One Red, One White

I’m writing about two different wines that are both likable in different ways.

One is a bargain white from the Central Coast that I’d passed over many times in the aisles at my local grocery store before finally getting a sample from the winery. The second is a red wine from a Napa Valley namesake that’s been crafting great wines for more than three decades. An old favorite, re-discovered.

Napa Standout

The 2007 Franciscan Estate cabernet sauvignon is a bargain of another sort. You can find it for less than $20 a bottle, but I’d gladly put it up against wines at twice the price and be confident of a good showing.

Early on in the game, this winery decided to divide its estate vineyards into blocks and then blended the resulting wines made from each section to achieve an end product that was greater than the simple sum of its parts. Mostly cooler climate locations within the valley also contribute to the wine’s nuance, according to Franciscan.

Get or Give

You could make any cabernet lover I know happy if you stashed this sophisticated selection under their Christmas tree.

I liked this wine from the initial taste, which showed some fine-grained tannins tempered by cassis and a bit of oak. It got better and better in the glass, revealing a lovely slightly tart cherry streak an hour after the bottle was opened. It held up well against a slice of thin-crusted pizza with salami and black olives.

The white is a chardonnay that I’d happily pour for friends who’d appreciate a great tasting white wine without a great pedigree or prohibitive price tag.

Silly Name, Seriously Good

Nevermind the silly name, the 2009 Cupcake Vineyards chardonnay scores points for low price (less than $10 on sale) and a creamy texture, citrus backbeat and smooth upfront flavors of apple and tropical fruit. There’s just a whiff of sweetness, but that’s just the fruit talking. And I liked what I heard, or should I say, tasted.

This wine makes a great aperitif, but it would also go great with chicken pot pie or a turkey sandwich. I enjoyed a glass with a hunk of rustic sourdough bread and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. A second glass proved just as good as the first, with a bit of warming in the glass bringing out more of the tropical nuances with just a hint of butterscotch.

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