California used to be the king of cheap red blends, but once the state’s vintners took the attitude that they were going to compete with the best of France, their britches got awfully big and they forgot a critical lesson from the Old World: The quality of everyday wines matters, too. That may be changing, thanks in part to sluggish sales in the high-end market, but some California winemakers are also returning to the old days of good-drinking, good-value blends.
St. Francis Winery’s Red is a wine like that. The blend is half Merlot and about 28 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, with the rest a mix of Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Alicante and Malbec. When I retasted it recently, it held up to the 87-point rating I gave it late last year in our official blind tastings. It was supple yet just gutsy enough, with notes of red currant and smoky dill. And at $12 a bottle, it’s further proof that California can make a good value with the best of them.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for St. Francis Red Sonoma County 2006 (87, $12).
• Plus, get our quick list of Easy Finds among California reds.