Food & Drink

California's Joel Gott winery produces quality wines at moderate prices

There's a lot to like about California's Joel Gott Wines.

For starters: price. Every one of today's wines is priced at under $20, and each provides good, solid value for the money.

Second: variety. The Joel Gott label offers plenty of choices for both red and white wine drinkers, and covers the spectrum from light- to medium- to full-bodied wines.

Third: regional representation of varietals. Here's a winery that isn't afraid to venture outside of its home base in Napa Valley to select grapes from other regions, or even other states, for use in the finished product.

For example, California isn't exactly noted for its production of pinot gris, so Joel Gott sources grapes from Oregon's critically acclaimed Willamette Valley and Southern Oregon appellations. And for excellent riesling, the winery looks to the Yakima and Columbia Valley regions of Washington.

Here are my tasting notes on current releases of Joel Gott wines I've recently enjoyed:

2011 Sauvignon Blanc (about $14) - Bright and complex, the opening hit of white peach transitions into grapefruit, lime and gooseberry flavors before concluding with a touch of savory herb.

2011 Pinot Gris (about $14) - Big aromatics and flavors of pear and Granny Smith apple lead off, with a smack of tropical fruits and a crisp, clean finish with a hint of minerality.

2010 Riesling (about $14) - Gorgeous floral notes, ripe apple flavors and a whisper of residual sugar balanced with brisk acidity highlight this big, sexy riesling.

2011 Chardonnay (about $16) - Sourced from Napa, Sonoma and Monterey counties, this unoaked chardonnay still comes off as big and round with luscious flavors of pineapple, peach and honeydew melon and a borderline off-dry finish.

2010 Zinfandel (about $19) - This tasty, medium-bodied zin carries an understated yet true-to-the-varietal flavor profile. Brambly berry and cherry fruits are accentuated with a dusting of warm spice and white pepper.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (about $19) - There's a bit of an herbaceous quality upfront that quickly leads to notes of black licorice and coffee bean. The finish drifts into a pleasant layer of black plum and cola with gentle tannins.

2010 Alakai (about $19) - This grenache-based blend of four red varietals displays a mouthful of strawberry and red cherry flavors for starters with a softer, less edgy, finish than one might expect.

Look for Joel Gott Wines locally at Fred Meyer and Haggen stores.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at