Tag Archives: McManis

Wine of the week: McManis Petit Sirah 2017

mcmanis petit sirahThe McManis petit sirah: $10 California red wine that is well made and speaks to quality and value

California’s McManis family, despite the trials and tribulations of the post-modern wine business and the faint-heartedness of others, still cares more about quality than focus groups. The McManis petit sirah is just one of the family’s many wines that proves that point.

The McManis petit sirah ($10, purchased, 13.5%) is a reminder of the early days of the blog, when petit sirah was used to make quality cheap wine – a little plummy, a bit rich, not especially tannic, and just enough acidity for balance. Today, it’s mostly used to make sweet, “smooth,” flaccid red blends that cost $15 or $16, because someone somewhere thinks that’s what younger consumers want.

The McManis is the exact opposite of that, one of the best petit sirahs I’ve had in years, regardless of price. There is sweet dark plum fruit, but this is not a sweet wine. Plus, subtle acidity and the correct tannins. In this, it’s a reminder that California used to give us some of the world’s best cheap wine. Drink this with everything from takeout pizza to fancy meatloaf, and it wouldn’t be so bad on its own after a hard day at work, either. And you could do a whole lot worse using the McManis as a gift for the holiday that must not be named later this week.

Highly recommended, and a candidate to for the 2021’s  $10 Hall of Fame and Cheap Wine of the Year.

Wine of the week: McManis Viognier 2016

mcmanis viognierThe McManis viognier is $10 Hall of Fame quality – a reminder that California can produce great cheap wine

California viognier is infamous for being heavy, overoaked, and too alcoholic, lacking grace and subtlety. So how does the McManis viognier taste completely different – and for just $10?

Because the McManis family still cares about making great cheap wine. Others may have gone over to the dark side, but the McManis viognier ($10, purchased, 13.5%) remains a symbol of what California once was – quality wine at a fair price.

The 2016 viognier remains fresh and interesting, with ripe, juicy apricot fruit, an almost oily mouth feel, and a stone fruit pit finish. In this, it’s classic New World viognier, a little less overwhelming than its French cousins from the Rhone, but still heavy enough that it’s a food wine.

I drank it with a cornbread tamale pie made with chicken and tomatillo sauce, and I couldn’t have asked for a better pairing. It would also work with roast chicken (and add some dried apricots) or any post-modern salad with fresh stone fruit.

Highly recommended, and the year’s first candidate for the 2020 Cheap Wine of the Year. The 2017 is the current vintage, but there is plenty of 2016 on store shelves.

Wine of the week: McManis Merlot 2015

mcmanis merlotThe McManis merlot is a revelation: California red wine that doesn’t taste like grape juice on steroids

My pal Dave Falchek, a fine wine writer, has insisted for the past couple of years that the McManis wines are better than my beloved Bogle, perhaps the last great California cheap wine brand. This year, the blog’s readers agreed with Dave, and McManis won the cheap wine poll. The McManis merlot shows why.

The McManis merlot ($10, purchased, 13.5%) was a revelation. And I say this not just because I don’t enjoy merlot, but because it’s almost impossible to find California merlot at any price that tastes like it’s supposed to. Too many are jacked up with so much sweet fruit and fake oak (yes, even the pricier ones) that they make me sigh and reach for a glass of Spanish tempranillo.

The McManis, though, tastes like merlot – blueberry fruit, just the right heft for merlot (not as much as cabernet sauvingon, more than pinot noir), and a little of the silkiness that I expect to find in New World merlot. Plus, the finish isn’t bitter or too short, and even shows a little earth.

Highly recommended, and headed for the $10 Hall of Fame this week to join the McManis petite sirah. Perhaps more important: It goes into my red wine rotation, the wines I buy regularly. It’s perfect for a Tuesday night takeout dinner, and can even hold its own if I feel like cooking.

Welcome to the club, McManis.