Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence (2009)
T’is the time of the year when oenophiles (as distinguished from onanists) give each other gifts of wine, and dinner hosts impress their friends by decanting bottles that drink much better than the price paid for them. In other words, the greatest seasonal triumph is a wonderful wine that didn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Here are five reds priced under $15 that would impress any wine drinker, from neophyte to sommelier. All are currently available at Astor Wines & Spirits, at other wine stores around town, and online.
1. Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence (2009) — This wine is made in a picturesque perched village in the mountains of Provence in Southern France, a certified organic wine with lots of berries on the palate, and tannins in the structure for a bold flavor that goes with about anything, including Christmas cookies and porchetta sandwiches. Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan grapes. $13.99
2. Dolcetto d’Alba Roussot, Francesco Rinaldi (2009) — From one of the oldest and most distinguished makers of Barolo, this is the wine that the vintners drink when they kick back with a salami or plate of culatello at day’s end. Infinitely earthy, but lighter than the big reds of Central and Northern Italy, it perfectly reflects the Piemontese terroir. $14.97
3. Burgenländer Rot, Pittnauer (2009) — You may feel like you’re going out on a limb with an Austrian red, but the low price, biodynamic culture of the grapes, and fruity-but-dry savor makes this wine a perennial favorite. Note that the bottle contains a full liter, making it an especially good buy. Grapes: Zweigelt, Blaufrankisch, Pinot Noir. $12.96
4. Petite Sirah, Bogle (2009) — Peppery, plumy, and fairly heavily aged in oak, Petite Sirah is produced at vineyards south of Sacramento, California, a growing region with virtually no snob appeal, and this distinguished varietal grape has rarely been so well handled. The wine is saturated, with a distinctive flavor that makes it hard to guess where the bottle is from. $11.99
5. Lambrusco Grasparossa, Cantina Puianello (nonvintage) — Holidays demand a fizzy red, a novelty in the States, but common in Emilia-Romagna, where this wine hails from. These reds are a little lighter, a little less alcoholic, and considered to be the best way to cut the grease during an especially heavy winter meal. As an added bonus, they marry exceedingly well with pizzas, and fizzy reds are what is commonly drunk in Naples and the Sorrento Peninsula, where pizza originated. Bubbles are festive, too. $14.96