Economists may be closing in on a consensus that the recession is over, but wine drinkers are not so quick to agree. Consumers are still looking for bargains, first and foremost. This continues to be especially true when it comes to wine. Back in the heady days of the mid-2000s, it was almost impossible to walk down a liquor store's aisle without tripping over the latest cult Cabernet priced at $150 or a new single-vineyard Pinot Noir for $50. Nowadays, wine drinkers demand value for their money in a way they haven't always demanded it from California.
On a recent trip to Sonoma, a shining example of a wine that presents good value and delivers exceptional quality stood out: the Inman Family Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2007. It has a bright, juicy fruit to it that leaps out of the glass, giving classic Russian River expression of black cherry and spice. It has restrained alcohol (13.7%), excellent balance, and a terrific sense of class. At $30, it's worth seeking out for drinking with summer dinners. It's acidic structure makes it a great pairing for food, and the screw cap closure makes it perfect for picnics.
Full Disclosure: Kathleen Inman, the winemaker, and her family are friends, and this is a winery I've long supported. For full tasting notes on wines from Inman Family from numerous tasters, see here.