Tag Archives: under $10

AG Pick Under $10: 2005 Lazy Lizard Merlot

Looks can be very deceiving when it comes to wine labels.  I discovered the 2005 Lazy Lizard Merlot at a blind tasting and am glad I did — I don’t think I would have picked out this bottle if I saw it at a wine shop.  The name and the label don’t exactly give off the impression of a sophisticated wine from the Languedoc region of France.

Lazy Lizard MerlotAfter going through the blind tasting and evaluating the wine’s aromas, flavors and structure, I concluded that this was a Sangiovese from Italy.  Though I didn’t guess the correct varietal or country, I wasn’t too far off.

The Lazy Lizard Merlot certainly exhibits the characteristics of an old world wine — drier in taste with more prominent earth notes.  On the nose are aromas of cedar and dried red fruits.  On the palate are flavors of dried cherries, cedar, tobacco, crushed black pepper and just a hint of sun dried tomatoes.  Well-balanced acidity and tannins give the wine a nice structure and come together for a satisfying finish.  Be sure to let the wine breathe so you can fully appreciate its flavors.

Lazy Lizard Merlot is a French wine for Italian food.  Like my initial conclusion that I was sipping a Sangiovese, this red is great for tomato sauce-based dishes.  It’s perfect for lasagna, chicken parmigiana and pizza.  Since a bottle costs less than $10 it’s perfect for the night you order in a pie.

The 2005 Lazy Lizard Merlot costs around $8.

AG Pick Under $10: 2007 Chateau de Nages Reserve Red

Celebrate Bastille Day with a French wine!

I’ll be celebrating le 14 juillet by drinking the 2007 Château de Nages Costières de Nîmes Réserve Red, a red Rhône wine that’s a steal at $9.99.

Chateau de Nages Reserve RedLush and full bodied, this wine is surprisingly complex for such a low price tag.

The Réserve Red is a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah.  Deep dark purple in the glass, the wine has concentrated aromas of blackberries, mocha and dried herbs.  The taste is rich and layered, with flavors of blackberries, black cherries, cedar, chocolate and earth that culminate in a lingering spicy finish.  Ripe tannins give the wine a velvety mouthfeel.

Serve the Château de Nages Réserve Red with grilled meats or roasted chicken.

If you’re having seafood at your Bastille Day celebration, try the 2007 Château de Nages Réserve White.  It’s a bright and aromatic blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussanne that also costs $9.99.

If you can’t get to France to celebrate Bastille Day, drinking French wine is the next best thing.

A votre santé!

AG Pick Under $10: Pierre Rougon Cotes du Rhone 2007

Yes, it is possible to find a nice Côtes du Rhône for less than $10.  I recently discovered the 2007 Pierre Rougon Côtes du Rhône, an upbeat red blend that’s bursting with ripe red fruit flavors.

Cotes du RhoneIf you like the light and fruit forward red wines of Beaujolais you will enjoy the Pierre Rougon Côtes du Rhône.  It has similar flavors but with added complexity and depth.

This medium-bodied wine is a blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault.  It has lively flavors of cherries, raspberries and strawberries with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.  The fruit and spice culminate in a warm finish.

You can taste the higher alcohol percentage in the finish but it’s not as overwhelming as you might think for a wine that has 14.5% alcohol.

This wine pairs nicely with chicken, pork, turkey, mushrooms and cheese.

The 2007 Pierre Rougon Côtes du Rhône costs just under $10.

AG Pick Under $10: 2006 Dante Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re looking for a red wine to please a variety of palates, pick up a bottle of the 2006 Dante Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.Dante Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Lighter in structure than many California Cabs and fruit forward without being overly fruity, this wine is very versatile.

On the nose are ripe red and black fruit flavors and rose.  Juicy red cherries and blackberries fill your mouth, complemented by hints of cedar and cinnamon at the end.  The warm finish lingers after the fruit is gone, though the alcohol isn’t as overwhelming as you may think it would be in a wine with 14.9% alcohol.  Low in tannins and with a good acidity, this wine is very easy to drink.

