Mon 9 Jan 2012
Choosing my 25 Great Wine Bargains of 2011 was even more difficult than selecting the 50 Great Wines of 2011. Are inexpensive wines getting better? Certainly the past decade has seen marked improvement in the under-$20 category in wines we see from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Argentina and, to a lesser extent Chile, as well as a proliferation of inexpensive wines from hitherto unexplored regions of France; Australia, I’m sorry to say, has largely found itself outclassed, though I have included a couple on this list. The breakdown here, including the rosé supplement, is France 9, California 8, Argentina 3, Chile, Italy and Australia with 2 each, Spain, Austria and New Zealand with 1 each.
The number I choose every year, “25 Great Wine Bargains,” is arbitrary, of course, and I fudged a bit this year with the rosés, so why not 50? Well, I dunno. In a way, 25 is a reasonable limitation because it makes me concentrate and go back over the reviews and notes to determine what wines really impressed me as being “Great Bargains” in terms of character, personality and quality/price ration. It all comes down to shades and degrees and nuances. If two similar wines are priced at $14 and $15 and both rated Very Good+, obviously the $14 wines gets precedence; if two similar wines are priced $15 and one rated Very Good+ and the other rated Excellent, well, you could be as looped as Puff the Magic Dragon and know that the wine with the Excellent rating snags a berth.
In a way, or perhaps in every way, this roster of “25 Great Wine Bargains of 2011” is more significant than the “50 Great Wines of 2011,” because far more people would pay $18 for a bottle of wine than $80, with the $10 to $14 points being all-important. So go for it, have fun, drink up, but with caution, of course. Prices range from $9 to $19.
1. Apaltagua Reserva Unoaked Chardonnay 2010, Casablanca Valley, Chile. Very Good+. About $11.
2. Bindi Sergardi 2008, Chianti Colli Senesi, Italy. “Chianti from the hills of Siena.” Very Good+. About $15.
3. Carlton Cellars Cannon Beach Pinot Gris 2010, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $18.
4. Chante Cigale l’Apostrophe 2009, Vin de Pays Méditerranée. 70 percent grenache, 20 percent cinsault, 10 percent syrah. Excellent. About $16.
5. Chateau l’Escart Cuvée Eden 2009, Bordeaux Supérieur. 60 percent merlot, 30 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent malbec. Very Good+. About $15.
6. Colomé Torrontés 2010, Calchagua, Salta, Argentina. Excellent. About $15.
7. Clos de los Siete 2009, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina. 57 percent malbec, 15 percent merlot, 15 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent syrah, 3 percent petit verdot. Excellent. About $18.
9. Paul Durdilly “Les Grandes Coasses” Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais 2009, Beaujolais, France. Excellent. About $17.
10. Evohé Viña Viejas Garnacha 2009. Vino de la Tierra del Baja Aragon, Spain. Very Good+. About $12.
11. Frisk Prickly Riesling 2011, Victoria, Australia. Very Good+. About $11.
12. Henry’s Drive Morse Code Chardonnay 2010, Padthaway, South Australia. Very Good+. About $9.
14. Hugel et Fils “Hugel” Cuvée Les Amours Pinot Blanc 2008. Alsace. Excellent. About $15.
15. Kendall-Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2009, California. K-J’s foray into “unoaked” territory. Very Good+. About $14.
16. Morgan Winery R. & D. Franscioni Vineyard Pinot Gris 2010, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey. Excellent. About $18
17. Mount Beautiful Riesling 2009, Cheviot Hills, North Canterbury, New Zealand. Excellent. About $19.
18. Napa Station Chardonnay 2008, Napa Valley. Excellent. About $16.
19. Domaine des Rozets 2009, Coteaux du Tricastin, France. 65 percent grenache, 35 percent syrah, 5 percent cinsault. Very Good+. About $12.
20. San Huberto Bonarda 2009, La Rioja, Argentina. Very Good+. About $11.
23. Steelhead Pinot Noir 2009, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $15.
24. X Winery X Red 2009, North Coast. 52 percent syrah, 19 percent mourvedre, 17 percent zinfandel, 12 percent grenache. Very Good+. About $15.
25. Zantho Blaufränkisch 2008, Burgenland, Austria. Very Good+. About $14.
Et les rosés:
1. Chateau des Annibals “Suivez-moi-jeune-homme” 2010, Coteaux Varois en Provence. Excellent. About $19.
3. Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare 2010, Central Coast. Excellent. About $15.
4. Mas de la Dame “Rosé du Mas” 2010, Les Baux de Provence, France. Excellent. About $15.
5. Domaine du Tariquet Rosé de Pressée 2010, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gasgogne, France. 30 percent merlot, 30 percent cabernet franc, 25 percent syrah, 15 percent tannat. Excellent. About $12.