6 for $60-Something – January 27th, 2012

Hello and Happy Friday!

It’s the last Friday of the month and time to introduce the brand new “Six for $60-something” wine sampler!

Six wines, hand selected by me, that represent a range of styles – all hovering around the $10 price point. Each wine is available by the bottle or case, but as I often say, for maximum pleasure you should take the whole sampler.

The “Six for $60-something” is highly recommended to those learning about wines, trying to stock their wine rack with affordable and tasty adult beverages, or wanting to bring a gift to someone hosting a party.

So how does this work? To order simply e-mail me back and say “Hey Craig, hook me up.” To join the devoted legions of fans who receive them every month you can just say “and keep ’em coming!” All of the wines are available by the bottle or case, but for total jubilation just do the whole sampler. Some people are challenged by some of the wines that I put in to my sampler. If Bergerac gives you the chills, Rhône varietals make you hyperventilate, or any other interesting reason why you can not drink one of the following wines, then I will substitute and try to get the sampler as close to $60 as possible.

A suggestion to those folks trying to learn from this as well as get a buzz – print out a copy of the newsletter to keep with your sampler. That way when you are in the mood for a bottle you have your own mini wine lesson on hand. So what are you waiting for? Order yours today!

The sampler is in stock and ready to be picked up any time in the coming month!
Thanks again for all your support!

Have a great weekend,


Oh no you didn’t! Oh yes I did!

That’s right people, even those that live in the city can drink Merlot! Scorned by millions of wine consumers after it became “un-cool” to drink the varietal, it is worth going back for another look.

The facts about Merlot are simple. It is an early ripening varietal that typically offers a plushness of fruit and soft tannins. It, like most other grapes, is very terroir specific, adapting to places such as Saint-Émilion, Chile, Friuli, and the Napa Valley.

I’ve made it my mission this year to re-introduce the varietal to you, and so lets start with a really fantastic value from one of my favorite producers in Chile, Casa Silva. Located in the Colchagua Valley, the Silva family began to estate bottle their wines in 1997. Like many wineries in Chile the origins of the family are from Bordeaux, at it is no coincidence that varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère found their way here.

Quality across the board is really impressive at Casa Silva, yet their Reserva line offers truly amazing bargains. The 2009 Merlot is going to make you think twice about the varietal, as it offers up notes of bright strawberry, cocoa, and herbs. It is texturally very silky, but avoids overt fruitiness, and finishes with great balance and length. The softness of Merlot is what makes it such a great food wine, and you can drink this with spiced chicken thighs or a beef stew.

$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE



2008 FINCA TORREMILANOS “MONTE CASTRILLO” RIBERA DEL DUEROIt is almost unheard of to find a quality wine from the Ribera del Duero region in Spain at the under $15 price point!

The region is home to Spain’s most famous grape varietal, Tempranillo, which is locally called Tinto Fino. The most famous winery in the region is Vega Sicilia, which dates back to 1864, but the explosion of wineries didn’t start happening till the early ’90s.

Today, there is a wide range of producers and quite a bit of diversity in respect to its terroirs and styles of winemaking.

Finca Torremilanos is owned by the Peñalba López family who expanded this old estate to its current 200-hectare size. With such a large scale of land holdings, it is impressive that the quality is high throughout the large portfolio of wines. “Monte Castrillo” is an “everyday” type of red, a blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Most of the juice undergoes malolactic fermentation in tank, with a small percentage in oak. The wine is aged for 7 months in oak before bottling.

This has nicely balanced notes of cherries, oak spice, and savory herbs. It is a very easy drinking wine on its own, but is also nicely paired with grilled red meats. A terrific value.

$10.50 BTL. / $126.00 CASE



Ahhhh Bergerac – any region that is primarily known for wine and tobacco is good by me!

Bergerac is both a region and a town located in Southwest France, famous for Cyrano de Bergerac. Truth be told, he never really lived in Bergerac. But the city and region still embraces him, and why the heck not when you have easy access to a pack of smokes and a good bottle of wine?

