There may be snow and rain plaguing parts of the country, but spring is officially here. To toast the new season, seek out wines that taste good and are good for your budget. Not sure where to find some of these bottles? A site I use daily to get those answers is Wine Searcher. Check it out and let us know your affordable springtime favorites.
2010 J. Lohr “Bay Mist” Riesling, Monterey County, California $10
When Tuesday night take-out is on your menu, pick up this racy Riesling from one of California’s wine pioneers, J. Lohr. With on-point sweetness and a fruit-driven fan of flavors, this is a white to please.
2010 White Truck Moscato, California $12
The hottest trend in wine is cool Moscato. Usually a sweeter style of white, this version blends Muscat with Viognier grapes to balance the whisper of residual sugar. It’s a more serious sip than other Moscatos on the market.
2011 Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $10
Sauvignon Blanc from this region is known for its grapefruity freshness, layered with a pop of herbal aromas. This wine falls on the fruity (not herbal) side of the spectrum making it a crowd-pleasing style. Pair it with vinaigrette dressings and grilled fish with lemon.
2011 Albamar Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile $11
This label (made by the noted William Cole Winery) is named for the foggy sunrises in Chile’s cool-climate Casablanca Valley. As close to the Pacific Ocean as you can get, this crisp, dry white smacks of citrus and delivers a high quality-to-price ratio.
2010 Bodega Elena de Mendoza Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina $11
An easy-drinking Chardonnay to please palates from those who like a kiss of oaky character to those who want purity of fruit, its a wine that will be welcome at the dinner table. This is the style of Chard I like to pair with a cheese platter.
2010 Hahn “Nicky Hahn” Pinot Noir, Monterey, California $12
Well-packaged and well-structured, Hahn Pinot tastes like a wine with a much higher price tag. Showcasing red berry character with a peppery finish, it’s a Pinot that can handle spicy fare with ease.
2009 Parducci Pinot Noir “Small Lot Blend,” California $12
Seeking Pinot with more earthy character rather than versions overflowing with fruit? Then this lovely red is for you. Medium-bodied and floral-scented with undertones of brown spice, it’s a wine to pair with mushroom-topped pork or veal and other savory dishes.
2010 McManis Family Vineyards Malbec, California $12
McManis is a name you should know for affordable wines, as they’re a producer with four generations of grape-growing history. Their California Malbec is a soft, juicy red that’s elegant and lighter in style than its brethren from the southern hemisphere.
2010 Apaltagua Reserva Malbec, Maule Valley, Chile $12
Don’t miss buying this wine — it’s a great value. Made in conjunction with one of Chile’s top winemakers, Alvaro Espinoza, it’s a complex, powerful and still succulent red that’s worth twice the price. Saddle it up to a steak for a pairing made in culinary heaven.
2010 Shenandoah Vineyards “Special Reserve” Zinfandel, Amador County, California $10
Zinfandel can be over-the-top these days with too much alcohol and sticky sweet fruit, but this version sports balance. It’s full-bodied, packed with peppery, wild berry flavors and aromas of licorice but still classy — especially for the price.
Leslie Sbrocco is the author of "The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide" and founder of ThirstyGirl.com.
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