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TWELVE-UNDER-$12 for June, 2005
 
You love great wine ... but just now you're looking for a cheap bottle - "an everyday value wine" - that tastes really good. I'm right there with you. I love great wine, but $12 is about my limit for my everyday drinking wines. To me, value means a wine tastes like it costs more than it does. Here are twelve of my everyday value picks, all priced under $12.
 
SAINTSBURY "Vincent Vin Gris" Rose of Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2004 12x750ml $11.05 $124.44 Think of this delicious dark rose as more of a summer weight "chillable red"). A succulent, forward, flavorful 100% Pinot Noir "vin gris", it is alive with sweet cherry and strawberry fruit accented with subtle notes of earth and black pepper. Very well balanced; finishes clean and fresh. Utterly delicious and quite refreshing, this is a super rose for grilled salmon or bouillabaisse or an elegant picnic. Fine. Bear's Score: 90 points.
 
NINE STONES Shiraz, McLaren Vale, 2003 12x750ml $10.60 $116.68 Try this richer-style McLaren Vale Shiraz featuring dark cherry, black raspberry, and mixed berry fruit accented with notes of chocolate and earth and a hint of mixed black and white pepper. Its ripeness gives it 14.5% alcohol (it tastes higher) but it is mostly in balance with a very nice feel in the mouth. Really Very Good. Bear's Score: 87 points.
 
Ch. BONNET, Entre Deux Mers (Bordeaux Blanc), 2003 12x750ml $10.11 $112.78 The latest vintage of a perrenial favorite white Bordeaux, this 2003 edition features fresh, juicy, lively Sauvignon Blanc cut grass, white peach, and lime fruit with notes of grapefruit, figs, gravelly minerals, and honeysuckle. It is alive in the mouth with an lively, refreshing feel. Long and clean, everyday-priced white Bordeaux doesn’t come any better (or more consistent) than this. Fine. Bear’s Score: 89 points.
 
SONALTO Vinho Verde, Portugal, NV 12x750ml $4.77 $52.85 This is a fresh, lively, almost fizzy Vinho Verde featuring plenty of lemon drop and tropical lime fruit over a hint of mineral. Despite its thrilling balance, it is not at all complex - but the simple flavors last and last. This is a super seafood wine and a fine summer sipper. Alive and vibrant to the end. Very Good. SPEC’s Score: 87 Points.
 
Los VASCOS Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua (Chile), 2003 12x750ml $7.68 $85.41 This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Ch. Lafite) is a medium-weight winner offering red cherry and berry fruit over notes of chocolate, leather and tobacco with hints of pepper and caramel. The texture is juicy with good structure, enough richness and good balance. Very Good. Bear's Score: 86+ points.
 
MARK WEST Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, 2003 12x750ml $9.67 $107.62 Here is a delicious, succulent, new world-style barrel-fermented (25% new oak) Chardonnay made from several of the top Dijon clones blended with 5% Sauvignon Blanc. It is ripe and rounded with ripe pear, banana, lime, and mango fruit married to supple oak and subtle malo-lactic fermentation and lees notes. Even with that fruit and richness, it stays in balance. Better than it has to be. Try it with roast pork or veal dishes or with crabcakes or grilled salmon. Fine. SPEC's Score: 89+ points.
 
Domaine du VIEUX CHENE "Cuvee des Capucines" Cotes du Rhone, 2001 12x750ml $10.41 $116.11 This organically farmed Cotes du Rhone is a blend of mosly old vine Grenache with some Syrah. The wine is medium-weight and balanced with lots of grapey ripe red fruit that offers a glimpse of the underlying sweetness. Complexity comes in notes of earth, garrigue, black pepper, and berry liqueur perfume. Fine. Bear's Score: 88+ points.
  San ISIDRO "Vinateo" Joven, Bullas (Murcia, Spain), 2003 12x750ml $7.95 $88.70 The hot, dry, aggressively sunny southeastern area of Spain is known for old-vine dry-farmed Mourvedre (known locally as Monastrell). This 100% Mourvedre red offers ripe black grapey berry fruit accented with notes of dust, earth, and blacl pepper. It is rich ripe and chewy with a rustic character. Big enough for a steak, cheap enough for burgers, it will taste fine with either. Very Good. Bear's Score: 86+ points.
  ROSENBLUM Oakley Vineyards Red, Contra Costa, NV 12x750ml $11.99 $135.13 A blend of 69% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Sirah, and 15% Carignan, this is deep, ripe, and jammy with lots of sweet black fruit accented with briar, pencil shavings, tobacco, black pepper, and a hint of earth. It is very rich with a nice lush feel in the mouth. In the Zinfandel section. Fine. Bear's Score: 89 points.
  VINA BORGIA Campo de Borja (Spain), 2003 12x750ml $6.89 $77.11 This fruit-bomb of a Grenache-based, Spanish quaffer may be the ultimate summer party red . Full of dark, juicy, ripe berry and grapey fruit with spice and black pepper notes and made in a light-to-medium-bodied, lively, lightly-chillable style, this is a perfect outdoor accompaniment to everything from burgers to paella. Very Good. SPEC's Score: 86+.
  GUENOC Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2003 12x750ml $6.43 $71.60 Here is a refreshing, crisp, clean, lean Sauvignon Blanc with simple fruit in the mixed citrus, pear, melon, and fig range accented with a hint of grass and a disitinct mineral note. Quite lively in the mouth and very fresh tasting; really lasts. Surprisingly good. Fine. Bear's Score: 89 points.
 
WYNDHAM ESTATE Bin 555 Shiraz, Southeastern Australia, 2002 12x750ml $6.57 $72.33 Aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels (mostly American), this is a fat juicy ripe Shiraz with forward dark raspberry fruit accented with notes of wood, earth, coffee grounds, and white pepper. The sweet fruit really lasts. Has good richness and a slightly chewy, slightly rustic feel. Really Very Good. Bear's Score: 87 points. sm
  Spec’s” and the rabbit logo are service marks of the SPEC’s Family Partners, Ltd. and are registered with the State of Texas. Prices are subject to change without notice. Prices listed include a 5% discount for “cash.”
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