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Monday, August 9, 2010

Winners for $10 or less

7 Great Wines @ Under $10
By David @ The Wine Mine, Oakland CA (originally posted July 16, 2010)

4 Red Wines:
The WolfTrap, $9: Great stuff from Boekenhoutskloof (there’s a mouthfull) in South Africa. A Syrah / Mourvedre combo with a bit of Viognier which is a white grape, thrown in to help the aromatics (often done in France and Australia with Syrah). The Wine Mine had this wine in stock across four vintages. It’s great stuff and, to me, consistently one of the best bargain wines out there. Smooth with depth to it, lot’s of dark fruit, hints of violet and just a bit of that South African earthiness that is always found in their reds due to that countries iron/mineral rich soils. It will work with meats, grilled veggies, cheeses - an all around wine.

Chasing Lions, $10: To find something four years old in a current release is a rarity for an inexpensive wine and this 2006 is from Napa no less! It was a big hit two weeks ago in our Saturday tasting and deserves to be tried by many more people. It is made by the same team who crafted Ten Mile Red, one of our, and our customer’s, favorite wines which sadly is almost all gone. A blend of 55% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and then Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec tasting of currants, a bit of espresso as well as hints of mocha and black cherry. It is fullish bodied with nice texture and some lightly toasty oak influences. Rich enough to enjoy on it’s own, with only light tannins, but balanced enough to go with a variety of food including surf and turf from your grill.

Colonia Las Liebres, $8, (never in a tasting): Bonarda from Argentina - an excellent alternative to that country’s Malbecs. Bonarda comes from Italy but was widely planted in Argentina and still flourishes there even though Malbec has been made the poster child of Argentinian wines.
This bottling of the “Colony of Hares: (I also had it two years ago) is a dark wine with plenty of depth, some juicy plum character, a hint of licorice and light spice - good for many a meal. Ripe but vibrant and did I say cheap (I like that much maligned word)!

Scaia Rosso, $10: From the Veneto region of Northeastern Italy, this red made of 100% Corvina, is a great light everyday red, one that in the Veneto would be enjoyed with lunch pastas or light dinners of risotto or even fish. Great for Summer, although scores bought it during the Winter also. It has light notes of cherry and perhaps a bit of almond but no oak influences as it is made in stainless steel tanks. To finish it off it has a glass cork to keep things fresh and vibrant.

3 White Wines:
Tariquet, $9: An organically grown blend of Columbard and Ugni Blanc that delighted people in last Saturday’s tasting. California almost ruined Columbard’s reputation in the 70’s/80’s by mass producing fruity, overly aromatic and often sweet wines. This is nothing like that - it is crisp and refreshing with lively hints of apple and citrus. Light, vivacious and perfect for Summer!

Blacksmith Cellars Chardonnay, $10: Matt Smith, now sharing space at Rockwall in Alameda, crafts this Chardonnay to give a widely appealing profile. Grapes come from the Suisun Valley Southeast of Napa and give the wine the light butter and oak spice that many want without going overboard on either. Crisp apple and pear with just a hint of caramel come to mind when describing this Chardonnay. (Having said that I realize that my wife should try this as it’s right up her alley (I’m buying two after I write this!).

Zolo Torrontes, $9: Argentina’s own white grape is Torrontes which often appeals to both those who like fuller bodied whites, such as Chardonnay, and those who want more crispness, think Sauvignon Blanc. Zolo show the peach/pear/floral aromatics that the grape is known for and has a lush mouthfeel with stonefruit and tropical flavors but no sweetness. Crisp enough to have in 100 degree heat but soft enough to work with even hotter Asian dishes.

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