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Two Golds For 'Two-Buck'

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Two Golds For 'Two-Buck'
Charles Shaw's $1.99 chardonnay wins top prize at Cal Expo competition
By BLEYS W. ROSE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

"Two-Buck Chuck" is used to beating competitors in price, but now it appears it has beaten rivals in taste, winning bragging rights to best California chardonnay at the state fair's commercial wine competition.

Read it at:
http://www1.pressdemocrat.com/article...

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  1. Not surprising, given the circumstances . . .

    1. These lines from the OP's link should be somehow part of the history of the decline and fall of civilization, or somewhere along those lines:

      Cook and a friend, Randall Jahn of Santa Rosa, said they have held brown-bag tastings at dinner parties and Charles Shaw chardonnay does well against wines priced at $50-$100 a bottle.

      "It's a mental thing," Jahn said.

      3 Replies
      1. re: RicRios

        What are the odds there wasn't a single Montrachet, Corton-Charlemagne, grand cru Chablis, St-Aubin or even Brun Beaujolais blanc in those brown bag tastings? I don't have trouble imagining Charles Shaw chardonnay showing well against Cal chards costing ten times as much. However, that doesn't necessarily mean Charles Shaw chardonnay is so great; it might also mean that a lot of higher-end Cal chard is pretty lame.

        1. re: carswell

          word to that. (keeping it short today--no coffee yet.)

          1. re: carswell

            Agreed, carswell -- besides, given the methodology of the tasting, the results are clearly possible, and not all that surprising . . . for several reasons.

        2. Are the Crane Lake wines just 2 Buck Chuck with a different label?

          1 Reply
          1. re: WyCo

            I do not believe so.

          2. The Laube blog on winespectator.com is a very interesting read on this subject.

            1. "The wine used for judging was selected by the Bronco Wine Co. and submitted to the competition."

              1. 2 buck chuck... awards or no awards... is crap.

                40 Replies
                1. re: WineTravel

                  Disagree on the "crap" part as an absolute. Chuck is uneven due to variances in what's being used to create it - some bottles are pretty darned good. Some are pedestrian. I don't recall having one that was less than a low-priced, but drinkable, Vin de Pays.

                  As far as winning, it may well be that the bottles used in the competition were "ringers". Still, I'd buy their chard over a buttload of other Californians costing 5x-10x as much. Unlike its jug predecessors, even a "bad" bottle is still drinkable.

                  1. re: Panini Guy

                    No doubt in my mind (and many others) that the wines entered into the competition were "hand selected". After all the hoopla about the gold medal, blind tastings were held by others who wanted to see if the wine bought off-the-shelf showed the same result... it didn't. My experience with 2 buck (3 bucks on the east coast) was about 4 years ago when I bought a bottle of each varietal. I tasted the wines and they were so bad I couldn't drink them... just poured them down the drain. I'd say 2 were drinkable but not very good. I like to enjoy the wines I drink so there was no point in even drinking those 2. The others were rediculously bad. When Im at Trader Joe's I marvel at the site of those picking these things up by the caseload. It's a marketing stroke of genious. It also tells me that people don't know much about wine. I don't think its good for the industry. Not because poeple are not buying other wines... its because its important that people enjoy wine and understand how good it can be. Wine education in the US is sorely lacking. The gold medal will only promote these wines as something its not and will not help in educating the public as to what good wine really is.

                    1. re: WineTravel

                      If you look long enough (and dig dep enough), you can find an award for almost any wine or spirit. Think about how many vodka brands claim to be the smoothest according to some "expert" panel (Grey Goose, Absolut, Van Gogh, Popov......). Just because a few "judges" sit around the 4-H tent and decide that 2BC is the best chard (after eating a few corn dogs, fried doughs, etc.), it certainly isn't going to make me check the couch for some loose change to buy a bottle (or two).

                      1. re: TonyO

                        I don’t think the scenario you put forth is how wines are judged at the California State Fair. Zin1953 has been one of the judges in various years and reports that they are tested to qualify as a judge. In the thread linked below, he sets forth the test to be a judge in the CSF in the second post from the bottom.
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397749

                        I also had to dump the 2 Buck Chuck I tried down the drain as I could not stand the stuff. That is a real insult considering the swill I have choked down.

                        1. re: BN1

                          Exactly... undrinkable. I think the competition/judging was fair... its just that I think there is a lot of "bottle variation". Let's face it, how can a $2 bottle of wine be any good. Answer: It can't. Anyone I know thats tried it who has any clue about wine thinks its terrible.

