Bargain Wine Club
Our fastest growing club! Each month we select six killer bargain priced wines (from $9-16 per bottle). Generally four whites and two reds, although a "red only" option is available.
Bargain Club - February
This month's selection are all wines that I discovered on my recent French excursion - imported by Robert Kacher Selections.
First off is a white wine from the Côtes de Roussillon, Cazes Le Canon de Maréchal Blanc. Domaine Cazes is situated in Rivesaltes in the Roussillon. With 220 hectares of vines planted, Domaine Cazes is the largest certified Organic and Biodynamic estate in the world. Based on their view that the natural environment needs natural preparation, they plough the soils and use only natural ingredients as treatments, arranging their work according to the lunar calendar. Situated between the French Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, the Roussillon is the sunniest area of France, giving very ripe grapes.
The name Le Canon du Maréchal refers to the famous general, Maréchal Joffre, who was born in Rivesaltes and who sold his vineyards to the Cazes family in 1927. Canon is both a reference to his military background and a reference to the Roussillon saying boire un canon (to have a drink!).
The 2010 Blanc is a blend of Viognier and two different varieties of Muscat: Muscat d'Alexandrie which gives weight and fruity flavors; Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, to give finesse. Pale gold/yellow in colour with an alluring mix of grape, jasmine and apricot aromas on the nose. The wine is fresh and pure with a medium body. It finishes dry with citrus and lingering grape flavors. Fresh and lively.
Bargain Club - November
First off there's Thorn-Clarke Eden Valley Riesling Mt Crawford vineyard 2010. Eden Valley is one of Australia's oldest and most respected white wine regions, and within the Eden Valley the Mount Crawford block is recognized for its particularly cold climate. The cooler conditions of this sub-region, combined with nutrient-poor residual soils and a northern aspect, create an environment ideal for growing white grape varieties. Vines are restricted from growing too vigorously or ripening too quickly ensuring the grapes develop wonderful flavor and character.
This Riesling is a fine example of Mount Crawford climate, soil and aspect combining to display a varietal bouquet of spicy floral characters. With fresh, crisp citrus notes and a long finish on the palate, this wine can be enjoyed with a vast array of foods. The winemaker recommends enjoying this with spicy tandoori chicken.
Bohigas Mas Macià Xarel.lo 2010 is from Catalonia in Northeastern Spain. Situated in the River Anoia valley, Can Macià is the historic name of the estate where the Bohigas wine cellar and vineyards are located. They farm 120 acres of traditional and New World grapes, including Xarel.lo, one of the grapes used traditionally in Cava (Spanish sparkling wine).
Xarel.lo (pronounced either sha-REL-lo or cha-REL-lo)is a high acid grape native to the Catalan region of Spain. Known for producing highly aromatic wines, it is one member of the trio of Cava grapes. Apricot and Citrus flavors are commonly associated with this grape and with its acidty it makes bright refreshing wines.
I love this wine: crisp and fresh, with notes of stone fruits and cream.
Bodega Sierra Norte Heraclio Tinto, 2009 Utiel-Requena (Valencia), Spain. This lively organically farmed red wine is a blend of the indigenous Bobal grape and Cabernet Sauvignon. Bobal is the most widely planted variety in the region, and is the second most planted red vine in Spain after Tempranillo.
Wines made from Bobal have an intense color and character, and a high level of tannins that is good for ageing. It provides for aged red wines of intense color, with good body and complex flavors. The skin of Bobal has a very high resveratrol level, an anti-carcinogenic substance with positive health benefits for the heart.
A blend of 60% Bobal and 40% Cabernet, Heraclio is fermented on the lees for 22 days in stainless, then finished in partially new American Oak barrels for at least ten months before bottling, where it rests for over a year before coming to market. Medium bodied, with bright fruit and excellent minerality, Heraclio is a greatwine to go with roasted game or turkey.
Chateau Ponzac, Cahors, Maintenant, 2009 100% Malbec, unoaked. This wine is typical of Cahors from the Plateau- or the "Causse" as they call it here. The climate here is much more severe and continental than in the valley of the Lot where most of the Cahors are grown. The grapes for this wine are grown on soils rich in limestone. This explains the purity of the aromas and the fruit.
