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.”

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2014

Achaval Ferrer Malbec 2014
Argentina – Mendoza
14% ABV
$10.99
My Rating: 90 points
Costco

Malbec is often a great alternative to higher priced Cabernet Sauvignon for a full bodied red wine, and if Costco is still carrying this wine for $10.99, I am going to stock up. Big time.  This Malbec is a touch spicy, and like most Malbec, would pair best with grilled meats or BBQ.  Argentinian cuisine is so famous for its savory meat dishes, and a few sips of this savory wine, and I was picturing myself at an Asado with a glass of this in hand. This is a perfect wine to take to a backyard BBQ and will be my go to for my favorite BYOB BBQ restaurants Texas is so famous for.

Deep ruby, lots of mineral on the nose, red fruit, blackberry, black pepper

Pair with: grilled meats, BBQ, spiced rotisserie chicken

Recipe Pairings:
Best Baby Back Ribs

From the winemaker:
“This wine completes Achaval-Ferrer’s exploration of Malbec. Through other wines will expressed Malbec as a terrior driven wine and as a key building bloc of a complex blend. This Mendoza appellation Malbec expresses the pure tipicity of the variety. Low yields, careful vineyard management and low intervention winemaking are the hallmark of this and all other Achaval-Ferrer wines.

Mustiguillo Mestizaje Bobal 2014

Mustiguillo Mestizaje Bobal 2014
Spain – El Terrerazo
13.5% ABV
$10.49
My Rating: 89 points
Costco

Without question, Costco was the store that started my love affair with Spanish wines. There are regularly new ones in stock for around $10, and upon trying them, there is a good chance that I would stock up on several. Mustiguillo Mestizaje is a red blend; primarily Bobal with 10% Syrah, 6% Garnacha, 5% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. Each grape is aged for one year in oak barrels before blending, which adds to the smoothness and drinkability of the wine. Spanish wines tend to have lots of acid, but this one is balanced nicely. For about $10, I’m going to pick up more of this one to drink on its own or with a casual meal.

Medium ruby, wild cherry, blackberry, with a bit of oak on the dusty finish.

Pair with: medium to firm cheese, grilled meats, tomato based rice or pasta dishes, paella

From the winemaker:
“Deep in color with an intriguing nose of black fruits, violets, cedar and black pepper. The fleshy dark fruit flavors of blackberry and black currant are lifted by brink mineral acidity (this is where those limestone soils come through) and fine tannins. Leaves you on a nice sweet and spicy finish, a perfect pair with anything cooked over fire and smoke.”

Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
California – Mendocino County
14.5% ABV
$14.89
My Rating: 90 points
Costco

I am a big believer that wine does not have to be expensive to be good, but if there is one varietal I have a hard time finding an inexpensive pick that I really enjoy, it’s Cabernet Sauvignon. I simply cannot have a big juicy ribeye without a good cab. Every once in a while, I’ll splurge on a more expensive bottle, but for under $15, True Grit really delivers that big, tannic California cab that pair so well with the buttery umami of a ribeye. I will be picking up a few bottles to enjoy over the next couple of years to enjoy for a good occasion at home. I wouldn’t pair this bold, juicy cab with anything other than a big steak.

Deep ruby, tobacco, cedar, drying tannins. Long dusty finish.

Pair with: grilled ribeye

Recipe pairings:
Perfectly Seared Steakhouse Steaks

From the winemaker:
“Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of red wines; pitiless and double tough, you will long to pull this cork. Rich, full-bodied, with signature elements of earth and tobacco, it’s a bit uncivilized. We have been making Cabernet Sauvignon for generations. This one is special.
The immigrant farmers who planted grapevines here in the 1800s arrived full of hope and optimism. Their special piece of heaven on earth lay just over the next ridge, in Mendocino County. Their vineyards, their determinations, patience and vision… their True Grit.”

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.”

Poggio al Casone Toscana 2010

Poggio al Casone Toscana 2010
Italy – Tuscany
13% ABV
$10.99
My Rating: 88 points
Trader Joe’s

I am a fan of Super Tuscans; they are often big, rich wines. Tuscany is home to some of the most recognized wine regions in Italy, like Chianti, which have specific regulations on which grapes can be used in production and how much.  Like Chianti, many Tuscans contain Sangiovese, either on its own, or blended with grapes that are not native to Italy. This 80% Sangiovese, 20% Syrah blend is well balanced; the acidity that Sangiovese is known for is balanced out by the big tannins found in Syrah. This food friendly wine is a great buy from Trader Joe’s and pairs well with Italian food.

