Under $10? Value is Still There


Finding good trustworthy wine under $10 can be a challenge. Some people question my reasons for pursuing this series. I believe people need help in this range. Generally speaking wine over a certain price is going to be well made. They may have different characteristics but there is a higher percentage of quality wine. Wine under $20 has become more attainable as well. I believe there are more people out there that are looking under $10 for daily drinkers. Economic conditions should not keep people from enjoying wine. The challenge is finding trustworthy wine that, while not exceptional, is drinkable with good flavor.

This brings me to my challenge. Every few weeks I try out new wine in the hope to field a team of nine starters and a few subs. Each team should be stocked with key reds (Cab, Zin, Merlot, Syrah) key whites (Sauv Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Sparkling) and some alternates (other miscellaneous grapes).  Below is the nearly complete team.

Additional Tryouts

At this rate the Seattle Mariners should win about 47 games this year. For those that don’t know, that’s bad…very, very bad. It’s no secret that along with opening weeks of Football season, April is my favorite time of year. For us Spokane folk we finally start to see warmer weather, the snow has melted and all the brown is replaced with green grass and budding flowers. Crockpot dinners transform to grilling and hanging out on the deck. Steak, burgers and hot dogs become a regular part of the nightly routine, and the calming voice of Dave Niehaus invades the kitchen (he’s the voice of the Seattle Mariners for those who don’t know).

Today’s tryouts include a mystery Cabernet Sauvignon, A well known Syrah, and a controversial Pinot Noir.

NV Distant Bay Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine began as a mystery and ended as a disappointment. The investigation started with a brand that some of my blog friends and I did not recognize. The label mentions being made in Patterson, WA. The main winery in Patterson is Columbia Crest (a Chateau St. Michelle company). Sean Sullivan and I were chatting about it on Twitter and the next morning I woke up to an email that solved the mystery. A retired librarian named Don had been watching our tweets and decided to do some research. He discovered an old Chateau St. Michelle web site referencing the brand and buried deep within the current web site you can find some older tech sheets. Mystery solved!

  • The Stuff: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cab Franc from Columbia Valley, 13.5% abv – The guess is that it’s an off brand to dump some excess or inferior juice without tarnishing the main brands. 
  • The Swirl: Very light in comparison to most Cabs. Watery toward edges, leathery plum color
  • The Sniff: Not very aromatic. The heat of the alcohol comes through toward the end with some moderate oaky cherries
  • The Sip: Earthy cherries with hints of white pepper. Not overly flavorful but no off flavors either. Very little tannin and low acidity
  • The Score: At only $7, this is not a terrible wine but there are other wines out there for $10 that perform much better. I score this 2 out of 5 and send it back to single A ball to work on its form.

See the WAWineReport review

Cellar Tracker scores of 84 (with 8 reviews)

2007 Duck Pond Syrah

  • The Stuff: 96.3% Syrah and 3.7% other reds, aged 11 months in French and American oak, 13.5%abv, 5900 cases produced
  • The Swirl: Dull thin plum color
  • The Sniff: Moderate nose with hints of oaky vanilla and only a whiff of dark berry fruits. Very little spice or fruit as you would expect from a Syrah (even a lower priced Syrah)
  • The Sip: Very hollow on the palate with only hints of fruit. A mellow mouth fell with a smooth finish that trails off quickly.
  • The Score: At $12 retail, I score this 2 out of five.  While there is nothing wrong with this wine, it doesn’t provide much to make it stand out even at $10.

Cellar Tracker scores of 81.5 (with 4 reviews)

Duck Pond Web Site

2008 Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir

With a label that is banned in Alabama due to the naked lady artwork I had high hopes for this wine. Who couldn’t use more naked ladies in their life? Web Site

  • The Stuff: 100% California Pinot Noir, 13.9%abv
  • The Swirl: Very light, typical Pinot, with slight rusty brown tone, extremely translucent
  • The Sniff: I get a woodiness on this wine (and it’s not the naked lady) along with a bright candied cherry. Pretty good nose for the price of the wine. Earthy funk that is found on a lot of Pinot
  • The Sip: A good cherry candy cola flavor with slight earthy dirt on the mid-palate. The finish is slightly off balanced with some bitterness.
  • The Score: At just $11 this wine scores a 3 minus out of 5. A pretty good Pinot Noir for the price considering that most under $20 are suspect

Wine Enthusiast 85 points

Cellar Tracker Scores of 83 (with 3 reviews)

I’m always looking for good under $10 (on sale counts) recommendations. I carry around a rec’s book when I head to the store. If I can find it, I’ll buy it and feature it on a future episode. Leave a comment.

