Three Winter Whites

Three Winter Whites

Everyone I know has a budget that’s shrinking. Even at Chez Christine’s, our dollar doesn’t stretch as far as I wish it would. I won’t buy wine before I buy food, but I AM being even more careful than I used to be in putting my money down for a bottle of vino.

Today I’ve got three white wines that are really tasty. With the southern California weather warming up, then cooling down, you never know when it’ll be the right time for a white. I’ve had all of these in the past week or so.

Fetzer Valley Oaks Pinot Grigio 2010 Mendocino, California – Alcohol 12.5% by volume – $5.99 at Vons on sale

On the Label: “Pioneers in Sustainability. Established in 1968. 14% less carbon emissions. The Earth Friendly Winery. Crowd pleaser. Whether you say Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, which are synonyms, I try and make this wine in a modern style that will please the gathered crowd.  This wine is lightly floral and an easy drinking wine. The wine shows aromas of fig, melon, and flavors of Honeydew melons and Granny Smith apples and is a good drink with pleasant racy bright acidity. A versatile wine that pairs well with many salads and lighter fare. I love to serve it with appetizers when I have house guests over.”

“Fetzer now uses lighter glass bottles, runs the winery from mostly green energy, recycles, the list goes on…enhancing our heritage of sustainability.”

My Take: From working with hydrogeologists, I’ve learned to be wary of any winery that calls itself “sustainable”.   (Apparently its a huge buzz word in the industry but no one really knows what that means, the above list notwithstanding.) However, this wine is a good wine (chatty label aside). Its bright, crisp, clean and perfect with appetizers, or just to sip after a hard day’s work. Plus – cheap!

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ At this price, if you can, pick up a half-case so you’re ready for the hot weather to come. It’s a 2010, so it’ll last in the bottle for at least a year.

Blackstone Winemaker’s Select Chardonnay 2010  Monterey County, California 2010 –  Alcohol 13.5% by volume. $7.99 at Vons on Sale.

On the Label: Our Blackstone Chardonnay is sourced from California’s finest grape growing regions, with a focus on Monterey County. This wine offers luscious tropical fruit flavors complemented with light spice and toasted vanilla characteristics.

My Take: I like this wine. I fell in love with it when we were in Monterey this past March/April; we drank this wine while eating the best clam chowder in town, while watching the seals on the beach. Probably the best beach-side meal I’ve ever eaten…the wine was clean, crisp, cold, and probably a 2009; but good news. The 2010 is just as good – it’s a solid performer and one of my go-to wineries for Chardonnay. Not overly oaky, but not too steely either – a good balance between the old and the new style Chard. It’s also hard to find anything other than the 2010s out right now. They’re flooding the market as they usually do when the calendar flips to a new year. If you can find the older bottles, buy them first.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And at this price, you can afford a couple bottles – or more! (Do take advantage of the six bottle, 10% on top of the sale price discounts that most grocery stores have!)

Newman’s Own Chardonnay 2008 California Alcohol 13.5% by volume. Vinted and bottled by Rebel Wine, St. Helena, Napa County, California Exclusively for Newman’s Own, Inc. $8.99 on sale at Albertson’s.

On the Label: “The Legend: From the mountains to the bay, we searched for the perfect Chardonnay. We thought we found one at Hollywood and Vine but it turned out to be apple juice – not even wine. We were just about ready to give up the hunt when Wee Willie Wine, a cute winged runt said, ‘Since you’re the guys who give all your profits away, I’ll take you to my secret Chardonnay.’ And so here from the hilltops where Wee Willie trods is a Chardonnay that is truly a gift from the Gods.

” Newman’s Own Foundation continues Paul Newman’s commitment to donate all royalties and after tax profits from this product for educational and charitable purposes. Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $250 Million to thousands of charities since 1982.”

