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Wine and Food Wednesday
Food Wines At Attractive Prices Rule The Day

By Stephen Eliot

There are great wines and there are good wines, and there are times for each. There are evenings and meals that require the collectable stuff. Then, there is the everyday, affordable fare that most of us drink most of the time. In our Connoisseurs’ Guide tastings, finding a truly good value is more exciting than finding a great wine that we can’t afford.

It is a universal affliction of those of us who become wine-possessed to find special pleasure in the search for and discovery of tasty new wines that do not break the bank. Great wines are easy; you can look them up, but the lesser-priced offerings, sometimes from unfamiliar varietals and out-of-the-way places, that speak to the winemaker’s art rather than focus-group formulae are, for me, the stuff of real excitement as well. Now, I am not saying that I don’t drink an insanely good Napa Cabernet or great Grand Cru Burgundy with a burger (yes, it has happened), but I remember Gamays and Dolcettos, Montepulcianos and Mencias that in their ways were just every bit as satisfying and priced so low that I felt like I was getting away with something.

Of late, Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) has joined Zinfandel (not the swollen, overripe kind), Barbera and Beaujolais as one of my favorite go-to values. The deep, generously fruited Campo de Borja Borsao Garnacha “Tres Picos” at around $15.00 and the slightly lighter Artadi Bodegas y Vinedos Artazu 'Artazuri' Tinto from Navarra, often priced at less than $10.00, are sitting on the kitchen counter now, and both are splendid companions to the Mediterranean-influenced foods and barbecued fare that I like to cook. It is always good to remember the rule that tangy, tomatoey dishes are not sympathetic to puckery, tannin-bound reds. Rich and fruity is fine, chalky and astringent is not.

Just a few days ago, I added a new white to my roster of not-to-be-missed-wines-for-the price, and that is really the point of this morning’s posting. I spent part of a sunny Saturday in Sonoma at the home of a friend and colleague in celebration of a 60th birthday. Now, one of the perks of working with professional chefs is that, when they choose to cook for friends, the cooking is very, very good indeed, and the spread laid before us was deserving of something more than a Coke or cold beer. There were red wines lined up, from Zinfandel to Malbec to Pinot, but the day was warm and a white seemed the thing. My friend eagerly suggested a newly discovered White Grenache from Spain’s Terra Alta, and the vibrant, lightly stony, keenly fruited 2009 Bodegas Abanico Las Colinas Del Ebro Garnacha Blanca at $12.00 proved to be an out and steal that is now at the top of my short list of warm-weather whites.

Happy Birthday, Marco... and thanks for the gift.


by Bob Gustafson
Posted on:5/12/2011 5:59:33 AM

Enjoyed reading your post. I really enjoy Grenache, both red and white. I have had the Tres Picos many times and will be on the look out for the White Grenache you mentioned. Domestically speaking, Eli Parker makes a nice Grenache Blanc under the Epiphany label that I have had in the past.

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