Getting back to business, there are some really good wines coming out of the Bergerac appellation today. With a strong local tradition of cooperatives, the Roche family previously sold to the local co-op, but with the new generation comes new hope and the idea to estate bottle and raise the level of quality even further.

“Jour de Fruit” is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. In an effort to raise the awareness that all Merlot doesn’t taste the same, I bring you this very charming, and very rustic wine. What is a rustic wine you may ask? It is a wine that doesn’t smell like a lollipop. It is going to take you out of your comfort zone, and expand your horizons. Basically it is going to change your life!

Aromatically speaking this wine is wild! It smells like coffee grounds, mineral, and yes – tobacco leaf! On the palate it has the softness that is typical to Merlot, with baked fruit, spice and a really nice, lingering finish. Certainly not a cocktail wine, rather a good wine to pair with paté and cheese. This benefits from a little air in a decanter.

$11.50 BTL. / $138.00 CASE



If someone ever gives you an average bottle of Côtes du Rhône from a bad producer, simply just shake your head at them! Let me tell you, I’m no genius for finding good bottles of red from the Côtes du Rhône appellation in the South of France. There are many, many good producers.

Château de Ségriès is a rising star in the appellation of Lirac, which sits across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. This estate was purchased in 1994 by Henri de Lanzac, who spent much time and effort resurrecting the estate into a quality producer. With almost 45 hectares of land spread out in different villages, this is considered a medium-sized producer in the region.

His 2009 Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 10% Carignan. It is fermented in temperature-controlled vats and aged primarily in tank.     Last month I offered another Côtes du Rhône from Domaine Brusset on my sampler, but I think you will notice that this month’s is a completely different animal. This has a little more elegance to it, and the inclusion of 30% Syrah lends to a more pronounced white pepper spice.

A great wine for winter foods such as a mushroom and herb-laden chicken fricassée.

$11.50 BTL. / $138.00 CASE



The Côtes de Gascogne is my go to place for a “Sauvignon Blanc-ish” style white wines at bargain prices. The appellation is located in Southwest France, and is home to one of my favorite spirits in the world, Armagnac. Distilled primarily from the grape Ugni Blanc, the same grape has become important today for white wine production.

This rural, agricultural land is home to the Domaine de Pellehaut, a property that covers 520 hectares of land— 180 hectares of those are vineyards, with the rest going to cereal crops and cattle. This working farm that dates back to the 18th century offers a variety of soil types, which allows for various varietals to be farmed.

Their inexpensive white “Harmonie de Gascogne” is a blend of Ugin Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Folle Blanche. It is a fresh and very aromatic white wine with notes at passion fruit, citrus, and green pepper.

This is such an easy drinking white that it is an ideal wine to drink as you cook, and is a fun pairing with a seafood ceviche.

$9.00 BTL. / $108.00 CASE



This terrific value should be the mascot of the Western Languedoc region in the South of France. With a rich and at times disturbing history, Minervois is home to some of the Languedoc’s most delicious wines. This wine is made by Château d’Oupia, and is an hommage to the massacre that happened in Minerve in 1208. At that time the members of the Cathari religious order were hunted down and killed during the Crusades led by the Roman Catholic Church, who called them “heretics.”

The late Andre Iché dedicated this bottling to that massacre, and even though it is 900 years later, those times are still remembered in the region today. Aside from the history lesson, I have for a long time used this in my arsenal of incredible under $10 bottles. This is not incredible in the sense that it will be the best wine you’ve ever tasted, rather, it is a wine that transports the drinker to that region, sitting at a local café, eating a hearty bowl of Cassoulet.

It is a blend composed primarily of old-vine Carignan with a splash of Syrah. The wine fermented half in the traditional method and half using carbonic maceration. This gives it a brightness of fruit that you want when eating heartier stews and meats. So if you can’t travel to this region any time soon, this bottle and some regional cooking will take you there.

$9.50 BTL. / $114.00 CASE

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