So who’s flush at this time of year? Precious few of us, especially the procrastinators who wait until the last minute to send Uncle Sam their checks. That makes now an especially swell time to stock up on wines that allow us to “drink up,” or “double our pleasure,” with bottles that taste like they would have a $30 value (but are under $15). We’ve rounded up nine wines that provide killer value at a time when many of us need it most.
2013 Les Dauphns Côtes-du-Rhône Reserve
Southern France is a font of wines that punch above their price class, and the 2013 Les Dauphins Côtes-du-Rhône Reserve ($12) is the rule that proves exceptional. This red blend is lusty but rustic, with vivid red-berry fruit dancing with supple tannins and acidity, coming together seamlessly in a smooth final act that goes on for days. Suggested pairings: roasted fowl and grilled veggies.
Available at Apple Valley and Richfield munis, Wine Thief, Cheers, North Loop, 1010 Washington and others.
Cavicchioli 1928 DOC Prosecco
All too many Proseccos take the creamy, sweet thing a tad too far for me. But the Cavicchioli 1928 DOC Prosecco ($15) stays light and lively, packed with stone-fruit elements and surprising structure. The Cavicchioli family made its first wines in 1928 and has wisely stuck with low yields and concentrated fruit. Suggested pairing: any brunch item, sweet or savory.
Available at Dennis Brothers, Princeton’s, 1st Grand Avenue, Furlong’s, Haskell’s (all locations) and others.
2014 Vicentini Agostino Vigneto Terre Lunghe Soave
The 2014 Vicentini Agostino Vigneto Terre Lunghe Soave ($14) puts the lie to the notion that Soaves are dull. Zippy but full-flavored, this Italian delight offers up endless waves of delicious fruit and refreshing acids, with a mouthwatering finish that leaves a guy hankering for more; good thing it’s just 12.5 percent alcohol. Suggested pairings: spring greens and veggies, light chicken dishes.
Available at Savage and Northfield munis, Cellars (White Bear Lake), Wine Market, Bacchus, South Lyndale and others.
2014 Overgaauw Touriga Nacional
One of the wine world’s great joys is discovering that a semi-obscure grape does well in an unexpected locale. The 2014 Overgaauw Touriga Nacional ($14) is a wonderful South African expression of a traditional Portuguese variety, with big, plush plum and berry flavors but just-right grip and surprising length. Suggested pairings: burgers, brats, ribs and other grilled meats.
Available at France 44, Sunfish, Lunds & Byerlys (Eagan), Kowalski’s (Uptown and Eagan) and Liberty Village.
2014 Maryhill Columbia Valley Viognier
Too much domestic viognier is clumsy and overwrought. Not so the 2014 Maryhill Columbia Valley Viognier ($13), which boasts perky but not overpowering floral aromas and juicy, spicy, peachy-keen flavors, with a sturdy but invigorating mouthfeel. Turns out that Washington’s largest viognier producer is actually one of its very best. Suggested pairings: lobster, shrimp and other shellfish.
Available at Stinson, TDF, Wine & Roses, Falls, Big Top (Minnetonka) and others.
2013 Pehhcora Terre Di Chieti Pecorino
Perhaps because the grape bears the same name as a delicious cheese, the 2013 Pehhcora Terre Di Chieti Pecorino ($12) has a whiff of fermented sheep’s milk (OK, maybe it’s the power of suggestion). But this Italian white unfolds beautifully on the palate, with tasty citrus and tropical notes and a long, clean finish. Suggested pairings: grilled or seared fish and, yes, nutty cheeses.
Available at Cork Dork, Elevated, McDonald, Lake Wine & Spirits, Top Ten (Woodbury) and others.
2015 Pomelo California Rosé
The 2015 Pomelo California Rosé ($13) doesn’t hide from its roots or intents: It’s sunny and juicy, super-fresh and full-flavored, radiating red-fruit goodness (strawberry and watermelon). The spot-on acidity races across the palate throughout, leavening but not masking the California-ness of a wine that shouts “Summer!” Suggested pairing: fried chicken and other picnic food, salty snacks.
Available at Lowry Hill, Liquor Barrel (Golden Valley), Morelli’s, Hennepin-Lake, Lowertown, Northgate (Blaine) and others.
2013 Vitiano Umbria Rosso
The Ward household has been enjoying this wine for decades, in its Falesco iteration and now labeled as 2013 Vitiano Umbria Rosso ($13). The very definition of an easy-drinking red, this Italian blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese is a bright and minerally treat, with major plum and minor anise notes. Suggested pairings: pizza and pasta with tart or creamy sauces.
Available at Surdyk’s, Lunds & Byerlys, Cub and MGM.
2014 Chateau Les Donats Bergerac Sec
Semillon usually plays second fiddle to sauvignon blanc in French blends, but it’s the unabashed star of the 2014 Chateau Les Donats Bergerac Sec ($12). With a bit of sauv blanc and muscadelle thrown into the mix, this 75 percent sémillon showcases the lush honeyed aspects of the grape, with a rich but firm finish. Suggested pairing: mild to medium-spiced Asian dishes.
Available at Sunfish, Little Wine Shoppe, Cub (White Bear Lake), Dolce Vita, Solo Vino and Thomas.