Tag Archives: Wine Under $10

OK! Bordeaux Superior for $10…GO!!!

14 Jul

Chateau La Reine Audry 2010.

It’s a red Bordeaux Blend. Do you like them? Then get some!

I bought this $10 bottle to help fill up an empty space in a mixed case with a couple of super-rare, no-longer available Jura wines from Jacques Puffeney (tangent, sorry). I tasted it at dinner with my brother-in-law, (a doctor who drinks red wine every night) who thought it was the best wine he’d had in a long while. Me, I thought it was a killer value. 

So the next morning, I sent a half case to my dad as a belated Birthday/Father’s Day present, along with a few other things I really wanted him to try. It was a package of great, affordable reds from Spain, France & Italy. But this was the ONE wine I sent him a HALF CASE of. Because I know he is going to love it, and he doesn’t know it’s dirt cheap. (Dad also doesn’t read my blog, and I trust you will NOT tell him!)   

And now I’m sharing this with you, dear readers, out of guilt. Because I also love you, and so many of you adore great buys under $20, and I rarely find really good wines in that price range. When I do, I am often quick to point it out. This time I was lax, and I apologize. So here you are, Loie, Kim, Angela, Lynn- some of my favorite readers who love the bargain pricing? This one’s for you!

Chateau La Reine Audry. Currently listing for around $15/bottle at Astor wines, today’s Bastille Day sale gets you a 30% discount to $9.96! For my West coast friends, The Wine Club in SF also has it for just over $10/bottle. It’s a STEAL at that price. 

What are you waiting for? This delicious red has cassis, red plum, and a ton of tannins. A beautiful bordeaux superior blend that is hard to beat at this price. It’s a 2010. It’s drinking beautifully right now. 

I dare you to find a better CURRENTLY AVAILABLE Bordeaux for under $10.

If you do, I owe you a bottle from my personal stock (my choice, not yours. It won’t be the Puffeney).

Sorry I didn’t take a bottle shot.

ChAudry Edit

My lousy, “I didn’t think this was going on my blog until after I enjoyed it” picture.

 

La Reine AudryA little more even label shot, photo credit to wine-searcher.com.

 

à votre santé!

and yes… this one’s for you. But you know I can’t say that without remembering my time mixing monitors for Barry Manilow when he was performing on Broadway right?

Old World Whites at Stunningly Low Prices

10 Oct

Le Domaines Robert Vic: Comtesse de Marion Chardonnay 2014, Pays D’oc, Vias, France. ABV 13%, available online from $8-14/bottle, sourced at $17/bottle from Xavier Wine & Spirits, NYC.

Translucent, pale straw in  color with a delicate nose of wildflowers and a hint of orchard fruit. Classically balanced chardonnay, mild up front with a rich and savory mid-palate, plenty of acid and a refreshing finish. Shows the kind of depth normally expected from a higher price tag, this is a no-brainer for those who adore quality $40-60 bottles of white and a killer find for those who work the under $20 range. Flexible to pair on the light and medium sides with fish, shellfish, salads, vegetables, light cheeses, white meats and of course, by itself for a glass of pure mediterranean sunshine.

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Bonny Doon Vinyards Le Cigare Blanc 2012, Beeswax Vineyard, Santa Cruz, CA. 13%ABV, $10/bottle from Wine Exchange.

Color of medium straw green tinge. White peach and honeysuckle on the nose. On the palate, a mature blend of white fruit akin to delightful Bordeaux Blanc- white pear, golden delicious apple, asian pear, medium finish with notes of orange rind, slate and limestone.

This is a blend of 48% grenache blanc, 44% roussane, and 8% picpoul blanc (a Rhône blending varietal known for acidity and minerality) purported to use a very hands-off approach to winemaking, and as a result feels very old world in balance, acidity, and comfort.

With other vintages selling at three times the price, this is a go-to value bottle that drinks easily as well as a $20 bordeaux blanc and $25 california white blend. Don’t let the alien face on the yellow screwtop scare you away, this is a serious wine that can offer delightful pairing and huge value on the price point.

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à votre santé!

 

Garnacha With Love

17 Nov

The wine grape Grenache in France, or Garnacha, as it’s called in Spain, is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world. Sadly in the USA, we tend to think of it primarily as a blending grape, when there are many vineyards producing great single varietals. I recently had an opportunity to taste six of the Spanish beauties, and the first four wines have tasting notes are below. Thanks to Sofia Gonzalez, Wines of Garnacha, and Stefanie Schwalb for the tasting!

