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Wine Review: International wines provide best value in current market

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Current economic conditions have caused a rise in the price of all goods, with wine being among those that have been very hard hit.

However, what is happening now to the wine industry has happened before. During the Great Recession, the effects on the wine industry were catastrophic. Many of the old established wineries, some that had been in business for over a century and had even survived the Prohibition debacle, were sold, closed or changed their way of business. Simply put, they did anything and everything that they could to survive and remain in business. Unfortunately, many failed to do so.

Right now, as Yogi Berra would have put it, “It's like deja vu all over again.” I am not abandoning reporting about American-made wines. However, I do not know many people who can afford to put a $25-plus bottle of wine on their dinner table every night. I also am not one of those people who squeezes a dollar bill so tight that it would break George Washington's nose. I do not want to just throw money away – yours or mine.

Today, the wine appreciator has an escape valve from rising wine prices: the wines of Italy, Spain, Chile and Argentina. Due to their lower cost of living, the price of wines from those countries has remained in the more affordable region. Price does not in any way reflect the quality, characteristics or quality of a wine. I have said it before and will say it again, price is never indicative of what is inside the bottle. Modern science assures us that there are no longer any “bad wines” made, only wines that you may not like.

With that in mind, I have found some affordable wines that I believe far exceed the quality than their price tag might indicate.

Beronia 2018 Crianza ($15)
This wine comes from the Rioja grape-growing district in the north-central part of Spain. Like most Rioja red wines, the Beronia 2018 Crianza is made from the indigenous tempranillo grape with tiny bits of garnacha and mazuelo adding an even greater Spanish touch to an already very Spanish wine. Going even further, the wine was aged in oak barrels with American staves and French tops, allowing the wine to pick up the best attributes of each type of wood. The wine displays a deep, almost black ruby color, an aroma of oak and just a hint of pepper and vanilla. The flavor of blackberries, blueberries and oak with hints of vanilla and spice are in the background. This beverage is reminiscent of a fine cabernet sauvignon.

Mandrarossa 2021 Nero d'Avola ($15)
Nero d’Avola is a grape variety that is indigenous to the mountainside vineyards of Sicily and produces an inky dark red wine that offers everything that more expensive red wines do in an enjoyable manner. The Mandrarossa Nero d'Avola has been compared with an Australian shiraz in aroma, flavor and finish. The wine is a calling card for all of the summer red and black fruits and berries and some fruit flavors that may be new to you. If you are a red wine enthusiast, this is a wine that should not be missed.

Frocco 2019 Classico Superiore Verdicchio Dei Castelli di Jesi ($15)
This is an Italian white wine with a long name that is both affordable and enjoyable. The name verdiccio translates as “little green one.” This is a popular crisp white wine variety that can accompany a wide variety of foods. The aroma and flavor are the same, exhibiting an assortment of citrus, including mandarin orange and grapefruit. I found this to be not only a fine mealtime wine, but it also can serve as an aperitif.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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