This release abounds with value wines! The Vintage editors have almost done my job for me with their list of 20 Smart Buys for 2017. But not quite…There are lots of wines listed for good value. Many of them are lesser known grapes or quirky blends which could be fun for experimenting. What I saw was an opportunity to stock up on California wines for a decent price. I will highlight what I think are the best values from California and a few standout values from other countries.
Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (New Zealand)
981670 Score 94 $17.95
Sam Kim of wineorbit.co.nz describes this with aromas of nectarine, passionfruit, outstanding fruit richness beautifully framed be refreshing acidity. Mount Riley gets consistent high reviews for their Sauvignon Blanc. Reviews all mention fruitiness with threads of herbalness, which is my preferred flavor profile for Sauvignon Blanc. It may not be the wine for you if you are a fan of the more austere, mineral, herbal flavor profile.
Calamus Barrel Kissed Chardonnay 2013 (Ontario)
Vic Harradine of winecurrent.com gave this 4 out of 5 stars and says ‘lively aromas of sweet vanilla, baking spice, apple and pear herald an oak-tinged wash of lemon and grapefruit tang robed in spiced apple and pear.’ Fruity and oaky apparently… sounds like a very interesting wine for the price. Full-bodied and rich.
Marynissen Chardonnay 2013 (Ontario)
This is categorized as Light and crisp so it might be an interesting comparison to the Calamus above. Vintage panel describe baked apple, pear and apricot… suggestion of creaminess and a trace of mineral.
Cline Viognier 2015 (California)
128421 Score 91 $19.95
Viognier style in the new world is a bit of a flowery wine but it is definitely lively and fruity. Tastings.com call this exceptional and a best buy with ‘bright, fruity aromas of honeyed peaches, fruit salad and roasted banana… silky, tangy fruity, medium body and an even, breezy honeyed yellow apple and pear and nectarine finish with fine, chewy, fruit tannins and no oak. Think… Thai or Chinese food…
Pfaff Special 2015 (Alsace)
I have’t met an Alsace wine I didn’t like! Vintage panel describes this one as fresh and fruity with a lifted floral nose and a slight sweet edge to the ripe peach fruit on the palate. It was apparently crafted specifically to go with seafood.
Folie a Deux Chardonnay 2014 (California)
146951 Score 90 $24.95
Virginie Boone of Wine Enthusiast calls this ‘a complex, satisfying mix of salted caramel, melon and ginger that remains relatively light bodied and able to display minerality.’ Sounds like the ‘big breasted chardonnays’ that have come to be associated with California.
Piattelli Premium Reserve Malbec 2013 (Argentina)
344808 Score 90 $16.95
This wine is getting top billing in the best value section due to its rank as #44 in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2015. Kim Marcus of winespectator.com describes ‘blueberry and dark currant..matched with plenty of minerally components. Complex finish offers white pepper and bittersweet chocolate.’
Le Gravillas Sablet Cotes du Rhone-Villages 2014 (France)
John Switzer of thewinesightsreader.com calls this a delightful blend of Grenache and Syrah with berry, floral, herbal and spice notes. Concentrated and supple with juicy texture and tannins tah are soft and velvety. A ‘good wine at a great price.’ Full-bodied and smooth.
Ironstone Lodi Merlot 2015 (California)
This isn’t rated but I trust anything from Ironstone Winery to be better than average. This wine is described as ‘a rich and intense take on Merlot overflowing with dark fruit and chocolaty character.’
Trivento Amado sur Malbec Bonarda/Syrah 2014 (Argentina)
37036 Sore 93 $16.95
James Suckling of jamessuckling.com describes this as ‘a juicy and rich red with dark berry, chocolate and almond aromas and flavors. Full body, chewy tannins and a long, flavorful finish.’ I would say enjoy with food – strong beef dishes based on the chewy tannin remark.
Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz 2014 (Australia)
673897 Score 91 $16.95
Tastings.com have very high praise for this wine citing bright, toasty aromas of berry pie, chocolate and spiced praline with a satiny, bright, fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, interesting, medium-length dried cherry, menthol, mint and vianilla cream finish with soft tannins and light oak. A rich and round shiraz with pleasing spiciness. ( I’m in!!)
San Vincenti Chianti Classico 2012 (Italy)
399907 Score 91 $17.95
James Suckling of jamessuckling.com calls this ‘a balanced and refined wine with dried fruit, strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors. Full body, fine tannins and a bright finish.’ Sounds like classic chianti classico!
Soprasasso Amarone Valpolicella 2012
This looks like a chance to pick up a fantastic Amarone at a very reasonable price. Vintage panel says this won a gold medal at Expovina 2016 in Zurich and describe it as massive and velvety with cherry, plum, fig and raising characters plus suggestions of heather, spices and herbs. Stock up if you are a fan of Amarone and give it a try if you have yet to be introduced to one of Italy’s finest wines!
Chateau Bouscassé 2009 (France)
743385 Score 94 $21.95
Here is a chance to get a great wine at a great price as long as you ‘do the time’. Suggestion is to cellar until 2018. This ranked #15 on the Wine Enthusiasts Top 100 of 2015. Roger Voss of Wine Enthusiast says the wine ‘is still dark and very firm’ after 6 years. Dense tannins still show strongly over the tarry black fruits. He expects with time it ‘will reveal its richness and smoothness while never losing concentration.’
Odisseia Reserva 2012 (Portugal)
470351 Score 91 $19.95
This is a Portuguese blend aged in a combination of new and aged oak. Mark Squires of roberteparker.com calls this impeccably balanced, a graceful and flavorul Reserva that he expects to peak in 2017 or later. Full-bodied and smooth.