Tales from the Trellis 2014 Top Value Budget Wines with New Years Eve Sparkling Picks

31 12 2014

My Top Value Wines of 2014

2014 was quite a year and filled with great memories. Throughout the year, I have enjoyed many excellent wines at really great prices and want to share the best wines at the best values with you.

I will start with my favorite, as it is the day and evening to open some sparkling wine! These are all the wines that come to my mind when I think back on the year and what I have ordered over and over. See the BOLD for best value in each category.


1) Sparkling Wine:

a) Top Cava: Raventos i Blanc de Nit Rosé and regular Brut bottling, Llopart Rosé 2009*

b) Top US Sparkling Wine: J vineyards: Cuvée 20, J Vineyards XB, Roederer Estate, Scharfenberger, Roederer Estate Le Hermitage 2004

c) Top French Sparkling Wine (not from Champagne): Pollo Club, Charles de Feré 

d) Top Prosecco: Adami Prosecco Garbel 13 and Adami Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut Bosco di Gica, Mionetto

e) Top Champagne: Pierre Gimonnet Belles Annees (hard to find), Veuve Clicquot yellow label, Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut

f) Top Other: For those that love extremely sweet and syrupy – Banfi Rosa Regale or Barefoot Sparkling Pinot Grigio

2) Chardonnay: 

a) Novellum (french) 2012/2013

b) Foxglove 2012

c)  Kendal Jackson 2012

 3) Shiraz:

a) MollyDooker the Boxer 2012

b) Schild Estate

4) Cabernet:

a) H3 (Horse Haven Hills) 2012 

b) Hall

c) Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon

5) Pinot Noir/Burgundy:

a) Meiomi 2012 and 2013

b) Leyda Classic and Leyda Las Brisas (single vineyard bottling)

b) Walt

6) Sauvignon Blanc:

a)  J Vineyards Russian River Valley

b)  Hall Triple T Bar T Ranch 2013

7) Zinfindel:

a) Bogle Phantom (blend of 4 varietals)

8) Italian reds:

a) Falesco Vitiano Rosso (blend) 2010

b) Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico 2011

 9) Italian Whites:

a) Bastianich Adriatico Pinot Grigio 2011

b)Santa Margarita Pinto Grigio 2012

10) Top Malbec

a) Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2011

b) Bodega Chakana Estate Selection Malbec 2012

11) Rose:

a) Charles and Charles

b) J Vineyards

c) Miraval 2013

My top pick for wine of the year – that provides the best value based on price vs. quality, is a TIE!

The Horse Haven Hills 21012 Cabernet from Washington State at $12 USD is an amazing wine that has tones of complexity and yet affordable to have every day.

The Leyda Single Vineyard Las Brisas from Chile (at $14.99 USD) is an outstanding value and taste like they are double the price.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year. I am grateful for your support and humbled by your following me here on talesfromthetrellis.com.

Peace, love and health to you all.


Steve from the trellis

Value Wine Alert: Wily Jack Wine for $5 – The Review!

5 03 2011





As I hinted at the end of my last post about the Three Wishes wines for $2.50, I had recently purchased 2 bottles of Wily Jack (pronounced Why-lee) wine in a local Bottle King (a large retail chain in New Jersey) for a sale price of $5 each. The label captured my attention first, as it was a bold and well branded wine – with Michael Schwab illustrated label (his name was right on the bottom of the label, interesting).

Though this bottle was purchased on sale for $5, it typically sells for anywhere between $7 – $10. These wines are non vintage, like Three Wishes, meaning they can blend different years together. The grapes were sourced from vineyards all over California, so a blend of many areas as well. They offer a Chardonnay, Cabernet, and a Zinfandel (was not available at Bottle King at my time of purchase). They have been around since 2009, and owned by Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines. The brand is meant to be fun and approachable. These wines should be enjoyed now, not aged.

They had a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon, so I took both and walked away for less than the price of a typical everyday drinking bottle. I thought this would be a good – post as it was twice the price of the last Three Wishes bottles – but was it twice the value?

I decided to bring the two bottles, along with some others, to a gathering at friends Chris and Karen’s home last night. Great cheeses and Karen’s homemade desserts like cheesecake, apple crisp, brownies and mixed fruit salad. All delicious, thanks Karen!

