BBQ fun: Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec and blends from $10 to $19

Napa Value

Napa Value

Retailers, merchants, supermarkets in some states and big box stores can be good browsing territories when looking for good values for summer barbecue fun. You can find cheaper wines, of course, but you can’t always distinguish the varietal in the aroma or flavor; most have a soft, flabby sameness.

The above $10 range seems to include wines with a little more varietal character and style. They can’t compete with the more expensive wines in ultimate quality. But enjoy these fine vin ordinaire wines for daily consumption and save the high-priced spread for the weekends and special occasions. Here are the best values we’ve found in the past three months and Tweeted about, listed from lowest to highest priced:

  • BBQ, burger, pizza Mendoza Malbec ’13 Diseno $10. Berry/jam nose; Syrah-like; mid-big body; fat fruit; long chewy finish.
  • Calif. red blend ’12 Tribunal $10. Brambles, wood, blackberry nose (almost Zin like); mid-body; fat grapey finish. Fine Pizza wine.
  • Dependable Napa Cabernet ’12 BV $11. Blackberry, varietal nose; mid-body; balanced; long tasty finish; great fruit for $$. w/beef
  • Value Columbia Valley Cabernet ’12 Ch. Ste. Michelle $11. Blackberry, light wood, herbaceous nose; soft tannins; long berry/fruity finish.
  • Easy drinking Sonoma Cabernet ’12 L. Martini $12. Herbaceous Cab nose; mid-body; decent tannins/acids. w/cheeses, appetizers.
  • Big WA pizza/pasta/rib wine ’12 Ch. Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet $12. Ripe grape (14.5 alc.) berry nose; thick; ala late harvest Zin.
  • Smooth Mendoza Malbec ’12 Bodega Calle Alberti $12. Blackberry jam, wood nose; mid-body; soft tannins; long fruity finish. w/cheeses
  • Well-made North Coast Cabernet ’12 Dreaming Tree $13. Herbaceous, berry, wood nose; mid-big body (13.8 alc.); long fruity finish. w/BBQ
  • Value Napa Cabernet ’13 Main & Geary $13. Berry, mint, herbaceous varietal nose; mid-body; balanced; good fruit; soft finish. w/apps
  • Value Calif. Cabernet ’12 Joel Gott 815 $13. Herbaceous berry nose; mid-body; some Cab character/fruit, decent tannins. w/pizza, pasta.
  • Value Chinon ’11 Olek-Mery Cuvee des Tireaux $14. Mint, cedar, pomegranate nose; mid-body; soft fruity finish. Food wine/light sauces.
  • Helping the muse w/Writer’s Block ’12 Lake County Cabernet Franc $14. Berry, black currant nose; mid-body; nice balance, stylish finish.
  • Easy sipping Sonoma Merlot ’11 Kenwood Reserve $15. Wood, chocolate, berry nose; mid-body; decent tannins; soft finish. w/pasta
  • Napa Meritage value ’12 Cameron Hughes Lot 426 $15. Herbaceous, black fruit nose; mid-body; good fruit, acid/tannin balance. w/beef, pasta
  • Mendoza Malbec (40) Cab (30) Merlot (30) blend ’12 Norton Privada $18. berry, ripe grape (14.8 alc.) nose; big; long chewy finish. w/BBQ
  • Rich Mendoza red ’12 Norton Privada $18. Blackberry, ripe grape nose (40% Malbec, 30 Cab, 30 Merlot). Mid-big body; long chewy finish.
  • Big Mendoza BBQ/rib Malbec ’14 Los Vertientes Benchmark Reserva $18. Prunes, ripe grape, big fruit nose; thick; chewy; long hot finish.
  • Nicely structured Mendoza organic Malbec ’13 Finca Lalande $18. Peppery black fruit nose; semi-chewy; good extract; rich berry finish.
  • NV Cabernet blend (64%) w/style Flora Springs Gamut (Merlot 28, Cab Franc 8) $19. Cab, smoke, chocolate nose; mid-body; round, ripe; food wine.

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