Toast summer on its way with these $10 wines
On the off chance that sumer is in fact icumen in, here are a baker’s dozen of cheap and cheerful wines with which to toast its imminence. May it actually take hold and stick around a while. Everybody now: lhude sing cuccu. We’ll actually just settle for spring, and sing anyway!
These come to us from South Africa, Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and Chile. At the time of acquisition, all were hovering around the $10 mark.
The two South Africans start the shopping list.
Two Oceans Pinot Noir 2008 ($9.99, specialty)
A light, fresh, easy red; kind of a breakfast Pinot Noir. Nothing complicated, just good gulping. Great with salmon, cream cheese, capers, chopped onion, and dill on a good bagel.
Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($10.49, general)
Easier on the gooseberries than many of the New Zealand Sauvignons, this one’s mellow and a little tropical. I know SB isn’t traditionally a steak-and-kidney-pie wine, but it really works with the ones ready-to-heat from Peter Black & Sons Butcher in Park Royal Shopping Centre. The same winery has a Semillon-Chardonnay (speculative listing) for the same money and even tastier for mine.
Rudolf Mí¼ller Liebfraumilch 2009 ($9.99, specialty)
Lots of Riesling up front, then Silvaner and Mí¼ller-Thurgau. Hate the blue bottle and the plastic cork but love the taste, the price, and the low alcohol (8.5 percent). A very versatile lunch wine, and good for light dishes, eggs Benny, waffles with fresh fruit, or grilled-ham-and-cheese sandwiches.
Farnese Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2009 ($8.99, general)
Remember the buzz when the original red Farnese hit town some years back? I think this is an even better buy; case lots are called for. Bright and crisp with dewy clover aromas, and suited to food with a little fat to it—schnitzel, veal, ham-and-egg pie, or oysters with bacon and cheese. Definitely a food wine.
Trapiche Mendoza Heights Chardonnay 2010 ($8.47, speculative)
I can’t imagine these next two Argentines will hang around for long at these prices, so get yours while you can. A bit hard, but very clean; pair it with grilled fish, perhaps halibut with rhubarb and bacon.
Trapiche Mendoza Heights Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($8.47, speculative)
Very fruity and light, more like a Pinot than a Cab. Tasty, easy drinking with a clean—if short—finish.
Concha y Toro Frontera Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($8.99, specialty)
Full fruit and a soft finish, just the thing for cracked crab and oysters any which way. Beats Oyster Bay’s at less than half the price.
Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2010 ($8.50, specialty)
An everyday dinner wine, soft in front, mellow, and surprisingly unharsh. Great price if you can find some. Fine with spicy-seafood-sauced pasta or a robust puttanesca.
Giacondi GZ Grillo Sicilia 2009 ($8.99, speculative)
Pretty golden colour, with white currants on the nose and a little hint of something mineraly. For flash-fried calamari, white anchovies in vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, or prawns and such on the grill. From the label: “For summary appetizers”—as opposed to those lengthy litigious ones, I suppose.
Giacondi Nero d’Avola Sicilia 2008 ($8.99, speculative)
Sicily’s proudest red grape gets a budget price with this dark-hued but light-textured food wine that works for Wednesday night soccer as well as Sunday company dinner. It features sweet plums at the front and a solid, satisfying finish. For spicy pasta, fresh Parmesan with honey, pecorino pepato, or whatever’s hearty and carries a bit of a kick.
Terra Andina Semillon Chardonnay 2010 ($8.99, speculative)
Time for a round up of Sem-Chards soon, see how this stacks up with the Australian models (and some from B.C.). Fresh, light, not showing a lot of Semillon, more like Pinot Gris. Time to get the ice cubes and berries out, make some spritzers, test the deck”¦
Terra Andina Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2009 ($9.99, specialty)
Teeth-stainingly purple, soft and pillowy, and sweet in front. Some palates will like it a lot, but I prefer the Carmení¨re below.
Terra Andina Carmenere Syrah 2009 ($8.99, speculative)
Good and grapy on the front of the tongue, soft and easy finish. The back label states: “This is a young balanced wine”, redolent of red sweet peppers just off the grill and black plums baked with pomegranate jelly. Very good value.
Two new Spaniards to close, both restricted listings:
Bodegas Castano La Casona Old Vines GSM 2009 ($9.51)
GSM stands for Garnacha, Syrah, and Monastrell, often a winning red blend in Spanish table wines. It’s not for the faint of palate—it’s often dark, intense, and hearty (as in this case) with abundant berries and other fruit crowding the tongue. Think paella (if it has lots of meat in it); merguez on the grill; mixed Italian crostini, or buttermilk/cornmeal/chipotle chicken.
Bodegas Castano La Casona Monastrell Rose 2009 ($9.51)
A pretty pink wine is just the thing for spring fare: salmon soufflés, quiches, omelettes, or potted shrimp. It’s a lip-smacking pink, dry but not remotely acidic, and full of strawberry fruit. The back label says it has “A slight nose of bakery.” Maybe that’s what put me in mind for Terra Breads’ grape bread, so I got a piece and it works like a charm. It’s a solid spring-summer sipper/spritzer. Light, delicious, and very fresh.