Roederer Estate Brut NV – non vintage – $23
Super decent bubbly available almost everywhere, this is a nice sparkler with most of the good qualities of the real stuff including solid acidity, citrus and green apple flavors and some yeast and earth. Furthermore, the retailers are often nice enough to chill it for you! T-Scale 91 points, super yummy bubbly available at your grocery store!
91 PTS WINE SPECTATOR. “The NV Roederer Est Brut is sleek and impeccably focused and balanced; floral apple, cinnamon and anise aromas; crisp yet supple lemon tart, cherry and spicy hazelnut flavors.”
Frei Brothers Dry Creek Zinfandel, 2011 – $17 or so
Decent full-bodied and fruit forward zinfandel with moderately high alcohol (15%). It’s mellowed somewhat now being in bottle for about 4 years. Quite pleasing, not harsh. The alcohol is there but the heat is not. Good price for a quality Dry Creek Zinfandel. T-Scale 90 points, solid Zin that is available most anywhere.
“Our 2009 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel displays classic fruit flavors of red and black currant and bramble berry. Spicy notes of black pepper, white pepper, and nutmeg add layers, and the finish is elegant and mouth-coating.” – Frei Brothers webpage – http://www.freibrothers.com/Our-Wines/Zinfandel.asp
Hess Alomi Cabernet Sauvignon – $27 or so
A solid Cabernet every year. One of my favorites a few years ago, the Hess Alomi is readily available and super solid. Cellartracker average for 2009 is 89.2. I give it 90+.
Notes from Hess for the 2010 – “Graham cracker, cinnamon, and cedar intertwine with currant and boysenberry both in the nose and on the palate. Up-front fruit on the entry transitions easily to a mid palate of finesse and balance. The fine-grained tannins in the finish are pleasing now, but will reward those who can wait a few more years of aging in the cellar!” T-Scale 91 points, solid cab at less than Opus pricing.
Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay
Probably my favorite bottle under $15, in fact, it’s usually well below that price. The Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay is always tasty year after year. Not much seems to affect the quality of this bottle between vintages. Readily available, the Morning Fog will stand up to many other Chards well above this price level. Wente brought Chardonnay to America and his descendants still make it pop for a low low price. If you haven’t, do pop one. This is my pick to click! T-Scale 93 points! The price carries this Chard up to one one my highest scores.
There are many more, but try those and you can make a decent tasting out of most any local wine seller.