Who says no one makes a great $11 wine? Well, sometimes I do. But sometimes we find one that works at the price point. Sometimes, you find three that make some sense!

Lots of Italian wine tonight and no real stinkers in the group.

I’m writing tonight while sipping on some Paso Robles Ortman Cuvee Eddy – a great $17 bottle of wine. Unfortunately, the Ortman’s have announced they will be ceasing operations later this month. It goes to show that a great product, growing sales, and a dynamic wine story isn’t always enough. It’s tough selling wine out there!

Here are some you might like:

Banfi Centine 2009 Rosso – The Centine label is generally very easy to find and value priced. The Rosso is 60 percent Sangiovese, 20 percent Cabernet, and 20 Merlot.

This wine has big red fruit and spice but not a lot of balance but the finish is not off-putting. Wine Spectator gave this value bottle a very respectible 87 points. A lot of people may like it for its low 12.5 percent alcohol. It’s not unusual to find this bottle under $11.

(Banfi Centine 2009 Rosso, $11, Trade Sample, Recommended)

Banfi Centine 2010 Bianco – This nice white is 40 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 30 percent Pinot Grigio and 30 percent Chardonnay.

I liked the white and the Rose (which I have reviewed from previous vintages) better than the red. The white was a little on the fruity sweet side for my palate but it’s clearly a wine many would enjoy.

It had tons of pear and lime for my palate and similar low alcohol at 12-12.5 percent.

(Banfi Centine 2010 Bianco, $11, Trade Sample, Recommended)

Domaine Chene 2009 Bourgogne – It’s hard to find drinkable Burgundy under $14 but the Chene makes a run at it. I bought this bottle on the recommendation of a sales person at Indianapolis’ Kahn’s Fine Wine.

This was typically Burgundian with a very light and earthy mouth feel. If you’re used to California Pinot or even Oregon, you might not like this one for its nearly non-existent fruit. This Burgundy is about terrior.

Unless you just really want to try Burgundy at a cheap price, there are plenty of other Pinot Noir choices in a good wine shop. Save a few dollars and buy your first Burgundy at a little higher price point.
(Domaine Chene Bourgogne, $14.95, Not Recommended)

Scagliola 2010 Barbera – A great bottle of $18 wine! I’ve never consumed much Barbera but I’m ready to buy more after this one bottle.

This Italian red from Piedmont had bright fruit and acidity. I liked the somewhat lighter mouth feel for an Italian wine. You still get some rich dark fruit on the plate without the heavy after taste so many red wines will give you.

This is not a wine for your pasta and red sauce but it would be great with salami, crackers, and Italian cheeses.

The wine can be found in the $13-$18 range.

(Scagliola 2010 Barbera, $17.99, Highly Recommended)

Masi Modello Delle Venezie – Here is an Italian blend that most wine lovers will really embrace.

This is a blend from Veneto, Italy, that can be found under $12 but up to as much as $16 or $17. It’s made moslty from grapes most aren’t going to be familiar with – Refosco and Raboso. It has a beautiful ruby red color in the glass and a nice pleasant nose of ripe fruit. This wine is another lighter style wine that’s dry but quite fragrant with cherry and red raspberry fruit.

(Masi Modello 2008 Delle Venezie Rosso, $11.99, Highly Recommended)

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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