The Under $10 Quest Continues

During round one of the Under $10 Quest, I stated that we drink a lot of wine. I listen to my twitter friends go on and on about specific wines and then I look them up only to choke at the $50 price tag (or more). I thought my day job paid me pretty good green, but I guess it’s not enough to afford the purple that my friends are drinking. Thus, the quest continues.

As I mention in the video, the goal of these reviews and videos are to provide you a resource of trustworthy wines. I want you to walk into a store confident in your pick of a specific wine label. Life is too short to drink crappy wine. Why waste your money on 3 or 4 cheap wines in search of the jewel when you can rely on others to do so.

Basically, I’m in search of a starting line-up of dependable wines that I can go to on a daily basis. I need designated hitters, relief pitchers, and pinch hitters to come into the game when the game is tight. Tonight’s lineup includes a rookie and two veterans called up from Triple A to show their stuff.

The NectarView

2007 Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc

  • The Stuff: 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Columbia Valley, WA (Bacchus Vineyards), never oaked
  • The Swirl: Super clear with a mild golden delicious apple tone
  • The Sniff: Cut open a pineapple, squeeze some lemon and spray a small spritz of vanilla room spray and you have the nose of this wine.
  • The Sip: Strong acidity on the upper palate with a smooth citrus and lemon peel flavor across the tongue. There is no tartness and the alcohol is not hot. Not overly huge in structure but has great flavor for the price.
  • The Score: $11 retail but only $7 at Cost Plus World Market, I score this a 4+ (out of 5) for value and flavor.

The wine reminds me of summer. When my wife and I were first dating we enjoyed a few bottles of this wine on the deck as we shared our stories and got to know one another. This is definitely a player who will be added to the roster for a crisp summer wine or a wine to pair with light seafood or poultry dishes.

2008 Root 1 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • The Stuff: 85% Cab and 15% Syrah from Colchagua, Chile. Vineyards are original non-grafted wine stocks brought over from Europe – sounds pretty cool. Neat looking bottle, taller than average with a real cork enclosure.
  • The Swirl: Moderately opaque plum with watery edges
  • The Sniff: Was difficult to pinpoint at first but the fruit was immediately overwhelmed by evergreen tree, minerals, rocks, and musky dirt. With much effort could smell the black currant.
  • The Sip: Overwhelming minerality on the back immediately took over the fruit that was trying to come through. Very chalky, like eating dirt.
  • The Score: At $9, there are way better value Cabernet Sauvignon’s out there. I score this a 3-. Could be the youth of the wine, but I’m not going to cellar a $9 wine. (See update below)

This wine strikes out and not only doesn’t make the team but gets sent back to Single A ball. UPDATE: After spending some time in Single A (24 hours) this wine is starting to show some promise. The minerality is nearly gone and most of the chalkiness has subsided. Decent fruit flavors of red currant and cherry along with leather.  Root1 has moved up to AA ball, but I’m still apprehensive.

2007 Dancing Bull Zinfandel

  • The Stuff: 100% California Zinfandel from various sourced vineyards. Synthetic cork enclosure
  • The Swirl: Deep dark opaque plum, slightly cloudy with hints of ruby and garnet. Strong legs indicating high residual sugar.
  • The Sniff: Good strong nose that leads with strawberry, vanilla, tobacco and cocoa
  • The Sip: The wine was slightly disappointing as it came across as one-dimensional. The nose was a tease and the palate did not deliver. After two hours in glass, the flavor profile did open up. One dimensional is not bad, just not super interesting.
  • The Score: At just $8, this wine scores a solid 3+. You won’t go wrong getting this wine and the predictable taste may score well with beginning wine drinkers.

This Zinfandel doesn’t make the starting team but is sent down to Triple A to potentially be called up as an injury replacement.

So far the team is struggling. I have a few good recommendations from fellow wine bloggers that I hope to try soon. If you have suggestions, please leave comments. I’m looking to field my team with a variety of wine styles.

2010 is the year of buying local! I want to strongly encourage you, when possible to buy your wine from a local retailer (wine store, wine shop) or directly from the winery. Doing this helps keep profits directly in your community.

Life is meant to be shared with friends. Share life over a glass of wine and DRINK.HAPPY!


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

14 comments on “The Under $10 Quest Continues

  1. Ben Simons

    Interesting to see your notes on the Root 1. I’ve had a couple of bottles of this and actually thought it was a bit of a fruit bomb. I wonder if there was something wrong with the bottle that you had. I thought that it was a pretty decent value for $10, and have even recommended it to some friends who really enjoyed it. Not my favorite cab, but didn’t hate it.

