Category High End Values

Mondavi Oakville – Best Napa Cabernet Under $40

July 2, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Mondavi Oakville LabelUnless you go way down into bulk wines, $40 is pretty much the entry price of Napa Cabernet now.  It's too bad, but the glory days of the 2005-2007 vintages are over and this is the new reality.  That's why Mondavi's 2012 Oakville Cabernet is a remarkable value.  It could be labeled "To Kalon Vineyard" as the vast majority (usually 99%) comes from that legendary soil.  But that would pose a problem for Mondavi.  You see, their $145 Reserve Cab is now labeled as "To Kalon", so labeling their Oakville bottling as such would devalue the Reserve, not to mention the $200 Schrader wines, or $350 Paul Hobbs from To Kalon.

So here we are with a fantastic wine, from an historic vineyard, at an entry level price.  I have been through a case of the 2005, and today that wine is drinking better

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Napa Cab Round-Up (Round Pond, Keenan)

June 9, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Every so often, I like to do a round-up to showcase some of the best deals on Napa Cabernet.  And while the deals aren't what they used to be, you can still find some values if you know where to look.
Keenan
Keenan currently has two late release 2010s both of which are excellent values.  Their 2010 Napa Cabernet comes from 61% Spring Mountain and 39% Pope Valley.  At $39.95, it's one of the best Napa Cabs in its price range.  Better still is the 2010 Keenan Mernet (pronounced Mer-Nay), a blend of Cabernet, Cab Franc and Merlot.  On a recent trip to Napa, this was my second favorite wine behind Chappellet's Pritchard Hill, which costs 2x.  The Mernet is currently discounted to $59.95 - $15 off the next lowest price I can find.  This is a heck of a deal on a top tier Napa

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Two States, Four Appellations, One Wine – 2012 Luminary Red Blend

February 10, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Luminary Red Wine

I've often wondered - What would happen if someone took a few bunches of grapes from each of the top vineyards in the world and combined them to make a single wine?  It seems the owners of Pine Ridge wondered the same, as they pulled grapes from four different vineyards they own across California and Washington and made a remarkable wine.


The 2012 Luminary is a blend of 55% Cabernet from Pine Ridge Vineyards in Napa, 19% Syrah from Double Canyon Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills Washington, 8% Syrah from Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley, CA, 16% Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vineyards in Sonoma and finally 2% Merlot from Pine Ridge.   I have to question the efficiency of making a wine from such geographically distant locations but the result is impressive.

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A Paul Hobbs Made Single Vineyard Chardonnay For Under $25

February 2, 2015 High End Values  No comments

Ahnfeldt Chardonnay Estate 2012Paul Hobbs is the original Winemaker Superstar creating some of the most highly rated wines ever under his own label and, more recently, as a consultant.  Under-the radar winery, Ahlfeldt, which I've raved about before, hired him as consulting winemaker a few years back and they are going through a major quality renaissance.

This particular wine comes from a single vineyard in the Sonoma Valley AVA called Thornton Ranch.  Paul Hobbs is best known for his single vineyard wines and the single vineyard Chards from his own label start at around $65.  For around a third the price, this wine has all of the Paul Hobbs' signatures. It shows richness while staying well-balanced and very focused.  California Chardonnay has the ability to be a buttery oaky mess and though this was raised in 50%

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A Chianti Classico to Age – ’12 San Giusto a Rentennano (AG90, $24.95)

December 9, 2014 90+ BargainsHigh End Values  No comments

2012 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico

The more wine I taste, the more I realize the quantity of great wines out there.  Budget and space allows me to only connect certain wines (domestic Rhones, domestic Cabernet, Barolo and  Chateauneuf-du-Pape), but wines like this make me wish I could expand my horizons.

