The Dining Dozen of $12 & Under

The current economy has most of us cutting back on non-essentials, driving less, and trying to find ways to save a few bucks and with  the recent tax hike on wines and spirits,. choosing a good wine you  enjoy thats affordable can be a daunting task..  So,  this month we  are sharing our favorite finds.  These budget friendly wines have good consumer accessibility at very welcoming price points — all  under $12.
We all have our favorite well-know name brand inexpensive wines, and  those who know me know I love my $6 bottle of Rene Barbier
Mediterranean White for everyday drinking, but even I need to venture  from the tried and true and try something new every now and then. For
me, my favorite varietal, sauvignon blanc, seems to be the most  interesting of inexpensive whites— they always seem to have a crisp,  summery character and personality. It may be that because of its  piercing flavors, sauvignon blanc is more adaptable to an inexpensive approach than chardonnay, a grape that can reach greater heights when treated to costlier winemaking. That being said, we set out to find  12 great easy drinking wines slightly off the beaten path under $12 it’s worth it to give some of them a try.


Fazi Battaglia Titulus S.p.a.
I remember the first time I ever had this wine. It was the 1980’s and  good friend insisted we (my then boyfriend & I) try this dynamic wine – the best she ever had, she said. I did and we were both underwhelmed by this thin acidy stuff. I recently tried it again,  and what a difference a few decades can make! This Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi is a prime example of the changes in the wine  industry and the pursuit of excellence. This  is 100%  verdicchio, hand harvested and then fermented in stainless steel  tanks prior to additional time in the bottle. The resulting wine is a
lovely pale yellow-green. It’s gossamer light with hints of almond  shell and golden apple on the nose, then softly fruity with a fresh,
clean mineral finish. You’ll want to slurp it with a straw, but  control yourself. Practice a little decorum. A lovely aperitif and  ideal with light seafood (particularly shellfish) and it comes in a  classy green bottle — all for around $8.

Snap Dragon Winery Chardonnay 2007
This wine was a big hit at the in-store wine tasting events. This  Chardonnay’s  flavors and aromascurl and whirl across the tongue in a myriad of sprightly tropical flavors, fleshed by ripe yellow peaches  and warm apple notes. Accents of vanilla and allspice enhance the of this inviting and enjoyable wine. Sipped on a warm summer day, this wine makes an excellent complement to grilled chicken salads, poached fish or tasty prawns. This is a supple and refreshing chardonnay for around $9.

Bohemian Highway Chardonnay
Another wine that is a pleasant surprise Inspired by the legendary Bohemian Highway, that winds through the rural landscape of Northern  California’s wine region, Bohemian Highway strives to create a style  that captures the easy-going California approach to living. Lightly oaked and fruit-driven with enticing pear and apple flavors and just  a touch of refreshing citrus, this Chardonnay bursts with ripe flavors of apple and pear. Being lightly-oaked it has a full, creamy  mouth feel. Its creaminess and bright citrusof lemons and granny  smith apples flavors are rounded out by a lingering finish. This  unpretentious c hard is truly fun to drink for a pricetag around $8

Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2007
No wine list from me is complete without at least one sauvignon blanc and this one is organic from Chile. Elegant, expressive and dressed  in a green-yellow shade of color, this Sauvignon Blanc impresses with  its citrus notes of grapefruit and green apple, which mingle in with  herbal hints. In mouth, its freshness and balance with clean citrus  and herbaceous notes stand out, along with its pleasant mineral  finish. It’s a great wine for an aperitif. and an excellent choice to  serve with vegetarian combinations. It also goes well with soft and  fresh cheeses. Go green with this one for around $9

Chateau Mayne Sansac Bordeaux Blanc 2007
This is our second wine to have a bit of Sauvignon blanc in it, well,  Mayne Sansac is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon, and 25%  Muscadelle. This white wine combines all the qualities of elegance  and finesse that you look for in a great white Bordeaux: perfect  expression of the best Bordeaux soils and premium grape varietals.  This wine has been extremely well-made and aged. Like me, you are  sure to appreciate this wine’s brilliant color, fruity, floral  bouquet and excellent balance on the palate. Mayne Sansac starts out  crisp and fresh wine. It is very round and full-bodied and a fabulous  deal at around $9.

