I’m often asked for a really good California wine that’s really a bargain, as it should be, the implication being that because it’s made in the U.S. it should be cheaper than wine made elsewhere. The sub-text is: why shouldn’t Americans be able to buy American wine at a patriotic price point? Well, it’s a silly premise (really), since the cost of making wine is real wherever you are, and if you want good cabernet, chardonnay, or whatever, you have to pay for care, skill, and decent grapes.
That said, most anything made by the Donati family of Templeton, Central Coast, is a deal, relatively speaking. The vineyards are part of the AVA Paicines sub-appellation, with such august neighbors as Calera and Chalone. The Donati wines are almost entirely Bordeaux varietals and sell from between $15 and $20, with one spectacular spike at $35 – Ezio, the Donati meritage blend of all five Bordeaux grapes, balanced with ample fruit that if Napan would cost fifty bucks.
I recommend the Donati cabernet ($20), merlot ($18), and Claret ($15). All prices fluctuate according to where you’re buying, of course.
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