Wily Jack Wines ©TalesFromtheTrellis, 2011

Wily Jack Wines ©TalesFromtheTrellis, 2011

The Chardonnay:

Nice notes of apple and pear on the nose. Medium body,  with great pineapple and tropical fruit taste. Then, surprisingly, the citrus (acidity) kicks in on the dry finish– which is fairly cleansing and refreshing. Worked especially well with the softer goat milk cheese, and would recommend brie with this as well.  I was really happy about this wine for the price. It was not just worth double the price of Three Wishes, but the quality was substantially better. Again, I like this at $9 but love it at $5! This may be my new house white wine!

The Cabernet:

This was the second bottle that I opened, after the Chard disappeared quickly! It had cherry and dark fruit with violet on the nose. Plum, cherry and vanilla (oak) on the tongue. Smooth sailing from the first sip through the mid-palette, then the finish goes a bit tannic, but in a god way. It had some guts to it and more power than I expected. After some time in the glass swirling, it calmed down a bit and really smoothed out the edges. I enjoyed this with the brownies! Yum! Was this really $5? This wine also seemed to be a success, and it looks like this was a winner.

I’m shocked that I haven’t seen this wine in stores, or even heard about it until now. The web site is simple but well-organized and designed. Have a look.

I am excited to recommend these wines to you, an excellent value with great quality for this low price. Please go try these and let me know what you think!


Steve from the Trellis

©TalesFromtheTrellis, 2011

Valentine’s Day Sparkling Wine Suggestions Under $11 USD – Spreading the Love!

14 02 2011



Mionetto Prosecco on the Sill ©2011 TalesFromTheTrellis.com

Mionetto Prosecco on the Sill ©2011 TalesFromTheTrellis.com

Since today is Valentine’s Day, let me quickly suggest a few value-priced sparkling wines under $11 USD –  that bring a lot of quality for very little cost that I tasted blind, with my wife and mother last month (we are all avid sparkling wine fans). Champagne put you into a higher price point so we went with these international sparklers for this tasting.

Domaine Ste. Michelle from Washington and Charles De Fére-Reserve Blanc de Blanc from France, were the top two based on the comments and notes from the rest of the tasters with me. Barefoot Brut Cuvée and Yellowtail Bubbles Rose (YT was good for the price but a touch sweet and creamy-so those with a love for the sweeter style wines will love this). The new label is beautiful and the closure is amazing. It seals the bottle! At the bottom was Woodbridge by Mondavi-Brut – which I can not recommend at any price.

Also check the post about Riondo and Mionetto Proseco, both are excellent sparkling wine choices for today (or any day) as well!

Last year I posted this article about sparklers, have a look.

Have a happy and safe Valentine’s Day everyone, cheers! Peace, health and love today – and always.


You’ll always be my Valentine, but these bubbles are for anytime

12 02 2010
Valentine's Toast

Valentine's Toast © Tales From the Trellis, 2010

Where do I even begin. I love sparkling wine. It is my favorite. Bar none. Sparkling wine can be Cava, Prosecco, Crémant, Sekt and of course the grandaddy of them all…Champagne. Since I had no real frame of reference for sparkling wine (my father was not a big fan) my love affair with it began later in my wine drinking lifetime. I would say it was around winter of 1990, I had that big OMG moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

My family and I were at our friend Tony’s home for Christmas Eve dinner. Tony was a real aficionado when it came to bubbles. He was a collector and avid drinker of many types and styles. At the time, Mumm’s Cordon Rouge was my comfort zone– until this magical night. Tony was kind enough to open up a few bottles of what I recall was Domaine Carneros (Taittinger via Napa Valley). We all seemed to enjoy it and we started to polish off his remaining case quickly. Tony came back out with another offering, I think this time we were hitting his reserve of Mumm’s René Lalou (vintage 1986?) – in a fantastic bottle with an unforgettable shape. I believe we moved into Dom Perignon after that – but it all got a bit fuzzy and don’t think I made it through dinner. But again, I digress.

All bubbly wine is sparking but not all sparkling wine is Champagne. Many of you already know this, but only sparkling wine that comes from area in France called Champagne – can legally be called Champagne (they are very strict about enforcing this and have gone after people who have broken this rule). In recent years, there were some changes made to expand the area so that more of the wine could be deemed Champagne. Great for the growers and wine makers there! Of course in France, where it seems they carve rules (and tradition) in stone, this brought controversy.

