Off the Vine: Help finding an 'everyday wine'

July 4, 2012 

Sometimes it can be a daunting task to find an affordable bottle of wine that is your fallback whenever you just want to have a glass of wine with dinner and not break the bank. I refer this particular bottle as an "everyday wine," but the real problem is finding one that you don't have to change with every vintage.

Although there are a number of wineries that produce good value wines almost every year, many of my favorites have been the same for quite some time -- they include Louis Martini, Concho Y Toro, Catena and Casa Lapostelle.

While Louis Martini produces several Cabernet Sauvignons that are value priced, at $14 a bottle one can't go wrong with the 2010 Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon which contains flavors of plum and blackberry. Vintage after vintage of the Sonoma Cabernet has consistently been rated as a best buy by many wine publications, with the good news being that there were more than 130,000 cases produced of the 2010 vintage.

The 2011 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay produced by Concho Y Toro is very good bargain at $10 a bottle. The wine is a little oaky on the nose and contains citrus flavors. Concho Y Toro produces a great number of very reasonably priced wines in many different varietals. This winery was started in Chile in 1883 as a regional winery, but during the mid- to late-1990s their focal point changed to export wines to the United States and elsewhere in the world, resulting in a number of labels that are readily available in more than 100 markets worldwide.

Another really good value is the 2010 Cate

na Alamos Chardonnay, which is very smooth and creamy with flavors ripe apple and peach. Although this Chardonnay may be a little more difficult to find than the Alamos Malbec, it is a relative bargain at approximately $11 a bottle. Catena is a top notch producer in the Mendoza region of Argentina.

Casa Lapostolle's 2011 Casa Sauvignon Blanc is produced with grapes from Chiles' Rapel Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc is blended with a small amount of Semillon which enhances the aromas and complexity of the finished product. This Sauvignon Blanc is pale straw in color with tropical fruit flavors. It retails for around $12 a bottle.

Finding your everyday wine can be a fun exercise -- pick varietals that you like and purchase several in your price range, then invite some of your friends over for dinner.

While you taste these wines, discuss amongst yourselves what you like and dislike in each of the wines.

You will be amazed at how quickly you put together a list of wines that you can readily rely on.

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