Buys $25 and under, Red; Mostly Napa Cabs, Shops + Shows, Tastings

New $25 and Under Finds at Gala Tasting

In autumn, wine shops typically hold a “grand tasting” showcasing wines promoted by their various distributors. In advance of the holidays, wine-lovers flock to these events for free tastings and a few cubes of cheese. VinoDuo is always up for a free gala tasting, particularly if it’s held at a shop we’ve never been to. The tasting at West Concord Wine & Spirits fit that bill and off we went. We found a very well-organized event with nine tables offering 65+ wines from California, Oregon, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, South Africa, and Croatia. Most of the wines were well-priced at or below $25.

$25 or below is VinoDuo’s sweet spot for bargains. Following are the stand-outs.

Belle Pente Willamette Pinot Noir (Oregon) $22.49/bottle
Delicious balance of strawberries/light purple fruits on the palate with gentle tannins and long finish. Pinot this good, at this price, is a true bargain. Buy? Yes; we bought 2 bottles

Matane Primitivo (Puglia, Italy) $11.24/bottle
Puglia is an important (perennially up-and-coming) region in Italy producing some terrific, unknown wines. We visited Puglia last year and fell in love. Matane Primitivo is a good, everyday “house” wine that is sure to please all Zinfandel, Syrah, Malbec and Merlot lovers. Nice ripe black fruit on the palate with a medium body finish. Buy? Yes; we bought 4 bottles

De Forville Langhe Nebbiolo (Italy) $17.99/bottle
There a lots of good Nebbiolo bottles out there but most are more than $25/bottle. If you’re a Nebbiolo lover like VinoDuo, you need to find this wine as it drinks like a $40+ bottle. Satin tannins and light plum notes make this a pleasant supper or a nice surprise for your next dinner party. Buy? Yes; we bought 2 bottles

Rebelde Red Blend 2017 (Portugal) $8.99/bottle
We’ve long known about the value wines from Portugal but upon tasting, we often cited (to be kind) off-flavor notes.  The Rebelde is a good example the value than can be found in Portuguese wines. Tasting notes: a medium bodied red that is both rustic and refined, balancing plum fruit with a smooth finish. Buy? Yes; we bought 2 bottles

Rizman Tribidrag 2016 (Croatia) $35/bottle
Not $20 or under like the other wines in this article, but worth a mention. We first tasted Croatian wines a decade ago and they are consistently improving. The Rizman Tribidrag [Zinfandel in US] is similar to many better Shiraz/Syrah/Zinfandel blends in its weight, with black fruit complexity and a long finish. If this was a Napa blend, the price would be at least 50% higher. Buy? Not yet, but we’re keeping an eye on this evolving region.

Extra Credit
We recently attended a pre-auction tasting that included a limited production Montrachet Chardonnay that sold for $5,000/bottle. So when we had the opportunity to taste a <$50 Montrachet at the tasting, we jumped. We’re pleased to report that the $50/bottle Marc Morey Chassagne Montrachet proves that you don’t need to spend $5,000 to enjoy a fine bottle of Montrachet Chardonnay. With great balance of minerality, cream and acidity, this $50 bottle is worth every penny.  And, yes, it tastes every bit as good as the $5,000 version to this semi-qualified wine aficionado.

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