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A Selection of Reasonably-priced, Premium Wines


Following is an eclectic selection of diverse wines from Argentina, California and New Zealand, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and a red meritage wine.  They are highly recommended to outstanding, showing good richness, complexity and balance — premium wines offered at reasonable price points.  Six are Best Buys.


Blind Trail Wines. This brand is part of Wild Earth Wines established in 1998 in Central Otago in New Zealand.  The winery has 35 hectares in two of Central Otago’s top regions.  This wine regularly sells for about $23 but was part of a special sale.


The 2007 Blind Trail Pinot Noir Central Otago New Zealand, dark ruby color, is perfumed with black cherry and has flavors echoing the nose, with added notes of berries, plums and spice.  It is round, supple, balanced and fruity, with a degree of complexity – very tasty.  2-yellow-stars $12.99  BEST BUY

B.R. Cohn. Founded by Bruce Cohn in 1984, the winery is located in the heart of Sonoma Valley.  The grapes are sourced from vines growing in Cohn’s Olive Hill Estate vineyards as well as ones hand selected from top Northern California vineyards and terroir best suited for the wines produced.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Silver Label North Coast (a blend of small vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties),  ruby in color, has aromas and flavors of berry, cassis, black cherry and vanilla.  It is balanced, full and rich, with a lingering finish. 2-yellow-stars $20

The 2007 B. R. Cohn Pinot Noir Russian River Valley, light ruby color, has a cherry perfume and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, tea, cola, spice, chocolate and vanilla, with a candy apple nuance.  It is rich, balanced and full, with some complexity and a lush, medium-long finish – delicious.  2-yellow-starsyellow-half-star $40

Giesen Wine Estate. This winery, established in 1981, is one of New Zealand’s leading producers of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.  Marlborough is the largest wine producing region in New Zealand.  This wine can sell for up to $15.

The 2008 Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand, light yellow color, with a gooseberry and grapefruit perfume, is a crisp, clean, refreshing wine with good acidity, nice texture, medium body and flavors of gooseberry, grapefruit, dried herbs, citrus and cut grass – very nice, zesty wine.  2-yellow-starsyellow-half-star $12.99 BEST BUY

Bodega Navarro Correas. This winery in Mendoza Argentina is producing a number of very attractive wines selling at reasonable price points.  Winemaker Gaspar Ruby has made wines in both Argentina and America.

The 2008 Navarro Correas Chardonnay Colleccion Privada Mendoza, light gold color, has aromas and flavors of pear and tropical fruit, with added notes in the mouth of toasty oak, apple and citrus, and good acidity.  It is delicate, balanced, clean, crisp and refreshing. 2-yellow-stars $11 BEST BUY

The 2007 Navarro Correas Malbec Colleccion Privada Mendoza, dark ruby color, with a perfume of black and red fruit, has rich, full flavors of blackberry, plum, cherries, raspberries and spice, ending in a medium, slightly tannic, smoky finish.  Balanced and structured, it is very tasty. 2-yellow-stars $11 BEST BUY

The 2007 Navarro Correas Cabernet Sauvignon Coleccion Privada Mendoza, ruby color, has a black fruit nose, with flavors of blackberry, black currant, olive, herbs, oak and spice, with a tannic finish.  Fruity and flavorful, a little cellaring should resolve the mild tannins.  2-yellow-stars $11  BEST BUY

The 2005 Navarro Correas Alegoria Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza Gran Reserva Limited Release, dark ruby color, has a deep perfume of roasted coffee and berries, flavors of chocolate, roasted coffee, tobacco and red fruit, with hints of oak.  Rich and fruity, well-balanced, it is a very appealing wine. 2-yellow-stars $19

The 2004 Navarro Correas Malbec/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon Meritage Ultra Limited Release Mendoza (50%/35%/14% blend), with a dark ruby color and a berry nose, offers flavors of black cherry, plum, cedar, spice, vanilla and chocolate.  It is full, complex and layered, with a rich mid palate and a lingering finish — lovely.  2-yellow-starsyellow-half-star $30

Rock Wall Wine Company. Established in 2008, located in an airplane hangar on what was once a Naval Air Base in Alameda County, this boutique winery produces wines from some of California’s top grape growing regions.  Noted wine industry veteran Kent Rosenblum is the consulting winemaker.  Rock Wall’s Zinfandels come from Sonoma County, the Cabernets from Napa Valley, the Petite Sirah from Mendocino County and the Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

The 2007 Rock Wall Zinfandel Sonoma County, ruby color, scented with dark fruit, mocha and tea, shows flavors echoing the aromas, with added notes of strawberry, spice and orange zest.  It is fruity, balanced and rich, with a medium finish.  2-yellow-stars $25

The 2007 Rock Wall Zinfandel Sonoma County Reserve (old vines, some over 100 years), dark ruby color, is aromatic, offering enticing black fruit, chocolate and roasted nuts.  The similar flavors also hint of dark cherry, violet and pepper.  It is rich, full-bodied, balanced and structured, with a long finish – delicious.  3-yellow-stars $35

Windbreak. This brand is part of the extensive San Antonio Winery family, owned by the Riboli family.  The Windbreak Pinots, which come from California’s central coast vineyards in San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties, regularly sells for up to $30.   This wine was purchased as part of a special sale.

The 2008 Windbreak Pinot Noir Gusty Bluff Block Monterey County, dark color, has aromas and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, cedar, oak and spice.  It is rich, full, round and flavorful, with good balance, complexity and length. 2-yellow-stars $14.99  BEST BUY


Wine Guerrilla. These bold, lush, fruit-forward Zinfandels from Sonoma County reveal the subtle character of their terroir and grape in a range of styles.  The wines are produced and bottled by David Coffaro Vineyard and Winery in Geyserville.  All the bottles have unique, eye-catching labels, depicting Paul Klee-inspired paintings, designed by Los Angeles artist, Sean Colgin.  After spending years in the record business, Bruce Patch moved to wine country in 1997 and sold wine for others, including Deerfield Ranch until he turned his attention to producing his own wines.


The 2008 Wine Guerrilla Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel (85% Zinfandel from Stefani Ranch, 15% Petite Sirah from David Coffaro Vineyard), dark ruby color, shows aromas and flavors of bright red fruit, laced with spice, vanilla, oak and floral notes.  It is soft, rich, balanced and rounded, with good length.  2-yellow-stars $18

The 2008 Wine Guerrilla Adel’s Vineyard Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley (100% Zinfandel), dark ruby color, has a perfume of mixed berry, flavors of cherry, raspberry, plum, pepper, mocha and oak.  It is full, rich, fruity and harmonious, with a long, cherry-berry finish. 2-yellow-starsyellow-half-star $30

The 2008 Wine Guerrilla Conte Vineyard Zinfandel Russian River Valley (a field blend of 83% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 2% Carignan, 2% Alicante Bouchet, 1% Grenache), dark ruby color, is scented with earthy, brambly blackberry, that carries through to the palate, adding notes of boysenberry, pepper and toast to the mix.  It is powerful, with good fruit intensity, structured and long.  2-yellow-starsyellow-half-star $30

The 2008 Wine Guerrilla Coffaro Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley (from 100+ year old Zin vines, with 7% Petite Sirah), dark ruby color, has a perfume of bright red fruit and richly fruity flavors of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, spice, vanilla, mocha and pepper.  It has good intensity of ripe fruit yet is supple and not overpowering, with good length – very stylish.  3-yellow-stars $35