Cold nights at home by the fire continue to mingle with sun-drenched days by the water. Grilled seafood and salad are on the menu one day and rich, hearty stews the next, providing a perfect opportunity to try some new, versatile wines.
The recommended ‘anytime drinkers’ this month come in a variety of styles and hail from different regions, and the best news is that they can be found on the island at budget friendly prices. The following wines are priced between $10-15 and offer a lot of bang for the buck.
The bargain hunt begins in the Spanish section at Spec’s with the O Fillo da Condesa Albarino 2018 from Rias Baixas. Made from Albariño grapes grown in Galicia, an area that has been known for the grape for centuries, this crisp, aromatic, medium body white has fresh aromas and flavors of white peach and citrus with a distinct seashell minerality that lingers through the tropical infused finish. The seaside influence in this wine makes it an ideal partner for fresh shellfish or seafood paella.
Continuing over to Iberia, a peninsula occupied by Spain and Portugal, the Esporao Monte Velho 2019 from Portugal’s Alentejo region is a red blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, and Syrah. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel which creates a rich, fruit-driven wine with red fruit aromas and flavors that concludes with a soft, lingering, and spicy finish. The freshness makes this wine easy to pair with a range of cuisine from Mom’s meatloaf to Vietnamese Shaking Beef.
Moving south, the Banfi Centine Rosé has a saline minerality which makes this Italian offering an excellent match to local seafood. It is fresh and dry with a spicy red fruit character, a hint of dried herbs, and a savory note through the finish. Made from a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, this wine comes from Tuscany and easily pairs with lighter pasta dishes as well.
Journey to the Adriatic side of Italy next with the Terracotta Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017. This red is dry, medium bodied, and has layers of flavor with a pronounced black cherry character, hints of tobacco, juicy acidity, and a white pepper spiced finish. This smooth, easy-drinking, fruit-forward wine is ideal to enjoy on a meat-laden pizza night at home.
The La Fiole 2019 is a French Côtes du Rhône rosé, and it has a bit more body than its neighbors in Provence as well as a touch more color. It is dry, easy, and pleasant, featuring notes of citrus zest, strawberry, and melon with a light, fresh finish. This wine is refreshing with grilled chicken, green salads, or hamburgers.
The unusual bottle shape is an artistic representation of grenache vines twisting in the strong Mistral winds for which the region is known. A viewer of this bottle that is not in the know may just think it looks a little drunk with its unique contours.
Across the Atlantic and over the Gulf of Mexico, the bargain search proceeds to the Lone Star state with the Les Copains Texas High Plains Rosé 2018. Only 1000 cases of this Texas pink were produced, blending Cinsault, Carignan, and Grenache sourced from the high elevations of the state’s premium growing region.
It is a deep shade of salmon pink and hits the palate dry and crisp with fruity notes of strawberry, red cherry, and plum. Pour a glass with fish tacos or Mediterranean food.
Local wine guru TJ at Economy Liquor on the West End recommends two bargains that should not be missed this spring. His recommendations include a classic Provençal pink and a rich red blend from California, and both are available at Economy Liquor for under $13.
The Bieler Père et Fils Rosé 2019 from Provence gets its pale pink color from a blend of 35% Grenache, 33% Syrah, 13% Cinsault, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7% Rolle. In the glass, the wine is medium bodied, dry, and shows strawberry, apricot, and mineral notes. Easy to enjoy alone, it is also delicious with an array of dishes from tomato soup with grilled cheese to simply prepared seafood.
TJ’s other pick is a red field blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Zinfandel from The Dirty Pure Project called The Bomb (2018). This wine has hints of black pepper, white flowers, and tobacco with a full body, rich blackberry jam flavor, velvety tannins, and a long, concentrated finish. Try it with steaks or barbecued brisket or ribs.
Though made from different grapes in far flung places, these wines share something in common—a higher-than-expected quality at an affordable price point. Take a virtual vino vacation this March and enjoy some of these new wines while reveling in the wallet friendly price.