I get a thrill out of finding wines for less than $10 that way over-deliver in quality. Spain, Italy and Argentina have pushed the envelope for tasty and well-made wines at this red-hot price point. But when it comes to California, finding a noteworthy wine in this price segment has become increasingly difficult.
Without a doubt, California can go toe-to-toe with any wine region in the world, but for value-priced wines, they lag behind other regions because of a much higher cost of production, mainly attributed to land and labor costs. So while they can compete with anybody in wines $20 and over, they are at a competitive disadvantage for wines under $10. During a recent tasting, I came across the wines of California’s Grayson Cellars. Grayson is a family-owned winery that had the smarts to hire an experienced and savvy winemaker, Larry Levin. To keep costs down, they have sourced great fruit for their winery from various regions in California instead of having their own vineyards. With the economic slump that has hit many vineyards in California, there is a glut of high-quality juice for sale, often at below-market prices. With the right knowledge and contacts, Grayson has come across exceptional fruit that would normally go into wines that cost 2 to 3 times as much as they charge.
The 2009 Grayson Chardonnay is a lightly oaked, well-balanced Chardonnay that is a steal for $9.99. The purity of fruit and elegance of this wine belies its humble price. When esteemed wine critic Robert Parker tasted this wine, his comment was “almost too good to be true.”
If you are looking for a delicious red wine for your next cookout, look no further than the 2009 Grayson Cabernet Sauvignon ($9.99). This is not a huge, tannic style of Cabernet, but a more lush, easy-drinking Cab with notes of dark cherries, licorice and spice.
Finally, two terrific California wines under $10! Thank you, Grayson Cellars.
Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St. 434-6211, or visit www.sevillequarter.com.