I have been sipping wines from around the world lately that are both palate pleasing, and gentle on the budget. Here are a few favorites that I have run across recently, some have been sent for editorial consideration.
I had an opportunity to have lunch recently with the daughter of Raul Jofre, founder of Bodega RJ Vinedos Joffre e Hijas, Jimena Jofre, in Dallas from Argentina, the home of her fathers incredible winery situated in the Valle de Uco, Mendoza. Over a leisurely lunch we tasted several of the small production wines her family has making since their relatively recent start, 1998, with two big standouts. Pasion 4 Chardonnay-Chenin and the Joffre e Hijas Grand Malbec. The Pasion 4 line was created in honor of the first true love and passion of Raul Jofre , his four daughters. The Chardonnay – Chenin Blanc blend is lively and crisp with balanced acidity and a very drinkable style. Filled with green apple, banana and a citrus with a bit of vanilla lingering on the palate at the end, and a perfect accompaniment to a fish and shrimp ceviche created by Sevy’s Grille. The Malbec grasped the beauty of this earthy, dense and elegant varietal with black cherry, ripe fig and chocolate flavors with a hearty finish. They are both new to the Dallas market but should be available at Sigel’s soon with the Chardonnay retailing for about $12 a bottle, the Malbec for about $18 a bottle.
Graham Beck Game Reserve Sauvignon Blanc – I was pleased to find that this South African sipper had all the things about a good Sauvignon Blanc that I love, and none that I don’t. Not too much citrus, just the right amount, balanced with good minerality and grassiness with hints of ripe fig on the finish. A balanced and structured Sauvignon Blanc that should cost you around $15 a bottle at Central Market, and all the Graham Beck Game Reserve wines help sustain the 3700 acre game reserve they created adjacent to their winery.
Alamos Torrontes is a solid go-to patio wine for sipping on hot Dallas days. Floral aromas of wild flowers and violets lead to a pop of big citrus flavors on the palate with a layer of herbaceousness, white peach and orange blossom. Created from grapes havested in high-altitude vineyards in the Salta region of Argentina, this is a solid representation of the Torrontes varietal.
Ludovicus Vinos Pinol Garnacha, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Spain is an incredibly easy drinking red wine with big fruit aromas on the nose, leading to bright bing cherry and berry flavors at the front of the palate, with a layer of spice and cocoa on the finish. A great bottle for about $10 at World Market.
2003 Montecillo Rioja Reserva 100% Tempranillo from Spain is a bold red from the heart of Rioja, Spain with black cherry and plum aromas with a touch of vanilla, opening to spice, ripe fruit and cigar-box flavors with solid tannins. This wine is aged for 18 months in French oak, and then held in the bottle for an additional period to ensure that when it hits the market the tannins have softened and the wine is lush and drinkable, especially with your favorite barbecued meat or even salmon. Should retail for about $18 a bottle and widely carried.
Chile is becoming known for producing great wines beyond their Carmenere, which was once the staple wine for Chile. From crisp Sauvignon Blanc to fruit forward Pinot Noir to spicy, dense Syrah there are some special wines coming out of the region. Araucano Reserva Syrah is just that. From the Lolol Valley this 100% Syrah was hand picked and sorted, underwent malolactic fermentation in barrels, and aged 8 months in oak creating a dense, peppery wine with smoky, meaty characteristics, a deep purple color with licorice, cherry and plum flavors. An impressive wine especially for about $17 a bottle.