Reviews of some enjoyable value-priced summer wines.
By Lou Marmon
Gazette Newspapers May 2014
The US is now the world’s leader in wine consumption. The latest figures show that Americans enjoyed 329 million cases of wine in 2013, an 18% increase over 2005. This easily put the US past the traditional European front-runners including Italy and France. The US also bettered China which recently was the fastest growing market for wine.
There are likely numerous reasons for the steady growth of the US wine market. The growing availability of value-priced, flavorful wines, combined with imaginative marketing which has made wine appear less mysterious and elitist have certainly contributed to the growing wine culture in the US. While there are those who can easily shell out hundreds of dollars for a bottle, nearly 90% of the wine sold in the US costs less than $12. As long as wineries keep making good, inexpensive wines, the outlook for the continuing growth of the US market remains positive.
As noted by our friend and fellow wine writer Jeff Siegel (www.winecurmudeon.com), the average price of a bottle of wine according to consumers is $20. So it should be easy to find some wines in this price range to enjoy during the summer.
For over 40 years the Stare family has been creating outstanding wines at their Dry Creek Vineyard including some of California’s best white wine values which cost even less if you join their wine club. Their 2013 version of Sauvignon Blanc ($18) is aromatic and refreshing, expressing melon and citrus aromas along with bright grapefruit, lemon and tropical fruit flavors. The Dry Creek Fume Blanc 2013 ($14) is packed with fruit flavors including fig, melon and peach as well as grassy, citrus notes with good balance and length. Their Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2013 ($12) is a remarkable bargain. It begins with stone fruit and floral scents that flow into peach, orange and grapefruit flavors on a somewhat fuller frame enhanced with a notable, very pleasant minerality.
Torrontés is the archetypal Argentinian white wine varietal. The wines are frequently intensely floral, sort of a Viognier on steroids and there are several different styles ranging from austerely dry to a richer, somewhat heavier structure. In general, the crisper, more restrained Torrontés are better matches for warm weather fare including a recent offering from Valentin Bianchi. Their “LEO” Torrontes 2013 ($17) is a fundraising collaboration with the internationally famous soccer player Leo Messi whose charity supports educational and healthcare programs for underprivileged children. It begins with white flowers and lychee aromas expanding into spicy pineapple, melon and other tropical fruit flavors accented with clove and peach.
It is difficult to write about value-priced wines without mentioning Bogel Vineyards whose commitment to creating good wines at reasonable prices is exceeded only by their dedication to sustainability and protecting the environment. The Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($10) is remarkably flavorful and balanced for the price. A tangy, grassy version of the varietal, it shows fresh lemon, kiwi and berry flavors with balanced acidity and a longish finish.
Established in 1989, the South African Mulderbosch Winery was sold to a group of US investors in 2011 who replaced the winemaker and updated the facilities and equipment. The results have been a steady improvement in their wines including the pleasantly fruity Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($12) with strawberry, berry and orange accents as well as their Chenin Blanc 2011 ($15) that has flavors of guava, pear and citrus with hints of honey on a medium frame. Also try the Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($12) that opens with scents of hay, apple and lemon leading into slightly herbal flavors of fig, gooseberry, and melon.