Getting more than you paid for | June 12, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - June 12, 2009

Getting more than you paid for

by Don Colman, the Everyday Wine Guy

Concannon Vineyard 2006 Petite Sirah

Ever wonder why some wines are really expensive and others are cheap? What could make this happen? There are a variety of factors that wineries use to determine the price of wine. By no means is this article able to look at the entire economics of the wine industry, but it will look at one winery that produces extremely high quality wines at a reasonable price.

Concannon Vineyard is a little, big winery in the Livermore Valley. It produces a complete range of wines, from light whites to heavy reds and everything in between, all for a reasonable price. They are able to do this for two main reasons:

Firstly, this is a family owned vineyard and has been since 1883. This is important because if you purchased a winery in the early 2000s, you most likely paid top dollar for the land. As residents of California know, top dollar for land simply means that you have a mortgage/debt. All of the servicing of this debt equals top dollar for the wine, irrespective of the quality of the grapes. Vineyards that have been in the same family for decades (or in this case more than a century) have little debt and nice old vines producing flavorful grapes.

Secondly, it is located in Livermore Valley. There is an aura associated with being in Napa, France, Italy, etc., which Livermore does not have - keeping the cost of the wine down. This is purely a perception issue; however, it leads to less demand. Less demand equals more reasonably priced wine. In addition, in the current economic environment we are seeing the price of imported wine rise quickly. This is caused by a dropping U.S. dollar. U.S.-based wineries are essentially insulated from falling or rising currencies, allowing for price stability.

As to the quality of their wine, I tasted the 2006 Petite Sirah, Limited Reserve (about $15). I was looking for a wine that could stand up to red meat yet not be overpowering if I decided to have chicken instead. Typically a Petite Sirah would not fit this bill, but in this case it was perfect. It is a medium to deep colored, ruby red wine that is flawlessly clear.

When looking at a wine, there are three main areas that I study: aroma, taste and balance. The smell of this wine is a refreshing change from many of the berry-scented wines that dominate the California market. I found this one to be loaded with cherries and red peppers (hint: cook something with peppers in your meal, it will expand the flavor of the wine). At 2006, it is still a young wine and should age well for the next five years, but it is certainly ready to drink now.

As for taste, it is a somewhat dry yet crisp wine, which is very flavorful. It is loaded with vanilla and oak flavors, and the tannins are just enough to give it a medium bodied feel. It would pair very well with darker white meat (pork, dark turkey meat, etc.) or light red meat. Perhaps try it with a turkey burger smothered in chili.

Finally, I love to find a wine that is balanced - something that impresses you as much with the scent, the taste and the finish. Concannon has done a marvelous job here as its wine is consistent all the way from start to finish. This certainly qualifies as a bottle of wine that could be served as the first bottle, but is cheap enough you could serve it as the last one, too. A perfect everyday wine. Until next time, Cheers!

Don Colman, the Everyday Wine Guy, lives in Danville and can be reached at


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