At under $15 each, these wines go down easily
’Tis the season: “Let’s drink cheap!” That’s the rallying cry around my house as we trim the tree and, at the same time, trim some of the excesses from the holidays. As you well know, cheap wines are something of an oxymoron where we live—at least cheap wines that are good ’n’ tasty. Still, here are a few I located for you that have gone down well—and cheap—during the past couple of weeks. Availability? Who knows where and when and if the prices will stick.
Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2010 ($8.99)
Widely available turkey-leftovers wine, or dinner starter. This is a good thing to do with Sauvignon Blanc: temper it a little with the softer Semillon. This Argentine pleaser is good with so many foods. Yes, it starts out a little hard, but by the second glass your palate is used to it; by the second bottle, your wallet is, too. From the same label, in the same line (astica is a flower in one of the native languages) comes a Malbec—same vintage, same price—which you can pass up, given there are dozens of Malbecs, and better, in the Argentine section. Finally there is the Trapiche Single Vineyard Vina Jorge Miralles Malbec 2008, which I’m mentioning just in case you have a Mackenzie King bill rattling around in your jeans. At $44.95, it’s surely one of the loftier priced Malbecs from the southern hemisphere—or anywhere. Mellow, smooth, lovely, but 50 bucks, eh!
Finca Flichman Syrah Roble 2010 ($11.99)
This is the buy of the season: great fruit, full and deep, great colour, and absolutely luscious—just the thing for a roast goose or a pot of rouladen. One of the best Argentine reds in the book. (Forget the accompanying Malbec, which is the same price but no contest taste-wise, and stock this by the boxful.) Now I have to find out what “roble” means.
Bodega J. Belda Ponsalet Monastrell Jove 2009 ($12.99)
No information on either wine or winery came with this, so it may be a one-time buy. Be good to get next to some of this dark, unctuous, cherry-rich wine that slides all soft and luscious over the palate. The price is good for the level of satisfaction it offers; a buck less would make it a real gift.
(Tolna) Binderer St. Ursula Smart Grasshopper Grüner Veltliner 2010 ($12.99)
What’s this, then? The Grüner Götter must have read my mini-rant about this variety a few weeks back, ’cause this one comes along, out of Hungary, and kicks the slats out from all the Austrian ones. Silky and fruity for shellfish, surprisingly tart for oilier fish, but rich and full to fuel a cold buffet. Or lamb shanks with green beans and almonds plus potato-squash mash, spiked with a dollop of Sable & Rosenfeld’s Tipsy Russian Mustard. All very, very tasty. Cheese loves it, too. It does need food. And the price—far away from the more customary $20-plus—is perfect. Other GV producers should take a taste and learn something.
Paul Mas Grenache Noir 2010 ($12.99)
From the ace producer in the South of France and his low-yield old vines comes this soft and fresh, clean and bright, rich but not oily, full-fruited wine. Blackberries are in here, maybe even a little bit of Bassett’s Licorice Allsorts mix. Versatile and agreeable with so many foods: omelettes with ham, rouladen (again), salsa-marinated cheaper cuts of steak, pasta with tomato-and-anchovy-based sauce, O’Brien or Savoyard potatoes. And then keep it on the table for Morbier, mimolette, and Montrachet—the three festive cheeses—and uncork another bottle for the pudding. Tremendous value.
Paul Mas Viognier 2010 ($13.99)
One of the best Viogniers, regardless of price or origin, in the B.C. LDB right now. If you love this fruity, fresh, and rich grape with its agreeable tartness and edge of steely minerality, this has to be your holiday companion. The Languedoc sun has done a great job of ripening the grapes, and the winemakers have handled it with uncommon subtlety. The aforementioned O’Brien potatoes would love this too, and prawns over pasta with cherry tomatoes and baby artichokes, other shrimp dishes, cold, with mayonnaise. Although a buck more than the Grenache, it is still excellent value for what it delivers.
Veuve du Vernay Brut n/v ($14.99 minus $1 off for December only)
A gorgeous bottle of bubble at a ludicrous price. Well, the regular price is pretty good to begin with. Now with the extra buck gone (on the pink, too) it’s simply the right festive bottle to bring home in a crate or one of those six-compartment booze bags. Bright little bubbles that don’t dissipate right after pouring; crisp, rich flavour that lasts to the bottom of the glass (and certainly to the end of the toast, even if it is proposed by your long-winded Uncle Bill). And don’t forget that bubble is one of the best things you can serve with a meal. Throughout a meal. Soup to pudding. Stock up in December.