Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Budget Wine Review 10

Budget wines tasted recently (August 14, 2013).  Writing good tasting notes for me involves much time, concentration and effort, and I don't see any point in writing detailed tasting notes on these inexpensive wines so I am keeping the notes brief.  I've added a few wines at the end that are not really budget wines, since they sell for over $20, which is my arbitrary maximum limit to what I am willing to refer to as a budget wine. The wines underlined are the ones I consider the best buys.

Much of what I look for in inexpensive wines is decent balance, whether I enjoyed drinking it and if I would purchase another bottle. I do not expect much subtlety or complexity.  In non-blends I do prefer some truness to varietal characteristics. If I poured the wine down the drain I comment on that.  Some people will cook with wines they do not like.  I believe it takes a decent wine to make good food and that life is too short to drink or cook with a wine that is not pleasant to drink. Most of the wines listed below were recommended to me by reliable sources.  I rarely purchase a budget wine without a recommendation by a reliable person because there are so many of them, especially those under $10, that are  not very pleasant to drink.  If you know of any budget wines you really like, please email me and I will try them.

Acacia 2010 Red Blend-$7.99 at Safeway.  This was recommended by a well known wine critic as being a good buy. It is a Rhone style red blend with mostly raspberry on the palate and is okay for the price, but it just didn't come together very well for me and I will not buy another bottle of the 2010. You might want to try it, but I can't really recommended it.

BV 2010 Coastal Chardonnay-$5.99 at Safeway.  Often recommended as a wine bargain, this is a decent enough Chardonnay for the money and the probably the least expensive Chardonnay I can even mildly recommend. For only $2 more, though, you can get the Clos du Bois Chardonnay, which I like much better. Very mild, rather tepid, recommendation at this price if you really can't afford $7.99 for the Clos du Bois.

Chalone 2010 Chardonnay-$9.99 at Safeway.  Another one that was recommended as a decent budget Chardonnay by a famous wine critic.  It is a decent $10 Chardonnay, and  I purchase a bottle or two perhaps once a year. I do like the dry flintiness and absence of excessive butter. Worth trying. Mild recommendation at this price.

Charles Shaw California 2010 Sauvignon Blanc-$2.49 at Trader Joe's. It has almost no aroma and does not taste much like a Sauvignon Blanc--none of the crisp acid or citrus of most SBs. If you have only $3 in your wallet and need a Sauvignon Blanc, this is probably as palatable as you will find at that price. Not really recommended. Spend a little more.

Clos du Bois 2010 Northern California Chardonnay-$7.99 at Safeway.  Very nice for the price and consistent from year to year.  I don't drink that much of this, but I've purchased a bottle or two every year for many years and have never been disappointed. One of the finest budget Chardonnays.  Highly recommended at this price.

Columbia Crest 2010 Grand Estate Chardonnay-$8.99 anywhere. I have had the Columbia Crest Chardonnay in the past and liked it well enough for the price, but I don't like this 2010.  Apple, pear and butter but too much butter for me. Recommended by others, but I simply did not like it and cannot recommended it, at least not the 2010.

Contadino Pinot Grigio-Italy. $3.99 at Trader Joe's. One cannot expect much at this price. I liked it better than the Gaetano D'Aquino mentioned below but found it to be barely drinkable.  On another day I might have poured it out. Spend a three dollars more and get the much better Mezzacorona mentioned below. I can't recommend it.

Delas Saint-Esprit 2011 Cotes-du Rhone Rouge-French. $9.99 on sale at Cost Plus.  I really liked the 2010 so thought I'd try the 2011.  This one is has a good nose but is a bit rough right out of the bottle.  Decant it or give it some air first.  Mostly black cherry, blackberry and some spice on the palate with blackberry and pepper on the medium length finish.  I gave the 2010 a moderate to high recommendation and it is the better of the two vintages.  I bought a number of 2010s but will not buy any more 2011s and will wait until 2012 comes out. It is not as well balanced as the 2010. This 2011 is only mildly recommended at this price level.

DeLoach 2011 California Pinot Noir-$9.99 on sale at Safeway. A lighter style Pinot with lots of strawberry. This one is well balanced and refreshing.  It is not a complex Pinot, but for its style, it is very honest and well worth the price.  Some light, fruity Pinots almost taste like Nouveau Beaujolais but not this one. With the DeLoach the Pinot Noir varietal characteristics are quite evident. I'm not sure what the regular price is on this but it is worthwhile at anything less than $15.  There are also a DeLoach 2011 Russian River and a DeLoach 2011 Heritage Reserve that sell for more, but I have not tried these. If DeLoach sends me some I'll gladly do so very detailed tasting notes.  They obviously know what they are doing with budget Pinots. I enjoyed drinking this wine and give it a moderate recommendation at the price if you like this style Pinot. 

Gaetano D'Aquino 2011 Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie-Italian. $3.99 at Trader Joe's. Barely drinkable at best.  Not at all recommended.

Gnarly Head 2010 Malbec-$8.99 at Safeway-Tastes rather like a Malbec.  Okay for the price.  Not many budget Malbecs out there. Mildly recommended at this price.

Grifone 2010 Primitivo-Italian. $3.99 at Trader Joes.  Drinkable but not a wine I would ever purchase again. On another day I would pour it down the drain.  Can't really recommend it.

Hess 2010 Select Chardonnay-$8.99 at Safeway or just about anywhere. Fairly decent Chardonnay at under $10. It is widely available and is reliable from year to year. One of the better budget Chards out there, and I've never purchased a bad one. Mildly recommended for the price.

