In keeping with the theme of this week's issue, I thought I'd list a few of my favorite wines. They are not the most expensive wines available. I can't afford Chateau Lafite or Screaming Eagle, and, given the current economic realities, I doubt many people can. They also might not satisfy every palate, but wine is such a large and subjective field, you'd be hard pressed to find agreement on that subject. One person may love riesling but hate chardonnay. Another will pick pinot noir over cabernet every time. The following three wines may not appeal to everyone, but for one reason or another, they are wines that have really impressed me. They offer that elusive combination of value and quality and, with that in mind, here's the lineup: one white, one red, one sparkling.
2007 Domaine du Pouy, $7.99
My favorite, everyday white is a supple blend of ugni blanc and colombard from a Gascogne estate located in the foothills of the French Pyrenees. Top wine critic Robert Parker has named it a perennial best buy, and it is as refreshingly vibrant as it is charming with floral aromas backed by notes of grass, grapefruit and lime. The flavors are loaded with sweet grapefruit and stone fruit and there are touches of mineral on the finish. Stop by my house, and you will always find a bottle of this bargain-priced wine chilling in the refrigerator.
2005 Domaine des Tour Reserve, $14.99
Emmanuel Reynaud, the owner of this Cotes du Rhone winery also produces Chateau Rayas, the fabled property in Chateauneuf du Pape that fetches a much higher price. His winemaking techniques combine a sense of tradition with a modern slant. State-of-the-art presses and stainless steel tanks combine with late-picked grapes and native yeasts to produce a wine of exceptional quality and richness. It has an elegant structure with silky raspberry fruit that gives way to spicy cherry and white pepper on the finish. You can find good wines from this region of France for less money, but you won't find one that's better.
Col Vetoraz Prosecco, Valdobbiandene Brut, $16.50
With the price of most Champagne starting around $40, how is the budget-minded wine lover going to satisfy their craving for bubbles? Sure, there's lots of good sparkling wines from California that fill the bill, but I prefer this prosecco from an Italian winery whose vineyards are perched on the steep slopes of Col Vetoraz. Fermented completely dry, it has none of that "bubble-gum" quality you find in some sweeter versions. This one is clean, crisp and refreshing with a cascade of tiny bubbles. It offers an elegant purity of fruit with lovely peach, pear and green apple flavors. To my taste, easily the best prosecco around.