By The Glass
Spain offers quality wine at low prices
The great thing about the wine world is you can always find something really good for a value price. Right now, Spain is at the forefront of value and has been for years. It is pretty amazing how much good wine it produces for very affordable prices, even with the extremely weak U.S. dollar.
I'm not much of a merlot drinker, unless you are talking about good Pomerol from Bordeaux, but the 2005 Torres Atrium Merlot ($16.99) from Spain is a great bottle of merlot.
It has lots of dark fruit with some bay leaf, vanilla and leather. The tannins are sweet and broad, leading to a long and sensuous finish. A truly great merlot for this price!
For Spanish whites, I took some 2006 Torres Vina Esmeralda ($13.99) to Mitch's Fish Market near the airport recently, and it was a great match with the great fresh sushi and seafood.
The wine is a blend of moscato de Alejandra grapes and a little gewurztraminer. It has aromas of fresh flowers and exotic fruit like passion fruit -- fresh, bright and delicate. There is a hint of lychee and just a little bit of sweetness to this wine. Besides seafood, this makes a beautiful summer evening cocktail.
Besides Spain, South America is really producing some gems at everyday pricing. And thankfully the dollar isn't weak against Argentinian currency.
The 2007 Nieto Senetiner Chardonnay ($12.99) is about the best chardonnay I've had at this price in ages. For those who like good-quality California chardonnay, this should be right up your alley.
Rich, ripe fruit, a bit of vanilla and just enough oak to give it some character are all wrapped up in this complex, elegant and long wine. Truly amazing stuff that tastes like it cost three times more.
For red wine, Argentina is known for the malbec grape. I just had 2007 Enrique Foster Malbec Ique ($12.99) and thought it was a steal.
This wine is young, fruity and smooth, but not light. Enrique Foster only makes malbec and captures the essence of the grape in this wine, while achieving complexity -- amazingly, using no oak. For those who like big, bold, fruity and smooth reds, this is a must try.
From Chile, I tasted the 2006 Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir ($12.99) last week and thought it was a bright spot in a very sparse category: inexpensive pinot noir.
I've had a little fetish for Chilean pinot noirs since I was there nearly six years ago. This one is a winner! Raspberry, cherry, strawberry and cranberry fruit; a nice mouthfeel with good structure due to the nice acidity. Soft and gentle. This will give a lot more pleasure than many more expensive versions of pinot noir.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to drink well. You just have to be adventurous and explore regions that aren't necessarily getting all the hype.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org