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Five Great Whites under $12

2009 March 3

Okay, maybe not great whites, but they are pretty darn good and worth a try. I’m not much of a white wine drinker, but I like these. Even if you don’t like them, you’re not out a lot of money, which I think is great and makes it easier to try several of them like I did.  And I’m sure they’ll be much more enjoyable if you’re not taking notes like me.

20090315The 2007 Honey Moon Viognier was a really pleasant surprise. Very little is known about this wine other than it’s from California and it’s probably owned in part by Trader Joe’s. At least the label would suggest that.

It had a pale straw color and a light aroma of honeysuckle and melons . On the palette, it was medium-bodied and I tasted peach, apple and passionfruit. It had a refreshing smooth finish leaving a subtle sweet aftertaste. I think it would be a great summertime wine to serve with a good brie or to compliment a light fish dish such as Sea Bass or Halibut. For $6 at Trader Joe’s, it was one the best tasting deals I’ve found in a long time.

20090321The 2007 Telmo Rodriguez Rueda Basa Blanco was a very nice Spanish wine I picked up at the Spanish Table. The Basa is a white blend of Verdejo, Viura and Sauvignon Blanc that comes from the Castilla y León region that also makes Rioja. Telmo Rodriguez is considered by many to be an emerging “green” enologist in Spain.

This particular wine was so similar to some more expensive New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that it made me look at the label again. Pale yellow in color with a nice aromatic nose of lemongrass and grapefruit. The taste was a bit more subtle with light flavors of citrus and green apple with a fresh grass taste of a Sauvignon Blanc. Light to medium body with crisp acidity and a bit of mineral in the short to moderate finish. It’s a good summertime cordial wine that would also go well with seafood and white meat dishes. And for $11, it was a good value.

20090320To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the 2007 Tefft Cellars Chardonnay Vintner’s Blend Columbia Valley because it only cost $8 at Trader Joe’s. With lively acidity and flavors of citrus and buttered popcorn combining effortlessly with the floral and melon aromas, the French oak fermentation and sur-lie aging becomes apparent in the buttery sweet cream and slightly oak finish. A great easy drinking wine with good complexity that pairs well with seafood having a stronger taste, such as salmon or black cod. And for the price, it’s a real bargain for all that goes into this wine.

The 2007 Château des Cléons Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie has a name that is a mouthful and a label that, for some, could be confusing. It’s a unique white wine made from a grape with a lot of history, the Melon de Bourgogne. This grape variety originally grew in Burgundy—as the name implies—where it was considered a nuisance vine. Nearly eradicated, it found a new home in the western Loire Valley. Nearly all French wines are named after their growing region or the varietal. Muscadet is an exception since its name refers to the characteristic “musky” taste of the wines produced with the Melon de Bourgogne grape. 20090319This particular wine comes from the sub-appellation Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine which produces 80% of all Muscadets. The Sur Lie designation literally means, “on the lees”, and contrary to some other blog’s definitions, means that the wine was aged on the yeasty deposits left over from fermentation, but not the skins. It was bottled directly without racking or fining and may often have visible sediment.

This wine has a fragrant citrusy nose and similar intense flavors with a flinty, mineral and almost salty finish. I didn’t get any of the muskiness that goes along with the name. It traditionally goes great with oysters on the half-shell, but works nicely with all kinds of seafood and shellfish. For $6 at Trader Joe’s, it’s definitely worth a try. At the very least, you can add it to your list of grapes you’ve tried.

20090367 The last wine is yet another Trader Joe’s white. It comes from one of the oldest wineries in Northern California, Geyser Peak, which prides itself in producing fruit-forward wines in the New-World style. It has to compete with New Zealand and has found a likely area in the cool Russian River Valley ideally suited for Sauvignon Blanc.
The 2007 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc is almost clear in color (yes, there is wine in that picture of the bottle) and has a nice light nose of tropical fruits and citrus. On the palette it has crisp acids with grapefruit and cucumber, ending with a slight mineral finish. It’s a very light and refreshing wine that tastes good by itself on a hot summer day or with simple fish or white meat dishes. At just under $10, it’s a good value too.

Like I said in a previous post on the “new” economy, the $6 bottle of wine is now the new $12 bottle and many of these white wines fit the bill nicely.  Enjoy.

Copyright © 2009, Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eric Hwang and BricksOfWine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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