Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Your Hotel, Empty the Trunk! Mendocino's Passport Weekend - Oct. 20-21 - Best Budget Priced Organically Grown Wine Sale! (And Free Food)

The scene at McFadden's tasting room (peak moment)
at Passport last year. You can see it's a popular event -
visit yourself to find out why (- i.e. price, quality).
As I've mentioned before, Hopland's Passport weekend is, in my mind, the best tasting AND shopping trip of the year. It's held in the spring and in the fall, and has the highest percentage of any wine event in the state of organic and biodynamically grown wines.

In general, Napa wines contain as much as 100% Mendo grapes, often unattributed to Mendo (Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay and Riesling, for example) - but the growers in Mendo have begun to bottle their own - and sometimes very, very good - wines. Vinification varies so find what you like. BUT - the wines below are all GREAT. (Or I wouldn't have listed them.)

Best of all, Mendo prices are often in the $12-20 range, making them perfect for affordable drinking year round. You cannot find these wines in supermarkets (outside of Mendo, for the most part) with a few exceptions, so find what you like and hit the sales. Markdowns during Passport are 25% or up to 40% or more.

(The most dramatic bargain I've scored - and it was highly unusual -  was $100 for a case - of organically grown Zin at Cesar Toxqui.)

Naughty Boy Cellars, newly located in downtown Hopland, will be showing the fantastic wine documentary Mondovino (Wikipedia listing). Don't miss this. (Or stream it at home online while you relax with a glass of wine.)

I'm posting the link to my 2011 post about the event here.


There are 16 wineries who participate, but most are not organic.

For those who just want the organic highlights and have only one day to spend there (it's only a two hour drive door to door from Oakland, for instance), hit these high points:

Hopland Passport organizer and McFadden tasting room
manager Jon Cesano pours at McFadden

McFadden - Buy at least a case of the sparkling wine. (Join the wine club and just tell them what you want and when -  they are flexible and will work with you on your preferences - totally).

Naughty Boy - Has a new tasting room in Hopland next to McFadden. Get a case or two of their rose. (The pinot used to win awards. The Chardonnay is not organic.) Try the Pinot's very affordable.

Cesar Toxqui Cellars - A very good option, this winery - as the name implies - is run by a Mexican-American vintner with great talent. Some options are organically grown. (Ask which ones). Famed for Zin, but their Pinot was also highly regarded by Hugh Johnson. See what's good this year. Usually has phenomenal sales.

Nearby: Terra Savia - A great place for Chardonnay lovers. Buy a case or two. Get some of their sparkling wine, too.

Rack and Riddle - get the sparkling wine tour and see where the McFadden and Terra Savia sparkers are made. (R&R will be marketing an organically sources wine under their own brand soon but I don't think it's out quite yet. Check at the winery.)


Saracina - Visit the cool caves, find the wine you like best. Doing the Mexican thing with a street truck and Cinco de Mayo dancers. A beautiful spot. Prices a bit on the higher end but beautifully done. Consulting winemaker is the renowned David Ramey.

Jeriko - Wines aren't great but the BBQ might be the thing.


Campovida is getting more organic. Go for a stroll in their spectacular garden, the former site of a famous vegetable garden that got everyone on the organic bandwagon in the 70s and gave rise to organic wine supermarket giant Bonterra nearby (not open to the public). Today the garden is a fantastic ornamental garden. (Taste, but their prices aren't great so I don't usually buy here.)


If you have enough budget to stay in a nice place, the Hopland Inn is no longer an option, but I recommend booking a place on AirBNB or or reserving a spot at Vichy Springs Inn in Ukiah (about 10 minutes from Hopland).

Several organic wineries offer rentals as well including Terra Savia and Testa. (I wouldn't send you to one where there were pesticides). Here's a list of more options.


See the official site here. Don't miss the menus posted there - lots of great free food (for Passport participants).

Local eateries: Bluebird Cafe (folksy, big breakfasts, moose on the menu at lunch and dinner, and those pies) and Campovida's Pizza joint in downtown Hopland, a really great addition to the local scene, with both brews and wines and gourmet pizzas. Sit outside if it's warm enough and enjoy the fine views across the valley from the back of the patio.

