for June, 2005
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.
"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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
"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:
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.
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+.
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:
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
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to change without notice. Prices listed include a 5% discount for