 

La Miranda de Secastilla 2012, Granacha Blanca, Spain. 13.5% ABV, Street price $13-14/bottle.

Color is a neutral medium straw. With a delightfully floral nose, honeysuckle and sweet white peaches, the mouth gets a crisp fruit attack with creaminess in the body before the acidity. Some gentle minerality of sandy loam and aged cedar plank on the finish. The overall experience is rich and opulent, and understand the depth of this compliment: I really enjoyed this bottle, would accept this wine in place of a white Bordeaux blend in the same price range of $13-20.
LaMirandadeSacastilla

 

 

Castillo de Monséran Cariñena Garnacha 2012 by San Valero. 12.5% ABV. Street price $8.

Color is medium violet with garnet edging, the nose is gentle blue fruit, menthol and old wood. Black plum, blueberry, and black cherry are evident on the soft palate with hints of forest floor, potting soil, and an essence of stone on the finish that reminds you of Pyrenees mountain range. Really surprising value to be had here; with the soft fruit and complex body this bottle compares well with wines over $35.

CastillodeMonseran

 

Vinas Del Vero’s Secastilla Somontano Garnacha 2009. 14.5% ABV. $24 street.

Deep garnet in color, a nose of blackberry jam. Dark, spicy black fruit on the palate. Robust and viscous, this wine begs for tapas and Spanish entrees but paired equally well with chili, Mexican, and a spicy chicken stir-fry.

SecastillaB&G

 

PDM Pagos del Mancayo, Garnacha 2012, Campo de Borja, Spain. 14% ABV, Online from $12-14/bottle.

Deep violet color, nose of blue and black young fruit with green vegetation, and a hint of dank compost. On the palate, the fruit is muted yet mature, while strong tannin and acidity remain. An ideal wine for protein-heavy tapas: not overpowering, but palate cleansing. Very dark palate and secondary flavors, forest floor, tar, cedar, graphite, and coffee grounds. My food pairing choice was mediocre but the strong flavors in the bottle made me certain that a proper pairing shows this as a stunning wine. Hearty meals centered on meat would pair best, such as a stew, roast, or meat sauce. http://pagosdelmoncayo.com/en/11-garnacha.html

PdM Garnacha

 

Overall I was impressed by the quality of the wines I tasted, and was glad to be educated to the quality of this grape by the sampling. This tasting certainly opened my eyes and my taste buds, and I enjoyed both the wide range of flavors, the quality of production and the end value to the consumer that was demonstrated by these producers, and I know that you will appreciate them as well!

What’s your favorite garnacha/grenache wine? Click the comments tab and let me know!

à votre santé!

In Vino Veritas 2014. Vinho Verde!

28 May

I attended another “In Vino Veritas” group in NYC in which everyone brings a bottle (not the same one, hopefully) of a grape varietal or style of wine. I suggested several possibilities for summer wine options to group’s host,  Jimmy. A few days later I got an invitation via email, and the wine of choice was Portugal’s Vinho Verde.

I’ve been to Portuguese wine tastings before. One at a high-end wine store in Manhattan where I had found the vinho verde choices just not quite to my personal liking at that moment. I hoped to fare better at this one, and knew at least I’d bring one that I enjoyed.

The day of the tasting came and we found ourselves around a table with five bottles of vinho verde, from five different manufacturers, several of which cost under $10. They were quite different in style: some were lighter in color, body, and depth while others had some savory notes and a more yellow hue instead of the pale green I’ve come to associate with them. Not all the wines were sparkling/carbonated, and interestingly enough as a group we all seemed to choose different bottles as our favorite of the set. The tasting process became a great overview of a variance of style and flavors.

My apologies for the lack of specific individual reviews, as I was determined to actually enjoy this tasting and not make it “work”, so I left my notes for the next tasting, and am sharing only the overview today.

Casal Garcia

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Quinta de Azevedo

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Gazela Branco

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Muralhas de Mancao

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Most importantly at this tasting, everyone found a wine (or three) they enjoyed. For most of the group, it was their first time tasting this delicious and refreshing treat just in time for summer. For all of us, it was a great time with friends, trying something new and exciting, learning and enjoying, and having a wonderful summer evening.

vinho-verde-portugalHave a favorite Vinho Verde or a great story to share? Tell us about it!

à votre santé!