The Dante Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is great for parties.  Not only is it affordable, but it can pair with a variety of foods.  Drink this with pasta, chicken, heavier fish dishes and red meats.

The 2006 Dante Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon costs around $9.

A Taste of Portugal's Native Grapes

With names like Trajadura, Loureiro, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Touriga Nacional, the grapes of Portugal don’t exactly roll off your tongue.  Nor do they have the recognition of a Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay.  But with more than 200 indigenous varietals, Portugal’s wines are definitely exciting to explore.

For a great introduction to Portugal’s wines, I recommend trying the wines from Herdade do Esporão.  I’ve been a fan of Esporao’s wines since I first tasted them last fall.

Monte VelhoEsporão is located in Alentejo, a region in the southeast that covers one third of mainland Portugal.  Hot and humid summers and granitic soil add unique character to the grapes.

For a taste of Portugal’s white varietals, try Esporão’s Monte Velho White.  It’s a blend of Roupeiro, Antão Vaz and Perrum grapes.  It’s fresh and aromatic with flavors of peach and apple.  The finish is clean and crisp.  Try this with seafood or pasta, or as an alternative to Chardonnay.  The Monte Velho White costs around $10.

For a more elegant and refined white try Esporão’s White Reserva.  It’s a rich and fruity mix of Roupeiro, Arinto and Antão Vaz, with hints of vanilla from time spent in new American and French oak barrels.  The White Reserva costs around $20.

Quinta da AveledaIf you’re a fan of Spanish Albariño try a bottle of the 2007 Quinta da Aveleda from the Vinho Verde region in northwest Portugal.  It’s a mix of Trajadura, Loureiro and Alvarinho (the Portuguese name for Albariño).  The wine is complex and dry with a crisp lemon-lime flavor.  A nice minerality and good acidity make this a great wine for shellfish and seafood.  It’s a great value at around $9 a bottle.

For a taste of Portugal’s red varietals try Esporão’s Monte Velho Red, a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonês and Castelão.  The wine has rounded flavors of ripe berries and spice with oak and gentle tannins that give it a good body.  This goes well with a variety of meat dishes and tomato-based pasta dishes.  A bottle costs around $10.

Esporao RedI also really like Esporão’s Red Reserva, a blend of Trincadeira, Aragonês and Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has intense flavors of blackcurrant and cherry, with layers of oak and vanilla spice.  This goes great with beef or lamb.  The Red Reserva costs around $20.

My favorite red wine varietal from Portugal is Touriga Nacional.  This grape produces full-bodied wines that have flavors of blackberries, blueberries and rosemary.  Touriga Nacional is great on its own and can be even better when blended with other grapes.  Try a bottle of this instead of a Cabernet Sauvignon.

In previous years Esporão has produced a delicious single varietal Touriga Nacional.  From this year on the winery will only be producing this wine during exceptional years, so be sure to buy a bottle if you see one at your local wine shop.

Quinta das TecedeirasCasa Santos Lima in the Estremadura region in west central Portugal makes a delicious Touriga Nacional.  The 2007 vintage has big and chewy flavors of spicy deep red fruit.  This goes great with grilled meats.  A bottle of Casa Santos Lima 2007 Touriga Nacional costs around $12.

A more expensive alternative is the Quinta das Tecedeiras 2005 Reserva.  It’s from the Douro region in northern Portugal, which is best known as the source of Port.  The wine is a mix of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Amarela.  It has rich and full-bodied flavors of blackberry, plum and mocha with smooth and lingering tannins.  A sip of this makes you crave steak.  A bottle of Quinta das Tecedeiras 2005 Reserva costs around $28.

If the only wine you’ve ever tried from Portugal is a Port, it’s definitely time to visit your local wine store.

For more information on Herdade do Esporão visit www.esporao.com.

