Unless you're a serious student of the business end of the wine business, you've probably never heard of Fred Franzia. You probably haven't heard of Bronco Wine Co. either, even though it's the fourth largest wine company in the country, producing some 20 million cases of wine annually and counting more than 50 individual wineries in its stable.
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You may, however, have heard of "Two-Buck Chuck," a line of $2 a bottle wines under the Charles Shaw label that's as popular with consumers as the wines, Bronco and Franzia himself are unpopular with cork dorks. Franzia, whose personality is generously described as "gruff" and who's famous (or infamous) for saying any wine costing more than $10 a bottle is a rip-off, is happy to accept both judgments. Basically, he doesn't give a shit.
Though many of Franzia's wines are better suited for mouthwash or paint removal than pouring in polite company, when he nails a wine, it's goddam well nailed and a terrific value. Which is as good a way as any to describe his latest effort, the 2009 Cottonwood Creek White Table Wine.
Made with organic grapes--an unusual blend of Sultanina, French Colombard and Muscat--it displays lovely ripe peach, pear and tropical fruit, yet with a firm citrusy backbone that keeps all those rich flavors in check and lingers on the palate to a clean, refreshing finish. That balance of fruit and acidity makes it an excellent food wine--capable of playing nice with everything from chicken and veal to tuna and salmon. And its $6.99 price tag is easy on the pocketbook too.
You don't have to like Fred, and a lot of people don't. But it's damn hard to argue with a glass of Cottonwood Creek White Table Wine.