                          I realize they sell a lot of it. That doesn't surprise me, but it is what it is.

                          1. re: WineTravel

                            I'm curious as to the flat "It can't" -- why?

                            I assume that most lower priced wine is made in larger volumes, would that alone make a wine not good?

                            I would surmise that any wine made is large volumes might be more subject to variations, as fruit quality would be less well supervised. Might it also be possible that "bell curve" that would result from producing a large volume wine might also be dominated by the fruits that are mostly second rate?

                            1. re: renov8r

                              A simple answer is that quality "anything" costs money. You have the cost of the grapes... the better the quality of the grapes the more it costs to procure them (estate wines grow their own), the cost of talented labor (the best winemakers command high salaries), the cost of making the wine (techniques, handling methods)... also the better wines age longer (that costs money too). You just can't buy a good bottle of wine for $2 cause it costs more than that to PRODUCE a good bottle of wine. It's sort of like buying a new car for $5,000. Think its gonna be safe, comfortable, etc. etc. No dourbt that the $2 wine came in dead last when ABC did the test... it's not good. I don't know what was in the bottles submitted to the fair, but don't think it was the same stuff (that's what I meant by my "bottle variation" comment above). Now that said, it's not a surprise the $100 bottle didn't win. Lots of factors can explain that. More info is needed for a better answer there (could be that it just isn't a great wine, could be a great wine but its just too young in its development to show well, could be a bad bottle, could have been open too long, etc). In general, most $100 bottles of wine are good wines. That said, it might not be worth $100. The price of a wine doesn't indicate what the quality is. That is unless its so rediculous that it's impossible for it to be good.... like say, if it costs $2.

                              1. re: WineTravel

                                I wonder what the avg price of a bottle of wine (at retail) is.

                                Here is a data about cars -- http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2...

                                I wonder where the "it could be good" price range starts?
                                Do you think that the price could fall over time? I can a six pack of really wonderful beer for about $7 -- that's 72oz or under 10 cents an ounce. ?
                                ( sure I suppose there is some beer that is about $10 for 30 cans -- under 3 cents and ounce!
                                )If I spend say $20 for 750ml of wine that is almost 10x more.
                                I wonder if wine is more like 5x more expensive to make, or truly 10x more?

                                1. re: renov8r

                                  In Southern California industry people have told me that the average retail price paid for a 750ml bottle of wine is around $6.50 to $7. That obviously includes a lot of 2BC and a lot of lower end jug, box and heavily discounted wine purchased at super markets and big box discounters. At independent wine specialty shops the average is over slightly $20 (depending on where they focus their inventories).

                                  WIne grapes can sell for just a few hundred dollar s a ton or more than $1000 a ton, depending on what they are and where they come from. I've been told, though, that it's hard to put more than a maximum of around $40 in total cost into a bottle of wine [which would then retail for around $70-$80 (??); that's $3.20 an ounce.] I'm not sure how accurate all that is, but I think it sounds plausible. so my answer is "Yes" wine can cost more than ten times as much as beer to make.

                                  1. re: Midlife

                                    Midlife,

                                    Your prices are WAAAAAYYYYYYY off. According to CASS (http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_b...), the prices paid for a ton of wine grapes in 2006 varied from a low of (for example) $100.00 per ton for 21.8 tons of Chardonnay grown in the Central Valley to a high of $10,288.07 for 4.9 tons of Napa Valley Pinot Noir.

                                    The AVERAGE price paid per ton for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 2006 was $2,267.24; for Napa Valley Pinot Noir, it was $2,495.36 per ton.

                                    Jason

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      Thanks for the correction. So what is the maximum raw cost that can be in a single bottle?

                                      Anyway, it definitely supports the answer that wine can cost more than ten times the cost of beer (as the poster was asking).

                                      1. re: Midlife

                                        A ton of wine makes about 750 bottles, so if grapes cost $10K and change a ton, that's about $13.50 a bottle.

                                        In bulk, a new 59-gallon French oak wine barrel costs around $800, that's around $2.75 per bottle (though used barrels still have value).

                                        Fancy bottles can cost as much as $4.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          Interesting... thanks for the info. So, imagine what goes into a wine that SELLS for $2....

                                          1. re: WineTravel

                                            In the wine market, price and quality don't have a very strong correlation.

                                            Charles Shaw (except perhaps for the scary nouveau Valdiguie) wines taste better than most wines that sell for $6.

