The Cellar Door - Tasting 8 Reds

Wine purchasers are always looking for great “quality price ratio” or QPR in the lingo of the wine trade. When I was a wine merchant, I prided myself in finding wines at every price point that could easily have sold for much more. After all, we are all looking for a great deal. The other day, I had the opportunity to taste 8 red wines that were provided to me by Felipe Motta Wine Store. They range in price from $7.50 to $22.00. Of the 8 tasted, 5 performed very well with an excellent QPR!

2010 Viña Collada by Marques de Riscal, $7.50, 13.5% alc. Spain

Very European in texture. Not a lot of fruit. Grapey in the nose. Simple and hot on the finish.

2010 Palo Alto Reserva Organic Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. $7.95, 13.5% alc. Chile

WOW, what a wine for the price. Great QPR. Made from organically grown grapes. Delivers from start to finish with a complex nose of mint, spice and multiple fruits. Flavors of earth, clay, berries, toast and leather. Long finish. BEST BUY

2010 Beringer Founders Estate Merlot, $11.35, 13.9% alc. California, USA

Frankly, I expected more from this wine. Not much nose, a bit of chocolate and coffee in the mouth. This is an example of marketing over winemaking. Even though the label says “Founders Estate”, reading between the lines shows that it is actually bulk wine purchased and bottled by Beringer.

2010 Casillero del Diablo by Concha Y Toro Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah. $12.15, 14.5% alc. Chile

Very nice wine with good QPR. Flavors of black cherries, chocolate, spices, toast and vanilla. Very long finish of chocolate covered cherries. Best Buy

2010 Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Terroir. $14.50, 14.50% alc. Argentina

Rather simple, with lots of full flavors but not very complex. The regular Altos Las Hormigas Malbec is much better at $10.00.

2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot. $18.55, 13.5% alc. Washington State, USA

This was a real surprise. A very versatile wine, beautifully balanced from beginning to end. Evolved in the glass to show mint, black pepper, complex flavors and a very nice finish. Medium bodied so it can go with anything from seafood to grilled meats. Nicely mature.

2010 Septima Gran Reserva. $21.20, 14.5% alc. Argentina

An interesting blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. Big, full bodied wine that needs more time. Powerful flavors made for heavy foods such as grilled steaks, heavy sauces, etc. This wine is packaged in a very heavy bottle which is impressive but, runs counter to the movement to use less environmentally costly packaging. It should be about the wine, not the glass.

2012 Col di Sasso Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, $10.60, 13% alc. Italy

What a gorgeous wine! Nose of rose petals, berries and chocolate. Elegant without being powerful. In the mouth it changes with every sip to give chocolate, cherries, blueberries, spices, vanilla and much more. We were both bowled over with this wine and had the rest of the bottle for dinner. It proves that bigger is not better. It sings rather than shouts. And I would much rather be sung to than shouted at! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

M. Stefan has over 20 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively throughout the wine producing regions of the world.  His column is a regular feature of La Playa Community. He can be reached at and appreciates your comments.