Showing posts with label value wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label value wine. Show all posts

Friday, April 26, 2019

Rosés For Spring: One Of The Better Bargains

Hey, is it rosé season already?  Maybe it creeps up on me because it's always rosé season at my place.  We are taking a couple of weeks to spotlight some worthy pink wines which will help get us in the swing for spring.

We covered the Perrin family last time, along with their French winemaking company which includes the noted Château de Beaucastel of the Rhône Valley.  The La Vieille Ferme label - it means "the old farm" - houses a bubbly rosé as well as a very nice still rosé wine.

La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2018

This cheap pink wine was vinified in stainless steel before bottling.  the grapes - Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah - were grown "high on the slopes," but the winery does not say where those slopes are.  Alcohol clicks in at 13% abv and the price tag sits below $10. 

This 2018 bargain rosé is light salmon pink in the glass.  The nose shows red fruit with herbal notes.  There is plenty of fruit on the palate, strawberry and cherry, with a light minerality and easy acidity.  The finish is short, but fruity.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Great Value Malbec Wine From Argentina

Felipe Rutini was hired by the Argentine government in 1885 to develop public parks in Mendoza. It didn't take him long to recognize the potential for winemaking in the region, and his family established themselves as winemakers, owning property there for over a century.  In 1994, ownership was transferred and winemaker Mariano Di Paola  has been overseeing the winemaking since then.  In 2008, a winery was opened in Tupungato, in the Uco Valley.

There are hundreds of acres planted to wine grapes now, only 21 miles away from the 21,5000 foot peak of Tupungato volcano, the world's tallest active volcano.  The minerality resulting from the location defines the terroir of the region.  A 25-degree swing in temperature between day and night produces the diurnal effect that makes it a great wine growing region.  Harvest starts at the end of January and ends in early May, making it one of the longest growing seasons in the world.

The Trumpeter brand from Rutini helped open the door for Argentine wine in the U.S., and when people talk about the great values found in Argentine wine these days, this is one that needs to be in that discussion.

Rutini's Trumpeter 2012 Malbec is crafted from 100% Malbec grapes and undergoes full malolactic fermentation, in which all the malic acid turns into lactic acid.  This produces a fuller, richer mouthfeel.  Oak aging is done over seven months in barrels which are 30% new American oak, 30% new French oak and 40% neutral American oak.

The Trumpeter Malbec is extremely dark in color while offering a nose full of sweet oak spice.  The oak shows up, but doesn't overstate its case.  Cinnamon, allspice, black pepper and open onto a seriously deep tar aroma that lies over the dark mixed berries.  The palate really over-delivers, considering this wine costs only $11.  Rich blackberry and currant flavors are set off by the American oak spice rack with the note of tar creeping on the finish.  The tannins are steak-worthy while the acidity makes me want a big, juicy one.  I think of a hearty beef stew for this wine, on a chilly winter day, watching a snowy college football game on TV.  Or, right now will do.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

They Often Call Me Champagne, But My Real Name Is M. Crémant

This may not be looked upon by some as a great or fitting bubbly with which to ring in the new year, but I have found that inexpensive wines are often vastly underrated.  The Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Reserve is a ten-dollar wine at a Trader Joe's, where some great deals on under-the-radar wines can be found.

This came to us in a gift basket from the mom-in-law on our holiday trip to Las Vegas.  I was not expecting a new wonder of the world here, but was hopeful upon popping the cork that it would add some cheer to the year's end.

Blason de Bourgogne is a cooperative which, as they say, "represents 800 winegrowing families throughout the region, from Chablis in the North to Mâcon in the South, passing through Beaune in the centre.  Each and every wine provides a glimpse of the character of Burgundy, thus together they paint the whole glorious picture."

This sparkling wine is called crémant, since it is not produced in Champagne.  It hails from another part of Burgundy around the village of Saint-Bris.  The Crémant de Bourgogne AOC designation was created in 1975 for the white and rosé sparkling wines of Burgundy produced in the traditional method outside of Champagne.

It's a rather unusual sparkler, in that it is made from Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes, according to the Blason website.  I have seen references to the inclusion of Chardonnay and Aligoté grapes as well.  Alcohol is very reasonable, at 12%.  Aging in the bottle lasts for one year.

This sparkler pours up very bubbly with large bubbles, settling into fine ones.  Fruit and a little yeast make a festive nose, as if the bubbles need any help in the festive department.  Pears, peaches and apples are the big show on the palate, with a touch of toast and a little blast of earthiness offering backup.  The wine is very dry and plenty of fireworks are provided by an outstanding level of acidity.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Monte Ducay Reserva 2009

The holidays bring all sorts of surprises with them.  Getting together with friends you may not have seen in months is one happy by-product of having everyone out shopping at the same time.  And when they bring a wine gift with them, it's even better.

One such wine-bearing friend met my wife at Wood Ranch and sent her home with a bottle for me; how thoughtful!  Produced by the Bodegas San Valero cooperative, Monte Ducay Reserva 2009 comes in a very nice looking paper wrapper over an unlabeled bottle.  The wrapper gives the wine a very high-end look.  However, knowing how the times are these days, I didn't expect that this gift was very expensive.

