By Rick Riozza
Now that we’re into the autumn aspect of our on-going wine game—and in view of the safety measures we’re all under, I thought I’d give you readers a quick list of wines to consider and perhaps pick up at the market in seconds flat!
And the deal of this week’s column is that I’m suggesting “value” wines, which work well on the casual dinner table and are easy on the wallet. This is the time when those loyal readers of mine—who actually go to the store and try one of my recommended bottles—express a little attitude in that I’m kinda giving away some really good buys. In other words, the shelves at the store may go empty. It’s the old “boohoo”—what are you gonna do?
And now—for your consideration, some tasty wine at very reasonable prices. (Please note: the prices listed below reflect those at Ralph’s Markets here in California with their 6-bottle mix or match price program. Vons/Albertsons and Stater Bros have similar price programs as well.)
Let’s start off with a sparkling bubby (I know—both terms mean the same, it’s repetitive but “a sparkling bubbly” sounds fun.) One of the tastiest brut rosés on the market is the Gran Sello Brut Rosé Cava from Spain ($7.99) It’s just so nice to have such a quality wine for the price! Deep salmon in color, this Cava sparkler has notes of strawberry, tart apple and lemon. The palate is bright with apple flavors and lime following with fresh bread and mineral notes. Great crisp acidity! The wine is imported by Guarachi Wine Partners Inc. of Woodland Hills, CA, should you wish to order it.
Some other oh-so-tasty sparklers for you French die-hards is the Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut and Brut Rosé, both sell for around $17. Granted, they are at next level prices, but these are the bubblies you’ll wish to serve at social-distancing gatherings to both impress and save money at the same time.
The Brut is produced from 100% Pinot Blanc and shows refreshing touches of lime and lemon zest on the nose. The palate adds a mellow ripe-apple note, helped along by a creamy texture. The long finish is clean and dry.
The Brut Rosé is pure Pinot Noir with a panoply of aromas and flavors of dried fruit, apricot, citrus, orange peel, and herb notes. It’s got good acidity and of course is bolder and more lush than its brut sibling.
I recommend this sparkler all the time and almost everyone has come back to pick up some more bottles. It can match the higher priced French stuff with ease.
When it comes to a value Sauvignon Blanc, there is no better approval than the Gallo Family Vineyards California Sauvignon Blanc at $2.99 a bottle. I’ve written on this wine before and recommend it all the time. Most often, the customer roll their eyes and ask for another suggestion. I almost have to plead with them to give the Gallo Sauv Blanc a try. At that price, most buyers give in; and they return to buy more. So don’t be scared!
It offers a bright balance of fruit flavors—honeydew melon, citrus & ripe apple. It’s light with a crisp finish when served chilled. It tastes way above its pay grade. Perfect cooking wine as well, meaning using it both in your recipe and drinking whilst cooking!
You guys know I’m serious about my Moules Marinières—mussels steamed with white wine and slowly sweating a trio of leeks, shallots, and garlic. Here the briny liquid forms a uniquely savory sauce finished with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, and butter which is ideal for dipping toasted sour-dough bread. We just prepared it last week with linguine—and of course, we used almost a full bottle of Gallo Sauv blanc in the mix. Delish!
For a very good Chardonnay at a great price look to Seaglass. This is a Santa Barbara Chard, and as you Chard fans know, thearea can produce some heavy hitting wines. Of course, this is the well-known heavily oaked stuff. The Seaglass Chardonnay ($7.99) is unoaked, fermented in stainless steel tanks, not undergoing malolactic fermentation, allowing the pure flavor of the fruit to shine through. The result is an alluring combination of tropical aromas, rich flavors, refreshing acidity and a vibrant mouthfeel.
For those who’ve traveled to Santa Barbara wine country—which is such a fun jaunt, you’ll recognize the Los Alamos Vineyard area from which this wine is produced. This Chard owns a zesty palate of stone fruit and green apple framed by citrus notes and a lively finish. A pure expression of coastal Unoaked Chardonnay!
As to a Red Blend recommendation—I’ve got one of the best!! And it will be true that the shelves will go empty once this wine gets out to the public sensibility. And that will affect me as well! Our store gets around six bottles at a time, and I buy what I can; it’s my table wine all the time. At $2.99 a bottle, it is one of the best red wine buys.
Aconga Red Blend is produced in the famed Mendoza region in Argentina. The wine has flavors of plum and black fruit with a hint of anise and cassis. This is a nice lightly complex wine that is not on the fruity sweet side. Any other $2.99 wine on the market will be on the fruity sweet side—you know that. This one isn’t, and it shows some structured tannins—how refreshing for that price point!
Aconga is an 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon blend and is produced in the Uco Valley. Sometimes called “The Napa of the South,” Mendoza is Argentina’s premier winemaking region, although the country has several. And within Mendoza itself, the Uco Valley is the Mecca for lovers of wine. Enjoy the news—and you’re welcome.
Stay safe! Cheers!