Francis Sanders
January 28, 2010 | Wine Reviews | Francis Sanders

February is Ultra-Affordable Wine Month

February is ultra-affordable-values month. I'm being forcibly restrained from imposing the Crazy Eddie school of wine writing upon you.

2008 Stone Briar, Sauvignon Blanc, California
[CAL895, $9.99]

Due to my inability to use a calculator properly, we are able to offer this gem for even less money than we originally planned! Though I’ve signed a zillion pages of non-disclaimer, I can tell you that this wine is now almost one-half of it’s metro Napa retail price.

The 100% certified organic Yountville vineyard fruit source routinely yields Sauvignon Blanc that exhibits purity and definition of flavors unique to both place and season. Said pedigreed Sauvignon was one-quarter barrel fermented and aged on the lees for six months, three-quarters cold fermented in stainless steel. Forty percent got soaked with the skins one full half day before pressing.

This handling unveiled tropical fruit flavors of gooseberry, guava and kiwi, in addition to the expected herbal, grapefruit and pineapple notes. While it lasts, this wine temporarily eliminates any need to explore affordable New Zealand, Chilean, South African, Loire Valley and Northeast Italian Sauvignon Blancs.

2008 Circle Springs, South Eastern Australia Cabernet Sauvignon
[AUS298, $11.99]

In retrospect, it was the right decision to choose this 08 Aussie house brand as the first ever Cabernet Sauvignon to bear our Circle Springs label.

Having tasted thousands of Cabernet Sauvignons since then only confirms my June 18, 2009 tasting notes - “cold soaked gorgeous; seems one-dimensional in nose but isn't, herbaceous black fruits, cacao, touch of licorice - blackberry nose; ripe, round tannins, red fruits, cacao and a touch of pepper - currant palate; certainly good enough” – we cannot produce Cabernet anywhere, California, France’s pays d’Oc, Chile & Argentina included, at the price/quality ratio this 08 delivers.

Bottled by Westend Estate winemakers Bryan Currier & Sally Whittaker with the blessing of vintner Bill Calabria and his four children – the third generation of Westend Calabrias since 1945 - the wine exhibits a sweet berry nose, with violets over subtle French oak. The palate is replete with ripe berries, spice, vanilla oak and soft, chewy tannins. It bears repeating, we cannot produce Cabernet anywhere at the price/quality ratio of this wine, possibly no one can.

2005 La Tonnellerie du Chateau de Segonzac, Bordeaux Superieur, France

I’m a sucker for affordable, mature Bordeaux that’s drinking fine right now and has been aged on the producer’s dime. This wine proves more than just a double dip of value, it’s a picture in the bottle of the magnificent 2005 vintage in the form of a deuxieme vin from an undervalued, historic 120 year old Premieres Cotes de Blaye estate.

Blaye itself is practically synonymous for Bordeaux value central – this is where the Bordelais shop. The Bordeaux Superieur designation indicates that the wine has proven to the INAO (the appellation system governing board) that it meets even more stringent requirements for alcohol percentage and aging potential.

Don’t take my word for it, you can look it up - this was the least expensive highly recommended, silver-medal-winner cellar selection at the 2007 World Wine Championships. The short form is that this meaty blend of 75% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon bears aromas and flavors of plum and oak framed in that unique-to-Bordeaux forest floor quality – affordable elegance, breed and finesse in a bottle, courtesy of at least 10 values-in-Bordeaux touch points.

2006 Finca La Estacada, Tempranillo, 6 months oak, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
[SPA103, $14.99]

This is a repeat of a featured wine you may have missed, a wine so versatile that, based on the amount of cases delivered to and brought home by Braintree, MA Vinification Ventures office employees, has become our the East Coast satellite office house red.

The Cantarero-Rodriguez family winery, in the heart Cervantes country, produces Spanish wines more modern and international in style - people drink Castilla-La Mancha wines. Tradition, prestige and impressive price tags reside more in Rioja, Ribero del Duero and recently, Priorat.

Deemed “very good” by Mr Parker, this Tempranillo exhibits the expected olives and nuts aromas and flavors, beneath vibrant blackberry fruit with bramble notes. Lip-smacking cherry and vanilla (catnip for humans) are a direct result of the time spent in new American oak. Accessible, but will age well, this Finca La Estacada is great with tapas, if you’re in a Spanish mode, but if you were raised like myself, via meat on the grill, it’s perfect with BBQ.


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