I am always surprised at the number of good wines that can be purchased for $20 or less. Over the last few months in the homes of friends, at wine tastings, and in my travels I have tasted and enjoyed a number of wines that were a pleasure to drink and did not cost a lot of money. As I have said in the past, it is not the price of the wine but the style that is important. Wines that are terroir-driven and go with food are the ones I like best.
Here are 15 wines that I believe are a great bargain. Always remember — one does not have to spend a lot of money to drink well.
1. Gruet – Rose NV Sparkling Wine aged 24 months en tirage- made in the champagne method. I had this wine in Santa Fe when I was there visiting friends. It has hints of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, great bubbles and at $14 is a very good buy. (New Mexico)
2. Martin Codax-Albarino Riax Baixas The wine is aromatic with aromas and flavors of citrus, peach and pear, good acidity and a pleasant finish and aftertaste $13 (Spain)
3. Domaine Foundis-Naqussa This wine is made from the Xinoamvro grape and it is aged one year in French oak barrels and another year in the bottle before it is released. It has aromas and flavors of red fruit and spices. $15(Greece)
4. E. Guigal – Cotes du Rhone Made from 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. This is one of the best of the best – a big wine that can last for a number of years. Great deep black and red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of pepper and tar and a great finish and after taste. $16 (France)
5. Cellier du Rhone – Chateauneuf du Pape This wine was tannic with black fruit aromas and flavors and hints of blackberries and blueberries. It is a wine that will age. $20 (France)
6. Domaine Willm - Pinot Blanc Very easy drinking light wine. It is soft and fresh with delicate fruit and aromas of pear and peach. (France) $12
7. Terres De Saint Louis Rose’ Made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault grapes. I liked this wine with its aromas of citrus fruit and a hint of berries. It was very well balanced with and a very appealing finish and aftertaste. $14 (France)
8. Saint Andre’ de Figuiere “Magali Signature Rose” $17 Made of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet grapes in equal proportions. This is an easy drinking Rose’ with very nice fruit aromas and flavors $18 (France)
9. Mas De Daumas Gassac Sparkling Rose’ This was a real surprise, fresh fruity aromas, lively bubbles and low alcohol. Made with the Charmat Method, the free run juice from the Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented in a closed tank which retains all the fermenting gas. $ 20 (France)
10. Domaines Paul Mas – Arrogant Frog Ribet Rose’ de Syrah. I could not resist this wine when I read the name. It is cherry pink in color, complex for a Rose, with hints of cherry and candied fruits, well balanced with a long finish and pleasant after taste.
Only the free run juice is used and the wine is aged on its lees with regular “batonnage” for 40 days in new coated cement vats. $ 14 (France)
11. Domaines Paul Mas – Arrogant Frog Ribet Pink Sauvignon Blanc Pinky. It has a very interesting color, bright gold with pink tints. The wine was complex, fruity with hints of herbs and grapefruit; it is well balanced with good acidity. It does maintain its Sauvignon Blanc varietal character. Racking at 10 degrees C for clarification of the wine, filtration of the “Bourbes” and reblended into the clear juice. By mastering the extraction and oxygenation during maceration, the Sauvignon Blanc gets slightly pink color. $14 (France)
I believe that some of the best rose’ come from the Cotes de Provence and the Languedoc regions of France. They are rose’ specialists and pick their grapes when there is the perfect balance between acidity and sugar which is what makes a great rose’.
12. Valle dell’ Acate Frappato -100% Frappato. This is a very aromatic wine with aromas of red fruit, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. It has flavors of red fruit and hints of spice and sage. It is aged in Stainless Steel for 6 months. $19 (Italy)
Badia a Coltibuono:
13. Chianti “Cetamura” 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo in stainless steel tanks $12
14. Chianti Classico Roberto Stucchi $14 100% Sangiovese, aged in small oak casks for 8-10 months.
15 Chianti Classico 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo aged in Austrian oak barrels $18
I was at the Martin-Scott tasting on Monday and saw Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti pouring her wines. The Cetamura is the lightest and is ready to drink. The Roberto Stucchi is aged in small casks but it tasted like pure Sangiovese to me. The Chianti Classico was the biggest of the three and can age. All of them had aromas and flavors of red and black berries with hints of leather and spice. The wines captured what I think is the aroma of Tuscany- “Sunshine on the Tuscan Pines”. They are great food wines because of the good acidity.(Italy)
I am off to Italy today. Michele and I are previewing and touching up the pizza tour that we are planning for next May and September. Roberto Caporuscio from Keste, in my opinion the greatest piazzaiolo in this country, will accompany the tour and we will have cooking classes with Michele and Roberto, while I take care of the wines. It promises to be a great trip and we hope you can join us. For more information, go to www.MicheleScicolone.com and click on the Travel with Me page.