Champagne is really special, but it is not the only option for sparkling wines (just tends to be the most expensive). Other regions within France, and other parts of the world, make really impressive wine at great everyday (ok- at least once a week) prices. Spain makes Cava, Italy has Prosecco, France makes Crémant  in other regions and in the same style (and principle grapes) as Champagne, California makes quality sparklers, as does Oregon. And yes, you can actually find a quality value sparkling wine in New Mexico from a producer named  Gruet, (it’s true, and good). So many regions are making sparkling wine (too many to get to in this post).

Let’s get to the wine! As I said earlier, I love to drink sparkling wine all the time. Summertime with a nice flute, the best! I love it with everything and it is one of the most food friendly wines of all. Many people only seem to buy sparkling wine on Valentines Day and New Years Eve. There is a misconception that it is pricy and only for special occasions. I am of the belief that every day we are alive is a special day. I am also of the belief that good everyday drinking sparkling wine is in reach for everyone.

Ok, so what if I told you that you can find decent everyday “house” champagne for the price you would pay for that bottle you just bought last night. Yes you can. Below are a few of my personal favorite “value priced” sparklers under $17 USD that bring a lot to the table in terms of quality/price ratio. Real values and well made. Can not go wrong here. Great as an apéritif, and I will have a piece on other heavier styles in the future that can be paired with main courses.

Llopart Rose Brut Riserva Cava (Spain). It’s is dark, a very dark rose that looks like it will be sweet, but people let me tell you that it is dry as a bone and amazing! It is creamier and more effervescent than most cava I have experienced. I tasted strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and a bit of minerality. Very floral nose. This newer edition seems a bit stronger overall in terms of body and flavors than the previous. In NYC, you can find it by the glass (where I found and fell in love with it) at Tom Colicchio’s CraftBar. Try it with the sausage stuffed grape leaves- heaven!

Veuve de Vernay (France) is a “blanc de blanc” which means it is pure chardonnay (as opposed to a typical french blend that includes Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier). This one is very dry, with nice fruit and a good finish. For the price ($8-12 USD)  you can also buy in large quantities for  a party or other celebrations – without breaking the bank. We enjoyed this at hour holiday party at work.

Charles de Fere Jean Louis Brut (France). I feel this one is a step above the Vernay in terms of sophistication. Lighter in style with pear notes, apple and  toast. Hints of peach. Really nice and this is my “house sparkling wine” of the moment. ($8-12 USD)

Argyle Brut (Oregon) Great spices (the Pinot Noir does this) and toast (chardonnay) with a lot going on and a crisp and long finish. ($16-24 USD)

Gloria Ferrer (Sonoma) Brut. Real quality, small bubbles and smooth. Creamy pear and a hint of nut and finished with toasty crispness. ($14-18 USD)

Riondo Prosecco (Italy) is blow-away for the price. Around $10 USD and a must try. Find this! Vanilla and a bit of lemon character. Amazing mouthfeel and fairly sophisticated for Prosecco. Robert Parker says 90 points and I say YES PLEASE. Don’t walk, run to get this.

In closing, I hope you will enjoy some of these sparkling wines – paired with nice oysters, chocolate, spring rolls, tempura, salmon, fried anything (the acidity cuts the grease/fat)..well, you get where I am going with this. Make sparking wine your anytime choice. No, these probably wont change your life-like a better quality and higher priced option can, but they can make it more fun for less!

For those of us that like it a bit sweeter, you can buy some Veuve de Lalande Rose (available for $9.99 USD in Stew Leonard’s Wines across the USA). This is a touch sweeter (off-dry) and you can taste strawberry and dark fruits within. It does finish dry but short. If you want, you can also add splash of Creme de Cassis, orange juice, peach or pear nectar to your flute filled with any of the above value sparkling wines. Remember never use those wide-mouth margarita looking glasses. The flute will hold the bubbles while the wide mouth will kill them with all that exposure to the air.

Have a happy Valentines Day! Let us all know what you will (or have had) on Valentines day and how you liked it! If you need help locating these, email me and let me know.


Steve from the Trellis


Tales From the Trellis