If you're up for a gourmet meal and a drive, head over to Anderson Valley (45 min. plus) for a fine meal at the Boonville Inn, or head an easy 30 minutes south on 101 to Geyserville where you can sample the wares at the Italian beauty Di Avola, where they serve organically grown Chiarito wine (Nero d'Avola or Negra Amaro are the best); you may have to ask for the wines by name as they sometimes are not on the wine menu (but they definitely have it behind the counter).

[Though uncertified, Chiarito is making some of the best organically grown wine in the hot interior Mendo region, basing his varietal selection on what's climate-appropriate - southern Italian varietals.]

Check out SIP Mendocino, the local wine bar and wine store, in downtown Hopland to find bottles from wineries that aren't open during Passport including Patianna, Chiarito and others. Wine tastings may be available, on selected bottles. The wine merchant here is intimately acquainted with area organic offerings, so ask if you want help.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Heirloom Expo Video: Carlo Petrini

Apologies for the sound, but you do get to see what it was like to be there!

This is the first of three clips I will be posting.

I am headed for Italy tonight - and planning to attend the Slow Food/Slow Wine conference at the end of October in Turin and I'll be blogging about the event. Still looking for a good place to stay in Turin!

Friday, September 21, 2012

NYTimes Wine Critic Eric Asimov Visits Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Eric Asimov
It's nice to see Eric Asimov tasting his way through our newly crowned King-(or is it Queen, as Oregon might be the King)-of-the-Pinot regions, as he writes about in his recent New York Times article Pinot Hunting in the Anderson Valley and the list of wines entitled "A California Shangri-La for Pinot Noir." Nice title.

Alas, though, our intrepid wine critic and his two tasting buddies tasted only 20 wines from the region (he admits this was a minus) and only those available at retail. The tasting question to be answered, in part, was whether or not there was a discernible style of Anderson Pinot. Asimov's answer is no; there is a wide variety of styles.

I don't know of any of the vineyards in the list that are certified organic, but at least his article makes no pretension of having done the definitive tasting.

High on his list was Radio Coteau, which sources some of its wines from organic growers (although I don't know if this specific wine, the Savoy Vineyard, was from one - I seem to remember they might be - but again - would have to call Radio Coteau). Anthill Farms rated #1 in quality and value. I've heard that some of their vineyards are organic but I can't say, as I've never heard back from them in any emails.

I would have liked to have seen Asimov's tasting results for these organically grown beauties: Handley's estate Pinot Noir, Lutea's Anderson Valley releases, Radio Coteau's, and others.

At any rate, it's nice to see Anderson Valley getting this kind of focused attention.

In contrast to Asimov's viva la difference approach to an Anderson Valley style, the Chronicle's Jon Bonne reviews a totally different group of bottles and finds, as his headline says, "Identity issues in Anderson Valley," saying "It has been tough to get my head around Anderson Valley."

But luckily for us, Bonne's included Charlie Barra's Girasole Pinot Noir ($16) in his lineup (despite the fact that I think it is grown in hot, inland Ukiah and not in Anderson Valley but what the hey - it's all Mendocino County, I guess), giving it high marks.

"Subtle, strawberry-tinged...rises above most Pinot Noir at this price and shows a truth to itself, with its floral and birch-bark aspects," Bonne wrote. "Jason Welch has found a way to let Pinot from a relatively warm spot speak with class and without pretense."

Well said, and, of course, it's one of the wines in my forthcoming app. (And has been since Day 1). Stay tuned!

What Would Rachel Do? Drink Organically Grown Wine

Next week is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, Rachel Carson's groundbreaking, bestselling expose of the harm pesticides do to ecosystems. Today groups like Pesticide Action Network (PAN) are asking the question, "What Would Rachel Do?"

Succinctly put, PAN's summed up the history of the last 30 years: "Chemical Cartel + Farm Lobby = 50 yrs of Pesticide Policy Paralyisis," pointing out that the farm lobby is a key political component of getting these dangerous chemicals to market through huge loopholes in the law.

From PAN: "Fact: Of the 16,000 current product registrations, 11,000 (68%) have been brought to market through conditional registration (CR), and half (5,400) of those have been conditionally registered since 2000."

Evidence is mounting that GE crops do have health dangers, as data from the first long term study (just released) shows.

