The wines range from major producers such as Kendall-Jackson and Constellation’s Robert Mondavi to smaller wineries such as Bogle, which does not have a UK retail listing yet.
The selection of 12 was whittled down from an initial pool of 155 wines all priced between £5 and £10. The wines were tasted blind by 14 judges - the biggest panel to judge the selection so far - including OLN’s consulting editor Graham Holter, consultant Angela Mount and Laura Jewell MW of HwCg.
John McLaren, UK director of the California Wine Institute, said the bigger panel made sure this year’s selection is completely objective.
“It’s great that we have this stylistic spread that really sums up what California is capable of,” he said.
The 12 wines in this year’s Benchmark Wines selection are:
1. Wente Family Estates 2005 Hayes Ranch Pinot Grigio
2. Robert Mondavi 2006 Private Selection Fumé Blanc
3. Beringer 2005 Founder’s Estate Chardonnay
4. Kendall-Jackson 2006 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay
5. Kendall-Jackson 2006 Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir
6. McManis Family Vineyards 2006 Estate Merlot
7. J Lohr Winery 2005 Los Osos Merlot
8. Hahn Estates 2006 Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon
9. Trinchero Family Estates 2005 Stagecoach Cabernet Sauvignon
10. Bogle Winery 2005 Petite Sirah
11. Ironstone Vineyards 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel
12. Quady Winery 2006 Essensia Orange Muscat.