Sunday, September 29, 2013

Summer of 2013 Affordable Wines

I had delusions of grandeur that I'd be posting a whole bunch of separate entries about various wines that Dr Desert Flower and I enjoyed over the summer.  Fall arrived just 2 weeks ago, and there's a formidable collection of empty bottles building up in my office. a-waiting to be blogged about.  But pragmatically, I am running out of time, and the rental house in which we are living now had a lock box on the front door and is going "to be shown" to get the next set of renters in here once we head to our new home in October.  So this morning, while our visiting son is sleeping upstairs (and before I get the bacon fat heated up in the skillet to cook everyone pasteur raised eggs) I am going to post as many of the bottles we enjoyed over the summer as possible, all in one fell swoop.  The recycling bin will be heavy with colored glass this week.
Castillo Clavijo Tempranillo was an inexpensive Spanish Rioja (D.O.C.) imported by Saranty Importers, White Plains NY.   It was a Crianza (as my one page wine summary explained years ago) and it was pretty good.   No complaints.  The Spanish, and their government regulatory & quality assurance system (as well as a brutal market place) know how to make good wines that are affordable for "everyday drinking".

 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011, California,  was a lark purchase at Trader Joe's during one of my "I love California" wine buying trips to the store.  I want to love California wines, and there are many good ones, but most are really over-priced.  The Rioja above was less than $10 (everything on this posting will be less than $10, unless otherwise noted) and it came 1/2 way around the world, was made in a country (and regulatory system) that Californian wine producers would consider "oppressive", "stifling" and "not supportive of the free market"and yes cost a dollar less a bottle to me, the end wine drinker, in California.

Velvet Moon was not bad.  It was drinkable.  Went well with a grass fed, pasteur raised steak I grilled (which cost more than the bottle of wine...  maybe I need to re-think this...) and I would recommend it as an adequate red table wine.  It's nothing to rave about, nor is it anything to criticize, trash, or pour down the sink.  It was OK. If you're in the mood for a OK Cabernet, you could do worse. I know that's not a "gushing" review, but Velvet Moon didn't knock me off my feet or leave a powerful, distinct impression. Would I buy it again?  Eh, probably...  if it was on sale.  Why not?

The Bougrier Loire Valley Anjou (Appellation Controles) 2011 from Total Wine was an Alfio Moriconi selection.  Total Wine's website calls it a "blush selection" - I called it a Rosé.  We drank it during the 2 week August "Hot Spell" when temperatures climbed over 85F here in Southern Orange County, and it's always nice to have a cool Rosé on a hot summer day.  The Total Wine site says it is $11 a bottle, but I think we got it on sale for $9.99.  It was light, refreshing, flavorful with lots of fruit while not tasting like HFCS flavored kid's grape juice. The French - much like the Spanish - also have excellent quality controls, government over-sight, and time-tested regulations on wine production that make excellent sense and help to produce excellent wines.  This Anjou selection is among them.

I explored a new selection in the Bila-Haut, Cotes Du Roussillon Villages - Appelation Cotes Du Roussillon Villages Controlee.  It's full name is "Les Vines De Bila-Haut, by Michel Chapoutier, 2011."  Mis en bouteille par M.Chapoutier (Michel is a negotiant who bottles lots of wine).  The Languedoc region is often under-appreciated both in France and in the US, but I've actually had a bad bottle of Languedoc wine.   This bottle of red was wonderful.  "Fleshy and well structured" is what the back label said...  ok...  I guess so.  I didn't notice any "fleshy" tones or tastes.  It was good.  It was drinkable, and I liked it.  If you try it, you'll probably like it too.

Chateau de Sales Pomerol was NOT under $10.  It was a DDF purchase to have a delicious (and somewhat expensive, at $28) bottle of Bordeaux on hand for a colleague of her's from Phoenix who came to visit us last summer for a weekend at the beach and shopping with DDF.  Bottled by Heritiers de Lambert, this Pomerol did not disappoint, and delivered the full flavored, robust tannins of a hearty and impressive Bordeaux - which is primarily Merlot (and some Cabernet Franc mixed in), so take THAT, Merlot haters!  I'd recommend it if you can find it for under $30 a bottle and you have a special occasion and you serve it FIRST, and not as a 2nd or third bottle with dinner.

The Noccese Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (D.O.C.) 2008 from Chiusa Grande was a Trader Joe's purchase that was either $11 or $12, and it was not just delicious and affordable, but it was also ORGANIC!  Imported by Organic Cellar, Laguna Beach CA, it was a great wine.   Estate bottled by Azienda Agricola Chiusa Grande di Franco D'Eusanio, Nocciano Italia.  I really meant to blog about this wine earlier in the summer, but I got distracted - in Southern California there's just so much more to do outside and at the ocean than there is in the desolation of western Phoenix.

The Harthill Farm Pinot Grigio was a $6 WholePaycheck purchase by DDF that she especially enjoyed, and has been a repeat purchase on our dinner table.  I do not mind pinot grigios, but DDF has become somewhat of an aficionado of affordable and delicious white wines.  The Harthill Farm offering is now a "go to" for us.  Bottled in Livermore and Ripon California, Harthill Farms "gets it", providing high quality & delicious Californian wine at a reasonable price.

And now...  it is time for breakfast.

More wine blogging after breakfast.  Stay tuned....

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