Two Pinot Noirs that won’t break the bank

elouan-1

Elouan has a gorgeous color — a ruby red core with orange rim highlights.

Napa Valley winemaker Joe Wagner put Meiomi Pinot Noir on the map, proving that you can make a quality wine for consumer tastes and achieve commercial success.

Some winemakers choose to make wines for themselves, without taking into account what the public prefers in wine.

That best part of Wagner’s philosophy is that a good wine needn’t break the piggy bank. In 2007, Wagner crafted Meiomi Pinot Noir that featured big, ripe, fruit forward tastes and a smooth texture. Women loved it. The California wine hit the market at less than $20 and was an instant sensation.

It helped that Wagner is the son of Chuck Wagner, who owns the famous Caymus Vineyards, but young Joe really pushed the idea of a low-cost, high-quality P...

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A delightful, and affordable, find: 2010 ‘LXXIV’ Primitivo

win-noviceI’ve learned from experience that a wine must be pretty good when there is only one bottle of it left on a store shelf surrounded by stacked rows of other bottles.

So it was that the Feudo di Croce “LXXIV” Primitivo di Manduria caught my eye recently. The black bottle with gold lettering was hefty. It was produced in Apulia, the rich, agricultural stretch of land running from the top of Italy’s boot to the heel along the Adriatic Sea.

I was intrigued. I researched the bottle quickly on my wine phone apps and found that the 2010 “LXXIV” staring me in the face made Wine Spectator magazine’s 2014 Top 100 Wines List, coming in at No. 69. It was selling for $18.99. I bought it.

Two days later, the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, manufactured a fabulous meat lasagna out of thin air, topped with ...

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These Malbecs from Mendoza make their mark

malbecIt’s incredible that Mendoza, a province where Argentina’s most impressive wines are produced, is the size of New York state. More than 35 million acres are under vine, a total representing just 5 percent of the area’s total land mass.

The top vineyards are located in Argentina’s central zone at elevations of 4,000 to 5,000 feet in the Andes Mountains. They slope eastward along flat ridges, the terrain offering good drainage from melting snowcaps and rain.

Big, bold, tannic reds — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Bonarda — flourish in premier Lujon de Cuyo and Uco Valley vineyards.

Today, I’m focusing on Malbec, which is Argentina’s most distinctive and important red varietal...

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Boston Wine Expo: A weekend of delights

Photo courtesy www.wine-expos.com

Photo courtesy www.wine-expos.com

Looking for a midwinter wine getaway? Well, you don’t have to book a flight to Tuscany or Napa Valley when you can spend a weekend at the 2017 Boston Wine Expo, held at the gorgeous Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center.

The two-day event (Feb. 18-19) is rapidly approaching, so now is the time to purchase tickets. Go to www.wine-expos.com for all the information you need to plan a day trip to the Expo or for a deluxe weekend pass.

Wine lovers will appreciate the options.

A daily pass to the Grand Tasting ballroom, featuring more than 250 food and wine sampling exhibits, is $110 on Saturday and $100 on Sunday.

For $160, you can get a VIP pass...

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Narrowing hundreds of wines to top 50

Michael David Petite Petit 2014, Lodi, $15 -- Big bang for the buck in this jammy Petite Sirah fruit bomb.

Michael David Petite Petit 2014, Lodi, $15 — Big bang for the buck in this jammy Petite Sirah fruit bomb.

1. Michael David Petite Petit 2014, Lodi, $15 — Big bang for the buck in this jammy Petite Sirah fruit bomb.

2. Il Valentiano Brunello di Montalcino 2007, Tuscany, $38 — Time in the bottle has lifted this spirited wine to new heights.

3. David Pinot Noir 2013, Anderson Valley, $55 — Only 250 cases made from this boutique winery. A real gift.

4. Le Bessole Valpolicella di Classico Amarone, Veneto, $36 — Subtle but stirring bitter chocolate-cherry finesse.

5. Dunham Cellars Pursued By Bear Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Walla Walla Valley, $60 — Luscious, smooth and limited to wine-club members.

6. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Marlborough, $13 — Crisp, clean, refreshing patio sipper.

7. M...

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Wine lovers Chianti go wrong with these choices

From left: Poggio Agentale Chianti, $9.99, Palladio Chianti, $13, Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Vendemmia, $17, Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Vigento Bucerchiale, $35.

