For the price, this is an outstanding Zinfandel. Simple, forward berry-like fruit without being cloying. When served slightly chilled, the wine firms up nicely and the fruit focuses. It's very close to a VG-, but it's lack of depth and complexity holds it back [1/2].
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, Paso Robles, Westside, 2000, $13 VG
This is a classic Peachy Canyon production: pink in color, bright and open, with a giddy fruity quality. Lots of fun [1/5].
Bodegas Dios Baco Oloroso Sherry, Spain, NV, $18 VG
An elegant Sherry, with nutty, modestly sweet flavors [1/7].
Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, Paso Robles, Incredible Red, 2001, $9 VG-
Similar to, but less complex than the 2000 Westside, but more effusive. Lots of fun and nothing to complain about [1/9].
Cline Zinfandel, California, 2001, $8 VG-
Cline's bargain Zin has gone elegant rather than rustic. Not as bursting with fruit, but still my everyday wine [1/17].
Romate Cream Sherry, Spain, NV, $10 VG
This wine is great. Nutty flavors blended with sweet orange grassy, nutty finish. Yes, orange. The kicker? It's in a yellow chromed bottle--it looks like a Christmas tree ornament! I'm buying a case of this stuff [1/17]. On revisiting this wine, I've found it to be lighter than I remembered, and less complex. I'm downgrading to VG [8/22].
Warre's Tawny Port, Portugal, Otima, 10 year, VG+
This is the best tawny I've had in a while. Nutty and sweet, with lovely balance and elegance. This was a gift from Eric Tune for writing him a letter for his faculty job hunt. What class! I wish I'd done that for my letter writers. At least I was thoughtful enough to share it with friends [1/17].
Concannon Syrah, Central Coast, 2000, G+
With a little chill on this wine, it picks up some structure, the fruit focuses, and becomes enjoyable [1/19].
Yalumba Tawny Port, Australia, Clocktower, NV, $10 VG
Suprisingly good for the price. Not powerful, but still rich with flavors of nutty caramel and fruit. I'm calling this a Yalumba wine (one of the great Australian wine houses, especially in dessert wines), although I can find no indication of it on the bottle. But it used to be there, and there are sources on the web that acknowledge this, too [1/19].
Chateau Souverain Zinfandel, Dry Creek, 2001, VG
Nice, but non-commital. Solid Zin fruit with a dusty finish [1/21].
Columbia Merlot, Yakima Valley, David Lake Signature Series Red Willow Vineyard Milestone Merlot, 1998, $10 VG+
I knew when I saw this at Trader Joe's for $10, I knew I could have a bargain on my hands. The winery is small and the wine has more "designations" on the bottle than any wine I've ever seen. But why would TJ's be giving this away? Well, I'm still not sure. This wine is delicious, and no cookie-cutter Merlot. I might normally give it a VG -- it's more elegant than powerful -- but I up'd the score for uniqueness and mystery. Very pretty, honest Merlot fruit, with modest structure (considering it's five years old), hints of age -- a soft dusty earthiness reminiscent of an old Cab, and not over oaked. Now looking at the back of the bottle, I see this has 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc. That explains a lot [1/24]!
Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon, North Coast, 2000, $10 G+
I like he Bonterra's for their organic grapes, but this was disappointingly light in flavor, not atypical of the 2000 California vintage.
Joel Gott Zinfandel, California, 2002, $12 VG+
A super bargain, with a wide palette of unique flavors and modest intensity.
Concannon Petite Sirah, Central Coast, 2001, $7 VG-
Yummy for the price, characteristically dusty. Bonus on the gorgeous bottle and label, too.
Folie a Deux White, California, Menage a Trois, 2002, $7 VG
This three-grape white cuvee has lovely floral qualities without being light. Delicious.
Woop Woop Shiraz, Australia, 2003, $9 VG
This is a fruit and pepper bomb. My first bottle seemed to be mostly pepper, and I was a little embarrassed to be serving it. My second bottle was much more on the fruity side, with earth and dust to match -- perhaps more time in the bottle and in the air.
Vida Organica Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina, 2002, $8 VG
Not as big as the Chateau St. Michelle, but its mineral flavors blended with ample fruit and oak make it unique. Their Cab is great, too.
Warre's Tawny Port, Portugal, King's Tawny, NV, $7 G
This inexpensive Tawny is in the sweet-and-cherries style, and rather light. Nothing to write home about.
Royal Zin Zinfandel, California, Cuvee Royale, NV, Poor
The main word on the back label that I agree with is "brambly".
Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, 2001, $5.50 G+
I always like the Chilean Cabs for their rustic fruit and earth.
Properity Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, NV, $5 G+
A real bargain. Good sweet fruit, modest varietal character, good with food.
McCrea Counoise, Red Mountain, WA, 2002, VG+
A very unique red rhone varietal, with gorgeous sweet blackberry flavors and ample structure.
Lustau Sherry, Spain, Capataz Andres, NV, $10 VG+
Really delicious stuff at a great price, a blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez. Thick, murky, and sweet.
Three Thieves Zinfandel, California, 2002, $8/Liter G+
Simple and delicious.