WINESLACKER..the lazy drinker's guide. Another 'slacker yammering on about drinking.

May 9, 2011

Remember $10 Wines? They’re Back…

Filed under: $10 wines,Buy o' the Month,Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Justin Winery — Dex Wineslacker @ 2:07 am

OK, let’s see if the Wineslacker remembers how to do this now. Oh, yeah. Got it.  Spring is sprug…or sprung. Ah, faithful reader, there lay many, only slightly hidden treasures in the wine sections of the retail world to be had. Yes, there are still $10 wines worth buying out there. The greatest deal the ‘slacker has found in the neighborhood is Beringer (yes, what, the oldest winery in California, or close, 1876, they claim.). For whatever reason, probably a huge over stock, Trader Joes has pulled off one of their majorly slick deals and landed Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium, 2007, which they are turning over for a spectacular $9.99. And friends, it’s worth it. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot; very Bordeaux-like, with real structure, something often processed out of California Reds.  OK, there are better Bordeaux blends out there, if you must spend $35 or $40 bucks, but BABY, $10! Stock up while they got it.

And while you’re there, try some Hogue Genesis Meritage, 2007 (again. That magic year!). A lot of T.J.s have it for an absurd $7.99. Despite the grandiose name, this is garage sale gold. Its another red blend, all Washington State Columbia Valley fruit; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and just a touch of Cabernet Franc. Now, this wine is great right out of the bottle, but don’t plan on sipping it over the next week, ’cause by tomorrow, this baby is flab city. Forgetsville. But remember, you just paid $8 for it. Don’t be greedy.

T.J.s still has a great selection of inexpensive Pinot Noirs. Been hankering for that La Crema Pinot? Less than $20 at the Traders. While the ‘slacker hasn’t tasted Picket Fence Pinot, other wine bloggers have and give it high marks.

Wineslacker’s been back to BevMo, lately. They had the good sense to build one much closer to the ‘slacker’s H.Q. He picked up a a little red just for the nostalgia of the name; Ventana (window) Rubystone, a Grenache/Syrah blend from Arroyo Seco, 2007 (are ya getting the hint?).  It too was a paltry $9.99.  This needs a bit o’ air, but once opened up it springs right atcha with spice and a complex little trunk of flavors.  We like it and this one has been hanging around the crowded Wineslacker kitchen for several days while a number of other wines were tested. After all that time, it stays surprisingly drinkable. “Kitchen Survivors” is what Andrea Robinson calls ’em.

Don’t forget to check Von’s wine sections. They are just coming off one of their big wine sales and the ‘slacker spied Justin (Paso Robles) Cab, usually $27-28 bucks for the 2008, at an affordable $20 with the magic Von’s plastic card. Justin Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular Cabs served in California restaurants and deservedly so. Take an occasional peek, especially in their upgraded stores, for their 30% off premium label wines sales. There’s a deeper discount for case buys as well. Vons also carries a good selection of solid wine at the $10 level. Ya gotta have their discount card, though.

There. Drink some wine. More later…

March 21, 2010

Food and Wine Along the Way II…

Filed under: California,Justin Winery,Monte Bello,Restaurants,Santa Cruz Mountains — Dex Wineslacker @ 1:05 am

Restaurants of quality seem to radiate from the mothership of San Francisco.  The best of them, of course, feature a wine list including wine from one of the great wine producing areas of the world, California.  The Wineslacker and Lovely Companion dropped their back packs in Los Gatos, the night before the journey up the hill to Ridge, hit the local Trader Joes for provisions and sought out a local eatery that looked like it had a wine list.  They settled on the lively looking ViVa! (their exclamation point).  Bright, modern decor and a very well attended bar, they settled in for some Mediterranean cuisine and a local glass o’ supt’n.  They ended up sharing, as the ‘slacker IS a giver, a cracker crust Tuscan pizza and a fabulous butter-nut squash soup.  The ‘slacker ordering up a glass of Downhill’s “Susannah’s” Barbera, 2007 and the Delightful Traveling Companion, a Ventana, Monterey County Riesling, 2008.  The Downhill Barbera, a Los Gatos winery, turned out to be a light, fruity, very drinkable and enjoyable Barbera, one of the underestimated, more successful Italian varietals to translate to California.  The ‘slacker rarely meets a Barbera that he doesn’t like. The Ventana Riesling was excellent; fruity but not cloying, full of flavor but with great mouth feel: great examples of superior wine making from wineries practically in the neighborhood of the restaurant.

