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Lambrusco .. Seriously

The last time someone gave me a bottle of Lambrusco, she was 82, it was a 1.5 liter jug, and it cost about a nickle. I thanked her kindly, and promised her I’d let her know how it as. Secretly, I hoped to leave the state before I saw her again, never having to admit it went right down the drain. So when my friend, and newly Certified Sommelier Kirk told me to throw this bottle in the fridge and try it one night, I was a bit taken aback. This is someone who a year ago helped me pick three killer wines for my CBS 12 Thanksgiving segment. Surely, he’s lost his marbles.

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dell'Emilia

Cavicchioli Lambrusco Dell’Emilia

I’m happy to report Kirk still has his marbles, and the wine wasn’t half bad. The Cavicchioli family has been making this wine since 1928, hence the label, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. It’s made with three grapes, sorbara, grasparossa and salamino.  You have to go in knowing this is a simple wine.

The $8  Cavicchioli Family Lambrusco Dolce won’t stand up to bold pasta or grilled meat dishes. It’s not meant for that. Think of this as a perfect backyard sipper. It’s meant to be served chilled, and it’s semi-sweet palate of black cherry and cola will pair well with an antipasta dish, some appetizers, and some desserts. This may actually be the red wine for your chocolate pairing needs. The wine is frizzante, which means it has a light effervescence quality, and though the palate is fresh fruit and cola, there is an earthy, rustic component to the flavors that says old world.

This budget focused red wine ties in perfectly with my CBS 12 television segment with Suzanne Boyd. It’s pretty short, and gives you some other wines under $10 to try.

You can check out the article Suzanne mentioned in the clip that has more budget focused wines. Then, let me know when the last time you had Lambrusco was. And if you haven’t tried it, I’d love for you to grab a bottle and let me know what you think. Just leave a comment below.

We Don’t Drink Enough Vouvray

Twitter Tasting of Vouvray Wines

Tasting five Vouvray wines

When people ask me to recommend a sweeter white wine, Vouvray is usually what comes to mind. However, all that is Vouvray is not sweet, and it’s definitely a wine we don’t drink enough of. Vouvray is a region in France’s Loire Valley, and is located east of Tours, in the Tourain district. The primary grape grown in Vouvray is chenin blanc, though arbois is a rarely used grape that can be found in the region. The wines can range from dry to sweet, and about 40% of them are sparkling wines, while the rest are of course, still. I recently participated in a virtual “Twitter Taste Live” of five wines from Vouvray, and I can’t really say anything bad about any of them.

Marc Bredif 2010 Vouvray sec white wine

Marc Bredif 2010 Vouvray sec white wine

The Marc Bredif 2010 Vouvray had a funky, pungent cheese nose. Great way to start a wine review, don’t you think? The palate, however was nothing like that. The palate is full of nectarine and apricot nectar, and is slightly effervescent. There are secondary flavors of almonds or marzipan that were quite pleasant. There was some nice acidity that comes through as citrus flavors. All in all a solid $16 wine.

All of the Vouvray wines in this post were sec, or dry, with little residual sugar left after fermentation. However, the fresh, fruit forward palate makes them appear almost sweet.

Sweetness of Vouvray
Most Dry to Most Sweet

Sweetness of Champagne
Most Dry to Most Sweet
  • sec
  • demi-sec
  • moelleux
  • doux
  • brut natural
  • extra brut
  • brut
  • extra dry
  • sec
  • demi-sec
  • doux

Vouvray is a very food friendly wine, and can be paired with fruit, almonds, chicken, shellfish, seafood, and pork. However, don’t leave out cheese, as a tremendous range will pair, including cheddar and goat cheese.

Tasting the Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray $20

Tasting the Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray $20

Next up, the Bourillon Dorleans 2010 Vouvray, La Coulee d’Argent. This was a very dry, crisp white wine with beautiful white floral scents in the bouquet, and a palate of ripe stone fruit with a bracing citrus finish. Stone fruit is a general term for peaches, nectarines, apricots, and this white wine had a little hint of all of them.  A number of my fellow wine writers thought this was a stand up and take notice wine. The acidity, that citrus I keep mentioning, makes this a very food friendly wine. Fatty fish, cheese, lobster and shrimp are all great options. For $20, worth giving a try.

