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Wine value: $20 or less?
A few weeks ago, reporting on a $10 recession-busting value in a good French red wine from Ventoux, I recalled with nostalgia the long-gone days when you could take your pick from a bunch of really good wines for $5 or so.
Nowadays this species is just about gone, although not forgotten, as the threshold for really interesting wine - as opposed to drinkable but often blandly commercial wine - has moved past $10 toward $15 or more. (Other adult beverages don't offer an avenue for escape either, when good regional craft beers or quality import suds often top $10 for a six-pack, and as for fine liquors like single-malt Scotch or small-batch Bourbon, don't even ask.)
We're making an effort to accept this reality in this month's Wine Focus in our online WineLovers' Discussion Group, opening the discussion for March to the simple topic, "Wine Values ($20 and under)."
I'd have to rate the $19.99 Meiomi 2012 Monterey, Santa Barbara and Sonoma Pinot Noir that I reviewed in the Jan. 31, 2014 30 Second Wine Advisor as a fine value at this price point. Today, in my tasting report just below, I'll share my impressions of a fine, food-friendly French Sauvignon Blanc that comes in a few bucks below the cutoff at $14.99.
You're invited to share your best $20-ish wine values, tasting notes and questions this month in Wine Focus. Just click this link to drop in. You'll be warmly welcome in our friendly wine-loving community.
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Today's Tasting Report
Jean-Marc Brocard 2011 Saint-Bris Sauvignon ($14.99)
Wine "geeks" will enjoy a bit of trivia about the rather obscure Saint-Bris wine region: It's in Burgundy - a near neighbor of Chablis in the far northern end of the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region, but it's a Sauvignon Blanc, an outlier in an appellation where virtually all white wines are made with Chardonnay. The climate and geology of Saint-Bris - its terroir - bear a kinship with Sancerre and other Loire Sauvignon Blancs, even though the region lies within the boundaries of Bourgogne. It's a clear, straw-color wine, with good aromatic fruit aromas, citrus - grapefruit and a hint or orange - and a distinct note of ripe peach. Simple but fresh white fruit carries over on the palate with light 12.4% acidity, shaped by zippy, mouth-watering acidity that makes it a fine companion with food, if a bit too tart to be an ideal candidate for aperitif-style sipping. A lemon-squirt citric snap lingers in the long finish. U.S. importer: Vanguard Wines LLC, Columbus, Ohio. (March 10, 2014)
FOOD MATCH: The winery website specifically suggests "salade de chèvre, salade niçoise." We had some excellent Capriole Indiana goat cheese on hand, and sure enough, bits of it were just fine with the wine, served in a salad with a vinaigrette of good olive oil and a gentle touch of lemon. It would be fine, too, with seafood or flavorful fish; and it made an excellent companion with the Asian flavors of a stir-fry of napa cabbage, onions and fresh, organic and GMO-free five-spice tofu house-made at Louisville's Heart & Soy.
WHEN TO DRINK: The winery suggests that it may be cellared for three to five years under good storage conditions, so there's no hurry to drink it. .
VALUE: It's a quality table white at this mid-teens price, which marks the national median for this wine at Wine-Searcher.com. It may be worth comparison-shopping, though, as Wine-Searcher.com lists a few vendors offering it for $2 or $3 less.
WEB LINK: The Jean-Marc Brocard website is available in French and English. Click here for a fact sheet in French on the Saint-Bris Sauvignon.
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