Yes, it is possible to find tasty wines that reflect the person behind them and the place they were grown for under $10.00 per bottle. (And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa … ) Possible but not always easy … but that’s why they pay me the big bucks. And call me obsessive but I think you need more than just a red and white for a proper party. A sparkling wine, a couple of whites (one fruity and one drier/fuller) and a couple of reds (one lighter and one richer) seem to me to fill the bill. Still, you want to serve good wines but, especially with bigger parties, you don’t want to break the bank. Here are my top picks in all of these categories, and all under $10. – CMBD (aka Santa Bear)
CASTILLO PERELADA Brut Reserva, Cava (Spain), NV ($7.99)
A classic Cava blend of Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada together with Chardonnay fermented using methode champenoise and aged 18 months on the yeasts in the bottle. Pale-gold-straw in color; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity. This is that rare cheap Cava that both smells and tastes better than its price. Toasty, yeasty earth with citrus and tree fruit along with some earthy fruit. So much better than it has to be at this price point. Great as an aperitif or with appetizers and anti-pastas. Perfect with potato chips or popcorn.
LOOSEN BROS. “Dr. L” Riesling, Mosel, 2013 ($9.29)
An 8.5% alcohol, sweet but balanced 100% Riesling sourced mainly from growers in Bernkastel, Wehlen and Graach with some Brauneberger and Zelting and others fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation. Offers lovely classic apple juice and lime Mosel Riesling fruit with lots of minerals and a hint of peach. Super fresh and alive in the mouth. Great with shrimp or spicier appetizers. Quite refreshing.
La NOBLE Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2012 ($9.99)
100% Chardonnay (from a mix of lower, more coastal vineyards and higher, cooler mountain vineyards) fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and aged “sur lie” (on the lees) until bottling. Offers fresh, lively, fruit-and-floral Chardonnay citrus and tree fruit with some leesy richness and enough mineral earth to keep it in focus. Works with lots of foods from fish through to pork and veal and even mushrooms.
Le VERSANT Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2013 ($9.99)
100% Pinot Noir grown on north and east facing slopes in the highlands near Puisserguier & Cazouls fermented using rack-and-return (which is unusual for Pinot) and aged 5 months, 90% in stainless steel tanks and 10% in older oak barrels. Lots of fresh red fruit with some spice and floral notes and good freshness. And it actually (and unusually for the area and the price point) tastes like Pinot Noir.
CA’ MOMI Rosso di Napa, Napa Valley, 2013 ($9.99)
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Merlot aged 8 months in French and American oak barrels. Offers fresh, dusty red & black fruit showing spicy cherry-berry character combined with gravelly earth terroir, dusty mixed oak, and accents of cedar, tobacco, black pepper, leather, and dark spice. Fresh and focused; almost Sangiovese like. This is an American red wine to use as you would use Chianti; try it with pizza, pasta and red sauce, lasagna, eggplant Parmigiana, etc.