It’s time for good, cheap Chardonnay

January 20, 2014

Rick was writing in all caps, keyboard for shouting: Why haven’t you posted any good cheap chardonnay recently? So here ‘tis. Georges DuBoeuf Macon-Villages Domaine Les Chenevieres 2011 at $17. Pale gold-colored, bouquet closed, but warmth and swirling release green apple, fennel, orange rind, a tad of chalk and some flowers. Orange peel and chalk on front of palate open to apple and Creamsicle, good structure with lots of ripe fruit. Finishes moderately long with more apple and minerals. I still think in this under-$20 market the Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve is the best QPR, year in and year out.

Kendall Jackson just doesn’t make bad wine. I’d much rather talk you into a Central Coast Viognier, Rick, such as Calera 2012, 91 points, $14; or Tangent Paragon 2012 at $13, 90 points, which provides a vibrant floral nose with white almond nuance. It explodes on the palate with succulent peach, apricot and pear flavors. Full, round mouthfeel riding a firm mineral structure balanced by elevated acidity.

Most of you are aware I enjoy Sonoma Zinfandel, and I often suggest you pay up into the mid $30s for Geyserville, or Lytton Springs from Ridge, or Teldeschi or Old Hill from Ravenswood. Of the 2010 Sonoma Zins, I recommend Seghesio Family Vineyards Sonoma Zin. Their generic is a 92-point beauty that came on at $18 in January 2012 and is selling for $25. Their vaunted Cortina Dry Creek came in at 94 points and $58 in January 2013 and is now selling under $45. I did not sample it, so I am clueless as to why.

I was concerned back in May 2011, when the Seghesio family (of 92 wines reviewed by WS in their past 15 vintages, 30 have scored over 90 points) sold to the Crimson Wine Group. Crimson also owns Pine Ridge in Stags’ Leap AVA, Chamisal in Edna Valley and Archery Summit in Willamette Valley, Oregon.

Crimson kept most of the family on board, and they are continuing their successes. Seghesio 2010 is a lovely purple-tinted garnet with a bouquet of briar fruit, pepper and licorice. On the palate, diverse flavors: berries, tobacco, mocha, sage, smoke and pie spices. Spicy, dry, and full-bodied, it finishes cleanly. Drinking well now through 2017.

The only family with longer continuous ownership and production in Sonoma is Foppiano at 117 years. Foppiano has been in decline due to “old guy management syndrome.” However, with the passing of the 100-year-old patriarch there have been many positive changes They hired Natalie West as winemaker in 2008.

Working in close cooperation with vineyard manager and scion Paul Foppiano, she has brought the winery into the 21st century, improving and modernizing processes, adding new varietal wines Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, plus installing a cooperage upgrade to the Foppiano mix. I think the Sauv Blanc 2011 is 90 points, goes great with salmon and is a good QPR for a dry-farmed, cool-climate SB when priced under $15.

There is a sale on that is terrific. I can’t name the store because it is in New Jersey; my friend Gary owns it. As you know, due to our absolutely stupid Delaware alcoholic beverage laws, many passed by possibly corrupt politicians, who were allegedly paid off by certain distributors, it is illegal to buy wine out of state and transport it to Delaware for personal consumption. Possibly your local guy will put it together for you. Due to our protectionist laws, you will be paying a premium.

Mix and match a six-pack or a case of these three terrific selections: Bruna Grimaldi Barolo Badarina 2008 $36, Merry Edwards Pinot Noir Klopp Ranch 2010 $70 and Cascina Bruciata Barbaresco Rio Sordo 2008 $56.

You can mix six for an $18 discount or 12 gets you $48 off. Any order of three or more gets free shipping. These wines are being touted as 94-point selections. I reviewed the Pinot and the Brunello during this past year and I disagreed with those ratings.

All three are curious in that the critics awarded scores from 85-95 points. with no consensus. I rate them Pinot 93 drinking well now-2016; Barolo 91 2018-35 or more; and Barbaresco 90, 2016-30 plus. If you can find this deal, buy four Pinot, six Barbaresco, and two Barolo.

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