Some variety this week - and most of it towards the budget end of the block. My favorite of all? The Chard.
2012 Mark West Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands $14
First time seeing this bottling from Mark West, who scored high with their 2011 Carneros Pinot at $17. This example is thinner than typical California Pinots with a lull in the mid-palate. Interesting spices on the finish, but not enough here to make it a repeat offender. However, some time decanted mad A BIG DIFFERENCE. The sharp edge on opening receded into the background, but lingered as a point of interest. Like that neighbor lady who doesn't shy away from dropping a four letter word at just the right time; sparingly and effectively.
2012 Cameron Hughes Cabernet Sauvignon Lake County $15
A new label - and line - from Cameron who introduces this crowd-pleaser that's heavy-handed on everything from its texture to its vanilla-lined oaky tannins. Full and plush, what it lacks in elegance it makes up for in warmth and accessibility. My money is on at least some of this fruit coming from the Red Hills AVA.
2011 Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay Columbia Valley $11
If you like your Chards obvious, forward, and big on malo/oak (like the Mrs does), you can't go wrong with this wallet-friendly winner. Well made and lacking in anything to critique, this is as good a Chardonnay as I've had all month - and that includes a Cakebread.
NV Rene Barbier Mediterranean White Catalunya $6
Something's wrong here. Industrial chemical notes on the attack don't exactly make you want to come back for another go. Floral soap permeates the whole sequence of tastes. Dumped immediately. Don't let this dissuade you from trying the same producer's red wine, though.