Cheap Wine


The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine Boyar Traminer 2016, Thracian Valley, Bulgaria. Very Good+. About $11.
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Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. 90 percent malbec, 10 percent petit verdot. Excellent. About $13.
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Canevel Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene de Cartizze, nv, Veneto, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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CK Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc 2017, California. Very Good+. About $7.
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Fossil Point Pinot Noir 2016, Edna Valley, California. Excellent. About $20.

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Garofoli Macrina 2017, Le Marche, Italy. 100 percent verdicchio. Excellent. About $14.
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Grochau Cellars Melon d’Bourgogne 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 175 cases. Excellent. About $18.
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Heinz Eifel Riesling Kabinett 2017, Mosel, Germany. Very Good+. About $12.

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Inama Vin Soave 2017, Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy. Excellent. About $15.
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Jim Barry “The Cover Drive” Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Coonawarra, Australia. Excellent. About $20.

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Justin Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Central Coast, California. Excellent. About $16.
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Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015, Bordeaux blanc, France. 60 percent sauvignon blanc, 40 percent semillon. Excellent. About $14.
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Domaine Lafond Roc-Épine 2017, Tavel, France. Excellent. About $19.
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The Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé 2016, North Coast, California. Excellent. About $18.

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Left Coast Cellars “The Orchard” Pinot Gris 2016, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $18.
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Marchesi di Gresy Monte Aribaldo 2016, Dolcetto d’Alba, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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Monte da Pecequina 2015, Alentejo, Portugal. 25 percent touriga nacional, 23 percent syrah, 22 aragonez, 20 alicante bouschet, 10 cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $19.
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Paul Blanck Pinot Blanc 2016, Alsace, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Paul Jaboulet Aîné Le Paradou 2015, Beaume-de-Venise, France. 75 percent grenache, 25 percent syrah. Excellent. About $16.
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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2016, Eden Valley, Australia. Excellent. About $18.
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Poliziano Lohsa 2015, Morellino di Scansano, Italy. 85 percent sangiovese, 15 percent ciliegiolo. Excellent. About $15.
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Romain Chamiot Apremont 2016, Vin de Savoie, France. 100 percent jacquere grapes. Excellent. About $18.
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Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa. Excellent. About $14.

