Good Value Wines February 2007

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White Wine

2005 Babich Sauvignon Blanc (620054) 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 New Zealand $16.15: A grassy, herbal, refreshing SB. Pair with salads, chicken and vegetarian dishes. Score: 87/100.

Favorite White Wine

2005 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (554444) 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 New Zealand $16.65: Grassy, herbal, gooseberry, and grapefruit aromas. Very crisp; needs food. Serve with shellfish, salads, quiche, and vegetables. Score: 87/100.

2006 Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc (337535) 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Chile $12.20: Aromas of melon, lime and green apples. A simple, quaffable wine that you don't have to analyze. Pair with seafood, shellfish, grilled vegetables, salads and vegetarian dishes. Score: 86/100.

2005 Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling VQA (232033) 11.8% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 2 Niagara, Ontario $13.15: I recommend this wine more often than any other white because of its great taste for value. Lovely citrus and peach aromas. Its mouth-watering acidity makes it zesty and refreshing and perfect for salmon, ham, medium curries and any dish with a touch of sweetness in it. Score: 88/100. Best Value White Wine

Red Wine

2005 Black Opal Cabernet Merlot (351890) 12.8% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 South Eastern Australia $15.15: A simple and delicious full-bodied red with aromas of cherries and oak. Pair with roast beef, steak, and stew. Score: 87/100.

2004 Wakefield Shiraz Cabernet (625343) 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 New South Wales, Australia $15.40: Vibrant ripe red fruit with mouth-watering acidity. Drink with tomato sauce pasta, pizza and beef dishes. Bottled mercifully with a screwcap. Score: 87/100.

2005 Yalumba Shiraz Viognier (624494) 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. South Australia $14.20: Simple and full-bodied with aromas of red currants and plums. Drink with hamburgers, stew and steak. Score: 87/100.

2003 Ruffino Riserva Classico Ducale (45195) 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 2 Tuscany, Italy $25.15: I think most Italian wines are vastly overpriced, including this one. Nonetheless, many wine lovers crave the Italian taste and this wine is certainly a classic chianti. Aromas of sour cherries, dried fruit, spices and violets. Mouth-watering acidity makes it perfect for tomato-sauce pasta, pizza, sausage, and lasagne. Score: 89/100.

2004 Brolio Ricasoli (3962) 13.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Tuscany, Italy $24.16: Made from the traditional grape sangiovese though this chianti is less typical of the region than the Ruffino. Rounded notes of mocha and cherries. Score: 88/100.

2004 Trio Merlot, Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon Concha Y Toro, Rapel Valley, Chile (433920) 14.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 $15.25: Generous aromas of plums and berries. A full-bodied wine with a supple texture. Aged for 11 months in French oak barrels. Pair with hearty meat dishes and roasts. Score: 87/100.

2005 Errazuriz Merlot Max Reserva (16170) 14.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Chile $18.15: Aromas and flavors of extra ripe plums and berries. Round, supple and silky texture. Pair this full-bodied red with meat dishes and roasts. Score: 89/100.

2005 Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Max Reserva (335174) 14.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Chile $16.30: Aromas of mocha, black plums, vanilla, and smoke. Full-bodied, well-balanced, long finish. Pair with steak, roasts, lamb, and stew. Score: 90/100.

2003 Escudo Rojo (613224) 13.2% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Chile $17.20: Owned and made by the Rothschild company that makes the first-growth Bordeaux. This is an elegant, well-made wine with balance and long finish that brings you back for more. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, carmenere and syrah grapes. Notes of blackcurrant, black cherries and smoky intrigue. Drink with lamb, hamburgers, steak and other carnivore treats. Score: 90/100. Favorite Red Wine

2005 Finca Flichman Expressiones Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon (507707) 14.9% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Argentina $15.95: Aromas of chocolate, cassis and blackcurrants. Aged 8 months in American and French oak. Full-bodied and delicious. Pair with hearty meat dishes. A fantastic value. Score: 90/100.

2005 J.P. Vinhos Tinto da Anfora (227256) 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Alentejo, Portugal $13.15: Black plums, cassis, spice and oak on the nose. Full-bodied and generous. A blend of Portuguese grapes and cabernet sauvignon. Aged 12 months in oak. Pair with hamburgers and hearty meat dishes. Score: 88/100.

2005 Vielle Ferme Lasira Costiere Perrin & Fils (669184) 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content : 1 Rhone, France $11.15: Made from syrah (75%) and grenache (25%) grapes. This full-bodied red has lovely aromas of cherry and cedar. Simple but it does the job. Closed with a screwcap for easy and fast access when you need it. Pair with grilled meats and barbecue. Score: 86/100.

2003 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone (259721) 13.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Rhone, France $16.70: Full-bodied with notes of spice, black cherry, and cedar. Balanced with a long and pleasant bitter finish. Not as fruit-forward as New World reds. Terrific acidity makes it a great partner to many dishes: steak, lamb, stew, hamburgers. Score: 88/100.

2004 Pedras do Monte Castelao (565762) 12.5% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Setubal, Portugal $10.15: A dry red with aromas of plums and herbs. Full-bodied and straight-forward. Drink with lamb or steak. Score: 86/100.

2004 Pedras do Monte Cabernet Sauvignon/Tinta Roriz (620658) 13.7% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Portugal $10.15: Riper fruit than its cousin above with notes of plums, raspberry and vanilla smoke. Score: 87/100. Best Value Red Wine

2001 Castillode Almansa Bodegas Piqueras (16535) 14.0% Alcohol/Vol. Sugar Content: 1 Almansa, Spain $20.15: A blend of moncostrell, tempranillo, sirah and grenacha tintorera. Loaded with ripe red fruit and a touch of oak. Balanced, full-bodied and elegant. Score: 89/100.

Dessert Wine

Henriques Banyuls, France (26922) 17% alcohol, 500 ml $14.05: Banyuls, as a category of wine, is one of the few wines that marries well with chocolate, particularly dark chocolate. It has lovely aromas of black plums and cherries. Not as sweet as icewine or sauternes, this fortified red wine from southern France has a lovely balance and silky texture. It would also drink well on its own after dinner. Score: 89/100.

2004 Cornet & Cie Banyuls Rimage, France 16% alcohol, 500 ml $13.95: Another lovely banyuls that would also pair with dark chocolate. Loaded with ripe black fruit. Score: 88/100.

Nat Decants 100-Point Scale

95-100 Brilliant, Exceptional
90-94 Excellent, Superb
89.5 Hovering on the doorstep of excellence, better than very good
85-89 Very Good
80-84 Good (still worth buying and drinking)
79 and below Average to poor (I don't include these in the newsletter due to space constraints)

Favorite Wines: This isn't necessarily the wine with the highest score, as high scores go to the wines that best typify their region and style. Rather my favorite wines are just that: the ones that appeal to me most personally and to my own taste.

Best Value Wines: Not necessarily the cheapest wine, but the one that maximizes the price-quality ratio. (Although I don't always go by strict mathematical ratios on this either, but rather what seems to me to represent tremendous value.)

For more details on how I do my wine reviews and tips on how to find these wines click here. To find dishes to match these wines, click here.

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Copyright 2007 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.