From left: Poggio Agentale Chianti, $9.99, Palladio Chianti, $13, Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Vendemmia, $17, Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina Vigento Bucerchiale, $35.

With winter’s chill in the air and hearty meals like beef stews and pasta Bolognese on the menu, it’s a good time to be drinking Chianti.

Tuscan winemakers have resurrected this great red wine, made from Sangiovese grapes, since post-World War II days of lazy vineyard management and overproduction cheapened the product. Remember the straw-basket, watered-down Chianti of the 1960s? The Italian word “fiasco” — meaning “failure” or complete breakdown — is believed derived from Chianti’s demise.

Over the past 20 years, however, Chianti and Chianti Classico — two distinct growing zones in central Tuscany — have made a r...

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Make New Year’s Eve sparkle

Charles Heidsieck Champagne RosMillsime Vintage 2006, $149.

Charles Heidsieck Champagne RosMillsime Vintage 2006, $149.

Sparkling wines and the holidays go together like pomp and circumstance.

They add elegance and power to any celebration.

While French Champagne still supplies the most impressive sparkle for any occasion, there are now more choices on the market to create the same spectacular sizzle at one-third the price of Napoleon’s beautiful bubbly.

Here in the states, California, Oregon and Washington state vintners are

turning out top-notch sparklers, including Brut Rosé made from Pinot Noir. Several California producers are so confident of the quality, they’ve added “Champagne” to the label in defiance of France’s centuries-old fight to retain exclusive rights to the name.

Elsewhere, Italy is capturing more of the global market with its Pr...

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Six wines get stamp of approval from Club tasters

The panel, from left, Rick Sobey, Kori Tuitt, Chris Lisinski, Alana Melanson, Grant Welker, Richard Rourke, Jim Campanini

The panel, from left, Rick Sobey, Kori Tuitt, Chris Lisinski, Alana Melanson, Grant Welker, Richard Rourke, Jim Campanini

‘Tis the season for picking out a special wine for the connoiseur on your list.

The Mill City Oenophile Club, comprised of Sun reporters and editors, met recently at Ricardo’s Trattoria in Lowell for a splendid evening of food and wine tasting. The panel, which included Richard “Ricardo” Rourke himself, blind-tasted six wines in three varietal categories.

The goal was to evaluate the wines individually and assign each a score (5-point system, with “5” being the best) in five categories — appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish.

The beauty of the exercise proved there is a wine to fit every palate preference and price point.

In the end, club members gave all six wines ...

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Hospitality, holiday cheer overflow at Four Oaks’ Doubleback wine dinner

Doubleback Winery's Drew Bledsoe had a fun night talking about his wines and raising money for local charities at Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut. The auction of Bledsoe wines raised more than $48,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Lowell and the Salvation Army.

Doubleback Winery’s Drew Bledsoe had a fun night talking about his wines and raising money for local charities at Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut. The auction of Bledsoe wines raised more than $48,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Lowell and the Salvation Army.

Cindy and Michael Kuenzler know how to throw a party.

A week ago (Dec. 1), the Dracut couple co-hosted a spectacular wine dinner at their Four Oaks Country Club with Doubleback winery owners Drew and Maura Bledsoe.

More than 125 guests packed the soldout event, where they dined on Chef Beni’s superb four-course cuisine and drank three equally elegant Doubleback wines.

Drew Bledsoe — trim, fit and sporting a diamond-cluster New England Patriots Hall of Fame ring — wowed the crowd with his neighborly banter (“I grew up in a town that...

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Bledsoe hits new peak with Doubleback wines

bledsoe wines

Drew Bledsoe has spent as many years (9) being a farmer of vines as he spent quarterbacking the New England Patriots (1993-2001).

Boy, how time flies!

Today, at age 44 (he’ll be 45 on Feb. 14, 2017) the Patriots’ Hall of Famer is still turning out winning seasons but on a different turf — the sloping, mountainous vineyards of eastern Washington State where he’s become one of Walla Walla Valley’s leading wine producers.

Each new vintage of his highly acclaimed Doubleback Cabernet Sauvignon ($99 in stores, $89 from the winery) just keeps getting better.

Tonight, Drew Bledsoe and his wife Maura will co-host a private wine dinner with Cindy and Michael Kuenzler, at the Kuenzlers’ Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut. The event is sold out.

The Bledsoes founded Doubleback Winery in 200...

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