Robert Mondavi is one of the legends of the California wine world, and his Woodbridge budget label reliably offers good value. The Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon ($16) opens nicely with fruity aromas before treating the palate to flavours of cherries, blackberries, cassis and cedar. Medium-bodied, well balanced, and slightly sweet, the ripe and welcoming Woodbridge is an uncomplicated and effortlessly tasty wine that will strike many people as perfect for a mid-week dinner of pizza, chili, or beef tacos.
There are some interesting and affordable wines coming out of Portugal these days. Consider the Casa Ferreirinha Planalto Reserva, a creamy blend of several little-known indigenous grapes that is reminiscent of a Pinot Gris but also subtly exotic. Aside from the dominant peach note, there are hints of pear and melon, alongside some minerality and distinct citrus on the finish. Fresh and appealing, delicate and elegant, this is ideal for a light fish dish. Fine value at $17.25.
Rich and bold, Montepulciano is the second most planted red grape in Italy (after Sangiovese). And the best place to find this easy-drinking wine is in the Abruzzo region northeast of Rome on the Adriatic coast. Which brings us to 50-year-old Cantina Zaccagnini, whose Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($23) is a juicy, fruity wine redolent of plum and black cherry, with hints of spice. Low in acid and on the plump side for an Italian red, the Zaccagnini is a great starting point for people who want to drink something other than just Chianti or Primitivo.
Hailing from southeastern France, M. Chapoutier’s Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon combines Old World finesse with gobs of very ripe fruit that seems New World. A savvy blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, the marvelously smooth and quaffable Bila-Haut offers aromas and flavours of plum, cherry and raspberry, as well as herbal notes and a hint of spice. A versatile dinner guest, it would be great with barbecued lamb or a juicy steak. For $23, this is one heck of a wine.
(All prices include tax.)