When I’m sipping wines and making notes, it often occurs to me that we – I – may be evaluating all wines by the same judgment criteria when I should be asking instead, “What was the winemaker’s – or wine company’s – purpose in making this wine?” Is it to use the unlimited resources they may have available to make a stunning wine that will get 98 points and can be sold for a few hundred dollars a bottle? Or is it to make a decent bottle of wine for $12 that will go well with whatever is for dinner tonight? Or is it something in between?
So here are a dozen wines that all mostly meet their purposes – as diverse as those purposes may be.
NV CK Mondavi California “Buttery” Chardonnay ($7). The butteriness is in the finish, and it mostly serves that stated purpose, except it may linger a little too long after the apple fruitiness has disappeared.
NV CK Mondavi California Chardonnay ($7). Pleasant, refreshing with spiced apple flavors and a clean finish.
2020 Mesa “Giunco” Vermentino di Sardegna ($19). Green fruit flavors, light spiciness and a touch of vanilla cream.
NV Gamble Family “The Mill Keeper” Napa Valley Chardonnay ($28). Creamy, lightly buttery apple flavors with good structure and moderate finishing acidity.
2020 Corvezzo Prosecco Rosé ($13). Quite enjoyable with light strawberry fruit, fine bubbles, and a crisp finish.
NV CK Mondavi California “Dark” Cabernet Sauvignon ($7). Very fruit-forward with purplish fruit that finishes a little sweet.
NV CK Mondavi California Cabernet Sauvignon ($7). It has rounded fresh raspberry fruitiness that is full-bodied and mildly tangy.
2019 Poliziano “Lohsa” Morellino di Scansano ($18). Lean blackberry flavors with lots of dusty tannins.
2019 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico ($21). Simple and straight-forward red fruitiness with some of that Sangiovese raspiness and earthiness in the finish.
2018 Poliziano Vino Nobile de Montepulciano ($26). Very enjoyable with both dark and red berry flavors, lean and savory – a very versatile food wine.
2017 Capezzano “Villa di Capezzano” Carmignano ($29). On the savory side, with a good depth of dried fruit flavors and a lean finish.
2016 Castello del Terriccio Lupicaia Toscana IGT ($135). More of a savory wine than a fruity one – very lean with very dark berry flavors and notes of dusty chocolate.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
Feature photo is courtesy of Chianti Classico.