“Wine” lots about the Economy, but Drink it for Less!

You hear it, read it and see it everyday – “We are in a Recession!” and everyone is watching what they spend . We all need to cut back where we can, but spending less, doesn’t mean we have to give up quality or enjoy life less! In the world of wine this takes some savvy shopping and a lot of homework – or just trying some of the picks below to see what you like.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal asked several wine experts to recommend some inexpensive quality wines. I am posted their picks below, with the hope you find one you like and continue to enjoy drinking and entertaining with wine for a whole lost less!

Stay tuned each week and I will continue to bring you different ways to keep the party going this year!

Lisette Sehlhorst, The Wine Merchant in Cincinnati:

  • 2006 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Superiore Le Orme, $15. Notes of plums and strawberries with nice acidity and soft tannins.
  • 2007 Cave de Rasteau Cotes du Rhone Ortas Les Viguiers, $15. Aromas of red fruits with remarkable complexity for an inexpensive wine. Blackberry fruit on the palate with subtle minerality.
  • 2007 Concha y Toro Carmenere Rapel Valley Casillero del Diablo Reserve, $10. Aromas and flavors of plums, with a pleasant spicy quality and hints of coffee and chocolate on the finish.
  • 2007 Altos Los Hormigas Malbec Mendoza, $13. Cherry and blackberry fruit with a little vanilla and cinnamon. Well-structured for Malbec.
  • 2006 Luc Pirlet Pinot Noir, $14. A bouquet of blackcurrant, licorice and cherries; wonderful with salmon, pork or roasted meats.

Tyler Colman, author of several wine books and the Dr.Vino blog

  • 2007 Yellow + Blue Malbec Mendoza, about $11. A succulent unoaked Malbec, organically grown and packaged in a one-liter Tetra Pak (think juice box for adults). A third more wine and lower carbon footprint!
  • 2007 Sobon Estate Zinfandel, Amador County, Calif., about $11. Not the typical Zin, these grapes were organically grown and this mate for grilled meat is a mere 13.8%.
  • 2007 Les Heretiques Languedoc, $8. A rich red blend from 70-year-old Syrah and Carignan vines from the South of France. A wine of character that’s a steal to pair with rich wintry dishes.
  • 2008 Berger Gruner Veltliner, $12. This zippy, fresh and clean white from the Gruner Veltliner (aka Gru Vee) has refreshing acidity to accompany seafood or for simply sipping on the deck. It also comes in a one-liter bottle, so is a particularly attractive price per ounce. And it now comes with a crown cap (think beer), so popping this Gru Vee doesn’t even require a corkscrew.
  • Hidalgo La Gitana, manzanilla Jerez (sherry), about $12. Delicious aperitif with enticing saline character. Serve chilled with olives or Spanish almonds for a classic pairing.

Kaj Stromer, Woodland Hills Wine Co., Calif.

  • 2006 Copain Syrah ‘Saison des Vins’ Mendocino County, $11.99. Winemaker Wells Guthrie is one of this country’s most talented and respected winemakers. This Syrah is exceptionally well made and would still be a bargain at twice the price.
  • 2006 Montoya Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, $10.99. There are extremely few wines from Napa Valley at this price. There is no wine this good at this price from Napa Valley.
  • 2005 Domaine de la Pertuisane ‘La Nain Violet’ Cotes Catalans, $15.99. From the southwest of France. This is a young winemaker from Leeds, England (Richard Case) crafting stunning wines from old vine Grenache, Syrah and Carignan.
  • 2007 Grands Bois ‘Trois Soeurs’ Cotes du Rhone, $10.99. A sensational vintage for the southern Rhone Valley. The ‘Trois Soeurs’ cuvee is a boatload of flavor and character.
  • 2004 Vina Santurnia Rioja Crianza, $11.99. Spain is the world’s leader for QPR [quality-to-price ratio]. The country is exceptionally well position for such economic times. This is a classic, sleek, elegant Rioja made from the noble Tempranillo grape.

Howard Silverman, Howard’s Wine Cellar, Chicago

  • 2005 Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo, $13.79. The 2005 Venta Mazzarron is one of the finest values in Spanish wine. Made from 100% Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo), it offers up a smoky, complex bouquet of minerals and blackberries. Ripe, sweet, forward and altogether pleasurable, it can be enjoyed over the next six to eight years. I would decant for an hour before serving.
  • 2007 Monte Oton Garnacha, $7.29. The 2007 Monte Oton is 100% Garnacha or Grenache. Dark-ruby colored, the nose delivers aromas of dark cherry and spice. Medium bodied with good depth of flavors, this is one of the outstanding values available today.
  • 2007 Crios De Susana Balbo Malbec, $13.99. The wine has a beautiful reddish-purple color as most good Malbecs do. The aromas are a mix of fresh crushed cherries and toasty, smoky oak. On the palate, the flavors of cherries and spice are obvious, and the jammy fruit quality just keeps coming on strong with hints of spice and sandalwood in the background.
  • 2007 Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Clos de Briords, $14.99. This wine has citrus-lime and wet stone aromas. On the palate it has bracing lemon mineral flavors that keep on going. Perfect with shellfish, particularly oysters and scallops.
  • 2007 Las Brisas Blanc, $9.99. Intense, youthful nose of grapefruit, lemon and pepper. Delicious, with medium body and a penetrating finish. 50% Verdejo, 50% Sauvignon Blanc and Viura.

Brian Hoffer, The Vineyard Wine Shop, Denver

  • 2006 Ca’ del Sarto, Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy, $11. This is a medium-light style Barbera, with bright cherry and pomegranate fruit tones and a hint of roses and spice in the nose. The wine has that classic Barberian tangy acidity, which gives it a fresh, sprightly presence on the palate and makes it a great mate to pizza and tomato-based pastas.
  • 2005 Saurus Malbec, Patagonia, Chile, $11. The Mendoza style of Malbec tends toward the ripe, round and voluptuous, but the cooler climate of Patagonia usually yields wines like the Saurus, which are a bit more focused and suave. Flavors and aromas of crushed black cherry and plum dominate the palate and nose, backed up by hints of herbs and baking spices.
  • 2005 Puerta Colorada Rioja, Spain, $11. A nice medium-bodied Rioja made entirely of Tempranillo. There¹s only a hint of oak on the wine; otherwise it¹s all about pure, smooth black fruits, notions of pepper and anise, and just a touch of earth. With easy tannins and acidity, this is a friendly wine that will do well as an aperitif and still play nicely with a variety of foods.
  • 2007 Pierre Olivier Bourgogne Blanc, Burgundy, France, $12. This is a ridiculously good wine for the money. Perfectly balanced between creamy and crisp, it has gorgeously focused fruit tones of pear and melon, elegant notes of vanilla and nutmeg, and a lovely texture that sort of tip toes on the palate. The flavors and aromas are vivid and pure, and it¹s clear that the wine was made by someone with a delicate touch.
  • 2006 Heron Chardonnay, California, $12. Although it’s bigger and fuller than the Olivier, the Heron still steers well clear of the overwrought style you sometimes find in California Chards. The wine is toasty and expansive on the palate, with lots of peaches and tropical fruit laced with honey and cream, but it delivers just enough keen acidity to keep things lively and brisk.

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