From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, January 14, 2016…
Holiday bills are coming in; winter’s finally here and heating costs are on the rise. Staying warm is tough, but the hectic has died down. It’s a good time for a nice glass of wine, something that won’t hurt the wallet. Our ninth tasting of value wines reflects Red Feet’s belief that wine can offer “correctness” (reflecting grape varieties and place of origin), personality, and a low price. These wines are made by folks who know what they’re doing.
The price of a wine is driven by tangible production costs—land, vines, labor, equipment, water and power, transport, and marketing. Some of these are one-time or infrequent expenditures, while some occur regularly. Other costs are less tangible—risks associated with weather, international currency fluctuations, and changes in taste.
The last 30 years have seen a real globalization of the wine industry. New regions—Australia, Argentina, Chile, southern France, Portugal, South Africa—have entered the market with both every-day and fine wines, expanding the possibilities. Agricultural advances have spread, affecting variety, clone, and root stock selection, as well as growing methods. Winemaking technology and practices have improved, resulting in better wines, especially at the entry level. A new generation of world winemakers, often school-trained, has combined new and traditional approaches to produce high quality wines at low prices. Of course, there are lakes of cheap, mass-produced wines, but there are also many inexpensive wines that are true expressions of both their grape variety and region. Here are five, one blend and four single-variety bargains.
Two of our wines are white. The south of France provides Domaine de la Ferrandiére Chardonnay 2014, one of a line of “fighting varietals” from this estate. Located on a former brackish lagoon, its vineyards are flooded every winter to reduce the soil’s salinity. The grapes are fermented in steel at very low temperature and aged on the fine lees in concrete—no oak here. Alfin Sauvignon Blanc Moscato 2013 is a 50-50 blend of these two fragrant grapes from two sites in Chile. The must is fermented and aged on the lees in tank before the blend is made, adding roundness while preserving freshness.
Our three reds come from three countries. Montefresco Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2014 is an easy-going pizza and pasta wine from Italy’s east coast. Steel fermentation keeps the flavors vibrant, with red fruit on top of mineral and earth notes. Sustainably produced, Domaine des Deux Puits Carignan 2014 is a surprisingly complex expression of this southern French grape. Carignan is usually blended, but this stand-alone tank-fermented version lets the grape show its tea, tobacco, licorice, bramble, and dark fruits to good advantage. Red Feet has a number of value-priced Garnachas from Spain. Today we’re tasting Bodegas Borsao Monte Oton 2014 from the windy, rocky hillsides of the extinct volcano Moncayo. Made by a co-op of 620 members, this is a tank-fermented, big, ripe expression of the grape, offering dark fruit, candied flowers, licorice, and bitter chocolate leading to a long finish. These are a few of Red Feet’s low-cost, high-pleasure offerings. The staff will be happy to point out more!