One more time -- thanks so much to K2 and the gang at Liquor Direct in Covington and Ft. Thomas for being such fantastic hosts at the wine tasting last Friday and Saturday. I had a great time. Honestly, I had as much fun meeting the staff as I did talking about the wines. I hope we can do this again sometime.
So, what does a cheap wine guy select from a store to taste when given the run of the place? For those of you who couldn't make it down (or up, or over, depending on your geography), here's the rundown of what I had out for folks to try:
Martin Codax 2007 Albariño -- "As if a chenin blanc mated with a bottle of honey." Maintains all the crispness and fruitiness of this wonderful Spanish grape, but with a little residual sugar to take the edge off the acidity. The result, a very approachable, mostly dry, friendly wine that you could have on its own or with any kind of fish. $10-12.
Muga 2007 Rosado -- Lighter than when I first wrote about it, but still one of the best pink wines I've run into. Bone dry, but with plenty of melon and grapefruit flavors, I described this as my "fallback if I've been invited to dinner and don't know what's cooking." Anything short of a ribeye will pair nicely. $12-14.
Verget du Sud 2006 Syrah d'Endes -- A French syrah that will show you what the "Old World Funk" is, if you still don't know how that smells. The...ahem..."forest floor" smacks you right in the nose at first whiff, but beneath that (especially on the palate) is one of the more complex wines you'll find for around $10. There are all sorts of smoky, dark berry, and earth flavors playing around here. Some balanced tannin dries your palate at the end. As one taster put it, "This one makes my tongue feel fuzzy." Think mushrooms, ratatouille, or anything with legumes to go alongside.
Marques de Caceras 2004 Rioja Crianza -- Probably the overall winner by seeing the number of bottles I saw walking out of the store after tasting. I love this wine. The label says that you should "open an hour before drinking." If you follow those instructions, once this wine opens up, it's wonderfully fruity without being overwhelming. Nice body of blackberries and cherries. The finish is long and soft, eventually turning dry. An extremely well-balanced wine, especially for $10-12. As I told folks, "Anything you can drag across fire goes with this wine."
Batasiolo 2007 Moscato d'Asti -- I don't see a lot of dessert wines at tastings, and I thought it would be fun to throw this out there. When I saw the range of wines, I thought, "Start with honey...finish with honey." Unlike the Albariño, however, this wine was quite sweet -- pears and honey were the dominant flavors. This wine could be an aperitif, go by its own as a dessert, or pair with a fruit and cheese brunch board. And, at 5% alcohol, you don't have to worry. Just enjoy. $10-12.