Podcast 20 True value wines under $25

In podcast 20 JonM and I explore some value wines under $25 from Argentina, California, and Oregon. When we say “value” we by no means mean cheap, but what we do mean is a wine that delivers way above their price point. We think we found some wines that you are going to like. We also discus some of the limitations of wine retailers and the very arcane system of wine distribution in the US.

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In podcast 20 JonM and I explore some value wines under $25 from Argentina, California, and Oregon.  When we say “value” we by no means mean cheap, but what we do mean is a wine that delivers way above their price point. We think we found some wines that you are going to like.  We also discus some of the limitations of wine retailers and the very arcane system of wine distribution in the US.

The first producer we chose to focus on is located in Argentina and goes by the name of Kaiken. Kaiken produces wines in Mendoza and is owned by Vina Montes winery located in Apalta, in the Colchagua Valley of Chile. Some of you might remember that we highlighted  another Chilean producer, in podcast 18, who is making Malbec based wines in Mendoza, Argentina. Do we see a trend developing here? Could this be because the Malbec category in the US is growing at an astonishing rate of 40% a year?  The wines we tasted cost well under the $24 mark.

The second producer we chose to highlight is is located in Napa, California.  You might be asking yourself, “value wines from Napa?  What have JonM and ChrisO been smoking?”  Then you find out that Pine Ridge is involved, yes the Pine Ridge that produces cabernets that cost in excess of $100, and now you are saying to yourself, or to anyone who will listen that “these guys have let too much of the product go to their heads!” But hold on a minute, we might be idiots, but take a minute hear us out.  What we and I bet you did not know is that Pine Ridge has launched a new venture called ForeFront.  The wines of ForeFront are truly at the forefront of value and retail under $24. How fortuitous that these wines hit the market just as the American and world consumer is looking to lower price points to support their wine habit. I hope that these wines stay priced where they are and don’t slowly creep up to a higher price point.


Here are my tasting notes:

IMG_05062008 Kaiken “Reserve” Malbec
IN THE GLASS: dark ruby core with electric purple rim
NOSE: Aromas of cherry cough syrup, sweet vanilla, sweet oak, cedar, berry bramble, a slight rubbery note, raspberry, pine resin and some volatile acids (very slight)
PALATE: Medium plus flavors of tar, espresso, black cherry, liquid smoke, black berry, dark chocolate cake, wood spice and coconut. Medium acid with soft tannins and medium alcohol.  The finish is quick and pleasing.
NOTES: Medium minus body. Very primary in the fruit, almost too much oak. Very new world in style. Reminds me of an inexpensive cab from Barossa Australia.
CONCLUSION: Easy drinking BBQ wine of OK quality. A PASS or BUY for me. Lacks the tannins and acid to age.  Drink now as it will not age.
PRICE: $9-14 Find the best price with either

2006 Kaiken “Ultra” MalbecIMG_0509
IN THE GLASS:Dark ruby purple core fading to a medium purple rim.
NOSE: Aromas of soy sauce, meaty, marmite, anise seed, blueberry, plum, blackberry, sweey vanilla pod, licorice and beef jerky.
PALATE: Medium flavors of smoked meats, blackberry jam, chocolate covered espresso beans, licorice, beef jerky and plum. Tannins are chalky, soft and very well integrated. Acid is medium and balanced with the fruit.  The finish is medium in length and shows some complexity. Medium plus body with nice texture to the wine almost creamy.
NOTES: Oak is well integrated and adds to the complexity of the wine.  The sweet fruit is balanced nicely by the savory quality.
CONCLUSION: Good quality Malbec a BUY for me. Drink now or over next 3-5 years.
PRICE: $19-23 Find the best price with either

FF_SB beauty2008 ForeFront Sauvignon Blanc
IN THE GLASS:Light lemon green core with a watery white rim
NOSE: Youthful aromas of citrus, melon, apple skin, herbaceous notes.
PALATE: Dry with flavors of ruby grapefruit, melon, grass, tropical fruit. Acid is medium minus and somewhat lacking. Good texture and mouthfeel. Some heat on the finish from the alcohol. Finish is short and simple.

NOTES: This is a simple wine that lacks the acidity I am use to in Sauvignon blancs. I also found the alcohol to be a little high. I have found better value from Chile or New Zealand.
CONCLUSION: OK quality but a PASS for me.
PRICE: $13-$16 Find the best price with either

2008 ForeFront Pinot Noir Willamette Valley OregonDSCN0412
IN THE GLASS: Medium ruby core with a light ruby rim. You could almost read a newspaper through it.
NOSE: Medium intense developing aromas of rhubarb cherry pie, strawberry, vanilla cola, wild boar, earth and minirality, sweet fruit.
PALATE: Dry with good acid, medium alcohol and medium ripe tannins.  Medium minus body. Medium plus flavors of  red fruit, kirsch, pepper, spice, cola, clove, smoke, wet earth, red cherry, strawberry. Finish is very elegant and complex thanks to the ripe tannins and almost perfect balance of fruit and acid.
NOTES: This is a unlike a typical California pinot noir in that is seams to prize elegance and acid over extraction. This is true to the “old world” style. This shows that excellent pinots do not need to cost a lot. Kudos to ForeFront!!!

CONCLUSION: STRONG BUY!!! Excellent quality for the price point.  You are going to be very hard pressed to find a pinot of this quality under $30 or even $40. Drink now or age for 4-5 years to let some of those teriary flavors to develop.

PRICE: $24 Find the best price with either

FF_CS beauty2007 ForeFront Cabernet Sauvignon
IN THE GLASS: Almost opaque core fading to a youthful ruby rim
NOSE: Medium plus developing aromas of jammy sweet fruit, cassis, plum, raspberry jam, cloves, cigar box, bbq smoke, and licorice.
PALATE: Dry with decent acid, respectable alcohol, and firm grippy tannins. Full flavors of barrel spice, black cheery syrup, blackberry jam, sweet Asian plum, dark chocolate, clove, tobacco, smoke and asphalt. Wine is punctuated by a full body and good texture. Finish is long and complex.
NOTES: This is a BIG wine and is in your face with its fruitiness, oak and finish. Like a hot steamy night with a curvy sexy woman!
CONCLUSION: Very good quality because of the ripe fruit and tannin structure. BUY! This wine needs another 1-2 years in the bottle if not more to soften the tannins and bring all the components into balance.
PRICE: $24 Find the best price with either

That’s it from me.  Please leave us a comment, we would love to hear what you think.



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