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There are things you always get asked for when you live in the Napa Valley. Where to eat, what’s your favorite winery and where to stay are often at the top of the list. The one asked most by any local who has been here for any length of time, where can I find the most bang for my buck when buying wine.
Granted many of us who lived here any length of time have figured out, find a friend or two who works at a winery and ask them to use their discount to buy you some wine. Normally the price for doing so was a bottle per chase and in the past this was a quite common evert. Today with tightening belts everywhere, it was a forgone conclusion this would happen at the wineries and to noone surprise, the deals of the past are no more.
In today’s world of many $100+ bottles of wine, the past glut and downturn in the industry when these were being discounted is over and the search for
value is harder than ever. Thus, I think you will find this article from the Napa Valley Register as interesting as I did. It was nearly thirst quenching to read about 24 wines, all Napa Valley appellation priced $25 including several whites but also many red wines. Cabernet Sauvignons, Zinfandels, Merlots and Syrahs were all present and tasted by a panel of experts gathered by the the St. Helena Star and Napa Valley Vintners.
The tasting was held at The Culinary Institute of America’s Rudd Center. The wines submitted were reviewed by a select group of 27 panelists, many from the wine business. Some of the notables there were Congressman Mike Thompson, who mostly observed; Bill Dyer of Dyer Vineyards; Wayne Donaldson of Donaldson Wines; Tom Simoneau, host of a wine program on Sonoma’s KSRO radio; Master Sommelier Bob Bath; Eric Carpenter of Dean & DeLuca; and Christie Dufault, Sommelier and CIA instructor .
And the top four winners are:
Markham Vineyards 2009 Merlot blend. This is a lot of wine for $23 — plenty of red cherry and raspberry fruit with vanilla and other spices. The oak is seamlessly integrated. Mostly merlot (96 percent), this wine also has 3 percent cabernet sauvignon and 1 percent petite sirah. Kimberlee Nicholls is the winemaker.
The Ca’ Momi 2010 Rosso di Napa, at $12.95, beat out the other wines in its flights, all twice the price. The wine is a blend of 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 30 percent zinfandel, 30 percent merlot and 10 percent petite syrah. Ca’Momi — Momi’s Home — refers to the owners’ home in Veneto, Italy as well as the local Italian character Momi dea Bionda, who roamed the property, shotgun in hand, just to scare away any potential grape thieves. While there are no shotguns in the Napa Valley vineyards, the grapes are considered just as sacred!
V. Sattui Winery 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25). What can we say? Brooks Painter and his V. Sattui team have produced winning wine after winning wine at these panel tastings and have done it yet again. The Rosso di Napa has red cherry and plum fruit with an earthy character. It sips down silky smooth and tastes much more expensive than it is.
Summers Estate Wines, Villa Andriana Vineyard Charbono, 2009, Calistoga ($24.99). As the only Charbono submitted, the wine was placed with zinfandels in the blind tasting. It won out as top wine of the flight with panelists enjoying its concentrated red brambly fruit and white pepper spice, all nicely balanced with the oak’s sweeter baking spices.
By Catherine Seda, St. Helena Star’s tasting panel writer and works for Balzac Communications & Marketing in Napa.
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