Value Vino

2013 Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir, Vintner’s Reserve, California

Made from 100% Pinot noir grapes grown in the cool, coastal climate of Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. It is a nearly transparent garnet color. Decidedly delicate aromas, true to the varietal, rise from the glass, including baking spices layered with sweet cherry, strawberry jam, and raspberry fruit. It is sleek and feminine in the mouth, with barely noticeable, fine grained tannins that add to the structure. With each passing vintage, winemaster Randy Ullom continues to upgrade, refine, and define the Vintner’s Reserve line as an affordable, varietally true, quality offering.
MSRP: $20 (April 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 89

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2014 Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

In the glass, a brilliant, pale rose coral color with glints of orange. This is not your mom’s white Zinfandel. Fully dry and made with premium Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel grapes, this rosé shows delicate aromas of rose petal, clove, red cherry and berry fruit, and a note of citrus – all wrapped around a cool mineral underpinning. Once in the mouth, the smooth red fruit is more prominent. This is a genteel, refined rosé that will be welcome in the warm months ahead. Try it with a picnic lunch or just enjoy it by the glass while lolling around the pool. A great bistro wine, at a Value Vino pricepoint.
MSRP: $12 (April 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 88

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2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County

The Dry Creek Valley is home to some of the best Zinfandels on the planet, and this bottling is a good primer on the seductiveness of the grape. In the glass, it has a nearly opaque crimson color. Classic aromas of Zinfandel waft from the glass – pectin, pepper-tinged black and blue berry fruit, fleshy fig, red cherry, and a note of volcanic ash minerality. It is sweet and lush in the mouth, with restrained tannins. Serve this to your friends who say they don’t like dry red wine, and watch the amazement on their faces. It may be the middle of winter as this is written, but what the heck! – break out the barbecue, slather up a slab of baby back ribs, and enjoy. Just be sure to leave some for the dinner table.
MSRP: $20 (February 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 91

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2011 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG

Castello’s reserve bottlings — the Gran Selezione, Alleanza and Chianti Riserva — are likely behind most of the winery’s press acclaim, but I will confess to liking this one best, which seems to strike the right balance of pure Chianti fruit and drinkability. It is also, I would guess, the most “traditional” of Federico Cerelli’s offerings, who has amped up the Castello’s winemaking with a blend of New and Old World best practices, resulting in bigger bodied reserve wines. This Chianti Classico though has a typical acidic energy and doesn’t feel as dense; what it lacks in structure and body, it makes up for in clean, harmonious expression and crisp tannin. Red fruit, crushed violets and red chili flake make a delicious accompaniment to slabs of grilled rare beef or even that most Roman of dishes, spaghetti carbonarra (just don’t tell the Tuscans!). An absolute bargain!

MSRP: $10
Wine Lines Rating: 89

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2014 Wakefield Estate Chardonnay, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills

Brilliant pale straw color. Inviting aromas of subtle baking spices, white flowers, green apple, peach, and saline minerality waft from the glass. These flavors follow through on the palate, picking up a lingering note of nougat at the finish. This white wine is medium-bodied, clean, and balanced. An excellent entry-level Chardonnay, it can stand alone or be paired with white meat entrees, like fish, fowl, veal, or pork. A value vino.
MSRP: $18 (January 2015)
Wine Lines rating: 88

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2013 Barrymore by Carmel Road Pinot Grigio, Monterey

A brilliant light straw color. In the glass, straightforward aromatics of sweet apple, pear, a hint of banana, and a touch of wet stone minerality. These flavors follow through in the mouth, backed by a juicy acidity. This is a versatile white that can stand alone or be paired with sweet and savory dishes – like those served during the end-of-year Holiday period. A value vino.
MSRP: $14.99 (December 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 89

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2013 Sonoma-Loeb Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County

Bright pale straw color. The clean, enticing nose delivers aromas of Granny Smith apple, lemon-lime, honeyed flowers, and herbal notes. It is crisp in the mouth, with a juicy, sweet-tart palate impression, which then leads to a melony roundness at the finish. This is a versatile white that is perfect on its own as an aperitif, or can be enjoyed as a complement to entrees of fish and fowl.
MSRP: $18 (December 2014)
Wine Lines rating: 90

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2012 Vina Robles ‘Red4,’ Paso Robles

This GSM comes with a P.S. Translation: This is a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend that also includes Petite Sirah. More accurately, this is a Petite Sirah (50%) that includes smaller portions of Grenache (20%), Syrah (20%) and Mourvedre (10%). With such expressive varietals involved, you’d expect this to be a complex cuvee, and it is. Briary red raspberry, perfumed flowers, earth, black pepper and a hint of blue fruit waft from the glass. The wine is quite smooth in the mouth, picking up a black licorice note. Moderate fine-grained tannins and a hint of petroleum emerge in the finish, which lingers. This is a lot of wine for the money.

MSRP: $17 (November 2014)

Wine Lines rating: 89

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2013 Kendall-Jackson ‘Vintner’s Reserve’ Riesling, Monterey County

A pear blossom perfume gives way to effusive ripe peach and apricot in the nose. In the mouth, sweet orange emerges. In the past, many California Rieslings have been overblown, flabby and not particularly distinctive. Could this party in a glass mark a new chapter in the variety’s evolution in California? Enjoy as an aperitif, or with fruit salads, white meats, spicy Asian foods, or fruit-based desserts.

MSRP: $13 (November 2014)

Wine Lines rating: 90

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2012 Pedroncelli ‘Bushnell Vineyard’ Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley

When first opened, this wine shows menthol/eucalyptus, a touch of shoe polish, root beer and paraffin. After aeration, additional notes of red berry fruit, white pepper and vanilla emerge. The finish has a lot of silty, medium-grained, earthy tannins. Young and tight, the wine needs a good deal of sloshing around in the glass to open up… and once it does, any kind of barbecue would be an ideal pairing partner. A Wine Lines Value Vino.

MSRP: $20 (November 2014)

Wine Lines rating: 89

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