Mano a Mano Tempranillo 2014

Mano a Mano Tempranillo 2014
Spain – Tierra de Castilla
14% ABV
$7.99
My Rating: 87 points
Costco

If you can count on only one thing from Costco, it’s that you will find some unbelievable bargains on Spanish wines. I have been impressed with most of the Spanish reds under $10, and at $7.99, this Tempranillo is a great deal. They carried the 2013 vintage of this wine in the fall of 2016, and when I went back to stock up, it was gone. I didn’t make the same mistake this year. As soon as I saw it, I grabbed a case, because I know it won’t last long. Mano a Mano is an easy drinking wine to enjoy with or without food.

Full bodied, earthy, vanilla, blackberry, with a hint of mint and drying tannins on the long finish.

Pair with: grilled meat, pork dishes, lamb, serrano ham

Recipe pairings:
Instant Pot Carnitas
Grilled Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce

From the winemaker:
“A hand-made wine created in the spirit of collaboration. Hand-harvested grapes are selected from the best vines in “Tierra de Castilla”, then passed on to the agile hands of our winemaker. The result is a carefully made wine: long slow fermentation is followed by gentile aging in French oak to create a balanced “tinto” with vanilla, spice, robust red fruit and a rich finish.”

Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2010

Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2010
Spain – Rioja
13.5% ABV
$9.99
My Rating: 89 points
Costco

If I’ve ever spoken to you about Costco’s wine department, you know that if I see a Rioja Reserva for under $10,  I snap it up immediately. There are some great bargain wines coming out of the Rioja region of Spain, especially if you know what to look for on the label. Riojas fall into one of four categories; Rioja (under a year aging), Crianza (2 years aging, at least 1 of which is in oak), Reserva (3 years aging, at least 1 of which is in oak) and Gran Reserva (5 years aging, at least 2 of which are in oak), and prices tend to go up the longer its aged. Many of my favorite Riojas are Reservas; they have a great oaky finish and pair well with red meat and aged cheeses.

Deep garnet, tobacco, oak, nice cherry acidity.

Pair with: lamb chops, sharp cheese

Recipe Pairing:
Grilled Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce

From the winemaker:
“Just fill your glass and enjoy this smooth and round wine, elaborated with Rioja’s native grapes following a century-old tradition. Aged for more than 3 years, with at least 18 months in oak barrels.
Its spicy and fruity flavors are a perfect match to cheese, red-meat dishes liked grilled lamb chops and smoked food. Serve at 64F
Fall in love, again, with an authentic Rioja”

Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013

Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013
Spain – Yecla
14.5% ABV
$7.99
My Rating: 88 points
Costco

I was wildly impressed with Montgo, a Monastrell Costco was carrying a while back, so when I saw Solanera, a blend of Monastrell (70%) Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and Garnacha Tintorera (15%) for $7.99, I had to give it a shot. Monastrell is a bit like a zinfandel, but a little spicier and complex, and this blend did not disappoint for under $10. It’s a perfect pairing for bold, savory dishes.

Deep ruby, limestone, black fruit and a bit spicy, drying tannic finish

Pair with: lamb dishes, bold Spanish or Mexican dishes, BBQ

Recipe pairings:
Instant Pot Carnitas
Best Baby Back Ribs
Sous Vide Carnitas

From the winemaker:
“This special limited production wine is an example of the high quality potential of the emerging Yecla region in Southern Spain. Solanera is produced from the oldest vines of the indigenous Monastrell along with low yielding Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnaca Tintorera which is aged in oak for 10 months. The resulting wine is deeply colored, with the ripe, rich flavors of the Mediterranean.”

Espiral Vinho Verde

Espiral White Wine
Portugal – Vinho Verde
9% ABV
$4.99
My Rating: 86 points
Trader Joe’s

There are many reasons why I love Espiral. Sure, this wine isn’t overly complex, and it probably isn’t winning any awards, but it’s crisp and refreshing and its under five dollars. Plus, it’s only 9% ABV, so Espiral is the perfect daytime sipper for the long, hot Texas summers. It’s on the lighter side, and wouldn’t pair well with anything heavier than a salad, but it pairs perfectly with summer and a pool. Although Vinho Verde literally translates as “green wine,” it is meant as “young wine,” and is meant to be consumed young.  Drink up while the weather is warm.

Pale straw, green apple, slightly effervescent
Pair with: salad, or drink on its own!

Recipe pairing:
Blackened Shrimp and Mango Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

From the winemaker:
“The wines of the Vinho Verde Region in Northern Portugal are characterized by their youth and freshness. Espiral is a refreshing, crisp, medium dry white wine made from selected natives grape varieties in from this region. It is great as an aperitif and pairs well with fish dishes and salads. Serve well chilled”

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015
Italy – Chianti
13% ABV
$8.99
My Rating: 88 points
Trader Joe’s

Many of the bargains I find on wine at Trader Joe’s come from Italy. One of their Barbera D’Asti is my go to “pizza wine” at $5.99 but Il Tarocco Chianti Classico, with its bolder tannins and lingering finish is a better option for more substantial dishes. This wine has the classic tart cherry nose found in many Sangiovese based wines, but is a bit more rustic and would pair nicely with grilled meat or heavier pasta dishes. At $8.99, it’s one of the better Chiantis I’ve tried for under $10.

Deep ruby, tart and black cherry. Leather and spice with firm tannins.