Colombelle Vin de Pays des Cotes de Gascogne 2008
Colombelle,  there is so much to love and enjoy about this wine.  From the eye-catching packaging to the zippy, fresh flavors and the  oh-so-affordable price tag (around $7), this little wine has it all.It is made from  a blend of 70% Colombard and 30% Ugni Blanc. Yes, Colombard and Ugni Blanc – two grapes that you might never have heard of before (unless you drink a lot of Armagnac or Cognac). But this is a wine that is definitely worth getting to know. Classified  as a Vin de Pays de Côtes de Gascogne, this wine is from the  Southwest part of France, below Bordeaux. This wine is pale with  hints of lemon yellow, watery rim with slight tinge of green. It’s  aromatic, with slightly floral, spicy and green apple notes. This  wine exhibits the pedigree of usually more costly wines, with superb  balance of sweet apricot, wild honey and a perfect spike of tangerine  acidity It is definitely dry,with  crisp acid, balanced  alcohol,leading to a pleasant mouthwatering sensation. This is a very  light and refreshing, almost weightless, though intense wine. It would be reckless to miss this type of intelligent bargain.

Now for the reds

Crosby Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
The 2006 Crosby Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious, forward drinking  100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Boasting notes of lush dark cherry, red currant, blackberry, and cassis, that blend well with hints of  vanilla and toasted bread.  A medium-bodied wine, it has rich, well  developed flavors of black fruit and a touch of oak which complements  the fruit nicely.This wine is supple, friendly and ready to drink.  With its $9 price tag, Crosby is an ideal choice for a house red.

Cellar No. 8 Zinfandel 2007
Cellar No. 8 zin highlights the classic flavors of the varietal, and  delivers rich, robust flavors that are enhanced by 100 percent oak  barrel aging. The color is candy apple red with aromas of sweet  cherry, dried cherry, cinnamon, and hints of cocoa and vanilla. A  tasty, medium bodied zin, its a delicious palate pleaser; with ripe, cedary spicy oak overtones that evolve alongside bright cherry and  chocolate flavors. It is pleasant round and soft with a dry finish.A great wine for grilling at $11 (Cellar #8 also makes a great Pinor Noir, Cab and Merlot at the same price point)

Cline Cellars Red Truck Red Blend 2006
The Red Truck California Red Wine’s label was inspired by a 1947 Dodge Power Wagon. This red  is big-hearted, well-made, and full of life with complex, flavors of  chocolate, berries, and cherries. It’s a blend of  45% Syrah 29%  Petite Sirah 20% Cabernet Franc for a juicy berry base then the  winemaker added teensy bits of Grenache, Malbec, and Mourvedre to  round out this wine with licorice and spice for a full-bodied  black
pepper finish with smooth tannins.  About $12.

Ars Poetica’s  Volcano
This is a 100% Aglianico, the second wine of Ars Poetica’s trademark  Aglianico del Vulture. A remarkable value, it has the flavor, body,  complexity, structure, and finish of a Super Tuscan in the $30-45  range but it’s priced around $9. This is a medium-bodied red wine  displaying ripe fruit and surprising complexity. Deep, full aromas  erupt from the glass at first sniff: black fruits, licorice, tobacco,  tar, earth and some vegetal notes.Y.ou’ll taste similar flavors along  with juicy black raspberry and black cherry, with hints of licorice,  black currant, bell peppers and a bit of coffee bean. A rush of ripe tannins, and medium acidity balance out the fruit I’ll take this over  a 50-dollar Super Tuscan any day, and spend the savings on two big T-bones to go with it.

Lello Red Douro
Lello is an elegant, fruity wine made from Portugal’s traditional Douro grape varieties: Touriga-Nacional, Touriga-Franca, Tinta-Roriz  and Tinta-Barroca. Lello has structure and character, it’s luch with  layers of dark fruit flavors, boysenberry and strawberry preserves.  This gives the wine an elegant note of wood and a lingering finish of  cream and spice. Lello is a good accompaniment to grilled meat and  game or can be enjoyed on its own. it’s a great buy around $7..

Dante Coraggio Chianti
For the chianti lovers, I’ve added a chianti in the $10 range. This  is made from 100% sangiovese aand it is a  strong and bold yet medium-bodied wine. Corraggio sports typical Chianti flavors: cherry, plum,  strawberry, spice, almonds, tobacco, vanilla and coffee. Chianti is  often called a “fruity” wine, meaning it appeals to new wine  drinkers.j Chianti goes well with well-seasoned food because of the  juicy fruit notes of cherry, plum and raspberry and Food pairing.

Well, there you have, 12 pocketbook loving wines. Enjoy!