Six Solid Wine Values from the Shelves at Schnucks
A not-bad price for a pretty good wine. True, you have to pay more if you want a kickass pinot noir, but for $15, Oregon's Cloudline can eat Carr's Table Water Crackers in bed with us anytime. A label founded by the hoity-toity wine importer Dreyfus, Ashby & Company, Cloudline is a straightforward Willamette Valley pinot noir, deceptively light and fruity at first sight but more earthy and complex when you get to know it, and a good match for lots of different foods. (Try it with roast chicken. Even better, try it with roast chicken you make yourself, as opposed to the kind you purchase from under the heat lamp. At Schnucks.)
Special bonus note before we get to No. 1 on our hit parade: If you go to Schnucks and buy all six of these bottles of wine -- or any six bottles of wine, for that matter -- they'll knock off 10 percent at the register.
1. 2011 Pennywise Petite Sirah ($9.99)
Remember The Other Guys from back at No. 5? They also make the Pennywise line -- which includes a pinot noir, a chardonnay, a cabernet sauvignon, a merlot and the petite sirah listed here. The parent company's name is an ironic reference to the fact that its owners, brother-and-sister tandem August and Mia Sebastiani, are those Sebastianis -- as in the Sebastiani family that has been making wine in California since the late 19th century. Bear in mind: Petite sirah and syrah (see no. 5) are two different grape varieties. They're related -- petite sirah is a cross between syrah and a grape called peloursin. But if grapes were listed like actors on a theater marquee, syrah, the king of the northern Rhône Valley, would get star billing, and you'd have to wait around to catch petite sirah roll by in the closing credits. Think of this petite sirah as the flip side of the Cloudline: dark and fierce and chewy...yet accessible and tolerant of a wide range of food pairings. It'd go good with a game bird, or a bunny, or venison. Or, hell, maybe bear.
Requisite disclaimer: In Gut Check's experience, wine selection varies from Schnucks to Schnucks. We found each and every one of these at the store on Big Bend Boulevard & Elm Avenue in Webster Groves.