Central Coast tagged posts

A High-End Pinot for $24 – Calera Central Coast (WA92, $23.95)

October 12, 2016 90+ Bargains  No comments

Calera Central Coast LabelWith the domestic Pinot Noir boom in full force, it's increasingly difficult to find value in this hot category.  As with other hot categories, I look to the top producers' lesser wines.  Calera makes Pinot Noir (and Chardonnay) from exclusive vineyards on Mt. Harlan and the $50+ price points reflect that exclusivity.  But each year they combine grapes from some of the Central Coast's best vineyards and make a Central Coast bottling.  The "Central Coast" label may be generic, but the vineyards are anything but.  Many of the vineyards are used for the flagship wine for other wineries.  Names like Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills are featured on the label which details the percentage that each vineyard makes up.

The look of this wine is decidedly Burgundian with a transparent ruby, but on

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A Crisp Unoaked Chardonnay for $12

September 24, 2012 Daily Drinkers  No comments

A newish trend in U.S. Chardonnay is to forgo the oak, allowing the crisp Chardonnay fruit to shine through.  It was a warm late-summer weekend in Chicago and the Chamisal 2011 Chardonnay "Stainless" provided a delicious alternative to the Sauvignon Blanc and Rose we've been enjoying all summer.

Tropical fruit and honey on the nose leads into a palate that is at the same time crisp, but also huge.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the winemaker is a Kiwi who clearly takes a Sauvignon Blanc approach with this wine, allowing the fruit flavors to shine through rather than "outside influences" of oak and malolactic fermentation.  Here is a nice video of the winemaker talking about his process with this wine:

I appreciate both styles of Chardonnay but think this is a very well-executed

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My Go-To Chardonnay Under $15 – Talbott Kali Hart

July 30, 2012 Daily Drinkers  No comments

Talbott makes some incredible Pinot and Chardonnay from their estate vineyards in Monterey County, and the Kali Hart, named after proprietor Robb Talbott's youngest daughter, is always a great value.  This 100% estate wine is their entry level, and as I've said many times, some of the greatest values come from entry level or second wines of higher-end producers.

If I see this wine in a shop or on a restaurant list, I know, no matter the vintage, that it's going to be a good bet.  This held true for the 2010 vintage which shows the bright acid signature of Monterey County balanced by round oak and beautiful yeasty flavors from 9 months of aging on the lees (dead yeast).

I applaud Talbott for bottling this and other wines under screw cap.  Hopefully more domestic wineries wake up and

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A Major Chardonnay Value from Sean Minor – $8.99

February 15, 2011 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  2 comments

Sean Minor is making some exceptional wine at prices so low I literally don't know how he does it.  I say "he" because, yes, Sean Minor is actually a real person.  His Cabernet took the under $15 Value of the Year award on this blog and deserves every bit of a 90 point rating (it received a still very impressive 87 from Wine Spectator).

Mr. Minor has impressed me again with his value priced Chardonnay- an absolute steal at $8.99.  That's steal not steel, as this Chardonnay shows the trademark buttery texture and toasty flavors of malolactic fermentation and oak aging.  That said, it's not over the top, and strikes me as very balanced in both acidity and texture.  Sort of like an apple dipped in honey.

Sean and his staff at Four Bears Winery have produced an impressive product that

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Qupe Cellars Syrah 375ML- When a full bottle is too much $4.99

June 13, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

Have you ever thought a full bottle of wine is just too much and you'd rather just have a half bottle?  Neither have I!

All joking aside, a half bottle of wine comes in handy more often than you might think.   Take tonight for example: We had a third of a bottle of the Vina Robles Huerhuero Vineyard Cabernet left over from earlier in the week.  Clearly a third of a bottle isn't enough for both of us, but when you add a half bottle, it's perfect!  We enjoyed it with an awesome homemade heirloom cherry tomato margarita pizza!

The Qupe Cellars 2007 Syrah is a perfect daily drinker.  If I had tasted this blind I would have said it was Grenache, of which it's only 2%.  That's not to say it's weak or light, just that it's not as inky or thick as typical California Syrah.  Very reminiscent

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Single Vineyard Paso Robles Cab under $15- Vina Robles Huerhuero Vineyard

June 9, 2010 Daily Drinkers  One comment

Welcome new subscribers!  We hope you enjoy the blog.  For those that haven't heard, once we reach 250 subscribers we will be giving away a $50 LA Wine Co gift card!

It seems like great California Cabernet under $15 is few and far between lately.  Sometimes  you need to look outside the Napa/Sonoma corridor to find something special and in this case we're looking 240 miles south of Napa, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to Paso Robles.  As I've mentioned before, the Central Coast is producing some fantastic wine with Paso Robles standing out for their Cabernet, Rhone blends and Zinfandel.

Single vineyard wines have grown in popularity because they really reveal a sense of place in the wine.  And that's what I love about the Vina Robles Huerhuero

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Liberty School Chardonnay 2007- Under $10 Value WS87

May 18, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

If you're looking for a crisp daily drinker Chardonnay, to enjoy all summer, you can't go wrong with the 2007 Liberty School.  Unlike some of the more buttery California Chardonnay this example doesn't undergo malolactic fermentation so it retains a fresh, clean flavor.

Time for a science lesson: Malolactic fermentation is the process of converting malic acid into lactic acid.  Malic acid is what gives many wines their tart, crisp fruit flavors.  By contrast lactic acid gives Chardonnays their rich, buttery flavor (lactic like lactose- get it?).  Forgoing malolactic fermentation is becoming increasingly popular in Chardonnay because winemakers believe it preserves the varietal's natual flavor and texture.

I like both styles but for those looking for crisp Chardonnay with more apple

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