Six Solid Wine Values from the Shelves at Schnucks
Repeat after Gut Check: "I will never find a really, really good pinot noir for less than twenty bucks." Yeah, so what? Pinot noir, the great grape of Burgundy, is notoriously fussy to grow and make wine from. A truly great Burgundy might run you the better part of a week's pay -- a consequence of the grape's fickleness and the teensy amounts produced by the French people who know how to coax the best from it. Leese-Fitch is a California pinot noir, a label brought to us by a company called The Other Guys, Inc., about whom more later in this list. It's not a bottle to write about in your diary, but this darkish blend of pinot noir, syrah, grenache and barbera makes for a plenty interesting trade for your hard-earned nine bucks. (Note: Any of Leese-Fitch's other wines, in particular the sauvignon blanc and the cabernet sauvignon, could easily have cracked this list.)
3. 2009 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc ($13.99)
Guess what! Fumé blanc is just another name Robert Mondavi made up for sauvignon blanc, and this bottle costs twice as much as that Beringer we were touting a minute ago! It's also worth the extra dollarage. Unless you're spending a lot of dough, aging your wine is overrated. Sauvignon blancs, as a rule, should be drunk young anyway, and this one is nearly four years old. But it was a good wine back when it was released (priced around $20), and it's just as good now, priced at $14. More to think about while you're drinking, and while not exactly in the "hard to find" category, it's a borderline conversation piece. If you go in for number ratings, Mondavi's fumé blancs are well-regarded by the point counters.