Last weekend, Fort Mason hosted the winners of the SF Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 4,000 entries judged by 60 wine professionals. Of the Best In Class winners, we chose seven very affordable California vintages. Troubled times demand good (but not expensive) vino. Print this list out for your next pre-dinner party grocery run.
1. 2006 Mandolin Cabernet Sauvignon, Central Coast, $12.
2. 2007 Mandolin Pinot Noir, Central Coast, $12.
3. 2007 South Coast Winery Grenache Rosé, Paso Robles County and Temecula Valley, $14.
4. 2005 Pedroncelli Estate Vineyard Syrah, Dry Creek Valley, $14
5. 2007 Rainbow Merlot, El Dorado County, $14.
6. 2007 Parducci Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County, $10.99.
7. 2007 Talus Chardonnay, Lodi, $7.99.
We also want to make mention of Crazy Flower Merlot, not because it's cheap but because it's certified organic and made from biodynamically farmed Carneros grapes. The natural processes involved—sheep eat the weeds, chickens eat the bugs—likely accounts, at least partially, for the $35 bottle price. But it's kind of nice knowing the mixture of berry and pepper you're tasting is completely untouched by chemicals.