Words of Wit, Wisdom and Wonder on Wine & Spirits

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Extraordinary Wines Ordinary Prices

Serious wine lovers and collectors are always on the lookout for special bottles, especially highly rated vintages from France, Italy and California meant for aging and cellaring. These are often trophy wines bought as much for long term investing as short term bragging. And, of course, for drinking. Eventually. But what about everyday imbibing, especially when entertaining at home?

Fortunately, there is a wealth of wine treasures widely available--wines pleasing to the palate yet won’t wreak havoc on your wallet. Here is a select assortment of high quality, well-priced wines from all over the world worth stocking up on for every day drinking. I’ve left off the vintages because most of these wines are consistently good. Cheers!

Alexander Valley Landslide Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
A plump and delicious meritage blend made mostly of Cabernet that has depth and character and gets my vote for one of the best clarets out of Sonoma’s southern Alexander Valley. This is mighty good juice that explodes in the mouth with ripe black cherry, chocolate and plum flavors and echoes of spicy pepper. Sweet cassis emanates from the nose along with a hint of cigar box. Shows enough complexity for cellaring, though it’s drinking extremely well, even at this young age. The perfect wine for those special guests or occasion. Stock up, since past vintages have been gobbled up by collectors who understand the immense value in this elegant Bordeaux blend of cabernet, merlot, cabernet franc, petite verdot and Malbec. Enjoy with a juicy steak or roasted veal shank. About $36.99.

Allegrini Verona Palazzo Della Torre
Made in the style of its loftier brother Amarone, with a portion of the grapes air-dried before crushing, this is a full-bodied blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Sangiovese, aged in small oak barrels for 15 months. Rich with a black cherry core that smoothly echoes notes of spicy herbs, mocha and hints of tobacco. Great with a meat ragu over pasta, grilled steak or pork ribs. About $13.99.

Rusden Eureka Stockade Shiraz Barossa Valley
A 100% Shiraz cuvee from the much heralded Barossa Valley, this is a rich and voluptuous wine that benefits greatly from time spent in French oak. Typically deep ruby and purple in color, it offers up layers of smoke, blackberry and roasted fruit flavors up front with a long, extended finish. A genuine ingénue made by 28-year-old Christian Canute, one of Australia’s youngest and most ambitious winemakers. Robert Parker gave it 92 points. Try it with a London Broil or burgers on the barby. About $19.99.

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon California
Few realize that this terrific and rambunctious cabernet sauvignon was founded by Caymus’s Chuck Wagner, considered by many to be one of the greatest red winemakers in Napa, if not beyond. Named, aptly enough, after the one-room schoolhouse Wagner attended as a lad, he appeared to have learned his lessons well—this is a fleshy, medium-bodied red with soft tannins and nuances of dark cherry, currants and lots of oak. Most of the fruit is from the central coast region. An elegant dinner wine at a great price that will improve with age. About $14.99.

Bodega Norton Privada Mendoza
This Argentinean winery dates back to the end of the 19th Century, so they know a thing or two about making great wine. Deep garnet in color, this stylish, well-structured red boasts dark chocolate and ripe black cherry flavors with accents of red pepper and exotic spices. This is a plump, concentrated wine aged 14 months in French oak. Begs to be paired with rack of lamb or pit roasted pork. About $19.99.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
A tangy, highly distinctive sauvignon blanc made from low yielding fruit of the Wairau, Brancott and Awatere valleys of New Zealand. This is a refreshing white that offers up a plethora of cut grass and exotic floral aromas on the nose and discernible grapefruit, gooseberry, guava and raw almond flavors on the palate.
Fills the mouth with citrus flavor balanced by clean acid. Great with raw oysters or clams and poached salmon. A perennial gold medal winner in New Zealand. About $16.99.

NV Gloria Ferrer Brut Sonoma County
This is as good as non-vintage bubbly gets in California and easily one of the best bargains among the wealth of California sparklers. Full-bodied and complex, this is a bright yet rich sparkling wine that impresses with its crisp apple, honeydew and casaba melon flavors. Tight, palatable bubbles give way to yeasty aromas that recall fresh baked bread and the long finish rings in with creamy notes of vanilla. Made of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay, this Carneros sparkler garners 90 points from Wine Spectator. About $20.00.

Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes (Half Bottle)
Drinking excellently right now, this beautifully balanced 2002 vintage Sauternes is a blend of 90% Semillon and 10% sauvignon blanc. Pale honey gold in color, this dessert wine is creamy and delicious nectar that is medium sweet, offering up vibrant notes of apple, vanilla and cashew. Full-bodied, it finishes with a caress of honey and faint apricot flavors. Excellent with a triple crème or Camembert and sliced apple or pear or with roasted filberts. A venerable Bordeaux house, it garnered five stars from Decanter Magazine. About $29.99.

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