Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mas de Guiot Grenache/Syrah '09

Here's a $9.99 beauty that a lot of folks would ignore. It is after all a Vin de Pays, which basically means "country wine". In particular, this is a Vin de Pays du Gard from Costieres de Nimes in Southern France. Vins de Pays is the next to lowest designation in the French wine legal hierarchy, but in the hands of a good producer like the family that produces this wine or from a top importer like Robert Kacher, they can be great values. This estate, roughly 15 miles from the Mediterranean Sea, uses no chemical herbicides or pesticides in the vineyard. The soil here is rocky and in a vintage like '09 it produces a wine of complexity and great flavor intensity. It has a nose of dark fruits, earth and a touch of pepper and in the mouth it has great concentration, a bit of spice and is quite smooth. This is a red wine you can have with meatier fishes like we did last night - grilled salmon with a black olive tapenade. Cheers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Malbec Musing - Finca El Reposo '09

Okay - those of you who know me know that most of the time I'm going to gravitate to the old world when it comes to wine, which pretty much means France, Italy and Spain. Let's face it, those guys have been making wine for centuries, and that is an awfully long time. I mean geez...the Etruscans were making the ancestor of Chianti in years that ended with a B.C. But to be true to what excellenteverydaywines is all about, I can't ignore the new world. Which brings me to tonight's post. Finca El Reposo is an estate grown and bottled Malbec from Argentina that is produced by Bodega Campo Negro and imported by EEDW favorite Polaner Selections. This is a wine that presents itself with big unabashed flavors that reminded of blueberry jam and baked cherries. It's very sweet mid-palate hides it's 14.5% alcohol quite well and it is balanced by decent acidity and soft tannins. It went well with the chipotle veggie chili my wonderful wife made for dinner and at $9.99 per bottle, it's a perfect Wednesday night quaffer. I like what I've tasted of the Argentinian malbecs so far. It's interesting to note that malbec has been traditionally used in very small amounts as a part of the Bordeaux 5 grape blend to add tannins and color to the final product and in Cahors, where it is usually blended with merlot and tannat. It's a late ripening varietal that needs hang time and it has come into it's own in the warmer climate of the Mendoza province of Argentina. Cheers.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Guarniente Chianti '08

Here's a great little Chianti called Guarniente from Buccia Nera via importer Maximum Wine Co. It's very soil driven aromas of underbrush, cherry compote and a subtle hint of smoke give way to bright cherryish fruit in the mouth while a distinct minerality adds complexity. This beautiful Chianti has much more body than you expect at this price point and enough underlying acidity to give it shape. The finish is long and smooth. Fermented in stainless steel using wild yeast and organically grown grapes, this wine yields a lot of pleasure for not much money. It retails at my local store for a mere $10.99. I've really not had many Chiantis in this price range that have so much character and complexity. Impressive!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Spain - more value...

I know I'm being redundant but here's another Spanish value, Evodia 2008. This is old-vines grenache bottled for import EEDW favorite Eric Solomon. I used to be afraid of private labels but in some cases they are quite good. Big cherryish aromas greet you while some of that grenache pepperiness emerges after airing a bit. In the mouth you get more fruit, concentration and lift then you expect for $8.99 and though it finishes a bit hot because of it's 14.5% alcohol, this wine is an excellent value at this price point. Should be great with burgers or any grilled meat....grilled shrimp too. Cheers.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marques de Caceres Rioja Blanco '09

When you think of Rioja you think red, right? I know I do. They are truly great wines and for me, they are what great Spanish wine is all about. But, the whites from this renowned region of Spain are also great and they are truly underrated. The delicious entry level white from Marques de Caceres is a great example. Made from 100% Viura, the indigenous white grape of Rioja, the Caceres featured a trove of tropical fruit scents, pineapple and a slight lemony quality in the mouth along with good acidity - giving it a crisp, fresh feel. Medium bodied and delicate, it went great with some pan-seared cod with pesto and set me back a miserly $8.99. Imported by Vineyard Brands, this excellent value should be available almost anywhere. Eric Asimov of the NY Times and one of my favorite wine writers posted a fantastic feature on white Riojas back in '05. Cheers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tenuta Rapitala Nero D'Avola Campo Reale

