California Cabernets, especially from Napa, are well known for their power, richness, tannin, high alcohol...and too often, astronomical price. Those in the "cult" category such as Screaming Eagle or Harlan Estate can fetch hundreds of dollars or more per bottle, and are difficult or impossible to get unless you're a "VIP" customer and on the allocation list. Don't get me wrong: there are some outstanding Napa (and Sonoma, for that matter) Cabs at "fairly reasonable" prices and they, too, have a devoted following, albeit among us normal folk. And given that I'm a #1 fan of Bordeaux, years ago I discovered "Meritage" wines, produced by a group of American vintners that formed The Meritage Alliance in 1998 to produce and…

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I’ve just tried two very different but very delicious Paso Robles gems. Here they are: Folkway Revelator 2016: This Bordeaux-like blend sells for about $25 (or less) and is about half Cabernet Sauvignon, one quarter Cab Franc and one quarter Merlot. Deep red, very balanced with noticeable but polished tannins and flavors of black cherry, coffee and cocoa. Villa San Juliette Chorum Reserve Red 2014: A truly extraordinary and almost unheard-of blend of 32% Syrah, 16% Grenache, 14% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 12% Alicante Bouschet, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Petite Sirah. Dark fruit with a lot of plum and black cherry, and a hint of mint. I think I enjoy this most of all because I’d love to…

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I thought for a long time that Natalie McLean is a damn good writer and knew her way around a bottle and a vineyard or two. Last year some information came along to challenge that. But I had already disagreed with her when when she said (on her website) that every wine lover should have a "house wine." In my experience, that's precisely what people who are new to wine get wrong, and what often keeps them from learning about new wine places, varietals and styles. Is there anything wrong with enjoying a particular wine, and keeping several bottles of it on hand for guests and gatherings? No. But I can't tell you how many times I've visited friends and…

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