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The Dozen - Price, Pedigree & Perception

A Côtes du Rhone Rouge for $50? A fine Barolo for only $40? A Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for $50? Often we think of wines not for their intrinsic value as related to price but rather as to how their quality falls within the expected price range of an appellation. I’m often guilty of this myself.

However, the Côtes, the Barolo and the Montepulciano in today’s Dozen forced me to ask – Is the wine of the same, better or worse quality than other wines in the same price range, regardless of their regions or pedigrees?

It also should be noted that wine producers often have to suit up in the same straight jacket – “I could get this price for a Napa Cab but not a Moulis-en-Medoc, even if it’s the same quality” or “If it’s a Brunello, I’d be crazy to sell it for only $32.”

But enough thinking and more drinking!

2018 Jamieson Ranch “Reata” Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($20). Smooth, creamy, flavorful, but a little flabby in the finish.

2015 Belden Barns Sonoma Mountain Gruner Veltliner ($28). Somewhere between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon on your taste buds – fresh and vibrant fruit of medium body.

2018 Vietti “Cascinetta Vietti” Moscato d’Asti ($16). Delightful light sparkler with crab apple flavors lightened by bubbles, cream-puff sweetness and a savory hint of herbs in the finish. Ideal with appetizers or a plate of post-dinner sweet biscuits. However, the locked-tight, semi-Champagne cork is a pain-in-the-cuvee to extract.

2018 Root:1 Maipo Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($12). Quite nice for what it is – Bordeaux-like Cab dark fruitiness with spicy, savory notes.

2017 Septima Mendoza Malbec ($12). Well-structured, with tart berry flavors.

2017 Frank Family Napa Valley Zindandel ($38). Delicious – fruity and spicy without being a fruit monster with good herbal notes and a long finish.

2015 Enrico Serafino “Monclivio” Barolo ($40). For those not used to Nebbiolo’s signature color, this is a true “orange” wine – and a classic Barolo at an affordable price. Lean, with concentrated flavors of dried fruits, leather, dried spices and an extracted finish that just won’t quit.

2017 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($42). Bright but concentrated fresh raspberry/cherry flavors with good structure.

2016 Domaine Les Alexandrins Saint-Joseph ($47). A difficult vintage, but this wine under achieves – smoky half-fruity and half-savory flavors work okay, but it lacks freshness and zip.

2017 Belden Barns “Cadabra” Sonoma Mountain Syrah ($50). A great Sonoma Syrah made with whole clusters and using neutral oak – earthy, savory, chocolatey, lean yet fresh with light tannins.

2015 Binomio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva ($50). Monty P is usually a pleasant, lightly fruity wine that seldom hangs around the winery long enough to become a riserva, so this one is worth noting and drinking – great purple fruitiness with some savory notes and very full-bodied.

2016 Domaine de Bréyseme Côtes du Rhone Rouge ($50). What’s in a name? It’s seldom that you see a Côtes – usually an everyday wine – at this elevated price, yet it’s a very good wine with savory raspberry notes, a hint of garrigue and food-loving leanness.


Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com.

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