It is easy to knock California for not making affordable wine worth drinking. And that’s mostly the wine industry’s fault, because they would like us to focus on the high-end cult cabernets and chardonnays that sell for triple figures to exclusive mailing lists. I’ve always thought there must be some good, cheap California wines, and figured they are mostly sold in-state, never reaching the East Coast.
Well, I’m wrong, as usual.
Parducci 2005 Sustainable Red ($10) is not only delicious, but politically correct in the green sort of way. Parducci is part of the Mendocino Wine Company, a leading proponent of sustainable, organic and biodynamic viticulture. This blend, unspecified on the label, includes merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, primitivo, zinfandel (the winery cheat sheet doesn’t distinguish between those two), petite sirah, and viognier. It shows great fruit and balance and is deliciously fun.
Another pleasant surprise is Fess Parker Winery's Frontier Red Lot No. 91 (about $11), a multi-vintage blend that features the man himself in Davy Crockett/Daniel Boone finery (or at least millinery) on the label and a juicy, delicious red wine inside. Great for burgers, pizza, or just about any other casual fare that calls for red.