Great wines that won’t flatten wallet

July 28, 2014

Are we going to join in another war to get the economy going? I certainly hope not. The world is in dire threat of blowing up, and the dance goes on. “They shoot horses, don’t they?" Ton of wine for this week because I am trying to calm my nerves more than usual, so let’s get to it.

Had another Mionetto as a preprandial libation. It was a delightful Cuvee Rosé Sergio NV purchased for $14. Remember NV (non vintage) tells us the wine may be blended and processed so the profile is consistent, year to year. Mionetto is part of the famous Henkel Group of Germany. It is produced in the hills outside Venice, Italy. Reminds me of well-made Champagne Rosé, creamy with orchard fruit notes. Complements fritti misti and sautéed summer vegetables but is best as a standalone aperitif.

Another delicious entry from Concha y Toro is their Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Chardonnay. This is a select Chardonnay aged in oak. Hazelnut and toasted oak aromas greet your nose with tropical fruit and mineral flavors. Nicely balanced and easy to find under $18. Enjoy this wine with fresh seafood.

Trivento Torrontes Reserve 2012 provides a golden wine from the Mendoza, in Argentina, with a slight greenish cast that is very aromatic. Rose, violet, lemon and peach nose leads into citrus and tropical fruit flavors riding a crisp, balanced frame. You can buy a case under $110; 88 points with 2 price points.

Franciscan Equilibrium 2013 is a mouthwatering treat for summer sippers. It is a blend of SB, Chard and Muscat. Pale, straw-colored, opens to a clean bouquet of lime, honeysuckle and orange blossom . The acid-crisp opening leads into a solid body that resolves into a clean finish with hints of minerality and honeysuckle. On the palate honeysuckle repeats with hints of grapefruit. Although this is a dry wine, the fruit nose suggests sweetness, which provokes its use with Thai, Fusion and tangy-sauced fish dishes. Another hit from Janet Myers. Buy under $22. I rate it 88 points.

If you want a Cali Cab that is priced well under $15 and you enjoy currant, cherry and oak notes, try to locate a bottle of Mandolin Central Coast 2009. The cherry and currant flavors were easily discernible on the palate. These are burger- and pizza-friendly, with medium body, not one of those big tannic monsters so many seem to prefer. The 2012 is bigger; it went through malolactic fermentation and spent 11 months in French oak. A lot of wine at this price point. Syrah 2012 from Mandolin is another take-a-looker. Fruit forward, loads of blueberry and blackberry notes balanced by a proper acid frame.

There are pleasing barrel notes of spice and vanillin provided by 14 months in oak (15 percent new). Best of all, you can buy this Syrah under $12. Will definitely improve in your cellar.

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2010 was well written up by WE and Tony Galloni at 93 points, while Vinous said 92. It ran up to $65. Recently it has backslid and is being offered at $45. I found that surprising, since it is just reaching its drinking window. Composed of Cab, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc, it opens inky dark with a complex bouquet of coffee, chocolate, cherries, herbs and pencil lead (graphite). On the palate, cherry and fudge flavors ride a smooth tannin, mineral frame to a long, clean finish. Definitely needs a few more in your cellar, but I’m guessing smart shoppers who like the wine can order a case under $490.

Finally, a tough find but worth the search is Charles Baur Riesling Cuvee Charles 2011. Roger Voss gave it 91 points writing in WE but slightly paraphrased, "An aromatic wine with great depth, concentration and complexity, Tangy, zesty, steely, equally fresh and rich.

“The red currant and white fruit flavors leave a crisp, taut aftertaste.” I am a huge fan of Baur’s Grand Cru Pfersigberg Vineyard Gewurztraminer. Its rose and acacia nose and spicy Asian fruit flavors enhance most fowl to a T. So, I brought some of this lovely Alsatian Riesling in to sample. I agree with most of Voss’ assessment, but I think this $15 lovely is a 93-pointer. Enjoy your week!