A Couple Big Values ...

Pennywise Petite SirahSteltzner Claret   "The Other Guys" is a subsidiary of the Don Sebastiani wine portfolio, a group great at creating and marketing brands. Sometimes they come up with great value wines in the process. The 2009 Pennywise Petite Sirah includes a big chunk of Lodi juice (a region known for heavy fruit extraction) and another big chunk from Paso Robles (known for balance). It all works out to a modern, fruit-driven wine that may not shake the Earth, but can still be a good time for under ten bucks. Also, the package is smart.

   Another recent arrival that sings in the value category is the newest vintage of Steltzner Claret. I tasted this perennial favorite at a big trade tasting a few weeks ago, and was once again surprised at how well it stands against similar wines at double or triple its price. Instead of rolling into a new vintage as we usually do, we're taking in a big purchase of the 2008, so I'm guessing somebody up there likes it as much as I do. It's a great example of the Bordeaux style from California, using merlot and cabernet franc to flesh out the wine, making a blend better than any of its parts.


... And A Couple Big Hitters

TignanelloBeringer Cabernet Sauvignon Private Reserve   2007 is rounding out as a notable vintage all over the world, and two more big swingers just hit our shelves. The 15% cabernet sauvignon is quite apparent in the 2007 Tignanello, lending the wine a lot more heft than its bulk of sangiovese would offer otherwise. It might have been extra noticable when I tasted the Tignanello following a classy Brunello di Montalcino and a focused Chianti Riserva. This potential collector's piece shows round cherry and blackberry framed in great acidity, more or less qualifying for the descriptor "seamless." I'm told Tignanello will show even better with time.

   Also just in and from 2007 is the Beringer Private Reserve. The critics have taken note of this one, comparing it to past favorites like the 2004, 1997, 1991 and others. I haven't tried the 2007 yet, but I want to. Coincedentally, Binny's just recently purchased a large back catalog of Beringer Private Reserve bottlings, so if you want to try those back vintages that always get referenced, now is your chance. We took in just one or two bottles of each vintage per store, so they're spread kind of thin and in extremely limited quantities.