                                            Bronco probably makes more money on them, too. They have negligible marketing costs, no salespeople, no middleman, and one customer buys all they can make as fast as it comes out of their bottling plant, so their distribution and compliance costs are minimal.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              No question his costs are low (good explanation)... and certainly agree some may be better than some wines that cost $6, but based on the ones I tried (and realize they change), there's absolutely no reason for me to try them again. Granted, I drink higher quality wines as a matter of course... but from time to time I do buy some inexpensive wines in the $6-10 range... but like anything some are good and others terrible. I buy Mezzacarona pinot grigio for $6 that is very good, esp for the coin... which are fine for a hot summer day. 2BC is what it is... don't see it winning any gold medals for anything except maybe in the "best marketing" category.

                                              1. re: WineTravel

                                                Marketing has zilch to do with the success of Charles Shaw wines. Bronco and Trader Joe's combine vertical integration with economies of scale to offer an exceptional value to California consumers who typically spend $6 or less.

                                                I don't care for the wines, but that's mostly a matter of personal taste. At no additional expense, they could probably make a higher-acid sauvignon blanc that I'd like, but that wouldn't appeal to the average California consumer.

                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I would urge you to read the letter David Caffaro wrote to Wine Business Monthly re: how much wine costs to produce. You can find it here: http://www.coffaro.com/forumposts/ID2...

                                            One note of caution: this was written in 1999. Costs for barrels, bottles, corks, capsules, labels, and labor have only -- like everything else -- increased.

                                            Jason

                        2. re: WineTravel

                          In 2005, more than 700 million gallons of wine were consumed in the US. Sounds like a lot, until you look at the per capita figures and realize that the per capita figure in 2.37 gallons, or 12 bottles (approximately).

                          The U.S. is *not* a wine-drinking nation overall, and much of the U.S. doesn't drink wine at all. Beer consumption os nearly 10 times that of wine -- 21.6 gallons per capita in 2004. So it's no surprise that "people don't know much about wine."

                          I agree with most of what you've said here, and above -- particularly re: "bottle variation."

                          That said, I disagree with "crap." Most of the people who drink wines like 2BC (only one of a number of examples one could use) do so because they like it -- why else would they buy the SECOND bottle, let along the second, third, fourth, tenth case! Thus, these wines are NOT crap . . . from the subjective point-of-view of their own personal palates.

                          Most of the people who think 2BC is crap do so because it is "crap" to them, to their palates -- and they, too, are right . . . from the subjective point-of-view of their own personal palates.

                          But from a technical, objective point-of-view, they are sound, well-made, not flawed wines. Whether one likes the way they taste is strictly a subjective matter, and generally falls into how much wine, how much experience, one has in terms of drinking wine,

                          Jason

                          1. re: zin1953

                            2BC, like many of those mass produced wines is just a bottling of the huge amount of wine that is available on the bulk market. You never know where it came from, but to be honest, the advances in winemaking techniques over the last 20 years means that even bulk wine is drinkable. Likeable, not necessarily to those of us who really like and are "into" wine, but drinkable. Since 2BC is purchased in bulk, sometimes it may be better than other times. Do I like it, not a chance, have I tried it, sure, my wife's cousin buys only 2BC and thinks it is wonderful (though I notice that she never passes up a chance to drink what I bring to family get togethers) because it is cheap. For some people any wine is the same and the price is the only factor they care about, for others, price is not the factor. For people like me, since I only get to drink two bottles a week (stupid doctor's orders) price is a factor only in that I won't spend exhorbant amounts of money on a bottle of wine (to me, over $75 from the winery is getting past what I'm usually willing to spend) and I do like finding a great bottle of wine for a good price. Most of what I consider a good value is found in the $20-30 range although I have found some very good buys in the $15 range on occasion. But then, I don't spend money on fast cars or expensive clothes, so it evens out.

                            1. re: dinwiddie

                              I don't believe Charles Shaw is bulk wine. Fred Franzia owns an estimated 40,000 acres of vines plus crushing and bottling plants, and is building a bottle factory.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                It's mostly bulk wine.

                                1. re: zin1953

                                  According to Wine Business Monthly, in 2006 Bronco produced roughly 22 million cases of wine, much of which it sells in bulk to other companies.

                                  http://www.winebusiness.com/Html/Mont...

                                  http://www.winebusiness.com/Winemakin...

                                  http://www.winebusiness.com/specialSe...

