Everyday: One of the things I love about Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley (besides the killer zins) is the number of wineries that consistently put out a range of reasonably priced, seriously tasty wines. Places like Unti, Dry Creek Vineyards, Duxoup and Pedroncelli, which might have the best prices of the bunch. Certainly the Pedroncelli “Friends” Red ($12) is an insane bargain year in and year out, despite the blend changing regularly. There’s always some zin and merlot in there, and often petite sirah, sangiovese and/or cab franc. Earthy, smoky, spicy red-fruit flavors inevitably shine through, and there’s way more harmony than one would expect from an ever-shifting blend. Break out the grill for burgers, brats or barbecue, or sit back and order a pizza to enjoy with this.
Occasion: Perhaps the most impressive set of I’ve enjoyed in recentmonths has been white blends featuring Bordeaux grapes (or with some sauvignon gris in the case of Chimney Rock’s “Elevage). The 2011 Lauren Ashton Cuvee Meline ($27) might be the best of the bunch. The first word in my tasting notes is “yum!” and it kinda sorta got better from there, with uncanny focus and uncommon length. The sauvignon blanc-semillon blend is somehow both intense and refreshing, with an array of tropical and stone-fruit flavors and seriously spot-on acidity. I’m sure there’s a seafood dish that won’t love being served with this wine, but I can’t think of one right now. This is a winery to watch, my friends.