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Great Wines Under $25

I am often asked by friends and family as to which are my “favorite” wines. The answer is that it depends on what I’m in the mood for and what I’m going to drink. And it also depends on the occasion. I’m not going to open up a $60 bottle of wine for a weekday meal night. But here are my personal favorites for under $25. Please add your favorites in the comment section!

Michelle’s Great Wines Under $25.00

General Tips:
Since it is not always easy to find a particular wine at a store, here are my recommendations for browsing…

  • Wines from Argentina, New Zealand, Chile, Spain are great buys right now
  • Cheap California and French wines tend to be questionable. In general, CA/French wines under $10.00 should be avoided.
  • Look for little-known varietals for good buys: Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Torrontes, Petite Sirah, Vouvray, Carmenere
  • Hot California regions right now: Mendocino, Paso Robles, Lodi, Monterey (St. Rita Hills), Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara
  • Stainless-steel (or “unoaked”) Chardonnays pair well with a variety of foods and are easy to drink

White Wines

How to read:
1. Varietal
2. Producer
3. Region/Country
4. Descriptors
5. Price

Sancerre
Chavignol, Domaine Vincent Delaporte
Sancerre, France
Crisp, tangy lemon, grapefruit, granite, excellent white wine.
$20.00

Torrontes
Crios de Susana Balbo
Salta, Argentina
Intensely floral, lavendre, mandarin, honeysuckle, long finish
$14.00

Sauvignon Blanc
Picton Bay
Malborough, New Zealand (South Island)
Tropical flavors, pineapple, pear, twist of lime, fresh and zesty
$10.00 at Trader Joe’s

Roussane, Marsanne, Viognier
Anglim Cameo
Paso Robles, USA
Spicy finish, lower acid, minerality, aromatic, floral
$16.00

*****************
Red Wines

Cabernet Franc
M. Cosentino Cab Franc
Napa Valley
Rich, chocolate, lush, ripe
$13.00

Red blend
La Loggia Barbera D’Alba
La Loggia
Barbera D’Alba, Italy
Beautiful acidity, blood orange, tart, juicy, pomegranite
$6.00 at Trader Joe’s

Malbec
Catena Zapata ** Excellent all-around producer
Mendoza, Argentina
Dark stone fruits, lush, chocolate, cherry
$20.00

Petite Sirah
Bogle Vineyards ** Excellent all-around producer
Lodi and Clarksburg, USA (East of SF Bay)
Leather, nice full body, dark prune, plum, tobacco, orange rind
$9.00

Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Mourverde blend
Phantom, Bogle Vineyards
Lodi, Clarksburg, Amador, USA
Dark, earthy, leather, blackberry, plum
$17.00

Malbec
Ben Marco
Mendoza, Argentina
Leather, dark plum, blackberry, blueberry, smooth, low acidity
$20.00

Pinot Noir
Chalone Vineyard ** Excellent all-around producer
Monterey County, USA
Fresh raspberries, orange rind, cranberry juice, light tannins, red stone fruits
$16.00

Zinfandel
Edmeades
Mendocino County, USA
Rich, almost sweet, relatively light body, tannins nearly absent, easy to drink on its own
$20.00

Pinot Noir
Morton Estate White Label Hawkes Bay
New Zealand
Well-balanced Pinot Noir with sweet cherry, licorice, earthy, mushroom, long finish.
$16.00

Tempranillo
Fuerza Winery/Laurel Glen Vineyard
Mendoza, Argentina
Chocolate, coffee, cassis, nutty, hazelnut
$5.00 at Trader Joe’s

Negrette
Santa Barbara Winery
Santa Barbara, CA
Fragrant berry aroma, dark blackberry, coffee
$24.00

Red wine blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Montepulciano)
Trentatre, produced by Santini Wines
Montepulciano, Italy
Lush, rich, ripe, rich plum
$6.00 at Trader Joe’s

Carmenere
Casillero del Diablo (Concha y Toro)
Rapel Valley, Chile
Complex, fruity, long finish
$9.00 at Trader Joe’s

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Posted by on September 6, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Becoming a Wine Snob: Step One

Have you ever gone out to dinner with a wine snob? After a careful swirl, she’ll plunge her nose into a wine glass and emerge, raving about “a bouquet of Fijian kiwi flowers, wet granite, Meyer lemons, and freshly cut grass.”

“Fijian kiwi flowers? Meyer lemons? Granite? Grass?” you say. “Dude, to me, it smells like, well, wine.”

How do those snobs come up with all those flavors? An active imagination?

You’re right. It’s that — and a well-trained nose.

So how to train your nose? Start by paying attention to the foods you eat. Next time you’re eating a peach, stop and take a good whiff. Running by a field of freshly cut grass? Stop and smell. About to down a glass of lemonade? Take note of what that smells like.

Smart marketers sell those wine-tasting kits that come with a bunch of bottled smells, but go the cheap way by taking out a bunch of spices and fruits with you to the table when wine tasting. Sniff a freshly sliced apple. Do you detect it in the Sauvignon Blanc? Waft ground cocoa, pepper, coffee. Do you find any of those smells in your Malbec or Syrah?

And when wine tasting with your friends, don’t forget that active imagination. It’s sure to impress 🙂

Check out Steps Two and Three here!

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2008 in Wine

 

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