Dark color with violet reflection. The nose exhibits fresh notes of violet and blackberries that are typical characteristics of wines made from Malbec in the Cahors district. On the palate, the fruit is very obvious (blackberries and dark cherries). Despite the hot vintage, it is extremely fresh and lively. A great wine to sip away with a nice pasta dish with tomatoes.
Bodegas Tiza Malbec, El Ganador, 2009 Made from 100% Malbec, hand-harvested vineyards in the Lujan de Coyo region of Mendoza, Argentina. Argentina produces a terrific Malbec that really outperforms what you'd expect for the price. Bodega Tiza has created a bargain priced wine that is chock-full of bright red fruit flavors, a hint of creamy richness from their use of 10% new French oak barrels. Smooth and surprisingly rich, aromatic and delicious, this is a stunning value in Malbec that simply should not be missed!
The wine boasts is a rich ruby-purple color, and displays elegant flavors of black berries, ripe plum and robust spices with good balance and structure. Estate grown and bottled.
Deep opaque ruby red in color. A nose of plum, black cherry, pepper and vanilla. Smooth blackberries and blueberries surrounded by a halo of spice (almost curry like). Nice structure and soft tannins.
Domaine Santa Duc, Cotes du Rhone, Veilles Vignes 2006. We presented the 2007 Santa Duc to our Classic Club last year, and loved the wines fruit balance, structure, provenance and organic grapes. Plus it tasted really fine! So when we were presented with the chance to buy some of the well-aged 2006 at an amazing discount, we bought all we could!
Your allocation could have either the 2007 or 2006, as we have decent supplies of both.
Here's the notes on the 2006: One of the reference points of Gigondas as well as one of the model winemaking estates in the southern Rhone that of Yves Gras, his beloved Domaine Santa Duc. He also produces some negociant wines, which are marketed under the Santa Duc Selections moniker. Under the Domaine Santa Duc label, Gras produces one of the best buys in Cotes du Rhone.
Old vines make great wines. This tasty Grenache-dominated blend is sourced from low-yielding vines that are over 50 years old. A terrific value, it's packed with intense plum, black cherry, spice and earth notes leading to a long rich finish. This delicious wine is a great match for hearty winter dishes like beef ravioli, or a roasted chicken with mushroom sauce, or a spicy turkey chili.
Bargain Club - September
I discovered the majority of these wines on a recent trip to South Africa with friend, wine importer, and Master Somellier Fran Kysela. The other two wines, an Aussie riesling and a Nero d'Avola from Sicily, were just too good to pass up!
Pieter Cruythof Chenin Blanc Chenin Blanc is the perfect every day wine that offers uncomplicated quality for the novice and connoisseur alike. Packed with upfront melon fruit, the nose charms with an abundance of guava and gooseberries as well as the signature hint of honey. The palate follows through with fruit flavors balanced by a crisp acid to ensure a fresh and fruity style of wine.
Enjoy well-chilled as a lovely crisp glass on its own but ideal for al fresco dining and with light summer fare. Beautiful with salads, anti pasti and seafood.
Corporal Pieter Cruythoff, a scout of Jan van Riebeeck, founded the Riebeek Valley in 1661. Impressed by the single standing mountain, he called it Kasteelberg (“Castle Mountain”) commemorating the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, the fortress of Commander Jan van Riebeeck. The twin towns, Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, established at the foot of Kasteelberg, are therefore also suitably named after Van Riebeeck.
MAN Chardonnay José Conde continues to make lovely bargain priced wines in the Capelands , and his MAN Chardonnay is no exception. Melon and citrus flavors abound (with a skosh of light oak) in the well balanced and easy drinking Chard. Called a Best Buy by the Wine Spectator, almost 80% of the Paarl area vineyards are dry-farmed with over half of them being older "bush vines." Grown on Malmesbury shale and decomposed granite soils, these vineyards produce distinctive, concentrated and flavourful wines. And because MAN cares about more than just the grapes, their growers are all accredited as environmentally sustainable and socially responsible farmers by the South African Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) scheme and the South African Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association (WIETA). In other words: they're regularly audited to make sure that they're looking after the environment, their staff and themselves.
