Recycle Bin, Week of Dec. 1

The $12 gauntlet continues!  It's been a rewarding challenge finding enjoyable wines while sticking to the price cap, not to mention a little easier on the wallet.  So, on we go.  Interestingly, I've found that this ceiling is helping shift purchasing behavior.  When wines like the Les Ameriniers Cotes du Rhone Villages come across your radar for a measly $9.99, hell, you stock up on it.  But it also sets the bar for all other wines, engendering more price discrimination and expectation of quality.  If you kiss one frog and it turns into a prince, why not kiss more?

This week we've got two reasonably-priced samples and two recommended wines under the gauntlet's ceiling.  Any are worth putting in your basket.

2012 Mercer Canyons Columbia Valley Red Wine $15 (Sample)
Before even opening this wine, it had one strike for it and one strike against it. In the pro column is the fact that this label has delivered incredible value at the price point for its Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet and Estate label Merlot. In the con column is the "red wine" designation, which I have lamented in these pages before. The final analysis on this wine puts it more towards the win than the loss. Certainly not the flabby, overextracted jam monster many "red wines" have become. Instead, a solid Bordeaux-ish blend with real backbone, structure, and density. It also has a slightly green edge that has begun to emerge as a Columbia Valley characteristic. Overall, very enjoyable, food friendly, and a good value.

2012 Old Zin Vines Zinfandel Lodi $15 (Sample)
Big, boozy, brawny, comforting, and irresistible. Rounder than Aunt Betty's booty and more forward than a bridesmaid sitting in your lap. It's not going to win any awards for sophistication, but that matters not one bit as the experience is a bargain at this price. I will buy this wine next time I see it.

2013 Lander-Jenkins Chardonnay California $12
A moped wine through and through.

2012 Bogle Pinot Noir California $11
Serviceable and pleasant, even.  Is it going to score any trophies?  Actually, yes.  When's the last time you poured yourself a second glass of $11 Pinot Noir?