Everyone likes a good $12 bottle of wine, whether they buy wines by the case or strain their budget with just one bottle. Value is the great wine leveler.
Retail wine shelves are a big colorful blur of cheap California brands from the conglomerates, but let's be real: A lot of it is crap. The odds of finding a value label that's tasty across the board—from the Chardonnay to the Cabernet Sauvignon to the Pinot Noir—are slim to nada.
The list of those across-the-board value California producers is short, but surely Bogle Vineyard must be near the top. Search Wine Spectator's database of Bogle reviews and rarely do the wines score below 84 on our 100-point scale and seldom do they cost more than $12.
A fine example is the Bogle Zinfandel California 2009 ($11), which is soft and spicy, with lively cherry and smoky herb notes. I rated it 88 points, non-blind. On par is the Merlot California ($10), which has fresh cherry and herb aromas, flavors of plum and tomato leaf and distinctive varietal character for the price. I rated it 87 points, non-blind.
One reason that quality is high is that Bogle still uses oak barrels, not some cheaper substitute like oak chips. That's almost unheard of at this price point. Both the Zin and Merlot were 100 percent barrel-aged in American oak for 12 months.
For me, the Bogle wines are appealing for another reason: I grew up in the Midwest, so I have a soft spot for family farmers, even big ones. The Bogle family got their start in Clarksburg in the Sacramento Delta in the 1850s farming corn and sugar beets.
In the early 1970s, they started planting vineyards; at first, they sold grapes to other wineries but then launched the Bogle brand in 1979. It started out small and grew and grew and grew.
There are 300,000 cases of the 2009 Merlot alone, so this is no modest family farm. They harvest not only from their estate vineyards but also buy grapes from Monterey, Amador County, Russian River, Mendocino, Lodi and beyond. And yet whenever I talk with anyone at the winery, there's nothing slick about what they have to say. They still come off as farmers.
Matriarch Patty Bogle passed away earlier this year after a long struggle with leukemia, so the winery is in the midst of its first harvest without her. Not an easy task. But her dedication to good wines at a good price lives on. Lucky for us.
Have you tried Bogle wines? Do you have other favorite value wines from California?
John Kmiecik — Chicago, IL — October 5, 2011 11:30am ET
Paul M Hummel — Chicago, — October 5, 2011 11:41am ET
Dry Creek Vineyard — Healdsburg — October 5, 2011 11:42am ET
Mark Lyon — Sonoma, CA; USA — October 5, 2011 12:10pm ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — October 5, 2011 12:12pm ET
Jamie Sherman — Sacramento — October 5, 2011 12:58pm ET
John Boccabella — Orinda CA — October 5, 2011 1:26pm ET
Homer Cox — Warrenton, VA — October 5, 2011 1:35pm ET
Tim Fish — Santa Rosa, CA — October 5, 2011 3:58pm ET
Scott Fletcher — Chicago, IL — October 6, 2011 12:30am ET
Denny Kleber — Charlotte NC — October 6, 2011 8:40am ET
Josh Moser — Sunnyvale, CA — October 6, 2011 1:45pm ET
Martin Johnson — Walnut Creek, CA — October 6, 2011 4:07pm ET
Tim Mc Donald — Napa,CA — October 6, 2011 4:09pm ET
Philip A Chauche — Germantown, MD — October 6, 2011 5:55pm ET
Don Rauba — Schaumburg, IL — October 8, 2011 12:57am ET
Dennis Delmonaco — Pittsburgh, PA — October 8, 2011 9:20am ET
Gavin Mchugh — Nor Cal — October 9, 2011 11:35am ET
Craig Ernst — Naperville, Il — October 10, 2011 8:35am ET
Kc Tucker — Escondido, CA USA — October 10, 2011 3:38pm ET
Brian Peters — Broomfield, CO — October 10, 2011 8:24pm ET
Matt Anders — New jersey — October 14, 2011 12:18pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions