I found this 1.5 liter bottle (the only size it comes in) at THE STORE a few weeks after the holidays on sale for $6.99. Their normal price is $11.99, so even at “sticker” it qualifies as a cheapskates choice (under $10 per 750ml.) Glen Ellen is actually a brand of Concannon, a Livermore Valley, California estate known for their Petite Sirah. The Concannon lineup is mostly way beyond the parameters of us cheapskates (though their ‘Selected Vineyards’ label can be found on sale for $10ish). Named for Mrs. Ellen Concannon who emigrated to California from Ireland with hubby James who started growing grapes and making wine in 1883 in the Livermore Valley, or “glen”, Glen Ellen is the label through which Concannon reaches the frugal.
The Glen Ellen lineup consists of the Zin, of which I write today, as well as a Petite Sirah, a Chardonnay, a White Zinfandel, a Pinot Grigio, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. For reasons known only to the gods of retailing only the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah were on sale at $6.99. I suppose THE STORE loaded up for the holiday season, and was now heavy in these two varieties-makes sense since Cabs and Chards generally outsell Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. At the very moment I was grabbing my bottle of Zin from the shelf some older, grandpa-ish guy took the last bottle of the Petite Sirah, and commented to me “this is excellent-I wish they had more, I’d buy 3 or 4”. So, on my short list of things to do is grab a bottle of the Petite Sirah, when they get more, and hopefully still at $6.99. Because, based on my 2 evening sampling of the Zin, feedback from The Wife on the Zin, and Pappy’s 1 sentence review in the store it might be a Cheapskates Fave. The Zinfandel is!
When I got home from THE STORE, I poured a glass and sat down to watch Jim Cramer’s stock market histrionics. The smell is attractive (the Glen Ellen’s, not Jim Cramer’s), slightly earthy fruit, no chemistry set vapors. It looked nice in the glass, too, a dark Ruby translucence. There’s always some apprehension at the first sip-somewhat expectant of a puckering bitterness or a harsh bite of the tongue. Not so…a smooth, gentle fruitiness, a grapeiness (imagine that-wine tasting like grapes), no bite! The taste of fruit lingered in my mouth between sips, signaling ‘more, please’. Very nice.
Repeated the sequence the second night: turned on Mad Money, poured a bigger-than-I-ought-to glass of the Zin, and tried to erase the favorable prejudice remaining from night one, just in case I wasn’t really paying attention, and the wine was just purple kerosene. Nope. The second sitting confirmed the first impressions-I like this a lot. Just minutes ago I poured just a splash-ok 2 or 3 splashes-to smell and sip while writing this to make sure I’m not delusional. I may well be delusional, but the Glen Ellen Zinfandel is a FAVE.
The bottom line-would I buy it again? Definitely. I will, and will surely have to pay more since the sale price is, of course, a temporary abnormality. Would I serve to it to friends? (this assumes I have friends, and ones with whom I drink wine-a bit of a leap) Yes, but I might not tell them the price until they have had some. I could easily convince them it was far more expensive, unless they know I’m a cheapskate.