Anyone else out there really enjoy big, bold, luscious, reds – a Lewis Cabernet, or a Howell Mountain Merlot? You all know who you are and I have been in that camp on and off since I took my first drink of a 1994 Gary Farrel Zinfandel. It was quite an amazing moment to realize how powerful really good wines could be – it was my first experience and one I will likely not forget. Shortly after I was fortunate enough to indulge in the 1994 Turley Hayne Vineyard Zin which will likely never be replicated – it was simply amazing (and still is, I have about a case left!).

What’s my point here you ask? Well – I have recently been in a Burgundy, Barbera, Barolo, Tempranillo phase and had all but forgotten the Bid Red Ones; until New Years Eve that is. If you have never tried this wine, it’s time to go out and find a bottle cause it is an appropriate reintroduction into the World of the Big Boys…

Find it – Drink it– 1999 Joseph Phelps Backus rated 97 by Robert Parker
It was full of forward black fruits, like dark cherry, cassis, prune, maybe even a hint of mocha and had a wonderful balanced tannin with a very smooth finish…

For those non-spanish speakers (like me) – that means “Amazing CHEAP Spanish Wines”. Lately I have become privy to some of the most fantastic low-cost spanish wines from all the wonderful espana regions. The best thing about drinking a very nice wine is when it’s under $20 and less if possible. My favorite thus far is Pazo de Senorans Albarino – wow. What an amazingly fresh, summer glass with a peach, citrus and earthy nose that gives way to a well balanced finish. This wine goes very nicely with Fish… Here are a few of the other “cheapies” Heather and I are drinking these days:

Hecula Yecla (Red $9.99)

Senorio de Barahonda Monastrell Tinto (Red, $10.99)

Castell del Remei Gotim Bru (Red, $9.99)

Viña Sila “Las Brisas,” Rueda (white, $11.99)

Pasil, Rueda, Blanco (White, $11.99)

Many a night I saw the Pleiades, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.

– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1837-8, Locksley Hall

It’s no wonder this guy Sean Thackrey – a strange winemaker in a very strange and over complicated world of highly paid, snobbish oenophiles (read Helen Turley who I once loved in the early days of the Turley Big Zin), is simply too cool for words…he is an eccentric, yet eloquent winemaker who chooses constellation names for his wines. I guess cause they were so far “out there” when he started. Many believe he kicked of f the era of HUGE california wines and it shows.

His goods are big, forward wines and in specific, the Pleiades, his “disobedient” wine is the one to watch as it will blow you away for the price. I think for the money it squashes the more pricey Orion and other labels he produces. They are all solid offerings but at $18 vs. $80 a bottle, the Seven Sisters and Messier 45 is the absolute choice. Bold, fun (this thing has at least 5 varietals), interesting and downright CHEAP, this fine wine is worth twice the price. To give an idea – I found it at Bacar in SF for $34 bucks – what a steal! I love you Sean Thackrey – please keep up the good work!