There’s a lot of wine on Central Ohio shelves, which makes it hard to know what to grab. There’s also the debate on whether a $100 bottle is really 10 times better than the $10 bottle (typically, no.) The problem is that there’s a wide spectrum of quality at every price point, whether it’s $10 or $100. Since many of us are looking for some steals, I wanted to share some solid buys for under $10. These aren’t my all-time favorites – I pick what I’m drinking based on weather, mood, company, and the food in front of me – but these wines come to mind as some everyday wines you might want to drink tonight (or at your desk over lunch, we won’t judge you).
Dibon Brut Cava NV
Why wait for a special occasion to drink bubbly? It’s versatile and delicious. There’s no sparkling wine better than Champagne but you won’t find Champagne anywhere near $10. That’s where Cava from Spain comes into play. Affordable, but interesting. Dibon is made by three generations of the Tetas family with the traditional varietals Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada. Dry, toasty, and nutty, giving you a lot of pop for the money.
St. Urbans-Hof “Urban” Mosel Riesling 2010
St. Urbans-Hof is a highly regarded producer and their Urban Riesling gives you a glimpse of their portfolio without paying for a single vineyard bottling. There’s a lot of cheap, sweet swill on the market, but this wine will give you a taste of why Riesling creates some of the best wine in the world, especially from Germany. Crisp, touch of sweetness, Granny Smith apple, and mineral notes. This wine can both sing and scream. If you ever run into winemaker/owner Nik Weis, he deserves a chest bump for this wine.
Chateau La Graviere Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc 2010
Entre-Deux-Mers is a pretty large subzone of Bordeaux and I’ve been seeing more value in their white wines. The La Graviere is a traditional blend of Sauvignon Blanc with some Semillon for a little body and honeysuckle character. Big picture, the wine has a lot of ripe citrus fruit while retaining its acidity, reminding you of New World more than Bordeaux. A crisp, refreshing porch pounder for the warmer months ahead.
Domaine de Pajot “Les Quatre Cepages” 2010
This delicious white probably doesn’t move too swiftly in stores because there’s a lot of French on the label that might mean absolutely nothing to you. But once you get inside the bottle, bam! Tropical fruit, mineral, and floral notes. Les Quatre Cepages, or the four grapes, is describing the balanced blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Mensang, Colombard, and Ugni Blanc (used to produce Cognac). The fruit is sourced from organically farmed vineyards in Cotes de Gascogne.
Marramiero “Dama” Cerasuolo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010
Yes, it’s a mouthful, but when you dive into this bottle, you won’t stop until your belly is full. Marramiero stands out among other producers in the Abruzzi because they’re not buying bulk fruit and converting it into bulk wine. This rose is definitely fruit-forward while maintaining dryness and crispness. I respect the fact that they use darker bottles to protect the wine from light, although clear bottles showing bright pink hues will sell a wine faster. There’s generally a lot of good rose out there, but better bottlings typically fall in the $10-$20 range. Always look for newer vintages to avoid wine that’s been sitting on the shelf too long.
Red Tree Pinot Noir California 2009
I don’t think this is a good Pinot Noir, but it’s a good table wine. In other words, it just doesn’t taste like Pinot Noir. There’s a lot of ripe cherry and berries with a spice kick. You don’t typically find good Pinot Noir at $7 because it doesn’t exist. With labeling laws, they can call this Pinot Noir as long as it’s 75% of the varietal, so it’s safe to assume there’s a blast of big fruit by using another varietal. In the end, it’s very easy drinking and complements your pizza and pasta night and a wide range of the people who will come to your home and drink all of your wine.
Vina Borgia Garnacha Campo de Borja 2009
Spain produces old vine Garnacha (aka Grenache) that’s not doable in other locations around the world for under $10. This label from Borsao is their entry level red, carrying dried, dusty red berries and a peppery note. I think of Garnacha as “Poor Man’s Pinot Noir” because the better wines carry an earthy tone with a string of fruit flavors on a light frame. And for every expensive wine, wine geeks will come up with the inexpensive version of it. This wine is light with very little tannin, making it a red that’s easier to drink during the summer and the perfect candidate for red sangria.
Chateau Douley Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux 2007
The Douley is a very accessible Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a little Cabernet Sauvignon. Unlike many reds from the region, this wine is ready to drink now. Michel Rolland, one of the more well-known winemakers in the world, gets some of the credit for making this wine, but we don’t know if he made it or just drove by the chateau and waved a wand. Plum, cherry, dried herb, and a kiss of oak make it a wine for heartier fare at your table.
Finca el Reposo Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza 2007
The Reposo line consists of the value wines for Bodega Campo Negro in Mendoza, Argentina. The family’s estate is located in the prime zone at the foothills of the Andes. Higher elevation vineyards allow the grapes to grow at a moderate rate so you get a better balance in the wine and not overly ripe fruit. The premium fruit also gets premium care to create a structured, distinctive Cabernet.
Gouguenheim Malbec Mendoza 2009
Super easy drinking Malbec with a more rich black fruit component and velvety texture with very subtle tannin. This wine is a crowd pleaser if you need to open up some bottles for general drinking or you can enjoy it with skirt or flank steak with chimichurri. Gouguenheim’s property is pretty far from Mendoza in Tupungato Valley, an area that gets a lot of sun and higher temperatures during the growing months.
Most of these wines can only be bought at your local wine merchants due to limited production not allowing them to have enough product to supply the big box stores. Support your local wine shops and I’m sure they’d be happy to order any of these wines if they’re not currently on their shelves. Have fun drinking them and saving money.
Check out these Columbus wine stores to pick up these wines: The Barrel & Bottle, Carnardo’s, Europia, Gentie’s, Hausfrau Haven, Hill’s Market, House Wine, Huffman’s Market, McLaren’s, Sher-Bliss, Tutto Vino, Twisted Vine, Weiland’s and Wine on High.
This is a guest post by Donnie Austin. Donnie is owner and general manager of House Wine in downtown Worthington. He’s a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommeliers and enjoys Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, IPA, gin, and American whiskey. Outside of wine, beer, and spirits, he enjoys throwing various foods on the grill, good music, and forming new bad habits.