The good: Calif., Sonoma Valley, Wellington “The Duchess” 2011, a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Chardonnay. 13.6% alcohol, $9.95 at the winery.
A very pleasant blend, and one heck of a QPR. I enjoyed it over three meals, and then used some dregs for cooking. If you like Marsanne/Roussane, you'll like it, but I know that not all people are enlightened to the more interesting Rhone whites.
I only bought one bottle, enamored at the tasting room. It was much better in the more relaxed setting at home, and I regret that my overcrowded cellar was weighing on my thoughts.
Next time I go back, I'll see what they have.
The badly ugly and just plain bad: Calif., Russian River Valley, De Loach "O. F. S." Pinot Noir 2006. 14.5% alcohol, $38.00 at the winery.
This was early in the resurrection of the De Loach name and tasting room after Cecil went belly-up. I didn't much like the wines when I went there in August 2008 to see what was going on, but somehow I ended up buying two bottles.
The first bottle, just before Christmas 2009, I noted: Surprisingly weak flavor. Nice clear ruby color, but washed out by a veal chop! Better but not overwhelming after the meal. Overall, disappointing.
Having made that note, the other bottle lingered on my "ignore" list, but finally, last night, I opened it. Again with a veal chop, this time covered with fresh chanterelles in a Madeira cream sauce. The veal and sauce and everything else were fine. This bottle caused the meal to descend from very, very enjoyable to just Ok. Nice dark strawberry/light cherry color, reasonable aroma, but sweet soup in the mouth. Horrible stuff. I tasted it again this afternoon and poured the rest out. I haven't found a bottle that bad in years.