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Tag Archives: $10 wine

$100 of wine

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$100 worth of wineWhich, as anyone who has been paying attention knows, means not one or two bottles of wine for $100, but $100 of wine — an entire case, plus one, without a crappy label in it. How did I do it?

I wanted to find something from a familiar region, like Spain, that I hadn’t tried before; to try something from a new region, like Portugal, that has been getting good press; and to find wines to drink on a weeknight with a weeknight dinner, which meant low alcohol and, even in winter, rose. All the wines were purchased:

• Four bottles of Rene Barbier, two red and two white — quality $4 wine that I keep around the house for emergencies. Because, as we all know, wine emergencies are all too common.

The 2013 Charles & Charles rose ($10, 12.6%), which has lost some of its fruit over the past nine months and become more interesting in the process. How rose improves with age is something not enough people pay attention to.

Louis Tete Beaujolais-Villages ($11, 12.5%). This was a previous vintage, the 2012, from one of my favorite Beaujolais producers. It had started to fade, but it was still drinkable — a little grapey and soft, but with enough structure so it remained much more than Welch’s.

Cruz de Piedra rose, a pink Spanish garnacha, also a 2012 ($9, 13.5%). Yet another top-notch, value-oriented Spanish wine with lots of berry fruit.

Penelope Sanchez ($11, 13.5%), a delicious and funky Spanish red blend (garnacha and syrah) that might have been my favorite. It was dark and spicy, the sort of wine that is as far removed from the International style of winemaking as possible.

Maybe my favorite U.S. rose, despite its $15 price — the Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare (13%). It’s always fresh, it’s always enjoyable, and the berry fruit is always impeccable.

• The Esporao Alandra Branco 2012 ($7, 12.5%) and the Barão de Vila Proeza Dao Tinto 2010 ($9, 13%). a Portuguese white and red. The former showed its age, but still had pear fruit and white pepper; the latter was a wine of the week this month. I’m still skeptical about much of the Portuguese hype, but both these wines demonstrate Portugal’s effort to make better table wine.

Artadi Tempranillo ($14, 14%), This Spanish red combines traditional style with modern winemaking, with more red fruit than I expected, but still identifiable as Spanish.

Wine of the week: Barão de Vila Proeza Dao Tinto 2010

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 Proeza Dao TintoPortuguese wine has become chic over the past year or so, which is surprising given that it has been around for hundreds of years. So what’s different this time?

Mostly that quality keeps improving. The Wine Curmudgeon has written about Portuguese wine that isn’t vinho verde off and on over the years, and the only consistent thing has been its inconsistency. The Portuguese are best known for port, the fortified dessert wine, and their table wines, red and white, often seem like afterthoughts. The whites can be thin and acidic, while the reds sometimes have a heavy, ashy feel to them.

The Proeza Dao Tinto ($9, purchased, 13%), though, demonstrates that the country’s winemakers are making impressive progress. It’s a nice little red wine, simple but not stupid, made with touriga nacional, the primary grape used to make port, plus tinta roriz, the country’s equivalent of tempranillo, and alfrocheiro, a blending grape. This combination gives the wine a rich, almost port-like feel, with plum and berry fruit. It’s not as pleasantly tart as a Spanish tempranillo can be, but that’s not a flaw.

A label note, since these terms are so unfamiliar: The producer is Barao de Vila and the wine is called Proeza, and it’s made in the Dao region, north of Lisbon about halfway between the coast and the Spanish border. Tinto, of course, is red. Drink this with traditional red wine food, and it’s also a red wine for summer — low alcohol, lots of fruit, and something that can even be served a little chilled.

Wine of the week: Pillar Box Red 2012

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Pillar Box RedWant to dissect the sad, recent history of the Australian wine business? Then look at the blog’s reviews for Pillar Box Red ($10, sample, 14.5%), which first appeared in 2009, and again in 2011. It cost $12 for the 2007 vintage, and many retailers marked it up to as much as $15. In those days, the Pillar Box Red was an affordable and more accessible alternative to the inky and overpriced Aussie reds that got high scores and glowing reviews.

These days, the wine costs $10, and you can find older wines for as little as $8. Meanwhile, the release of new Pillar Box Red vintages has been irregular — another sign that the market has dried up for Australian wine at almost any price. Which is good news for wine drinkers, because this an exceptional red blend worth $12, a steal at $10, and even worth buying in older vintages.

Look for powerful, rich black fruit, which remains a signature of this kind of Australian wine. But the Pillar Box Red doesn’t taste cheap, hot, or ashy, and there is more than fruit here. The cabernet sauvignon and merlot in the blend take the edge of the shiraz, and it’s a more enjoyable wine because of it. This is red meat wine, and don’t overlook sausages. Nicely done, and a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame.

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