                            2. re: zin1953

                              Well said and it's a good explaination of how this wine is made. I understand that there is a market for these wines and have no problem with 2BC as a wine offering. I may take exception withthe statement that they are "sound" and "not flawed" wines as some of the bottles I had were flawed... couldn't drink them... and not cause I didn't like them... they were flawed. A few were drinkable (not flawed) and just examples of cheap wine. I envy those that buy it and like it. It would certainly save me thousands of dollars if I could actually drink a $2 bottle of wine and enjoy it. What is a shame is when this wine wins 2 gold medals. Doesn't send the right message to consumers who use these awards and scores to guide them as to what wine to buy. As you correctly stated the US is far behind many countries in consumption, but the US is growing at a very very fast rate.. people are learning about wine and the market is exploding. I have no problem with 2BC for what it is... but it is what it is, nothing more. I guess anyone who buys it based on the gold medals will soon figure out for themselves if they like it or not.

                              1. re: WineTravel

                                "the US is growing at a very very fast rate"

                                Excellent point. The (positive) rate of increase in the US wine consumption is probably unparalleled in history. And I'm saying this just out of gut feeling, and what I see / hear / experience out there. Anybody got some hard numbers?

                                1. re: RicRios

                                  I was right! Here are the numbers.

                                  Source: http://dataweb.usitc.gov/scripts/tari...
                                  ( US International Trade Commission

                                  )

                                  Harmonized Tariff Schedule: (HTS) 22042150

                                  Description: Wine other than Tokay (not carbonated), not over 14% alcohol, in containers not over 2 liters

                                  Imports by Source Country, All Sources ( in thousand dollars )

                                  2004: 2,633,053
                                  2005: 2,870,518 - Increase above prev., year: 9.0 %
                                  2006: 3,112,913 - Increase above prev., year: 8.4 %

                                  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                  Harmonized Tariff Schedule: (HTS) 22041000

                                  Description: Sparkling wine, made from grapes

                                  Imports by Source Country, All Sources ( in thousand dollars )

                                  2004: 546,744
                                  2005: 596,932- Increase above prev., year: 9.2 %
                                  2006: 660,609- Increase above prev., year: 10.7 %

                                  ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                  Those are HUGE rates of increase, folks!

                                  1. re: RicRios

                                    Don't look at $$$$$ -- it's useless! Rising prices and flat slaes will still reflect "huge rates of increase."

                                    Check out The Wine Institute's statistics, instead:

                                    http://www.wineinstitute.org/industry...

                                    As I mentioned above, in 2005 consumption was 2.37 gallons per capita, and 703 million total.

                                    In 1995, it was 1.77 gallons and 464 million, respectively.

                                    In 1985, per capita was higher -- 2.43 gals. -- but the totals were less (580 million), due to the smaller population.

                                    (Clearly per capita is more accurate.

                                    )

                                    In 1975, it was 1.71 gals. per captia (368 million gallons total).

                                    In 1965, per capita consumption was a whole 0.98 gals. (190 million).

                                    1955: 0.88 gallons per capita; 145 million gallons total.

                                    And in 1945, the end of World War II, per capita was 0.71 gals. (94 million total).

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      OK, I'm looking at wineinstitute numbers:

                                      1947 0.67 gals/resident
                                      2005 2.37 gals/resident

                                      Increase: 254%
                                      Yearly: 4.3%

                                      OK, not 10%, but still fairly consistent wuth my previous $ based estimates, and a VERY long time range by the way...

                                      1. re: RicRios

                                        Longer time = more accurate trend.

                                        THAT SAID . . .

                                        Notice that the per capita PEAK was in 1985 & 1986 at 2.43 gallons. It's dropped since then -- hitting a "modern" low of 1.74 gallons per capita in 1993. It didn't rise above two gallons until 1999, and has yet to equal the numbers of 20 years ago.

                                        Jason

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          Probably several factors contributing to increasing/decreasing wine consumption. Financial- recession and dot com boom more or less disposable incomes. Aging wine drinkers now limiting their consumption for health reasons (diabetes). Change in habits - people drinking more beer and liquor instead of wine. As prev said, immigration. Media and advertising. And frankly availability. IE: Someone asked on my regional CH board for a good "wine bar" and noone could find one. Now as for martini bars, well, many many choices.

                                          Added: Also by 1985 all of the baby boomers were now of drinking age so we had our maximum legal population and then we started another baby boom. Consumption may have dropped due to pregnancy, financial, and family constraints. Now those children are becoming legal age with the first set of baby boomers in their high earning and still healthy years. So we may soon peak with the combined populations until we drop again.

                                          I'ts interesting to note the increases in wine, beer and liquor consumption, however, all things in moderation, please.

