Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Though I've had quite a few experiences lately that are blogworthy and I intend to write on them here in the next few days (2009 Drouhin Tasting and Washington State Winemakers Tasting) I really want to get the ball rolling on writing about things that have been requested by dedicated readers. So, the shoutout this time goes to my friend B who has transplanted from the idyllic mid-west (excuse my partiality) to San Francisco, and is wondering about hot value wines. B, I hope you are taking advantage of the close proximity to wine-country, to say the least. Here goes nothing:

To be perfectly honest, lately I have been spending a significant part of my budget on wine. I've probably been spending out of my price range to try things that I've heard about or deem as 'must try's' for a wine geek up and coming. That being said, I do have my favorites that have tried and tempted (thank you Wood Brothers) and tried again. The following wines you should be able to find under $15, even under $10 and you will go to sleep happy and definitely will re-buy the next time you're in the wine shop: (Side note: I've read a few blogs lately about Costco and pricing. Basic market principle makes for a scenario where Costco has the absolute lowest pricing. However, their availability is not the same and their customer service is not either. If you know what you want and you can get it at the big box, I get it. However, as a small retailer I tend to side more with the local business mentality and the idea that a dollar more is worth it in the long run).

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Washington): $10-$14 Rieslings are choice, especially for those of you converting to wine and needing some sugar to make it happen. This one comes from a former rock concert promoter and industry visionary producing some cutting edge juice out of Washington. The acidity pops on your tongue while the sweetness is medium. Notes of melon and ginger dominate and demand that you have this wine with some spicy Thai food (that is if you can't get enough of it on its own).

Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay (Livermore, California): $10-$15 An absolute over-performer for its price. Have anyone who loves Chardonnay from any price range and they will give a fair nod. Tropical fruit aromas of banana and pineapple tickle your nose as the wine leads you to a full, rounded palate with subtle oak and a nutty, buttered popcorn finish. MUST BUY!

Garnacha de Fuego (Spain): $6-$9 This one is my HOT BARGAIN. I hand-sell caseloads of this every week at my store. A juice bomb packed with everything from black cherry, plum and licorice to vanilla and spice box. Super smooth, super good, on its own or with much anything you please (can you say tacos, burgers, MSNBC or MTV)?. Old vine grenache (the vines for this wine are on average 60 to 80 years old) from the Catalayud Region of Spain. I adore this wine for the price.

Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola (Sicily): $9-$12 Excuse my (English) but I have winemaker friends who call the grape Nero D'Avola a 'slut'. Dark and inky, literally meaning 'black from Avola', a town on the southeastern coast of Sicily. This wine has it all. Fruit, body, acid, and a decently lasting finish. Dark raisinated fruit and juicy vanilla dominate. I've been geeking on Sicilian wines lately because of their uniqueness and progression in the last 10 years. If you're at all interested you should read the book 'Palmento' by Robert Camuto. It got me hooked.

There you have it friends. I'm sure there are plenty of wines at or below this price range in your market that deserve attention; These are just a few of my favorites. I've said it before and I'll say it again, one of the crucial things in your wine consumption is building a relationship with a local retailer. PLEASE find a local store with a decent wine selection and get to know the wine specialist on a first name basis. They will be glad to learn your palate and budget and be overjoyed at providing you wines to fit your needs. Please share any comments or suggestions freely. I look forward to your thoughts and ideas for future posts.

Spring is on its way.

What is your favorite budget wine for any given evening (or sunday afternoon)? How much are you willing to spend on a bottle for daily consumption? What do you want to see covered here in my ramblings? Please comment below!

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