Domaine des Aubuisieres 2011 Vouvray

Domaine des Aubuisieres 2011 Vouvray

The 2011 Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Cuvee de Silex was more dry and acidic than the other wines of the evening. Cuvee de Silex is a blend of chenin blanc from three different vineyards, each are composed of silex, a flint and sand based soil. This was a glass of muddled green apple with lime juice to flesh it out. There were interesting nuances of baking spice on the palate, specifically the finish, that balanced the fruit nicely. There was minerality on the palate, the flint coming through from the terroir, or earth. Another $16-18 wine that a number of other wine writers found favorable too. Pamela liked the idea of pairing this white wine with pike fish with Beurre Blanc!

2011 Francois Chidaine Les Argiles Vouvray

2011 Francois Chidaine Les Argiles Vouvray

We moved to the 2011 Francois Chidaine Les Argiles Vouvray. This French white wine has a very fragrant nose, with a palate that had a lot of floral notes and a big, spicy finish. A number of other tasters found a lot of minerality and acidity on this wine, and I really did not. I found it to taste of white flowers, baking spice, and honeysuckle. Another French white under $25!

Champalou Vouvray 2010

Champalou Vouvray 2010

The last wine of the evening was the 2010 Champalou Vouvray, imported by Kermit Lynch. Just 12.5% ABV, this is a great lunch wine! Big flavors of nectarines surrounded by white jasmine flowers on both the bouquet and palate, this wine was beautiful. There was that flinty minerality that is common to all the Vouvray wines we had this evening, but it was subtle, not overpowering. There were some comments that perhaps this was the most “New World” of all the wines, tasting the least French. However, several people found that this wine opened up beautifully, becoming a bit more lean and crisp, and having the flabby flavors unwind and dissipate. For $15, this would work nicely with a grilled or broiled white fish like sole or snapper for lunch!

All of these wines were samples, part of a Tastelive.com blogger event. I am always grateful to participate in these events because not only does it expose me to wines I may not have had before, but the team at Tastelive knows that I’ll only write about wines I would serve to you when friends visit me!

I  have a few takeaways for you from this French white wine tasting

  • Vouvray is made from chenin blanc grapes
  • Vouvray is a more fruit forward, and often sweeter white wine
  • Vouvray is very food friendly, especially fish, shellfish, chicken, and cheese
  • Vouvray can be found from $15-20, and can rock your socks off
  • Vouvray can work nicely for Thanksgiving, it will pair with the turkey, ham, and some sides
  • Vouvray can age, and has been known to be fresh and delicious 5, 10 and even 40 years old
  • Vouvray can benefit from a little air. All of the wines tonight changed over a few hours
  • Vouvray pair with your Halloween candy, though look for demi-sec or sweeter

I’ve brought Vouvray to the CBS12 studios before, as a recommendation for Delicious white Wines From France. It’s definitely something we need to sip more of! So,when was the last time you said “Hey, Vouvray” when ordering wine? Leave a comment below, and let me know!

Budget Wines For Everyday

Decent Wines For Just A Few Bucks

Decent Wines For Just A Few Bucks

I’m often asked to recommend cheap wines that can be found in grocery stores. Many people hear about Two Buck Chuck, which now sells for $3 or so, and wonder if it’s any good. During my trip to Oregon, someone asked me about Two Buck Chuck right before the Harry and David wine dinner. I’ve not had Two Buck Chuck in recent years, and my first taste was a long time ago. However, I took a run to the local Total Wine, which has a much bigger selection of good wines under $10 than the grocery store, and have eight wine options that wont break your budget.

Conte Priola Pinot Grigio Veneto 201

Conte Priola Pinot Grigio Veneto 201

Our first budget wine is a $7 option from Italy. The Conte Priola Pinot Grigio – Veneto 2011 has a fragrant nose of spiced pear and yellow apples. There is a smokey, spicy note that translates from the bouquet to the palate. There is very nice acidity, which comes across as citrus notes. An easy drinking, simple wine. Not very complex, just a back yard sipper.

