MLF. A very good buy for those who like moderate oak (I don't). Full of tropical fruit, creamy oak and spice, the wine has nice acidity and a long aftertaste that will appeal to many.

1997 Hahn, Merlot, Santa Lucia Highlands, $11, 36,000 cases. Rich black cherry fruit, a dab of olive, balanced oak and soft tannins. An incredible value.

1998 Chateau St. Jean, Sauvignon Blanc, $9. A clean, refreshing wine, with melon and fig fruit, light grassiness, and subtle oak. Very good value.

1997 Mirassou Pinot Noir, Monterey County, $12, 10,745 cases. Very fruity, with lush cherry flavors, spice and a dash of vanilla. Extremely good value.


- Thomas - 11-30-1999 09:51 AM

Bucko, are you saying there are none drinkable (under $12) outside of California, have you just missed those, or is that for a later posting?

This often seems like a California-centric wine board.

- Bucko - 11-30-1999 09:17 PM

Now don't go putting words in my mouth -- I can get myself in trouble easy enough.

No, I just have no exposure to that price category of imports -- I admittedly drink more expensive ones. Languedoc and Loire wines qualify for my best French QPR wines, and while still quite inexpensive, they are still $14+.


- Thomas - 12-01-1999 10:44 AM

For one of my monthly columns I made a 1999 resolution to search for drinkable wines at under $10 and under $8, and then to report on them.

I managed to find many (went the whole year with about five or six per column); the bulk of them were Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Australian and South American.

I do not know if it is trade policy or government subsidy but many imports at under $10 are in the New York pipeline.

- Innkeeper - 12-01-1999 10:45 AM

Think Bucko's choices are super, albeit very Californian. Buzzed through a couple of cases of the Cline Zin ourselves. Wonderful. Here are two more candidates: First an old maligned friend in a splendid reincarnation: McDowell Grenache Rose' Mendocino 1997, $9. Then for an out-of-stater: Bookwalter Vinters Select Joannisberg Reisling Washington 1998, $7.50.

- Bucko - 12-01-1999 08:04 PM

Bookwalter is from my neck of the woods -- I have not tried their wines recently. I need to rectify that.


- Innkeeper - 12-09-1999 09:01 AM

Last night we uncorked the absolutely best value wine we've tried this year. It was the 1996 Ironstone Vineyards, Cabernet Franc, California, $10.49. With just a drop of Merlot, it is drop dead delicious.

- Jerry D Mead - 12-09-1999 09:21 AM

Cab Franc has always been this Calaveras County winery's best's a little out of the way at Murphys, CA, but Ironstone has one of the classiest visitor facilities in the U.S. Definitely worth a visit...the facility will hold its own with anything in the North Coast and the wines are getting better. It's an offbeat variety, but they make a delicious Symphony with the proprietary name "Obsession."

Another Ironstone sidenote...when the Kautz family was looking for a new brand name some years back...It was your humble Curmudgeon who came up with the "Ironstone" name after observing the winery's caves which were drilled and blasted out of the side of a mountain from some of the hardest rock around.

- Thomas - 12-09-1999 10:31 AM

Can someone enlighten me as to the pedigree of Black Mountain, Sonoma.

I picked up a 1997 Zinfandel at Trader Joe's ($6); not a blockbuster wine, but a delicious treat and truly value-priced.

- Jerry D Mead - 12-09-1999 03:37 PM

I think we discussed this one in another folder recently...or maybe I got an e-mail query from a reader...anyhow...Black Mountain used to be an estate property in Sonoma. Now it is another of those brands taken over by Classic Wines of California in the same manner as Hacienda, Napa Creek, Rutherford Vintners, etc....also the same folks who produce the excellent value Forest Glen line. I understand that Black Mountain is sold exclusively to Trader Joe's. Is that where you found it?

- Thomas - 12-09-1999 04:42 PM

Yes, curm, that is what I said--Trader Joe's. Union County, New Jersey, where my in-laws live, has a Trader Joe's. The only one I have seen on the East Coast.

Thanks for the Black Mountain info.