Another way to celebrate:
read this new biography of

I think the best way to honor Rachel Carson's landmark work's 50th birthday would be:

1  Have a party and stock up on organically grown wines you can drink all year long, This year and every year. take a pledge that you will try to give 80% of your wine spend to organically grown wines.

2.  Ask wine growers and vintners why they are not organic and/or certified. If they tell you its too much paperwork and it costs too much, ask them if they know how much it costs or if they know that the federal government reimburses 3/4 of the cost, making them less than 4 cents a bottle in general (or $10 an acre).

3. Ask the wine managers at the shop where you buy wine from if they could have a larger local organic selection and clearly label organic (and not throw it into the "sustainable" section - a word which in this context has no meaning other than a marketing message.). For instance:

• Mission foodie haven Bi Rite Market has hundreds of bottles of imported wine, hardly any of it organic and not a single bottle of a local, organically grown (certified grapes) wine. (They do have Unti, which says they are organic but is not certified).
• Whole Foods has the sustainable wines mixed in with the organic wines - as does Berkeley Bowl.

4. Point to good models of organic wine display at these shining paragons of virtue: Ukiah Natural Foods (great organic selection and well marked) and Ashland Coop (end cap display, prime spot, featuring local and other domestic organically grown wines.). Pictures from Ashland are posted on this blog.

5. Shop at or become a Wine Club member at wineries that make wine from organically grown grapes. Think of it as your CSA for Wine - or CSW.

• Affordable wines are easy to find for $10-15 (see companion post below on Hopland Passport). 
• Fabulous wines in higher price points are also widely available: visit and/or order from Volker Eisele, Grgich Hills, Cowhorn - just to mention a few. See the list of wineries with at least one organically grown wine on the map on the second tab of the top menu on this blog.

DO something next week to make Rachel proud!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Grape Stomp is ON! Daily at Napa's Grgich Hills

Want to get in on the grape harvest stomp? Grgich Hills in Napa offers visitors a stomping experience complete with stomping, teeshirt, and wine tasting (for $30) now through October. Offered 10-4 daily. No reservation needed.

Details here.

Sept. 21 Grenache Day!

In honor of Grenache Day, a number of U.S. wineries have organized festivities from Santa Rosa to Paso Robles.

For those of you unfamiliar with grenache, the occasion is a great time to get acquainted with the wonderful wine. A lighter red, less full bodied than a Cabernet or Pinot Noir, it's often an everyday wine in Spain and France.

In honor of this great grape, find all the best organic and biodynamic selections from California in this post from 2011 right here (under $20) and over $20.

Featured are selections from Beckmen, Qupe, Tablas Creek, Horse and Plow (old vines, dry farmed - from Testa - one of my faves). A case of the latter runs $270 (at the case price) or $25 a bottle.

[Bonny Doon, despite much ballyhoo and its position as leading the charge for Grenache Day, does not have an organically farmed Grenache, alas. (It used to, but switched sources).]

Here's more about the festivities. Of the wineries listed on the release there, only Qupe and Tablas Creek are among those offering organically grown grenache. Qupe will be having special tastings in its tasting room in Santa Barbara County and Tablas will be celebrating in Paso Robles.
Grenache is associated with the former Aragon
whose former territory is shown above

You can read more about the grape on the Tablas Creek website here.

Although the Tablas Creek history, like many, claims French or Spanish origins, many now consider that Sardinia may be the source of this varietal where it is today known as Cannonau.

It has high yields and ripens late. A surprise to me - I learned on Wikipedia - it's widely grown in the San Joaquin Valley. It's usually blended in France with Syrah and Mourvedre and it constitutes the bulk (80%) of the famed Chateauneuf de Pape.

So find a bottle - go for the Horse and Plow before it runs out (this would be the most historic old vine choice) - or the Qupe - and raise a glass to this lovely light red!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Harvest Doc - "The Blue Collar Side of Wine"

Michoacan province
I had a chance to see the Harvest documentary last night in Sebastopol - 70 minutes of pure entertainment, which covers the Sonoma's 2011 harvest, the worst in 30 years according to all accounts, with growers and pickers racing to get the grapes off the vine before rain totally destroys destroys the hanging fruit.

The film centers on the challenges vineyard managers and owners face - getting in the grapes, getting the most out of their crop, and getting the work done for not too much money. The other half of the film focuses on the pickers - mostly Mexicans from Michoacan - including an all female crew who are the best crew for doing the most careful work (cleaning off the inferior grapes from the clusters) compared to the fast-moving men.

