Our favorite wine writer, Jeff Siegel, aka The Wine Curmudgeon, and a connoisseur of good inexpensive wine, described the Meritage as “a well made $11 red blend.” Imagine how much he’d like it for $7.49 a bottle, which is how much it costs today only at the new Fresh Market store in Vienna. (Sorry about the short notice on this one-day sale. The email only went out last night, and we were somewhat distracted for a big chunk if the day by an EARTHQUAKE!)
“It has California-style black fruit, but not overdone, plus better balanced tannins than one usually finds at this price,” the Curmudgeon wrote in May. “There is even oak for people who like that sort of thing.”
He also liked the Riesling, which is a great, fruity choice for sipping this last month or so of summer.
“This is what corporate wine should aspire to,” he wrote, in apparent reference to the Mondavi winery’s 2004 acquisition by beverage conglomerate Constellation Brands. “It’s varietally correct, and though it’s sweet, it’s supposed to be, and the sweetness isn’t there to cover up a flaw or to mask indifferent winemaking.”
All of the varietals that we’ve sampled, including the Chardonnay, Saugivnon Blanc and Pinot Grigio have fit this same general description. Well balanced, varietally correct (English translation: they taste like you expect chardonnay, sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio to taste) wines that taste like a bargain at $10 a bottle or less.
[FULL DISCLOSURE: Several of the wines we’ve tried have been free samples sent by the winery, while others have been purchased. The Sauvignon Blanc sample we received was tasted blind by the Wine for the Rest of Us tasting panel, and it scored well, placing second out of the four sub-$12 sauvignon blancs that were judged.]
If you’re reading this tomorrow or you’re not convenient to the Fresh Market in Vienna, the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir is on sale at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits for only $7.43 a bottle, thanks to the current storewide 20 percent-off sale going on through Saturday. The Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is also regularly priced at only $7.97 at Total Wine stores throughout Northern Virginia, while the Pinot Noir is priced at $8.49.
See today’s slideshow for representative prices and varietals available at a wine shop near you, or compare prices nationwide and find Mondavi Private Selection wines online or at a wine shop near you.
Even at the full price of $11.25 at Montgomery County Liquor stores (don’t shoot us, Marylanders; we’re just the messengers), these inexpensive and ubiquitous wines are worth a try.
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