Mike Steinberger's Wine Diarist
I recently participated in several large wine tastings attended by thousands of consumers and members of the wine trade. When not pouring wines, I took an opportunity to walk around and taste. There is a lot of wine in this world, and while I know many wines by reputation (or from long past experiences), I like to use these sorts of opportunities to be reminded of what is out there.
In the case of my recent experiences, I happy to say that there is a good deal of well made wine at all price points that are both varietally correct and filled with varying degrees of distinctive character. I am equally saddened to report that there is just as much boring, manipulated, over-extracted, and/or down-right unpleasant wine to be found these days.
But let's focus on the good. I am one to focus on the less championed, more bizzare things in life, so I was surprised to discover how much I appreciated the solid integrity of several "supermarket" wines I've tasted of late. It seems that someone in the vast cellars of these places got the memo that consumers are interested in some personality in their wines. Now, mind you, these are not superstars of the wine world, but the certainly are mass-produced wines with more integrity than I had previously given them credit. So here, in no particular order, are some "brands" worth a bit more consideration for those (like me) who might otherwise turn up your noses: Kendall Jackson, Columbia Crest, Penfolds, Bogle, Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo, Geyser Peak. Not great wines, but not bad either. When you are in a pinch, and all other beverage options look equally as boring, consider one of these producers for a better experience than you might have expected at first.