Blockbuster wines at bargain prices

It’s never too early to start thinking about purchasing wines for the upcoming holidays, or to cozy up to during the winter months. October is a big sales month for wine retailers, especially with new stock arriving on shelves for Thanksgiving and Christmas. For several weeks I’ve been sampling new wines with the Wine Butler and Wine Goddess. Here are several that I believe are worthy of your consideration in local stores:

Canoe Ridge Vineyards The Expedition Merlot has a lot of character
Canoe Ridge Vineyards The Expedition Merlot has a lot of character

Bisol Cru Crede Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut, $20 — Not all sparking wine produced in the Veneto is equal, even though most of it is exquisite. This is a new standout. Beautifully crafted from Glera, Pinot Bianco and Verdiso grapes, this Prosecco features the dry, clean, crisp minerality of the Valdobbiadene hills and the elegance of apple, pear and peach flavors. It’s low in sugar — only 7.5 grams per liter — and yet fresh fruit fills the mouth. Its golden straw color is alluring and almost sentimental. Celebratory memories came flooding back as it glided across the palate. OK, maybe I’m overreacting a bit, but I love Prosecco and this inspiring style will perform admirably as a leisure aperitif or for a gala event.
Jeio Selection Prosecco Brut, $15 — There’s a touch more sugar in this 100 percent Glera sparkling wine, enough to entice Prosecco converts who like it dry but not bone dry. The Wine Goddess described it as “refreshing” and “tingly.” Wonderful floral expressions on the nose and a definite taste of yellow pear on the palate. Overall, it’s delicate, delicious and pours from the bottle like golden diamonds.
Canoe Ridge The Expedition Merlot 2013, $12.99 — I tasted this in barrel two years ago at Canoe Ridge’s Walla Walla (Wash.) production plant and it was good then; it’s better now. The fruit is from Horse Heaven Hills, a top source, and this bottling maximizes the freshness of sweet cherries and cinnamon spice. A solid every day Merlot.
90 Plus Cellars Old Vine Malbec Lot 23 2014, $8.99 — What’s wrong with a wine that costs less than $10? Nothing, if the quality is decent. Here’s a smoky, toasty, pleasant Malbec to enjoy with grilled burgers, Latino foods, and even tomato-based pasta dishes. Great purple color and dark berry flavors. • Bogle Vineyards Phantom 2012, $15.99 — A California Zinfandel blend that consistently outperforms its price point. Rich strawberry and raspberry fruit hit you upfront, and there’s mocha to follow on the nice, smooth finish. It’s lush and it lingers. Those limited to one glass a night will be hard-pressed to keep the promise.
Primus Veramonte The Blend 2013, $12.99 — Another top value — and bargain — from Chile’s Colchagua Valley, this ruby-colored red explodes with dark fruits and bitter chocolate flavors that add layers of complexity to enjoying wine. There’s licorice too and toasty vanilla. A lot is going on here in a smooth, medium-bodied texture. Let it flow.
Buena Vista “The Count” Founders Red 2013, $15.99 — From California’s oldest winery, located in Sonoma Valley, comes the latest version of a truly juicy, concentrated, honest wine. It’s weighty but not cloying. Peppery spices enhance the dark berry flavors through and through. Big enough to complement a grilled steak and yet smooth enough for pork tenderloin.

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