The men race through the fields, slashing grapes, getting paid by the box. The women get an hourly rate.

Several sequences cover the stories of the women's lives today. They openly share their border journeys and their happiness at having a job during harvest.

Both men and women make the bulk of their annual income from the pick, according to the film.

We also see the growers' challenges, and the different ways they approach the harvest.

Two young beautiful women owners, Vanessa Robledo and operation director Stacy Rafanelli, both from winery families, share their perspectives on the harvest - and we watch as Stacy loses one vineyard's yields to botrytis.

There's drama as well for grower Wayne Rogers who at first doesn't believe his daughter when she calls to tell him there are 20+ wild pigs in his vineyard. He ends up losing 80% of his crop to them.

Foppiano, a bald man with a burly beard, rarely seen without a Giants hat, represents the industrial approach to harvesting, using his mechanical harvester in the middle of the night with his small crew. You see how the grapes are jiggled off the vine; it hardly seems like these could make good wine after so much jarring.

Mexican-born winery owner Reynaldo Robledo uses them, too, saying they save him the work of 100 men.

Some sequences show the brilliant night time picking lighting that looks like a UFO landing while other shots show unsafe conditions with pickers working in near darkness.

Comic relief comes in the form of Sonoma Grape Camp tourists, middle aged Americans, who pay the Sonoma County Grape Commission $3,700 a couple to come and pick grapes. See more in their romantic promo video.

We also see happy moments of harvest at the Robledo winery, owned and run by a Mexican-American family (where the patriarch was a picker), celebrating with mariachi singing and Aztec dancers, a welcome contrast to the pseudo French/European veneer so many wineries put on today.

Organic vineyards featured in the film include (briefly) Medlock Ames and Porter Bass. I was happy to see the latter, one of the most beautiful vineyards I've seen, but hardly recognized it in the rain.

Last night's screening also offered the treat of a Q and A with John Beck, filmmaker and a great local audience familiar with many of the issues in the film who brought up issues around injured workers and the hopes of many of the workers for a better life for them and for their children. This counteracts the vineyard manager who says, early on in the film, that this is a great job for the workers - all they want.

Beck says the film has been picked up by an LA-based distributor (who also distributed the documentary Word Wars) who has succeeded in getting the local theatrical run. The film will continue to be screened on the festival circuit. Beck hopes he will be able to get a PBS broadcast. He will be cutting the film down from 72 minutes to 54.

He's now working on a new documentary with a Trappist monastery north of Chico which raises grapes and is making wine.

You can hear two audio clips with the filmmaker on the Harvest film from radio station KCRB here.

And don't miss the Bohemian's front page article about the film, although it's somewhat off balance (since the film is about more than the migrant workers).

Here's the list of upcoming local screenings - try to see this here. It may be a long time until there are other opportunities:

Sept. 14 – 20 at Rialto Cinemas, Sebastopol - Director John Beck will be doing Q&A after 7 p.m. screenings on Sept. 14, 15 and 16.
Sept. 21, 22 and 23 – Sonoma Cinemas, Director Q&A’s after Sept. 21 and 23 screenings.
Sept. 28 – Oct. 4 – Raven Film Center, 415 Centre St., Director Q&A’s after Sept. 28 and 29 screenings

The film web site is here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Biodynamic Winemaker Philippe Corderey at Heirloom Expo

Phillipe Corderey of
Philippe Corderey spoke to a rapt audience Wednesday at the second annual Heirloom Expo, held this week at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.

For 45 minutes, Corderey, formerly head of Bonny Doon's biodynamic program (based in Monterey County) and now a biodynamic consultant in Sonoma County, showed picture after picture of plant energies as captured by sensitive crystallization.

The photos showed a dramatic difference in self organization, in crystallizations. The impact of organic and biodynamic practices, as well as water energies (captured in the crystallizations), was clearly evident.

I'll have more on his talk later. (I captured the talk audio on my cell phone and will post some quotes later after checking with Phillipe about that).

