New because I can't help it

Last week I wrote that the acknowledged “sweet spot” for the price of excellent and interesting wines is $15-$25. And I pointed out that we have 40 wines in our “$12 and Under” section. Then I went on to say that I’ve been introducing too many new wines and that my weekly Features would now be reviews of old favorites. Uh...that was then; this is now. Last week, one of my astute wine vendors brought me a new line of very nice Chilean wines that I can sell you for $9.75, and then I recalled an Argentine Malbec I wanted to show you (and sell at $10.95), and then there are a couple of really astounding new ones that fit into the premium sweet spot for price...and before you know it we’ve got another Features lineup of great new wines. I hope you’ll be able to come by this weekend and allow me to introduce you.
 
Good Quality/Great Price from Chile
Chile’s wine industry seems to be trying to tread some kind of balance between the production of cheap jug wines and a calling to make some of the best wines in the world. I’ve found the most successful companies have vast holdings that allow them to source grapes from various terroirs, as well as elaborate production facilities where they can produce lots of very drinkable wine for the lower end of the market, while reserving special handling for their iconic wines. I’ve just been introduced to Viña Luis Felipe Edwards, established in 1976 in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. This is a family operation, but a very large one, with vineyards spread over nearly 800 hectares (2,000 acres) at various elevations and microclimates throughout the Valle Central. At the top end of production is a wine like the 2008 Doña Bernarda, a tribute to the wife of the original founder. It received 91 Points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate...but with an average price online of $36/bottle.
     What we’re introducing this week is Luis Felipe Edwards’Santa Luz “Alba” line of wines that we’ll be selling at an everyday price of $9.75/bottle. I tasted these new wines last week. They are very well made, with good varietal flavor and a well-balanced, clean finish. I was also struck by their moderate alcohol levels - from 12% in the Sauvignon Blanc to 13% in the Cab. To make wines with great flavor, without pushing the alcohol through the roof...that’s what I call everyday pleasure.
 
Santa Luz Alba Sauvignon Blanc (Colchagua Valley, Chile) - $9.75
This is one of those “nose to tail” wines that starts with good fruit aromas and finishes with palate-cleansing acidity.
Santa Luz Alba Chardonnay (Colchagua Valley, Chile) - $9.75
Southern Hemisphere Chard in the “tropical fruit” style. Pair it with summer food or sip it in your favorite treehouse.
Alba Cabernet Sauvignon (Colchagua Valley, Chile) - $9.75 Surprisingly light in body and color and not over-oaked, this is a Cab that goes down very easily.
 
Another Sustainable from Argentina
Santa Julia+ Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) - Everyday Price $10.95
We already carry several wines from the Santa Julia project of Familia Zuccardi, Argentina’s largest family-owned winery. To the very popular sustainably grown Torrontes and the organic Cab we now add their Malbec. This is a great companion to steaks and burgers from the summer grill.
 
Great Newbies I couldn’t resist
Chemistry (Willamette Valley, Oregon) Regular Price $19.20, Feature Price $16.32
Even though I keep complaining that I just don’t have space for any more new wines, this last white introduction is one that made me say, “Oh, heck; I’ll just have to make room on the shelf.” In fact, the only thing I wrote on the tasting sheet was “Yumm-o!”
     The wine is called “Chemistry,” as in “a strong mutual attraction between people.” It’s made by Chehalem Winery in Newberg, Oregon, the people who bring us the INOX Unoaked Chardonnay and the sneaky little screwcap bottles of luscious 3 Vineyard Pinot Noir. The Chemistry White Wine is a blend of (take a deep breath) 53% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Gris, 16% Pinot Blanc, 6% Riesling and 5% Gewurtztraminer. It’s made 61% in stainless steel and 39% in French oak. They’ve even added reserved cuvees from 1999, 2007 and 2009 “to add depth and a velvety mouthfeel.” They suggest pairing this wine with “lemon-roasted chicken or creamy risotto.” I’m going to ask Chef Yvonne...”Please?!” I’ll bring the wine.
 
Jim Barry “The Lodge Hill” Shiraz 2009 (Clare Valley, Australia) Regular Price $21.95, Feature Price $18.66
It’s been some time since we carried a new vintage of “The Lodge Hill” Shiraz, so wine temptress Sarah Stewart of Tryon Distributing just had to bring me a sample of this 2009...even though I’ve got no room on the Australia shelf. The information sheet Sarah brought told me that “Vintage 2009 was one of the finest, most rewarding and classic in recent memory.” It also described the Clare Valley “with its beautiful rolling hills, ideal winter rainfall, Mediterranean climate, soil variation and vineyard orientation” as having “a unique history and winemaking heritage.”
On the tech side, this is 100% estate-grown Shiraz, aged for 15 months in 20% American and 80% French oak.” I wrote in the margin, “beautiful garnet color; light, clear body” and finished with one word... “Lovely!” Come in and see if you don’t agree.

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