Spice Is Nice, WOW at this price! Your BBQ Rioja is here!

23 May


Finca Valdeguinea Rioja, Spain; 2012. Ltd Edition (15,000 bottles), 14% ABV. Astor Wine & Spirits, $7/bottle.

Made from 100% tempranillo, the color is violet with ruby edging. The nose is of black plum and cherry, while in the mouth blackberry, sour cherry, and black plum flash the palate along with nice acidity. Additional notes of spice, vanilla bean, licorice, new leather, and tart vegetation on the back palate with a nice finish that was longer than I expected. Great for pairing with spicy food, held up beautifully to my spicy chicken fajitas, but will also work well with pizza, any tomato sauce, or red meat. Delightful on the palate and a good value at this cost.

Simply put, a great BBQ wine. I should buy more for the summer. And I love the tongue-in-cheek label, it looks like so many white tablecloths I’ve ruined. You, too?

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à votre santé!

 

The Red Wine Party Challenge: Part 2/Conclusion

12 May

In Part 1 of The Red Wine Party Challenge, I provided mini-reviews of eight possible wines under consideration for a catered meal where I needed to choose one red wine for a very large group of people. The criteria included: 

1) Ideally a French wine

2) Must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) To speed bar service, require alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle.

4) Lower price range ($7-$15/bottle) to stay in the party budget. 

As a refresher, at a local wine store I found these eight wines as possibilities:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7

Rosemont Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7

Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay  (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9

PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve, (Rhone, France) $10

Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12 

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15 

8 bottle

Round One: I started by removing the wines I thought had limited pairing ability- even though they might have paired wonderfully with one specific dish from the meal, after tasting them I had to find that one wine that will stand out on its own AND pair well with all the foods being served- salad, poached salmon, pasta (tomato sauce, pesto, garlic & oil, primavera) as well as a sushi station. Well, it’s called a challenge for a reason, right?  I took three out of consideration after my initial tasting:

-The Rosemont Estate felt smooth and a tiny bit sweet- not right for this pairing.

-While La Vielle Ferme is often a wine I enjoy, this year’s selection was only OK.

-I thought a gamay selection offered good potential, but this bottle of DuBoef felt too astringent.

Round One left me with five remaining wines: two Bordeaux blends, one Rhone, two Pinot Noirs to decide among. 

Round Two is going to be difficult! These wines all drink very well and are delicious, great bargains with no obvious faults.

Time to compare the two pinots and the two Bordeaux. This is not going to be easy, but I’m determined to make it fun!

For the pinot noirs and this meal, the Pepperwood offers more pairing options and is easier to drink by itself. Reluctantly, I had to put the Drouhin to the side. While it is a lovely complement for the salmon and sushi, it did not offer enough body to pair well with the spicier pasta sauces.

-The Mouton Cadet is an easy vin du table that is so incredibly consistent but I preferred the Chateay La Freynelle when considering the entrees being served. I put the Mouton Cadet to the side.

-I compared the Freynelle and the Perron Rhone. I tasted, spat and tasted, and then tried each with a medium cheese. The Famille Perron Rhone has a darker palate yet was more harmonious to the dairy, while the Bordeaux blend was crying out for meat. I’m not serving meat. I put the Freynelle to the side.

 

Round Three! I’m down to Perrin Red Rhone Blend and Pepperwood Pinot Noir.

photo Pepperwood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Either of these wines would be a wonderful complement. The Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, a Chilean wine that drinks like entry-leve Burgundy from a top producer (at a fraction of the cost) would also be a great example of options to my guests who EXPECT French wines from me. It’s super easy to drink by itself or almost any food. Add the Zork enclosure, and this wine is a killer bargain at $9. Any nay-sayers would be stopped by the list of accolades on the label.

Yet the  Côtes du Rhône is a beautifully-made red that is the epitome of great, inexpensive French red wine, with more body and a longer finish.

I debated and debated. I sipped and spat, swirled, sipped, and swallowed. I had to choose one.

 

Decision time:

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In the end, I went with the Perrin Family Côtes du Rhône. The beefier body, the long finish, and the multiple specific notes from the wine make this the ideal red to serve. It will satisfy those who don’t know anything about wine (who will simply enjoy it with whatever they choose to eat) and equally well it will satisfy the oenophiles who will break down the elements, discuss the fruit, acid and tannins that I do so often in this very space.

So: decision made. For those who wonder what white wines were served, I will make good on that promise!