Pair with: grilled lamb chops, grilled Italian sausage, lasagna

Recipe pairings:
Grilled Lamb Chops with Greek Yogurt Sauce

From the winemaker:
“Made from carefully selected Sangiovese (90%) and Canaiolo Nero (10%) grapes. This wine has an intense ruby color and aromas of ripe fruit. This is a well-balanced wine with a nice finish.
Aged in small oak French barrels for twelve months and six months in the bottle to acquire smoothness.
Serve at room temperature with roasted beef, pork or lamb dishes.”

Villa Pillo Borgoforte 2014

Villa Pillo Borgoforte Toscana 2014
Italy – Tuscany
13.5% ABV
$8.99
My Rating: 90 points
Costco

If you don’t believe that wine does not have to be expensive to be good, look no further. Villa Pillo Borgoforte Toscana 2014 was #25 on Wine Spectator Top 100 list of 2016. And while this wine is a bargain at its online list price of $13, Costco is carrying this wine for only $8.99, which makes it a quality to price gem. Merlot and Cabernet add some tannin and structure to a pleasantly acidic Sangiovese, which is why I often find Super Tuscans more interesting than Chianti, which has more stringent rules on blending grapes not indigenous to Italy. Like most Sangiovese based wines, this one would pair well with tomato sauce, which makes it perfect for many pasta dishes.

Medium ruby, tart cherry and currants, a touch of spice on the nose. Dry, a little dusty and a touch acidic

Pair with: Bolognese, lasagna, pizza

From the winemaker:
“La Villa Pillo is a specialized wine estate on the hills above Val d’Elsa between Florence and Pisa, close to the historic town of San Gimignano. Handpicked grapes from carefully tended vineyards, matured in small barrels for 12 months, results in wine with distinct Tuscan character.”

La Encina Centenaria Monastrell 2014

La Encina Centenaria Monastrell 2014
Spain – Alicante
14.5% ABV
$6.99
My Rating: 87 points
Costco

Move over Zinfandel, because Monastrell is the new go-to for pork dishes. At least in my house it is. Monastrell (known as Mouvedre in France) is big, ripe and fruity like Zinfandel, but has a little less sweetness and a little more spice, which makes it perfect for pairing with pork. Monastrell also tends to be fairly budget friendly; I am particularly fond of Montgo Monastrell 2012 for $8.99 at Costco, but La Encina is even more budget friendly at just $6.99.

Deep ruby color, lots of fruit, primarily plum. Balsamic vinegar and mild/medium tannin.

Pair with: Pork, beef, game (venison and duck would both pair well), lamb

Recipe Pairings:
Chicken Fried Pork Chops with Sausage Gravy

From the winemaker:
“Deep cherry-red colour with purple edges. Aromas of red and black berries and plums and hints of balsamic vinegar, prunes and herbs. In taste, it is the rich fruit that really stand out, in perfect harmony with the slightly spicy notes. The structure is soft and silky and ripe tannins and a balanced acidity completes the experience. The big ripe fruit taste lingers long in the aftertaste.”

Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

 

Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014
Italy – Piedmont
12.5% ABV
$5.99
My Rating: 87 points
Trader Joe’s

There is a lot to like about Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014.  At only $5.99, it is a small fraction of the price of Rosa dell Olmo’s underwhelming $14.99 Barolo, but much more enjoyable.  First of all, it’s hard to beat the price.  Trader Joe’s carries more than a few wines in the $6 range, but not all of them are drinkable.  This Barbera is a pleasant, everyday table wine with 12.5% ABV, so you can enjoy more than one glass, especially with pizza or just some cheese and crackers.  The bottle refers to distinct “red fruit” and they’ve nailed that description.

Ruby colored, maraschino cherry, black cherry

Pair with: pizza, light pasta dishes, poultry dishes, medium aged cheeses

Recipe pairings:
Everyone’s Favorite Mac and Cheese
Chicken Scampi
Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle

From the winemaker:

“An everyday and easy to drink red wine.  Deep ruby red in color, with pleasant and distinct red fruit notes, it is dry and rich, and has a remarkable silky texture.”

Montgo Monastrell 2012

Montgo Monastrell 2012
Spain – D.O. Alicante
14.5% ABV
$8.99
My Rating: 89 points
Costco

Costco has been offering some great bargains on Spanish wine, and the Montgo Monastrell 2012 is a steal at $8.99. A quick search online shows this wine being offered at $18 elsewhere, so grab a few bottles of this bold Monastrell, awarded 91 points from wine enthusiast. Monastrell, known as Mourvedre in France, has qualities reminiscent of Zinfandel, but tends to be bolder and a little spicier. This makes it a perfect pairing for pork, and spicy or savory dishes. Since Monastrell tends to be on the inexpensive side, it also makes a nice pairing for casual Mexican food, like tacos or fajitas

Dry with a bit of spice. Blueberry, blackberry, black pepper and oak. Medium tannins on the finish.

Pair with: pork ribs, grilled pork, sausage, Mexican food

Recipe pairings:
Best Baby Back Ribs
Chicken Fried Pork Chops
Sous Vide Carnitas
Green Chile Pork Soup

From the winemaker:

“Montgo Monastrell is a flawless balance between dark fruit and toasted oak. Innovative and passionate winemaking teamed with terroir and historical vineyards, results in a wine bold in personality and independent in its expression.”