This is a series of weekly bargain wine picks by the members of the Vintage Wine Tasting Club. We meet every other month for a formal tasting session but in between we communicate with each other whenever we discover a great wine bargain. We love the sport of bargain wine hunting. Here are our bargain wine picks from the past week.
Smoking Loon – 2008 Viogner (Safeway $6.49) Ray’s Pick
If you’re in the market for an inexpensive, floral and semi-dry summer white, you can’t beat Smoking Loon’s Viognier currently on sale at all Safeways. With a nose of honeysuckle and citrus, this white is smooth and crisp without any astringency in its after-taste. This is a perfect complement for fish, chicken, pork and summer salads. At this price, it would be hard to find a rival.
Blackburn & James Red Table Wine 2008 – (Trader Joe’s $6.99) – Joe’s Pick
This wine was bottled for Trader Joe’s by Our Cellars. The juice is from “estate vineyard blocks” in Paso Robles and is a red blend of 45% Zin, 25% Petite Sirah, 18% Cab, 8% Syrah, 2% Cab Franc and Sangiovese. This wine will go fast once people taste this $6.99 gem. It is medium bodied at best, perhaps a touch lighter. This wine will go great with a variety of foods. I get white pepper and plum flavors from this wine. Alcohol is 13.5%. I give it 86 points.
Falesco Umbria Merlot 2009 (Costco – $11.99) – Joe’s Pick
A wonderful find at Costco! We opened this at a picnic outing with three other Vintage Tasting club members present and we were all thrilled and surprised at the quality of this wine. This wine is a fruity Merlot with layers of flavors, including a touch of leather. It has a very nice finish and is a wine you can drink without food, but is always better with food. The Wine Advocate gives the wine 92 points; we will go with 89 points. At $11.99, this is a gem of a find.
The next three wines were found at the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market in Pacifica. There are three of these stores in the San Francisco area. Ray is the resident expert on wines at Fresh & Easy and will have more to say about the market in future posts.
La Gioiosa et Amaroso Prosecco Brut NV – (Fresh & Easy – $8.99) Ray’s Pick
Here’s a dry, satisfying Prosecco that rivals domestic champagnes for a fraction of the price. Made near Treviso in Italy above Venice, it has the requisite yeasty nose and is a great companion to the appetizer course, any fowl, and it can balance a sweet dessert. Alcohol at 11%.
Chateau Calage Languedoc 2009 (Fresh & Easy – $7.99) Ray’s Pick
This French wine (a blend of 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre) is from the Languedoc region in southern France. It has a bouquet of cherries and licorice and, like most Langedocs, is easy on the palate and delicious. We discovered the Languedocs on our 2010 stay in France. They represent affordable, easy-to-drink reds that will double for a Pinot or a Beaujolais with “guts.” A great everyday red. Alcohol at 13.5%
Villaraine Viognier 2009 (Fresh & Easy – $4.99).
Here’s a pleasant surprise from Lodi. A very affordable Viognier that smells like peaches and citrus to the nose and is smooth and tasty to the tongue and throat. At 13% alcohol, this would be a great all-purpose summer wine served chilled and can be drunk with pleasure.
In the Nothing to Write Home About category
Smoking Loon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Safeway – $6.49) We reviewed the Smoking Loon Viognier earlier (recommended) so we decided to try our luck with the same brand’s Sauvignon Blanc. Our tip: don’t make an extra trip for this one. Not much of a nose and a very generic, flat taste.
Available at San Bruno Costco (as of Saturday, July 9, 2011) the 2009 Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc for a great price at $11.99. We reviewed this wine last week.