Category Archives: Top Wine Values

Spring Fever? | 6 California Chardonnays You Can Count On Under $40

Spring Fever? | 6 California Chardonnays You Can Count On Under $40

Best Chardonnay

From my Instagram page. The Frank Family Chardonnay traveled with me all the way to Newport Beach! You can click the image to see more.

To say it has been an uncommonly warm winter here in the nation’s capital would be quite the understatement. In the last week of February alone, I witnessed cherry blossoms in bloom, heard the hair-raising crackle of intense thunderstorms, and played tennis in record-setting sunny seventy-five degree weather. Thank goodness climate change is a complete farce, right?! (Insert sarcastic, scared to death emoji here.)

So understandably all of this warmth has me reaching for chilled, crisp white wines far earlier than usual. I mean, this should be Cabernet Sauvignon prime-time for me! So I thought I would take this opportunity to point out some Chardonnays you can reliably count on in the coming months, as temperatures promise to rise alongside political tensions.

Reliably Good Chardonnays You Can Actually Find, and Afford!

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Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru | Top Costco Wines

Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru | Top Costco Wines

Kirkland Signature Chablis

So there I am, wandering around Costco, surreptitiously updating my popular Guide to Costco Wine, when I spot the fabled unicorn: Costco Kirkland Signature Series Premier Cru Chablis for $14.99 per bottle!

Hailing from Burgundy’s Northernmost growing region, the Chardonnays produced in Chablis are world-renowned for their tension, energy, and flinty, mineral-driven personalities. The best examples are both delicate and full of energy, but carry a price tag that’ll knock the  wind out of you. For example, a Google search of [Premier Cru Chablis] yields the following shopping suggestions:

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Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon | Embracing Sustainability

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon | Embracing Sustainability

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

In the late 1980’s, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon became the first ‘premium’ wine to be exported from Chile. It was a runaway success for Montes, and despite being one of the more expensive Chilean wines in the marketplace it now sees distribution in over 100 countries.

A vanguard in the nascent stages of the Chilean wine industry, Montes was determined to lead the way for the world to one day associate Chilean wines with quality. Fast Forward twenty years, and they are attempting to raise the bar for Chilean wines again – this time by focusing their efforts to incorporate sustainability measures into their winemaking practices.

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Terrenal Seleccionado | A Kosher Trader Joe’s Find?

Terrenal Seleccionado | A Kosher Trader Joe’s Wine Find?

Terrenal Seleccionado

The Trader Joe’s Wine Section has developed a loyal, cult-like following for its eclectic, value-oriented selections. Not surprisingly, while picking up this bottle of 2014 Terrenal Seleccionado, I overheard an excited customer remark “Wow, this is great! These wines are so cheap!” Your first time is always exciting.

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Banfi Centine Rosso | Super Tuscan at a Super Price?

Banfi Centine Rosso | Super Tuscan at a Super Price?

Banfi Centine

When I hear the term “Super Tuscan”, a flurry of vaunted, high-priced names like Tignanello and Sassicaia immediately come to mind . These wines were responsible for creating and defining the genre, and with such celebrated reputations they fetch consistently high prices. But not all Super Tuscan’s are expensive. Take the Banfi Centine Rosso for example, widely available at under $12.

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Kirkland Signature Reserva Rioja | A $7 Costco Rioja?

Kirkland Signature Reserva Rioja | A $7 Costco Rioja?

Costco Rioja

I’ve been Shopping for Wine at Costco for years now, and by now I’ve enjoyed more than few examples of Costco’s own private-label Kirkland Signature wines. While not always home-runs, more often than not they are compelling values – much like many of the under-priced wines coming out of Spain at the moment.

Spanish wines are often my go-to when I want something interesting, with a true sense of place, at an affordable price point. So imaging my excitement when I see two of my reliable go-to’s combined in one bottle: Costco Rioja, and a Reserva level at under $7 no less!

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Sara Bee Moscato | Sweet Wine at a Sweet Price?

Sara Bee Moscato | Kosher Moscato Wine – Trader Joe’s Wine

Sara Bee Moscato

I have received quite a few e-mails for Kosher wine recommendations lately, so I will make an effort to include a few more Kosher wine reviews when possible. Taking into consideration the surging popularity of Moscato wine at the moment, I thought it might make sense to try out an affordable Kosher Moscato wine option. Meeting both requirements is the Sara Bee Moscato, economically priced at just under $6 in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section.

At 5.5% ABV, I fully expect that the Sara Bee Moscato will fall on the sweeter side of the spectrum (during fermentation, yeasts convert alcohol to sugar, so a higher alcohol rating translates to lower sugar levels). While sweet wines aren’t exactly my cup of tea, my goal is to help readers determine if this is indeed a Moscato Kosher wine bargain or one to avoid altogether.

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Casado Morales Rioja Gran Reserva | Finding Value in Spain

Casado Morales Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 | Finding Value in Spain

Casado Morales

I initially tried the Casado Morales Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 after picking it up during a Wines Til Sold Out flash sale offering and was shocked at the quality considering I paid less than $23. I even brought this to a blind tasting where it competed with a few other Rioja’s from respected producers and it’s victory was unanimous – and quite tasty!

Some time had passed since I had seen this again but WTSO recently offered it and I’ve also seen that it’s available at Total Wine so I thought I’d share this character-laden, well-aged Spanish bargain from Casado Morales with you guys…

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Tabarrini Sagrantino di Montefalco | Value in Obscurity

Tabarrini Sagrantino di Montefalco Review | Uncorking Value in Obscurity

Sagrantino di Montefalco

Sagrantino di Montefalco

The Tabarrini Sagrantino di Montefalco is not exactly a new find. But after a confluence of factors oddly converged I decided I needed to share this relatively obscure yet deeply rewarding wine. It’s one I’ve really enjoyed several times and I have several resting to track its evolution.

A few weeks ago a friend asked me about which bottles I thought might “blow you away” that could be found around the $30 price point. I assured him that it can certainly be done, though it might take some effort to do so. Immediately the Tabarrini Sagrantino di Montefalco came to mind, but I thought it might not be worth sharing due to its scarcity.

I had thought that Sagrantino was only grown in the small town of Montefalco in Umbria, Italy (with a mere 250 acres of vines dedicated to Sagrantino, mind you). That is until I recently came across an offering from Italian-centric winery Bennessere Vineyards in Napa that just so happens to produce a bottling from their tiny half-acre parcel of estate grown Sagrantino.

Intrigued, I ordered a bottle of Benessere’s Sagrantino and decided it was time I share my adoration for wine that introduced me to this interesting varietal: Tabarrini’s Sagrantino di Montefalco.

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Kirkland Signature Rutherford Meritage 2013 Reviewed

Kirkland Signature Rutherford Meritage 2013 | Costco Wine

Kirkland Signature Rutherford Meritage

The Kirkland Signature Rutherford Meritage is one of the most popular offerings in the Kirkland Signature Wine Program, having developed it’s own sort of ‘cult following’. It has almost always over-delivered in a big way complete with Napa flair and real ‘Rutherford dust’ character. It also routinely sells out in a flash. Then you’re waiting another entire year to spot this little gem again, if you’re lucky that is.

The 2011 vintage of the Kirkland Signature Rutherford Meritage was slightly disappointing to me (it was a pretty challenging vintage) and I never even spotted the 2012, but today Costco had the 2013 in stock! While the price has gone up a few dollars (from $10.99 to $13.89), the 2013 vintage was a knockout for Napa Valley and I can’t wait to see if the 2013 Kirkland Signature Rutherford Meritage is as well.

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