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Good Cheap Wine

Terroir and talent might be on display, but one of the things we want to highlight this week is how good inexpensive wine can be.

Di Lenardo 'Sauvignon Monovitigno' Venezia Giulia IGT 2017

It would be hard to ask for more from an everyday Sauvignon Blanc; Di Lenardo gets it just right. From Friuli, in the northeast of Italy, this fresh little number approaches the style of Marlborough in its exuberant tropical fruitiness, but manages to avoid pungent vegetal notes and aggressive grapefruit flavors. Hand harvested fruit is gently pressed, fermented at cold temperatures in stainless steel, kept on the lees and bottled young; a formula for crisp, aromatic and fruity wine, it works. There's plenty of good Sauvignon from Italy, you would usually just expect to pay a bit (or a lot) extra for it. 

Jean Becker Riesling Alsace AOC 2016

Excellent Alsace Riesling is not a category where one should regularly expect to find excellent value. Becker's spectacular Riesling is a bit of an anomaly. The Becker family has been growing grapes and making wine for thirteen generations (since 1610), and the current generation farms 18 hectares organically in the heart Alsace, with almost 4.5 hectares of grand cru. Their 2016 Riesling, from a blend of parcels, is classically dry, fresh and lively, with rich fruity notes offset by strong acidity and the finesse of minerality. Good dry Riesling is rarely such a good value anywhere (notable exceptions down under) but from Alsace such a deal as Becker might just be totally unique. 

Poderi Cellario 'E! Grino' Vino Rosso NV (1 liter bottle)

Made from the little-known Grignolino grape, this light red wine is made for drinking not meditation. That is, however, not to say that great care was not taken in the making of this little gem: hand harvested organic grapes are spontaneously fermented, sulfur additions are kept to an absolute minimum and neither fining nor filtration are employed. One might easily put it in the "natural" category of wine, it ticks all the boxes, but more importantly it is just plain tasty. Bright and light, it features lots of fresh red fruit flavors, with mild suspicions of herbs, flowers and minerals. As red wine goes, this will be very versatile with food, and one might even pair it with certain seafood dishes, like a Cioppino or shrimp Fra Diavolo. Try it lightly chilled!

Domaine La Bouysse 'Carignan' Aude Hauterive IGP 2016

From the Languedoc-Roussillon, regularly touted as one of the world's greatest sources of excellent inexpensive wine (mainly reds), this delightful Carignan comes as no surprise. Domaine La Bouysse converted to organic farming in 2010 and became certified in 2013. They make about 6,000 bottles of this lovely Carignan, a fruit-forward and juicy red. Notes of cherries and plums are fresh and lively, while hints of spice and earth check the sweet exuberance of fruit, it is medium to light in body, with supple tannins and an easy-going finish. Focused on ripe fruit flavors, it will be quite versatile at the table, but one might think of heartier fare and avoid seafood; chana masala or meatloaf sound about right.

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