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Steele Wines Pacini Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Mendocino, California. Excellent. About $20.
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Veramonte Carmenere 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Very Good+. About $11.
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Yves Guegniard Domaine de la Bergerie La Cerisaie 2016, Anjou, France. 80 percent cabernet franc, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon. Excellent. About $18.
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Zocker “Paragon Vineyard” Grüner Veltliner 2016, Edna Valley, California. Excellent. About $20.
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I had to insert the term “Last-Minute” to the title of this entry, which I should have posted on Friday or at least yesterday, because here it is, Sunday. Still, wine stores are open today in many states, and there’s always tomorrow. I picture My Readers on an endless whirl of parties, receptions, open houses, brunches, wassails, carol-singing and what-not, giddily essaying the Yuletide with customary joy and merriment. For any or all of these festive occasions you will require a bottle of wine as a present for your host or to contribute to the groaning board. If that’s not — let’s face it — the case, you may still need a bottle of wine to take to the family or friends dinner on Christmas Day. There should be a bottle here or several to suit every taste and credit card, six whites, six reds. The price range starts at $12 and runs to $65, with a cluster right in there at the sweet-spot of $25. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the otherwise essential and entertaining details of history, geography, personality and technical matters for the sake of brief reviews ripped from the pages of my notebooks. The intention is to pique your interest and whet your palate. After all, no one is saying that you couldn’t obtain a bottle or 12 for yourself. Now let’s be honest. Not every wine is available in every city, town and village of our nation; in fact, not every wine is available in every store in the same principality. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice, as with every aspect of life. Enjoy, in moderation, of course.
These wines were samples for review.
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Heinz Eifel Riesling Kabinett 2017, Mosel, Germany. 8.5% alc. Pale gold hue; a delicately sweet entry, peach and apricot, hint of apple blossom and a whiff of gun-flint; a few minutes in the glass add notes of talc, jasmine and graphite; dry from mid-palate back, nice balance between ripeness of stone-fruit flavors, crisp acidity and a spare texture; finish brings in a touch of earthiness. Very Good+. About $12, representing Good Value.
Imported by Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill.
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Inama Vin Soave 2017, Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy. 12% alc. Medium straw-gold hue; damp hay and roasted lemon, notes of grapefruit, preserved lemon and yellow plums, a winsome touch of green apple; bristling acidity for enticing liveliness; brings in hints of lilac and gardenia; very dry, finishing with a snap of gunflint. Feels like a combination of the sea and the mountains. Excellent. About $15.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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Vietti “Tre Vigne” 2016, Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont. 14% alc. Opaque black-purple with a lighter ruby rim; loam, leather, tar, black tea; generous and warm, with macerated black cherries and currants and a touch of plum; infused with graphite; lip-smacking acidity cutting through dusty chewy tannins; a ferrous and sanguinary barbera, finishing with an edge of granitic minerality. Loads of personality. Excellent. About $18.
Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif.
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Day Wines Chenin Blanc 2017, Ribbon Ridge, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 12.5% alc. Pale but radiant straw-gold hue; classic notes of hay and heather, quince, Meyer lemon and spiced pear; very dry, with flint-like minerality and invigorating salinity; traces of some astringent mountainside flower and meadowy blossoms; long drawn-out acidity lends vibrancy and freshness. One of the best chenin blanc wines produced on the West Coast. Excellent. About $25.
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Gamble Family Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Yountville, Napa Valley. 13.1% alc. Shimmering pale gold hue; lime peel, quince and tangerine; camellia and lilac; then more tart lemon; brings in notes of lemongrass, heather and celery seed; lovely balance and integration; beguiling talc-like texture riven by taut acidity; a powerful grapefruit-graphite finish. Always one of the best. Excellent. About $25, representing Terrific Value.
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Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc 2017, Applegate Valley, Oregon. 11.8% alc. 52% marsanne, 48% viognier. Medium straw-gold hue; peach and lychee, quince and ginger, jasmine, tangerine, cloves and nutmeg, all expressed within tissues of nuance; very dry, with scintillating seashell and limestone minerality and a bracing undertone of coastal salinity; wonderful body and texture, talc-like, lithe, flowing with energy and dimension; final notes of lanolin and bees-wax. An extraordinary wine, sleek with personality and character. Excellent. About $25, representing Great Value.
Image from christine-havens.com.
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E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage 2015, Northern Rhone Valley, France. 13% alc. 100% syrah. Opaque black-purple color; classic notes of bacon fat, wet fur and stewed plums; black currants and blackberries; a deep core of lavender, graphite and bittersweet chocolate; real grip on the palate, dry and underbrushy, with fairly rigorous tannins; robust and maybe a bit rustic, but true to form. Anyone serving rack of venison? Here’s your wine. Excellent. About $25.
Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, New York.
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Trimbach Reserve Pinot gris 2014, Alsace. 13.5% alc. Medium straw-gold color; peach and pear, jasmine and honeysuckle, touches of lemon, quince and yellow apple; lemon balm and almond skin; slightly honeyed on the palate, from the ripeness of the fruit, but totally dry; clean, spare and elegant, animated by crisp acidity. Crystalline and beguiling. Excellent. About $26.
Esprit du Vin, Boca Raton, Fla.
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Finca Decero The Owl and the Dust Devil 2015, Mendoza, Argentina. 14.5% alc. (Gets my vote for most inventive wine name of 2018.) 39% cabernet sauvignon, 32% malbec, 19% petit verdot, 10% tannat. Very dark ruby-purple shading to a transparent magenta rim; ripe and spicy black currants and cherries with a touch of plum; a robust blend, offering real grip and traction on the palate; dynamic acidity and a muscular texture sustained by stalwart, dusty tannins; finishes with austere notes of loam, lavender and bittersweet chocolate. Instructions for dinner tonight: Grill steak. Open bottle. Excellent. About $33.
Vintus LLC, Pleasantville, N.Y.
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Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir 2016, Carneros. 14.2% alc. Transparent medium ruby-magenta with an ethereal rim; a pinot noit of lovely balance and integration; cloves and allspice, black currants and cherries with a touch of loam; incredibly supple and satiny, juicy and succulent; brings up notes of red cherries and raspberries, then hints of iodine and graphite. Excellent. About $42.
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Chateau Faugeres 2012, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, Bordeaux. 14% alc. 85% merlot, 10% cabernet franc, 5% cabernet sauvignon. Dark black-purple with a light purple rim; spiced and macerated black currants and cherries; notes of lead pencil, cedar and tobacco, cloves and nutmeg; dense and supple and lithe; becomes both riper and more minerally; opens to touches of lavender, violets and a hint of licorice; lovely balance and integration. Beautifully made, and perfect for a standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding. Excellent. About $45.
Adrian Chalk Selection, M.S. Walker Inc., Summerville, Mass.
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Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc 2015, St. Helena, Napa Valley. 14.2% alc. Opaque black-ruby with a transparent purple rim; smolders with smoke, dried thyme and rosemary, black currants and raspberries, lavender and lilac, grated cloves and nutmeg; dry, dense and chewy, but offering ripe and juicy berry flavors; great tone and presence on the palate, lots of graphite and dusty, furry tannins; opens traces of blueberry, cedar and tobacco. A terrific Napa Valley interpretation of the grape. Excellent. About $65.
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You’re thinking, “Hold on, FK, ’tis merely the hump of the week. Why are you posting a Weekend Wine Notes today?”

