Incredible Wine, Incredible Bargains

A Screaming Deal, A Brutish Thug, A Laughably Sensational Wine & A Wine To Fall In Love With

Last weekend was jam-packed with wine.  Good wine, great wine, and silly bargains.  Such are the benefits to the consumer when the supply chain is over capacity with what the current market is treating as overpriced.  In the hopes that this weekend is equally as, um, refreshing, here is a line up worth checking out...(read more)  Also note Brook Williams' comments below...

It all started with last Friday's discovery that both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay offerings from Mumm have been deeply discounted at area retailers.  (Who knew they made still wine?)  Both from the 2008 and both estate grown in Carneros, they normally retail for $32 and $24 respectively.  But they're getting blown out at $10.99 apiece.  The Pinot is nothing mind-blowing, but a very, very drinkable wine with a terrific texture, lovely aromatics, good medium body heft, and plenty of textbook Carneros flavor.  The Chardonnay, well, tastes like every other $10 Cali Chard out there and isn't deserving of any more space here than that.  At this price the Pinot Noir is a solid 4 stars, but the Chard is lost in a sea of homogeneity and other 2.5-3 star wines.

As long as we were purchasing a case of the Mumm Pinot, we also picked up the now deeply discounted 2006 BV Pinot Noir Carneros Reserve.  Normally $45 and now $20, this is a lovely Pinot with just the right age on it.  Supply texture, a soft-but-aluring nose, and delivering layers of enamoring fruit, it's a wine to fall in love with.  It definitely benefited form the 5 hours decanted we gave it.  At $20 it's an easy 4, maybe 4.5 star wine.  Just lovely.  BV, long a bastion of consistency and quality in Napa, is discounting a lot of their higher-end wines these days.  Also keep an eye out for their Tapestry blend.

Another gem finding its way into the shopping cart was what could be the very best wine we've tasted this year - or last.  The exceptional 2006 Zaca Mesa Syrah Santa Ynez Valley was nothing short of moving.  At $25, it's not at the bargain end of the price spectrum, nor should it be given its quality and the sheer joy it delivers.  If you're expecting a strong, dense, tannic monster of a Syrah, this isn't it.  Refined, perfectly integrated, soft herbal aromatics, and waves upon waves of precious, elegant fruit make this a wine impervious to misinterpretation.  Also having benefited from considerable (7+ hours) air time, this is a wine worth revisiting.  Tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the day after that...  Laughably sensational.  Big props to Zaca winemaker Eric Mohseni.  Easily a 4.5 star wine, possibly 5 stars.  If it were under $20, it would be our first and only 5 star wine.

In response to this, Brook Williams, President, CEO & Winegrower at Zaca Mesa Winery & Vineyards, said, "Unfortunately, Syrah has been characterized as the "strong, dense, tannic monster" but that is changing (at least I hope). Consumers are walking away from that style, just ask the Australians. It goes back to the old saying, "it not about the size. It about what you do with it." As you point out, balanced wines will age gracefully in the bottle and develop in the glass for your continued trying to make Syrah synonymous with Santa Ynez Valley. Thanks for your help.  I am glad you are rediscovering Santa Barbara County as there are now over 100 wineries in the county making some beautiful and elegant wine. Otherwise, it has not changed much from the 1990's."

Other goodies included what we've begun referring to as "The Scud" - Thorne Clark's 2008 Terra Barossa Shiraz.  Packaged in a one liter bottle, it's heavy and substantial - just like the wine inside.  Far from poised, this brutish thug does the trick when you've just rolled off an insane work week and don't want to think too much.  Massive, dense, and powerful.  A terrific decompression wine.  At $19 (which is basically $14.25 for a 750mL), it's an easy turn-to wine for the Australian sterotype.  4 stars.

That's our recap - now go out and score your own screaming deals and new discoveries!  Cheers.