The following wines rise to the top in price and value from among several hundred wines tasted over the past few months, from individual bottles with food at home to sampling through scores at trade tastings and industry events. 


  •  $13 Napa Chardonnay ’17 Black Stallion. Mid-dark gold; tropical, oaky, malolactic nose; light citrus, peach undertones; mid-fat body; hot and sweet (residual sugar? 14.5 alc.). w/appetizers, cheese, bread for those who like the style.
  •  Fine $12 Napa Chardonnay ’17 Beringer. Sharp light-mid gold; Chardonnay nose; stone fruit; vanilla; mid-body; balanced; long buttery finish. w/seafood.
  •  $15 Carneros Chardonnay ’16 Artesa. Sharp mid-24k gold; vanilla, stone fruit, higher alcohol nose (aldehydes), honeysuckle; mid-body; round; ripe; long woody, buttery semi-lush finish.  For those who like the bigger style.
  •  Quality $15 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ’16 Irony. Light straw-gold; tropical, floral, peach nose; mid-body; nice structure; long semi-lush finish (14.5 alc.). w/seafood, appetizers.
  •  $14 Sonoma Chardonnay ’16 Rodney Strong Chalk Hill. Light-mid straw-green-gold tropical, citrus, stone fruit nose; mid-body; decent fruit; soft fat finish. Easy-sipping party, reception, appetizer wine.

Sauvignon Blanc

  • Good value Monterey $10 Sauvignon Blanc ’17 Gnarly Head. Pale straw gold; weedy, grapefruit, citrus nose; mid-body; balanced fruit and acids; nice finish. w/appetizers.
  •  $10 Monterey County Sauvignon Blanc ’17 Ryder Estate. Sharp mid-gold; wet straw, citrus, floral nose; light-mid body; decent acids; semi-long semi-crisp fruity finish. w/appetizers
  •  Nice style for the price: $15 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ’17 St. Supery. Sharp mid-green-gold; citrus, lychee nut, clove, light herbaceous nose; mid-body; balanced; good fruit and flavor; long semi-crisp (13.5% alc.), refined finish. w/sea bass

Other White Wines

  • Fruity $15 Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Gris ’17 WillaKenzie. Pale straw gold; light peaches and apricot nose; mid-body; soft acids; easy-drinking, semi-lush finish. w/cheeses and appetizers.
  •  $12 picnic, party, appetizer Mendocino County Gewurztraminer ’17 Alexander Valley Gewurz. Sharp mid-gold; floral, star jasmine and fig nose; mid-body; low acids; residual sugar comes through on the soft fruity finish. 


  • $9 California Rosé of Pinot Noir ’18 Donovan-Parke. Mid-salmon; light floral nose, rose, star jasmine; light-mid body; soft acids; some PN flavor; easy-sipping party, picnic, wedding reception wine.
  • Tablas Creek ’17 Patelin de Tablas Rosé, $17 (64% Grenache, 29 Mourvedre, 5 Syrah, 2 Counoise). Light salmon color; floral, acacia, strawberry nose; mid-body; decent fruit; long crisp berry finish. Spring sipping wine. Also, w/Asian food.

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • $11 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon ’15 Ch. Ste. Michelle Indian Wells. Dark purple; berry, cocoa, jam and mint nose; complex for the price; mid-body; balanced; good fruit; Cabernet flavor; long berry finish. One of the best Cabernet values tasted in a while.
  • $12 Washington Cabernet Sauvignon ’16 Pendulum Columbia Valley. Mid-dark garnet; ripe grape (14.2 alc.), prune and sweet blackberry jam nose; mid-body; balanced; good fruit; long semi-smooth fruity finish. Burger, pasta, pizza, BBQ wine. 
  • $17 Columbia Valley, Wash., Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 Borne of Fire “The Burn.” Mid-dark garnet; prune, tar nose; opens with air to blackberries, cassis; mid-body; decent fruit; some style; long hot finish. From other notes, wonder if they had bottle variation or bad storage at places where some people bought their wines.