Ruby colored, cherry, wood, with drying tannins. Nicely balanced and medium bodied.

Pair with: pasta dishes, medium/aged cheeses, pizza

Recipe pairings:
Sausage and Peppers
Creamy Chicken a la Vodka
Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

From the winemaker:
“Our Toscana is produced with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Syrah grapes, attentively harvested by hand and selected to give birth to this wine that refines for twelve months in barriques by 225 litres in the cellar of Poggio al Casone Estate, legendary vineyard of the Castellani Family. The estate is situated in Crespina, ancient village on the Pisan Hills just few kilometers from the Tuscan coast.”

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.”

District 7 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

District 7 Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
California – Monterrey
13.5% ABV
$11.99
My Rating: 87 points
Costco

It’s difficult to find a great Cabernet under $15, but District 7 delivers a fruit forward, easy drinking wine. Medium bodied with moderate tannins, this is a good one to drink on its own or pair with food. Less bold than a typical Cabernet, and without any real oak, I would pair this with a more casual meal, rather than a big steak.

Blackberry, raspberry, well balanced fruit, acidity and tannins.

Pair with: ribs, burgers, BBQ chicken

Recipe Pairings:
Best Baby Back Ribs
Best Ever Oven Baked Chicken

From the winemaker:
“California has 17 grape crush districts. District 7 is Monterey County, a windy and cool coastal region known for producing complex and balanced wines. For nearly 50 years, our family and dedicated employees have been sustainable farming this remarkable land. We hope you enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon specially selected from our estate vineyards.”

La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2014

La Posta Pizzella Family Vineyard Malbec 2014
Argentina – Mendoza
13.5% ABV
$11.99
My Rating: 86 points
Costco

Argentinian Malbecs are pretty versatile wines. They seem to pair well with most meals, as long as there is lots of meat involved! Malbec is full bodied enough for a big steak, but doesn’t have the same long finish that most Cabernets have, so I prefer it with casual meaty dishes. La Posta Pizzella Malbec is a pretty grape color, with the telltale magenta rim, common in Malbec. There was lots of this wine at Costco, so grab a few bottles to enjoy at a cool weather BBQ.

Lots of blueberry and blackberry, smoke on the front and black pepper with smooth tannins on the finish.

Pair with: burgers, BBQ chicken, ribs, brisket

Recipe Pairings:
Best Baby Back Ribs
Sweet and Salty Pork in Sherry Garlic Sauce

From the winemaker:
“The Pizzella family invites you to journey westward in the Uco Valley for a Sunday afternoon with them. There will be no agenda beyond the sun warming your skin and the air filling your lungs. You will sit at the family table, and with each passing moment, you will become more of a part of it. And it will remind you of important work – to enjoy simpler times.”

Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010

Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010
Spain – Rioja
13.5% ABV
$11.49
My Rating: 89 points
Costco

Costco has some of the best prices and selections of Spanish red wines from Rioja. They get a few new ones in monthly, and you can usually spot the great bargains by reading the labels. Riojas fall into one of four categories; Rioja (under a year aging), Crianza (2 years aging, 1 of which is in oak), Riserva (3 years aging, 1 of which is in oak) and Gran Riserva (5 years aging, 2 of which is in oak). This is a great example of Riserva that is priced better than some of their younger counterparts, and there really is a big difference in the depth and complexity of the wine from the oak aging. This 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano blend is a fantastic value at $11.49, worth stocking a few bottles to enjoy with meaty dishes.

Cherry, oak, long finish with well integrated tannins

Pair with: steak, grilled lamb chops, aged cheeses

Recipe Pairing:
Perfectly Seared Steakhouse Steaks
Sous Vide Flank Steak
Instant Pot Carnitas

From the winemaker:
“Carlos Serres was a pioneer in Rioja. He arrived in Spain in 1896 and created one of the first wineries in Haro, in the heart of Rioja. Carlos Serres went on to be an instrumental figure in promoting the early exports of Rioja wines, and today is one of the only a few centenarian producers in Rioja.
Our Rioja is aged 24 months in oak barrels and an additional 12 months in the bottle before its release. It is a complex and elegant wine with aromas and flavors of mature black fruit and mineral notes, a perfect match with grilled meats, stews and stronger cheeses.”