Where do you go when you need a nice bottle that goes easy on your wallet but over-deliver on price and still wow your guests? The wine chosen to pair with a nice hosted dinner with friends can make or break an evening. Hosts want to choose something nice but not too pretentious, tasteful but not overpowering. Since most of us don’t have professional sommeliers as friends to act as decision-makers, here are some 10 great wines under $100 that over-deliver on their price point and share some of the same aspects of much more expensive bottles.
From the Fort Ross Vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview appellation, Sonoma Coast, the 2014 Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir comes from grapes grown in the vineyard blocks closest to the ocean with some of the darkest soils on the estate. The wine ages 10 months in 20% new and 80% neutral French oak, giving it great depth of flavor. This Pinot Noir has a decadent garnet hue with enticing aromas of black raspberry, black tea and layers of plum and spice character that finish with mouthwatering acidity.
The Clos Pegase 2016 Hommage Chardonnay comes from the estate vineyard in Carneros, a region renowned for fine Chardonnay. It spends nine months aging sur lie in 30% new French oak barrels. With only 500 cases produced, this Chardonnay has notable complexity and richness, showing hints of butterscotch and honeysuckle along with ripe melon and Meyer lemon flavors. Beautifully crisp acidity maintains a nice flavor balance in the wine.
2013 dry red still wine is from the estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino which are grown from stony, calcareous and well-structured soil at an altitude of 720 feet above sea level. The wine is aged for a minimum of four years, including two years in oak barrels and provide full, soft and velvety tasting notes with traces of spice. With aromas of violets and vanilla, with hints of licorice and supple tannins and good acidity, the Brunello di Montalcino is perfect with red meats, wild game, and aged cheeses.
Often called the “King of Wines,” Barolo is made from Nebbiolo grapes grown in vineyards south of Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy. Made by a small family winery the wine gives the guest a generously long finish and can be cellared for decades. At 14.5% alcohol content, the lean but powerful wine produces aromas that include cherries, rose petals, cinnamon, and hints of leather.
2017 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – $60.00
Offering a hallmark style of balanced intensity is the 2017 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, a limited signature appellation bottling and part of Sangiacomo’s inaugural series of premium wines. Sourced from 40% Roberts Road, 40% Fedrick and 20% Amaral Vineyards, three of the family’s collection of fourteen fruitful vineyards, the wine is barrel aged in 35% new oak, medium toast. Full of ripe, juicy berries and a bouquet of fresh violets and tea leaves on the nose, the flavors of strawberry jam, cranberry and rhubarb dance with a mingling of vanilla and Asian five-spice. Medium-bodied, this deep ruby wine is firmly structured with refined tannins.
Cakebread Cellars has over 40 harvests under their belt, producing iconic wines like the Cakebread Cellars 2014 Chardonnay Reserve, which can be enjoyed now but will gain further complexity with another five-to-seven years of aging. The light and fresh wine feature notes of creamy aromas of golden apple and Asian pear, through a long, mineral-tinged finish. From Carneros, Napa Valley, the 14.3% alcohol by volume wine is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.
Founded in 2012 by Dennis Cakebread, Mullan Road Cellars is helmed by Aryn Morrell who crafted the Mullan Road Cellars’ Red Wine Blend from grapes from low-yielding vineyards in the Columbia Valley, including the famed Seven Hills Vineyard, as well as Stillwater Creek Vineyard and the Corfu Crossing Vineyard outside Royal City. This Bordeaux-style blend is extremely well-balanced and has notes of ripe berry fruit and licorice, with a hint of smoke and resin, and has a long, elegant finish.
The Cadaretta Windthrow is a red blend of Rhone varietals (76% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre and 9% Grenache) from Cadaretta Winery based in Walla Walla, WA. The reserve-quality Rhone-varietal blend made from the top barrels of the vintage is sourced from six different grape sources and expresses a perfumed nose of violets, boysenberry, vanilla, anise and tobacco leaf that offers a soft mouthfeel with more boysenberry, violet, anise, black cherry, and vanilla has an added venison note. The soft and delicate wine had only 259 cases produced.
Montefili wines are located at a historic Azienda in the heart of Chianti and produce its Chianti Classico ‘Vigna Vecchia’ Gran Selezione D.O.C.G from a single vineyard 500m above sea level. On the hilly terrain with Galestro and Alberese soil, the wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes and is aged 26 months in rotation between in large oak (30hL) and smaller barrels (10hL). Its depth of flavor which include notes of graphite, blackberry, and cherry in addition to a muscular backbone allows this wine to age gracefully into 2040.
With a Parker rating of 97, the Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva Rioja is a palate-pleaser that can be enjoyed immediately, or after it has gotten even better with age. Made from a varietal of 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano, this wine is aged 16 months in American oak vats and 36 months in French oak casks. From Rioja, Spain, this black-cherry colored wine produces notes of cinnamon, cedarwood, and vanilla, following the first impression of rich blackberry. Available now at WiredforWine.com.
For more online information about wines, please visit Sokolin Wines.