I know that there is one winery whose wares I have touted over the years more than others - but that's because they make wonderful everyday wines (and a few special bottles, too) at sale prices that can't be beat.
THIS WEEKEND the twice a year rock-bottom sale prices are on again at McFadden's (vineyard in Potter Valley; tasting room in Hopland), which should make you pay attention and get on the phone. Prices are 40% off.
You must be a wine club member to get this incredible prices, but there's basically no commitment if you're buying a case a year - which is pretty easy to do when the sale price of a bottle of Double Gold winning (SF Chronicle Wine Competition, not some unknown county fair) Chardonnay is $9.60 - i.e. $115 a case. (And remember - wine is a great holiday or hostess gift.)
My friends have already learned to ask me to get them a case or two. But you don't need me to be your intermediary. I am just the messenger. You can go direct.
Here are some of the deals I think warrant your attention:
• Chardonnay, $9.60 a bottle, $115 a case (regularly $16 a bottle)
Unoaked, food friendly and the perfect weekday wine.
• Riesling, $10.80 a bottle, $129 a case (regularly $18 a bottle)
These are the same grapes that go into rieslings from Dashe and Chateau Montelena. Again another great weekday wine.
• NV Brut, $15 a bottle, $180 a case (regularly $24 a bottle)
I am a regular drinker of the McFadden Brut which to my knowledge is the cheapest (when on sale like this) and best organic sparkling wine in this price range as it's made (unlike other sparklers in the price category - like Korbel Organic, for instance) with the grape varietals that go into French champagne: 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Forgo the TJ's Prosecco (imported from Italy) or Spanish Cava and get into the real deal - organic is good for our ecosystem right here - and good for you to serve at your table. (And save 50% of the wine's carbon footprint - which comes from shipping across the Atlantic).
At this price, you can haz bubbles all the time. Sparkling wine always makes a great gift and is the most versatile food-friendly wine - it pairs with so many different dishes from quiche to salmon to sushi. One famous wine writer (Jay McInerny who writes about wine for the Wall Street Journal without endorsing its editorial views) likes it with popcorn. (Ok, since it's sparkling, it is sort of more like soda - perhaps.) One of my friends sent a friend of hers who was turning 60 six bottles - one for every decade.
This Brut won a gold medal in the Mendocino Wine Competition (which features a lot of sparkling wines now that Rack and Riddle, a sparkling wine facility, is located in Hopland). I think I have about 5 cases of it in my cellar. It's always a big hit during the holidays - and you can bring along more than just one bottle to your hostess at these prices (which might make you look like a properly appreciative friend to your hostess who has gone to the effort of cooking for you). Of course, sparkling wine is great in the winter - and great in hot weather.
You can also think about the European tradition of having aperitifs made from sparkling wine mixed with a little juice...most cultures over the pond have come up with a wide variety of sparkling wine cocktails of one sort or another. (Good stress reliever after you get home from a huge Bay Area traffic jam from the BART strike - like I did today). I make little wine cocktails with peach juice or a little swirl of mango juice in summer. For a Valentine's Day party last year, I made sparkling wine cocktails with St. Germain, soda water and sparkling wine. They were very well received and could hardly be simpler to make.
• 2009 Reserve Brut, $24 a bottle, $288 a case (regularly $40 a bottle)
Stepping up a notch, the Reserve Brut spends 18 month on the lees, making it richer in flavors than the regular Brut.
Moving on to the reds:
• 2009 and 2010 Coro Mendocino-McFadden wines, $22.20 a bottle, $266 a case (regularly $37 a bottle)
Zin-based blends with Syrah and Petite Sirah - of course these are wonderful paired with meats, pizza, pasta with red sauce, etc. etc. Or cheese and crackers. Another great gift, too, or nice to have on hand for the holidays when everyone is sitting around the fire place sipping hearty soup.
Enough said. Get on the phone and talk to John Cesano, the friendliest tasting room manager in the world. Think of him - and Guinness McFadden and gang, on their 200+ acres of organic vineyard up there at the source of the Russian River - as your personal wine pit crew, at the ready with your everyday vino - and then some. This is wine as it was in the old days - organic, local and grown with pride and without pesticides in your own ecosystem, a place you might call home.
McFadden Vineyard web site
Tasting room phone: 707.744.VINE
Sale ends Sunday.