If you want to know what question I get asked most, it’s this: what is the best wine for a cheap “value” price?
There is no more difficult question to answer than this one. Wine is a matter of personal taste. It’s not unusual to stage a “blind” tasting among wines of all price ranges and have the value wines win out over the premium expensive wines; so many variables to deal with.
Eight California wines were named among Wine Spectator’s World Value Wines in the current issue. In the wine industry’s most read publication, these wines had to cost $15. or less and score 85 points or higher; great taste at a great price. The select 8 included red wines: Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vine 2011 $9., Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Noir Votra Sante’ 2011 ($14), Gnekow Zinfandel Old Vine, ($10). White wines: Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($12), Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc 2011 ($8), Ensemble White 2011 ($10), Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($14), Pepi Chenin Blanc-Viognier 2011 ($10). “The United States leads the way with 20 value wines in four states from the 100 wines named,” reported Wine Spectator. “Three Old World regions, France, Italy and Portugal, all did well.”
Spectator also added this: “California released hearty reds made from Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, and zesty whites made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, that were the leading grapes for value.” Get the complete list in the Oct. 15 issue of Wine Spectator.
By the way, Votre Sante’ was named for movie director Coppola’s grandmother, Maria Zasa, an Italian who spoke four languages. She was always seen offering a wine toast: “A Votra Sante” — to your health.” Coppola has completed his “Wine Wonderland” with the opening of Winery Park in Sonoma County, an eye-opening complex with two swimming pools, changing “cabines,” a performance pavilion, four bocce courts and a children’s library. You don’t want to miss his RUSTIC Restaurant of family Italian recipes, with terraces, two wine bars and a movie museum. Visit www.FrancisCoppolaWinery.com.
Napa Valley’s Most Distinguished Wines Choose Il Fornaio
The Napa Valley names that show up on premium wine lists time and time again are Robert Mondavi and Franciscan, and the select wine events at Il Fornaio Restaurant in Coronado recently featured Robert Mondavi.
The Mondavi dinner was a special occasion as G.M. Luca Allieri wanted to spotlight what would have been Robert Mondavi’s 100th birthday this year. It was an amazing journey since the winery’s opening in 1966. After only one year, he created his most popular wine, Fume’ Blanc, and the next year made his first Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1970, he and his wine partner, the great French winemaker Baron Philippe de Rothschild, partnered to make the most famous premium wine in Napa Valley, Opus One in the historic 450 acre To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville. This is where grapes become wine royalty. When Mondavi first acquired To Kalon he declared “it is the most beautiful vineyard site I have seen in my life.”
Il Fornaio’s Chef Georgio Loverde had 5 courses paired with the 5 world renowned Mondavi wines led by the Mondavi 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. ($44.99) For the Franciscan event on September 26, Loverde plans a choice of an Ahi tuna or sliced veal as only he can do both, matched with a choice of Franciscan wines. Cost is $65 per person. Call 619-437-4911.
La Costa Wine Company in Carlsbad has an Orin Swift Tasting, Sept. 27 from 5 to 8:30 pm. Five varietals will be poured including Prisoner. $25. Call (760) 431-8455.
The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce presents the Napa Valley Vintners Grand Wine Tasting hosted by Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas, at Meritage Wine Market Oct. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. This annual event brings in 10 highly acclaimed wineries, along with gourmet foods. $50. RSVP and details at (760) 479-2500.
Join Bistro West, West Steak & Seafood and West Inn & Suites in Carlsbad for OktoberWest, Oct. 12 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. German favorites and other delicious food plus premium beers and wines. Cost is $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Call (760) 930-8008.
Frank Mangio is a renowned San Diego wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. He is one of the leading wine commentators on the web. View and link up with his columns at www.tasteofwinetv.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.