Well, Curious Reader, because this post started back before Memorial Day and was not completed for various reasons until today, and posting earlier than usual will give people plenty of chance to plan for the weekend’s grilling and drinking. I’m thinking burgers and steaks, pork chops and leg of lamb, ribs and pork shoulder, sausages and hot dogs. Yummo!

We’re firing on eclectic burners today, featuring wines from Argentina, Australia, various regions of California, Portugal, Chile and Washington state. We’re pretty darned diverse when it comes to grapes, too. What binds these wines is a certain robust nature, a flavorful allure and structural firmness that will pair perfectly with the hearty fare that comes from your grills. Oh, there’s also a wide range of prices, from $10 a bottle to $90. We try to cover all the bases here at BTYH.

As usual, with the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew data of the geographical, technical and historical nature for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks. The aim is to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy! In moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.

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San Pedro 9 Lives Malbec 2017, Mendoza, Argentina. 13% alc. Very dark ruby hue; deeply spiced and macerated black cherry and raspberry scents and flavors; cedar, rosemary and tobacco; touches of licorice, lavender, iodine and loam; appealing energy from acid and graphite mineral element; fairly rustic tannins. Now through 2019. Very Good+. About $10, for Buying by the Case.
Shaw-Ross International, Miramar, Fla.
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Steele Wines Persona Non Grata Red Wine 2015, Lake County. 15.2% alc. 36% merlot, 30% syrah, 28% zinfandel, a touch of pinot noir and a mystery grape. (The blend changes every vintage.) Black-opaque with a softer purple rim; big, bold and brash, robust as all hell, berries, berries and berries — red, black and blue — ripe, spiced and macerated, a little fleshy; quite dry, permeated by bold tannins and dynamic acidity; flush with red and black currants and a touch of blueberry; a core of mocha, lavender and graphite. Now through 2020 to ’22. Excellent. About $16, marking Great Value.
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Luke Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Wahluke Slope, Columbia Valley, Washington. 14.7% alc. With 4% petit verdot, 1% malbec. Intense, medium ruby-purple with a transparent magenta rim; rich cassis and black cherry scents and flavors, with threads of red berries; sleek and polished but displaying tremendous density and presence on the palate; lip-smacking acidity and dusty tannins offer structure for the succulent fruit; a powerhouse finish composed of granitic minerality, baking spices and intense dark fruit. 14.7% alc. Nothing subtle here, but that’s not what you’re looking for, n’est-ce pas? Very Good+. About $25.
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Esporao Reserva 2014, Alentejo, Portugal. 14.5% alc. 40% aragonez, 30% alicante bouschet, 20% trincadeira, 10% cabernet sauvignon. Dark ruby-magenta with a transparent rim; intense and concentrated, a raw, robust, lithic, dry, tarry red wine; packed with smoke and ash, spice, lavender and licorice, graphite, espresso and bittersweet chocolate; ripe, fleshy and meaty black currants, blackberries and blueberries; impressive presence on the palate but not overbearing or wearisome; propelled by bright acidity and dusty, dynamic tannins. Quite a performance; drink now (if you’re up to it) through 2023 to ’25. Excellent. About $25.
Imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors, New Bedford, Mass.
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Murrieta’s Well “The Spur” 2015, Livermore Valley, Alameda County. 14.5% alc. 48% cabernet sauvignon, 20% petite sirah, 18% merlot, 8% petit verdot, 6% cabernet franc. Super dark black-purple with a glowing magenta rim; nothing shy here but an exuberant expression of red and blue plums, black currants and blueberries, deeply infused by elements of loam, licorice and lavender, dusty graphite and sandalwood and flowers of the woodlands; large-framed and dense on the palate, founded on stalwart tannins and animated by lively acidity; very dry, even a bit austere, but gushes with ripe, spicy black fruit flavors. When you’re sipping this wine, you pretty much forget everything else going on at the moment. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $35.