The Heirloom Expo was a huge success and the Biodynamic Lounge area, sponsored by Demeter USA, offered many classes in a straw bale classroom which drew standing room only crowds.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Baseball and Organic Wine? The Perfect Pairing

A friend who's a total Giants fan and knows all too well how into organically grown wine I am called the other day to say he'd discovered a new winery for my list. What, say I? (I thought I had collected them all....thinking of them, as I do, as baseball cards that you collect.) A NEW winery?

"Are you sure they're organic," I said.

"Well look at their web site," my friend said, and so I did. (You can, too - it's right here.)

Sure enough, here's a great article about Simaine Cellars, the winery I never heard of, with organically grown wine, and a great story, to boot. I'll tell you more after I visit - and taste.

The good news is that not only are most of their wines organically grown, they also are mostly dry farmed.

And... they advertise on Giants games. I look forward to the day when buying organically grown wine is that mainstream....and thanks to Simaine Cellars for heading us in that direction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Harvest Documentary Film Launches Sept. 14 in Sebastopol

When people make movies about wine, especially the promotional ones, they're very romantic, and oh so groomed. Long shots of vineyards, rustic shots of boots, guys talking about family - you might think they were running for political office. Or something.

Predictably yawnworthy.

Not so Harvest, a new documentary by John Beck filming at five wineries in Sonoma County, takes to the stage this weekend in Sebastopol (followed by more North Bay area screenings), with a very high energy look and feel.

The trailer shows the hail and hearty workers who do a lot of intense work each fall. (Question: are they listening to heavy metal like the soundtrack in the movie?)

Beck is quoted in the Press Democrat as saying he became inspired to do the film after doing a promotional video for several Sonoma County wineries on harvest in 2011:

“I had never seen a night harvest before,” Beck said. “It was 2 in the morning, and the whole vineyard was lit up like a UFO landing. It was very dramatic..."

The filmmaker will appear at the Friday and Saturday screenings in Sebastopol and at the other local screenings in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg the following weekends.

See the trailer for an inside look at a "real world" side of winemaking.

Read more in the Press Democrat article here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Highlights form the Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa: Day 1

The second annual Heirloom Expo got off to a fine start today at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. I took more than a hundred pictures of the fun, but decided to select just a few to share from today.

Tomorrow I'll be returning to visit more of the expo, and focus on seeing what's in the Biodynamic area. 

Lily Films was the expo - and selling swag along with THEIR NEW DVDs of SYMPHONY OF THE SOIL!
Must See! Screen Wed. at noon...or save yourself the gas money and buy the DVD.

Very funny bee teeshirts....choose from Worker, Drone or Queen Bee!

From the Sonoma State University Slow Food booth...I want this as a bumper sticker :)

That's what it's all about...

The incredible Hall of Flowers displays probably more than 1,000 kinds of heirloom varieties - a real treasure trove.
As important a collection as the Smithsonian. 
Slow Foods founder Carlo Petrini was the keynote speaker for the first of the three days of the festival.
He has humor, soul and a wonderful way with the audience which gave him a standing ovation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Falls News Roundup

In the fall, the calendar starts to fill up with new books appearing, a last round of warm weather wine tours, and more.

Here's a roundup of what's new and notable:

1. A New Rachel Carson Biography: On a Farther Shore by William Souder

Rachel Carson is a true environmental heroine, a close tie in my mind with Huey Johnson, John Muir, and David Brower. Her life history is an amazing and little known story.

How she came to be the Queen of the Anti-Pesticide Forces is an unlikely and fascinating story. It first came to my attention on the radio, in fact, as I listened (while crossing the Bay Bridge) to the incredible play by Kaiulani Lee's Sense of Wonder (you can hear it on the Living on Earth radio show web site).

William Souder's new biography of Rachel Carson, released this week, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her death, sounds like a winner, given the praise lauded by the back of the book jacket:

“William Souder’s On a Farther Shore is one of those rare and extraordinary biographies that are at once brilliant portraiture and important environmental history. The great Rachel Carson comes alive again in these vivid pages—honest, committed, brave." (Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and New York Times best-selling author of Wilderness Warrior)

“Rachel Carson changed the way we live now, and in William Souder she has a biographer who has given us a powerful portrait of a woman and of her work. Anyone interested in the intellectual, political, and cultural life of the past half century should read this fine book." (Jon Meacham, New York Times best-selling author)
“Rachel Carson is the great green heroine, the first person to combine her love of the natural world with a penetrating glance at industrial modernity. William Souder captures her importance in this engaging biography.” (Bill McKibben, environmentalist, best-selling author, and journalist)

Kirkus Reviews calls it, "a poignant, galvanizing, meaningful tribute."

