Russ Winton: Wine List

Wine Line: A wine winner in a box

Russ Winton

The 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition selected Corbett Canyon merlot as the Best of Class winner in the less than $14.99 price category. This non-vintage merlot sells for $10 and comes in a three liter box, which is the equivalent of four bottles. So, if my math is correct, that works out to just $2.50 per bottle.

Two-buck-Chuck had better look out! This award validates the results of the competition. All wines are tasted blind. (Otherwise, would a box wine win?) Each wine has three of four price levels, which I think is a fair way to compare wines. The double gold medal went to the 2006 Fish Eye Central Coast merlot ($5.99) and gold medals were awarded to Barefoot Cellars, Bogle, Fat Cat, Napa Ridge, Red Truck and another box wine, Bota-Box.

The Chronicle competition is the largest U.S. wine event, featuring wines from 26 states, with 1,212 wine brands and this year, 4,736 wines. If you would like to get a list of the results go to

A bag in a box

Wine boxes have been around for years and the overall quality has greatly improved. If stored correctly, a box wine will last up to four weeks because the double lined plastic bag is vacuum sealed. If you taste a box wine you like, it could easily become your daily/cooking wine or maybe the perfect wine for your mother-in-law. Some consistent quality box wines I've tasted recently are the shiraz from both Bota-Box and Hardys and the Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon from the Black Box brand.

Calaveras Wine Grape Alliance

Several Wine Line readers attended the President's Wine Weekend in Calaveras County and had a great time. All the tasting rooms were open with special appetizers, barrel tastings and great hospitality, for just $10. I recently attended the second annual Calaveras Winegrape and Gourmet event. Food from over a dozen restaurants was paired with wines from 28 wineries. Seminars dealing with wine aromas, cheese and wine pairings and appropriate glassware were offered. Delicious desserts, coffee and beautiful weather made it a perfect day in Angels Camp. The next event for the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance will be a Passport Weekend on June 26-28. Put it on your calendar. These wine events are top notch. To find out more, go to

What's On Our Table

2006 337 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon

A few readers commented on not being able to find the 2005 Avalon Napa cabernet. The 2006 is available now, however this violates my pledge to have What's On Our Table wines readily available, I apologize. The 2006 337 derives its name from the Bordeaux root stock 337, which is grown at Clay Station Vineyards in Lodi. It is blended with 7 percent malbec and 6 percent petite syrah. This wine is well balanced with aromas of chocolate and dark fruit flavors of blackberry and boysenberry. It has soft tannins making it very food friendly. It lists for $15 but Raley's and Save Mart have it for less. I found it at Cost-Plus World Market for $9.99. Cheers!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? You can reach me at