Tight Wad Oenophile tasting – September 8, 2016

One of the biggest challenge for a wine retailer is to find wines under 25$ that overdeliver of the money. Of course, there are many options out there for cheap wines. 8$, 12$, 15$… The vast majority of them are bulk wines and as a wine professional, I am always concerned about what’s inside the bottle, how many additives and preservatives, and the effect on your health. I am also concerned about the standardization of the taste of the wines; a wine from France should never taste like an Australian, or a wine from Spain like an Argentinian wine.  That notion of  “terroir”, or that “sense of place”,  is at the center of my definition of a value wine. It is not a smart buy if I cannot travel while enjoying my bottle of wine…

If you are looking to buy wines for everyday consumption, wines to entertain, or wines that will help you develop your palate and wine knowledge without having to spend a fortune, these 8 wines are for you! …. Because it simply feels good to pay under 25$ to travel the world!

Santé!  Cheers!  ¡Salud!  Saúde!  Salute!

NV Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut $14.99
50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, 15% Xarel-lo
Cava DOC, Spain

The Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut is medium to full-bodied with notes of apple and rich honey complemented by hints of spicy ginger and orange. It’s richly flavored and benefits from a balanced, clean dry finish. Serve chilled, with a variety of appetizers, as an aperitif wine… and maybe keep the leftovers for your Sunday brunch Mimosa!

2015, Mayu Pedro Ximenez Reserva $16.99
Pedro Ximenez
DO Valle de Elqui, Huanta Vineyard, Chile

These Elqui Valley vineyards offer “mindboggling quality and character at unbelievable prices”, according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate… and I agree! Harvested from one of the highest altitude vineyard –if not the highest- in Chile (6,320 feet!!!), this cool-climate wine is dry and crisp. The place has a special brightness that brings the aromas out, because of the quality of the light from the high altitude. Mineral-driven, with notes of lime-blossom and acacia flower, on a core of pomelo and sweet lemon, this is one of my all-time favorite value-wine in the store.

2015, Domaine de Ménard Cuvée Marine $16.99
60% Colombard, 20% Ugni Blanc, 20% Gros Manseng
IGP Côtes de Gascogne, South West, France

In the Heart of AOC Bas-Armagnac, this blend of typical varietals from the South-West is absolutely gorgeous, and one of my top five value wines of the moment in our store. Exotic fruits, pineapple, guava on the nose, but with a refreshing grapefruit acidity and a round wild flower honey palate. The name of the cuvee derives from the soil which, composed of clay and marine fossils, imparts a uniquely mineral taste to the wine, but without making it austere or astringent. Lovely!

2015, Poggio al Sole Primavera Rosato $22.99
100% Sangiovese
Tuscany, Italy

This beautiful rosado (pink!) is made from pure Sangiovese grapes; it’s fresh, fruity and deliciously easy to drink, especially that 2015 vintage. The acidity is very much present, but softens by the time that the wine stays in contact with the lees, which imparts a lovely creaminess to the wine, with a white peach character. Poggio al Sole lies in the very heart of Tuscany, in that famous, glorious countryside between Florence and Sienna. We are lucky enough at the Kensington Wine Market to have the exclusivity on this brand in Alberta.

2015, Yering Station, Little Yering Pinot Noir $20.99
100% Pinot Noir
Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

Those of us who love pinot noir are raving about its red-berry aroma, soft velvety texture and rich chocolatey depths, but also tend to moan a lot about its high price. Fine-quality pinot, especially from its spiritual home, Burgundy, can be expensive, and cheap, decent versions hard to find. This pinot is a great example of a cooler-climate region in a warmer country, at a terrific price. Bright, young and completely tasty, with a lot of bright Bing cherry, raspberry and spice notes. Keep this one in mind for your Thanksgiving turkey dinner!

2015, Ochoa, Calendas Serie Tempranillo-Garnacha $18.99
70% Tempranillo & 30% Grenache
Navarra, Spain

Ochoa Calendas Red combines the elegance and the structure of Tempranillo with the fruitiness of Grenache. This is a young red wine, made of their youthful wines, with intense fruity flavours to be enjoyed on any occasion and with any kind of food. It is a perfect every-day table wine or party wine, without being simplistic. This is a “Vin de Soif”, or the kind of wine that you would enjoy on a sun-bathed patio in Spain, with a few tapas. ¡Salud!

2014, Castello d’Alba Reserva $18.99
50% Touriga Nacional, 35% Tinta Roriz (tempranillo), 15% Touriga Franca
Douro, Portugal

Intense aroma with great complexity of the wild berries and rockrose of Touriga Franca, the spices and red fruits of Tinta Roriz and the violet floral notes of very fresh and elegant Touriga Nacional. 12 months in American and French barrels give the maturation notes of a great wine.  Although it is young with the fruity side right up front, it is really not a wine that needs to age for long. Enjoy the wine for its freshness and light touch of minerality.

2011, Château Macay, Cuvée Bodegas de Macay $24.99
53% Malbec, 32% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon
Côtes de Bourg AOC, Bordeaux, France

A blend of Malbec and Merlot, this well-priced red has tons of good fruit, floral and grippy tannins. Called the “Bodegas” cuvée in reference to the Argentina Bodegas that typically produced Malbec-based wines, the producers were trying to prove that Malbec-based wines from Bordeaux were possible, and delicious! Serve with something big and beefy, or cellar for a year or two. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Bordeaux and in the market for a great deal!

*Without any surprise, red wines were the stars of the tasting:

First Place (with an impressive number of votes!):
Castello d’Alba Reserva Red Douro (Portugal)

Second Place: Bodega de Macay, Bordeaux (France)

Third Place: Ochoa Calendas Serie Tempranillo-Garnacha, Navarra (Spain)


- Christine

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