                              2. re: zin1953

                                I wonder if wine consumption is the US is so low because there is so much bad tasting wine available here. For years, I drank a little wine at various occasions and thought I didn’t like it until I traveled to Italy. Afterwards, I discovered that with some research , good wine at a fair price is available here. IMO 2BC may contribute to the perception of many, except the few that like it, that they don’t like wine.

                                1. re: BN1

                                  BN1... yes, exactly my point. You can call it wine... but in general it's bad for the wine industry... A great marketing idea though.. and the guy has made a ton of money... but in general not good for the wine industry.

                                  1. re: WineTravel

                                    NO! It's great for the industry!!!

                                    Anything that gets people to drink wine is a good thing! As their tastes develop and evolve, they will leave 2BC far behind . . . just as others left Boone's Farm, Sutter Home White Zin or Almadén Mountain Rhine Wine far behind for Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc, DeLoach Chardonnay or Rosenblum Zinfandel . . . .

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      Have to disagree. 2BC is not good for the wine industry. Giving this wine a "gold medal" gives people the impression that you only have to spend $2 to get a nice wine (hey its a gold medal winner!). The novice doesn't get "turned on" by this wine. They may likely taste it and say, "I don't like wine". If you taste brocolli and you don't like it, youre not very likely to have it again soon. You don't say, hey maybe that's a bad example of brocolli... think I'll look for some better brocolli. These wines send the wrong message. People will go back to beer or some other drink.

                                      As I've stated a bunch of times. If these "wines" must exist let them stand for what they are... the gold medal doesn't send the right message. Hard to see how it gets people interested in wine.... more likely to turn them off IMO.

                                      1. re: WineTravel

                                        Two different things . . . you are confusing the existence of 2BC and the Gold Medal, which Charles Shaw had nothing [directly] to do with . . . (plus some personal opinions, rather than facts).

                                        1) Charles Shaw, aka 2BC, is GREAT for the wine industry for a multitude of reasons -- but just to name a couple: a) wines are far too expensive, and this puts more wines in the "everyday drink" realm, heretofore dominated by beer, iced tea, and soft drinks; b) this in turn helps to create more "wine drinkers" in the market, which is good for ALL wineries; and c) the sales volume of 2BC gives winemakers a place to readily "bulk out" unwanted wine, and therefore helps to keep their limited production the very best it can be.

                                        2) Regardless of the validity of the medal -- and I can assure you there are people looking into it -- very few people take note of the California State Fair (as opposed to someone like Parker, or even those two who write for the WSJ!). What is driving the "hype" is the "regular" press -- which latched onto this story are touted it. OK -- now, weeks have passed; who is still talking about it? ONLY people who are already "into" wine, and all of the "buzz" boils down to, "This is ridiculous! This is nonsense! The wine sucks!" etc., etc., etc. In other words, all the buzz is negative. Well, guess what? No one, not even Fred Franzia, is claiming that Charles Shaw is the greatest wine on the planet -- NOR is it trying to be! As for the Gold Medal, they are all but useless when it comes to marketing wine -- NO ONE takes them seriously! Certainly no one who is "seriously" into wine.

                                        YOU do not like the way Charles Shaw wines taste. Guess what? Neither do I. But guess what? The thousands and thousands of people who repeatedly buy 2BC again and again DO! (If they didn't, they'd be buying something else, wouldn't they?)

                                        [In point of fact, they are buying other things -- look at the sales of wines like Yellow Tail and the other wines from Australia, South America, and California that are in the under-$7 category.]

                                        FWIW, I have rarely found a bottle of 2BC that I thought was BAD from a technical, quality control standpoint -- I think it happened once. (I've never had a bad bottle of Gallo from a QC standpoint.)

                                        From an objective standpoint, they are sound wines at an affordable price.

                                        From a subjective, sensory evaluation standpoint, I do not like/enjoy these wines at all.

                                        From the standpoint of someone who has spent 35 years in the California wine industry, I am quite happy to have these wines, and others like them, around. History has shown time and time again that it means more people will be becoming wine drinkers in the years to come.

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          Where do you get this information about Bronco purchasing surplus bulk wine for Charles Shaw?

                                          It's an easy assumption, but the statistics about how many acres Bronco owns and how many gallons they sell under their own labels and in bulk to other wineries don't suggest that they'd have any reason to buy wine.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Because I know Joe and Fred . . . .

                                        2. re: WineTravel

                                          I agree with you! 100%.
                                          I will still never forget the night of my anniversary dinner, I had planned a wonderful dinner, one that closely resembled my wedding rehearsal dinner's menu. I had invited my original wedding party, my closest friends, and family. My sister in law called telling us "I'll bring the wine"

                                          Imagine my horror when she showed up with 3 bottles of "Arbor Mist"
                                          Thank God my husband bought me a beautiful dual climate controlled wine cabinet the year before and I had plenty of decent reds and whites available. Now, I am no wine snob, not by a long shot. However, my travels to Europe have taught me appreciation for a good bottle of wine with dinner.