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Scheid Vineyards Hames Valley Vineyard Petite Sirah 2015, Monterey. 14.9% alc. Opaque inky-purple; a brooding, deeply spiced and macerated wine; ripe plums, cherries and currants, notes of iodine, bacon fat and espresso; quite dry but juicy and succulent on the palate; loads of dusty graphite-tinged tannins cut by bristling acidity; a finish hewed from granite and limestone that doesn’t dampen the litheness and suppleness of the texture. Excellent. About $36.
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Dutton-Goldfield Morelli Lane Vineyard Zinfandel 2015, Russian River Valley. 14.5% alc. 232 cases. Dark ruby-purple with a magenta rim; ripe blueberry and boysenberry infused by graphite and iodine, licorice and lavender; a few moments in the glass adding violets, sandalwood and espresso; finely grained and sifted tannins; a zinfandel that’s lively and zesty, dense and chewy, lithe and supple, with rooty and loamy elements and delicious black and blue fruit flavors; a chiseled granitic finish that’s transparent and expressive. Great winemaking at the classic level. Now through 2021 to ’23. Excellent. About $50.
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Wakefield St. Andrews Shiraz 2015, Clare Valley, Australia. 14.5% alc. Opaque black-ruby hue with a purple rim; opens with a burst of mint, iodine and eucalyptus, unfolds hints of cedar and tobacco, mocha and tar, gradually adding notes of black currants and cherries with a high note of blueberry and wild overtones of wet fur and lavender; expansive and expressive on the palate; dusty, graphite-tinged tannins and rich black fruit flavors enlivened by fine-tuned acidity; very dry and drenched with elements of briers, brambles and underbrush. A powerhouse but quite drinkable. now through 2025 to ’28. Excellent. About $65.
Seaview Imports, Port Washington, N.Y.
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Apaltaqua Grial Carmenere 2015, Apalta Valley, Colchaque, Chile. NA% alc. 100% carmenere. Deep ruby-purple hue; dusty loam and graphite; black currants and cherries with traces of blueberry and pomegranate; hints of bell pepper, cedar and dried rosemary, with a touch of the latter’s resiny, woody astringency; abundant dry, fine-grained tannins at the service of brisk acidity and a brooding sense of expansive energy; it’s a big one, all right, dark, solid, lithic and just begging for a platter of smoked ribs or chipotle-grilled pork chops. Excellent. About $75.
Global Vineyard Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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Kelly Fleming Wines Big Pour Red Wine 2014, Napa Valley. 14.9% alc. 81% cabernet sauvignon, 11% malbec, 5% syrah. 883 cases. Black-purple with a glowing magenta rim; deeply spiced and macerated plums and currants; fruitcake and espresso; mint, iodine and charcoal; dusty, velvety tannins; cedar and pine resin, leather and dried sage; densely furnished with briers, brambles and underbrush and granitic minerality; tremendous presence and resonance on the palate, a Big Pour indeed, not for the faint-hearted. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $90.
The label image changes every year.
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The Garofoli Macrina 2017 is a superb example of the potential high quality of wine made from a simple grape entirely in stainless steel. The grape is verdicchio, and the region is Le Marche (“mar-kay”), which lies on Italy’s central east coast; the appellation is a mouthful: Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Classico Superiore. Displaying a mild medium straw-gold hue, the wine is bright and fresh with notes of roasted lemon and sea-salt, the dusty piquancy of preserved lemon and a hint of spiced pear; a few minutes in the glass bring in touches of mountain herbs and slightly astringent wildflowers. The wine is dry, quite savory and lively on the palate, where it opens to slightly leafy elements of fig and greengage bolstered by bracing, tidal limestone and flint minerality. Lovely personality with a touch of rigorous character. This is a perfect wine for Summertime drinking, paired with grilled mussels or shrimp, trout with capers and brown butter, seafood risottos and the like. Excellent. About $14, a Raving Bargain.

Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Napa, Calif. A sample for review.

Oh, sure, I enjoy sipping the world’s great wines when they come my way, but if I had invited 30 people over for a backyard cookout or sat down with a gaggle of friends for platters of spaghetti and meatballs — not that the dogs would allow such an occasion to occur — I would turn, and so would you, I venture, to a wine like today’s Wine of the Day, La Fiera Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016. Every aspect of this wine begs: Quaff Me and Don’t Worry Yer Pretty Little Head about a Thing! One hundred percent varietal, the wine offers a transparent, medium ruby color and engaging aromas of spicy raspberries and currants with notes of lavender and licorice; moderately dusty, satiny tannins bolster tasty red and black fruit flavors enlivened by zesty acidity; it’s quite dry, but ripe and juicy. 13 percent alcohol. That’s it, folks, as uncomplicated and direct as they come and perfectly suited to slake the thirst of mobs and crowds. Very Good. About $8, so Buy It by the Case.

Winesellers Ltd., Niles, Ill. A sample for review.

The weather in the United States of America has been extremely contradictory over the month of March. I mean the real weather, not politics! Well, politics, too, of course! But back to the climate and the reams of ice and snow that have assailed the Northeast and Atlantic Seaboard and the wind and rain that have battered the West Coast, and even in our neck o’ the woods, in what’s called the Mid-South, we have seen erratic temperature extremes and lots of precipitation. And Spring came around just two days ago! To lift your spirits, if such is possible, I offer 12 light-hearted and delicious wines in this edition of Weekend Wine Notes, issued a day early. We’re pretty damned eclectic here, with two rosé wines, a precise and vividly etched red that would fare well with picnic food, and nine whites. We touch Arizona, California, Oregon, Germany, Australia and Chile and a variety of grape types. As usual, in these Weekend Wine Notes, I avoid technical, geographical and personnel data for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks. Find the wines; drink up; be refreshed and emboldened to survive the countdown to April. Enjoy … in moderation, of course.

