Memorial Day Memories: Reds, Whites, the Blues, Paella!!

paella mandala

paella mandala

As summer’s unofficial coming out party, Memorial Day weekend has lots going for it: BBQs, wine dinners, paella spectaculars with pan fried sardines …and plenty of wine loving pals. A few pages ahead on the calendar is the Topanga Art Tour and the Playboy Jazz Fest. Officially, Memorial Day is all about the red white and blue and our fighting forces. For the tBoW tasting team it is mostly about reds and whites while listening to Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn. With a salute to our veterans we report on the wines put forth by the brave tasters who fight for wines under $20 every day in the bargain bins and floor boxes of liquor and wine stores where the real gems can be found…on sale! As IGTY so aptly explains the struggle …

The IGTY Manifesto: I have to budget for 6 bottles of wine a week. At 4.3 weeks in a month that comes to ~25 bottles and at $20 per, that is a lot more than I am willing to pay. My monthly wine budget is $400 and that means hunting down wines that cost ~$16.

We hear it. We love it. We believe it. IGTY is a tBoW hero right up there with Molly Hatcher and Juliette Lewis! Inspired by naked truth, here is how we kept costs down without sacrificing any pleasure over Summer’s Breakout Holiday. Nearly every bottle listed is well under $20! Boom!

1999 Azienda Agricola Sant’Elena Ros Di Rol $17: Dotoré said it. This is why you buy from Garagiste. Because you will come across a wine from Friuli that you would otherwise never even see or read about that is so good you wish you bought more. But you can’t because Rimmerman bought it out [ed. JR is the KING]. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the region that includes Venice. Green aromas on the nose and in the mouth make us think Cab Franc. lilian-ladouys09WEBBut no. IGTY nails the Cab/Merlot blend and calls for respect. Under advisement. I do not know where you could find this 14 year old wine but if you could, and you have it with skirt steak and homemade chimchurri sauce, you should buy it. U20 hero. 13%

2009 Château Lilian Ladouys St Estephe Cru Bourgeois $20: I guess while we have been focused on Baroli, Burgs and Langedoc wines there was a Bordeaux bust-out among petits chateaux. Bought at Total Yawn. Not much along the graphite/pencil lead axis but plenty of nice Cab (60%) and Merlot (40%) presence. Very nice with the steak. Very good value especially if you enjoy Bordeaux.

ismemerlot06WEB2006 Mediterra Valle de Guadalupe Ismé Merlot $20 at the winery …in Guadalupe!!: Purchased at the winery in the lovely Valle de Guadalupe 15 miles inland from Ensenada on Mexico’s Baja Penninsula. The wines we purchased from a trio of women artists all have shown well. This is probably my favorite. Not at all like any other Merlot. Caramel flavors which means it was ripe at harvest. Color is brick red. Medium to heavy weight. You would think with these descriptors it would be a fruit bomb but it ain’t. It is more like a cream pie. Alcohol not listed but we wold guess closer to 12% than 14%.

Bret_pussyfussy06WEB2006 Brett Brothers Pouilly Fuisse Climat Le Clos Reyssie $34: A Becky Wasserman white Burgundy. We do like her selections and we realize that we do not have enough of her white Burgs in the cellar. Old World Chardonnay with a feline quality in the nose. Light to medium weight. We are guesing no malo here. Almost breezy [ed. briny is so detrope]. Did the winemaker use any oak? Had it with oysters. Golden color like the summer sun. Some slight citric flavors on the back palate. Everything we like in “burgundian” white wine including the alcohol. 12.5%

24 hours later…

Our Spanish Encanto featured all Spanish bottles that accompanied the BBQ whole sardines, cheeses, Iberico jamon and melon, and two platters of Thousand Oaks Paella. The food was not only wonderful it was beautiful to look at! the wines did there best. Spanish are notorious for being easy to drink and easy to purchase. We have found some of our best buys [ed. especially Verdejo and Vinho Verde] in Total Wine, World Market and BevMo. Here is a sample of the finest bargains.

NV Casal Garcia Viñho Verde $9: No vintage and a screw top. Purchased at World Market aka Cost Plus. The protoypical example; palmareal_verdejoWEBlime-ade with a slight spritz. Very dry. One of our favorite summer wines. Serve it cold and pucker up. U20 steal. 10%

2011 Palma Real Rueda Verdejo $9: An excellent complement to the spritzy exuberant Vinho Verde. This grape produces a dry wine with some wood. Lean with slight hint of grapefruit. Great with cheese and tapas. Takes a chill very nicely but also works with a normal cool down. There are plenty of these to be tried in the evening outside thru the hot months ahead! U20 stockade. 12%

TC_bergeron_08CROPWEB2008 Tablas Creek Bergeron $NA: This is the TC version of a French style Rousanne from a northern climate, dry and stony. “A wine in its adolescence, lively, alive and youthful” [ed. so says Wandering Al]. Tablas Creek “off-labels” like this, their Petit Manseng or Picpoul can be found in bargain bins because folks do not know what to make of these oddly named wines. Consider such a find an opportunity and do not let good fortune pass you by [ed. as in BUYBUYBUY]! 14.2%

lustau-Manzanilla-PapirusaWLustau Papirusa Manzanilla Sherry $15: Fellow wine blogger Stacie dropped this in the mix and it was a hit. While taster Wild Willie was “having an affair with a memory” Wandering Al was digging on the creamy texture, conjuring the “filament of gelato.” Oh yeh. The magic of great food and wonderful wine was working. Lots of almonds and pecans. Dry dry dry. Sherry is great stuff that is widely unappreciated. Our corner hit it each time between three courses. Exotic is right. U20 winnah! 15%

worship freely

worship freely


  1. Wavatar
    Kris-B says:

    Great post, but I’ve got to correct you here: Venice is not in Friuli!

  2. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    What? Who goofed. I’ve got to know.

  3. Wavatar
    Doctore says:

    I believe you’ve gone the Leonard Tose route!

  4. Wavatar
    mouse says:

    Veneto –

  5. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    confoimed…nyuk nyuk

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