- 2015 Sanford Flor de Campo Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County, California $7.99* (@Costco, California, Item# 767331)
- 2017 Domaines de Carmignan Rouge, Côtes du Rhône, France $6.99 (@Costco, California, Item# 1353178)
*net price after $12 (!) discount at register.
Happy Thirsty Thursday!
As I have opined here before, for all the many negatives about 2020 and the Covid Era, one thing is becoming abundantly clear to me: it is an incredible year to be a wine consumer.
Here in arid Southern California, it is raining great deals on great wine.
We have two for you this week:
The French are fond of using the name “fleur” on their wines. For example, Fleur de Fonplegade, which translates to “the flower of Fonplegade” – a remarkable estate in St. Emilion where I have been fortunate to spend much time sampling the fruits of the land and dining in their spectacular chai, or barrel room. Much closer to home, this wine invokes the same imagery, albeit in a tongue that is more apropos for the Santa Barbara wine and rancho area. After all, it was the Spanish missionaries that first brought wine grapes to Santa Barbara in the late 18th century. Flor de Campo is Spanish for the flower of the field, or countryside. It is a lovely evocation, for a lovely wine.
It’s interesting that there is nothing on this bottle that connects it to the Sanford Winery, aside from a Lompoc address. But a quick web search turned up this very same Flor de Campo on the wine.com website where is was listed as Sanford Flor de Campo. There, it was being sold for $19.99. That alone might have been reason enough to buy the wine, since Decanter awarded this wine 90 points, and Sanford’s 90+ point wines sell for between $77 and $150 on the winery’s website.
That is not to imply this wine should sell for such sky high prices, but to impress upon you its legitimate provenance, and why it is an incredible value at $7.99.
The wine is garnet with a ruby hue and is bursting with bright red fruit flavors like raspberry and cherry with a hint of cola, pepper, and some earthiness. On the palate, this medium bodied and balanced wine delivers bright fruit and spice. Extremely versatile, it will pair well with a wide variety of cuisines.
In Santa Barbara wine country, it all started with Sanford Winery. Recognizing a magical combination of climate and soil conditions, the Sanford & Benedict vineyard was planted in 1971. The area owes its magic to an unusual east-west mountain valley that runs from the vineyards to the Pacific Ocean; ideal for cool-climate varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Fast forward nine time zones to France:
If you remember one thing from this post, it should be that the wines of Côtes du Rhône are some of the best red wine values on the planet. When in doubt, just ask for Côtes du Rhône. These fruity red wines are delicious and easy to drink on release and that’s what good wine is all about. At 86,000 acres, it is the second-largest wine region in France so there is exceptional variety. In this particular case, this blend is what you could refer to as a GSM+CC as it is composed of the classic trilogy of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre with dollops of Cinsault and Carignan as well.
The result is delicious:
Soft, timid nose. Medium red color with some purple hints. Nice notes of blueberry, black currant, black tea with a hint of black pepper. Very rich and delicious. Nice medium length finish full of fruit flavor but not sweet.
Noted wine critic James Suckling awarded 92 points to this wine. I always find that his ratings are a couple of points higher than my own, but that would still make this a 90 point wine by my palate, still an incredible find for $6.99.
Sun-drenched Côtes du Rhône vineyards straddle the great Rhône river. In the North, it is bold red Syrah and aromatic white Viognier. In the South, it’s red and rosé blends of up to 21 varieties, led by Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Whites, led by Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, are harder to find but worth the effort.
Côtes du Rhône is among the oldest vineyard regions on the planet. Greeks, Romans and Medieval Popes liked the native-grape rocky soil tastes. As the reputation of these great wines grew, a 1729 royal edict required each cask to be branded “C.D.R.” (Côtes du Rhône), marking the best from the rest.
If you’re headed to Costco soon yourself, you can find our most recent reviews of Costco wines here in our Lucky 13 list.
And if your shopping finds you at Trader Joe’s, you can find our Lucky 13 list of TJ’s wine here.
Stay cool, and stay healthy friends,