Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good cheap wine #1

"What's a good wine for under $10?"

Whether it's the neighborhood fishmonger, the UPS guy who lugs boxes up my walk or people I meet for the first time, I'm asked that question more than any other when people learn what I do. Can't blame them; Big Wine fails consistently to provide solid, drinkable value at the low-end and retailers can't seem to resist the deals they provide, making the search for every day wine something most consumers dread.

So as often as I find them, I'll post reviews of wines I know of or discover that exceed expectations and deliver pleasure at a bargain price.

First up: Fortant Chardonnay 2006, made with grapes sourced from southern France, mainly around Carcassonne and Montpellier in Languedoc-Roussillon, and crafted with a New World focus on fruit but without the usually brutal oak manipulation; in fact, no oak whatsoever in fermentation or aging. That means, in this case, a crisp and minerally chard, with a varietally sound array of fruits - mainly pineapple and pear - with some honeyed qualities. It tastes fresh, lightly balsamy (not to be confused with balsamic), has solid, lemony acids, moderate body and length, and a refreshing finish. Quite good for what it is, which is a wine with a suggested retail price of $6.99. You could spend a lot more to get a chardonnay that tastes like plywood has been soaked in it, and you probably have. Look also for Fortant's Malbec, quite a different animal than the rustic South American low-priced versions. (Imported by Skalli Family Wine Americas.)


  1. We're happy you found Fortant Chardonnay so pleasing Jack. We truly believe these wines offer great quality at price that wine lovers can get excited about. Founder Robert Skalli's mission is to produce the highest quality wines from the South of France at a variety of price points. They are the only French wine family that is making wine in every area of the South of France-- from Southern Rhone, to Languedoc, Provence and Corsica.

    Tia Butts
    Public Relations
    Skalli Family Wines Americas

  2. Chardonnay sans oak is a delight, so hooray for Fortant! Another excellent one from Napa is St. Supery's Oak Free.

  3. I don't have anything against oak; whiskies would be so much less interesting without it! I'm simply tired of poor wood management, and the way some wineries use it as a flavoring agent to cover up poorly managed harvests and insipidly-crafted wines.