                                    2. re: BN1

                                      >>I wonder if wine consumption is the US is so low because there is so much bad tasting wine available here.>>
                                      If we're only drinking an average of 12 bottles per person in the U.S., it probably has less to do with the quality of wine available here and more to do with the multi-cultural society we live in. In general, regular wine consumption with meals is commonplace only in European countries. With our large Asian and Hispanic populations, we'll never reach the per capita consumption levels of France, Italy or Spain.

                                      1. re: BN1

                                        No, it has to do with the culture and history of the United States. We are not now, nor have we ever been, a nation of wine drinkers. That is -- historically -- SOUTHERN Europe. This country was founded, and largely populated (originally), by people from NORTHERN Europe -- where beer, hard cider, and distilled spirits are the drink(s) of choice.

                                        The "Triangle Trade" didn't bring wine into this country -- it brought molasses and rum. Hard cider was made from the apples grown in New England. Rum was distilled in New England. These were the "drinks of choice" in Colonial America, along with beer brewed by the local "pubick house." (Think Samuel Adams!)

                                        Upper crust society *did* drink wine -- mostly Madeira (there were Madeira Societies in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as in Boston and New York) and some Port; these were fortified wines that would survive the ocean voyage across the Atlantic in fine shape. These were also the drinks of the British Army officers, while rank-and-file soldiers were rum, whiskey, cider, and beer drinkers.

                                        1791 didn't see the Federal government put down the Chardonnay Rebellion, it put down the Whiskey Rebellion.

                                        In fairness, there were some people who did try to make wine, but all such efforts in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s were failures. Wine was made sporadically, but it wasn't until people started making it in California that wine began to thrive.

                                        In the era before Prohibition -- say, approximately 1870-1920 -- California wines were regularly winning Gold Medals at International Expositions in London, Paris, St. Louis, etc.

                                        During Prohibition, it was legal to make wine for personal consumption, and many an Italian and Greek family did exactly that. But the big money was in bootlegging -- beer and whiskey!

                                        Look at any movie made in the 1930s through the 1960s, and even into the 1980s: are the people drinking California Cabernets and Chardonnay? imported Bordeaux and Burgundy? No. It's Bourbon, Rye and -- for that "sophisticated" touch (think Nick and Nora) -- Martinis.

                                        A big chain of restaurants in the late-1950s/early-1960s was "Scotch 'n Sirloin."

                                        It wasn't until the 1990s that California's grape acreage equalled that planted BEFORE Prohibition!

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          "1791 didn't see the Federal government put down the Chardonnay Rebellion"

                                          And more's the pity... ;)

                              3. ABC aired a segment featuring this. they followed it up with caroline styne, wine director and partner of LUCQUES and AOC in l.a. doing a blind tasting. she ranked the 2BC dead last. she also didn't rank the unamed $100+ bottle in the top.

                                no doubt that there is some QPR to the 2BC wines and have no problem with those who like them although i don't regularly drink them myself. i think they're great for cooking and sangria.

                                the judging guidelines, the wines entered, and the judges can be found here:
                                http://www.thebestcaliforniawine.com/...

                                also of note, forest glen and turning leaf also won double golds for the white zin category. enough said.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: revets2

                                  I have never had 2BC, but I have had Crane Lake, also a cheap wine. The Cab didn't taste too bad. I guess I always thought it might be similar in quality to the table wines served in Europe.

                                2. First, I’d like to say that I have never bought 2BC though I have drunk some on a couple of occasions. I actually thought it was not bad wine. Not memorable, not deeply flavored, but sound wine. I understand why many people like it. I know two different couples, people who appreciate good wine and food, who also appreciate a $2 bottle of wine when dining home on non-special occasions. Drinking 2BC allows them to splurge other times.