These wines were either samples for review or local purchases; one was tasted at a wholesaler trade event. Do you care? Of course not, but the Federal Trade Commission does. Image from WTOP.com.
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Aridus Wine Company Rosé 2016, Arizona. 13.3% alc. 68% mourvedre, 32% grenache. Bright copper-salmon hue; macerated red currants and strawberries; orange rind and tomato skin, with a touch of melon; very dry and stony/minerally but ripe red berry flavors and zinging acidity keep lively and appealing; a little florid, with a dusty aftermath. Excellent. About $30.
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Calcu Reserva Especial Rosé 2017, Colchagua Valley, Chile. 12% alc. 90% malbec, 10% petit verdot. Very pale coral-pink; notes of peach and tangerine, lime peel and macerated raspberries; talc, herbes de Provence and cut grain; damp roof tiles; quite crisp and dry, with a dusty flint finish. Lovely taut yet seductive character. Excellent. About $13, a Raving Great Bargain.
Global Vineyard Imports, Berkeley, Calif.
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Fetzer Shaly Loam Gewurztraminer 2016, Monterey. 12% alc. Radiant medium straw-gold color; hints of lychee, peach and rose petal, slightly honeyed apricot, all melded on the tongue with a touch of spritz and integrated medium sweetness; lively, golden, moderately lush texture cut by lithe acidity; seashell delicacy to the limestone and flint minerality; not much transition mid-palate, leading to a dry, bracing grapefruit finish. Very Good+. About $11, representing Good Value.
The winery celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
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Fields Family Wines Delu Vineyards Grenache Blanc 2016, Alta Mesa, Lodi. 13.5% alc. Fewer than 65 cases. Very pale gold; lemon balm and heather, baked pears, acacia and dusty Mediterranean herbs; sleek, suave and elegant and quite dry; animated by lip-smacking acidity and a burgeoning limestone element; a few minutes in the glass bring in subtle notes of cloves and nutmeg and an ethereal leafy quality; exquisitely framed and structured. Excellent. About $24, and definitely Worth a Search.
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Four Graces Pinot Gris 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. NA% alc. My first note on this wine is “Wow, the best!” Limpid, pale straw-gold; roasted lemon and lemon balm, freshly cut green apple and grapefruit; winsome hints of jasmine and camellia; taut acidity and scintillating limestone provide superb structure for stone fruit flavors lightly touched by lime and tangerine; slightly earthy bit of green tea and lemongrass; a glittering faceted finish. Current release is the 2016, but look for this nicely burnished version from ’15. Now through 2019 or ’20. Excellent. About $24.
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Geil Bechtheimer Scheurebe Kabinett 2015, Rheinhessen, Germany. 9.5% alc. Very pale gold hue; an ethereal and breezy white wine, delicate notes of peaches, pears and quince with damp gravel in the background; a slightly sweet entry balanced by scintillating acidity and limestone minerality; fresh with pink grapefruit, slightly earthy with heather, crystalline as the tinkling of wind chimes. Don’t overthink this one; just enjoy. Very Good+. About $15.
A Terry Theise Estate Selection for Skurnik Wines.
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Grochau Cellars Melon d’Bourgogne 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 13% alc. 175 cases. Melon de Bourgogne is the grape of the Loire Valley’s Muscadet region. Medium straw-gold color; golden-yellow fruit and flowers: peach, pear and roasted lemon; jasmine and honeysuckle, heather and its blossom; a touch of bee’s-wax and lanolin, but all quite spare, fleet and elegant; ripping acidity plows a furrow; the limestone and flint minerality build toward the chiseled finish. Drink through the end of this year. Current release is the 2016. Excellent. About $18, and Worth a Search.
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Hewitson “Gun Metal” Riesling 2017, Eden Valley, Australia. 12.5% alc. Light gold hue with faint green highlights; peach, pear and lychee, with a deepening focus on spice and herbal notes as well as layers of flint and talc; with a few minutes in the glass, a whiff of petrol and an intense aura of lime peel; terrific varietal purity and concentration, vibrancy and resonance; musky and leafy, iodine and steel. Now through 2022 to ’25. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York.
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Hess Select Pinot Gris 2017, California. 14% alc. Pale straw-gold; fresh, clean and bright, with notes of spiced pear and roasted lemon, almond blossom, boxwood and dried thyme; after a few minutes, touches of quince and preserved lemon; a pleasing round and lively texture with an undertow of limestone. Very Good+. About $13, marking Good Value.
The inaugural release of this wine.
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Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling 2016, Eden Valley, Australia. 12.5% alc. Very pale gold hue; penetrating aromas of green apple and lime peel, lychee and flint with a whiff of petrol; intense notes of jasmine, lilac and talc; quite dry, with piercing acidity and a chiseled structure of limestone and seashells, finishing with lively elements of grapefruit and poached pears; wonderful tone and presence. Excellent. About $18.
Imported by Negociants USA.
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Rainstorm Wines Pinot Gris 2016, Oregon. 13% alc. Light hue of tarnished greeny-gold; peach and pear with hints of lychee and apricot nectar; notes of celery leaf and dried thyme with an undercurrent of boxwood and dried rosemary; a strain of some astringent little white flower; a spare yet charming interpretation of the grape that benefits from the liveliness of bright acidity and a crystalline limestone finish. Very Good+. About $16.
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Two Shepherds Trimble Vineyard Carignan 2015, Mendocino. 12.5% alc. 125 cases. Lovely transparent cerise hue; an ethereally earthy wine that’s light on its feet but firmly structured; raspberry and lilac, beetroot and cigarette paper, briers and brambles; a bracing touch of iodine, notes of cranberry and melon; exquisite balance among fruit, acid and a lithe, quartz-like mineral quality; very refreshing and perfect for a picnic or patio luncheon. Excellent. About $28.
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Yes, friends, I’m going to tell you to buy a case of white wine from Bulgaria for drinking this Spring and Summer. It’s the Domaine Boyar Traminer 2016, from that country’s Thracian Valley, commonly called the Thracian Lowlands. This is a large region in the south that abuts Greece and Turkey. Vine cultivation for wine in the area goes back 3,000 years, with a long interruption under the Ottoman Empire — 1393-1878 — when grapes went for table consumption. The modern and progressive period began in the 1960s and burgeoned with the fall of Communism. Now the traminer grape is not necessarily the same as gewürztraminer, though the names are frequently synonymous. Traminer, the older name and grape, tends to be less floral and spicy than gewürztraminer and is likely the same as the savagnin rosé grape grown in the Jura. In fact, gewürztraminer did not become the official name placed on labels in Alsace, where the grape reaches its apotheosis, until 1973. Thrace, by the way, home to the ancient Thracians, originally extended not only over its reach in present-day Bulgaria but was part of what is now northern Greece and extreme northwestern Turkey. With its propitious geography, it served as the conduit for incursions and invasions from east to west and west to east, a gateway either to Europe or Asia for numerous armies and dominant aspirations. But today’s Wine of the Day: Made all in stainless steel and 100 percent varietal, the Domaine Boyar Traminer 2016 offers a pale straw-gold hue and delicate aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, lime peel and celery seed, heather and hay; flavors broaden on the palate to include pear and just a hint of lychee, all animated by crisp acidity and a shelf of scintillating limestone minerality. A few moments in the glass bring in welcome notes of celery leaf, fennel and a touch of gingery spice. 12 percent alcohol. A delightful wine for picnics, patio and porch, for sipping with a variety of light, simple fare, now through the end of this year. Very Good+. About $11, representing Great Value.

