Friday, November 12, 2004

Party Wines for Less Than $12

I served the following wines at a local church art show (Episcopalians, of course!) in lieu of last year's jug/box wines (you want red or white?) All are less than $12, mostly $9 and $10 and are from California, Argentina, and Spain. I think these are great values and great tasting for a little more than jug wine. They offer a nose, fruit flavors, a touch of complexity, structure and finish. These are well made wines that even a wine geek would enjoy. And you won't find these, for the most part, in Krogers or Sams. These are relatively small production wines from solid producers and not million case numbers from the big houses. They are not machine made, mass-produced, overly fined, filtered and possibly dead. (Don't you wonder why most of the mass-produced wines can last so long after being opened.) By contrast, the following wines are alive with flavors! All Must Haves for Everyday Wine!
  • Castle Rock, Sauvignon Blanc 2003 ($10) -- Napa; negociant wine maker with access to surplus fruit and capacity. Delicious lush flavors of orange peel, citrus with a touch of herbs. Harmonious and complex. Wine Spectator Best Buy. 5,600 cases.
  • Hedges Cellars, Fume Chardonnay 2003 ($10) -- Washington; Sauvingon (63%) and Chardonnay (37%) blend; 86 and 87 ratings from the usual suspects; Best Buy from WE; nicely blended smoothness of the Chard with the fruit and flavors of the Sauv. 18,000 cases.
  • Boony Doon, Vin Gris de Cigare 2003 ($12) -- California from those crazy people in Santa Cruz; this is NOT white zin even if it is PINK! A very dry rose that is great as an aperitif and for Sunday brunch. Produced from six Rhone grape varieties. Great for the white wine drinkers who want to go to the other side, and fun for the red wine drinkers who want to enjoy a light chilled wine with complexity. 6,900 cases.
  • Los Cardos, Malbec 2003 ($8) -- Mendoza, Argentina; Tanzer 85 rating -- "Full, bright red. Red berries, tobacco, mocha and wild herbs on the nose, with a lightly stewed note that reminded me of a wine from Mediterranean France. Then supple, juicy and reasonably fresh, with red berry and spice flavors showing modest complexity and delineation. Possesses decent sweetness and intensity."
  • Bodegas Campos Reales, Tempranillo 2003 ($9) -- La Mancha, Spain; Tanzer 87 rating -- "From the largest wine growing area in the world, near Madrid, this pure Tempranillo has fruit intensity, yet never loses its precise, focussed berryish demeanor." Parker says, "An excellent value."
  • Bodegas Vina Alarba, Calatayud Old Vine Grenache 2003 ($9) -- Calatayud, Spain; Tanzer 87 rating -- "Good full ruby-red. Superripe aromas of peppery black fruits. Sweet, pure flavors of roasted black fruits and tar. Not complex but creamy and strong. Done entirely in tank."


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