Terra Sigillata

A back alley conversation among several ScienceBloggers is the impetus for this week’s post.

A couple of weeks ago, Dave Munger over at Cognitive Daily asked all of us about our favorite cheap wine deals. So, with the permission of my SciBlings, I thought I’d let the readership in on the discussion and suggestions:

From the Mungers:

1. Jaja de Jau (nice Cotes de Roussillon, with great bite)
2. Goats do Roam (Grenache/Syrah from South Africa)
3. Antica Corte Valpolicella

A couple that used to be good but have fallen off in recent years. If you’re still drinking these, you can find better:

1. Rabbit Ridge Merlot Barrel Cuvee
2. Santa Rita 120 Merlot

Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles had an interesting remark about these latter wine values that then tend to get so popular that they either become too expensive or suffer in quality in subsequent years, due to demand in both cases. For example, Chad was a big fan of Sterling Merlot when it was in the $10 range, but it is now in excess of $20. On the quality side, I used to be a huge fan of Rosemount Estates Shiraz (Diamond Label) from Australia; while it is still $8-11 in the States, the quality has diminshed considerable since I first had it in 1998 or 1999.

Several ScienceBloggers are fans of red wines from the Pacific Northwest. Chad sings the praises of Chateau St. Michele Merlot, commonly found at $10-11 on the East Coast. Sandy Porter from Discovering Biology in a Digital World, who lives in the northwest US, likes CSM but prefers reds from Columbia and Columbia Crest, again, wines that are widely available in the US with prices around $11.99 but frequently around $9. Sandy also turned us on to an Italian import called Colossi Rosso.

Sb Associate Editor, Katherine Sharpe, who runs Page 3.14, is also quite fond of Columbia Crest wines but also likes Coppola Rosso, a red blend from California that can be had for around $7 at Trader Joe’s and Costco.

Evil Monkey at Neurotopia v2.0 had a number of good suggestions that include white Spanish Riojas and Vinho Verde, a Portuguese white varietal. He recommends Marques de Caceres, whose regular white Rioja goes for $12 (with a reserva at $23). (I’ve also found their red Rioja to be an equally excellent value.). Outside of the Sb discussion, I enjoy reading Beau Jarvis at Basic Juice, who has a nice write-up on vinho verde and recommends one from Quinta da Aveleda.

Relating to the Monkeyboy’s seafood selections, and with the last blast of summer here in the southeastern US, my own entries are the Sauvignon Blancs available from Nobilo. Hailing for Marlborough, New Zealand (on the northeastern tip of the south island), Nobilo makes fresh, grassy, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc that I was first turned on to at the Legal Seafoods at the DCA airport.

2005 Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc ($13.99)
2005 Nobilo Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc ($8.99)

The prices for both of these gems are what I paid at our local Whole Foods store, meaning that US readers should have ready access to these. The less-expensive Regional Collection wine is perfect, but the intensity of the Icon is well-worth the extra $5. In fact, a nicely instructive exercise would be to purchase a bottle of both, have someone brown-bag them, and test them yourself (with a friend or three) to see if you agree.

While you’re at it, fire up the Nobilo website and watch the changing views of the beautiful country that gave us this wine. If you can’t get to New Zealand (I have yet to do so myself), experiencing these wines is a reasonable, and less-expensive, second-choice.

What about you, fine readers? What are your favorite wines in the $10 range and why?


  1. #1 somnilista, FCD
    September 17, 2006

    Hey, all you need to do is buy a special new age magnet, and you can turn cheap wine into good stuff. I’d love to expound more about it, but I have to go buy a bridge.

  2. #2 Dave Munger
    September 18, 2006

    Wow, sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. I’ve never been very impressed by NZ wines, but I may have to give thoses a shot. Thanks for the post!

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