La Ferme Julien Rouge 2012 Rhone Red- French. $4.99 at Trader Joe's. They have a white, rose and red.  Of these, I prefer the red which is  a Rhone blend of Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah.  I'm very fond of Rhone red wines but can rarely find a decent one for under $10.  At only $5 I find this one to be a real bargain.  If you like Rhone wines and are looking for something very inexpensive, this would be a good choice.  I have only tried the 2012 so cannot comment on other vintages.  This is an honest, simple, pleasant every day wine that benefits from a little air.  It is mostly spicy blackberry on the palate, with good body and decent balance.  Highly recommended for a $5 wine.

Les Portes de Bordeaux 2012 Sauvignon Blanc-French. $4.99 at Trader Joe's. Grapefruit and citrus with a decent finish. Fairly decent for price, but I don't plan to buy any more.  Mildly recommended for a Sauvignon Blanc at less than $5.

Mezzacorona 2010 Pinot Grigio-Italian. $6.99 at Trader Joe's. Recommended by our local TJ's wine guru and very nice for the price.  Good fruit, decent balance and tastes like a Pinot Grigio.  A winner.  One of the best buys in a white wine. I have had numerous bottles of this. It is very pleasant and I've never grown tired of it. One of the best white wine bargains I've found recently. Probably my favorite every day budget white wine.  Very highly recommended for the price.

Portico da Ria 2011 Albarino-Spanish. $5.99 at Trader Joe's. Finally a decent, inexpensive Albarino. TJ's hardly ever carries this varietal, much to my disappointment. . It is a wonderful, much underappreciated varietal here in the U.S. but, of course, is well known and appreciated in Portugal. I'm very fond of good Albarinos but rarely find a decent one for under $20 and don't seem to find any for under $10.  Mostly lemon and green apples on the palate, well balanced, this one is a winner at the price and should be selling for at least $10 to $15.  If you have never had an Albarino before, this would be a good start.  If you love pleasant, floral, not too sweet but not bone dry, easy to drink white wines that are not one dimensional you might love this one.  Buy a case before they run out.  I do not know of a better red or white wine deal, and I do not know how long TJ's will carry this. (It is a fairly recent arrival.) I've recommended this to many friends and neighbors and they have all loved it.  Many now purchase it by the case.  Women seem to especially like it. Very highly recommended Albarino for the price.

Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon-$6.99 at Trader Joe's-Drinkable.  It is okay but not something I would purchase again.  I have a difficult time appreciating most  Cabs that are under $10. As with Pinot Noirs, you really must almost always pay more to get a drinkable one. I just can't really recommend this Cab.

Reserve des Cleones 2012 Muscadet Severe et Maine Sure Lie-$7.99 at Trader Joe's. Muscadet is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, often referred to as melon.  Pale yellow in color, this one is light, very dry, and crisp with melon and lemon on the palate.  Balance is okay for the price. Short finish. It is not very complex, but if you are looking for a Muscadet to pair with seafood or whatever, this is worth investigating. I doubt I will purchase any more, but I have to give it a mild recommendation at this price.

Saint-Bris Vin de Bourgogne 2012 Sauvignon Blanc-French. $9.99  at Trader Joe's.  A Sauvignon Blanc from Chablis?  Yup.  And very nice for the price.  This one has hints of what premium Sauvignon Blancs offer but costs a fraction of the price.  I've several bottles so far and really like it. Moderately recommended.

Sebastopol Hills 2011 Pinot Noir-$9.99 at Trader Joe's. Recommended by Traer Joe's staff and not really bad, but I did not enjoy drinking it and would not buy it again.  Not recommended by me.

Tarmina 2012 Monastrell-Spain. $6.99 at Cost Plus.  Monastrell is Spanish for Mourvedre, a varietal that is used in French Rhone GSM blends.  Inky purple in color with a decent nose. Full bodied but smooth, jammy and round with lots of balanced dark fruit.  Appealing and easy to drink.  Quite a bargain actually. I've tried three bottles now. Moderate plus recommendation at the price.

Trader Joes 2011 Coastal Sauvignon Blanc-$3.99 at Trader Joes. Some varietal characteristics but rather round, insipid and not dry or crisp enough.  Not recommended.

Trellis Sonoma Chardonnay-$4.99 at Trader Joe's. Okay for the price but not something I would purchase again.  Possibly worth a try if you want to try a Chard at under $5.  I'd recommend spending a few dollars more on a Chardonnay.

These wines below are more expensive than the wines above so I'm mentioning them separately:

De Sante 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Old Vine-$33 at a wine shop.  Fairly good and mildly recommended, although not my favorite SB at this price level despite its recommendation from a reliable source.  Mildly recommended at this price level.

Elk Cove 2009 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley-$20.29 at Safeway. Bright strawberry nose.  Red cherry and strawberry on the palate with some cinnamon.  Medium finish.  Quite nice for a Pinot at this price. Moderately recommended at this price.

Raptor Ridge Willamette Valley 2010 Pinot Noir -$20 at Safeway.  Strawberry nose and palate with medium body.  Finish could be better. I will pass on trying any more. Very mild recommendation at this price.

Talley 2009 Pinot Noir-$33.50 at a wine shop. Talley has a very good reputation and this was recommended by a reliable source. Pleasant, medium bodied, easy to drink, lacking the complexity of an exceptional Pinot but well worth the price.  I liked it but will pass on trying any more, at least of this vintage.  Mildly recommendation at this price level.

Previous Budget Wine Reviews may be viewed here:

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