My Take: (Yes, I know, that’s a bottle of cabernet over there. I couldn’t find a picture of the Chardonnay.) I was quite surprised to see a Newman’s Own wine last week as we perused the Albertson’s after a three mile jog-walk (not our usual grocery store).  As the wine was priced under $10, I grabbed it and after a thorough chilling,  we had it with dinner that night. Tasty, easy going, fine for sipping. It handled the roast chicken but would have handled a chowder, a pork dish, anything really. It was an easy-drinking wine – and with the knowledge that the profit goes to charity, it also makes it an easy-to-buy wine. And as a 2008, if you can find it in your local store, grab it. Drink it by July. It may keep longer, but whites generally don’t lay down as well as reds so drink those 2008s up!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Plus you get the high of having donated to charity. It’s a win/win!

Well, there you go, the first wine blog of 2012. Remember this is my opinion based upon my taste buds, the cycle of the moon, and how many hours of writing I’ve gotten in this week. Your tastes will vary!

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Fetzer Sauvignon Blanc, and A by Acacia

Fetzer Sauvignon Blanc, and A by Acacia

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.

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First up is Fetzer. Here’s what I know about Fetzer – it was one of the first wineries I personally visited, and therefore is close to my heart. I haven’t tried many of their expensive wines, and haven’t been there in 20 years, but still. So here goes.

Fetzer California Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 The Earth-Friendly Winery, Mendocino County  At Vons – normally $5.99, on sale for $3.99

On the Label: “In 2009, Fetzer converted all bottles to lightweight glass, reducing the bottles’ weight an average of 17%. This also reduced the carbon emissions of our bottles – the equivalent of 70,000 trees growing for ten years. While reducing the impact on the environment, we still deliver quality wine.

Pure varietal flavors of lemon, green apple, and a hint of mint are captured in this refreshing, food-friendly Sauvignon Blanc.”

At first taste: The smell is fresh, light and citrusy. The taste is also fresh and light. Still, Sauvignon Blancs are mostly a food wine. When I paired it with pasta pesto and a big garden salad, this wine really came into it’s own. The freshness of the wine deepened my appreciation of the food, and the food really pointed up the beauty of the wine.

Fetzer is a workhorse – they’ve been consistently putting out drinkable and affordable wines forever, which make them even more dear to my heart.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable – Very ~ especially due to the price! Stock up now while summer is still going strong, and for those hot days in autumn.

A By Acacia Red Blend, 2007 Sonoma, California Visit their website here. Alcohol 13.5% by volume $9.37 on sale at Vons.

On the Label: “At Acacia, we’ve been making wine since 1979. With decades of experience, we remain committed to producing the finest wines from California’s most ideal growing regions. Our A by Acacia Red Blend is made from a delightful combination of grae varietals, blended to create a truly delicious and enjoyable wine. Rich and well-balanced, the wine showcases flavors of plum, raspberry, blackberry and vanilla. If you like Pinot Noir, you’ll like our Red Blend!”

My take: Okay, full disclosure here. I love Acacia wines, and have ever since I was introduced to their 1997 Pinot Noir. Acacia wines have, sadly, gone out of my price range. (A quick check of their website shows one bottle for $24, one for $25, a whole bunch for over $30, and a few over $70. Gulp.) So imagine my pleasure when I found this one for under $10! It is definitely one of my new go-to wines.

At my first taste, I fell in love. The wine is rich and has depth, and would be terrific to sip while having a relaxing conversation about existentialism next to a fire simmering in the fireplace. Instead, for dinner I paired it with a baked eggplant parmesan, garden salad and garlic bread, and it complemented the meal beautifully.

I just recently bought another bottle of A by Acacia, and it was below $9 on special at Vons. Just in case you wanted to know.

My Rating: ~ Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut! ~ No, seriously. Get your own.

Remember, the above is my opinion based upon my taste buds, which can act up depending upon how much sleep I’ve gotten, how many times I’ve typed “water level” or “groundwater” that day, and whether or not the novel is close to being finished. Your taste buds will vary.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

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