By Bob Hosmon
City & Shore Magazine
When I started writing about wine (40 years ago this June), my readers mostly wanted to know how to avoid buying the “wrong” wine. They really didn’t want to read about expensive wines. They just wanted to know about affordable wines they could purchase without fear they had made a mistake. (Red wine with fish, white wine with steak?)
Over time, the public’s familiarity and appreciation of wine has expanded, and there are a lot of high-priced bottles out there now. But there still are good wines sold at budget prices. It’s just a matter of discovering which wines fit one’s definition of affordable ($15 or less per bottle) and also good. The wines here qualify – and, just think of the money saved that can go toward the purchase of a designer suit or dress.
If you’re looking for something in white, consider the Olema Chardonnay ($15) or the Meiomi Chardonnay ($15). Both wines show rich flavors that belie their modest price. Another bargain white that deserves our attention is the Sterling Vineyards Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay ($11). I approached this California-style chardonnay with skepticism, but that first sip convinced me that, dollar for dollar, it’s arguably one of the best white-wine bargains out there.
Those who prefer their whites crisp and sharp on the palate will find the Prophecy Sauvignon Blanc ($14) to their liking. Indeed, this white is typical of those produced in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. It’s the perfect wine to enjoy with oysters on the half shell. (And I’ve seen it priced at $10 a bottle.)
The red bargains from nearby Australia come from some special blends of Shiraz with other varietals like Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my favorites is 19 Crimes Red ($9), an ideal complement to serve with barbecue or mango chutney chicken. If you prefer something from Paso Robles, Calif., opt for the Chronic Cellars Suite Petite ($15), a blend of Petit Sirah and Syrah.
Last, but never least, there are some awfully good Pinot Noirs with budget prices attached. You won’t be disappointed with Angeline Pinot Noir ($10), Iter Pinot Noir ($12) or Cloud Break Pinot Noir ($9) from California, and Cavalier & Sons Pinot Noir ($10) and D’Autrefois Pinot Noir ($12) from France.