by Fred McMillin
for April 28, 1998

Profile of a Bargain


"I want an inexpensive wine that will please my guests." I hear that so often, I looked at the Best Buy wines of 15 prior tastings covering 300 bottles chiefly from California wineries. Here's the profile of a bargain.

The Rest of the Story

First, select a red. Reds win Best Buy about twice as often as whites. Don't expect to get a wine from Sonoma or Napa counties...too prestigious. Of the 15 winners, not a single one had an appellation (chief grape source) from either of those districts.

The wine will usually be a 1995. Its regular retail price will be at least $8, though hopefully your favorite wine merchant may have it at a lower price.

So in my latest tasting, did the Big Value fit this profile? Let's see.

The Lastest Best Value Wine

Source of Grapes—Not Napa or Sonoma. It was Paso Robles, CA.
Vintage—Right on...a 1995.
Price—$11 OK, OK. So what wine won?...The envelope please.
1995 Arciero Zinfandel, Paso Robles, $11.
Tasting Notes—Medium body, ready to drink now, quite gentle and friendly, in spite of a 13.6% alcohol content...smoothed by a significant sugar content in the 0.6% range.


Paso Robles was originally called El Paso de Robles ("the Pass of the Oaks") by the Spanish missionaries traveling between Missions San Luis Obispo and San Miguel. Located in San Luis Obispo County, it was made an official Federal viticultural district in 1983.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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