                                  Also, 2BC is a safe option. After this thread was begun, I was browsing through a friend’s _Spectator_ and noticed that 2BC was listed and scores for the wines ranged from 77-83. I am certainly not suggesting that this magazine is absolutely authoritative (otherwise why would we have a wine board at CH?), but the wine ratings are not done by flaming idiots either. What I also found interesting was that within a few pages of the 2BC ratings, there were some very expensive wines with very unimpressive ratings. Just a sampling of some prices/scores: $100/78, $37/76, $60/74, $125/55, $33/70, $80/74, $45/67, $40/55. Is it any wonder that some folks choose mediocre, but reliable product instead of engaging in the crap shoot that is buying wine? As Robert Lauriston has noted elsewhere in this thread, "In the wine market, price and quality don't have a very strong correlation." And most people have neither the time nor inclination to read and study to become fully informed. It has been suggested in this discussion that someone might try 2BC not like it and be turned off wine forever. Well imagine if someone spent $125 on a bottle of wine for a special occasion – and it turned out to be plonk, or worse.

                                  Personally, I love wine for its infinite variety, so 2BC has little appeal. Nonetheless, I too am on a budget. Therefore, I seek out wine bargains whenever I can find them. Sure, I’ll try a $1.99 or $2.99 or $4.99 or $6.99 on sale, and if I enjoy it, I get the extra pleasure that I have located a special deal – maybe something left over from hunter/gatherer thinking. If it’s not so good, well OK, at least it is different, and I have learned something. Sound wine at reasonable prices, it seems to me, ultimately will help more folks learn the pleasures of wine.

                                  ed

                                  1. Well, you can turn your nose at the 2BC but I love wine and when your paying $2.50-$3.00 for gas and the economy is unstable for me burning $20+ for a bottle right now makes me feel guilty. When I do buy a $8-$12 bottle yes there is a slight difference in the depth of the taste but I am not to good for a 2BC...Although would take suggestions on a good price Pinot noir.

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: Shaylala

                                      FWIW, I don't think is has anythingto do with being "too good for 2BC." Rather, it's more like, "is 2BC good enough for you (or me)?"

                                      Shaylala, I can only WISH that Charles Shaw was good enough for me -- it's not; I don't like the wines -- but I honestly, truly, sincerely wish I did. Hey, I don't like $3 for gasoline or $20+ for a bottle, either (and often don't . . . often do, but often don't). If I liked the stuff, I'd be all over it. For 20+ years, my motto (adjusted for inflation) has been, "What the world needs is a great $10 bottle of wine." Let's face it, there are plenty of great $50, $100, $250 bottles out there . . .

                                      Sticking with wines under $15 for the moment, you might want to try Brancott (from New Zealand), Castle Rock (Monterey Co.), Eshelon (California), Firesteed (Oregon), Fleur de Carneros (Carneros), Gallo of Sonoma (Sonoma), Mark West (California), Ramsay (California) or Stoneleigh (New Zealand) -- all in alphabetical order; all priced $14.99 or less.

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        My point of view is simple: Some people choose their drink by price and only care if it is tolerable. Some people choose their drink by the level of enjoyment that it brings and taking into account the price or value. So, for $2.00, I'm not expecting much but will avoid 99% of wines in the price as they are less than tolerable. For $10 - $20, I am looking for a drink that is enjoyable, pleasant, well constructed, compliments food, and on occassion, is a really great experience. Over $20 I expect the "bar" to be a bit higher and am focusing more on exellence and an experience that I will really enjoy. Sure there are exceptions, but for me, why bother drinking something that is "ok", even at $2.00 when for $10, I can actually garner some enjoyment.

                                        1. re: TonyO

                                          You and I think a lot alike. Clearly there is an expectation of value for money, or in the terminology of most wine boards, "QPR" (quality-price ratio). That bottle with the $100 price tag that you think is fantastic may indeed have great QPR, but it won't have as much as that $20 bottle you think is equally fantastic.

                                          Bottom line: there are SO MANY great wines out there, life to too short to drink bad wine. The fact that so many of those great wines are available for (relatively) not a whole lot of money (in the $10-25 range, let's say), makes it all the better!

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            If you like wine with dinner most nights, $10-$25 adds up. In my travels I've had wonderful wines in ANZ for $5/glass or under US$10/bottle. Same in Bulgaria, Italy, even Germany (although more like $7/$15 there).

                                            So why is $10 the seeming "glass floor" in the US. Why isn't decent "vin de pays"-level domestic wine priced lower so that everyone can appreciate wine whenever they want?

                                            That's what I'd like to think 2BC is getting at - whether or not you'd drink it, most - if not all - tasters would rate it above jug wine and probably above the lesser California boxes (e.g. Franzia). 2BC is a crapshoot quality-wise, but even for families who make their own paesano wine or similar, it's a highly affordable luxury (and usually better than the paesano - although it won't put hair on your chest)..

