Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines 2011: We wanted a perfectly passable red plonk and we found it. This mildly fruity and black peppery Zinfandel ran $9 at Safeway. It paired just fine with pasta and out-of-the-jar red sauce. (Rating ***1/4)
Catena Malbec 2010: This inky red wine from Argentina ran $13 at Costco and was worth every penny. It’s viscous and thick with fruit flavor. Delicious alone or with red meat. (Rating ****)
Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc 2011: Santa Rita has been around for years, but this slickly packaged new label caught our eyes, as did the $7 price tag at Whole Foods. It is crisp with a slightly peachy flavor. Good white plonk for the price. (Rating ***1/2)
Chateu Petit-Freylon Bordeaux Superioire Cuvee Sarah 2010: This Cabernet Sauvignon (75%)-Merlot (25%) blend is decent wine. It shows hints of that Bordeaux profile—blueberry, cedar, and less-than-booming fruit. The body was a bit thin, but what could one expect for $11 a bottle. (Rating ***1/2)
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