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Someone asked me some questions the other day that really got me to thinking. “Doesn’t it bother you to recommend re-labeled or non-vineyard designated wine as ‘excellent’?   Aren’t you deceiving people into thinking they can buy good wine when you really can’t get truly good wine for anywhere near the prices you list? Or from the retailers you feature?”

I gave a funny answer (my go to response when I don’t want to offend anyone) but I thought about the questions for quite a while and this post is my honest answer.

While I love excellent wine, I’m definitely not a wine snob.  I don’t have to have a “label” or pay “X-amount” (i.e. $$$) in order to enjoy a wine.  And more importantly, I don’t really care if anyone else is impressed with my cellar or not. As long as I am impressed….that’s all that matters.

Yes, I really hate bad wine and wine that disappoints me does affect my enjoyment of the meal (or whatever I happen to be enjoying it with…).  So where do I fall?  I don’t know.  I’m a person who would prefer to spend less $ for better quality.  I’m not defined by what I own or how much I spend.  And yet, I will still slaver over an exquisite Egyptian cotton (bazillion count) sheet set.  lol.

I used to think, like the person who asked the above questions, that you could only get good wine if your starting price point was $75+.  I honestly don’t believe that anymore.  It was quite the epiphany.  I’ve had some excellent wines from Costco (their buyer can certainly nail it at times….and get real stinkers at other times), some decent wines from Trader Joe’s (though I admit, I’m not a fan of the “Two-Buck Chuck”) and World Market. Even more exciting, I have found wines I would cellar from Cameron Hughes.  None of them cost me more than $39 (ok, a couple of Costco wines did go beyond that price point) and closer to $25 on average.  These wines, I would happily serve blind to the above questioner and I would wager they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from one of their pricier wines.

Now am I bashing a lovely, costly, labeled cellar?  Nope.  If that’s what you love, do it and do it well.  I’m just saying that regardless of the general opinion, there are wines out there that can knock your socks off, for under $40 and I have no problem labeling them as “excellent”.

And on that note, I would like to recommend the 2009 Bartholomew Tempranillo.  I paid $39 for it at a local specialty wine shop, however I notice that the 2010 is being sold at the winery for $22.  I haven’t tried the 2010 but 2009 is still on the shelves and it’s quite lovely.  Smooth, spicy, medium-full mouth-feel and a more Spanish-style to it than a lot of the Western Tempranillo wines.  It’s my first experience with this winery but it definitely won’t be my last.