R Wines Shiraz “Luchador,” Barossa
Maybe it’s our love of everything Jack Black ever commits to celluloid. But, whatever it is, this well-priced Shiraz offers everything you’d want in an affordable bottling like this one: Ample fruit, a hint of spice, and that ineffable quality that we like to call “gulpability.” Plus, the wrestler label is quite cool.
Brancott Estate Gewurztraminer “Patutahi”
Easy to drink, tough to pronounce. But it’s worth learning how-to for this exotically fruity, eminently enjoyable, pad thai-ready Gewurz.
Buil & Giné “Giné Giné,” Priorat
Yes, it’s quite a mouthful of a name. And no, we don’t recommend saying it five times fast after two glasses. We do, however, like the juice, a rich, complex blend of Carignan and Garnacha. So it’s well worth the effort of trying to pronounce it with panache.
Two Hands Shiraz “Gnarly Dudes,” Barossa
Two Hands always names their wines well, but this one stands out for both its name (who doesn’t feel just a little bit cooler drinking a wine called Gnarly Dudes?) and its price point: It’s an awful lot of wine–ripe, dense, spicy–from one of Australia’s most respected producers.
Pecchenino Dolcetto di Dogliani “San Luigi”
Nebbiolo and Barbera may get most of the accolades. Still, a good Dolcetto, like this one, is perfect for this time of year with its modest weight, easy drinkability, and amazing versatility at the table.
Fonseca 10 Year Old Tawny Port
You might think of Port as a cold-weather treat, but it’s really appropriate throughout the year. The trick right now is to put the slightest hint of a chill on it. Nothing much, of course, but just enough to bring out the acid and tame the rich, ripe fruit. This 10-year-old bottling, from one of the greatest names in Port, is perfect for doing just that.
Bodegas Borsao Garnacha “Tres Picos”
One of our favorite bottlings year after year. Ripe berry fruit and typical Garnacha spice dominate, all of it wrapped up in a mouth-coating texture with generous hints of vanilla. Excellent, as always.
Domaine de Couroulu Vacqueyras Vieilles Vignes
This Southern Rhone has always been a favorite of ours, and this one is an excellent example of how affordable even standouts are. Your CdP’s may not all be ready yet, but this Vacqueyras is just singing.