Wines to Beat the Economy, Best wines for $12 or less
By Kay Pfaltz
Each month I try to pique the public’s interest and write about wine. The goal? To educate, perhaps amuse, and ultimately sell wine. That is after all why we’re still here in business and the only way we will continue to be. Yet I find it harder and harder to rhapsodize poetically about wine, expensive bottles most of all, when around the world people are hungry, out of work, or, my own particular cause, animals are dumped, neglected and abused.
I still love wine, what it symbolizes, how it brings people together, but I find my days of buying first growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy dwindling, if not downright kaput, and perhaps there’s a balance here too—less on wine means more to those in need. The good news is, wine needn’t be pricy to be good and there are excellent inexpensive bottles, expressive of place and not mass produced. So whether wishing to give a little more to charities or just trying to make ends meet, you can still enjoy a sip or two…even as you write out those checks.
The first two wines are made in cooperatives where growers pool their resources allowing their cost, hence our cost, to stay low. Les Petits Roucas – Limestone and clay soils form the base terroir of this wine made from 100 % Sauvignon Blanc, a grape which is sensitive to limestone. Think of Sancerre in the Loire and you have the picture, except here we’re in the hot and sunny Languedoc. Grapes are harvested at night and kept cool with dry ice between the vineyard and the winery, a strategy that allows this wine its beautiful minerality and acidity. The taste is fresh, with loads of grapefruit, lemon and lime. Pair with seafood, goat cheeses (Crottin de Chavignol or St-Maure), Greek salads, steamed mussels, and dream of spring. $10
Domaine de Grange de Payan, Côtes du Rhône – Good Côtes du Rhône for $10? Yes, and, after gazing at the simple yet beautiful ‘mas,’ or farmhouse, on the label, I’m ready to move in. These hard-working folks are trying to make classic Côtes du Rhône in the style of fifteen years ago. Blackberry, cherry and a hint of cocoa on the nose and cherry fruit on the palate in addition to tannin as the wine is still young. $10
Franco Serra Barbera, 2010 – Barbera’s hallmark nose is cherry, but this Barbera smells more of strawberry and mild spice. The taste is velvety smooth, with a little acidity. It’s a food friendly red, as any Italian wine is really, but feel free to drink it on its own; there’s no bite. $12
Franco Serra Dolcetto, 2010 – Dolcetto means ‘little sweet one’ in Italian and while most Dolcettos do not live up to their moniker in sweetness they offer much more than mere sugar. This example is soft with bright, fresh fruit, a little underlying complexity, leather and light tannins, it will compliment pasta with cream sauce, marinara, or bolognaise, grilled eggplant and sausages, risotto and rice dishes. $12
Food-lover’s Paris. Join me in Paris, June 7 – 14th for a truly gastronomical and very special trip. Michelin-starred restaurants, great wines, and long summer days and evenings. More info: [email protected]
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