Category Archives: Under $75

Madrigal Family Winery | 2012 Madrigal Petite Sirah Review

Madrigal Family Winery | 2012 Madrigal Petite Sirah Review

Madrigal Petite Sirah

My friend Tara recently began an exciting new position as Hospitality and Tasting Room Manager at Madrigal Family Winery, introducing me to this boutique producer located in-between St. Helena and Calistoga in upper Napa Valley. Considering its location in the heart of Cabernet country, it’s no surprise that Madrigal Winery produces three different Cabernet Sauvignons, but it’s the Petite Sirah that vintner Chris Madrigal is especially proud of.

Chris Madrigal’s family history in the Napa Valley dates all the way back to the 1930s, when his Mexican grandparents moved to Napa Valley to seek better opportunities for their family. They soon began farming apples, pears, walnuts and grapes, unknowingly laying the groundwork for what would eventually become a successful vineyard management business in the hands of Chris Madrigals father Jess, currently overseeing some 800 acres.

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Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet | Best Cabernet Under $50

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet | Best Cabernet Under $50

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the historic Robert Mondavi Winery in January and tour the acclaimed To Kalon Vineyard adjacent to their Oakville estate. Widely regarded for its first-growth level quality, To Kalon has gained a near mythical status throughout the wine community in recent years.

Considering that it is arguably Napa’s most famous vineyard, with undeniably the most expensive fruit, it carries some serious cachet to have “To Kalon” on the label. Bottles regularly fetch $150 to $300+, with names like Schrader, Paul Hobbs and Carter Cellars paying record-level prices to Andy Beckstoffer for the rights to purchase fruit from his section of the To Kalon Vineyard.

Robert Mondavi Oakville Cabernet

My view from Mondavi overlooking the To Kalon Vineyard in January. Click to check out more from my Instagram!

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Dark Horse Cabernet | Taking Dark Horse Wine for a Ride

Dark Horse Cabernet | Taking Dark Horse Wine for a Ride?

Dark Horse Wine

Many people consider horses to be majestic, beautiful creatures. You might even think that of the somewhat ominous horse prominently displayed on bottles of Dark Horse Wines. Yet my experiences with them as a kid were somewhat less than favorable…

It all started on a field trip to a horse farm, where we had the opportunity to ride ponies. Quickly after cautiously getting on the one chosen for me, my horse took off in a full gallop chasing the large horse with an experienced adult rider in front of me. I was lucky not to fall, but the experience was as memorable as it was uninspiring.

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Franciscan Estate Winery | An Under the Radar Overachiever

Franciscan Estate Winery | An Under the Radar Overachiever

Franciscan Estate

I have been buying and drinking Franciscan Estate wines for years now. In fact, shortly after tasting the 94 point 2007 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon I promptly added a few cases to my stores. Considering that I paid just under $20 at the time, these wines were amongst the most reliable, consistent values I had come across in Cabernet, especially Napa Cabernet, in some time.

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Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Review | Top Costco Wines

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Review | Top Costco Wines

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc

Goodbye Winter, hello Spring! The first day of March was sun-drenched and 65 degrees here in the nation’s capital, so I seized the opportunity to thaw out with a wholly therapeutic run along the waterfront in beautiful historic Georgetown. As someone who strongly dislikes the cold and loves the outdoors, you could say I have a case of Spring fever!

With the days getting longer and temperatures steadily increasing, I know many of you will be heading to your local Costco Wine Section to stock up on crisp white wines like the popular Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, which is surprisingly now even available by the glass at many Starbucks locations. Having not tried it yet myself, I thought it might be appropriate to finally give the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc a shot.

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Galerie Wines | Winemaking Meets Artistic Expression

Galerie Wines | Winemaking Meets Artistic Expression

Galerie

As an artist, your first exhibition is your debut to the world. As exciting as it must be unnerving to gauge your reception, it is the invaluable opportunity to express your artistic talents in an uninhibited, open environment. But in this case, you needn’t visit a gallery to soak in this artists hard work, you need only to uncork a bottle of Galerie Wine.

Galerie Wines is an exciting and unique new project by Winemaker Laura Diaz Munoz which seeks to showcase the contrast in terroir between Knights Valley and Napa Valley. The road leading up to her inaugural Galerie Wines release has been a long and windy one.

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Frisson Wines | Checking in on New Releases!

Frisson Wines | Checking in on New Releases!

Frisson Chardonnay

Last spring I reviewed the 2011 Frisson Wines Cabernet Sauvignon and was really impressed. Despite the well publicized challenges of the 2011 vintage throughout Napa Valley, this boutique producer managed to produce a really distinctive, frisson-worthy Cabernet.

Just a few months after my post, Frisson Wines got some much deserved recognition when that same wine was awarded Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition! Not too shabby…

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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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Looking to Oregon for Quality Sub $30 Pinot Noir

Looking to Oregon for Quality Pinot Noir Under $30 | Finding The Best Oregon Pinot Noir

Best Oregon Pinot Noir

Perhaps no other varietal can be as rewarding and challenging at the same time as Pinot Noir. Fans of the fickle grape are intimately aware that when it’s bad, it can be thin, lifeless and devoid of character. But when it’s good, it can be downright transcendental.

But transcendental is expensive. For example, a bottle of recently-released Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Richebourg Grand Cru Burgundy will set you back nearly $2000, with prized vintages fetching considerably more. For that kind of money, shouldn’t it do more than just move you?!

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