ViVa actually has a wide ranging wine list, with excellent examples of the local craft, including 36 wines by the glass, from a reasonable $6.50 a glass to $17 (for a Steele, “Stymie” Merlot, Lake County, ’06, you’re moderately better off to get the bottle for their price of $68).  Now, buying by the glass is like buying your morning coffee at Starbucks (ok, not THAT expensive).  However, if you’re like the ‘slacker, despite his shaky reputation, ya pretty much sticks to one or two glasses a meal.  So, you probably don’t need a bottle unless you have at least 4 people at the table, all of whom want the same wine. Buying wine by the glass allows for greater flexibility in your wine choice and a chance, if you’re friendly (and not suffering a transmittable disease), to taste at least two wines at an affordable price.

To get back to ViVa’s wine list, they include outstanding wines from the area including Rombauer, Fogarty, Steele, Kathryn Kennedy, Sarah’s Vineyard, Creekview, Downhill, around the corner, Justin, from Paso Robles, Bernardus, from Monterey, Storrs, from Santa Cruz Mountains, Heller Estate, from Carmel and other great choices, including a limited, but happy, selection of sparklers, including Dom Perignon, if you must splurge.

On the Southwest Rail at Nepenthe

Next time, the Wineslacker covers two classic restaurants in the Big Sur wilderness, one of which has been in business, under the same ownership, for over sixty (60) years. It’s older than the Wineslacker!

November 30, 2009

Update: Von’s Sale

Filed under: Buy o' the Month,Justin Winery,Paso Robles — Dex Wineslacker @ 12:45 am
California Essentials

California Essentials

Drop by your local Von’s and check out their wine dept. this week. The Wineslacker’s local Von’s was running a fab sale on almost all their quality wines. The ‘slacker picked up Justin 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon for $20, DeLoach Russian River Valley Zinfandel for about $10 and 2007 Guenoc Petite Sirah, which they have always done very well, for about $9 (ok, we’re a little sloppy on the prices, I SWORE I was going to keep track of the receipt, went and cleaned off the dining table and it was gone). Von’s has one of the nicest wine departments of the big chains. Oh, yeah, ya gotta get their plastic coupon card to get those prices, but what the hell, it’s only your privacy and a little more junk mail. If ya have to choose between wine and privacy; well, we think we know on which side of that line the Wineslacker falls.

May 14, 2007

Justin of Paso Robles

Filed under: Justin Winery,Orphan,Paso Robles — Dex Wineslacker @ 8:23 pm

Justin Winery is one of the most remote but honored wineries in the Paso Robles area. When investment banker Justin Baldwin and his mortgage broker wife, Deborah, bought 160 acres in the hills outside of what was the sleepy agricultural town of Paso Robles in 1981 they brought a vision and a sense of humor to Central California winemaking. And the Wineslacker appreciates a sense of humor.Buy a bottle of Justin. Pull the cork (the REAL cork) and read it. You’ll see what the ‘slacker means. They just havin’ fun. And if you can’t have fun making wine, well, you’re probably in the wrong business. Not only that, but if you’re havin’ fun and people know it; well, their gonna try your product at least once. When you’ve got a product as good as the Justin folks, they’re gonna come back.

Now, Justin is famous for their top of the line Isosceles, a top rated Bordeaux style blend that was rated in 2002 by no less than that Napolean of wine crits, Robert Parker, at an atmospheric 95. Isosceles is a fairly hefty price per bottle, but Justin makes a line of wines that are reasonable, drinkable and delicious. One of their cheapest is their little “Orphan”, a red blended wine that they market, tongue in cheek, as their thrown together field blend orphan child. A wine for picnics and barbeques and spur of the moment grilling. Let the Wineslacker tell you, it’s one beautiful wine for $16 a shot. A warm, cigar wrap nose, red fruit, dried, wild cherries and a mild black tea finish with the structure to hold it all in balance. Doggies.

And it must be one of the great places to buy wine; the winery, Justin’s restaurant, Deborah’s Room and a tiny bed and breakfast, Just Inn, are tucked away in the hills outside of Paso Robles, California, at the end of a lonely country road, exactly 11680 Chimney Rock Road.

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