It’s a wine shopper’s dream: finding that diamond in the rough, that is, finding a world-class wine and not having to pay a small fortune for it. We aficionados are constantly looking for a great value. Many stores are pushing “value” wines in the hopes that it will increase “basket size.” However, too often, “value” has become synonymous with “cheap” but I’d like to dispel that notion. Just because a wine is inexpensive does not mean that it has good value. And just because a wine is expensive does not mean that it has bad value. For myself, and my fellow Beltramo’s co-workers, good value means that something is worth more than what you paid for. With that in mind, here are three moderately priced wines that taste better than wines priced two or three times more.
The first comes from the Rioja region of Spain. The 2006 Bodegas Muga Seleccion Especial Rioja ($35.99) is a powerhouse of a wine. It’s mostly comprised of Tempranillo with a bit of Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano. Just one whiff and I felt like I was walking around the vineyard on a wonderful spring afternoon. I was mesmerized by notes of nutmeg, leather, spice, and tobacco. The nose, however, was nothing compared to the flavors when I tasted it. The spice and tobacco shine through with wonderful hints of cedar and minerals. There is a bright acidity that races on your tongue and just enough tannin to round it out. This has to be one of the most well-rounded wines that I’ve ever tasted. Drink it now with lamb chops, tapas, or even fillet mignon.
The second wine hails from Napa Valley. The 2010 Kathryn Kennedy Lateral ($32.99) was an experience I will not soon forget. Made with organic grapes, Lateral continues the winery’s commitment to sustainability and Earth friendliness. The blend this vintage is 76% Merlot and 24% Cabernet Franc. The nose is vibrant and silky with notes of black fruit, leather, and tobacco. When I tasted the wine I was hit with the dusty tannins at first, but then flavors of berry, leather, vanilla, and casis came to the surface. This wine is silky smooth with a great texture. In my opinion, this is how a hearty red should taste. Lateral is a great wine from a winery that has been punching above its weight class since the early ‘70s.
The third wine comes from a winery that has been around almost as long as Beltramo’s. The 2010 Freemark Abbey Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.99) is a wonderful expression of a full-bodied wine. There is little fruit on the nose which consists mostly of smoke and leather with a dustiness that wafts throughout. This wine is wonderfully dry and tannic with notes of black fruit, nutmeg and cassis. If you’re looking for the perfect wine to go with your rib-eye, this is the one. I was blown away to find a cab that did not follow along with the rush to appease a certain well known wine critic’s palette. If you have the patience, this big and bold cab has the structure to stay in your cellar for quite a few years.
I look forward to seeing you in the store so we can discuss what I think are amazing wines with great value. I love helping customers find new favorites. Happy times and happy drinking! Cheers!
Rob R., Beltramo’s Wine Consultant