WALLET A BIT LIGHT?

 

Most of us indulge at least some during the holidays – waistlines tend to expand and wallet sizes shrink – then in the subsequent months we work to regain balance. With wine, after a few splurges, we’re likely to return to less expensive, everyday values.

 

The best places to look for values are in less prestigious countries and less regarded regions in celebrated countries. But there is no reason to sacrifice quality and taste for lower price. You won’t have to with any of the wines below (all imports and none over $17).

Portugal is a good place to start. Esporão, whose origins date to the thirteenth century, has a great value lineup led by Monte Velho Red Blend (2014, $10), Duas Castas White Blend (2014, $13) and Assobio Red Blend (2013, $13). The equally historical Symington Family produces many of my favorites, including Dow’s “Vale do Bomfim” (2013, $16) and Prats & Symington “Prazo de Roriz” (2012, $16). The family-owned Quinta da Aveleda shines with the Titular Red Blend (2013, $14) and the “Follies” Touriga Nacional ($13, 2012).

Argentina is the “go to” source for value Malbec. Two good ones: 2015 Amalaya ($16) and 2015 Yauquen ($13). And don’t forget refreshing Torrontés: Amalaya Blanco (2015, $12), Colomé (2015, $15), and Rutini “Trumpeter” (2015, $11). Argento, another reliable winery also does well with Pinot Grigio (2015, $13) and Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $14).

 

Chile has long presented fine, affordable alternatives for Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. I recently enjoyed Veramonte 2014 Red Blend, 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (all $12).

Italy’s best values often come from its southern regions and one of my favorite producers is Falesco from Lazio, which also makes Vitiano from Umbria and a new line called Tellus also from Umbria. Look for the 2015 Chardonnay, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Merlot (all $16).

 

In France, it also is advisable to look to its southern climes for value. Côtes du Rhône offers a taste of Châteauneuf-du-Pape without the price tag. There are many options but I suggest Paul Autard Rouge (2015, $15) and the Les Dauphins Réserve Blanc (2015, $11). From nearby Costières de Nîmes, Château Saint-Cyrgues Rouge (2015, $12) is made with organically grown grapes. Another neglected area with fine values is the Languedoc to the west of the Rhône. Organically grown grapes also are used in Château Coulon (2014, $16) from Corbières.

 

I did find one exception to the “southern rule” in the Loire. M de Mulonnière from Château de la Mulonnière offers a nice introduction to Loire Valley wines with its Chenin Blanc (2015, $15) Rosé d’Anjou (2015, $15)

Finally, I love German Riesling and my only complaint is that recently it has gotten difficult to find good wines at reasonable prices. That is not a problem with Schmitt Söhne wines (new releases all 2015 vintage). Begin with the medium sweet “Relax” ($10) and the dry Rheinhessen QbA ($9). Then progress to the Thomas Schmitt Private Collection – QbA ($14), Kabinett ($15) and Spatlese ($16) – which uses grapes from the famed Mosel Valley.

 

 

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.