Nero d'Avola is probably Sicily's most important grape and it can certainly deliver the goods when it comes to value. Case in point: this awesome example from Tenuta Rapitala gives forth beautiful aromas of cherry jam, coffee, and a subtle stoniness. In the mouth it is fairly large-scaled and fruity with good acidity and nary a hint of the raisiny over-ripeness that can taint a hot climate wine like this. It really has great balance and will go great with your pizza, your pasta, and almost anything your gonna dish out on a Tuesday night. Imported by one of my favorites Frederick Wildman, it retails at my local joint for a mere $9.99. Great juice!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Domaine La Garrigue Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine

Holy cow - This beauty may cost $14.99 but it easily drinks like a good Chateauneuf du Pape costing $40 or more. It's huge soil driven bouquet of licorice, spices and very ripe cherries say grenache very strongly and leads to big mouth-filling flavors and supporting tannins that almost make me want lay this puppy down for a couple of years. But... nah, it's drinking too good now despite being almost too serious for it's price point. This bottling is a great example of how great some of these wines can be in a vintage like '09, and is another gem from importer Eric Solomon's fantastic portfolio. Seek this one out. 75% grenache and 25% syrah. Cheers!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spain - values out da wazoo!!

Spain is hands down my go to country for value, especially the portfolio of Jorge Ordonez which is imported by Tempranillo. In my experience, there are more great wines for everyday drinking from Spain than from anywhere else in the world right now. I'm talkin' wines as cheap as $6.99 on up to a whopping $9.99 in both white and red. The other great thing about Spanish wines is that they kind of bridge the gap between the old world and the new world. Because it's hot over there, the Spanish wines can feature new wordly style fruitiness while at the same time giving you some of that old world complexity and terroir - a win-win situation for consumers. Last night's wine was a perfect case in point. We enjoyed a tasty '09 tempranillo (the grape) from Venta Morales that was made from 100% organic grapes. It had beautiful fruit, a touch of spice and a lightly tannic spine to give it shape - all for a whopping $8.99. Oh and by the way, the non-organic tempranillo from Venta Morales (orange label) is also fantastic and retails for around $6.99.  Sick!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tasty, affordable Bordeaux

mmmm.....Lamb Chops and Bordeaux. I'm not one to go overboard with food and wine pairings. I tend to drink what I feel like drinking. But, the aforementioned do go very well together. Every year, we get a lamb from friends who raise them. Last night we grilled some chops and had a '09 Bordeaux rouge from Chateau Jarr. Bordeaux's are blends usually based on either cabernet sauvignon or merlot. In this case, the Chateau Jarr blend is 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Malbec produced from organic grapes. This was not high-end Bordeaux of course but it delivered the goods. It had true to type aromas of dark fruit, a bit of spice and that tell-tale loam or earthiness that I love in Bordeaux. It has medium body and a long spicy finish. A Thomas Calder Selection Imported by Maximum Wine Co., It retails for around $13.99. Cheers.

Monday, April 4, 2011

2 Beautiful Italian Wines

Had a delicious 2009 Negroamaro from Perrini and a 2009 Verdicchio from Fattoria Laila with a Sunday Italian dinner. We started with the red - a reversal from our usual order - as the main course featured a plate of linguine with shrimp and clams. Negroamaro is an indigenous  red grape of Salento, the very southern tip of Puglia in the "heel" of italy. Wines from the region can sometimes be very heavy and alcoholic but the Perrini was not. Coming in at a very balanced 13.5% alcohol, it featured very bright cherryish fruit, a touch of spiciness and good acidity giving it shape. It is made from 100% organic grapes and fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The Perrini paired nicely with the baked mussels with breadcrumbs we had for an appetizer. It is imported by David Bowler and retails at my local shop for $12.99. The Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi was also great. Verdicchio is an important white grape of the Marche, a region on Italy's east coast. It features beautiful pear-like aromas and flavors, a distinct mineral spine and very good acidity. It goes very well with shellfish. It is imported by Montecastelli and retails at my local shop for $11.99. Great juice!