“Secret” wines: I found one that called itself that, and another that copies it

Judy brought home a couple of wines that are a “first” for me.

I’ve worked with her on the peculiar skills of reading peculiar wine labels, and she’s really good at it. She knows how to find a wine at a ridiculously low price that promises to deliver surprisingly good quality. Here are two.

ROBINSON LAKE VINEYARDS GLAMAZON 2009 SAUVIGNON BLANC/SEMILLON, Lake County, California, as low as $3 at specialty outlet stores. This is a winner where the contest judges rate technical quality . . . and it just plain tastes good to folks who are proud to broadcast that they only know the difference between whites and reds.

The blend is pure Bordeaux. If it had been bottled in France, it would have been in the range of $20 or above. It’s a perfect wine for many, if not most, meals that do not feature heavy spice. Clean, bright, even sprightly, it shows why Lake County, California is beginning to benefit from a strong advance in climate change, making Lake County essentially similar to cooler areas of Bordeaux,France. For many knowledgeable wine lovers there’s nothing more blissful–especially with food–than a Bordeaux white.

I’ve broken a Fearless Taster rule, which is not to bother writing about a wine that few people can ever find; but this is a surprise. So I guess it’s a word to the wise: Read labels and give a bottle a try if the label identifies the source of the grapes and that source is appropriate (in climate for the varietal) and especially if the blend is identified (in this case, 63 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 37 percent Semillon).

CLEAVAGE CREEK 2007 TRACY HILLS “SECRET” RED WINE, $4 when Judy found it: “Raspberry, cherry and hints of vanilla cream and milk chocolate” made this sound appealing. Judy knows if the source of the grapes is identified and the winery has a web site, it’s a good gamble to go ahead and buy it. In this case, the website (www.cleavagecreek.com) doesn’t provide much information. But the wine is exactly as described on the label–very friendly either as aperitif or accompaniment to anything from seafood to pork and chicken, or even roast beef.

Again, this note is published as encouragement to go ahead and try wines that you don’t know but which tell you a good deal about potential quality on the label.