2007 Neyers Zinfandel ‘High Valley’ (Napa Valley, California)- Every once in a while you have to splurge a bit. This is one of those times. At $30, this is the most expensive wine I’ve mentioned here, but it’s worth every penny if you love Zinfandel. For me, Zinfandel is all about the fruit. This caresses the mouth with rich, crushed black raspberry fruit and spice. The velvety texture is absolutely remarkable and the finish is complex and long. Zinfandel doesn’t get much better than this! Only 606 cases produced, so try it while you can.
2007 Pozzan Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Knights Valley, California)- One of the upsides to the downturn in the economy is that truly great wineries have more fruit than they need to make their magnificent wines. Enter Michael Pozzan, ready, willing and able to purchase said fruit and act as a négociant, producing wines that way over-deliver at the price point. This is a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, forward and supple with ripe cassis-like fruit and a hint of chocolate. Yet another great value under $18.
2007 Bodegas Colomé ‘Amalaya’ (Salta, Argentina) – Made from 70% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah and 5% Tannat, this represents another fantastic value. Smoky black fruits (the intense essence of berry) are made more complex by a touch of wet stone minerality. The Colomé is the epitome of the iron fist in a velvet glove. The finish goes on forever! All this for under $20.
2008 Autard Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley, France) – Autard is one of, if not the best, red wine value available today! For under $15, it sports tons of fruit, mainly plums and bright ripe berry, it has a beautifully perfumed, spicy nose and is very complex on the palate. Supple, yet quite structured, the tannins accompany the fruit in the medium long finish. A natural with leg of lamb, rubbed with rosemary and studded with garlic.
2008 Ascheri Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont, Italy) Dolcetto is often considered the Beaujolais of Italy and wines like this one are the reason why. Fresh and brisk as a fall day, this features spicy aromatics, tart dark cherry fruit and mouthwatering acidity. Low in alcohol and tannin, this is a perfect ‘red wine with fish’ choice.
2008 Three Brooms Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)- This is my current favorite New Zealand Sauvingon Blanc. Some of them can be a bit one dimensional with overly aggressive acidity. The Three Brooms is incredibly intricate, aromatic and vibrant, with notes of citrus (lime) and tropical fruit made more interesting by a touch of wet-stone minerality. It comes from a slightly cooler sub-region of Marlborough called Awatere (pronounced ah-wah-tree) that seems to allow for greater expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. A real treat for less than $15.
2008 Hamilton-Russell Chardonnay (Walker Bay, South Africa)- Talk about waxing poetically, the Wine Spectator said of this one…“Ripe and stylish, with melon, ginger, yellow apple and pear flavors that glide over well-embedded acidity. There’s a lingering whiff of grilled hazelnut on the rich finish…outstanding.” I had a chance to visit the property near the southern tip of South Africa and it is drop-dead beautiful. The owner, Anthony Hamilton Russell, is so consumed with quality that his yields (less fruit per vine, typically, the better the wine) are a fraction of those of White Burgundy selling for several times its price. If you love Meursault, you have to try this wine!
2008 Ménage à Trois Rosé (California)- This wine is 180° from the previous ‘serious’ rosé. It’s a ton of fun. A totally fruit driven blend of Merlot, Syrah and Gewürztraminer, the winery website says it best. “No pretension, no pretense. Just a fruit-laden roller coaster ride of raspberries, strawberries, lychee nuts and flowers with a silky smooth finish.” Great with very spicy food, such as Thai cuisine.
2008 Mas Ste. Berthe Rosé (Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Les Baux)- If you have yet to try a Provence Rosé, what are you waiting for! These are rosés for serious wine lovers. The Mas Ste. Berthe is remarkably dry and minerally oriented, but is saved from the bitterness that some Provence Rosés exhibit by a lovely thread of dried strawberry fruit. Heaven on earth with Mussels Provencal.