Imported by Bulgarian Master Vintners, Sonoma, Calif. A sample for review.


You know what most cabernet sauvignon wines priced at $15 and under are like, right? Hollow, generic, bland. Pay heed, then, about what I have to say in regard to the Lucinda & Millie Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, made from organic vineyards in Mendocino County and elevated, as the French say, in a combination of stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. It’s the best cabernet in its price range that I have encountered in a long time. The color is vivid deep ruby, an appropriate lead-in to the freshness and vigor of a tautly structured wine that runs out a line of bright acidity for liveliness and drinkability. Scents and flavors of ripe black currants and raspberries are permeated by notes of cedar and boxwood and allusive hints of bell pepper and black olive; the wine offers the sense of balance and proportion of a more expensive model, but on a smaller and more modest scale, with a clean, graphite-tinged finish, its character being perfectly fitted for everyday consumption and buying by the case. 13.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker is Greg La Follette, who under his La Follette label produces superb pinot noir wines. Drink the Lucinda & Millie Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 through the end of this year. Very Good+. About $14, though discounted now — the current vintage is 2016 — across the country. Great Value.

Here’s a real bargain in a certified organic white wine from Bordeaux. Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015, Bordeaux blanc, is a blend of 60 percent sauvignon blanc and 40 percent semillon, made all in stainless steel. The color is an attractive bright medium gold; aromas of heather and hay, peach and apricot are woven with notes of quince, dried thyme and preserved lemon. The wine is quite dry, permeated by a strain of seashell salinity and activated by crisp acidity; lemon and tangerine with a touch of sunny, leafy fig are burnished by a thread of graphite and green tea, this panoply leaning gently on a shelf of limestone. 12.5 percent alcohol. Remarkable personality and presence for the price. Drink through the end of 2018 with shrimp and snow-pea stir-fry, seafood risotto or seared salmon or trout; also a great picnic wine, thinking tuna or shrimp salad and cucumber and watercress sandwiches. Excellent. About $14, representing Terrific Value. (A local purchase.)

Imported by Natural Merchants, Grants Pass, Oregon.