Kemblefield 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

Kemblefield 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough

Moving to Marlborough, New Zealand, we have the $9.99 Kemblefield 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. The bouquet is bursting, big kumquat and tangerine and lime on the nose, mixed with herbal notes. The palate is very refreshing, great citrus notes like pink grapefruit, mixed with tangerine and even apricot flavors. Very fresh fruit, that may come across a touch tart from the acidity. Good structure, and well made for under $10.

Generation Green Chardonnay

Generation Green Chardonnay

Vying with the Two Buck Chuck line is Generation Green Chardonnay, costing a scant $3.99. The nose show scallions and apricots, and the palate is smooth and light. There are toasty apple flavors mixed with toasted breads and vanilla creme. There is a good bit of green and spice on the mid-palate and finish, showing the oak that the wine is aged in. This wine is in a bottle made from lighter weight glass, helping to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Definitely a bit more green than our next option, but also half the price!

Cloud Break Chardonnay 2011

Cloud Break Chardonnay 2011

Our next white wine also comes from California. The Cloud Break Chardonnay 2011,  costs $7.99 at Total Wine and is one of their big sellers. The bouquet is fresh pears and yellow apples. The mouth feel is fuller, showing toasty bread topped with a nice pear and yellow apple compote. There is a good bit of warming spice on the finish, that shows the oak aging and barrel fermentation. It’s not over oaked, however. Don’t fear splinters when you sip this budget friendly white wine.

Barefoot Cellars Chardonnay

Barefoot Cellars Chardonnay

For those who love a more fruity, almost sweet tasting wine, this $5.99 bottle is for you. I used to jokingly say “I prefer my women barefoot, not my wine.” That was, until I met Barefoot Cellars long time winemaker Jennifer Wall! She had me taste the Barefoot line again, and I had to retract my comment. The entire Barefoot line is fruit focused, and clearly people like that style. Barefoot sells millions of cases of wine a year. So, while it may not be the most complex wine you’ll put in your glass, for $6 or so per bottle, this is an easy drinking, back yard, feet up and relax kind of wine. The chardonnay will show fresh fruit salad, pears and apples, and have just the slightest hint of spice and vanilla.

Pepperwood Gove Pinot Noir

Pepperwood Gove Pinot Noir

Moving on to red wines, our first option is one of Suzanne’s picks. The Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir is $6.99 in Publix grocery stores. This pinot noir has bright fresh strawberries and red raspberries on both the nose and the palate. There is a little bit of tannin, which dries the mouth and offers the slightest hint of smoke.  The finish seems very long. If you are a fan of more fruit forward red wines, this $7 option would be right up your alley.

Ropiteau Pinot Noir 2010

Ropiteau Pinot Noir 2010

Moving to France, we have the Ropiteau Pinot Noir 2010 for $9.99. The bouquet shows dried strawberries that are earthy and subdued. The palate is very dry, and the earthiness and old world flavors come through. There may be a little too much oak for some on this wine, which shows in the tannin and spice on the finish. The oak is not overwhelming, as the fruit still shows. However, the spice from the toasty oak definitely makes a firm showing. This could use some food, whether that be a host of cheeses, some nice grilled salmon, or even a breast of duck dish.

Radius Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Radius Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Finally, we have the Radius Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Washington state. The nose is bright red cherry, and highlights the super simple, super fruit forward nature of this wine. Not complex at all, there are fresh ripe cherries and raspberries, with just a hint of spice and tannin on the finish. This wine is all about young, fresh, vibrant fruit, and is a super easy sipper. There is no food necessary for this $8.99 porch wine.

This list is by no means a complete resource of budget focused wines under $10. As a matter of fact, I plan on highlighting more options in the coming months. I’m not the only person focusing on these value wines, however. Jay, the store manager at the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida Total Wine put up signs in each of the grape variety sections in the store, highlighting their under $10 wine options. The big pink signs are hard to miss, but customers find them very helpful.

What is your everyday budget wine?