In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 unless noted otherwise.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December means Winter. This year, even here in sunny So Cal it’s been chilly. We’re used to 70 degree days, not 52 degree days. And nights below 40 degrees? Get out of town! So here are three red wines to warm you up on those chilly nights.
Found Object Carmenere, 2010 Colchagua Valley, Chile Under $10 at Trader Joe’s. 13.5% alcohol by volume
On the Label: “Context, it can change everything. Consider, for a moment, a wine among the crowd – yet not of the crowd What could be taken for granted (grape juice) becomes special when repurposed into something thought provoking. Consider this Carmenere worthy of your consideration.”
My Take: Okay, the label’s kinda weird. Like maybe the translator missed out on a few words. But at least it doesn’t tell us what to taste in the wine, and I like it for that reason.
If you’re not familiar with the varietal Carmenere, I can tell you that it was originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux in France; but little of it remains there now. The largest producer of Carmenere is Chile, with a few acres planted in other places such as California, Walla Walla, Washington, and eastern Italy.
The wine – silky. Not as easy a wine as a Pinot Noir, but not as in-your-face as a Zin or a Cabernet can be. It was the right wine, and went well with Turkey Pot Pie. This is my first time with this varietal (okay – that I can remember), and I really enjoyed it. It’s going on my list. The good part? Chilean wines are still low in price, and the quality is usually very high.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ It’s something a little different, and any discerning hostess would be pleased to receive this as a gift when you go to your holiday party this year.
On the Label: “A modern well balanced Toro wine, aged for three months in French oak barrels with hints of mature red berries and notes of leather.”
My Take: Viriato is a Tempranillo – and (for my sake) translating again, similar to a Zinfandel. This wine is a lovely wine, great for sipping (would go fabulous with cheese and dips!) or with a juicy steak. This is not a “thinker’s” wine – not a wine you want to contemplate too much. It’s easy on the palate (but doesn’t “tease” your tastebuds) and has a high alcohol content – what more do you want to stir up your party? (Just sayin’.)
My Rating: ~ Good ~ Again, something a little different for your party-giving friends.
Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Alexander Valley Alcohol 13.5% by volume Regularly $17.00; $11.49 at Vons on Sale.
On the Label: “In the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley we blend our wins from small lots to fully express the essence of the varietal in each particular vineyard block. Winemaker Mich Schroeter and his team are passionate about crafting wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. Taste profile: Black cherry and blackbery flavors and mocha nuances with a long, rich finish. Enjoy with: Grilled or roasted beef, sauteed mushrooms and mature cheeses.”
My Take: I’m an unabashed fan of Geyser Peak, and have been since my travels to Sonoma County in the late 1980’s. We had this wine with steak, smashed potatoes and tiny asparagus and it was a lovely accompaniment to the meal. If you can get this at under $12 in your neighborhood, do – it’s a great price for a really lovely wine.
My Rating: ~Very Good~ Take this to a party only if you need to make a good impression. Otherwise, keep it at home and enjoy it with those you love. Or, you know – open it at the party and keep the bottle for yourself and one or two select friends!
Thanks so much for dropping in. Remember, these are my experiences based on my taste buds, how many near-misses the Eldest son had while driving that day, and how high the tides were. Your wine-drinking experience will undoubtedly vary. Remember – drink responsibly! Make sure you take along a designated driver to your holiday party.
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The Holidays are here – time to buy your copy of DEMON SOUL! Makes a great gift for that reader in the family, lol!