Who wouldn’t want to drink single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon everyday, or perhaps first growth Burgundy, or even small production Petite Sirah? I for one can raise my hand affirmatively. Most likely I’d go for the Petite Sirah, a weak spot if ever I had one. However most days many folks are looking for something that is both tasty and affordable. With a little bit of research and luck it could, and quite frankly should, be interesting too. That doesn’t sound like a lot to ask, but how does one discern one bottle from another when there are aisles and aisles of wine out there? There are two ways I go in these circumstances; one is the esoteric route, the other is the tried and true. Left to my own devices, I most often lean towards the slightly arcane or obscure, that’s just my nature. I’ll take a chance on something in the value price range and if it doesn’t pan out at least it was an adventure. If others are involved I tend to rein myself in a little bit. I look for something I’m familiar with that I feel has mass appeal. Today I’ll look at two such releases from Big House. The Big House wines used to reside under Randall Graham’s Bonny Doon label. A number of years ago they were sold off and now Big House is its own label with a portfolio unto itself.
The 2009 Big House White was produced from fruit sourced at different vineyard sites throughout California. This wine is a blend of Malvasia Bianca (56%), Muscat Canelli (22%), Viognier (18%) and Rousanne (4%). This wine underwent temperature controlled fermentation prior to bottling. This offering has a suggested retail price of $9.99.
Lychee fruit, papaya and orange blossom aromas are all present in the nose of this wine. Lemon zest, pineapple, mango and a solid core of spice characteristics are all on display throughout the palate. A bit of vanilla bean emerges on the finish of this wine which also has a hint of honey in an overall crisp and zingy close. This wine will be an excellent match for Asian or Indian cuisine. It has lots of crowd pleasing potential and will also work well as a welcome wine.
The 2009 Big House Red was also produced from fruit sourced throughout California. This offering is a blend of Petite Sirah (27%), Syrah (14.5%), Montepulciano (8.6%), Barbera (8.2%), Nero d’Avola (6.4%), Tempranillo (6.1%) and a host of others in smaller and smaller quantities. This wine underwent temperature controlled fermentation. Some lots underwent malolactic fermentation and barrel aging in primarily neutral oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $9.99.
Plum aromas abound in the nose of Big House Red. Throughout the palate dark fruit flavors in general are prominent. Raspberry, sour black cherry and blackberry join continued plum characteristics. The finish is spicy with black and white pepper leading the charge. A good amount of earth emerges as well and adds to the old world charm on display. This wine is tasty on it’s own but is a great match for casual foods; burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and the like are all appropriate pairing partners.
These wines from Big House have been solid values for many years. What separates them from a lot of wines in the same price category is that they’re far more interesting. Part of that is the diversity of the blends, the rest is the winemaking. These offerings are made to be food friendly and have wide appeal, but they aren’t dumbed down like so many in this price range. They're are solid everyday vales the average wine drinker will enjoy.