In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10, unless noted otherwise.
In the spirit of the holidays, I’m going to pass on to you three wines – a terrific white, a fair rose´, an okay red, plus – an outstanding sparkling wine.
On the Label: “The rewards of patience are remarkable. For three decades, my family has nurtured coveted vineyards along California’s cool coast. Our Jackson Estates Grown 100% Chardonnay is bursting with tropical flavors such as pineapple, mango and papaya along with citrus notes that explode in your mouth. Crisp, green apple flavors and a smooth, creamy teture add even more depth. To balance this intensity, we age the wine in small oak barrells. I’m very proud of this wine. I hope you enjoy it.” –Founder, Jess S. Jackson
My Take: I could have sworn I just posted about this wine, but when I gave a quick look in my archives I couldn’t find it. Anyway – this is a lovely wine. Crisp, with a mere hint of oak – not a big, buttery chardonnay, but neither is it a sterile, steel-casked wine, either. It is quite possibly the best of the “new” style chards, and I for one love it.
If you have a little more cash to spend, and want to impress someone (and treat yourself), go for this wine’s big sister, Kendall Jackson’s Grand Reserve (about $16, if memory serves). You won’t regret it.
My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable! ~ By the way – The Grand Reserve has a “Stay Away! This is MY Wine, You Slut!” rating. Just FYI.
Chateau Marouine Rose Wine 2010 Cotes de Provence, France – Alcohol 12% by volume – made with organic grapes. $7.99 at Costco.
On the Label: Not a thing that hasn’t been mentioned above.
My Take: The same day I bought the Chameleon wine, I bought this wine. After being properly chilled, we tasted. And while it didn’t take us an entire week to drink the bottle, it did take a couple of days. The flavor is crisp and cool, very laid back, with a lean toward bland. It wasn’t bad wine; it was unremarkable. Which is always a pity.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~
On the Label: Front: “As vintners, it is our honor and responsibility to care for the land that sustains us; to preserve the environment for our children and generations to come. Every bottle of wine that we make is truly a harmonious expression of this earth and our commitment to it.”
Back: “Having children reaffirmed our dedication to the planet. That’s why our vineyards are sustainably farmed using cover crops and sheep to control the weeds between the rows. Ever vigilant, our watchful sheep dogs stand guard over the flock and vines,protecting them from harm. It is this same spirit that drives us in our obsession to craft wines that honor and respect the earth.” – Clay and Margarita Shannon, Vigilance Vineyards
There was other stuff on the back, but I gave up – the type is tiny, the color absurd (orange on a black label) and I’d had enough.
My Take: With that chatty a label, you’d expect the wine to be something amazing. Alas, all their sustainable farming didn’t do squat for this wine. It wasn’t amazing; it was pedestrian. Drinkable. Something to pass the time while you wait for the grown-up wine. Not watery but not thick either, it lacked character. We had the Petite Sirah with oven-cooked ribs – you’d think the wine could stand up to the heartiness of the ribs, but…not…quite.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Like I said, it wasn’t a bad wine. (I believe our quote last night was “emminently drinkable”.) If you’re offered it, by all means feel free to take a glass – you might really enjoy it.
Etoile Brut Sparkling Wine NV Domaine Chandon, Napa Valley – Alcohol 13% by volume $19.99 on sale at BevMo!
On the Label: “As Chandon’s prestige cuvee, Etoile is the ultimate achievement in sparkling wine, personifying grace, elegance and balance.”
My Take: I’ve been a fan of Chandon since visiting their winery in Napa back in 1987. The glass of Tete de Cuvee I had there will forever remain in my memory as the best sparkling wine, ever. Aside from that, if you choose a Chandon sparkling wine, you’re in good hands. The founders of Domaine Chandon are/were (?) a part of Moet et Chandon; they came over from France, and have been putting their expertise to work for the past 30 years.
This wine in particular has tiny bubbles (as my boss says, the bigger the bubbles, the bigger the headache) and a creamy, spicy taste that is perfect for any special occasion. (Festivus, anyone?) Yes, it’s twice the price of my usual bottle of wine, and on sale no less; but if you’re looking to impress, or just spend a wonderful, relaxing evening with a special someone, this is definitely the bottle to get. Worth the splurge for a special occasion.
On the other hand, for still-festive but less expensive bubbles, go for the Domaine Chandon Brut or Brut Rose – those bottles run about $13.99 on sale at Vons (usually). That is one of my favorite go-to bottles for occasions (like, um, a Friday).
My Rating: ~ Stay Away! This is MY wine, you slut! ~
As usual, these are my opinions based upon my tastebuds, how cold it is outside, and whether or not I’ve managed to get some exercise in that day. Your impressions and tastes will invariably vary.
Happy Festivus, Happy Hannukah, Sweet Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwaanza, and all good things to you during this holiday season. Remember to appoint a designated driver if you must go out and drink (I prefer to drink at home, but that’s me); and above all, drink responsibly.
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