Sunday, February 06, 2005

Wine-blogging: Two Terrific Value Wines

I haven't done much wine-blogging lately, which is just pure selfishness on my part because I certainly have continued to drink the stuff and form opinions. Anyway, Sunday is always a nice day for some wine-blogging and I have a couple of new wines in the "value wine" category to rave about.

The first comes from Sterling Vineyards: Sterling, Vintner's Collection, Pinot Noir 2002.

Sterling is a Napa Valley winery with a good reputation for consistency, quality, and value. The problem is that "value" in Napa Valley is a heck of a lot pricier than it is other places.

To the rescue comes Sterling's new Vinter's Collection label, made mostly from grapes grown in California's far less pricey Central Coast region. From Sterling's website:

"Single Vintner's Collection was conceived to offer distinctive, well-made wines that are varietal benchmarks for everyday enjoyment. The grapes are from top coastal microclimates and are vinted and bottled in the Napa Valley..."

If their Pinot Noir is representative, I would say they're succeeding in this effort. Pinot Noir is the most challenging varietal in their lineup. The grape is certainly among the most difficult to grow, and one of the least predictable when it comes to quality and quantity produced. Consequently, prices for decent Pinot Noir tend to be higher than other respective varietals.

But this bottle was priced at only ten dollars. That's absurdly low for decent Pinot Noir. Trusting in Sterling's reputation, I gave it a try - and I'm very glad I did.

Sterling's own tasting notes state:

"The 2002 Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir is a clear deep ruby, with complex, vibrant varietal aromas of briar fruit and ripe black cherries, with hints of vanilla. The fruit jumps out of the glass, with big black cherry flavors from entry to finish. The tannins are soft and there is a resonant touch of earth in the lingering finish."

You know what? I don't disagree with a single word, except perhaps the earthiness. I didn't get that. But this is a very enjoyable, drinkable, non-intimidating Pinot Noir. It would be a wonderfully flexible food wine, pairing with all sorts of things very well. For the price-point, it's simply amazing.

The next wine is a brand new one I came across yesterday: Monkey Bay, Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc 2004

This continues the streak of amazing Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Has anyone yet discovered a bad one? The pleasant surprise here is the price. Again, I picked this up for about ten dollars. My previous Kiwi Sauv-Blanc value champ - Giesen - usually runs about 13-14.

My tasting notes:

The nose strongly suggests pineapple and green chili. On the palate there are lots of tropical flavors, a hint of brambly herbalness and green chili. The fruit is very forward in this one. One might even use the word "explosive" if one were to write the marketing blurb on the back of the bottle (instead they went with the more somber "assertive").

Again, at this price-point, this one is absolutely stellar.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have good taste. I enjoy Sterling wines as well... I'll have to try the Monkey Bay. Thanks for the tip.
-- a friend of a friend :)

6:06 PM  

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