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Spirits — ‘Even inexpensive roses can be really good’

By Fred Tasker

McClatchy Newspapers

A ticket to the Grand Tastings at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach last week went for $187.50, and was offered by scalpers on eBay for $400 and more. But even fans willing to pay those prices don’t drink $50 wines every night at home.

So at the event, I went on a quest through the 350 wines, beers, vodkas, brandies, absinthes and fancy bottled waters to ferret out good wines for $15 and under. I walked right past those fabulous expensive wines to find wines to have with meatloaf or white bean chili on your average Thursday night.

There were plenty of them.

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"We have a whole line of them," said Jeff Brody, spokesman for Cosentino Signature Wineries in California’s Napa Valley. He was pouring pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and syrah from all over California in that price range.

"People are catching on that even inexpensive roses can be really good," said W.R. Tish, who was pouring Mouton Cadet’s tart, crisp Bordeaux Rose. "They’re not like blush zinfandels any more."

The best value of the day was the 2008 Gato Negro Malbec, Finca la Celia, Uco Valley, Argentina. It had a deep, vivid violet color, with intense black plum and mocha flavors; it was creamy and rich, and only $6.

This is the reason to cast your line among the little fishes. It could do very well as your house wine.

Highly recommended

  • 2006 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, Sonoma County: pears and cinnamon, rich and crisp; $15.

Recommended

  • 2004 Cosentino Merlot, California: red cherries and spice, big and rich; $15.
  • 2005 Cosentino "The Med" Red wine, (tempranillo, dolcetto, carignane, valdique, alicante, touriga nacional, tinta cao, barbera and primitivo grapes, all grown in California’s Lodi area): big red plum flavors, spicy and mellow; $15.
  • 2006 Chateau Bonnet Sauvignon Blanc, by Andre Lurton, Entre-Deux-Mers, France, (sauvignon blanc, semillon, muscadelle): aromas of camelias, flavors of crisp, sweet pears; $9.
  • 2006 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Rose, by Baron Philippe de Rothschild: tart cranberries, light body, crisp; $8.
  • 2006 Sterling Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley: golden apples, bright and crisp; $13.
  • Nonvintage Mionetto Prosecco, Valdobbiadene, Italy: light and spritzy, tart grapefruit flavors; $9.
  • 2005 Osborne Solaz Shiraz/Tempranillo, Spain: red plum and prune flavors, mellow; $8.
  • 2004 Red Diamond Merlot, Washington State: red plums and cinnamon, rich and soft; $10.
  • 2006 Cosentino "The Novelist" Meritage White Wine, California (sauvignon blanc, semillon): crisp and rich, flavors of vanilla and paraffin; $15.
  • 2006 Harlow Ridge Pinot Noir, Lodi: black cherry flavors, soft and sweet; $10.
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