2003 Annie's Lane riesling [Clare valley, South Australia], $7.99
Probably the most delightful thing I've had in recent weeks. Picked this up at The Wine Club in Santa Clara, CA; shared a bottle with Chris, Dan, and Brian at the Bears Gone Wild camp in Guerneville, and had another bottle with Brian on Sunday night. Very light wine, verging on watery, but pleasantly so; beautiful typical Clare riesling smells, not overly alcoholic, goes down a treat. Fantastic value and an obvious reminder that Aussie riesling is among the best wine in the world.
2002 Te Mata Woodthorpe shiraz viognier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, $24.99
This came from the Jug Shop in San Francisco. I'd been curious what this was like for the longest time... Well, it was pretty damned good. I was enjoying it up until Brian mentioned that it was pretty oaky. Brian, as usual, was absolutely correct: once you paid attention to the [presumably French] wood overwhelming everything else, it was distinctly less interesting. I imagine it would be better if you could leave it alone for a long time... still, a lovely bottle of wine and still worth $25. Distinctly cool climate shiraz; only 1% viognier, so it tasted mostly like a smoky robe. I don't think I'd buy it again, though, at least not without trying less expensive options like Fairview Goat-Roti.
2003 Jacob's Creek reserve riesling [somewhere in Australia], $7.99
Wow, what a lot of acidity - really too bright to be enjoyable. Much better than your average $8 wine, but still, I wouldn't go there again. Just not as fun as the Annie's Lane.
2003 Bonny Doon Pacific Rim riesling [Washington/Mosel], $7.99
This was so totally different than the Annie's Lane... much bigger tits, I'd say. You know, just really huge all around. Not sweet, just stacked. Was it better? No... but every bit as good. I'd probably recommend this if you were drinking it with food as the Annie's Lane was so very very delicate compared to this bruiser.
2002 Terra Blanca malbec [Yakima valley, Washington], $14.99
Not entirely a success - although you could tell they'd used good quality fruit, there was a distinct sourness in the wine that made it a moderately unpleasant drink. Obviously too young - it stained like Welch's - it might be better after some age, but I don't know. This was more a novelty value type of thing than something I'd really want to drink; I'd never seen Washington malbec before, and now I fear I know why. Surely there's got to be more potential than this. Avoid unless you enjoy sour, sweetish, uninteresting wine; this really made me appreciate Cahors and Mendoza much more than ever before.
2002 Penfolds Bin 2 shiraz mataro [generic Australia], $9.99
Mmmmm good. It's hard to go wrong with this one; the mataro really gives it a strange, gamey edge you wouldn't otherwise find in Aussie shiraz. It makes the whole raspberry motor oil aspect something enjoyable, at least to my taste. I've had this stuff aged, and it works really well that way as well. Shame they don't sell this one in Australia.
NV Pacific Echo crémant [Anderson Valley, CA], $11.99
Dan found this one at Safeway in Guerneville. Score! A lovely not-quite-so-sparkling sparkling wine from a cooler climate area in California, this was delicious, slightly sweet, and a lovely choice for a summer's evening watching Showgirls with chrisglass. Mmmm, good. And it's cheaper than Cristal!
NV Segura Viudas cava [Catalunya], $5.99
A distinct letdown after the Pacific Echo, but ordinarily good. Note to self: Drink the cheap stuff before the good stuff, not the other way around.
2002 Coppola claret [Northern California], about $13.99
Thanks to arkanjil, our campsite enjoyed a bottle of this, apparently rescued from the last Bearhug in San Francisco. This really is surprisingly good, considering that Coppola as a winery seem to have a lot of crap in their lineup [their low end stuff is really the worst of the worst: Charles Shaw quality plonk stuffed in bottles people buy 'cuz of the famous name, yuck]. This is a good old-fashioned California claret: cabernet sauvignon blended with merlot at the very least, I'd guess. This is the second bottle I've had; the first aged five years, this one relatively young. Either way, it was about as good as you can get for relatively inexpensive California cabernet. Recommended, unless you're OK with Chilean stuff like Terra Rosa, which is probably even better.