Pillar Box Red, Australia.
Compared to Yellow Tail, this is the height of sophistication. Of course, that’s like saying Jessica Simpson is classier than Pam Anderson. This wine is pure silly fun, but it’s the best of its ilk by a mile. The Paris Hilton of cheapo shiraz?
Louis Latour “Duet” White, Languedoc.
I do have a bit of a man-crush on Mr. Latour, ever since he visited the Wine School (yeah, you missed that because you didn’t sign up for the cru club — it’s your own fault). This is by far not his finest wine, but then again, this is $9 instead of $90. What this is, though, is a remarkable value for a full-bodied and oak-driven white wine (this is a vineyard blend of Chardonnay and Viognier). Latour wines are historically inexpensive in our dear state, but this is a bit silly. I am pretty sure the winery is losing money selling at this price point.
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Henry Fessy Regnie Cru Beaujolais.
A good quality gamay is a wonderful wine for lighter springtime meals.
Alexander Valley Vineyards “Redemption” Zinfandel, Sonoma
A no-nonsense party wine. I would go so far as to say this was a gummi bear riding a licorice stick down a boozy river.
Martinborough Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
Classy and varietally correct, this offers a hint of honey on an otherwise austere structure, with notes of white pepper and scallion adding complexity to the grapefruit and brine qualities of this bottle.
Studert Prüm Riesling Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling
Mosel. A fire-etched riesling from one of the great Mosel vineyards. Lovely, but it could use a year or so more in the bottle to even out.
Cono Sur “20 Barrels” Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley.
The best value in Pinot Noir I have seen. This offers classic loam and floral notes in a very bright and friendly format. Dense and round, it still manages to remain light-bodied and balanced.
I actually find the price of this wine both insulting and incredibly exciting—sort of like when I met Chevy Chase. A kick-ass bottle of wine from one of the greatest wine-growing regions in the world at that price is a no-brainer.