Good Value Wines for October
By Natalie MacLean
Louis Roederer Brut Premier Non Vintage Champagne (268771, $59.95) France: One of the best non-vintage champagnes on the shelf. This top-notch producer owns more than two-thirds of its vineyards, which helps with quality control. Toasty aromas of ripe peaches and yeasty richness. Toast the New Year in style! Score: 90/100.
2006 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc (619452, $15.92) 12.5% alcohol, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand: Mouth-watering aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit and melon. Drink with salads, chicken, pork and shellfish. Score: 89/100. Best Value White Wine
2005 Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling (232033, $12.95) Niagara: A lovely and refreshing white that makes an ideal personal house wine. Drink with salads, seafood, vegetarian dishes and chicken. Score: 87/100.
2005 Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (554444, $15.85) 12.5% alcohol, New Zealand: Aromas of guava, grapefruit and herbal notes. A vibrant attack of mouth-watering acidity that makes this wine great with salads, vegetarian dishes and seafood. Score: 88/100.
2005 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc (426601, $16.15) 12.7% alcohol, New Zealand: Another herbal and refreshing SB that I've recommended for years. Balanced and juicy. Score: 89/100. Favorite White Wine
2004 Yalumba Shiraz Viognier (624494, $14) 14% alcohol Australia: Aromas of ripe plums and spices, lifted by the high note of the viognier (a white grape that's a minor part of this blend). Supple, silky and full-bodied. Drink with meat dishes. Score: 89/100.
2003 Katnook Founder's Block Cabernet Sauvignon (620070, $17.95) 13.5% alcohol, Coonawarra, Australia: A spectacular wine with rich, jammy notes of plums and berries. Generous and full-bodied with warm toasty oak notes. Drink with stew, lamb and steak. Score: 90/100. Favorite Red Wine
2003 Yarramen Black Cypress Shiraz (619650, $18.15) 13.5% alcohol, Hunter Valley, Australia: Big, juicy and straight-forward. Toasty oak and dark fruit aromas. Drink with meat dishes. Score: 87/100.
2005 JJ McWilliam Cabernet/Merlot (621599, $10.05) 14% alcohol, Australia: Jammy, juicy dark red fruit and berries. Full-bodied. Drink with lamb and beef. Score: 87/100.
2004 Matua Valley Merlot Cabernet (610964, $15.45) 12.4% alcohol, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand: Another winner from this producer. Balanced and full-bodied with aromas of dark red fruit. Closed with a screwcap. Score: 87/100.
2005 Twin Fin Pinot Noir (613281, $14), California: Light- to medium-bodied with ripe berry aromas. Drink with chicken and pork. Bottled under a screwcap (yay!) Score: 86/100.
2004 Fish Eye Cabernet (614297, $9.95) 12.7% alcohol, California: Purply, juicy and simple quaffer. Full-bodied. Drink with Sloppy Joes and hamburgers. Score: 85/100.
2004 Isla Negra Cono Sur Merlot (516294, $10.05) 14% alcohol, Chile: Fantastic value. Loaded with dark fruit and cassis. Drink with steak and hamburgers. Score: 88/100. Best Value Red Wine
2004 Mont Gras Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (619205, $12.05) 12% alcohol, Colchagua Valley, Chile: Hot and alcoholic: packs a punch. Big black fruit. Drink with rare steak. Score: 87/100.
2003 Escudo Rojo (613224, $16.95) 13.2% alcohol, Chile: A blend of traditional Bordeaux red grapes, such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Aromas of dark red fruit, smoke and oak. Balanced and round, medium- to full-bodied. Drink with meat dishes. Score: 87/100.
2003 Trapiche Cabernet Reserve (614699, $11.95) 13.5% alcohol, Mendoza, Argentina: Argentina is the next big thing in terms of great value. Delicious wines. This one is full-bodied, rustic and hearty with aromas of dark fruit. Drink with meat dishes. Score: 86/100.
2003 Trapiche Malbec Reserve (614651, $11.95) 13.5% alcohol, Mendoza, Argentina: Malbec is Argentina's signature grape on the world stage. This grape, usually one of five blended in Bordeaux, stands alone here to make a delicious, generous wine with dark plum notes. Drink with grilled meats. Score: 87/100.
2004 Feudo Arancio Syrah IGT (621730, $12) 13.5% alcohol, Sicily, Italy: A terrific value! Aromas of ripe berries and plums. Drink with meats. Score: 88/100.
2003 Casela del Giglio Wild Dunes Shiraz (524819, $14.90) 13% alcohol, Italy: Intense and dense with black fruit. A pleasant backbone of mouth-watering acidity makes it perfect for pasta in tomato sauce, spaghetti, lasagna and spicy sausage. Score: 88/100.
1997 Los Molinos Gran Reserva Felix Solis (620971, $13.85) 13% alcohol, Spain: Made from the grape tempranillo. Notes of leather and dried red fruit. Lovely maturity; ready to drink now. Pair with roasts, grilled meats and game. Score: 88/100.
2004 Lagunilla Tempranillo (620963, $10.05) 12.4% alcohol, Spain: Hints of vanilla, smoke, leather and dried red fruit. Score: 87/100.
2004 Fonseca Periquita (25262, $9.35) 13% alcohol, Portugal: Juicy red with berry fruit. Full-bodied. Drink with stew and shepherd's pie. Score: 87/100.
2003 Guigal (259721, $16.20) 13% alcohol, Cotes-du-Rhone, France: Classic notes of cedar and cherries. Medium- to full-bodied. Score: 88/100.
2005 Jaboulet Parallel 45 (332304, $15.25) 13% alcohol, Cotes-du-Rhone, France: Redolent of cherries and cedar. Medium-bodied and balanced. Score: 88/100.
2005 Spier Merlot (622035, $9.95) 14.3% alcohol, South Africa: A delicious and simple red that's ideal for hamburgers and stew. Full-bodied. Great price. Score: 86/100.
2004 Inniskillin Pinot Noir Reserve (669390, $17.95) 12.6% alcohol, Niagara: Light-bodied and delicious with aromas of ripe cherries and strawberries. A simple and carefree wine that's ideal for salmon, pate, pork and chicken. Fermented 12 days on the skins. Score: 88/100.
2004 Jackson-Triggs Merlot Proprietor's Reserve (543876, $12.95) 13.8% alcohol, Okanagan, British Columbia: Balanced and juicy with red-black fruit. Spicy plums with a long finish. Drink with steak and lamb. Score: 88/100.
2003 Jackson Triggs Cabernet (665257, $14.10) 14.3% alcohol, Okanagan, British Columbia: Aged in French and American oak. Dark fruit with rounded notes of chocolate. Full-bodied and voluptuous texture. Drink with lamb and game. 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)
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.
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Copyright © 2006 by Natalie MacLean. All rights reserved. Please ask permission of the author before copying or using this material.