As wine prices continue to creep up the retail ladder, several high profile brands choose to keep it real with moderately priced varietals that over deliver on quality. Based on flavor and varietal comps, each of the wines listed here could easily command a more precious price. Yet, by keeping their wines in the “attainable” range, these wineries choose to make their best offerings more widely accessible to a greater—and greatly appreciative—audience. In the world of wine, pricey doesn’t necessarily mean perfection.
Silverado Vineyards 2019 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (SRP $60) Silverado has more than four decades of experience in crafting top-notch Cabernet Sauvignon from some of Napa Valley’s most coveted regions, including its estate vineyards in Stags Leap and Yountville. This wine has a full-bodied palate with flavors of dark cherry, boysenberry, and a hint of tobacco. Try it with mushroom risotto (recipe here) or seared beef carpaccio crostini (recipe here).
Light straw in color, this Chardonnay from Geyserville’s popular Dutcher Crossing winery opens with aromas of poached pear, sweet honeysuckle, green apple, and marshmallow. Sourced from a 1,200 elevation site on Alexander Valley’s eastern slopes, the wine is rich and creamy with noticeable acidity. It pairs perfectly with lemon/garlic/herb marinated chicken, served over a bed of angel hair pasta tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with fresh Parmigiana Reggiano.
Farmed biodynamically, the Bella Luna Pinot Noir hails from the Russian River Valley. The 2021 vintage exhibits energetic notes of Bing cherry, fresh clove, cola, and a hint of sweet tobacco. Silky tannins frame the palate with an exquisite lingering finish. Try it with baked salmon with garlic and Dijon, or goat cheese salad with apples.
Farmed organically, The Sangiacomo West Rows are in the “sweet spot” of Los Carneros, an ideal location in which to nurture Chardonnay. The result? Evocative notes of apple, stone fruit and sweet citrus Bavarian cream with a creamy texture and silky roundness that endure through the luxurious finish. Try with roasted chicken or warm brie cheese.
This is a very rich, high alcohol wine with lots of character, and likely just what Zinfandel lovers seek. Featuring ripe, juicy plum, black cherry, vanilla, and maple aromas, the long, structured finish and spicey tannins have a cocoa quality. Thick in texture, this one pairs well with bacon-wrapped roasted figs, stuffed mushrooms, or barbecue pork.
Noir Nouveau is a remarkable and gracefully smooth expression of Sonoma Coast fruit. Pinot Noir is at the forefront, presenting notes of juicy raspberry and strawberry. Syrah balances with dark fruit, giving definition to the structure while Mourvèdre brings layered complexity as well as subtle spice. Try it with beef tenderloin with ginger cranberry sauce; recipe here.
Imagery 2021 White Burgundy, North Coast (SRP $36)
Chardonnay makes up the heart of this voluptuous blend, bringing bright acidity and tropical notes. Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc add richness, complexity, and a final touch of spice for a lasting finish. Try it with butternut squash soup with yogurt drizzle; recipe here.
Merriam 2019 Windacre Vineyard Merlot (SRP $54)
This light ruby red wine opens with a fruit forward bouquet of raspberries, cranberries, and vanilla. On the palate a sense of vineyard terroir shines through. (Windacre Vineyard, on the eastern edge of the Russian River Valley, was originally planted in the late 1800s and is one of the oldest vineyard sites in Sonoma County.) The wine features slight herbaceous qualities and hints of cranberry and dark chocolate on the finish. Try it with a beef lasagna or penne with sausage and fennel.
Made from the Monson family’s estate vineyards in the Goose Gap AVA of Washington’s Columbia Valley, the 25th Anniversary, limited edition bottle is a celebration of the love, passion, and family values that create each bottle of Goose Ridge Estate Wine. The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon shows rich layers of ripe fruit combined with notes of savory spice and freshness. The palate is taut and structured redolent in dark, juicy blackberry, plum, and currant with a fresh, lifted and persistent finish. Try it with braised beef short ribs or gorgonzola gnocchi.
Markham’s winemaker of 30 years, Kimberlee Nicholls, has continued the winery’s reputation for excellent Bordeaux varietals (especially Merlot) started by founder Bruce Markham in the 1980s. Sourced from estate vineyards in Napa’s Oak Knoll District, this wine has notes of bright red cherry, white shortbread, and dried blueberry. Try it with roast pork or caramelized roasted vegetables.
Sourced from one of California’s newest AVA’s, the SLO Coast, where a cool climate is well suited to growing Pinot Noir, this wine has silky tannins with a medium body, complemented by delectable fruit-forward flavors. Try it with lamb chops or wild mushroom flatbread.