Doug Sloan

Affordable imported red wines come in so many styles!

Why are there so many affordable imported red wines today? Is it the global economy? Could there be a glut of wine internationally?

Writing in the Manawatu Standard, a local weekly from New Zealand’s North Island, in October 2016, Gerard Hutching suggested the global wine glut was over: “The International Organisation of Vine and Wine has reported world wine output will fall an overall 5 per cent.”

“Some regions are worse hit than others, for example France down 12 per cent, Argentina down 35 per cent, Chile down 21 per cent and South Africa down 19 per cent.” Despite this, there are numerous excellent and exceptionally affordable imported wines available. And new ones are showing up every day!

From Italy’s Dolomite Alps a tasty blend of Teroldego, Lagrein and Merlot Cavit Alta Luna Phases Red Blend (260265) $9.49 offers aromas of dark cherry, plum and blackberry. Rich, concentrated dark berry and currant fruit is framed by silky tannins and bright acidity.

Another Italian red this one from the Veneto Biagio Vespa Vino Rosso (864264) $9.99 blends Merlot and Sangiovese into a food-friendly dry wine with spicy fruity aromas and flavours of red and black plums sliding into dusky blackberry. Light enough for chicken and turkey but rich enough for pasta and beef, this needs to be tried to be appreciated.

The variety of affordable red wines from Chile and Argentina makes these countries difficult to ignore when looking for serious bang for the buck value. The quality of some of these mid-week priced wines is remarkable!

From Chile’s Central Valley, Luis Felipe Edwards Cabernet Sauvignon (674531) $10.25 overdelivers with a medley of ripe dark plums, red currants, blackberries and a spicy framework of smooth tannins in the finish. Amazing value!

Apulia also known as Puglia includes the heel of the boot of Italy all the way up to the spur of Parco Nazionale del Gargano, just east of San Severo. Bordering the warm southern reaches of the Adriatic Sea, it is hot and dry and perfectly suited for ripening dusky red wine grapes.

Billing itself as “The biggest ‘Boutique Winery in Italy’ the Farnese Group is currently producing more that 13 million bottles a year as it moves to rebrand all of its wines as Fantini. Fantini Farnese Primitivo (619163) $10.49 from Puglia overdelivers for the price deep, rich, black and blueberry fruit aromas and flavours segue into subtle notes of dusty anise, basil, sage and rosemary.

California continues to offer us remarkably complex reds at astonishingly affordable prices. Blending various individual varieties into a beautifully balanced mouthful is becoming more common.

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah, Cupcake Black Forest Cake (873455) $10.81 clearly shows that the sum of the parts can be greater than the separate components. For a wine named for a decadently sweet dessert, this is a surprisingly dry red. Barrel aged Cabernet Sauvignon provides the structure while Merlot adds ripe fruit, Zinfandel contributes blueberry notes and peppery spice, Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah deepen the colour of this dusky blend.

Bordeaux and affordable are two words that rarely appear in the same sentence. There are, however, some exceptions to that rule. Not always easy to find, they are well worth seeking out if you’re unwilling to pay over $50 for second and third tier wines from prestigious estates.

A classic red Bordeaux blend of blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Kressmann Croix Saint-Martin Bordeaux (933945) $14.49 is a refreshingly approachable example. Soft red berry fruit aromas open into a well-balanced mouthful of dusky ripe plum and black raspberry flavours.