This Local Plonks column is coming to a conclusion in the new year, so it’s time to return to mandate: discovering the best affordable wines available locally. This month the all-time best value cheapies on the shelves of the NLC.
Moreau et Fils Vin Blanc (NLC $13.11)
Find it in the France Section
We believe the blend of grapes in the J. Moreau et Fils Vin Blanc changes all the time, but it usually seems to be primarily Chenin Blanc from the Loire. It’s incredibly variable (nice way of saying inconsistent?), but usually a drinkable white table wine.
The batch (it’s non-vintage) from which we are sampling offers gooseberry and that especially funky chestnut honey note. It has well-judged acidity. There’s not much length – okay, there’s none – but there is a whiff of earthy complexity. It is better than dozens of whites at the NLC costing five and six times as much.
Periquita (NLC $14.03)
Find it in the Portugal Section
Periquita has held the title of the best inexpensive red for many years. It’s a venerable plonk, the very first wine sold in bottle in Portugal. It’s a mix of Portuguese grapes, primarily Castelão Frances.
There are tart fruit flavours like red current and raspberry, something smoky, and a subtle aroma of leather. It’s not complex and is reticent on the nose, so demands a splashy decanting. There were frequent problems with bottle spoilage with Periquita that have largely been solved by the adoption of a screw cap. Nothing profound here, but no manufactured notes. Quite a reliable drink.
The Best Cheap Red & Cheap White at the NLC ? Well… if I told you… it will be that much harder to get, and the NLC would probably jack up the price, again, if it got too popular. The Pinot Noir is almost always sold out and the Pinot Grigio a close second. A point of reference is the Californian Barefoot Pinot Grigio, which I find not as smooth, actually bitter in comparison, is $14.01 a 750 ml; $2.00 more. I bought the Barefoot in St. Augustine, FL in May for $4.98 at Walgreens Pharmacy across the street from our hotel, by the way. Overtaxed ? Think ??