This wine is Sangiovese from start to finish.  Bright cherry and flint on the nose lead into a highly concentrated palate with strong acid to balance the fruit.  The balance on this wine is really excellent and suggests it will be still be going strong in 10+ years.  Classy.
Buy Here: 2012 San Giusto a Rentennano Chianti Classico $24.95
Antonio Galloni 90 points

"San Giusto’s 2012 Chianti Classico is wonderfully pliant, open and generous. Dark red fruit, smoke, tobacco and wild flowers are all

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Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs – Zinfandel At Its Finest

September 30, 2014 High End Values  No comments

Ridge Geyserville 2012

If you're talking about Zinfandel (really American wine in general) you would be hard pressed to find a better producer than Ridge.  Ridge's iconic label has graced the world's best Zinfandels for decades and 2012 is turning out to be a banner vintage for Ridge, along with the rest of California.  My favorite of their releases are the Lytton Springs and Geyserville bottlings, both from Sonoma County.  I've been drinking these wines since the 2006 vintage and have never had a bad bottle.  You can't go wrong with either - the Geyserville tends to be a bit more overt and the Lytton tends to age better.  But in reality, they are more similar than different.


What makes Ridge Zinfandels so good?

They aren't actually Zins.  Both of these wines contain less

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A Top CA (Under $20) Chard with Simple Belgian Beer Mussels

September 29, 2014 High End Values  No comments

Chalk Hill and Mussels

Chalk Hill is known for their Estate Chardonnay. But what do you do if you don't want to spend the $48 for that wine but you still want their signature quality and style?  Until 2012, there was nothing you could do.


New for the 2012 vintage, Chalk Hill is releasing their first wine that is not from their namesake appellation.  This Chardonnay comes from the very cold Sonoma Coast appellation, not to be confused with the larger Sonoma County (of which it is a part) or the Southern Sonoma Valley appellations. Sonoma needs to rename these to lessen the confusion, but that's for another time.

The proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean makes this Chardonnay very crisp, but it still possesses the signature Chalk Hill oak influence.  The wine was a perfect

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We’re Back! Update: New Deals Enclosed

September 8, 2014 90+ BargainsHigh End ValuesNews and OpinionUnder $12 Deals  No comments

You may have noticed (or likely didn't notice at all), that Nickel and Dime Wine has taken an extended break.  Why?  Luckily not because I stopped drinking wine nor did I stop buying it.  In the roughly nine months since the last post, I have done something that can only be done in nine months - I learned a new language with Rosetta Stone!  I also had a baby.  Not personally - my lovely wife did the hard work.

So Nickel and Dime wine is coming at you with baby in tow. We'll have more wine deals along with wine commentary, travel logs and general wine greatness!

Let's start with what I would buy this month. Deals abound and these are my top choices.  I will follow up when I get a chance to write an in-depth review, but don't wait to pick these up.
Top Pick Under $12: 2010 San Felice

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’10 Lagier Meredith Syrah – One of the World’s Best ($41.95, RP94)

December 2, 2013 High End Values  No comments

lagier_meredith_LRGNapa Valley isn't exactly known for Syrah, especially on the rugged slopes of Mt. Veeder where Cabernet grapes fetch extremely high prices.  But married couple Steve Lagier and Carole Meredith bought a few acres high on the mountain and planted Syrah.  They have no employees, and with the exception of harvest time, everything is done by Carole and Steve, from tending the vineyard to making the wine.  If you want an artisan wine, it doesn't get much more artisan than this.

That's all well and good, but "artisan" is meaningless if their product isn't special.  With Lagier Meredith Syrah, it is.  Every year.  Here is a quick review of the last decade of scores from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate:

2011 – 90

2010 – 94

2009 – 94

2008 – 95

2007 – 94+

2006 –

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One More from L’Aventure – ’11 Optimus (RP94, $41.95)

November 22, 2013 High End Values  No comments

L'Aventure BottleYou could say this is becoming the Paso Robles wine blog, and I wouldn't blame you.  But when the most exciting wines in the country are coming from that region, I consider it more of a public service announcement.

The latest Paso deal comes from my favorite winery in the world - L'Aventure.  For more on this incredible winery click here to read all the posts I've done.

Optimus is L'Aventure's entry-level red, but entry is relative in this case, as this wine really drinks as well as just about anything out there.  At $41.95 it also isn't particularly cheap, but it's certainly well worth the price.  L'Aventure's lowest Wine Advocate score in the 2011 vintage was this wine.... at 94 points.  Many wineries  never get a single score like that.  Furthermore, Optimus has a history of

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