Monterey tagged posts

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 Top Notch Chardonnay Under $9 – Hahn Estates 2010

April 23, 2012 Daily Drinkers  No comments

This is another one of those instances where I ask myself "how do they make this wine for $9?"  It really is shocking.  But Hahn Estates keeps cranking out values as fast as I can try them.  If you are looking for great wine values, particularly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah, look at the the Central Coast, which covers the area between LA and San Francisco.

Hahn's 2010 Chardonnay comes entirely from the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation in Monterey County, which is a sweet spot for this varietal.  For a wine that's priced like a generic "California" or "Central Coast" Chardonnay, you are getting an appellation labeled wine, aged in 100% oak (18% new).  In other words, a BMW for Hyundai prices (although Hyundais are pretty nice these days).

Tropical fruit notes combine with a rich

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Pinot Magic Under $10 – Hahn Monterey County

November 3, 2011 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  3 comments

Regular readers of this blog probably know I don't drink a lot of Pinot. I find the cheap stuff wimpy and the expensive stuff, well, too expensive. But Steve at LA Wine Co. was raving about this one so I had to try it.

This is a very serious Pinot Noir at an unbelievable price. Hahn is one of the premier value producers in the country and I'm a huge fan of their Meritage, Chardonnay and now this Pinot.  As America's favorite trendy varietal (hopefully Syrah is next), Pinot Noir prices are obscenely high and show no signs of decline even though the movie Sideways came out in 2004.

Having lived 2 hours from the famed Santa Barbara Pinot Noir appellation, I've tasted my fair share of this varietal and I can honestly say this competes with many $50 bottles I've tasted.  A bright, earthy

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The Next San Simeon? ’09 Maddalena Chardonnay $9.95

September 27, 2011 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

Loyal readers probably remember the incredible San Simeon Chardonnay.   It was one of the first wines I wrote up and LA Wine Co. sold literally thousands of bottles of it.  Maddalena has produced a Chardonnay in a similar style at an equally amazing value.

If you are looking for Chardonnay values, look outside of Napa and Sonoma and toward the south.  Monterey's cool climate is perfect for growing Chardonnay grapes and with less name prestige than its neighbor to the north (Napa, not Canada), the prices are considerably lower.

The 2009 Maddalena Chardonnay pours a golden straw color and has a beautiful nose of smoke and honey.  The honey texture continues on the palate with a smooth, caramely, melt-in-your-mouth warmth accented by smoky oak and balanced acid.  It's the perfect wine

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La Crema Monterey Chardonnay ’09 – 90 point daily drinking value.

June 16, 2011 Daily DrinkersHigh End Values  No comments

What's better than sitting outside on a warm evening with a cool glass of Chardonnay?  For me, not a heck of a lot, especially when that cool glass is from La Crema, who makes one of the best values in California Chardonnay hands down.  All of their Chardonnays are really good year after year and this, the lowest priced in their lineup, still shows as a premium wine.

This wine actually reminds me of the 94 point Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay in a lot of ways.  It's oaky and buttery, yet balanced with a persistent acidity - a truly impressive expression of California Chardonnay.  The round mouthfeel combined with crisp pineapple flavors tell me that this isn't a one trick pony like a lot of Chardonnay in this price range.  I've found that most Chards in the under $20 category are

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Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay – RP90 $14.95

March 14, 2011 Daily DrinkersHigh End Values  2 comments

Kendall-Jackson, a.k.a. KJ, somehow got a reputation for making grocery store wine.  If this is grocery store wine, then I'll live in the aisles because this is outrageously good - at any price.  There is a tendency to confuse high volume producers like Kendall-Jackson with bulk producers.  Those that take that stance are missing some incredible wines and, more importantly, incredible values.  Most KJ wines are estate grown, meaning they are in charge of every step in the wine producing process from growing to harvesting to bottling.  This is handcrafted wine that can hold its own and BEAT many wines 3 times the price.

From their own vineyards in Monterey and Santa Barbara, this wine is created from the top 3% of their Chardonnay lots!  Suddenly the advantages of being a high volume

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Smith & Hook Cabernet 2007- Another half pricer at $11.95

December 22, 2010 Daily Drinkers  No comments

I'm on a constant search for good California Cabernet under the magical $15 price point.  It's easy to find Cabernet under $15 but really difficult to find good Cabernet for that price.  I find most of them to be one dimensional, with each tasting like the other.  Smith and Hook certainly breaks that mold.   My other top pick for the year was the 2007 Sean Minor Four Bears Cabernet from Napa.  The Smith & Hook is a tough rival in terms of quality, with a somewhat more restrained style than the sweet, super ripe Sean Minor.

This wine is from the Hahn Family who make fantastic Cabernet, Chardonnay and a Meritage every year.  Smith & Hook is meant to be a reserve blend from their Monterey County vineyards.  It sells for $30 at the winery; still a good value, but nothing close to

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A 92 point Chardonnay with a perfect pasta recipe.

December 15, 2010 Daily DrinkersHigh End ValuesHow To  One comment

What is it with Monterey Chardonnay?  Something about the cool climate produces Chardonnay with complexity and richness but with a cutting acid that keeps everything in balance.  The 2008 Bernardus Chardonnay is one of the best examples I've had this year, and at $16.95 it's a great value from one of Chardonnay's best regions.  In fact, 2008 seems to have been a better Chardonnay vintage in Monterey than it was in Napa and Sonoma.

That crisp acid and rich oak made this wine a perfect accompaniment to one of my favorite easy dinners, Sicilian pasta.  I attempted to do a video of how to make this pasta.  So the video wasn't too long, I chopped everything in advance and preheated the oil in the pan.   Unfortunately I got the oil too hot and nearly caught my kitchen on fire.  I'll attempt

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Talbott Kali Hart Chardonnay 2008- Extreme value at $11.95

November 9, 2010 Daily Drinkers  No comments

Call it daily drinker week on Nickel and Dime Wine.  First it was yesterday's $9 Malbec and today we have a fantastic Chardonnay for $12.  With hundreds of California Chardonnays in the $10-15 price range, how do you choose a good one?  Well this is a good place to start (duh).  Seriously, if you're going to a dinner party or just in the store looking for a good bottle of California Chardonnay without spending a ton, here are 3 simple rules that should help you come out with a winner.

1. Look for these appellation designations on the label: Santa Barbara County (Santa Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley), Sonoma (Russian River Valley), Monterey (Santa Lucia Highlands) and Carneros.  Those are the best places to grow Chardonnay grapes in this great, bankrupt

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2008 Talbott Logan Chardonnay – WA92 for $16

November 1, 2010 Daily DrinkersHigh End Values  2 comments

The Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey county produces some of the country's best Chardonnay due to its cool temperatures and long growing season.  Talbott combined those elements in perfect harmony to make their 2008 Chardonnay from a selection of their large Sleepy Hollow Vineyard.  Ironically, the more expensive "Sleepy Hollow Vineyard" designated Chardonnay from Talbott was rated one point lower, making this an even better value for those who like a modern, oaky style of Chardonnay, without being over-the-top.

This wine is creamy on the palate with a band of acid cutting through on the finish.  The 16-35 year old vines, from which this wine was created, make for rich, deeply concentrated flavors as well as a reasonably high 15.1% alcohol level that is seamlessly integrated.  The

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