The best in value-priced wine


Last week we listed the top 10 kosher wines we tasted over the past year that cost $30 or more a bottle. A bit of expensive indulgence is in order for a festive holiday. As wine is a necessity in a civilized world, however, we have put together a list of value-priced wines ($20 and below) to be enjoyed on a more regular basis.

Here are our value-priced Top 10 kosher wines from the past year: The Recanati Rose 2013 ($15) is made from 70 percent barbera and 30 percent merlot. This bright, aromatic, pink wine offers aromas and flavors of strawberry, raspberry, under-ripe peach, and some citrus with hints of soft spice and some refreshing, crisp acidity.

A delightful sipper for the remaining warm weather is the Dalton Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2012 ($16) which exhibits citrus and melon aromas along with grassy, lemon, grapefruit and gooseberry flavors within a frame of crisp acidity and minerals along with a lengthy finish.

From the same estate is the Dalton Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 ($16) that shows lively fruit flavors and aromas including peach, grapefruit, mango and apricots, along with good balance and a nice lengthy finish.

From Chile is the bargain-priced Lanzur Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($9) that exhibits mostly peach and floral aromas with hints of straw. It is a medium-bodied, well-balanced wine that is ideal for warm weather enjoyment; it has grapefruit, peach, and gooseberry flavors and a lengthy, mineral-accented and refreshing finish.

Another bargain is the Terra Vega Cabernet Sauvignon Bin 944 2012 ($9), a nicely drinking, dark fruit and spice kosher wine from Chile.

Available at Trader Joe’s is the Terrenal Tempranillo 2010 ($5) that begins with floral and blackberry aromas, which expand nicely in the glass and combine with red berry, dark chocolate, spice and earth flavors, balanced with bright acidity for balance and a remarkably lengthy finish.

A good aperitif that also pairs well with Asian and Indian fare, roast chicken and many desserts is the floral Yarden Gewurztraminer 2012 ($15) that has an exotic lychee and spicy profile with apricot and green apple and good citrus acidity along with a pleasant bit of sweetness.

The Joseph River Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz-Merlot 2009 ($14) is a medium-bodied, very approachable and value-priced red blend with red fruit and earthy aromas along with plum, red berry and spicy dark-fruit flavors with accents of tobacco at the end. Medium-bodied and created for early enjoyment, the Abarbanel Cabernet-Merlot Blend, Batch 58, 2011 ($15) displays plum, red berry and cassis flavors accented with hints of leather and herbs.

The Dovev Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 ($13) is a coffee and berry-scented, medium-bodied, soft and smooth blend featuring red fruit, plum, mild spice and cassis. Spirits-wise, we thought we’d aim for a list of five whiskies picked randomly from our favorites tasted here over the last 12 months. Here goes: Mackmyra Svensk, First Edition Swedish Whisky (46.1 percent abv; $55): This lightly golden whisky, matured in a mix of Swedish oak and ex-bourbon barrels, is obviously youthful, but not marred by immature or moonshine-like spirit quality. It has aromas of bright, sweet malt, light smoke, vanilla cream, marzipan, honey and some ripe fruit, and flavors of light smoke, cinnamon, pears, orange peel and dried apricots, additional notes of caramel, some toasted coconut and a little hint of bread dough.

Single Cask Nation, Glen Moray 12 years old, ex-bourbon cask matured, Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch whisky (56.1 percent abv; $100; Cask #797 yielding only 148 bottles): This is probably the best example we’ve tasted in many years from this typically underperforming distillery — and it is delicious. SMWS 66.44 “New Balls Please” (10-year-old from the Ardmore Distillery; 56.9 percent abv; $95): This is a real beast of whisky: meaty, full-flavored, textured and a little dirty and unpolished the way whiskies of yesteryear were.

rsz_glen_grant_five_decades_-_bottleandboxWith notes of slightly muted peat, floral notes of violet and hibiscus, soy sauce, and a touch of sulfur – though in a good way, this slightly savage whisky delivers on multiples levels, its “flaws” delightfully in full bloom, beckoning further interaction. Glen Grant, Five Decades, Single Malt Scotch Whisky (46 percent abv; $150): Though distinctly pale and limpid looking, this whisky has substantial depth and complexity and is packed with yummy, whisky characteristics of rich, buttery oak, honeydew melon, vanilla and cream, cane sugar, hazelnut, green apple, fruit blossom, white pear, honey, citrus, caramelized orange peel, apricot, raisin, with a bit of cinnamon like heat and even some fresh malted barley. A drop of water diminishes the nose, but increases the sweetness and richness – and it’s not really needed.

The Laphroaig 10-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (43 percent abv; $50). Although lower proof and chill-filtered, unlike everything else from this distillery, this flagship expression is nonetheless fantastic. It is, in turn, soothing and stupendous, and familiar and reliable, yet complex, deep and dreamy.

It enraptures with its heady yet nuanced mix of iodine, smoke, sea brine, and sweet malt; with its oaky backdrop and whispers of vanilla; and with its rounded, oily, subtle and ever so slightly drying finish. Yet it is a dram with enough of a medicinal, fish oil, seaweedy presence to keep one grounded and alert. Not for all tastes, obviously, but this is serious, brilliant whisky.


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