Way back when we posted a brief note praising the 2005 Rothschild Vin de Pays d’Oc Cab Sauv as a very reasonable wine for about $10. I forget exactly what we liked about it — probably some reasonable sense of cab-sauvy-ness with decent fruit and tannins. Unfortunately 2007 has been unkind to Rothschild — or rather the Baron has been unkind to the 2007s — and we are now firmly into the cheap New World bubble-gummy style of red. I’m fond enough of red wines that I will drink it in any event as a weekday pasta wine, but if you were actually thinking of *buying* a weekday pasta wine the Citra Montepulciano is cheaper and a much better drinking experience.

Otherwise. As usual we seem to be having better experiences with under-20 whites than under-20 reds. We’re sometimes a bit ambivalent about Australia but we both really liked the d’Arenberg 2007 Olive Grove Chardonnay ($17.95) with a “resplendent medium straw” aspect and a very fresh, ripe nose including notes of melon, nutmeg, and baking spices — med+ acid and body with good balance and finish. Another good value d’Arenberg is the 2007 “The Stump Jump” ($14.95), a blend of Riesling (62%) and smaller proportions of Sauv Blanc, Marsanne, Viognier, and Chardonnay. Although we described the aspect as “whatever” (suggesting perhaps that we were too lazy to take notes), we thought the nose was “zesty” and “quite complex” with notes of minerality, gooseberry, citrus, dried apricot, and some kind of tropical fruit. Good fruit follow-through on the palate, and no weird spiciness in the way some of these blends have (see earlier complaints here and here). We said “better than Cave Spring in a bad year”, which I don’t think we *intended* to be damning with faint praise… Certainly it is much better than the Vineland Estates 2007 Semi-Dry Riesling ($13.95) which we thought was not bad but rather boring.

Lots of reliable Pinot Gris/Grigio lately too, including  a Borgo Magredo 2007 Pinot Grigio from Friuli and a Martin Steimer 2007 Pinot Gris from Alsace. I wasn’t as thrilled with the 2006 Pierre Sparr Pinot Gris Reserve as I was with the 2004, which seemed to be both drier and more interesting.

In the reds department, our best experience lately was a 2005 Pinot Noir from Coyote’s Run (around $25) which we’d bought at the winery in summer 2007 (with TL and AM). We thought it was a “reasonable value for a Pinot Noir,” with the characteristic gamey-mushroomy-earthy-cherry-preserved pork-rosewood nose and a reasonably good palate. Also very good value for alcohol at only 11.5%. We also invested in several reds at the more alcoholic end of the spectrum from the Vintages Midi/Provence release in late Feb/early March. We sampled the Chateau la Tour de L’Eveque 2004 ($19.95) which we thought was rather good for its age but likely better in a year or two. So we have bought another bottle to lay down and we will keep you posted. A BYOCellar experience.

Last but not least, the wine I almost want to recommend sight unseen (so to speak) is an Aglianico del Vulture ($14.95) in the current Vintages release, which caught my eye when the catalogue arrived and which Beppi Crosariol praised to the skies in last Saturday’s Globe & Mail. I have bought a bottle, and am waiting for the appropriate Pizza Gigi moment.