Winecast 60: Mike Dunne and quality, affordable California wine

Mike Dunne: It is difficult to find quality, affordable wine -- but some do exist


Mike Dunne, the long-time wine and food editor at California's Sacramento Bee newspaper, has often chided the Wine Curmudgeon for not including more California wine on the blog. Hence, this podcast: Mike and I talk about why there isn't more quality, affordable California wine --  and how to find what there is.

The reasons for these wines' scarcity? They start with California's high cost of doing business and include-- not surprisingly -- winery ego. Interestingly, many quality, affordable wines never make it out of California because they sell out in the state.

Mike suggests looking for wines from less well-known parts of California, like Lake County and Monterey, and varieties that aren't cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay -- chenin blanc or petite sirah, anyone?

Among Mike's wine suggestions:

J. Lohr's Wildflower, a red wine made with the quite rare valdiguie grape (about $10). Serve it chilled -- a perfect porch wine.

The Shenandoah Special Reserve Zinfandel (about $11). Mike raves about this red -- brambly, fruity and delicious.

Korbel's Blanc de Noir (about $14) and one of the blog's old pals, the Barefoot Bubbly (about $10). These California sparkling wines, says Mike, provide more value than you'd think. He also told a fine story about dust mops and the E&J Gallo sales staff; Gallo, of course, owns Barefoot.

Click here to download or stream the podcast, which is almost 17 minutes long and takes up about 12 megabytes. Quality is mostly excellent, save for a couple of static-y bits toward the end.