2011 Fillaboa Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain ($19) — As a lover of crisp whites, one of my go-to favorites is from northeastern Spain. Located just above Portugal, the area is called Rias Baixas (Ree-as By-shus) and it’s not typical for many who think of Spain as simply hot and dry. This lush, cool coastal area – often called Green Spain – is home to the famous city of Santiago de Compostela as well as fantastic seafood and wines. My top picks are made from the grape variety named Albarino, which produces aromatic wines with tropical fruit aromas and luscious flavors. Fillaboa is one of the best. This medium-bodied white is made from their estate vineyards and showcases how fascinatingly layered 100 percent Albarino can become when grown in the ideal spot and made with care. Pair it with seafood, fresh vegetables and cheeses, or just with a sunny afternoon.
2009 Marchesi de Frescobaldi “Nipozzano” Riserva, Chianti Rufina, Italy ($21) — What a deal that will make any wine lover salivate in anticipation of uncorking the bottle. The Frescobaldi family has been in the wine business since the middle ages and are known for wines of character and quality. With a rich history dating to the 11th century the beautiful castle, or Castello, of Nipozzano is located in the sub-zone, Chianti Rufina, of the larger Chianti region in Tuscany. The Sangiovese-based red has been aged to gain the Riserva designation and sports dark berry aromas, an earthy tinge, and well-structured tannins. Like a fine Italian stiletto heel that makes you smile with pleasure, this wine is style in a glass. You will smile as you sip.
2009 Whiplash“Redemption” red blend, California ($12) — What do you get when you blend red grapes such as Syrah, Barbera, and Zinfandel? A wallop of vinous flavor wrapped in an affordable package. Hailing from the folks behind the Jamieson Ranch brands – and keeping with their horse-themed wines – this succulent, spicy red isn’t about serious drinking; it’s about serious fun. Whiplash makes a great partner for pizza, barbeque, or just a Friday night in with friends.
2012 Light Horse Pinot Noir, California ($15) — It’s a challenge to find good value Pinot Noirs, but this is one of the best values on the market. The Light Horse is well made, well priced and to that I say, “well done.” With characteristic Pinot aromas of floral and spice, along with flavors of red berries and a silky texture, this is a wine you’ll want to drink any day with just about any dish. The brand belongs to Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, which has formed the Light Horse Foundation. A portion of all wine sales go to the foundation assisting high-risk individuals afflicted with autism. Raise a glass and do good deeds at the same time.