Napa and Sonoma red wines for under $20? You won’t find very many. However, the other day by chance we ran into a vintner who sells red wine from those areas and for less than $20 per bottle.
We had decided to check out Mile Wine Company, a new wine bar that just opened in Stockton. Paul Marsh was the sommelier at The Firehouse Restaurant in Sacramento but lives in Stockton. He got tired of commuting every day and decided to open a wine bar.
He wanted a place with a good selection of wines and good but simple-to-make food. I think he has succeeded. The menu features flat bread, panini, salads and other light dishes. There is a large selection of wines by the glass, all at reasonable prices. If you want a bottle, there is a retail wine shop on premises, buy your bottle at retail and pay a $5 corkage fee. That is a lot better than the three times markup most restaurants do.
Anyway, back to the wine. After we ate we went to peruse the wine shop and ran into Paul, the restaurant owner. I introduced myself and gave him our card for PullThatCork. He asked if I want to meet a small producer that was there with some of his wines for the store. Well, we never pass up the chance to talk to people in the wine industry so of course I said yes.
We ended up having a great conversation with Rod Moniz, a negociant who buys finished wine from producers in Napa, Sonoma and other grape producing areas. He then blends and bottles these wines under his label. We chatted with him for quite a while and he told us about his business and what he wanted to do. He buys wines from established wineries, mostly in the Napa/Sonoma area but also Mendocino County and Santa Barbara occasionally. Then he blends these wines to his own taste and bottles them for sale in restaurants and on his website.
Rod is quite passionate about his wines and we were interested in trying them since Paul felt they were good enough for his restaurant. Rod’s goal is to make boutique wines at affordable prices. Rod was kind enough to give us two bottles to take home as tasting samples. There were two different labels represented, Moniz Family Wines and Park Avenue.
We invited our friend Dave over to sample these two wines. We paired them with Santa Maria style grilled Tri-tip. We weren’t sure if the wines would hold up against the Tri-tip but were willing to find out. They did pretty well in the end.
2010 Moniz Family Wines Cuvée Olivia – named after their youngest daughter, is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Malbec, 14% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot and 7% Merlot. The wine had light red fruit, tart cherries and raspberries on the nose. The flavors were sweet cherries, berries and a pop of cedar. The tannins were smooth and well integrated with good acidity. The finish was on the short side but overall very nice for a $16.99 wine (13.9% abv).
2009 Park Avenue Cabernet Sauvignon – the name comes from a play on the old TV show Green Acres – “Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue”. If you don’t get it, don’t worry about it, you just aren’t watching the old TV shows from the 60s.
The wine is a blend of grapes from Mendocino County (55%) and Napa Valley (45%) aged in French and American oak for 24 months. The nose was dark fruit (plums) and earth with vanilla. As expected, flavors show more vanilla along with lots of dark fruit. The tannins were smooth in this light-bodied wine. Good acidity and a long flavorful finish. We were very happy with the wine considering it also was quite affordable (14.5% abv). This wine retails for $19.99.
Rod does a nice job blending these wines and wants to keep the prices low. He has succeeded in bottling food-friendly wines that you can afford to drink any night of the week.