By Rick Riozza
These days, we’ve got so many wines to choose from; the price is right and we can comfortably bring a bottle to the dinner table regularly. And that’s all good news! As your friendly neighborhood wine steward at the Ralphs Market in Palm Springs, I’m noticing more and more of our customers contemplating their selections as if they were searching titles in a library.
As we desert dwellers begin to settle down in our beautiful surrounds, we’ll soon enjoy some of the best weather around. And why not take it all in with a nice glass of wine in hand. So please allow me to ramble on if you will, and mention some fine wine value selections that I think you will happy with:
First off, let me talk about Edna Valley Vineyard wines which have been on my radar lately. The more I sample their line-up, the more impressed I am with the winemaking and wines. No news to California travelers, but the Edna Valley wine region is simply gorgeous—both weather wise and with the lovely landscapes. Who wouldn’t wish to grow grapes in this area? The winery is just south of college town San Luis Obispo and a few miles inland from everyone’s favorite beach destination—surfer’s delight, Pismo Beach.
Although they’ve been producing wines for more than three decades, truthfully, I’ve only recently been enjoying the Edna Valley portfolio. Three years ago, we were up in that area attending the International Chardonnay Symposium where the heavyweight Chard producers from all over were most impressively showing their stuff. And of course, the area itself as a backdrop, bespoke of the quality of Chardonnay grown there; and through the grapevine back then, I’d heard that Edna Valley Vineyards were dedicated to produce the best Chardonnay in the land.
But I was slow on the take. Finally, after seeing all the Edna Valley varietals on the shelves, I decided to try them. The report is very good and even better considering that the wines sell for under $13 a bottle (and for you Ralphs’ customers and shoppers, when buying six, mix or match, the 30% discount brings with wine’s prices to $7.99!)
Edna Valley’s Central Coast Collection includes Chardonnay, of course, and Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, and Rose. What’s quite interesting and out of the usual fruit bomb norm is that of these wines seem to attract the consumer whose tastes have evolved toward more elegant, acid-driven wines. There’s no question that the fruit forward wines are popular and desirable. But the yin & yang of the wine experience allows for the spectrum of wine to savor and enjoy. For the price, the Edna Valley wines are perfect for pairing with meals and sipping on their own.
As I’m writing this piece, I’m enjoying the light and refreshing Edna Valley Sauvignon Blanc which is showing fresh grapefruit, green apples, and kiwi with a clean mineral finish. As I’ve mentioned previously, Sauv blanc is such a vibrant wine that’s great to sip and write with. Also, I just heard my family is adding some of the Sauv to some Lime Jello for my b-day. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I’m still tasting through the Edna Valley portfolio, and I’ve recently had the Edna Valley Chardonnay. It surely reminds me of the Central Coast from where it’s from. It opens with a refreshing lemon and citrus bouquet with a touch of light coconut and hints of apricots and vanilla. The palate is smooth and slightly tart, lemon, lime, light toast and oak. Its acidity is lively and the finish crisp; a nice Chard for any light dinner.
The Edna Valley Merlot may well be most complex Merlot for the price. It shows black cherry and mocha on the nose. It follows through the palate with red fruits such as strawberry and raspberry following with smoky notes with a nice savory herb and pepper finish. Acidity and structure make this a very fine Merlot for your meat dishes.
Well, okay!—looks like I’ve left just a little room for a couple of recommendations. I’ll probably have to continue this value write up in another up-coming column, so please stay in touch.
2016 Frei Brothers Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley. I was wonderfully surprised how well this wine tastes. Some of the Frei Brothers of old came across a little sweet. This Alexander Valley Cab is delicious and represents the famed valley admirably. It opens with aromas of cassis and crushed berries. On the palate, flavors of blackberry, raspberry, cedar and tobacco are framed by firm, velvety tannins and a long, elegant finish. Sells for around $18 and is well worth it.
2018 Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon. At only $5.99 a bottle, this is my go-to Cab for any meal where I haven’t planned on a wine and I need some vino stat! It’s a low-key undercover wine. Many customers are scared away by the price. The customers who so dare, come back for more. It’s an easy Cab with all the classic flavors that satisfies an uncomplicated meal.
For a last thought, if you’re in the vicinity, I’d like to invite you all to come by and say hi. As mentioned, I’m at the Ralphs Market in Palm Springs on Sunrise and Ramon. The new season, both tourist-wise and otherwise is soon upon us and I’ll be spending some more time in my wine department. I always love chatting with you folks about wine and the times surrounding. And I’ll point out some of my current gems on the shelf. Hope to see you soon! Cheers!
Rick can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org