I suspect that while many readers may find the annual roster of “50 Great Wines” interesting, they don’t necessarily find it essential. Today’s post, however — “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017” — I hope will be greeted with expectation and gratitude. Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when the price is attached to a wine that performs above its weight and class? Prices on this list range from about $7 to $20. Twenty-five of these selections rate Excellent, with the next five rated Very Good+, and each one offers a hefty and distinguishing serving of quality. The breakdown by genre is 15 white, 13 red and 2 rosé. By country or state: Italy 7; California 6; France 5; Spain 3; Germany 2; and one each from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, South African and Washington. Whatever, it’s not the statistics that count but the wine inside the bottle. Many of these models I would recommend for buying by the case to enjoy in the months ahead, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.
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Alain de la Treille Chinon 2015, Loire Valley, France. 100 percent cabernet franc. Excellent. About $19.

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Armas de Guerra Mencia Rosado 2016, Bierzo, Spain. Rosé of 100 percent mencia grapes. Excellent. About $13.

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Aveleda Vinho Verde 2016, Portugal. 70 percent loureiro grapes, 30 percent alvarinho. Very Good+. About $7-$10.

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Averaen Pinot Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Excellent. About $20.
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Weingut Binz Nackenheimer Pinot Gris Kabinette 2015, Rheinhessen. Excellent. About $14.

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Camino Roca Altxerri 2015, Getariako, Spain. 100 percent hondurrabi zuri grapes. Excellent. About $16.
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Chelsea Goldschmidt Merlot 2015, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County. Excellent. About $19.

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Contrade Negroamaro 2015, Puglia, Italy. Very Good+. About $10.

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Chateau La Freynelle 2015, Bordeaux Blanc. 60 percent sauvignon blanc, 30 percent semillon, 10 percent muscadelle. Very Good+. About $13.
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Maquis Gran Reserva Carménère 2014, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Excellent. About $20.
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Marchesi di Gresy Barbera d’Asti 2015, Piedmont, Italy. Excellent. About $18.

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Masseria Li Veli Verdeca 2015, Valle d’Istria, Apulia, Italy. 90 percent verdeca grapes, 10 percent fiano minutolo. Excellent. About $18.

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Luli Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Arroyo Seco, Monterey County. 504 cases. Excellent. About $18.

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Mercer Estate Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015. Horse Heaven Hills, Washington. 29 percent cabernet sauvignon, 27 percent syrah, 18 percent merlot, 14 percent petit verdot, 10 percent grenache, 2 percent carignane. Excellent. About $20.
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Mt. Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc 2016, North Canterbury, New Zealand. Excellent. About $16.
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Olema Pinot Noir 2014, Sonoma County. Second label of Amici Cellars. Excellent. About $20.

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Olianas Vermentino 2016, Vermentino di Sardegna. Excellent. About $15.

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Paul Durdilly “Les Grandes Coasses” 2016, Beaujolais, France. Excellent. About $15.

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Principe de Viana Garnacha Roble 2015, Navarra, Spain. Very Good+. About $11.
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Renwood Premier Old Vine Zinfandel 2014, Amador County, California. With 6 percent petit sirah, 5 percent barbera, 4 percent syrah. 50-to-103-year-old vines. Excellent. About $20.
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The Royal Old Vines Steen Chenin Blanc 2016, Western Cape, South Africa. Very Good+. About $11.

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Castel Sallegg Gewürztraminer 2015, Südtirol-Alto Adige, Italy. Excellent. About $16.
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Una Seleccion de Ricardo Santos Semillon 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. Excellent. About $16.
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St. Urbans-Hof Nik Seis Wiltinger Alte Reben Riesling 2015, Saar Valley, Germany. Excellent. About $18.
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Tenuta Sant’Antonio Monti Garbi 2014, Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa. Excellent. About $19.
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Serra Lor Rosato 2016, Isola dei Nuraghi, Sardenia. An unusual rosé blend of 50 percent cannonau, 25 percent monica, 20 percent carignano and 5 percent bovale grapes. Excellent. About $15.

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Steele Wines Pinot Blanc 2016, Santa Barbara County, California. Excellent. About $19.
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Chateau Tire Pé “Diem” 2012, Bordeaux. 100 percent merlot, no oak. Excellent. About $12.

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Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc Viognier White Bland 2015, Sonoma County. 85 percent pinot blanc, 15 percent viognier. Excellent. About $18.
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Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne Brut nv, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $20.

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