Vino Bandito

Wine Blog, by Staff  Wine Critic, El Vino Bandito              

Not too long ago, my sweet spot for wine values was in the $12 – $20(USD) range.  And I would stretch that to the $40 range for an occasional gift or special event(translation = get lucky).

Now that I live on a fixed outgo, I’m much more frugal about my wine purchases.  And I have a lot more fun searching and discovering wine less than $10.

Though I live about an hour away from the thriving Valle de Guadalupe wine area, those local wines I enjoy all start at the $20-$25(USD) range.  OUCH, as $20 is now my in my special event category.

So, my regular trips to San Diego allow me to “import” my $10 and < wine from BevMo, Trader Joe’s, Vons and other retailers.  You will see that I’m focused on reds, but, an occasional white will jump into my cart.

Warning: Mexican law allows 3 litres of alcohol per person to cross the border! [contact me for creative ideas].  And the new El Chaparral border crossing into Tijuana(1 nov 2012) has increased the quantity and quality of inspections.

This page will summarize my wine finds.  Details will be published in the Ensenada Gringo food & beverage section.  As I find wine very similar to women, here is my rating system:

5. TEN…Grand passion, complexity, energy and enthusiasm.  Can’t get enough(Bo Derek, Shakira, Stags’ Leap Petite Syrah)

4. Hot DateGood sipper that could turn into an LTR.  Embrace often.  (Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles)

3. Girl Next Door…Average overall quality.  Won’t see her regularly, but, might find some fun times together(Mondavi Cab’)

2. Good Personality…Not a complete waste of time, but, find something else(1.5 liter Yellow Tail)

1. Screetch…sound of your tires exiting.  Seriously flawed and can’t stand another minute with this one(1 step below box wine)

Hot Date rack:

2009 Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve($5 Trader Joe’s)

2009 McManis Petite Syrah($9 BevMo)

2009 Les Charmes Chardonnay Macon Lugny 2009($10 on sale/various)

2007 Hidden Cellars Petite Syrah($10 BevMo)

2009 Rodney Strong Chardonnay($10 Vons)

2010 Rabbit Ridge Allure de Robles($5 Trader Joe’s)

2009 Cupcake Vineyards Merlot($8 Costco)

Girl Next Door Rack:

2009 Epicuro Aglianico($5 Trader Joe’s)

2009 Archeo Nero D’Avola($4 Trader Joe’s)

2010 Caves du Fournalet Cotes du Rhone($5 Trader Joe’s)

2010 Le Ferme Julien Rouge($5 Trader Joe’s)

2010 Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio($2 Trader Joe’s)

Screetch Dumpster:

Charles Shaw Cabernet($2 buck chuck at Trader Joe’s)

Domecq Padre Kino(Walmart Mexico)

el vino bandito wine blog


  1. Posted January 29, 2012 at 15:34 | Permalink | Reply

    Hello Vino Bandito:

    Perhaps you can help me track down a rumor. I have a hotel in Bahia de los Angeles. We do not have a beer or wine license, but we can serve food to guests. I have heard via the……. well, I have heard that hotels such as mine can serve wine to guests without a license as long as the wine is bottled and grown in Baja. True, or false?


    Roger Silliman
    Hotel Villa Bahia

    • bajadock
      Posted January 29, 2012 at 15:45 | Permalink | Reply

      Roger, I don’t know the local liquor laws. I would go with your great Baja attitude and plead ignorant to beer and wine purchased outside of the dining area somehow finding its way to a table. CHEERS, Roger, and hope 2012 is off to a grand beginning.

  2. Juan del Norte
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 14:26 | Permalink | Reply

    The 1 rating applied to Box Beverage does a dis-service to Corporate home of Charles Shaw Wineries in their boxed Franzia Merlot. Equal to their $2BC bottled variant, and, at times, better. You need only to get wet and cross over to El Norte, where it is available for US$13.99 for 5 liters. Que ganga, Primo!
    Juan del Norte

  3. Juan del Norte
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 06:41 | Permalink | Reply

    Tres Pinos Cuvee Red
    t’s a locaton-challenged wine with the San Antonio Winery located in the Los Angeles downtown historic district. And, they truck their grapes from the equally challenged San Luis Osbispo area. And, they have to make this as a blend of Syrah, Cab and Merlot.

    That should be 3 reasons to pass on this one, but…..

    We had bought a half case of Trader Joe’s Pinot Grigio, and I was browsing for a few others to fill the rest of the case. I picked up 6 reds purchased solely on price (< $6) and label attraction. Some were $3.99 and some were $5.99, not sure where Tres Pinos fell in, but it was cheap.

    But…then the tasting! This wine defines the flavor descriptor often used of black cherry. Their lable says this wine is "jammy". No, not sweet, but very very bold. It is a 2010 and very ready for sipping now. It is not a dry red as in Italian style. Rather, a heavy red that you could swill with cheeses, cold cuts, or a pork dish especially.

    Highly recommended for future consideration to the Vino Bandido next time he swims across to el norte for a vino grab
    Juan del Norte

  4. Nuria
    Posted March 9, 2012 at 17:02 | Permalink | Reply

    This has been the most interesting and hilarious Wine Blog I have red yet! Very informative as well, unfortunately most men will not get lucky if the lady is aware of her qualification, but you can always find those looking for free wine.
    I personally have made notes.

    Thank you Doc,


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