Bargain Club - October
We've got a great lineup this month - five French wines, and our first Chilean Carmenère.
First up is a great wine from the Coteaux de Vendomois, Montagne Blanche Chenin Blanc. Coteaux du Vendomois is located in the Touraine, north of Vouvray, the Coteaux du Vendomois is a tiny, 350 acre appellation mostly east of the city of Vendome, stretching along both banks of the LoirRiver, a tributary of the Loire. 80% Chenin Blanc, arguably the least appreciated noble white grape in the world, supplemented by 20% Chardonnay, this un-wooded, remarkably priced and refreshing wine is an interesting challenge. It comes from the sun-drenched promontory of limestone clay and flint subsoil known as Montagne Blanche, similar to Muscadet, Sancerre, Chablis and Champagne soils, giving it beautiful mineralfreshness, tart citrus flavors and a hint of toast and honey. It’s ideal with ham, turkey, shellfish, fish and salads, or simply on its own.
Next is Domaine Lafage Cote Est, brought to us by two legends of the wine industry in France: Winemaker Jean Marc Lafage and importer Eric Solomon. Jean Marc Lafage excels in producing world class wine from his estate in Roussillon in Southern France. His Lafage Cote’ Est is an example of a refreshing and sophisticated wine produced from the region’s oldest varietals. He skillfully blends 60% Grenache Blanc (adds texture and acidity) 30% Chardonnay (gives the wine its body) and 10% Marsanne (adds a honeyed note).
Domaine Lafage Cuvée Nicolas Grenache, also bottled as "Cote Grenache"; sourced principally from Les Aspres; cold-soaked, and vinified in upright demi-muids - is plush and glycerin-rich yet neither heavy nor warm. Nutty underlying richness and a sounding board of wet stone compliment and set-off ripe dark berry fruit that really envelops the palate. This irresistible essence of Grenache ought to merit service for at least 3-4 years.
Score: 90. —Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Importer Fran Kysela works very closely with Languedoc cooperative Castelmaure, and we've carried their wines for years. Their Castelmaure La Buvette cuvée is quite wonderful - a fresh red wine blend that sees no wood. Made from 60% Grenache, 40% Carignan. A purple color, intense aromas of strawberry and cassis. Fresh and fruity in the mouth with silky smooth tannins. Great as an aperitif, it also pairs well with grilled meats, salads.
Montagne Blanche Rouge: Coteaux du Vendomois is a 350 acre appellation established in 2001 and is located just 30 miles from the Loire Villages of Tours and Vouvray. Near the similarly named Loir River on the eastern side of Vendôme village, this region is famous for its Chenin Blanc based white wines and reds made with Chenin Noir (aka Pineau d'Aunis, pee-noe doe-nee). Apparently a favorite of England's Henry III (1216-1272), Pineau was once very prominent in the region, but now it accounts for a mere 1000 hectares - versus the 18,000 hectares of Cab Franc. Because of its competition for land with Pinot Noir, Malbec, Cab Sauvignon, Gamay and Meunier, Pineau is preserved by requiring farmers to have at least 40% of it planted amongst their other red grapes.
Bargain Club - 8th Allocation
This month all of the wines are from Portugal. We've had some Portugese selections in prior Bargain 6-packs, but this month, I decided to focus on this often overlooked wine producing nation.
First off is Vera Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde is a very popular wine in Portugal - the Verde means green, as in young, not as in green flavors, as this type of low alcohol and slightly fizzy wine is meant to be drunk at release, and is never meant to be aged. Vihno Verdes come from Minho province - in Portugal's north.
Vera is a blend of three traditional white grapes - 60% Arinto, 30% Azal, and 10% Loureiro, hand harvested a little later than most Vinho Verde grapes, to provide a slightly richer mouthfeel.
Bright and complex citrus aromas of lime and pink grapefruit complemented by refreshing mineral notes. On the palate are flavors of ripe yellow and pink grapefruit with a touch of yellow grapefruit skin kept in perfect balance by a slight effervescence. New York magazine called the wine "lip-smackingly refreshing", and we couldn't agree more!