I've just ordered a copy. Happily it's also available in audio, for people like me who sit in a lot of traffic and love to listen.

2. Organic Viticulturist (Grower) and Vintner Charlie Barra featured in SF Chronicle's California Wine special section

I don't know why it should take a lifetime for Charlie Barra to get some recognition in our local paper, but it's great to finally see some photos of him there and some mention of his wines, too.

3. Slow Food Founder Carlo Petrini to Speak Tuesday Night in Santa Rosa

Foodie rockstar Carlo Petrini, who famously took on McDonald's and sparked a global agricultural movement, will speak Tuesday night at 7 pm in Santa Rosa at the Heirloom Expo, billed as the world's largest pure food fair. I am planning to make it to hear Petrini in person and will write more about it after the event. The expo is begins Tuesday and runs through Thursday.

If you can't make it, you might enjoy Petrini's 2011 Berkeley talk online here.

Sensitive Crystallization Workshop

I'll also be checking out the biodynamic booth, from Demeter USA (the biodynamic certification agency in the U.S.) and attending a session on Wednesday on Sensitive Crystallization at 2:15 pm. (Details here.)

Crystallization of
Conventional Wine 
Crystallization of
Biodynamic Wine
The session is with biodynamic consultant Philippe Coderey, from Provence, France. He is a partner in Grow Biodynamic Consulting. This is the technology that underlies the fascinating images you see here on the left and right, showing the energies contained in these substances. For more images, the web site gallery and click on the small images there to see the images larger.

You can also download Coderey's paper on Crystallization from the Fall 2009 Biodynamics magazine here.

He formerly worked with Bonny Doon, which is the one winery that uses the crystallization images on the wine bottle labels. Cool.

This appears to be the most wine-related event at the expo.

(You can learn more about the food goings on in the LA Times story here or visit the event website.)

Deborah Koons Garcia's Symphony of the Soil Film Screens with the Filmmaker

I also highly recommend checking out the soil film of films, Symphony of the Soil with filmmaker Deborah Garcia who will be there in person. It screens Wednesday at 12:15 with a 40 minute Q & A scheduled afterward with the filmmaker. (Disclosure: she is a friend of mine - but I can say the film is great!)

Here's a brief video of Deborah from YouTube with the Soil Association.

Let me know your feedback and thoughts if you partake!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wine & Spirits Best Chardonnays: Organically Grown Among Them

"Chamomile and pear": Ceritas' 2010 Sonoma Coast Porter-Bass Vineyard Chardonnay ($52) topped the organically grown Chards, rating at the same level as Au Bon Climat's 2010 Santa Maria Valley Nuits-Blanches au Bouge, master Chardonnay vintner Jim Clenenden's 30th Anniversary bottling (not organic).

I can't imagine a vineyard more beautiful than Porter-Bass. Ceritas is one of the boutique star wineries, its wines selling only by allocation (or in restaurants). It specializes in single vineyard Burgundian wines, rating high marks from an inner circle of the winerati.

"Distinctive": Grgich Hills Napa Valley Chardonnay ($42), a blend of grapes from American Canyon and the winery's top quality Carneros vineyard (both biodynamic), the 2009 vintage garnered 91 points in the article. (Personally I prefer their more expensive Chardonnay, solely from the Carneros vineyard, and don't know why it wasn't included. It lists for $75).

"Perfectly poised": Bethel Heights had two Chardonnays on the list - its unoaked 2010 Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay ($18) was rated at 93 points and designated a Best Buy. (I'll take a 93 point, $18 wine any day!) Its 2010 Estate Grown Chardonnay ranked 90 points, selling for $25, another Best Buy.

"Lavish": Bergstrom's 2010 Sigrid Chardonnay ($80) weighed in at 92 points - as usual one of the most expensive bottles on the Chardonnay list.

"Restrained": At 88 points, Matthiason's Napa Valley Linda Vista Vineyard (I believe this is organic) ($25) at a very respectable price point was also listed as a Best Buy.

I look forward to tasting the Best Buy wines on this list and adding them to my new wine app (almost done).