I started everyone off with the Gazela Vino Verde 2012 $6/bottle from Portugal, whose touch of fizziness reminds the drinker of sparkling wine while being lower in alcohol, light and delicious, making it really fun to drink.

SAQ-Gazela-III

For a full-bodied white, I chose the Yalumba Unwooded Chardonnay 2013 at $11/bottle from Southern Australia. The Yalumba is a vegan and vegetarian-friendly wine that uses no animal-based fining agents as well a being a predominant winemaker who uses both organic, biodynamic and sustainable winemaking practices in their work. Beyond that, it simply tastes delicious (green apple & white peaches) with notes of stone and spice on the crisp, clean finish. Very satisfying.

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Please share with me YOUR experiences and trials in trying to find the “right” wine. I look forward to hearing from you!

à votre santé!

 

The Red Wine Party Challenge, Part 1

1 May

Here’s a post in two parts that reviews EIGHT inexpensive red wine reviews from my visit to a store while trying to find ONE good value red wine for a large party. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Everyone has events in their life where you can’t serve your dream wines, let alone wine you really love because the number of guests are too high. (OK, if you can afford to serve first growths at your party, then please INVITE ME to your event! I’m a fun guest, look and act respectably and am a wonderful conversationalist!) Yet I wouldn’t leave the wine choice to someone else. No matter what the cost, it needs to be a good wine that will pair well to be enjoyed and appreciated!  So what is the best approach to choosing wine for over one hundred people?Answer: find something affordable that people will love. You got it, a tasting!

My family was planning an event, and about a month ago I found two white wines I really liked and picked up cases for each. (I’ll tell you what they were in Part 2!) After struggling with which red wine to serve for weeks, I finally decided to go to a larger wine store in my area (one I don’t frequent often) and peruse the racks. In 30 minutes I had 8 possible choices, using the following criteria:

1) Ideally, it would be a French red wine

2) It must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) With bar service, I prefer alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle to speed service. Ideally: screwtop!

4) Looking for lower price range (under $15/bottle, ideally under $12. While it was still a party, we had a budget to try and meet.)

 

The eight challengers, with their initial tasting notes were:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7. Garnet center with ruby body and edging. Subtle nose, with muted fruit on the initial taste, featuring a classical balance of fruit/acidity/tannin. Gentle finish- a straightforward & solid vin du table. (Screwtop)

La Vielle Ferme

Rosemount Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7. (Screwtop) Bright violet in color, nose of young blackberry, cherry and raspberry. New fresh fruit, good acidity. Slate overtones on the medium finish. 

Rosemount

Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9. Deep purple with violet edging, nose of cassis and forest floor. Green vegetal opening, subtle fruit. Classic vin du table. Tastes heavy on the merlot. (Traditional cork, but available in 1.5L)

Mouton Cadet

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9. Bright ruby color with cherry nose. In the mouth, sour cherry with tart overtones, notes of limestone hidden under the astringent finish. (Traditional cork, but available in 1.5L)

Duboeuf

PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9. Opaque ruby with violet edging. Features a nose of plum, hint of raspberry bush, cherry blossom and almonds. In the mouth, sweet plum and sour cherry red fruits pair follow with a little pepper, meeting some gentle acidity and subtle tannins. A very easy-going, agreeable wine. (ZORK enclosure!)

Pepperwood

Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2011, (Rhone, France) $10. Deep violet in color, the nose shows cassis and hints of leather, potting soil, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, black fruit and cassis pair with bold tannins and acidity, providing a lingering finish with lasting overtones: slate, limestone, forest floor and old wood. (Screwtop)

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Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12. Deep violet with clear edging. Nose shows ripe red fruit, a hint of menthol and cedar shavings. In the mouth, the red fruit bristles the front palate while tannins tighten the mouth and acidity closes the experience before the medium to long finish with lasting notes of ripe plum, new oak, clay and sand. A satisying blend that could pair easily with so many dishes. (Screwtop)

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And from Burgundy, the highest priced wine I considered:

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15. Faint cherry, wildflower, and rose blossom. Bright red fruit, slightly muted with powerful acidity and medium tannins. Some spice, pepper, and gravel on the short finish. (Screwtop).

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In Part 2 I’ll explain how I sorted through the wines to decide which would be served at the affair. I hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

8 bottle

Taste the Mediterranean- On a Budget!

