Wine Review – June’s Best Values

quadreviewFinding a great bottle of wine for $8 or $10 can sometimes feel even better than finding one for $50. If you’re spending that kind of money, the wine will most likely be excellent, but really, it had better be. On the off chance that it isn’t, it’s just a huge disappointment. On the other hand, if an $8 bottle of wine turns out to be really good, it’s a pleasant surprise (and if it’s awful, it only cost you 8 bucks).

It’s been a while since we posted our last review, so we picked out four of our favorites from our $7.99, $9.99, and $11.99 bins for an extra-special quadruple review. So in price order from lowest to highest, here are our thoughts on these tasty picks from our discount bins:

Porta do Castelo Vinho Regional Alentejano 2013

Portugal – Alentejo

($7.99 + tax; 40% Trincadeira, 40% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Caiada)

This rustic red blend is made from two of Portugal’s best-known grapes, Trincadeira and Touriga Nacional, along with Tinta Caiada, which is primarily used as a blending grape. This medium-dark, purplish red boasts aromas of black cherries, chocolate, and a hint of licorice. On the palate, the Porta do Castelo delivers notes of black currant, spicy oak, and cocoa powder, with a little bit of sour cherry on the finish. Portugal has a reputation for producing fantastic value wines, and this is certainly no exception. This wine would pair beautifully with some ruby port-braised short ribs.

Nicolas 2012 Pinot Noir

France – Pays d’Oc

($9.99; 100% Pinot Noir)

While France is generally known for its lighter, softer Pinot Noirs, the Nicolas 2012 Pinot Noir behaves a bit more like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Cabernet Franc. A bit rough around the edges and just a smidge past medium-bodied, this surprisingly dark red starts with a nose of spicy oak and blackberries and boasts notes of oak, dark plum, and a bit of smoke and fresh mint leaf on the finish. This is a rare find: a $10 Pinot Noir that could easily stand up to a grilled steak.

Roberston Winery 2012 Pinot Noir

South Africa – Robertson, Western Cape

($9.99; 100% Pinot Noir)

If you’re looking for an easy-drinking, light-as-can-be, summertime red, look no further than the Robertson Winery 2012 Pinot Noir. This South African Pinot Noir is on the opposite end of the Pinot Noir section from Nicolas’ take. It pours translucent red with dark accents and boasts substantial aromas of black peppercorns, fresh blueberries, and sour cherries. On the palate, however, it is much milder, with notes of ripe strawberries, sour cherries, and a nice amount of acidity that balances out the teeming fruit. You won’t find any of the smokiness that is typical of South African wines, so it wouldn’t overpower a salad with arugula, grilled chicken, goat cheese, and sliced strawberries.

Aveleda Follies White

Portugal – Minho

($11.99; 50% Alvarinho, 50% Loureiro)

One of our favorites year after year, Follies White is made from Alvarinho (see: Albariño) and Loureiro. This wine is exceptionally light in color, yet deceptively full in body, with focused, citrusy fruit, along with a some floral overtones and a refreshing snap of acidity. While great on its own, this crisp white blend goes nicely with spicy Thai green curry.

Given their high quality-to-price ratio (and nice labeling), all of these wines would be perfect for a party or event. As with all the wines in our discount bins, they enjoy a 15% half case discount (6 bottles) and a 20% full-case discount (12 bottles), even on mixed cases, in case you want to try all four.

Introducing the Weekly Cuvée

One of our goals here at Stone Ridge Wine & Spirits is to keep fellow wine lovers informed about the goings on of the wine world. With that, I’d like to introduce our first ever roundup post: the Weekly Cuvée (for those of you who are less wine-nerdy than I, the word Cuvée is used to describe a wine that is blended from several different vats or batches). Without further ado, here are my weekly picks for this week’s best wine news.

First off, a Japanese company called B&H Lifes just introduced “Nyan Nyan Nouveau,” the first ever wine made for cats, according to a post by TIME NewsFeed. The wine is made from Cabernet Franc grapes, and while it doesn’t contain alcohol, it does contain catnip, so I would imagine a cat could still get fairly “drunk” from a few glasses, dishes, or whatever you’d use to serve wine to a cat. Anyway, B&H Lifes is only producing 1,000 bottles, and as far as I can tell they aren’t being sold online, but who knows? Maybe cat wine will be the next big trend.

Next up, we have a story from Medical News Today, who reported that according to a recent study, the resveratrol found in red wine is not only good for your heart, skin, and metabolism, but could also aid in the treatment of certain cancers. According to the article, when resveratrol was used in conjunction with radiation therapy, the therapy killed 65 percent of melanoma cells, up from 44 percent with radiation alone. Other research suggests that resveratrol could also help prevent certain cancers, so with moderation in mind, uncork a nice bottle of red and drink up for your health!

Back in California, the St. Helena Star reports that the Napa Valley harvest has all but come to a close, thanks to what they called a “remarkably early and trouble-free growing season.” According to the harvest report, 2013 is shaping up to be a great vintage, with many growers indicating yields as good as, if not better than last year’s. Because they need time to age, it might be a few years before we see many of these 2013 vintages, but it sounds like they’ll be worth the wait.

Finally, we have some news of our own – this weekend, we’re hosting not one, but two wine tastings!

The first tasting is tonight (Friday, 10/18) from 5-8 pm. and is a fundraiser to celebrate Marbletown Multi-Arts‘ (aka MaMA) 15th anniversary. We’ll be featuring some rare vintage wines, including Burgess Cellars 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon and Blandy’s 15-Year Madeira, and more.

The second tasting is tomorrow (Saturday 10/19) from 1-6 pm, and will feature a selection of heavier, fuller-bodied whites and reds to help kick off the fall and holiday seasons. Among the wines we’ll be serving are the Josh Cellars 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Dead Bolt 2011 Red Field Blend, Dinastia Vivanco 2011 Blanco, Santa Alicia 2012 Reserva Pinot Noir, and many others.

And that concludes the first edition of the Weekly Cuvée – enjoy your weekend, and we hope to see you at one (or better yet, both) of our tastings!