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Wine Review: Fine wines can be affordable

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It is easy to find a good wine at a premium price, but finding wines that are both good and affordable these days can be rather difficult.

Knowing this, I donned my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat, took up my magnifying glass, and with my dog Watson, went on a quest to find some interesting wines that would not break the bank.

I hope the reader has not tired of me mentioning the prices I list are the MSRP, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Lower prices and often considerably lower prices can be found on the internet. If you are one, like me, who is always wary of shipping charges, I must inform the reader that you are paying shipping charges when you buy off the shelf as these are always included in the final price.

1000 Stories Batch 86 2020 Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel ($19)
You read the price twice, didn’t you? I didn’t believe it, either, but it is true. Here we have a blend of 87% zinfandel, 10% petite sirah, 2% syrah and 1% other reds. It’s been aged in oak barrels and given further aging in old bourbon barrels. If you believe in anachronisms, this wine is surely one: a 21st century wine with a 1970s price, a time when a magnum of Gallo Hearty Burgundy sold for $10. The end result is an affordable, medium-bodied wine with a vibrant wild berry and black cherry flavor. It also has vanilla, coconut and toffee notes, the contribution of the bourbon barrel aging.

Fetzer Gewurztraminer ($10)
Gewurztraminer is among the most fragrant of all white wines, and the Fetzer Gewurztraminer reinforces that statement. This wine is slightly sweet, not teeth- rattling sweet, but just sweet enough to cradle the abundance of fruit flavors and aromas of this wine. A blend of 76% gewurztraminer, 7% French colombard, 7% chenin blanc, 10% other white grapes, the aroma showcases dried apricots, peaches, rose petals, wild flowers and honey as its main elements. On the palate, there are the flavors of green apple, apricot and mango. To augment and enhance these flavors, there is a crisp acidity and the sensation of spice. This is a great summertime refresher, as well as a nice talking point.

Beronia 2019 Tempranillo ($15)
If low- priced, excellent and well-made red wines are the call of the day, the Beronia 2019 Tempranillo must be oin that list. The grapes for this wine come from the Rioja region of Spain, which is considered the country’s Napa Valley. How they are able to produce such an excellent red wine at the price it sells for is a mystery to me. This wine is a fine example of a Rioja and displays a deep, almost black ruby color, an aroma of oak and just a hint of pepper and vanilla. The flavors of blackberries, blueberries and oak are present, with vanilla and spice easily identifiable in the background. This is a very fruity wine, reminiscent of a quality cabernet sauvignon but with the fresh fruit flavor of a beaujolais.

Bonterra 2019 California Cabernet Sauvignon ($16)
I saved this one for last. A California cabernet sauvignon, from a winery with an excellent reputation, selling at a low price, just could not be true. But it is. This wine is a blend of 80% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petite sirah, 6% malbec and 6% other reds, all organically grown. This wine has been aged for 15 months in French oak barrels. I tasted this wine, and it is as fine a cabernet sauvignon as one could get. For whatever reason, this wine is a California treat at a bargain basement price.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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