Pinot Noir

  • Great value in Mendocino Pinot Noir ’16 Angeline $13. Mid-garnet; light red cherry nose; hints of oak; mid-body to lighter; balanced; nice lighter style; good acids; Pinot Noir finish. Almost a 90.
  • Six Degrees ’16 California Pinot Noir $14. Mid-brick; light Pinot Noir nose; red cherries; light-mid body; balanced; decent PN fruit and flavor; soft fruity finish; easy sipping California Pinot. w/pork
  • $14 Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2017 Stateland Cellars Reserve. Bright mid-ruby; varietal nose; light stemminess; black cherries, plums; mid-body; balanced; soft tannins for the age; decent structure; fruitier style California Pinot; good fruity finish. w/salmon (yes, with fish)
  • 2015 Acacia Pinot Noir Russian River Valley $15. Big mark down on older inventory. Mid-ruby; light stemmy Pinot nose; strawberry jam; wood; mid-body; balanced; some Pinot character on the palate; black cherry, woody slightly hot finish (14.5 alc.).
  • Monterey Pinot Noir $17 with some style ’16 Talbott Kali Hart. Mid-dark garnet; light Pinot nose; red fruit, cherries, smoke; mid-body; good Pinot fruit; balanced; long smooth finish; a touch hot (14.2 alc.).
  • Lincourt 2016 Rancho Santa Rosa ’16 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir $17. Mid-dark garnet; peppery, tar, iodine, woody nose (more like a Malbec than a Pinot Noir); mid-body; decent fruit but could be another grape from the new world; bigger style; long hot finish.
  • Central Otago NZ Pinot Noir ’16 Innocent Bystander $17. Sharp, mid-ruby; fruity Pinot Noir, cranberry, cherry nose; mid-body; balanced; good fruit, some style for the price; long semi-lush finish.
  • Central Otago NZ Pinot Noir ’15 Loveblock $23. Mid-brick; earthy, stemmy Pinot nose; hints of wood; mid-body; balanced; red berry and cherry flavors; tight acids and tannins; bigger style; needs time. w/pork, veal.

Other Red Wines

  • Zorzal 2016 Malbec Gran Terroir $23. Mendoza, Valle de Uco, Tupangato. Mid-dark purple; peppery, wet pine, grape jam nose; mid-body; tight structure; some style; long, balanced, fruity, refined finish. w/tri-tip 91
  • $18 Napa Valley Merlot ’16 Athenaeum. Mid-garnet; black fruit, ripe grape, plum nose; mid-body; balanced; semi-tight tannins; long semi-chewy hot (14.2 alc.) finish. with pasta and red sauce.
  • Big $14 Paso Robles Petite Sirah ’15 Adixion. Dark garnet; peppery, cassis, ripe grape, raisin nose; big body; grapey; chewy; good fruit, flavor for the price; long hot finish (14.5 alc.). BBQ and rib wine.
  • Barossa Valley rib, BBQ wine ’15 Tait Ball Buster $16 (80% Shiraz, 12% Cabernet, 8% Merlot). Mid-dark garnet; blackberry, pine, pepper and aldehyde nose (15.9 alc.). Mid-big body; grapey; one-dimensional; thick fruity finish.
  • Ancient Peaks ’16 Renegade, Paso Robles, Santa Margarita Ranch, $16. Blend 32% Syrah, 25% Zinfandel, 20% Malbec, 19% Petit Verdot, 4% Petite Sirah. Dark garnet; prune, plum, pepper and aldehyde nose; fat, thick wine; long semi-chewy and hot (14.5 alc.) finish. BBQ and rib wine.
  • $10 Amador County Zinfandel bargain Renwood ’15 Cranky Old Vines. Mid-garnet; cocoa, wood, blackberry, bramble nose; mid-body; balanced; good Zin flavor; long fruity finish.
  • $15 Zinfandel ’15 St. Francis Old Vines Sonoma County. dark garnet; ripe grape, prune, bramble nose; mid-big body; big extract; long thick finish (15.4 alc.). BBQ and rib wine.