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WINE GUYS: Good wine can be wallet friendly

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A while back, we offered a list of recommended wines that cost less than $15 after hearing from a loyal reader who said this was the category where his palate and pocketbook were at. The column drew several more pleas for more recommended wines in this price category.

We are sympathetic because we don’t pour expensive wines to a crowd either.

In general, there are several producers that make good wines, which deliver more than their prices indicate. Some of those producers include Cline, Columbia Crest, Wente and Joel Gott.

So, here is a list of wines in this price bracket that we are sure will please the palate:

Clos du Bois Chardonnay ($10)

If you like your chardonnay buttery and with oak, this is a reliable label that has managed to endure some tough times.

Cupcake Chardonnay ($10)

People buy this wine for the name. It was chosen because everyone loves cupcakes, but the wine is reliable. It is simple but features a variety of tropical fruit flavors. Cupcake also makes a good sauvignon blanc for about the same price.

Riondo Prosecco ($14)

Tired of spending $50 for a champagne? Prosecco is the darling sparkler of the year. From Italy, it is low in alcohol and simple in flavors. But the bubbles from this reliable producer will add fizz to the family gathering. Serve this before dinner, and you won’t have to worry about anyone getting too tipsy before the food is served.

LAN Crianza Rioja ($12)

Tom visited this Spanish cooperative last year and discovered a number of wines to recommend. But this crianza, made from tempranillo, delivers a lot of fruit for the money. It’s a versatile red wine to serve with stews, pizza, hamburgers, pasta and grilled foods.

Apothic Red ($12)

A guest recently brought a bottle of this wine to a tailgating party for a Navy home game. Navy lost, but the wine didn’t.

We were reminded of the year-over-year reliability of this blend of syrah, zinfandel and merlot. It’s a fruity red wine to serve with stews, pasta or ribs.

Marietta Old Vine Red ($13)

We have lauded this perennial California wonder for more than a decade. It is a wide-ranging, non-vintage blend, mostly zinfandel, that delivers a ton of fruit flavors.

Mark West Pinot Noir ($13)

We’re rather picky about pinot noir because our palates are figuratively registered in Oregon. However, we acknowledge that a lot of consumers love this fruity California version. Don’t let our high standards get in the way or you’ll be paying $40 and more for good pinot noir. This is a decent red wine that can be served with the traditional turkey dinner. 

Liberty School Cuvee 2009 ($12)

Here is an interesting blend of syrah cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, grenache and viognier from the Central Coast. It’s simple with with generous plum and cherry fruit with hints of mint and herbs and very velvety.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2009 ($11)

It’s not easy to find a good pinot noir for under $30, but this version fits the bill. Blended with petite sirah, syrah and merlot, it isn’t intended to be a classic, pure pinot noir. It is, however, tasty for the price. It’s simple, round and full of ripe cherry flavors.

McManis Family Vineyards California Zinfandel 2010 ($12)

Fermented in stainless steel, this wonderful California zin has pure fruit flavors of black raspberries.

Jean-Luc Columbo Les Abeilles Cotes du Rhone 2010 ($12)

A blend of 80 percent clairette and 20 percent rousanne, this was a delightfully fruity white wine that did very well with chicken. It has a floral nose and pit fruit flavors. It’s quite tasty and is a great value from France.
Banfi Centine Bianco ($11)

We enjoyed this simple white blend over several Italian wines tasted blind. It is composed of 40 percent sauvignon blanc, 30 percent pinot grigio and 30 percent chardonnay. It’s simple with luxurious apricot and lime notes. You will be pleasantly surprised for the price.

Santi Apostoli Veneto Pinot Grigio 2009 ($8)

We are always asked for a pinot grigio, and this has been our recent go-to answer. For $8, you can pour it to a crowd. It’s aromatic with peach and nutmeg notes.

Domino de Adira Tempranillo 2010 ($8)

The Malaga region of Spain is known for its sweet wines, so this dry tempranillo

is unique. It features a nice dark berry fruit.

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