In the same manner one does not look a gift horse in the mouth, neither does one look a gift wine in the shelf talker.  Well, maybe just a peek.  It sells for under $10.  At that price, it's a pretty fair value, too.

The red Cariñena wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Garnacha.  Cariñena is a DO - Denominación de Origen - in the center of Spain's Aragon region.  Alcohol is quite reasonable at 13% abv and the bottle is closed under a natural cork.

The color is a very dark ruby, with light barely able to get through the glass.  A nose of dark berries, black cherry and cola provide a little more depth than I expect.  The palate is deep and luxurious, with dark fruit and notes that give away the presence of the Cab - cassis and graphite.  There is just a wisp of an herbal flavor lagging behind the fruit, a bit like sage and nutmeg.  This wine offers great value for a bargain shopper who wants some complexity with their deal.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Big Wine Sale

The rough economic period we are going through has had a big effect on wine consumers.  Even high-end wine drinkers have scaled back the amount of wine they drink and the price they will pay for a bottle.  The goal now is to continue to enjoy wine, but devote less of your income to it.
I call this article Value Wine because while wine drinkers love to find value when they shop, that doesn't mean simply "look for something around five dollars."  However, if your five dollar wine tastes like a wine that costs 20 dollars, that's definitely value.  While it's not too easy to find great value at the five dollar price point, you can get a lot of wine for the money if you are willing to spend just a little more than that.
There are ways you can find lower prices for wine without sacrificing quality.
Location, Location, Location
You can often get great deals on wine by looking to wine-producing areas that fly under the radar.  Everyone knows and loves Napa Valley Cabernets, rich Burgundies, Bordeaux blends and Tuscan reds.  Have you ever tried a wine from Chile, Australia or Spain?  You can find big quality and low prices from those areas and many others.
Israel, Greece and Eastern Europe all have some great wines on the market.  Go domestic with Long Island or California's Temecula Valley, Lodi or Lake County.  A number of individual states besides the major producers - California, New York, Washington and Oregon - have burgeoning wine industries, too.
Who's Hungry?
Winemakers in unheralded areas on the verge of becoming noticed often price their wines in the bargain basement to try and gain exposure.   For instance, Malbec from Argentina has come from relative obscurity to wine list staple in a matter of just a few years, and still can be had inexpensively. You might try French wines from the Languedoc region or Italians from Sardegne.  Also, wine produced where land is very expensive will have the cost of that land reflected on the price tag.  
Variety Is The Spice Of Life
Try lesser-known grape varieties.  Demand is high for varietal wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, and that usually translates to higher prices.  If you're looking for a big, bold red wine, try a Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc or Carménère.  Instead of an expensive Chardonnay, look into a nice Rhone blend, a Pinot Blanc or a Riesling.
Brand X
Second labels are an excellent way to find wine by respected producers, often at half the price.  Your wine merchant can help you find these value wines.  Many high-end wine producers offer second labels that cost far less than their big-hitting brethern.  Some wine stores have exclusive deals with big-name producers who label their wine specifically for the store - at deep discounts.  Trader Joe's market typically carries a lot of re-labeled wines, produced by wineries which allow the store to put their own label on it.  I can't vouch for all those store-brand wines, but I've had good luck with quite a few of them. 
Find Out What You Like
Speaking of your wine merchant, many wine stores offer weekly tastings.  Some make tastes available any time you like.  Wine bars often have a price structure that includes "taste-size" pours for less than a full glass.  Wine shows and festivals are also great ways to familiarize yourself with different brands and grape varieties.  Take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about what it is you like about wine.  It will make it easier to tell your wine merchant what it is you are looking for in a wine, and thus easier for the merchant to make useful suggestions.
Taste Rules

A wine deal isn't so good if you don't like the wine.  Hopefully you are able to taste different wines and gain knowledge about what sorts of flavors are most interesting to you.  If you don't get the chance to taste too much, ask for recommendations from people whose opinions you respect.   Read the “shelf talkers,” those little cards below a bottle of wine in the store that tells what sort of aromas and flavors to expect.  Find wines in that way which have flavor descriptions that sound delicious to you.  Reviews and other wine articles are also useful.  One thing to ignore: scores.  You won't necessarily like a 94-point wine better than an 88-point wine.

Stay On Course

Set a price you are willing to spend, then browse, looking only at wines in your price point.   It's easy to “buy up” when browsing – but it's hard to enjoy a wine which cost so much you are not able to eat this week.   Don't be afraid to try the cheaper wines, but don't live there either.  It's surprising how many good cheap wines there are, and just as surprising how much difference $10 can make. 


Finally, as in any kind of shopping, look for sales.  BevMo has a regular sale which they run from time to time where you can buy a bottle and get a second bottle for a nickel.  Even in your regular ol' supermarket, select wines will be marked down in price.  I know Ralph's markets carry quite a few good brands, and they have tags on the sale wines that make it easy to see how much the price has been reduced (see image).  Usually the markdowns are in the one- to two-dollar range, but sometimes the savings are significant.  If you know what you want and you don't mind buying a lot of it, buy by the case.  A ten-percent discount on case purchases is just about the industry standard.