For a good $10 value, call Italy

Okay, I’ve done some whining lately. You’ve read my cranky thoughts about how hard it has become to get the wines I like at prices I can afford for everyday.

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Bordeaux? Nearly impossible. Burgundy? Even more impossible. Bah!

But wait! Groundhog Day has come and gone, and this weekend brings Valentine’s Day, a time for love and warm thoughts. Let’s turn that frown upside down and find reason to smile in Italy, where a good, enjoyable $10 wine is still a possibility.

Now, before I go all happy-clappy on you, let me clarify: Many of the so-called “Super Tuscans” are still out of the range I’m willing to pay, some commanding three-figure price tags. Many of the fancy Barolos and Barbarescos from Piemonte have crept into fiscal ranges that I reserve for very special occasions. And even some of the big-name Chiantis are now in the realm of wines for indulgence at holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and such.

But Italy still offers plenty of happy hunting for the wine enthusiast in search of QPR, and not just quality-price ratio but interesting, old-style wines that satisfy, at prices that I’m willing to pay for an everyday dinner at home. (Southern France is another happy hunting ground for this kind of QPR; more about that another day.)

For now, though, let’s just celebrate the continued existence of wines like today’s featured pair, Querceto 2014 Chianti ($10.99) from Tuscany and importer Kermit Lynch’s non-vintage Tintero Rosso ($10.99) from Piemonte. You’ll find my tasting notes below.


Sangiovese Wine Focus
and “Open That Bottle Night”

Speaking of Chianti, in this month’s WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG)Wine Focus in our WineLovers Discussion Group, we’re seeking the joys of Sangiovese. Best known as the great red grape of Chianti, Sangiovese also earns acclaim through Tuscany and beyond. Sangiovese is even grown in terroirs as diverse as California and Australia, although in my experience it fares best in its native soil, whether included in traditional blends or vinified on its own. Feel free to bring whatever Sangiovese you’ve got this month as we taste, compare, and look for great wines and great QPR.

Also, in honor of “Open That Bottle Night,” which falls formally on February 27 this year, we’ll devote the entire month to the idea of picking a cherished bottle that’s been gathering dust on the shelf in order to enjoy it … tonight.

“Open That Bottle Night,” created in 2000 by Wall Street Journal “Tastings” columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, is dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion are used and enjoyed. Usually set on the last Saturday in February, it is an annual occasion that aims to motivate people to reconnect with each other over a bottle, and create good memories with friends and family.

Throughout the month, and especially on Saturday, Feb. 27, if you choose to “Open That Bottle” at any time of day or night, please take a note and tell us about it here.

Again, you are welcome to participate either in the WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG) or on our WineLoversPage Facebook page.

You can read the discussion on the forum without registering, but if you’d like to participate in our conversations, you can quickly and easily join the forum via Facebook, using the “Social Login” button at the upper right corner of any forum page to log in.

I look forward to seeing you in our wine social media. Welcome!


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Today’s Tasting Reports

Querceto 2014 Chianti ($10.99)

Querceto 2014 Chianti

Dark purple, almost black at the center, shading to a clear garnet edge. Impressions of fresh black cherries and a hint of dried cherry on the nose carry over intact in the flavor with palate-cleansing acidity and soft tannins, with an even-handed 12.5% alcohol. It’s clean, balanced and fits the Chianti style; on the simple side, but elevated by its fresh fruit and good acidic balance. U.S. importer: Prestige Wine Imports Corp., NYC. (Feb. 11, 2016)

FOOD MATCH: A classic match with spaghetti with meatballs and mushrooms with garlic and Parmigiano Reggiano. Chianti goes well beyond the tomato-sauce stereotypes, though: Try it with rare char-grilled steaks or even quality burgers, or with sliced Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

WHEN TO DRINK: Although it’s not meant for long aging, its fruit and simple but elegant balance suggest that this very young wine may benefit from two to even five years stored on its side in a cool place

VALUE: At $11 it’s definitely worth buying a case. reports an average $12 retail price for all vintages of this good-value Chianti.

Importer Prestige Wine Imports offers a fact sheet on the winery at this link. From there, click the “Wines” button for more details on all the Querceto wines including the Chianti.

You’ll find The Querceto winery website and its fact sheet on the Chianti at the links, but note that they are in Italian only.

Find sources and compare prices for Querceto Chianti on The importer also invites inquiries on where to buy its wines in the U.S. via

Tintero Rosso ($10.99)

Tintero Rosso ($10.99)

Dark purple, with garnet glints against the light. Appealing scents of black plums and black cherries carry over intact to the palate in a fresh, clean acidic flavor with distinct notes of fragrant, almost floral black pepper in a longish finish. Palate-cleansing and food friendly, fresh flavors and fine fruit-acid balance backed by gentle 12.5% alcohol. Its blend of 40% Nebbiolo, 40% Barbera, 10% Dolcetto and 10% Cabernet Franc mixes varieties not traditionally used together, grown in regions within Piemonte that aren’t normally put together. Accordingly, it may claim neither geographical designation nor vintage. It’s a fine wine, though, and its non-traditional mix nevertheless yields a flavor that’s all Piemonte. U.S. importer: Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif. (Feb. 5, 2016)

FOOD MATCH: We enjoyed it with a simple take on Marcella Hazan’s Ragù Bolognese. The back label suggests “soups, cold cuts, white meat, medium to hard cheeses,” and recommends serving it cool, not chilled, ideally at “cellar temperature” (55F). To achieve this without a cellar, simply pop the bottle in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes before dinner.

WHEN TO DRINK: I don’t know that it will improve with age, but it’s in a perfect spot for enjoying with food right now. It won’t go around the bend in the next year or two, but – especially since the vintage isn’t given – I’d buy it and drink it when I find it.

An exceptional table wine in a price range where such a thing is no longer easy to find. reports an average $10 retail price.

Kermit Lymch Wine Merchant, the importer, has an info page on Elvio Tintero, the producer, at this link.

Find sources and compare prices for Tintero Rosso on


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