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Don't fear the grocer
From Cupcake Vineyards

The wine aisle of your favorite grocery store used to be a place that serious wine drinkers never wanted to be seen. Put away your disguises, that trend is taking a turn.

Occasionally, you will see a guy with a big nose, mustache and glasses in the wine aisle at Publix in 12 Oaks Shopping Center. That me, as I usually look, digging through mis–stocked and strangely organized shelves looking for column worthy wines.

On a recent visit, here’s what I found:

Vineyards 2009 Riesling: I’ve beat the drum for this highly affordable and accessible vineyard’s products before, but never the whites. This Riesling is not one of those cloyingly sweet, late harvest projects, for sure. Count on a representative expression of Washington State Riesling, with juicy and inviting aromas and flavors of grapefruit, pineapple and nectarine. This dry style Riesling finishes with food–friendly minerality, that sensation of smelling rain on rocky surfaces. Acidity on the finish knocks down any tendencies for over sweetness.

Cupcake Vineyards 2009 Sauvignon Blanc: With all the great Sauv Blanc coming off the West Coast these days, I find it interesting that Cupcake scored juice from New Zealand to make this wine. Winemaker Adam Richardson is from Australia – maybe he’s craving home turf influences. Regardless, brace yourself for exotic citrus flavors, from Meyer lemon to Key lime – all capped off by that unmistakable NZ tartness. For score keepers, the previous vintage scored 90 points from Wine Spectator.

Big House Red: Legendary winemaker Randall Graham propelled these wines to cult status before selling them off in 2006 to concentrate on intense, smaller projects with his Bonny Doon Vineyards. New owners, Wine Group LLC, continued the line up with a new winemaker, Romania–born Georgette Dane, and is adding labels to the Big House theme.
This red blend brings together grapes with the nuance of an eHarmony dating match–up: Spiciness from the Syrah, cherry and raspberries from Sangiovese and Barbera, blueberries from Tannat, cassis from  Grenache and chocolate from Mourvedre. It’s a juicy mix of the best each variety has to offer.


Delete - Merge UpBig House White is yet another bottle full of variety. Malvasia Bianca, Muscat Canelli, Viognier, Gruner Veltliner and Pinot Grigio come together for a luscious tropical cocktail of aromas and flavors. I detected a little cantaloupe – and plenty of stone fruit flavors.

Still not convinced? Wine Enthusiast chose Big House White as a Top Best Buy for 2009.

And if you’re chasing Century Club membership, tasting each of the wines in this column will qualify you as having tasted 14 grapes – only 86 to go!

I’ve written about BearBoat Pinot Noir before, and was surprised to find this decidedly upscale wine on the shelves of Publix. While the wines above will run $10–$14, BearBoat comes in at a premium $23.99. Still, it’s the price of convenience when I can then walk directly to the fish counter to buy salmon, the produce department to select salad fixings and walk out with a complete dinner – and wine.