Side Note Addendum

After reviewing game film, I decided to add the Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir to the bench with the potential to become the starting Pinot Noir. Other considerations brought in the 2006 Kiona Winery Lemberger. At $12, this wine is a little over budget but with the collective bargaining agreement and revenue sharing I decided to up the budget to bring this wine in as the starting pitcher.  Here is my Cellar Tracker review.

My previous Under $10 Tryout featured my American League MLB predictions. Below are the National League predictions for the 2010 season. Disagree? Bitch and share in the comments J

NL East: Florida Marlins 94 wins

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals 101 wins

NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks 89 wins

Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies 91 wins


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)

19 comments on “Under $10? Value is Still There

  1. Brian

    Hey Josh,
    I haven’t seen it in the stores lately, but I haven’t really been looking. You used to be able to get Caserillo Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon at Costco for about $6-7 a bottle. I always found this Chilean Cab to be a great performer if not a starting pitcher, at least a good middle relief!


    1. drinknectar

      I’ll have to check it out. Easy name to remember and just sounds intimidating as a pitcher.

  2. Ben Simons

    I think if I was going to call the World Series right now, I’d probably say Yankees and the Cards. My darkhorse team is the Rockies, who I think are going to take the NL West.

    As much as I love my Rangers, I think they are a year out from really making much noise in the playoffs. I think that they will get into the playoffs this year, but they have so many young arms that I think will be ready to make an impact next year, that’s where I’m seeing their best shot at making a run for the series.

    1. drinknectar

      Ben – the Rockies could surprise people if they can put together two good halves. They seem to be streaky.

  3. Sip with Me!

    I agree this is much needed series and I do hope you continue it! I’m always looking for new players on my team and rely on you to keep away any foul balls! :)

    1. drinknectar

      Thanks Tamara. In this case it might have been fowl balls. I have high hopes for others from the Duck Pond line up. I’m sure you have more experience with them and will be curious to see if we have the same take on the Pinot from them.

  4. Joshua S Sweeney

    My take on it (not that anyone asked):
    Braves, Cards, Rockies, with Florida getting the WC.

    As for your under $10 line-up… once you get it settled, I’m going shopping.

    1. drinknectar

      Josh – Those are some some solid choices. I like Florida this year to. We’ll check back in September to see how all our crystal ball gazing went.

  5. Shannon Casey

    I love the idea of sending a wine back to Single A Ball! As a Tiger fan, I have a few ballplayers I would like to send back as well!

    1. drinknectar

      Some say Detroit could be a sleeper team this year. Make a play for the AL Central

  6. Beth

    Best.Wine.Blog.Quote.Ever! “I get a woodiness on this wine (and it’s not the naked lady)…” LMAO!

    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Beth! I’m glad someone gets my sense of humor.

  7. Joe

    that Caserillo del Diablo is a Concha y Toro (huge Chilean producer) opus…agreed: not bad for the price.

    Not surprised the Cab didn’t score that well. Cabernet Sauvignon just seems to command more dollars for a quality product; goes with the pedigree, I suppose.

    Your Mariners just need screamin’ Lou Pinella back, throwing bases and stuff. And if I may quote Frank Costanza, “what the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over one hundred RBIs last year…he’s got a ROCKET FOR AN ARM!! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE DOING, DO YOU??!!”

  8. JJ

    You won’t be disappointed for bringing Lemberger on. As its agent, I can personally guarantee a 20-win season and an ERA under 2.00. Lemberger is in its prime right now, but we foresee another 5-7 years of developmental improvement, should you look into an extended contract.

    1. drinknectar

      JJ – As long as Lemmy doesn’t come back looking for more money, we’ll try to lock in to a 5 year contract. Barring any injury I forsee some great winning moments!

  9. Kevin Glowacki

    You may need to tryout some Vinho Verde from Portugal. They are great quaffer wines for summer and pretty much all retail for under $10. Aveleda is a good one to try.

    I also concur with the above mentions of Casillero del Diablo, though I think you should check out the Carménère to give your team some real international flavor.

    1. drinknectar

      Three Rec’s for the Devil juice (Diablo) – I’ve got to find it. I’m really trying to find some international with some Grenache, Malbec and maybe some Carmenere (or Mourvedre). I’ve got a few Argentine Malbecs waiting to try out.

      Thanks, Kevin

  10. Pingback: Nectar Monthly Honors April | Drink Nectar

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