So I have to admit, value is not exactly my first concern when I'm shopping for wines. I'm a die-hard bargain hunter when it comes to clothes, furniture, appliances... heck, 3/4 of my wardrobe comes from TJ Maxx, but wine has always been an area I've indulged a little. I've just always associated "cheap" wine with that horrible, "I just drank wine out of box" headache you feel the next morning. I also have scary visions of Barefoot White Zinfandel and Boone's Farm.
I have however decided, it's time for me to overcome my own stigmata and accept that not all value priced wines are created equal. This past January, James and I were at the Boston Wine Expo and had the opportunity to try the line from an up and coming California label called Bear Flag. First off, you can't help but notice the graffiti-laden label art that covers the bottle. It's more than a little eccentric, but honestly, so are these wines.
The good news: On average, each of their wines retails for about $9 a bottle so we're definitely playing in bargain territory. The even better news: These wines drink a lot bigger than what I would expect for a single digit price tag.
Bear Flag produces four different (and very distinctive) blends: Smooth Red, Dark Red, Soft White and Bright White. Their wine maker, Beth Cutler, takes some of the most interesting approaches to blending that I've ever seen, using combinations that prior to reading the Bear Flag label, I never would have thought of combining.
My personal favorite wine in the lineup is the "Dark Red Blend." It's a bold and somewhat aggressive blend of Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Zinfandel, Petite Verdot & Temparanillo. It's not overtly tannic and still very drinkable with or without food despite its boldness.
Their other blends include a "Smooth Red" (Tempranillo, Touriga Nacional, Zinfandel & Alicante Bouschet), "Soft White" (Muscat of Alexandria, Symphony, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay & Colmbard) and a "Bright White" (Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc & Gewurtztraminer)... all very much worth trying.
Their website, www.bearflagwine.com, has a really great search feature that allows you to enter your zip code and it will tell you where retailers and restaurants that carry their wines are in your area. Give them a try and please let me know what you think!