Wine:best buys under $15?!

We’ve been trying to have three Alcohol Free Days every week lately: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursdays (it was supposed to be more but Mondays are just too bleak to exist without at least a cheeky glass to end the day, and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are out for all the obvious reasons), mainly due to health and budget concerns… aaah budget concerns! The ole’ budget has honed my bargain-hunting skills as far as wine is concerned, and whilst I dream of Chassagne-Montrachet and Barolo, and even NZ Pinot, my purse says, ‘keep it around a tenner, love’.

Funny that my past life of work and play involved restaurants and their wine lists – as  a Sommelier in Melbourne and Sydney I sourced exclusive wines from smaller producers, niche product, classic and rare wines… but now that I’m at home as a mum in the suburbs the wine stores closest to my house are owned by the big guys, and my choices are defined by these: Woolies Liquor & Dan Murphy’s. Fitting then that my tastes (and purchases) are now in line with the bargain seeking majority!

In my time I’ve had a number of wine assessment roles:  managing winelists;  sitting on wine tasting panels for industry magazines and national press; wine show judge; committee member of the Australian Sommeliers’ Association etc and what I’ve seen is whilst there is an awful lot of wine out there, not all of it is great – and one can’t judge a bottle by how much one is paying for it! And from vintage to vintage things may not be the same either. Of course much of wine appreciation is subjective – my partner is quite happy to polish off an oxidised or corked bottle of wine, happily oblivious – but for those out there who are interested, here are my thoughts on a few goodies.

Wines we love at home right now:
Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2008
A fantastic ripper of a white from the company that put this Rhone varietal on the map in Australia. Fresh and floral, apricots and vanilla on the nose with a luscious, juicy mouthfeel and beautifully balanced acidity. A wine with the body of chardonnay but with more aromatics – this is always in the fridge come the weekend! Under $9 at Dan’s, slightly more at Woolies

Jacob’s Creek Grenache Shiraz 2008
I was a big wine company snob for a long time, until I sat in a riesling tasting a few years ago and was blown away by this company’s riesling and reserve riesling. I have found these unwooded whites very good from bigger producers such as this and avoided the reds as the oak handling in the reds has been too heavy handed (and in the case of the cheaper wines mainly due to oak chips) – this red wine is unwooded (unusual for a red) – fermented in stainless steel – and I love what it delivers for the price. Lovely cherry and red plum notes with a silky palate, and good balance between soft fruit tannins and gentle acidity. 9.99 at Woolies

Will update this as I much as I can – in the meantime, cheers!

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