WHAT A WINE GEEK DRINKS ON A BUDGET: VOL. 5
It's that time again! Time for me to feature my latest wine finds that I call "hidden gems". These are the bottles that often get overlooked and are hidden in plain sight. You know the drill: I taste wines that are $15 and below, and let you know which bottles stand out from the rest. These value wines are not in short supply! If you're discovering this blog for the first time, there are 4 other posts in this series featuring wines that should find a home on your dinner table. Browse them on our shopping site, Colonialwine.shop. Without further delay, here some wines that are worth your attention:
Secateurs Chenin Blanc
Grape variety: Chenin Blanc
Place of origin: Swartland, South Africa
Chenin Blanc, known to locals as 'Steen', is a white grape that's the most predominant grape variety planted in South Africa. Secateurs is the second label of A.A. Badenhorst Family Winery. I am a HUGE fan of winemakers who take a 'hands off' approach to wine. This means that the winemaker's time and attention is invested in the vineyard to ensure that the finished product is a pure expression of the grape itself. The vineyard is not irrigated to encourage the vines to struggle and dig deeper into the ground which creates grapes of more concentration. Yields are sacrificed when choosing to not irrigate but the end result is rewarded two-fold. The family making this delicious white wine also believes in using no preservatives or pesticides. Neutral fermentation and maturation vessels are chosen, which means that you won't find a whiff of oak profile here. You will find a crisp white wine with notes of flint, orange blossom, and green melon. The grapes are hand picked in whole bunches over the course of two weeks, and each grape bunch is picked at its peak. As more grapes are picked, more juice is added to the fermentation tank creating a wine layered with complexity. I call this wine a true hidden gem. Both its high quality and its amazing flavor profile make Secateurs Chenin Blanc stand out. A true rare find for under $15.
Montinore Estate Borealis White Blend
Grape varieties: Müller-Thurgau, Gewürztraminer, Riesling (19%) and Pinot Gris (11%)
Place of origin: Willamette Valley, Oregon
There's a soft place in my heart for Oregon wine. Last year, I had the opportunity to be invited to a very prestigious event -- Oregon Pinot Camp (you can read about it on my blog post here). Oregon winemakers and farmers know what they're doing, and most importantly love what they're doing. I think their TLC and respect for the earth shows when you pour a glass. This winery is completely biodynamic, meaning extra attention is taken in and outside of the vineyard (no additives, vineyard chemicals or preservatives here!) Founded in 1982, Montinore is one of the pioneers for Willamette Valley wine making, and it's easy to see why. From this soft white blend to their Reserve Pinot Noir, it's all good. The white blend they've named 'Borealis' is a blend of cool climate grapes both familiar and unfamiliar in name. It's no surprise with the cool climate the Wilamette Valley offers that grapes from Germany like Muller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer are finding comfortable homes. These cool climate grapes produce a soft and fruity white blend that goes down nice and easy; it's one of those wines people try and say, "I could put a straw in this bottle and drink it." If you need a fantastic crowd pleasing white wine that won't break the bank, look no further!
Grape Variety: Sangiovese
Place of origin: Mendoza, Argentina
You didn't read this wrong, this is an Italian grape growing in Argentina! Italian immigrants brought cuttings of grape vines as well as wine making knowledge to Argentina around the late 1880s. This wine pairs very well with Italian foods with red sauces – think classic spaghetti or pizza! In Sangiovese you'll find a pronounced red fruit profile, which is well balanced with the wine's acidity; this makes for a great food wine!
Boekenhoutskloof Winery The Wolftrap Red Blend
Grape Varieties: Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier
Place of origin: Cape of Good Hope, South Africa
Holy history, Batman!! This winery has been in production since 1784. Boekenhoutskloof Winery makes its home in Franschhoek (French Corner) Valley. The valley is known as home to South Africa's most famous wine estates. Cuttings of French grapes were brought to South Africa in 1652 by French settlers. It should be no surprise that this red blend is a reflection of a Northern Rhone blend from France. Don't just take my word for it; this wine was recently rated Wine Spectator's best value wine, and Robert Parker of Wine Advocate has rated this wine highly several years in a row. Obviously, I'm not the only one who thinks this smokey, smooth and mellow wine is a great value!
Santa Ema Reserve Merlot
Grape Variety: Merlot
Place of origin: Cachapoal, Chile
Before I tell you how awesome this wine is, let's address that I'm recommending a Merlot. I know there's a knee-jerk reaction when this grape is mentioned. Some people groan or roll their eyes, but most just bypass any Merlot completely. Thank goodness the wine industry has recovered since the 1980s (when some of the most horrid Merlot was produced) and is producing arguably the best red wine for the money. Merlot becoming such a great bargain wine is simply a product of its unpopularity. Now to talk about this specific wine. This is a smooth and satisfying Chilean Merlot, aged in French and American oak for 8 months, giving it a well integrated oak profile one craves in a full and 'warm you to your toes' kind of wine. I promise it will restore your faith in Merlot wines. This is a serious wine worth having in your home!
That's a wrap, folks! I hope you enjoy the 5th volume to the series. As always, I look forward to seeing you at Colonial and hearing any feedback. Now, go out there and drink some wine! Try something new! And remember, price point doesn't always denote quality.