5 California Wines Under $55 to Try NOW


Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, urges us to raise a glass of these 5 winning wines.

1. ROEDERER ESTATE Brut non-vintage (Anderson Valley, CA) $20

This is Champagne Roederer’s sibling winery in California, and it’s a sensational bubbly.  Made with California grapes grown in the Anderson Valley near the artist’s hamlet of Mendocino, the wine exudes fresh and finesse at a price that could make it your every-Friday-night kick off wine.   

2. GAINEY Chardonnay 2010 (Santa Rita Hills, CA) $22

The Gainey family helped pioneer land use development in southern California, saving hundreds of acres for vineyards, rather than housing developments. This is one of their best chardonnays to date—a wine with richness and creaminess, but also with such astounding balance and length you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s from France.

3. TABLAS CREEK “Patelin de Tablas” Blanc (Paso Robles, CA) $20

A blend of grenache blanc, viognier, roussanne, and marsanne, this Rhone-style white from Tablas Creek (famous for their Rhone style wines) is exotic, lively and fresh all at the same time. Flowing with floral, herb and citrus flavors, it’s just the ticket when you were on the verge of getting bored by lots of white wines….

4. MELVILLE Pinot Noir 2010 (Sta. Rita Hills, CA) $52

This winery in the Santa Rita Hills of Santa Barbara County just north of Los Angeles is making sumptuous, sensual pinot noirs that are long on elegance but still have California “power.”  This is not inexpensive, but all truly great pinot noir is expensive because the grape is so hard to grow.   

5. SHAFER Merlot 2009 (Napa Valley, CA) $50

Shafer’s cabernet sauvignons are considered some of the best in the Napa Valley…and they are commensurately expensive, broaching $300 per bottle for their renowned “Hillside Select.” The family’s delicious merlot is a steal by comparison, and benefits from the same winemaking team’s attention to detail and winemaking skills. A fantastic wine to give as a gift—maybe, even, to yourself.

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