April 11 2015 09:44 AM

Bargain hunters take note of the chain's vino


I've mentioned that I've got champagne taste on a boxed-wine budget. Therefore, my interest was piqued when Grocery Outlet invited me to peruse their recent wine sale. Still, I was skeptical about what a discount store could offer in wine selection. 

Grocery Outlet's wines are reportedly priced 40 to 70 percent less than retail, and their sale added an additional 20- percent off. I enlisted the help of a former wine buyer as I went through some of the options. I also found a website dedicated entirely to tasting and reviewing Grocery Outlet's wine.

 With notes in hand, once in the store I scoured the labels and used my phone to do additional digging. There was plenty of junky stuff, cute labels be damned! But I ended up with five bottles for under $25, total: non-vintage Prosecco by Gancia, a 2012 Heliotrope Pinot Grigio, a 2012 Kalbarri Chardonnay, a 2013 Jankris Syrah and a 2013 Cline Zinfandel. 

The question was: Would they be any good? 

The answer was yes. Of the five, I greatly enjoyed two of them and the others were palatable, though I wouldn't buy them again. But nothing required a drain dump. 

One of the highlights was the Chardonnay, which cost a mere $3.19 after all the discounting. This Australian take on the varietal was bright and refreshing. The nose held a faint honeysuckle mixed with lime and apple. Its crisp flavor was full of more citrus and had a silky, smooth finish. 

The other I enjoyed was the Zinfandel at the same price. It smelled of raspberry preserves and black pepper. The flavor followed suit with jammy and spicy characteristics shining through. The wine had bit of an alcohol-heavy burn on the finish, but after decanting, it evened out and revealed some rich vanilla notes. 

As for the rest of the bunch, the Syrah held more interest in the nose than the palate, the Prosecco had a strong yeast flavor and abrupt finish and the Pinot Grigio's fresh grapefruit flavor was overpowered by a lingering minerality. 

In all, for under $30, it was worth it to find two wines I'd purchase again.

Write to jenv@sdcitybeat.com and editor@sdcitybeat.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jen_VT.


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