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Wine Review: American wines becoming too costly

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I am a bit annoyed with the American wine industry. I believe that they are attempting to price themselves out of existence and are currently working hard to do just that.

Wine has become a popular component of American dining, and, because of this, the price of wine has been on a constant upward price trip. As I have previously written, I do not know too many people who can afford to put a $30 bottle of wine on their dinner table every night. If some American companies can produce excellent wines at reasonable prices, others can and should follow. I fear that if China develops a wine industry, which they are presently attempting to do, the future of the American wine industry truly may be in jeopardy.

The cost to produce a $10 bottle of wine and a $100 bottle of wine is about the same. The bottle, stopper, labels, packaging and shipping also are all roughly the same. The determining factor is the price of the grapes which, for “better” wines, can be very high. Napa Valley grapes can sell for approximately $8,000 per ton, and one ton of grapes makes approximately 756 bottles of wine.

There are, however, wineries that produce sound wines while doing whatever possible to maintain high quality and a reasonable selling price. One that I have found is Josh Cellars, a producer of affordable wines proving, without any doubt, that price in no way indicates quality.

Josh Cellars 2021 North Coast Chardonnay ($19)
This wine is a refreshing example of a chardonnay that is both an enjoyable and affordable addition to your upcoming holiday dinner table, regardless of whether your main course is turkey or ham. There were no shortcuts taken in the production of this wine, and a portion of the product has been aged in oak barrels to assure the presentation of the traditional signature aroma of a better chardonnay: that hint of oak. The wine opens with the aromas of peach and lemon, which are joined by a hint of vanilla, the contribution of the portion that was oak aged that goes on to the finish. After being disappointed by many of the modern chardonnays, I considered this wine proof that better chardonnay wine could be made in this country and still be affordable.

Josh Cellars 2020 North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($22)
The throne of the king of red wines is in no way in jeopardy by this wine. Everything that one seeks in a fine cabernet sauvignon is to be found in this wine as the Josh Cellars vintners have produced a soft, easy-to-drink cabernet sauvignon that needs no time to age away any rough edges. This wine offers an up-front berry-like flavor that stresses fruit flavors over the usually austere and stiff character of the grape variety, and it offers a wonderful softness that reflects many of the flavors and aromas found only in aged Ccabernet sauvignons.

Josh Cellars 2020 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($22)
This product is another beautiful melody on the same theme and a chance to personally observe or learn what effect vineyard location has on the finished wine and still be able to pay the rent. The Paso Robles grape-growing district currently is recognized as the home of excellent cabernet sauvignon grapes as this wine will prove. While the basic attributes of a cabernet sauvignon wine are well known, it’s the little extras in this wine that make it different. The Josh Cellars version of the cabernet sauvignon presents a deep ruby color and the aromas of red summer fruits, soft oak and cedar with an earthy undertone. The flavor stresses cassis, cranberries and mocha and carries over to the finish, which is long, smooth and fruity. This incarnation of an often-criticized and usually overpriced variety proved to be more than an equal to its megabuck competitors.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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