Two Bargain California Whites

California is not where you go looking for quality under $15. Nevertheless, every once in awhile you get lucky, and every once in a once in awhile, you get lucky twice. I opened two very nice, relatively cheap bottles of California white wine today. They were:

  • 2012 Bailiwick Vermentino
  • 2013 Dry Creek Vineyards Fume Blanc (I’m not sure why they call it Fume Blanc, it’s actually just sauvignon blanc.)

dcvThese are nice wines! And cheap. The DCV bottling is widely available for less than $15, and I got the Bailiwick for roughly the same. The DCV tastes like a uniquely Californian SB, herbal and grassy but with big tropical fruit that screams new world. Very, very pleasant to drink.

The Bailiwick is a little cleaner and subdued. A prettier wine with good acid, lemon, honey and rocks. I prefer the DCV most nights of the week, but would happily drink either. Great job, California. Every once in awhile you get it right.

Dry Creek Valley Fume Blanc: 89 points

Bailiwick Vermentno: 88 points.

vermentino beauty 256

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2009 Covey Run Riesling

W0939-2Nothing boutique here. A giant winery owned by a giant wine conglomerate. Still, if you can find this for $5 a bottle, as I did recently, it represents off the charts QPR.

This tastes like very good cheap riesling. It’s off-dry with a bit of petrol and heavy on the lemon peel.

Nothing complex, but very easy, very enjoyable Washington State drinking. And, again, $5. Perfect spicy stir-fry wine. Perfect wedding party wine.

In a pinch, I’d pay the typical retail price of $9 or so and not regret it.

87 points.

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2012 Tessellae Carignan

tesselaeI was excited to try a 100% carignan, especially one that cost a mere $12 a came with a lot of positive press.

Alas, it’s pretty boring.

The sweet fruit is pushed to 110%, and it might as well be any grape from anywhere.

It’s fine. I’m not complaining about the wine at the price point, but I’m glad I didn’t buy more than two bottles of this, which is lulling me to sleep with its indistinct fruitiness as I drink it.

85 points.

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Yo, I’m Making Shrubs!

IMG_0461Inspired by an article in The Washington Post and my own love of Pok-Pok drinking vinegar, I’ve started a batch of shrubs.

I’ve got two batches going, a cherry-tarragon (cherry-terry) and a cherry mint.

Each jar pictured contains a cup of fresh cherries, pits included, plus a half cup of sugar. After a few days I’m going to add a cup of white wine vinegar to each, strain and bottle.

Then I’ll be making shrubby cocktails and mixing with my soda water. SHRUB SUMMER!

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2011 Reyneke Syrah

reynekeSmokin’ good syrah for the money here.

I bought this from, which is fast becoming my go-to wine shop. I feel bad for my local brick and mortar shops, and I do still pop into them, but the big online guys continue to offer some unbeatable value, even when you sometimes have to pay shipping.

Anyway, this is a biodynamic, no new oak syrah from South Africa. It was tight upon popping, but still revealed a lot of meat and blueberry. Very savory. Fruity but not at all sweet. Perfect with grilled grass-fed skirt steak.

Two days later, preserved in a 375 ml bottle in the fridge, we were still going strong, but the savoriness had given way to bigger, rounder fruit. Beautiful bottle for the $15 I paid for it. I would have guessed a $40 cooler climate California bottling if tasted blind.

Absolutely none of the tar-rubber funk that sometimes mars cheaper South African bottles.

Also, because I give almost every bottle an “A-”, let’s try effing points.

91 points! Buy it!


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2012 Cercius Blanc

cerciusI saw various retailers declaring this blend from the South of France as the white wine value of the year. Hard to say, but for $12 or so, it’s an exceptional value that one should go out of their way to buy.

This is a 70/30 Grenache Blanc/Sauvignon blend. It’s rich, peachy and honeyed but not fat or flabby. A great food wine but fine to sip by itself.

Noticeably delicious.



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2011 Red Newt Lahoma Vineyards Riesling

newtFinger Lakes rieslings are probably the best value in North American white wine, and this bottle of Red Newt adds more evidence to the case.

A step up from the their “circle label” bottling, this off-dry bottle is rich and full, but with enough acid and minerality to never seem cloying. It tastes like granny smith apples and pineapple and rocks. I can’t imagine anyone drinking this and not liking it.

I paid $15 for it and drank it with pork tacos. Stupendous bargain.

Rating: A-

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