Cut-rate Reds

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Affordable, high-quality wine is out there,
you just need to know where to look

Let’s face it, we all love a bargain, and wine is
no exception. Coming off a few tough, fiscally
unsound years, many of us are still in a valueseeking
state of mind. I’m often asked to
recommend wines of terrific value, which does
not necessarily mean cheap but rather highquality
for a fair price. So I thought I would give
you a few pointers to help get your search started
and include some value reds I’ve found along
the way. Next month, we’ll visit fabulous white
wine deals, as warmer weather is just around the
corner, thankfully!

There are several ways to navigate the endless
sea of wine in search of buried treasure. First
off, rather than going to your favorite wine shop
on auto pilot and reaching for the brand you
typically buy, seek the advice of the shop’s wine
expert. These folks taste wine after wine in every
price range, from every region, so they are a
wealth of knowledge. Provide them with as much
information as possible regarding your likes and
dislikes. What varietals and brands you generally
like, price point, how you plan to enjoy the wine
(with or without food) and what style of wine
you prefer, as well as those for which you don’t
care. Once your style has been established, then
your salesperson can accurately help guide you to
exciting new alternatives.

Secondly, don’t fear the unknown. Think of
the wine shop as an exotic venture to a foreign
land, where mystery and intrigue are around
every corner. Some of the best wine values
can be found in less familiar wine-producing
regions, so push past your comfort zone. While
exploring unchartered wine-producing regions
can be more challenging as the grape varieties are
uncommon and labels can be rather confusing
(many countries promote wine by region rather
than varietal, unlike most American-made wines),
don’t let this deter you from seeking out less
familiar areas. Some great buys can often be found
from Chile, Spain, Argentina, South Africa,
Washington State, as well as less common wineproducing
regions in Italy, France and California.

Next, it may be time to realize that there is life
beyond Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet
Sauvignon. Yes, this may sound radical, but
there are a plethora of wine grapes out there just
begging to be picked, so go forth and experiment!
Try Tempranillo or Garnacha from Spain, Malbec
from Argentina, Petite Syrah or Primitivo from
California, Barbera or Sangiovese from Italy. And
don’t overlook blends, which spotlight the best
aspect of several different grape varieties, artfully
married to produce one harmonious and fine
selection. Remember variety is the spice of life,
so reach beyond your wine comfort zone and you
just may discover a bevy of bargains.

Value Reds:
Andrew Rich Cabernet Franc, $22 (Oregon)
Powerful, yet supple and approachable, it is
packed with lush blackberry and currant flavors
with a touch of anise and earthiness.

Château Morillon St. Emilion Grand Cru,
$25 (France)
Lush and stylish with rich, mouth-filling flavors
of dark fruits accented by a tinge of tobacco and
leather.

Desino Old Vine Malbec, $12 (Argentina)
A bouquet of black cherry and violets unfolds
into a medium-bodied, velvety wine with flavors
of black fruits and spice.

Elements Merlot, $17 (California)
Supple and well-balanced with harmonious
flavors of blackberries, blueberries, chocolate and
oriental spice.

Ghost Hill Cellars Pinot Noir, $36 (Oregon)
Highly aromatic, elegant and opulent with rich
flavors of strawberries, cassis, violets and allspice.

La Terre Cabernet Sauvignon, $9
(California)
Bright red-berry flavors with a tinge of tea leaf
and spice, excellent balance and a soft, supple
texture.

Mesta Tempranillo, $9 (Spain)
Black berry fruits and plum dominate the flavors
with accents of tobacco, leather and vanilla in
this concentrated, balanced wine.

Perrin Côtes du Rhône, $13 (France)
Elegant and stylish, this classic Rhône blend
has cherry, smoke and oak on the nose and rich
black cherry and chocolate flavors.

Peirano Estates Petite Syrah, $11
(California)
Silky, rich and robust with aromas and flavors of
smoke, coffee, blackberry and plums and spice.

Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz, $15 (Australia)
Big, bold and generous with intense flavors of
blackberry, black cherry, cedar and classic Shiraz
peppery spice.

Renzo Masi Chianti Riserva, $16 (Italy)
Medium-bodied and juicy with flavors of
strawberry, cherry and plum accented by delicate
leather, cedar and spice notes.

The Immortal Zin, $13 (California)
Jammy and lush with well-intergraded flavors of
red cherries, cocoa, vanilla oak and spice, with
smooth tannins.

Tres Picos Garnacha, $16 (Spain)
Fruit-driven, silky and balanced with flavors
of bright Bing cherry and plums and tones of
leather and anise.

A Mano Primitivo, $10 (California)
Ripe and smooth with lush flavors of blackberry
and currants with a touch of sweet smoky oak
and spice.