It hasn’t quite turned to barbecue weather in California (or anywhere else given the recent cold snap in the east), but you can start scouring the shelves at your friendly wine merchant, grocery or discount store for super values in wines perfect for sipping with grilled food.  In the past month, we’ve tasted several score value wines  and narrowed the search down to nine favorites, all tweeted about (@sdwineguru).  We also sampled a few cellar wines during a birthday and other special occasions and include those notes below for reference as well.


Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Blends

Quaffable value Cabernet Sauvignon 09 Guenoc  California $8. Fruity, light varietal nose; mid-body, decent fruit/finish. w/munchies, BBQ.

Value Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 08 Irony $9. Herbaceous varietal nose; mid-body; quaffable; good flavor. w/pasta, BBQ, pizza.

Top $15 Napa Cabernet 08 Brennan Avery. Rich varietal nose; mint, berries; mid-big body; good fruit, finish. Good as $25+ wines.

Pine Ridge Encantado 09 Napa Cabernet $22. Dark purple; mint, berries, wood nose; big, round, ripe. Great w/beef. Aging potential.

Easy sipping Bordeaux Superieur 09 Chateau de Macard $11. 50 Cab Franc 20 Cab Sauv 30 Merlot. Earthy berry nose; 12.5 alc.; soft finish.

Quaffable Cotes du Bordeaux 08 Ch Douley $9. Gamey grapey mint nose (Merlot, Cab Franc?); mid-body; fruity finish. BBQ wine.


Good value Cotes du Rhone 07 La Deveze $12 (65% Grenache, 20 Syrah,10 Carignan, 5 Cinsault). Earthy, Grenache nose; fine fruit, finish.

Super value Cotes du Rhone 09 Perrin. 60% Grenache, 20 Syrah, 10 each Mouv and Cins $9 (Yes, $9). Earthy nose; balanced fruit. w/apps

Other Reds

Rich Mendoza Malbec 09 Opi (Rodolfo Sadler) $15. Ripe grapes, mint, jam nose; mid-big body; long, fruity finish. Tasty w/BBQ ribs.

Cellar Tasting Notes

Fine food wine Cain Concept 02. Cabernet Sauvignon 84%, CF 7, PV 5, Merlot 4. Minty Cab nose; soft tannins; soft; good flavor; easy drinking.


05 Xmas gift from son. 01 Silverado Cabernet. Saved, toasted his birthday. Ripe Napa nose, mint, vanilla; balanced, full finish. w/beef.

20 yr old Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 01 doing well. Deep color; mint, oak, old varietal nose; tannins holding, deep finish.

Tasty 04 Foxen Syrah Williamson-Dore Vineyard. Mint, berry nose; big fruit (15.4 alc.), grapey, good tannins, rich finish. Needs time.

Old Napa Cabernet w/style 81 Mondavi. Aging varietal nose, wood, terroir; soft, some tannins; opens w/time; 12.5 alcohol great w/beef.

Bordeaux 5th growth star Clerc Milon 05 Pauillac. By Lafite, Mouton. 50% Cabernet 35 Merlot. Terroir nose; rich ripe full flavor.


 (Next: Notes from the Family Winemakers of California event)