A few random notes on recent red experiences:

2006 Farina Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso “Le Pezze” ($14.95, 13.5%). This is currently available at Vintages though stocks in Toronto Central are starting to get low. A good value on a $15 red, with a very fruity red berry nose with a hint of sandalwood and spice. A hint of candiedness which seems to have put us off the first time we tasted it but not so much the second time. Barely dry, medium and med+ body, med- tannin, average balance and finish. A yummy everyday-ish wine.

Gabbiano 2008 Chianti (bottled by Beringer Blass Italia [!]) ($14.95, 12.5%). Another good value everyday-ish wine, with a classic cherry-sandalwood nose with a hint of spice. Not the most complex Chianti, but authentic. This is readily available on the LCBO general list.

Luigi Bosca 2006 Malbec Reserva, Vistalba Vineyard Mendoza (Argentina) ($16.95, 14%). This was widely available for a while at Vintages but seems now to be largely out of stock in Toronto Central. Strong dark fruit nose — plum, chocolate, blueberry/cassis, spicy dark fruit, tobacco, hint of something charred. A very rich nose and palate with very full body. Average balance and finish. We found it somewhat fragile with exposure to air, developing some rather odd notes towards the end of the bottle. Typical of our ambivalence toward Argentina Malbec — rich, yummy, not much sense of terroir, attractiveness on the nose and palate due in part to its heavy dose of alcohol.

Chateau le Barradis 2006 AOC Bergerac (south-west France) ($13.95, 11.5%). Organic. A slightly odd wine, completely the opposite of the previous wine. Shy nose, hard to place fruit (maybe strawberry), slight hint of green, meatiness, spice, sour cherry, develops secondary aromas with air. Medium acid and body, med- tannin, avg+ balance and average finish. A light red with some interest on the nose which carries through to the palate, goes well with food. A bit like a good light Ontario red (apparently made primarily with Merlot and Cabernet Franc). Perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but very good value at $14 and good with food. Apparently not widely popular since still quite a lot left at Vintages.

2008 Santa Julia Reserva Malbec (Mendoza) (about $14, 14%). J. just viscerally disliked this wine, leaving rather too much of it for me and ultimately for the sink. It’s a high alcohol, plummy red with a hint of spiciness, medium tannin, no terroir to speak of and a bit of a confected feel to it. The Luigi Bosca is much, much better.

We have unfortunately started to give up on the $7 reds we used to like and buy regularly — both the Farnese and the Citra seem to be heading increasingly in a fruity/candied/carbonic direction. I don’t think it’s just a matter of being able to afford better wines these days, but the $14.95 Italians mentioned above are increasingly becoming the wines we buy if we want an everyday red on a weekday.