An ocean of fine wine awaits consumers at relatively drop-in-the-bucket prices

October 25, 1992|By Michael Dresser

These are the best out of some 60 red wines, each under $10, bought in Maryland and tasted this month. The wines were chosen on the basis of retailers' recommendations, as well as some personal hunches. They represent only a fraction of the

wines available in the market. Wines are listed in rough order of preference.

The best

K? * 1987 Cousino Macul Cabernet Sauvignon "Antiguas Reservas"

Chile). A blockbuster. This is serious stuff, with deep color and a lovely bouquet. It's a ripe, rounded wine with tremendous concentration and length. The blackberry and herb flavors are sumptuous. You can drink it now, but this could keep for a decade or more.

The next 10

* 1991 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages "Domaine de Granit Bleu" ($8.79, France). I can't recall tasting a better Beaujolais-Villages. The intense, deep raspberry flavor and floral aromas are as exciting as Beaujolais can get. Sleek and elegant, with great freshness and acidity. Drink over the next year. (Note: This is just one of many fine 1991 Beaujolais from Duboeuf.)

* 1990 Ravenswood Zinfandel "Vintner's Blend" ($9.79, California). This full-bodied wine is an exciting melange of

flavors: black pepper, chocolate, blackberry, herbes de Provence, even blueberry. Joel Peterson, zin master supreme, has created another supple but structured zinfandel. Drink young.

* 1988 Conde de Valdemar, Rioja ($9, Spain). The piney, herbal bouquet is unusual but enticing. This medium-bodied but intensely flavored wine is loaded with cherry and raspberry fruit, seasoned with sweet oak. Drink now or hold.

* 1991 Georges Duboeuf Chirou

bles "Chateau de Javernand" ($9.79, France). This single-vineyard wine from one of the renowned "cru" villages of Beaujolais is more concentrated than the Beaujolais-Villages above, but slightly less stylish. Still, it's a lovely wine of similar character. Drink over the next year.

* Marietta "Old Vine Red," Lot No. 11, Sonoma County ($6.59, California). Here's a spectacular value. It's a big, burly non-vintage wine that's loaded with peppery, spicy flavors. Despite the muscle, it also has elegance and character. Grapes include zinfandel, petite sirah, gamay and carignane. Wow!

* 1990 Ca' del Solo Big House Red ($9, California). This blend from Bonny Doon Vineyards takes its name from Soledad, Calif., site of one of California's biggest prisons as well as many vineyards. It's a wine consumers will love to break in to, with its gorgeous melange of raspberry and herb flavors. Reminiscent of a good bandel from Provence.

* 1986 Salice Salentino Rosso, Cosimo Taurino ($8, Italy). A spicy, complex, medium-bodied wine with lovely flavors of pine, cherry and herbes de Provence. Great intensity.

* 1990 Trentadue "Old Patch Red," Lot 1, Alexander Valley ($9.99, California). This concentrated wine from 107-year-old vines offers intense flavors of chocolate and blackberry. Try this one with pizza orchili.

* 1988 Trentadue Petite Sirah, Alexander Valley ($9.99, California). Here's a decadent wine. The color's as deep a purple as you'll ever see and it's stuffed with grapey, herbal, chocolatey flavors. Right now this robust wine is a trifle coarse, but some aging will likely yield a classic.

* 1983 Humberto Canale Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial, Rio Negro ($9.79, Argentina). This mature, brick-red wine shows a well-developed bouquet of cherry, spice and flowers. It has a smoothness and length reminiscent of an older Rioja. No blockbuster, but very elegant.

Excellent value

* 1990 Rosso del Salento, Apulia, Cantina Colombo ($6, Italy).

* 1989 Domaine de Deurre, Vinsobres, Cotes du Rhone ($9.29, France).

* 1989 Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley ($9).

* 1989 Vina Mayor, Ribera del Duero ($6.75, Spain).

* 1989 Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County ($7.49, California).

* 1989 Sutter Home Reserve Zinfandel, Amador County ($9.79, California).

* 1989 Chateau Etang des Colombes, Corbieres ($9.99, France).

Very good value

* * 1991 Robert Pecota Gamay

Beaujolais, Napa Valley ($7.49, California).

L * 1989 Egri Bikaver "Bull's Blood of Eger" ($5.99, Hungary).

L * 1989 Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchuaga ($7, Chile).

* 1990 Fossi Chianti ($8.99, Italy).

* 1990 Paul Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone "parallele 45" ($9, France).

* 1989 Penfold's Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet ($9.55, Australia).

* 1989 Callaway America's Cup Cabernet Sauvignon ($7, California).

* 1987 Marques de Caceres Rioja ($8, Spain).

* 1989 Reserve de President, Vin de Corse, Co-op d'Aleria ($7, France).

$ Good cheap wines ($6 and under)

* 1989 Stone Creek Cabernet Sauvignon ($6, California).

* 1990 Georges Duboeuf Cotes du Rhone, Domaine des Aires Vieilles ($5.79, France).

* Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red, Penedes ($4, Spain).

* 1991 Syrah, Cepages de France, Vin de Pays d'Oc ($6, France).

* 1990 Sutter Home Zinfandel ($5.79, California).

* 1991 Vendange Merlot ($4.79, California).

* 1990 Stone Creek Merlot "Special Selection" ($6, California).

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