Thursday, February 14, 2013

Terrace View - Where the Deals Are

We always have customers looking for good, inexpensive wines, and why not? We also love to drink fun, quality wines without spending a fortune. If you look around the store you'll see lots of wines that sell for say less than $12.99 both in he stacks and on the shelves. Some of these wines are deals. What makes them so? Generally we're looking for wines that taste "winelike". Sounds weird but even at $8 a bottle we'd like the wine to have the structural qualities that make wine wine and not jammy grape juice. I'm speaking about things like ripeness, acidity, and tannins and those things should be somewhat in balance. If there's some complexity in the wine, especially in the form of non-fruit aromas and flavors such as herbs, spice, or mineral notes, so much the better.

What if I told you that a majority of these wines come from three places? Would you be happy? If yes, then think Spain, Italy, and southern France. Without question we see the best value in inexpensive wines from these three countries. Other regions produce inexpensive wines too but they can't compete in terms of quality, complexity, and price. From Italy look to Abruzzo, Puglia, the Salento, and Sicily. For Spain it seems that deals are everywhere in places like Alicante, Valencia, Campo De Borja, Bullas, and Bierzo, just look to other areas rather than the famous regions like Rioja, Ribera Del Duero, and Priorat. French wines can be real deals if you look to the Languedoc/Rouissillon, the wine may say Vin De Pays or Pays d'Oc.

Why have I not mentioned malbec? Malbec is fine, and you can certainly fine decent bottles at $10 but generally they are very basic, one note plummy and don't have as much interest going for them. I know there is a level of subjectivity here and it depends where your palate is (I'll leave that subject for another blog), but if you tasted a half dozen Argentine malbecs against a half dozen of the wines I'm talking about you'd see a lot more diversity and interest in the later group.

Let's talk for a second about American wines. Almost everything at $10 per bottle is over-marketed industrial plonk. I'd love to see some honest, genuine wines at that price from California or New York that I could get behind but given the many economic factors involved that's probably not going to happen.

In the meantime I'll just "keep on keepin' on" with the real deals.