                                            1. re: Panini Guy

                                              >> If you like wine with dinner most nights, $10-$25 adds up.
                                              Yes, it does, therefore I can't afford to drink wine every day. But there are excellent imported (some local too) beers that work for me much better than 'crapshoot' wines. I realized some time ago I get no pleasure from drinking poor wines - I rather drink less but of better quality. And have amply supply of good beer to fill in the gaps.

                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                I havve no doubt that CharlesShaw-- or more accurately, Fred Franzia -- would LOVE to provide America with its vins du pays . . . but let's not overlook the fact that a French vin du pay (or Italian vino da tavola, Portuguese vinho do país, Spanish vino del país, etc.) is generally much more intriguing than 2BC . . .

                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                  I absolutely agree that most vin du pays/vino da tavola etc. are more interesting than 2BC. No argument there.

                                                  But nobody is bothering to answer my question - why can I afford the vin du pays quality in just about every other country but my own? Obviously 2BC has shown there's a market for a sub $5 wine that doesn't come in a jug or box. If Franzia can do this for $1.95-$3.49, why isn't someone able to do this for $5 or $6 like in other countries?

                                                  In Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, New Zealand and South Africa (among other countries), one doesn't need to have significant means to enjoy a drinkable wine with dinner on a daily basis. So what's wrong with us? Why do we have to trade up to $20 wines that we can't afford to drink daily in order to get something tasty or interesting? That's my question.

                                                  Did American consumers create this problem themselves?

                                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                                    >> In Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, New Zealand and South Africa (among other countries), one doesn't need to have significant means to enjoy a drinkable wine

                                                    I don't see situation being much different here in the US. If you adjust wine prices for wages, exchange rates, etc. you will get roughly the same "quality" of wine for similar prices regardless of countries.

                                                    1. re: olasek

                                                      Disagree. I don't even think it's all that close, at least not in the East. It might be if there weren't massive taxes on every bottle (and I'm in PA, which probably leads to my ultrasensitivity on this topic).

                                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                                        >> Disagree. I don't even think it's all that close, at least not in the East.

                                                        It may very well be that some taxes in the East make things worse (I live in CA). But the topic itself is not very well defined, hard to measure and subject to individual interpretations - like for example what's "drinkable". For someone who favors "old world" wines there is little doubt he/she would find better wines at lesser prices in Europe.

                                                        1. re: Panini Guy

                                                          No, I agree. And it's not just PA state taxes -- although those certainly do not help!

                                                      2. re: Panini Guy

                                                        The cheapest drinkable wine I've found in NYC is $8 and usually Spanish or from a hard-to-pronounce region of France.

                                                        I don't know for sure, but some theories on why there's no US table wine:

                                                        1) Wine in the US is a luxury good, so consumers who drink a lot of wine won't buy 2BC, and making it cheaper won't turn it into a mass market drink like it is in Europe. (This assumes that people who buy 2BC don't buy wine often -- my guess is their most common customer is someone throwing a party.)

                                                        2) American consumers want the "big name grapes" like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and they want them in oak -- these are more expensive to grow / produce than say an unoaked Carignane.

                                                        3) American wineries have more expensive real estate costs since they are relatively new compared to euro vineyards and haven't been in the family for centuries.

                                                        4) Because they're already selling their crappiest wine at $10 and see no need to lower the price.

                                                        You should prob start another thread on this -- I'm sure it would generate interesting responses. I'd be curious to hear what other people think.

                                                  2. re: zin1953

                                                    And it is those "gems" at $10-$25 that I buy by the case and share with others that are looking for a wine that will put a smile on their face without a financial burden. Recently it was O'Reilly's 2006 Pinot Noir that was a prime example of a wine that exceeds expectations, especially at a price under $20. I prefer to not have to convince myself that a wine is ok "because it only cost $2.00".

                                                    1. re: TonyO

                                                      "I prefer to not have to convince myself that a wine is ok 'because it only cost $2.00'."

                                                      You and me both!

                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                        I have always thought that people look at the really inexpensive wines more for the alcohol value than the pleasure of tasting the wine. Also the bargain hunter in all of us. There is nothing wrong with that, I have done it more than once myself. I think some of the Barefoot reds taste pretty good for $5-6.

                                                        1. re: WyCo

                                                          I disagree completely. If it's alcohol peopel are looking for, then there are still LOTS of high-alcohol wines around like Thunderbird, MD 20/20, etc., etc. No one is buying 2BC for its alcohol . . .

                                            2. Well to each toungue it's own. Coming from a gal who's father lives in France and have bottles older than me...lol. Oh an I used CS Cab in my meat sauce last night and it went over very well...I am craving my 7 deadly Zin's today...hmm what shall I cook with that.