Last week's Swirl Girl blog taught you everything you needed to know about scoring value wines, which pack the biggest bang for your hard-earned buck. This week, say hello to four insanely good wines that also happen to be good buys.
UBY Colombard-Ugni Blanc 2009 ($12): Sure, the name's a bit of a mouthful. But so is this fantastic wine, a delicious blend of 75 percent colombard (a grape traditionally used to produce Cognac and Armagnac) and 25 percent ugni -- pronounced 'oo-nee' -- blanc (the most widely planted white grape in France). Just because you've probably never heard of these two grapes doesn't make this wine any less rockin'; this is a sumptuous blend of white peach, lime and honeysuckle flavors that will go down easier than you might prefer. At a miserly $12, it just might be the perfect wine to sip while enjoying the record-breaking high temps headed our way (or on any other day you find yourself desiring a glass of wine).
Diego Murillo Torrontes 2009 ($10): Let's say you've been a fan of torrontes forever, and you'd be willing to bet that you've already tasted everything worth drinking that costs less than $15. Well, you might end up losing that bet (though on the bright side, after one sip, you wouldn't even care) after trying this surprisingly nimble little wine from Argentina's Patagonia region. Citrusy, floral aromas are followed by flavors of lemon curd and green apple; it's slightly less over-the-top than your typical torrontes, but every bit as satisfying. Paired with seafood dishes (miso-glazed halibut and basil pesto-crusted ono were two recent faves), this wine can do no wrong.
Leese-Fitch Pinot Noir 2008 ($14): No, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you: There really is a nearly flawless pinot noir on this list of value wines. If you drink pinot like it's your job, then prepare to be mind-fucked by this subtle, graceful wine that's masked by a rather mundane, unassuming, black-on-white label. What you'll smell: tart Bing cherry, with a whiff of cocoa. What you'll taste: a super-ripe version of the same Bing cherry, plus some licorice and a hint of toasted almonds. Pour this winner for your friends (perhaps paired with its natural soulmate -- a dish featuring any sort of pork product and/or mushrooms) and stand by to watch their eyes roll back in their heads. After sucking down two bottles last weekend, I returned to my wine merchant in hopes of scoring more, only to learn that it was temporarily back-ordered. Do yourself a favor and snatch up a case of this goodness as soon as you possibly can.
Calina Reserva Carménère 2008 ($10): What's not to love about a bottle of wine that packs a delectably major fruity/spicy one-two punch that can be yours for less than you paid to park downtown last weekend? If you're not completely familiar with the carménère grape, you'd be hard pressed to find a better bottle to experiment with. Drinking a carménère is a little like diving headfirst into a tangle of blueberries, blackberries and boysenberries that have been tossed with cinnamon and nutmeg before being baked into a toasty, nutty pie crust. Yeah, pretty much that good. The only thing that might make this wine a little more enjoyable would be to drink it with a juicy, meaty burger. Yum.