3 Apr

“Tala” Monastrell 2012, Alicante, Spain. 14.5% ABV. Bottled exclusively for Astor Wines & Spirits. $5.96/bottle.

Showing a violet color with ruby edging, the nose is ripe red fruit, menthol and slate. Tart raspberry and  cherry meet green stalkiness on the front palate,secondary notes of pepper,  spice and stone are followed with a dry, tight finish.

Better than a basic vin du table, this wine shone when paired with food. On its own, the acidity may be overpowering, but with a basic pasta & meat sauce, Tala cuts through and leaves a fresh, clean palate. It reminded me of dining outdoors in southern Spain, looking out from the restaurant to view the Mediterranean sea. I enjoyed the fruit, strong tannins and acidity on my initial tasting of the wine by itself, but preferred Tala on the second day when I  took time to enjoy it, and pair it with an appropriate dish to match the spanish grape. A good party wine at a superbly low price, I’d suggest opening to air for 30 minutes prior to service or decanting for best enjoyment.

I’m not used to liking much I’ve found under $10 but Tala and the Horgelus have enough to make anyone pay attention for good value.

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à votre santé!

Smooth Criminal

24 Mar

Domaine Horgelus Sauvignon Blanc & Gros Manseng, 2013, Côtes de Gascogne, France. $6 from Astor Wines, NYC. 12% ABV.

 

Sometimes you pop the screwcap, enjoy the nose, have a taste and sigh pleasantly. Then you let your fingers do the walking and do a serious double take. WHAT? This wine hit me like that. I was expecting to see $15/bottle, on special from Astor as I got this in their “12 under $12” package I try a couple of times a year to find new inexpensive wines. So I saw what Astor charges a bottle for this: $5.96. I almost spat out the wine. “REALLY?” I thought, “That’s simply criminal!”

Here’s why: the color of this wine is a transparent light straw. The nose is grapefruit with a touch of lychee, sniff deeply and you’ll find the B.O./funkiness that makes unfiltered Sauv Blanc infamous. In the mouth, this is delightfully fresh, popping bright citrus with gentle acidity and delicious tartness. Secondary notes of minerality just make you want to drink more. I think I’ll order a case of this, and  another for the party I’m having in a month. The only problem I have with this wine is that at this price point, it’s going to get more expensive. It could easily sell at $15/bottle, which is what I would have expected to pay after my first taste.

You evil, terrible, smooth criminal. You take my gold watch and I admire you for it, like Jesse James, the outlaw turned folk hero. Next time I see you, you’ll cost me even more to enjoy. In the meantime, the townfolk might as well enjoy the benefits of a well-made wine for a great value. Best served well chilled, you might just hide out in the cooler with this to prevent your friend from asking for a glass. Enjoy it while it lasts, it can’t last for much longer. People are surely going to find out.

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à votre santé!

 

 

 

 

Popping the Zork on Pepperwood Grove

16 Feb

Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir 2010.Chilean grapes, vinted & bottled by Pepperwood Grove Winery, Napa. 13% ABV. List $10/bottle, $9 direct from winery, seen locally as low as $7/bottle.

Always on the lookout for a good value, I saw a shelf talker that mentioned this wine was a Wine Enthusiast Best Buy and Wine Spectator Best Value. OK, at this price, that’s enough to give it a try. I got home and realized they used a zork for bottle closure, and I wanted to taste Pepperwood Grove’s wine, even if only for the use of the Zork and their trademark “Groovy Green Bottle”. On the back of the bottle, they have two sliding scale markings, placing this closer to “Dry” than “Sweet”, and medium bodied, to help customers decide if this wine might be to their liking. That was a third thing I liked, and I haven’t even tasted the stuff in the bottle. Someone is a savvy winemaker. But here we go, unwrap and pull the zork:

Color: violet body with light edging. Nose: ripe plum, cut flowers and toasted almond. In the mouth, cherry and plum, a touch of spice. Modest fruit meets modest acidity and  tannins, medium finish. I’d serve this for an afternoon party in a second, it’s easy going down, gentle enough for everyone but enough body to please the cab lovers, carefully built and sleekly packaged. At this price, what’s not to love? No wonder it has the accolades. Smart winemaking that will garner a big chunk of marketplace.

Don’t take my word for it. Crack the zork and try it yourself.  Whoa, I just saw that they sell this by the BOX! While I haven’t tried boxed wine before, I guess I will now. Keep an eye out for my box wine review…

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à votre santé!

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