January is the perfect time to explore ‘under promise over deliver wines’ after the holiday season splurge. We taste an ocean of inexpensive wines that honestly taste appropriately like their bottle price, but what we strive to do as a wine merchant is to find wines that don’t merely drink like their bottle price. We find wines that are overachievers, and I will continue to embellish this category as we move forward throughout the year. Here’s a snapshot of some of the best red and white ‘bang for the buck’ wines available at Beltramo’s as of January 2012:
The Yalumba winery produces high quality from $10.00 to $100.00. The Y Series wines across the board are bargains worth your attention. I particularly liked the 2010 Cabernet ($10.99). Winsor Dobbin, Sauce Magazine – Tasmania (Aus) writes: “The Yalumba Y wines are a perfect option when cash is tight and you need a quality bottle of wine. The 2010 Cabernet is a dark purple color with blackcurrant, crushed flower and violet aromas, full-blooded fruit flavors with spice, oak and mocha notes. In short it’s a quality cabernet offering lots of bang for your buck.”
Pewsey Vale Winery continues to turn out some of the finest, juicy, mouthwatering dry Rieslings for value on the planet. The 2011 Eden Valley Riesling ($14.99) is no exception. Produced from cool climate, high altitude vineyards, this Riesling sizzles with lime/citrus, hard candy and mineral aromas and flavors. Beautiful palate feel, mouth-coating and long.
I had the opportunity to taste through the new releases from Domaine Cazes last year in France. The wineries specialties are the delicious sweet wines from Rivesaltes, but they also make tasty table wines. Try the 2010 Le Canon du Marechal Blanc ($12.99). This was one of my favorite whites from my trip through southern France. An aromatic, delicate white blend of Muscat and Viognier made of Certified Bio-dynamic grapes.
Another find from southern France made exclusively from Viognier is Chateau de Pennautier’s Viognier de Pennautier ($10.99). This winery dates back to 1620 and made their first wines in 1701. If you want to taste what Viognier is like without the influence of heavy-handed barrel spice, this wines for you. Pure, fragrant, floral, peach aromas and flavors. Never heavy or sweet. Clean and fresh. Compare to California Viognier at two to three times the price.
A miniscule 500 cases of the delicious 2010 Chateau Astruc Ste Eulalie Minervois ($10.99) is produced. An impressive blend of Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache, this wine is a knockout. Sophisticated aromas of violets, gentle smoke, spice and berries. Fleshy, impeccable balance. A top-notch alternative to more expensive Rhône wines.
2010 will be another very good to excellent year for the Rhône and Southern France as you can tell by my enthusiasm for the afore mentioned wines. Domaine Paul Autard’s Côtes du Rhône ($12.99) is good barometer of the quality produced from the region in 2010. Importer Russel Herman writes:”The Côtes du Rhône is made from 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah grapes just outside the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation in Courthezon. It’s a smoky, complex wine loaded with warm raspberry fruit, showing many of the best attributes of Châteauneuf du Pape. It is ready for current drinking… and represents one of the best values from southern France.”
Another tasty value from the Rhône in 2010 is the Les Vignerons d’Estezargues d’Andezon Côtes du Rhône ($10.99). Robert Parker The Wine Advocate rated this wine 91 points and says: “The classic cuvee, which has long been selected by importer Eric Solomon, is their 2010 Domaine d’Andezon, a blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache. While there are critics of Syrah grown in the southern Rhone, even the cynics agree that the old-vine Syrah from the Gard has a special character to it. This wine comes from 40+-year-old Syrah vines and 60+-year-old Grenache vines, bottled unfined and unfiltered after being aged in both tank and concrete. Dense ruby/purple, with a stunning nose of blackberry liqueur and jus de viande (beef/meat juices), it’s thrilling, intensely pure, full-bodied mouthfeel, good freshness, and striking floral character all combine for one of the very best bargains in dry red wine that readers are likely to find anywhere in the world. This is super and should continue to drink well for another 3-4 years.”
I wrote about Cleto Chiarli’s Lambrusco ($10.99) in an earlier article in November 2011. It’s worth noting again the merits of this delicious fizz, in this context as a value sparkling wine: “Obtained by a careful grape selection of the ancient “Grasparossa” vine cultivated on the hills surrounding Castelvetro village in the Modena province. Deep ruby red color with a pink froth. Fruity aroma and palate, typical of this varietal, which are very pleasant indeed. Thanks to a rational and slow fermentation the wine has a distinct softness and delicacy. It can be a wine for dessert as well as a wine for the typical dishes of the local cuisine.” Dalla Terra Importer
Argiano hit it out of the park with the new release of the 2009 Non Confunditur ($15.99). “Non Confunditur” is the Latin term written on Argiano’s crest and was the motto of the former owners, the Lovatelli Gaetani d’Aragona family. A blend of Tuscan and French grapes, the 2009 might be the best vintage for this wine I’ve tasted. Clove/allspice, savoury aromas. Black fruit, spice flavors. Juicy acidity adds a nice punch to the wine.
Two wines I’d highly recommend from Vietti winery in Piemonte are the 2009 Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne ($15.99) and the 2007 Barolo Castiglione ($39.99). Vietti winery writes about the Barbera d’Asti Tre Vigne: “Ruby purple color with ripe red cherry aromas with hints of mineral and vanilla. A dry, medium bodied red wine with refreshing acidity and soft tannins. Well balanced with good integration of oak, good complexity and a finish of red cherries.” You might say $40.00 for a bottle of wine a value? But hold on. The Barolo Castiglione bottlings from Vietti can, in most vintages, represent the best value in Barolo. The 2007 again, might represent the best value in Barolo. This wine is flying off the shelf and will easily eclipse the phenomenal success of the 2004 vintage. Rated 93 points from Antonio Galloni at The Wine Advocate, he writes: “The 2007 Barolo Castiglione deftly balances the open, radiant personality of the vintage with considerable underlying structure. Warm, dense and full-bodied, the 2007 Barolo Castiglione flows effortlessly across the palate with generous fruit and fabulous overall balance. The wine was even better when I tasted it from bottle a few months later. It is another overachieving wine from Vietti and a bottle that is exceedingly fairly priced.”
Celler Pinol’s Ludivicus Tinto ($10.99) is a must buy. A blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Carinena from the Terra Alta district in the Tarragona province of northeastern Spain. Lovely, pure, fresh berry flavors that possess a hint of tension in the finish. Delicious.
The 2010 Bielsa ‘Viñas Viejas’ Garnacha ($10.99) is another stellar, value offering from this producer from Campo de Borja. Easy to like, uncomplicated aromas of raspberry, cranberry and cherry kirsch. Fleshy, seamless texture.
Howard Padgett, Imported Wine Buyer