Monday, March 23, 2009

Two Wine Recommendations

two good buys

A few years ago I participated in a food and wine event for which the emcee was a local food writer/wine critic personality. He awarded some prize bottles (as thank-yous, really) remarking that one could buy a really great wine for sixty dollars. Was his tongue firmly planted in his cheek? As just about every sane person knows, there are some fabulous wines for less than half that price point. The wines I buy for daily enjoyment mostly fall into the ten to fourteen dollars a bottle range. It's easy to spend more, but there is a certain satisfaction (not to mention financial incentive) when one finds a really pleasing bargain. In my ever so humble opinion, the following wines fall into this category. Each cost 13.99. Hint: buy mixed cases to benefit from the ten percent discount.

First up, a Chilean sauvignon blanc, produced by Cono Sur and wine maker Adolfo Hurtado. Cono Sur (an intentional cross-lingual pun?) means southern cone, a reference to the shape of its continent of origin. Established in 1993, they have become a major producer and particularly focus on pinot noir. This sauvignon blanc comes from their Vision line, which uses grapes from selected vineyards to show off the terroir. I've been enjoying the 2006, although I believe the 2008 is available and ready to drink. The whites of Cono Sur have screw caps. Good for them! The Vision sauvignon blanc is all stainless steel, no oak anywhere near it, no malolactic fermentation, so the terroir shines through (it's not masked). It's not over the top floral. What I love about this wine is how well it balances the floral qualities with minerality. I like to taste a bit of the earth in wine. As you might imagine, knowing the style and manner of production, it makes a really good food wine. I've got one bottle left, but I will be buying more.

Next up, one of my all time favorite (maybe my all time favorite) wine region and style: the Cotes du Rhone. California reds have moved mostly beyond the price point I target for everyday consumption, especially the pinots, which I so enjoy. I've been looking to Chile, Argentina and France for my reds, keeping Mexico on the radar. This 2008 Cotes du Rhone, Belleruche, by M. Chapoutier, might benefit from another year or two in the bottle. Perhaps I'll cellar some. It shares one similarity with the Cono Sur: no oak, all stainless steel fermentation and aging, no interference with the terroir. This wine, too, strikes a wonderful balance of fruit and earth. Here we can speak of garrigue, a term specific to the flavors of Provence, it's terroir and the associated herbaceous flavors. This wine's got it, and I like it. Again, a bargain at 13.99. Try it yourself and let me know what you think. Cheers everyone!