With warmer weather in the offing and restrictions easing on getting together in crowds of more than four and spaced at two-meter intervals, it’s time to explore lower-cost, tasty wines to have handy for any group gathering or just sipping around the house.
The following 19 wines were culled from tasting notes posted on #Twitter, #Facebook and elsewhere over the past five months. We used these key search words: appetizers, easy-sipping, party, reception and picnic. Prices ranged from $10 to $22. The countries: U.S., France, New Zealand and Spain. Sources were big box stores (e.g. Costco), online flash sale merchants and local grocery stores and wine merchants in California. Prices will vary. Some wines were purchased in close-out sales so the next vintage might already be in distribution. That said, the wineries listed here are consistent producers so worth taking a chance, whatever the year or non-vintage.
$10 easy-sipping organic California Chardonnay, 2019 Bonterra Vineyards. Mid-dark gold; light, fruity, tropical nose; balanced; soft acids; round, semi-fat finish. Party, reception, picnic wine. 14.5 UC Davis scale, 87 other scales.
$11 Russian River Valley, Calif., 2018 Chardonnay Frei Brothers. Sharp mid-dark green-gold; toasty, tropical, pineapple nose; mid-body/acids; fatter buttery style; long round fat finish. w/cheeses. 15.5/89
Sonoma Coast, Calif., 2018 MacRostie Chardonnay, $14. Sharp mid-gold; tropical, floral, honey nose, light stone fruit; mid-body; soft acids; semi-long fat fruity finish. Party, reception, appetizer wine. 15/88
Napa $14 Chardonnay 2019 Raymond Vineyard. Sharp mid-gold; tropical, butterscotch, buttery nose; mid-body; mid-plus viscosity; long fat semi-lush finish (14.5 alc.). for those who like the buttery style. 15.5/89
2018 Duckhorn Vineyards Chardonnay Decoy Sonoma County $15. Sharp mid-gold; tropical, peachy nose; fat, soft (some residual sugar?), short finish (13.8 alc.); a little one dimensional. w/cheeses, appetizers. 14.5/87
$10 Sonoma County, Calif., Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Kenwood. Sharp, mid-green gold; light herbaceous, cut grass, citrus nose; mid-body/acids; decent fruit for the money; semi-long crisp finish. Good value appetizer, sipping wine. 15.5/89
$10 California Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Bonterra Vineyards. Sharp, mid-green gold; new mown hay, grapefruit nose; mid-body/acids; not deep; short fruity finish. Appetizer, party wine. 14.5/87
North Canterbury, NZ, 2020 Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, $12. Light-mid straw gold; boxwood, citrus, pyrazine, floral nose; mid-body; softening acids; mid-long fruity finish (hint of residual sugar?). Easy sipping appetizer, party, reception wine. 15/88
$14 Napa value Sauvignon Blanc 2018 Girard. Sharp mid-green gold; herbaceous, boxwood, new mown hay, lime nose; mid-body; mid-plus acids; long semi-crisp, citric, varietal finish. w/appetizers, shellfish. 15.5/89
$22 Napa Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Groth. Sharp mid-green gold; light herbaceous, citrus, spice nose; mid-body; mid-plus acids, intensity; long crisp citric finish. w/seafood appetizers. 16/90
Other Whites, Blends
$11 North Coast California Viognier 2018 Cline Cellars. Sharp mid-gold; citrus, peachy, melon nose; mid-body; soft acids; short, fruity, easy-sipping finish. Party, reception, appetizer wine. 14.5/87
$13 Calif. Chenin Blanc 2018 Dry Creek Vineyard Chenin Blanc Dry Clarksburg (Sacramento Delta). Light straw gold; green apple, floral nose, improves with air; mid-body, acids; long round semi-lush finish. w/appetizers. 15/88
Easy sipping (12.5% alc.) California white blend 2019 Pine Ridge Vineyards Chenin Blanc (78%) Viognier (22%), $14. Pale straw gold; persimmon, apricot, floral nose; mid-body; soft acids; semi-long fruity finish. Appetizer and party wine. 14.5/87
Fine Burgundy value 2018 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages ($14). Sharp light-mid green gold; light citrus, pineapple, floral nose (unoaked); mid-body; softening acids; long round fruity Chardonnay finish. w/appetizers. 15.5/89
Spain value white 2017 Bodegas Ordoñez Rueda Nisia (Verdejo grape) $15. Mid green gold; Thompson seedless like nose; mid body; soft, fruity finish (residual sugar?). 13% alcohol. From 70-year-old vines; used indigenous yeast. 15/88
Tasty $13 Santa Barbara County, Calif., 2019 Margerum Riviera Rosé (Grenache). Mid-salmon/copper; fruity, floral, strawberry nose; mid-body; good fruit; long semi-crisp finish. Sipping wine (11.9 alc.), w/appetizers, nuts, cheeses. 15.5/89
Provence blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot. 2019 Triennes Rosé, $16. Sharp mid-salmon orange; strawberry, white peach nose; mid-body, acids, fruit; long fruity strawberry finish. w/appetizers. 15.5/89
Russian River Valley, Calif., 2019 Raeburn Rosé $20. Light pink-orange color; strawberry, rose petal nose; mid-plus acids; mid-plus depth of fruity; long strawberry, red fruit finish. w/appetizers. 16/90
California sparkling wine NV Domaine Chandon Rosé, $18. Mid-dark salmon; strawberry, rose petal, floral nose; mid-body; mid-plus acids; strawberry on the palate; medium long crisp finish. w/appetizers. 15.5/89