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Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck

   Oops, I did it again. 

Well, sort of. Several days back I was so jazzed about finding a California Cabernet Sauvignon that didn't bite my grapes I went out and found another one.

And this one's even better.  It carries one of the most storied names in California winemaking, Chalone, a 44-year-old winery perched in the mountains overlooking the Salinas Valley that's best-known for its exquisite, long-aging (and pricy) Burgundian-style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

But not all of Chalone's wines require you to sell your left grape to afford them; its Monterey County line is remarkably well-priced, and for $10 its 2006 Cabernet is both an exceptional wine and an exceptional value. True to the winery's Burgundian leanings, it's not the reviled California fruit bomb but a wine of balance and structure and subtlety, tasting of tangy blackberries and cherries, with little nips of cloves and black pepper. 

Honestly, give it a taste and you'll do it again too.

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Bill Citara

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