Great Value Wines

By Kori ~ January 30th, 2008.

Last Friday evening, John and I attended the Great Value Wines program at Central Washington University led by noted wine industry professional Amy Mumma. It was one of the consumer courses offered through CWU’s World Wine Program. If you live in Washington state, these consumer short courses are well worth checking out.

The objective of this course was to identify wines that over deliver in quality for the price. For those of us that drink wine virtually every day, it is not economical (nor necessary) to spend $20 or $30 per bottle for everyday wines. The key is to determine varietals and styles that you enjoy, from brands that you can trust for consistency, at prices that you can afford on a daily basis, and that can be easily found at your local wine outlet.

We tasted seven wines, four white and three red. As John mentioned in his Most folks want a good deal post, two of the red wines were Mystery Merlots that we tasted blind, only being told that one cost twice as much as the other. We knew the identities of all of the others when we tasted them.

Here’s a rundown of the wines that we tasted in my personal order of preference:


2005 Concannon Cabernet Sauvignon – Central Coast: An opaque purple with aromas of licorice and earth but not a lot of fruit. More fruit, especially black fruits (plums, blackberries), comes through on the palate than on the nose. Good acidity, not much oak, and a nice long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $10.00

2005 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot: Pleasant aromas of chocolate and cherry. Fruit-forward, smooth, and well-balanced.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $9.00

2003 Canoe Ridge Merlot
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $18.00


2006 Louis Jadot Macon-Villages AC (Chardonnay): Pear, apple, and a bit of minerality on the nose. Citrus fruits come through in the taste. Oak is not overpowering. Some acidity, moderate alcohol, and medium body.
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $12.00

2004 Rancho Zabaco Russian River Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $11.00

2005 Voga Italia Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Price: $9.00

2006 La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Quality: 1 star (out of 5)
QPR: NR (not recommended)
[Note: I am personally not a fan of very buttery and oaky Chardonnays. Therefore, I found this wine almost undrinkable. However, if you do like that style, this could be a wine for you. A number of people attending the course really enjoyed it.]
Price: $14.00

We have found that it is important to identify brands that you can count on for your everyday wines [see You can buy great value wines for under $20 (some under $10)]. For example, since I really enjoyed the Concannon Cab, I’ll be looking to try other varietals from Concannon. I have been a fan of Columbia Crest wines for years and I know that this holds true for them. Their wines across the board are made in a style that I enjoy.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on any of these wines as well as recommendations of great value wines that you have found.

Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, California Wine, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, French Wine, Italian Wine, Merlot, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Sauvignon Blanc, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines NOT To Buy (1 & 2 Star), Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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