Thursday, December 10, 2009

HOLIDAY CHEER WITH BARGAIN WINES


It's a great time to be on the hunt for bargain wine. Discounts abound. Store managers who want to clear their warehouse or balance their books are cutting deals. That means we all should drink well this holiday season, no matter what we can spend.

If you're in your favorite wine shop and you see a closeout or discontinued wine, ask about it and if it sounds good to you, buy a bottle. Go home and drink it and if you like it, then get a case or 2 or 3.....it's a good way take advantage of a bargain.

Here are some examples of good deals. Remember: everyone's taste is different and prices vary from store to store. If you happen to have a Trader Joe's in your area, bargains always abound there.

Sparkling

NV Poema Brut Cava ($10): A solid performer in the cava category. Aggressively fizzy, with apple and grey mineral flavors and a curt lemon-pith finish. A bit rounder mouthfeel, despite impressively low alcohol. Take it to the table. (Importer: Kobrand.)

NV Segura Viudas Brut Cava ($10/magnum): Quite simply, the bargain find of the season. This historic Spanish sparkling producer may be a familiar name, and the wine's all ripe apple and yeast, but all you need to know is this. Magnum. Ten bucks. I believe the translation is, "Instant holiday party."

NV Villa Sandi Il Fresco Brut Prosecco ($13): A balanced, refreshing effort from a respected producer. Fresh orange and tart candy flavors come in a lighter style, but refined bubbles and some deft sweetness (despite its brut label) round it out in a very pleasing way. (Importer: Folio Wine Co.)

White

2008 Alta Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc ($10): A classy, delicious effort from Australia. Freshly herbal and peach-filled, with ripe kiwi and grapefruit. Not as austere as Marlborough, but with weight (from some lees contact) and bouncy citrus fruit that keeps giving. (Importer: Specialty Cellars.)

2008 Cave de Pomerols Hugues Beaulieu Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet ($10): An always-fun pick from one of the more successful co-ops in the south of France. Picpoul is one of the obscure Rhone grapes, and this vintage is crisper than some, but there's enough weight to put it on the dinner table. White peppercorn and a floral lift to tangy, sharp lemon and saline flavors. Remember this label. It delivers. (Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils.)

2008 Larry Cherubino The Yard Whispering Hill Vineyard Mount Barker Riesling ($6): Exhibit A of why you always should scour the bargain aisle. Cherubino, onetime winemaker for Tintara and Houghton, created this standout Australian Riesling from vines planted on their own roots in 1987. With beautifully austere stone and lemon pith scents, and laser-like acidity, it will improve for up to a decade. (Importer: Vintage New World.)

2008 Dashwood Winemakers' Selection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10): Here's the price-killer for those wanting to save a few bucks on their Kiwi fix. Quintessential Marlborough grass notes, with shaved green papaya, pomelo and apricot skin. Racy and focused, with enough weight to match to a meal. (Importer: Pasternak Wine Imports.)

2007 Hedges CMS Columbia Valley White ($12): Washington's Hedges family makes affordable blends under the CMS label, in this case standing for Chardonnay, Marsanne and Sauvignon Blanc. Another reliable value brand to seek. Pretty chervil and buttercup highlights atop the fresh Meyer lemon and Anjou pear. Some decent weight to it, making it ample to take on fish or chicken.

2008 McManis California Viognier ($11): The McManis family and their winemakers deserve credit for a Viognier that seriously outperforms. Harvested mostly from their own vineyards in Manteca and made in steel tanks, it offers substantial peach nectar and wildflower, with perfect typicity. A citrus-zest kick provides that lively edge Viognier so desperately needs. Fantastic value.

Red

2008 Redtree California Pinot Noir ($9): A gulpable Pinot crafted by industry veterans Bob Broman and Roy Cecchetti (Pepperwood Grove), sourced from an unlikely Pinot spot: Lodi. It's this year's runaway success. Bright, true Pinot flavors of Bing cherry and watermelon skin. Straightfoward and juicy, and exactly as it should be.

2008 Castle Rock Central Coast Pinot Noir ($12): Spicy, ripe and performing above Castle Rock's average. Raspberry jam and plum skin, with an honest earthy hint lurking in back but also a touch of sourness. You can find it discounted below $8.

2008 Feeding Frenzy Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($15): A bargain-priced Pinot with great geography. Dense and darker. Blackberry, orange peel and a clear oak note. Not exactly subtle but ample and bold.

2007 Vinos Sin-Ley M5 Yecla Monastrell ($13): The latest Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) from a Spanish project ("Without Law") to make wines outside the country's traditional rules. Leathery and deep, this bottling from the emerging Yecla region is packed with pleasing bramble fruit and grippy tannins, and given depth by a bright mineral edge. (Importer: Ole.)

2007 Domaine des Escaravailles Les Sablieres Cotes du Rhone ($13): Vibrant berry notes from the Grenache, with a white pepper overtone and a bark-like grip on the palate. Full and food-friendly, exactly what a Cotes du Rhone should be. (Importer: Jeff Wilburn Selections/Wine Agencies Inc.)

2006 Jade Mountain La Provencale California Red Wine ($10): A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignane and Viognier from a pioneering California Rhone name, now controlled by Diageo. Packed with purple fruit, plus a rich oak overtone and dry-herb accents. Well assembled and gutsy, with a dark, spicy, warm finish.

2006 Montevina Amador County Zinfandel ($8): An appealing new look for this well-known Sierras label. It's solid, reined-in Zin, with spicy plum and cherry, and sweet echoes on the finish that make it user-friendly.

2007 Volver Paso a Paso La Mancha Tempranillo ($9): An outperformer from Spain's La Mancha region, one of importer Jorge Ordonez's screaming Iberian deals. Distinct smoke and plum skin, with mocha, espelette pepper and bright bramble fruit. Tempranillo's classic tannins show up at the end, but mostly as a boost for food. (Importer: Jorge Ordonez/Henry Wine Group.)

2008 Maipe Andean Culture Mendoza Malbec ($13): A hot wine in a hot category, which makes it easy to find around town. Consultant Alberto Antonini (Altos Las Hormigas) also helped propel this new runaway hit. Scents of smoky leaves, violet, currant and huckleberry, with a bright surge of fruit. A mineral edge to the tannins adds depth. (Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils.)

2006 Tin Roof Cellars California Merlot ($10): A solid effort from winemaker Melissa Bates for one of the value labels run by Jackson Family Wines. Distinct oak flavors are balanced by solid black tea and bright plum, with all the pleasing softness of Merlot.

2007 Manifesto North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon ($15): The Manifesto wines are a case of a star winemaker - Jamey Whetstone - focusing on good fruit from a lesser-known corner, in this case Suisun Valley, due east of Napa. They're a great success, and this solid, drinkable Cab is exactly what it should be: with solid oak scents, plus tobacco and dried branches, plus dried currant and juicy blackberry fruit. The screwcap's a plus.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thanks for sharing the wine reviews. I love 2007 Manifesto North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoyed your blog very much. colonialgifts.co.uk

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