    1. drinknectar

      I thought I heard good things too, but this was the 2008, just released and very young. The 2007 scored a Bronze in S.F. Wine Competition. Overwhelming back end minerality. If I find a 2007 somewhere, I’ll purchase to compare.


      1. drinknectar

        REVIEW UPDATE: After letting the 2008 Root1 Cabernet sit for a full 24 hours the bottle is drinkable. The minerality that I spoke of in the video is mostly subsided. There are now ample flavors of red currant and cherry with some licorice and leather. I am going to update the review to a 3 but would be apprehensive about buying another 08 and drinking immediately.

  2. Randy Watson

    Value wine is always tricky because personal taste really tends to be at play. Love the concept though! Great job!

    1. drinknectar

      So, Mr. Randy and Mr. Ben – what other wines would you recommend I try? Criteria under $10 and widely available. I’m making a list for future purchases and reviews.

  3. Weekly Wine Journal(Tim)

    Great Idea for a post! But wow it’s going to be hard to field a proper team for under $10 a bottle. Bad News Bears perhaps? I agree that Root One was not very good. Boring.

  4. Weekly Wine Journal(Tim)

    sorry forgot to suggest a team member. Chalone Vineyards Cabernet…$9.99 with a Fry’s VIP shoppers card. Does that count?

  5. Seattle Wine Gal

    Nice post Josh. I love me some every day drinkers. The further into the wine world I go, the higher the ‘every day drinker’ price point goes. I do have a few at the $10 range, for the same reason as you- I drink A LOT of wine! In the $10 range, I steer towards Argentina, Spain, and Chili. What I always recommend to people for their best bet at $10 or under is to ask your local wine shop staff what, in their opinion, is the best wine in your price range. Now tastes vary of course, but they will most likely steer you to something that has good balance for the money. -SWG

  6. Kevin Glowacki

    Here are some of my favorites.

    – Segura Viudas Brut Reserva for bubbly
    – Segura Viudas Aria Brut (slightly yeastier style)
    – Big House White (2008, can’t speak for other years)
    – Garnacha del Fuego
    – 2008 Redtree Pinot Noir (I didn’t like as much as WS, but for $6.99, it was not bad)
    – Brancott Sauvignon Blanc
    – Stump Jump Shiraz
    – Feudo Arancio Nero d’Avola, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Grillo are all nice – they also bottle a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Grigio, but I’ve not had those.
    – Bogle Petite Sirah (usually a nice burger or BBQ wine)

    Keep up the great work.


    1. drinknectar

      Wow, Kevin, I think you fielded the whole team for me. There are a few names I recognize from local stores here. I’ll have to make a call to the scouts to bring them in.

  7. Jack Colby


    Good segment! $10 wine is where it is. I expect a $30 or more dollar wine to be great and when it is your satisfied, but if its just ok you are disappointed. On the other hand a great $10 wine is find a steal and you’re happy. As Ms SeattleWineGal pointed out you can check out some Spanish or Italian wines try some different grapes and styles all in the $10 range, good stuff!

    Keep it up!

    Jack twitter=@NWWines

  8. Jim Wilkerson


    I was pleasantly surprised by Cypress Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. It’s from J. Lohr and suggested price is $10, but I’m sure you could find it cheaper (I found it for $6). It’s not capital-A Awesome, but it’s a nice juicy little wine cookout wine. At $6 it’s like the utility infielder you pay the league minimum who can fill in when one of your starters needs a rest.

    Others I like in the $10 and under category are:
    – Galevan Cotes du Rhone 2007 ($8 at Costco) I know you couldn’t find it at your Spokane Costco, but I’m including it for your readers. A STEAL. (check my blog for the complete gushing review.)
    – Evodia Old Vines Garnacha 2007 ($10) from Calatayud, Spain. This one has a definite minerality which may not be your bag, but I dig it.
    – Angeline Sauv Blanc 2008 Russian River Valley ($10 on sale at grocery store, regularly $12)
    – Finca El Portillo Sauv Blanc 2008 Mendoza ($8.50) Crisp clean everyday SB

    1. Jim Wilkerson

      Oh, another one I recommend Cline Zinfandel, the California appellation bottling. It’s usually $9 or $10. (Their other Zins, Ancient Vines and the single vineyard series, are more expensive.)

      1. drinknectar

        Excellent. I’m making a list to keep with me when I go to the wine stores. I have seen and tried the Cline series. They may be definite contenders during a future episode.

        Thanks again, Jim!


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