THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Affordable summer sippers


2009 Shaya, 2009 Au Bon Climat, 2008 Palmina, photos by Ryan Tatsumoto

About a month ago, the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted an article entitled “20 World-Class Wines You Should Know, All $20 Or Less,” which got me thinking: “I can also do a list of affordable wines”… Of course, the pockets of the Gochiso Gourmet don’t run as deep as the Chronicle or Hearst Communications, so here’s my version: Six Wines at Less than $3 Per Glass, Gochiso Gourmet Style.

How did I come to my price point? Well, every standard bottle of wine yields five servings (5 oz. servings) unless you’re Ruby Tuesday, which does 6 oz. pours (four servings). The cheapest Happy Hour prices I’ve seen is $3 “house” drinks — most establishments tout $4 or $5 Happy Hour prices. Therefore, $3 drinks are probably as affordable as you’ll find anywhere. So I selected six wines that averaged just below the $3 per serving price point. And since I feel that wine should be part of a meal, I chose wines that were food friendly. And finally, since summer’s last rays are rapidly fading, I chose wines for that last summer barbecue or outdoor party — In the 50th, that means chilled selections to temper that stifling summer heat.

However, unlike the Chronicle article, I didn’t state what price I thought the wine tasted like since cost and taste appreciation have no real correlation. One person’s $50 quality wine is another’s “bleeechh!” And semi-paraphrasing Duke Ellington, when asked what the “best” genre of music was, he stated there were only two types: good music and bad music. Well, there are only two types of wines for your own palate — wines that you like and wines that you don’t like.

The Lineup

2009 Shaya ($12.49)

2009 Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Gris 66 percent Pinot Blanc 34 percent ($15.79)

2008 Palmina Santa Barbara County Dolcetto ($15.99)

2010 Corbieres Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris Rose ($15.49)

2009 Zenato Lugana San Benedetto ($13.49)

2010 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny ($15.29)

You may have noticed that I included one red wine among the white wine selections. That’s because Dolcetto is a wine that can be slightly chilled and drinks more like a white wine than a red (like a dark Rose).


2009 Shaya (3.5/5)

2009 Au Bon Climat, 2008 Palmina, and 2010 Corbieres Domaine de Fontsainte. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

Made from Verdejo in the Rueda region of Spain, this grape previously made oxidized, Sherry-like wines. However newer wine making techniques help retain the fresh, fruity qualities making this an ideal wine for all types of seafood and chilled hearty salads. Shaya produces their wine from 100 percent old vine Verdejo with pineapple, lime and citrus and mineral on the nose. The wine has a moderate mouth feel with good fruit concentration and acid, and a medium long finish.

2009 Au Bon Climat

Santa Barbara County

Pinot Gris 66 percent

Pinot Blanc 34 percent (3.25/5)

Created by Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat blends a common grape varietal — Pinot Gris also known as Pinot Grigio — and a not so common grape — Pinot Blanc — mainly propagated in Austria and Germany. This quaffer has light stone fruit, dried mango and a touch of stone on the nose with a light mouth feel and medium light finish.

2008 Palmina Santa Barbara County Dolcetto (3.5/5)

Created by one of my favorite vintners, Steve Clifton (also of Brewer-Clifton fame), Palmina is the label of Steve and Chrystal Clifton. They specialize in Italian grape varietals — most under $30 per bottle — which also mean that the wines are very food friendly. The Dolcetto grape (or “little sweet one”) initially was planted in the Piedmontese region as a “sacrifice” to native birds with hopes that they would consume the Dolcetto instead of the prized Nebbiolo grapes. This wine has fresh red berry with mineral on the nose and a very nice, almost seamless flow over the palate with a medium finish and pairs equally well with hearty seafood, poultry and chilled salads.

2010 Corbieres Domaine de Fontsainte Gris de Gris Rose (3.75/5)

The winery itself was established in 1971 by the Laboucarie family but their winemaking roots go back another 300 years or so. This Rose is made primarily from Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir and has a nose with hints of dried strawberry and dried orange peel with mineral. The palate flow is almost seamless leading to a medium dry finish. Rose wines are the chameleons of the wine world as they pair with salads and seafood all the way up to poultry and pork and can be served as before dinner aperitifs as well.

2009 Zenato Lugana, 2010 Domaine du Salavard Cheverny, and 2009 Shaya. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

San Benedetto (3.25/5)

Made from 100 percent Trebbiano where it’s also known as Ugni Blanc in France (the same grape that goes into fine Cognac), this wine has a nose of citrus and mineral and a rich palate of stone fruit and a medium long finish. While it may not be any one person’s favorite white wine, it is agreeable with just about everyone (unless you only imbibe with the $50-plus per bottle crowd) and it pairs with most seafood and poultry dishes.

2010 Domaine du Salvard Cheverny (3.5/5)

Currently run by the fifth generation of the Delaille family, Cheverny Blanc is made primarily from Sauvignon Blanc and unlike its famous cousins in Sancerre with bracing acidity or Pouilly Fume with richer qualities, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire mimic those found stateside with herbal, grassy qualities and pleasing acidity. This makes it perfect with raw seafood (think oysters on the half shell) as well as grilled poultry. And though it’s meant to be consumed young, giving it a couple of years of bottle aging only increases the complexity of flavors.

The Summertime Six-pack

So there you have it, the Gochiso Gourmet’s summertime six-pack. Of course, once the leaves begin to change you can still enjoy these wines. But there’s just something about a cooler filled with ice and several bottles of good AND affordable wines served with grilled seafood, poultry and meat and chilled salads. For those living stateside, fall and winter simply means refrigerator chilled wines and braised or roasted proteins instead of grilled. Of course in the 50th, we still grill all yearlong as even that winter “chill” of 75 degrees doesn’t deter us from cooking outdoors.

In any case, if you would like to see the Gochiso Gourmet’s “20 World-Class Wines You Should Know” in a future column, simply subscribe to the Nichi Bei Weekly in MASS! Get a subscription for every family member and friend. Purchase subscriptions for ALL of your Facebook friends too! Then the budget might allow for 20 or even more World-Class Wines You Should Know! Until then, I’m still writing on a six-pack budget. À votre santé!


The Gochiso Gourmet is a column on food, wine and healthy eating. Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the Univ. of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a clinical pharmacist during the day and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster at night. He writes from Kane‘ohe, HI and can be reached at




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