I happened to mention to a friend that I had spent a day touring some wineries in the Temecula Valley, and I was met with attitude. Turns out my friend was a closet wine snob, and he pronounced that Temecula does not offer any wines he would drink. He buys wines only from the Sonoma Valley or France.
It doesn’t take much to motivate me into a wine tasting, so I threw down the gauntlet and planned a party around a blind wine tasting, to prove to my putative enologist that just about any wine region can generate a great wine. I kept it fair by selecting only 90 or better rated wines from various regions, throwing in one of the wines I had purchased in Temecula.
The education of my friend could not have gone much better. He, along with the group, rated the French and Sonoma Valley contenders dead last (they were still good, just not by comparison). The Temecula wine did not win, but it came in second. The winner was from Australia.
From then on, I have always made it a point to have wines from areas that guests may never have tried before, in my humble effort to stamp out preconceived notions that good wine can only come from certain locations. To that end, here are four very good wines that are not only from places you may never have tried, but which cost less than ten dollars.
Li Veli 2008 “Orion” Salento IGT
An Italian red wine from the small Puglian winery located in the heart of the Salento region. The “Orion” is made entirely from the Primitivo grape and aged for six months in steel. A great, complex taste of cherries and fruit. Full mouthfeel with a nice finish. Around $9.
Aveleda 2007 Charamba
The oak aging comes through, but not in an overpowering way, along with vanilla and berries. About $7.
Santa Julia 2010 Pinot Grigio
A fruity white wine, with a melon nose and a dry taste of fruit with only the slightest hint of sweetness with a perfect finish. Good stuff. About $8.
Cantarranas 2009 Rueda
A very crisp white wine, made up of a 75/25 ratio of Verdejo and Viura grapes, aged in steel. Around $6.