What I’m Drinking Now: Affordable

Inox I started my holiday shopping a little early with a splurge, leaving  little in the bank for the libation I love so much.  Looking for options that will save a few bucks, while still satisfying the taste buds is sometimes difficult.  Here are a few ideas if you too are in the same predicament. 

Ca Montini Prosecco Royal Cuvee NV – should cost around $19 a bottle, which is not the least expensive but when it comes to bubbly, sometimes you just can’t go cheap.  I am a big fan of Prosecco when in need of a bubble, as it tends to be a great bang for the buck option.  This one, made in the traditional Champagne method, is filled with toasty almond and hazelnut, with a luscious finish. 

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava – should cost around $10 a bottle; in contrast to my statement above, I bought (and enjoyed) a magnum of this from World Market on sale last week for $10.  We had it for a celebration, and in the festive mood when bubbles are required, but not the central focus, this was a suitable option.  Still made in the traditional method, it is a pleasing option when looking for an uncomplicated bubbly. 

Stonecap Riesling – should cost around $12 a bottle; this dry Washington State Riesling is filled with honey, apricot and spice, what you would expect from a Riesling, without the high levels of sweetness in some from other regions around the globe.  Juicy and extremely easy drinking, this is a great option for lunching on a patio (or an afternoon of writing a wine column.) 

J Vineyards Pinot Gris– should cost around $16 a bottle; from one of my go to wineries in Napa for their bubbly contributions, this Pinot Gris is filled with tropical fruit and melon, with hints of tangerine and Texas peaches (even if it is made in California.)  The flavors are clean, yet complex with honeysuckle on the finish.

Chehalem Inox Chardonnay– should cost about $19 a bottle; pear, pineapple, citrus and spice fill this flavorsome wine from one of Willamette Valley’s favorite wineries.  Inox is usually drunk just after bottling, so it always has a slight effervescence, which is always fun when enjoying a light, crisp and elegant white. 

Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Chardonnay– should cost about $17 a bottle; I tried this wine a few weeks ago and  was pleased with what a soft, pleasing and inviting palate it had.  Though created by pressing the fruit in whole clusters, and fermenting in oak, the wine is light, with a silky mouth-feel and inviting flavors of pear, vanilla and sweet spice. 

Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Chardonnay – should cost about $15 a bottle; winemaker Gary Sitton’s 2008 version of this is light, pleasing and filled with pear and apple.  Surprisingly subtle, there is slight acidity, but not enough to over power the wine, as in some affordable options.  And the long finish persuades you to have another sip.

Tomaresca Neprica – should cost about $12 a bottle; when looking for a great wine at a great price, sometimes looking outside the norm is the best option.  The Neprica is a blend of Negroamaro (indigenous to the growing region of Puglia, in Italy) with Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is hearty, with black fruit and cherries on the palate, and floral notes on the finish. 

Times Ten Cellars Grenache – should cost around $16 a bottle; a solid, structured wine from right down the street.  A friend brought this last week for our “wine and cheese night,” and we were pleased with the spicy, licorice, ripe berry and vanilla notes in this fruity wine, that went nicely with the creamy brie and goat.

Layer Cake Malbec– should cost around $15 a bottle; I love a Malbec from Argentina, black plum and black cherry, with subtle hints of pepper and spice.  I had seen Layer Cake everywhere, as they make all sorts of varietals, from all sorts of regions.  I was compelled to try the Malbec, since it is a grape I do love.  For the bang for the buck category, this is a great option.  Blackberry, cherry and plum, suitable for a traditional Argentine Asado barbecue. 

Quivira Dry Creek Zinfandel– should cost around $20 a bottle; ripe plum, cherry and black pepper exude from this “Best Value” wine winner by The Wine Spectator.  I’ll agree.  Zinfandel can often be too fruity, reminding me of drinking a bowl of jam instead of a lovely red.  This one isn’t, as it is complex, while keeping the juicy characteristics Zinfandel’s are known for. 

Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cabernet Sauvignon – should cost around $21 a bottle; the Director’s Cab pleased much like the Chardonnay, with blackberry, leather, anise and spice notes carried from aroma to palate and into a lingering finish of red wine richness.  It is a fruit forward wine, so you definitely get the cherry, berry and plum flavors, but it is a pleasing option when looking for a relatively inexpensive Cabernet.

Bressia Monteagrelo Malbec– should cost around $25 – $30 a bottle; a little more expensive, but inevitably when we are saving our pennies, a great bottle of wine comes calling.  I am in love with the wine that Walter Bressia and his family make in Mendoza, Argentina.  This is a perfect example of the beauty of Malbec, and its dark cherry matched with earthy, coffee flavors, with a hint of vanilla from 18 months of French and American oak aging.

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