Click here for more information on Portugal’s indigenous grapes.

AG Pick Under $10: Alamos Malbec

I’m in a South American wine phase right now. Argentina and Chile are producing many great wines that cost much less than wines made here in the United States. Many of the red wines have an earthy taste characteristic of Old World wines, a quality I really like when pairing wine with beef or lamb.

The 2006 Alamos Malbec, made by Bodega Catena Zapata in Mendoza, packs a big taste into a small price. For around $10, this is a wine you can buy and drink on any day of the week and not feel guilty.

The wine is a deep purple color. The smell is intense, with spicy black pepper and ripe black fruits. The taste is a lip-smacking combination of black cherries, cassis, cocoa and a hint of leather. The mouthfeel is full and soft with a smooth, lingering finish.

Alamos Malbec pairs nicely with Argentine style beef dishes as well as lamb, hamburgers, chili and hearty stews.

For more information on Bodega Catena Zapata wines visit www.catenawines.com.

AG Pick Under $10: Camino de los 7 Lagos Cabernet Malbec

In July 2006 my husband and I traveled to Buenos Aires where we spent four days drinking great wine and eating all sorts of meat. Our friends from Argentina did the ordering so I’m really not quite sure what parts of a cow we tried or even if it was all from cows. There was some blood sausage and sweet breads in the mix, along with a squiggly light brown thing that may have been brain or intestine, I still don’t know. We took a bite of everything and it all tasted delicious with the wine.

While eating our way around the beautiful city, we tried a great Malbec from Neuquén. It’s a province located in the Patagonia region of Argentina, bordered by Mendoza to the north and Chile to the west. There, temperature variations of warm sunny days and cool nights produce grapes with a nice balance of fruit and acidity.

Since our trip we haven’t found many Argentine wines from Neuquén. But this weekend we discovered Camino de los 7 Lagos wines at Sunset Corners Liquor in Miami. Camino de los 7 Lagos was the first winery in Neuquén. They produce mostly red wines, along with a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. We bought a bottle of the 2007 Cabernet Malbec to try. It’s 60% Cabernet, 40% Malbec.

At $8.99 this red blend is a great value. The wine is dark garnet in color with a touch of purple. It has aromas of red cherries and earth. The taste is more fruit forward than the nose may lead you to believe. There are flavors of red fruit – cherry, plum and raspberry. There are very light tannins that give the wine a silky mouthfeel. The finish is warm and rounded. It’s easy and very pleasant to drink. Camino de los 7 Lagos’ Cabernet Malbec blend is one of Sunset Corners’ best sellers and it’s easy to see why. For the price, the wine is well-balanced and sophisticated and would pair nicely with a variety of dishes.


AG Pick Under $10: Bogle Merlot

Finding a great bottle of wine doesn’t mean spending a fortune. You can find some great wines for less than $20, even less than $10.

My recommendation for a tasty wine at a great value is the Bogle Vineyards Merlot. The California wine retails for around $9. I most recently purchased it at Publix on sale for $7 and change.

I first tried Bogle’s Merlot as a new college graduate. I was working at my first job as a producer at a small market TV station and couldn’t afford to spend a lot on wine. In my search for good value wines I came across Bogle, which soon became my go to label for good wine at a great price.

Bogle’s Merlot has flavors of ripe red cherries and plum with hints of earth and tobacco. It’s aged in 100% American Oak for one year, which gives it a nice spiciness. It has a silky texture with firm tannins that give it the mouthfeel of a more expensive wine.

It’s smooth enough to drink with pasta and fish dishes and has the texture and taste to stand up to heartier meat dishes.

Bogle makes a variety of white and red wines that range between $8 and $18. Besides the Merlot, I recommend the Old Vine Zinfandel and Petit Sirah.

To see more of my picks for good value wines check out the tag cloud to the right and select your price point — under $20, under $15 or under $10. This is a new section that I’ll be updating often.