The other day for lunch I headed to a busy little bistro in my neighborhood, but with my busy schedule and looming deadlines I decided to go to McDonalds for the first time in months. Looking across the street at Starbucks, I realized that I don’t frequent places like this often.
Actually, with the great options that we have in our area, I usually prefer to eat and get my coffee at local establishments. Being in an artistic business myself, I guess I have an affinity towards buying from other artisans. What chain food burger could compare to sitting down to a perfectly made sandwich at Farmer’s Kitchen in Hermiston? What single-tall latte from a coffee chain could ever compare to a handcrafted crema from Great Pacific in Pendleton? Of course, the answer is none.
However, even though I do tend to be a bit of a “foodie”, (a term I hate), I still have complete appreciation for the chain establishments as well. When you consider it, the one thing you are pretty much guaranteed is that a double tall caramel macchiato from the Starbucks in Pendleton tastes exactly like the one on Waikiki Beach. I know this because I’ve tried it. You can’t just go into any coffee shop in Indianapolis and expect the same thing you get at Great Pacific.
What I’m talking about here is the power of replication. Whereas you might be into artisan things, you can’t always find exactly what you want just anywhere. I have been all over, and when it comes to wine selection I have been horribly disappointed by the local options at times.
That is when you can fall back on the big wineries to perform. They are widely distributed everywhere wine is sold. Honestly, they aren’t ever going to Score 100 points from Robert Parker, but you can rely on them to always taste reasonably good in any setting.
Sterling Vintners Label - Located in Calistoga in the Napa Valley, Sterling Vineyards offers a full compliment of vintages from Riesling to Syrah in it’s Vintner’s label. Priced between the 10 to 15 dollar range, the wines are quite drinkable. Probably my favorite Sterling vintage to grab is their Chardonnay. Gently oaked, with a nice balance of fruit and butter on the palate and nose.
Columbia Crest Twin Vines Label – Of course, our own local option right here in our own back yard. The Twin Vines label is Columbia Crest’s least expensive, however it is ever consistently drinkable. My favorite Twin Vines grabs are their Sauvignon Blanc, and their Merlot-Cabernet blend. The Mer-Cab is very jammy and filled with warm fruit and baking spices. Surprisingly good year after year, and for under 10 dollars per bottle it is a must have for serving to large groups.
Clos Du Bois – A few months ago I did a complete write up on this winery, but I think it definitely deserves mention here. Their Merlot is spot on every time regardless of vintage year.
Gallo Sonoma Label - Last, I must mention a winery that turns up a lot of people’s noses, but they consistently produce delicious wine year after year. My favorite label of this brand is their Cabernet Sauvignon. A rich nose and flavors of dark plums, leather, and pepper. You can pair this with a steak or burger in any pinch. At under $15 per bottle it is guaranteed good.