I thought I might share a few best buys that have come my way over the past few weeks. These wines are all under $15 per bottle and well made. I have tasted them many times in different settings.
- Goanvi Reserva-Estremadura. This is a mouthful to say, but the wine is also a mouthful of delight — round, with layers of dark fruit and hints of oak. From Portugal and proud of it, Goanvi Reserva-Estremadura is a big-fruited, powerful and elegant offering. The "red" in this wine is deep and gripping on the palate. We had this wine with pasta and red meat and it was divine. I love these Portuguese wines for their richness and great values.
- Castello d' Alba 2007. Another bold red from Portugal with refinement, lovely balance and a deepness of oak and purple flavors, with every ounce of this $15 bottle classy and elegant. I love the way the wine swirls in the glass with deep hues of red and purple. The oak in the nose is slightly pronounced but vital to the long, rich, flavors. Best with red meats, pasta, many different types of cheese and very rich vegetarian offerings. This wine is a winner.
- Andes Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina. Delicious, with bright fruit, long flavors, high purple tones and richness in the glass. Malbecs are known for their silky tones, and this one does not disappoint. Silk, youth and layers of fruit are the hallmarks of this 2008 offering. Many malbecs offered at more money do not give the consumer this kind of value. We had this fine wine with lamb and the result was quite nice. I suspect that this wine will grow in complexity as time goes on, but it is quite something at present.
- Morellino di Scansano, Santa Vincenza, Italy. Any under $15 "best buy" list has to include at least one good Italian choice, of course. This lovely red, mostly sangiovese-based wine is a powerful offering with tones of black currant and plum. It shouts "Italian" from the rooftops because of its heat and seemingly endless finish, which are hallmarks of older-vine Tuscan wines. Generous in the nose, vibrant on the palate as well as palate gripping, this wine has pedigree and elegance. Those of you enjoying Italian cuisine will love this generous wine. Well made, wonderfully priced and a great value all around.
Let's look at one of the great barberas I've come across in the last year: Cascina Zerbetta Barbera del Monferrato. What a stunning wine this is. The vegan biodynamic offering made from 100 percent organic grapes is a knockout for any table. Layered with dark, unctuous plummy fruit and sporting a backbone of tight oak and powerful palate grip, it is mind-blowing in every respect. Having a personal history with the Piemonte region of Italy, I have had the fortune of tasting lovely, well-made barbera. This 5-year-old beauty might be the best I have tasted in years. One of the great joys of this wine is its staying power. I opened it on a Saturday night and it was still drinking beautifully three days later. If you wish to support a superb organic, vegan red with charm, grace and power, this is the wine for you. It's $35, and worth one heck of a lot more dough.
Now for a wine revisited: RoxyAnn Viognier 2007. I really like this viognier with its flinty, minerally tones and freshness. It's quite wonderful in every respect, but best when paired with seafood and shellfish. At $19.95 per bottle, it's well worth the money spent. I also revisited the claret from this fine winery and found it one-dimensional and somewhat punchy, with unfocused fruit. It might be that I received an "off'" bottle, which happens from time to time, but I was not impressed this time out. It's $25 more or less per bottle.
Lorn Razzano is owner of the Wine Cellar in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.