The myriad of wines hitting store shelves on a daily basis can be dizzying. Among them are wines at nearly every possible level of quality and intent. Most important of course is whether the wine is any good. Assuming it is good, does it fit your budget and needs. I just tasted through just more than 4 dozen wines looking for a few good bottles to stand out. I found ten that first and foremost are delicious. Each of them also represents a fair or better value when the price of the bottle and intent of the wine are taken into account. A handful of them will age well for a number of years, but even those are delightful and perfectly drinkable today. Regardless of what your wine needs are, one of these is likely to fit. So grab one or more of these and enjoy it with your favorite meal.
Mas Janeil 2015 Les Hautes de Janeil Syrah-Grenache ($13)
This offering from Languedoc France is Syrah (80 percent), and Grenache (20 percent). A small amount of it is aged in one and two year old French oak. When considering wines under $15 I’m looking for something appropriate for everyday drinking that offers value, reasonable character, and most importantly is eminently food friendly. This is a winner on all three counts. Blackberry, black plum and white pepper are each evident on the nose. The palate is loaded with dark fruit flavors that intertwine with bits of red fruit such as strawberry and cherry. Wisps of dark chocolate, spice and minerals are all present on the solid finish. If you’re for a new house red to purchase a case of, here’s one to consider.
Urban 2016 Riesling ($15)
This Riesling from NiK Weiss Selection is finished in screwcap and widely available across the US. If you’re looking for a welcome wine or something to pair with appetizers and light foods here it is. White peach and hints of spice dot the nose. The palate shows off apricot and fleshy yellow melon. Bits of white pepper and citrus are evident on the crisp finish. Refreshing, delicious, and well-priced, I like everything about this Riesling and you probably will too.
Croteaux Vineyards Merlot 181 2016 Rosé ($19)
This Long Island Winery is so devoted to the production of Rosé that it’s the only thing they do. They use time honored t intent to produce wines that reflect the varieties that flourish on their two vineyard sites. This Rosé is light both literally in color as well as on the tongue. Bits of strawberry and subtle vanilla emerge on the nose. The palate shows off red fruit, tangerine zest and a hint of nectarine. Hints of limestone are evident on the long, crisp finish. This is an incredibly refreshing and versatile example of Rosé.
Sparkling Pointe 2014 Brut ($29)
This producer on the North Fork of Long Island has their vineyards planted entirely to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier; the typical Champagne varieties. Their 2014 Brut is composed of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Traditional production methodology was employed. Orchard fruit aromas are underpinned by bits of lemon ice. The palate is studded with green apple, Bartlett pear and white pepper. The above average finish shows off bits of yeast and flaky biscuit. This is a solid bottle of bubbles for the money.
Taylor Fladgate 325th Anniversary Reserve Tawny Port ($38)
This offering was released to celebrate their 325th Anniversary and is produced by drawing from their deep reserve of casks, all from traditional typical port grape varieties. The bottle is styled after those used in 1692. Black plum, mission fig and hints of chocolate sauce are evident on the nose. The palate is loaded with sweet dark fruit, burnt brown sugar, hints of toffee and echoing wisps of chocolate. The finish is above average, sweet, and flavorful. The last bits of flavor gently glide out and beg you back for another sip.
Dutcher Crossing 2014 Maple Vineyard Zinfandel ($45)
Fruit from the Maple Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley is some of the most sought after Zinfandel on the market. A number of producers bottle a Maple Zin every vintage. The offering from Dutcher Crossing each year is often the best of the bunch. It starts with a huge nose loaded with a combination of black and red fruit aromas. The palate is big and boisterous but never over the top. Ripe blackberry, raspberry and plum fruit flavors dominate. The finish is long and lusty with continued fruit, sweet dark chocolate, and a treasure trove of spices. Dry Creek Valley is the home office of Zinfandel. Year after year this is one of the top 10 Zinfandels out there, the 2014 is no exception.
Franciscan Estate 2014 Magnificat Red Meritage ($56)
One vintage after another Magnificat is one of the best Meritage wines coming from Napa Valley. This red blend utilizes all 5 of the classic Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, & Petit Verdot). Dark fruit, black pepper and hints of earth peak out from the nose. The deeply layered palate is firm and somewhat intense. It showcases black raspberry cherry, roasted espresso, and bits of baker’s chocolate. The memorably long finish finds all of those characteristics reverberating along with a closing dollop of chicory. Whether you drink this now of lay it down for 15 years, Magnificat is an exceptionally enjoyable wine.
MacRostie 2014 Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir ($56)
Since the 80’s, Steve MacRostie has been producing terrific wine in Sonoma County from a host of vineyard sites. This Pinot Noir comes from his Estate property. Black cherry and spice aromas light up the nose. Cranberry, cherry and wild strawberry notes are evident on the palate. The long finish shows off pomegranate, black pepper and hints of mushroom. Among a portfolio loaded with terrific, site specific Pinot Noirs, this is the rock star.
Gaja Pieve Santa Restituta 2012 Brunello di Montalcino ($75)
This Brunello is composed entirely of Sangiovese Grosso. The Gaja family started producing this particular wine in 2005. Previously all of their Brunello’s were single vineyard expressions. This is a cuvee representing their best vineyard sites. Leather, cherry and strawberry aromas dominate the aromatics. The palate is studded with savory herbs, red fruit and subtle spices. The prodigiously long finish reverberates on and on showing off red fruits tinged by black, bits of earth and black pepper as well. Drink it today after decanting it for a couple of hours or lay it down for 25 years to let it evolve. Either way this is a brilliant Brunello.
Mount Veeder Winery 2014 Reserve Red Blend ($100)
This Cabernet based blend from Mount Veeder also has Malbec and Petit Verdot blended in. The intention of this wine is to be the ultimate expression and representative of their Mountain Estate. The most admirable qualities of mountain grapes are their intensity and burst of pure fruit, both apply here. Savory herbs are evident along with dark, nearly brooding fruit aromas. The palate is big, firm and stuffed with intense and structured dark fruit. Cherry, raspberry, and plum are all present. The lengthy finish shows off roasted espresso, continued dark fruits and tons of spice. Delicious today, it’ll improve over the next 15 plus years if you have the patience.