Maison Nicolas Malbec ($8.99)
From the distributor:
"Nicolas Malbec is a magnificent deep red color wine with just a hint of violet. The nose is intense and deliciously fruity. This is ripe and fleshy with boysenberry and dark cacao notes. Its long finish hints at tobacco and flint. Toasty and stays very solid. A great match for poultry, a good, juicy pork cutlet, red meats, duck and mature cheeses."
Although popularly associated with Argentinian wine making, Malbec was one of the original six grapes allowed in the Bordeaux blend. In 1956 a bad frost killed off most of the Malbec in that area, and although it affected Cahors as well, vines were replanted there. It does well in the southwestern French climate, and produces a slightly lighter and more subtle wine than those made in Argentina. This is a great go-to and versatile red at a very affordable price.
Château Briot Bordeaux ($12.99)
From the producer:
"Imagine a country lane passing through woods that are perfect for hunting and mushroom picking, a lake with a couple of fishermen, and of course vines covering the gentle slopes to complete this idyllic countryside scenery. This is Château Briot, a peaceful haven at the heart of Entre-Deux-Mers, carefully preserved by our family since 1980.
Ageing : Ageing in oak barrels and stainless steels vats
Average annual production : 300 000 bottles
Colour : Dark garnet
Nose : Pleasant red berry aromas, with a hint of fresh walnut and toasted vanilla
Mouth : Fresh, well-rounded and fruit driven, with an elegant, soft tannic
structure. Good length
Food pairings : Delicatessen, tapas, red meat, white meat, cheeses"
This is a wonderful entry-level Bordeaux at a great price. If you've never had Bordeaux, it will give you a good idea of the general style. If you are an experienced Bordeaux-drinker, it can be an everyday alternative to more expensive wines from the smaller appellations.
Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux ($17.99)
From the distributor:
"Jean-Claude Mas has blazed the trail for premium winemaking in the Languedoc region of the South of France. Since taking the helm of the centuries-old Domaines Paul Mas in 2000, his driving mission has been to use only premium quality grapes to craft superior wines with a modern, New World flair. Above all else, this innovative, fourth-generation vintner strives to make wines with authenticity and refinement, the end result of which is a family of magnificently charming wines that burst with personality and express their unique terroir.
60% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir, 10% Mauzac
Grapes undergo fermentation in stainless steel vats to create the base wine. After primary fermentation, “Liqueur de Tirage”, a blend of sugar and yeast, is added to the juice a few hours before bottling. A second fermentation then takes place in the bottle, which lasts about 3 weeks. The bottles are then gradually turned upside down in order to gather the lees in the neck of the bottle. After one year of ageing “sur pointe”, the bottles are chilled (to freeze the lees) and opened. The lees are expelled and the “Liqueur de Dosage” is added. The bottle is then sealed and released after twelve months of ageing.
Pale yellow with delicate and persistent bubbles.
An intense and refined nose of honey, acacia and crystallized lemon.
A harmonious palate of citrus fruits. A great balance of sugar and acidity with a long finish."
Made in the "methode traditionnelle" from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, this wine is a very affordable alternative to Champagne. The Chenin Blanc gives it a slightly fresher flavor with a bit more acidity, but the bubbles are small and plentiful. This is my bubbly of choice.