The wine regions of Northern California make lots of expensive Cabernets. But they also produce many amazing values, from crisp Sauvignon Blancs to lush, fruity Zinfandels.
Northern California Bottles:
2006 Husch Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer ($14)
Despite a hint of sweetness, this spicy white from the Anderson Valley’s oldest producer comes off as dry and focused, with peach and rose-petal notes.
2004 Three Families Mendocino Merlot ($14)
Full of plum and pepper, this Merlot from Mendocino expresses just what the varietal ought to: dark, ripe fruit with a slightly wild, spicy edge.
2005 Sawbuck Cabernet Sauvignon ($10)
Mendocino is known for cool-climate varieties like Pinot Noir, but this juicy red proves that good Cabernet grows there as well.
2007 Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc ($13)
Winemaker Pat Henderson uses fruit from five different Sonoma appellations for this bright white. Its ripe flavors suggest fresh honeydew melon and a hint of smoke.
2007 Sobon Estate Old Vines Zinfandel ($13)
This wine is Zinfandel at its jammy, blackberry-rich apogee, which is something that Amador County’s warm climate helps ensure.
2005 Trentadue Old Patch Red ($13)
This ripe, spicy blend of Zinfandel and other grapes is still partly sourced from the 1890s-era vineyard that inspired its name.
2007 Gallo Family Vineyards Sonoma Reserve Pinot Gris ($15)
Gallo makes good Pinot Gris under several different labels. This one’s a great value, full of nectarine and peach notes.
2007 Luna Vineyards Freakout ($15)
Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Ribolla Gialla, all from Napa Valley, go into this fresh, surprisingly fleshy white.