When the weather turned colder, the tasting targets turned toward different red varieties from around the world that could go with heartier stews, beef bourguignon, cassoulet, turkey and stuffing and even comfort food, including burgers and good old American meat loaf. Of the more than 100 tasted, here are the top choices in value wines from four continents. Global competition continues to ferment so we are seeing a wider range of varieties to choice from at reasonable prices, which makes for fun comparative tastings with friends in search of the great new find in Grenache, Tempranillo or Sangiovese.
Value Mendoza Cabernet 2010 Alambrado $13. Light varietal nose, leather, mint, wood; mid-body; decent structure, style, flavor, long finish. w/beef, pasta.
Argentina BBQ/rib wine 2008 La Madrid Cabernet Franc $15. Intense berry/jam/ nose; mid-big body, woody; tannins stand up to spice.
Turkey and game bird wine find Schroeder 2010 Patagonia Pinot Noir $16. Light PN nose, stemmy; mid-body, some style, long smooth finish.
Food friendly Aussie Cabernet 2010 Albacore $14. Jam, berry, wood nose; mid-body to soft; more subtle style than most. w/beef stew.
Burger Bordeaux 2009 Chateau Baby $10. Merlot, Cabernet nose; mid-body; decent fruit, flavor. A little short.
Quaffable 2009 Bordeaux Chateau Pitray $10. Merlot-Cabernet blend; cocoa/berry nose; mid-body to soft, low tannins. w/munchies, mild stews.
Bargain St Estephe 2006 Moueix $10. Minty, peppery nose; tight, mid-body. w/BBQ, ribs.
Pinot Noir alternative Chinon (Cab Franc, Loire) 2008 Couly-Duthell $14. Berry/cedar nose; earthy; soft, fruity. w/dark meat, stuffing.
Big beef wine Domaine du Vallon 2010 Cotes du Rhone Villages $14. Mint, earth, mineral nose; good tannins, long fruity finish. French wine for meat loaf.
Calif.-like Medoc 2009 Le Grand Chai $20. Berries, wood, earth, Cabernet nose; mid-big body; tight tannins; good finish. w/tri tip.
Value Calatayud Spanish Garnacha (grenache) 2010 Filon $9. Earthy, ripe grape nose; fruity, Rhone-like finish. w/pasta, BBQ.
Aneto, 2010, Tempranillo, $12. Mid-dark garnet; tight closed nose; opens with time; woody; mid-body, decent fruity. w/meat loaf.
Beef stew Tempranillo 2009 Volver, $12. Mint, chocolate, wood nose; mid to big body; interesting structure; long big finish. w/BBQ, grilled meats.
Big Tempranillo 2010 Palacio de Menade “Toro” $16. Ripe grape, jam, pepper and wood nose; solid tannins, long finish. Steak wine.
Tasty Chianti-like Strozzi 2010 Morellino (Sangiovese) $16. Floral, berries, wood nose; mid-body, distinct flavor. w/Tuscan bean soup.
Bargain Napa Cabernet 2009 Avalon $10. Berry, jam, varietal nose; mid-soft body; decent style for price. w/pasta, BBQ.
Rib, BBQ wine Bell Canyon Cellars 2008 Napa Red $13 (82% Syrah). Berry, mint, ripe grape nose (14.5 alc); mid-big body; nice tannins.
Food friendly Napa Cabernet 2008 Beaulieu Vineyard $13. Complex varietal/mint/wood nose; soft tannins, mid-soft body, good flavor.
Quaffable Wash. Cabernet 2007 Waterbrook $13. Herbaceous, mint nose; varietal flavor; softening tannins; fruity finish. w/beef, pasta.
$16 Cabernet as good as those costing $20+ Knuttel 2008 Sonoma County. Complex mint, wood, Cab nose; mid-big body; chewy tannins; some style. w/beef.
Fruity Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2009 Baileyana $16. Stemmy, varietal nose; mid body; good PN flavor; soft finish. w/cassoulet, cheeses.
Mendocino Pinot Noir w/good fruit, flavor 2009 Navarro $17. Clean PN nose, berries, cherries; balanced, decent tannins, nice finish. w/beef stew.