My Favorite Bargain White Wine in the History of the World

Many highlights of being in Tacoma for Thanksgiving but one was undoubtedly being reunited with a long time Hall of Fame white wine: Domaine des Cassagnoles Cuvée Gros Manseng. This is the top white wine, pound for pound, dollar for dollar you’ll find. I haven’t seen it in New York but it has kind of a cult following in Seattle. (Which I will take some credit for from my days as a buyer.)

Domaine des Cassagnoles 2016 Cuvée Gros Manseng Reserve Selection (Côtes de Gascogne) $13

If you’re looking for bargain white wine, head to Southwest France. Particularly, the Côtes de Gascgone region, the home turf of DdC. The winery makes a blend even LESS EXPENSIVE than the Gros Manseng (which is the grape, BTW). If you see CdG on a label, just buy that dang white wine.

So this bottle has so much easy-drinking flavor and actual texture. It’s not too searingly acidic like a lot of cheap white wines. I’d call it medium-bodied, which is remarkable for a “simple” wine. It’s not perfume-y like a Viognier or Torrontes, but is aromatically enticing. The Gros Manseng checks off so many boxes for a wine of this price. (BTW, got the price from Wine-Searcher.)

If you’re having trouble finding it, the importer is Weygandt-Metzler. So when you go to your local wine shop, let them know this is the company responsible for bringing this amazing bottle to our fair shores.

I also wrote about the Gros Manseng back in 2010. A very short, to-the-point post.

Also, if you missed the natty wine kerfuffle that recently set the insular indie wine world ablaze,  read about it (along with my thoughts) in my newsletter.

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A Trio of Wines from Scaia Line Up Perfectly

I was sent three sample bottles from Italian winery Scaia. The first thing I want to say about them, to put on my old retailer hat, is how much I appreciate they are “line-priced.” As in the bottles all cost the same, each with a $13 suggested retail price. That’s good, because these are the kind of wines you want to stack up next to each other. Or just put on your bedroom floor in front of your bike and admire them.

I also really like the closure Scaia uses. It’s not a cork nor screw cap. It’s a glass closure. Here’s what it looks like. (Note: greens/herbs sold separately. Though a dish with those things featured would be nice with the white or rosé.)

Do you drink wine while preparing fresh #spring soup?

A post shared by Vinolok Crystal Top (@vinolok_crystal_top) on

Anyway, let’s get to the wines.

Scaia Garganega/Chardonnay Trevenezie IGT 2017

Garga…what? Garganega is the main feature of Soave (one of my favorite Italian white wines) from the Veneto in northern Italy. Chardonnay, well you know what that is. It’s 45% of this blend. This unoaked wine would be a good bet for the Chard-phobic and the Garganega makes it interesting for those who think most unoaked Chardonnay is shrill and boring. (That would be me, BTW.) What can I say, I love my oak barrels. But this is a perfect summer white wine. Speaking of perfect summer wines….

Scaia Rosato Veneto IGT 2017

I’m a sucker for weird grapes. I mean, unusual ones. Bring on the esoteric and unfamiliar. The Scaia rosato is made from Rondinella. Putting on my Troy McClure voice, you may know Rondinella from such red wines as Valpolicella and Amarone.

Of course, someone put together all of these moments in chronological order. God bless the internet.

This is a pale rosé with some intrigue. You can quaff it and think about it at the same time, which you can’t say for most rosés out there that slake thirst yet provoke no invigorating brain waves.  On the winery website, one of the suggested parings is toasted polenta with herrings. Nice to see someone giving some love to fish like herring. Did you know they are related to sardines? I did not know that. I also learned Neolithic-era Scandinavian burial grounds contain herring bones. So if a rosé can take you there, it’s definitely got something going on.

Scaia Corvina Veneto IGT 2016

Speaking of grapes that make up Valpolicella and Amarone, how about Corvina? It’s a bigger player in those two reds than Rondinella. Despite seeing no oak, its got some guts. I’d call it medium-bodied. Reading the tech sheet for the wine even made me look up “organoleptic” because Scaia explains each wine organoleptically. The word is defined as “being, affecting, or relating to qualities (such as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance that stimulate the sense organs.” Once again, Scaia is stimulating.

So you’ve got three wines, all under $15 bucks, with cool glass closures and made with interesting grapes. What’s not to love?

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Eating and Drinking in New York City: Corkbuzz and Fung Tu

Eating and Drinking in New York City: Corkbuzz and Fung TuHey there. I was in New York City and had two notable eating and drinking experiences. (Well, eating and eating and drinking.) The first was at Corkbuzz Chelsea Market. It’s a nice stop for happy hour amidst the teeming market throngs pre- or post-High Line. Which is a must-do in New York. (Here are some photos.)

I had time for a glass of the 2014 Clos de la Grange Sauvignon Blanc from France’s Loire Valley. Touraine is a spot where where nice Sauvignon Blancs (at a nice price) can be found, but this one is special. It’s made by Francois Chidaine, creator of crazy good Chenin Blanc, so it was a treat to try something new (to me) at Corkbuzz. It’s a less aggressive, more brooding/contemplative type of Sauvignon Blanc. Very serious and memorable stuff. Wine Searcher shows an average of $15 for a bottle, so I’d call it a fantastic value.

My one fancy dinner was at Fung Tu. This was a stupendous meal, one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Just look at the menu. Everything was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I sat at the bar with my friend Kat Flinn (buy her books!) and the service was fantastic. (BTW, this restaurant recommendation came via my friends Katie and Bianca. If you haven’t had Uncouth Vermouth, made by the latter, you are in for a real treat. Buy it, drink it, love it. And do so slightly chilled. The vermouth that is. Well, you should be chill.)

Eating and Drinking in New York City: Corkbuzz and Fung Tu

My favorite wines were the Pet-Nat (a fresh and fizzy pink delight), a stellar, perfectly oaked Chardonnay, and a killer Loire Chenin Blanc.

And talk about burying the lede, I was out in New York for a week to find a job and a place to live. STAY TUNED.

P.S.: Right now I’m in the Finger Lakes. Whut. Stay Tuned II.

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