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We are kicking off the New Year with more recent arrivals that feature well in the under-twenty dollar range. Three are from California, and the other three hail from France, Spain and Argentina. There is no rhyme or reason here; only the quest for very good wine at fabulous prices. So if you have exited your recovery period and no longer consider alcoholic beverages a bad thing, do join us. After all, we must do our part to support the wine industry.
2008 DOMAINE LAURIER CHARDONNAY, SONOMA COUNTY
List price 9.95; our price 6.99
Laurier derives its name from the French word for the laurel trees that surround the founding winery in Sonoma County. Los Carneros – whose climate is moderated by the north end of the San Francisco Bay – is ideal for growing Chardonnay grapes. The wine displays excellent fruit character and is balanced with a lively and crisp finish. The flavors remind of ripe spicy pear, apple, citrus and light oak flavors. Focused, it turns a bit leafy and earthy on the finish.
2007 DOMAINE LAURIER CABERNET SAUVIGNON
List price 9.95; our price 6.99
This Cabernet contains clones selected from some of Alexander Valley’s best vineyards. The preferred winemaking technique here combines European tradition with new technology to create a wine that is abundant with fruit character and silky texture. Nuances of black cherry, plum, black olive and vanilla top the list of flavors. Compatible entrees include roast leg of lamb, braised short ribs, grilled Portobello mushrooms and a variety of sharp cheeses.
CHATEAU DE SAINT COSME “LITTLE JAMES’ BASKET PRESS”, GIGONDAS, FRANCE
List price 14.95; our price 12.99
According to Robert Parker, this wine is created from a Solera system based on 50% from 2008, and the rest from older vintages. It is always 100% Grenache and is finished with a screw cap. It offers lots of spicy, peppery, black cherry, and even blacker fruits along with medium body, a tasty, satisfying style, and a remarkably low price. Spicy and rich, with layers of kirsch, cassis and blackberry fruit and a commanding note of minerals and herbs, it screams Grenache.
2006 BODEGAS BILBAÍNAS VIÑA ZACO TEMPRANILLO, RIOJA, SPAIN
List price 13.00; our price 11.50
Zaco is the rebellious new Rioja from Bodegas Bilbaínas, a Rioja with a contemporary twist. Zaco is not constrained by the rules of the traditional ageing process. It is neither a Crianza nor a Reserva. Zaco is simply ready when award-winning international winemaker Diego Pinilla believes the wine is reaching its full potential. Every year Diego will identify the perfect moment to bottle Zaco. This is a distinctive wine made in the international style with fresh fruity aromas. Black cherry and blackberry flavors are framed by smoky chocolate oak in this taut and focused red. Its firm tannins and bright acidity should keep it at its peak through 2012. It scored 90 points in the Wine Spectator.
2008 BODEGAS GASCÓN MALBEC, MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
List price 14.95; our price 11.99
The Don Miguel Gascón Malbec is a full-bodied wine, deep purple in color and layered with flavors of blackberry, blueberry, dark cherry and a hint of mocha. The mid-palate shows a plumy fruit, finishing with pepper, chocolate, and smooth tannins (wine’s best feature). It is attractively packaged as well as attractively priced. The elegant, velvety mouthfeel and round tannins will pair well with grilled red meats, wild game, pasta dishes and chocolate desserts.
2005 BRIDLEWOOD SYRAH RESERVE, CENTRAL COAST
List price 22.50; our price 15.99
The aroma displays spice, blackberry, plumy and earthy notes which develop into dark berry and plum as the wine opens up. You may also pick up hints of violets, chocolate and coffee. This is a full bodied wine with soft, but powerful tannins. The wine flavors open with blackberry jam, violets and plum; dark berries combine with mouth filling tannins to form a long silky mid-palate and end with a clean lingering finish. While this wine is already balanced and drinking well now, the moderate alcohol, acidity and tannin structure will allow this wine to improve with additional cellaring and will drink well for the next five years.