Wines worthy of the price if you choose bottles by the labels

Updated 5/29/2019 6:23 AM

"Tasting with the eyes" is a phenom familiar to all fine wine merchants. We can wax profound with our customers, discussing wine flavor, production techniques, food complements, ad infinitum, but once we walk away, the customer opts for a more intriguing label, with more or less satisfying results.

If you choose wine for its label, these wines will make delightful impressions on the eye, the palate, and the pocketbook.


Dry Muscat, Bonterra (Lake County, California): Interested in "natural" wine? Your first purchase should be Bonterra. Since 1987, Bonterra has married planet, plant, and man, evolving beyond organic into sustainable agriculture: biodiversity in soil yielding pure, vibrant wines generating consistent income for family grape farmers. Yes, Muscat is Moscato, but while our favorite Asti contains about 120 grams per liter of sugar, this wine includes zero. Enticing honeysuckle aroma and flavors of ripe apricot, honey, and white pepper make a satisfying cocktail and complement to salads, lighter seafood, and pasta. The label depicting the "daughter of the wind" anemone flower will be a beautiful addition to any Springtime table. (About $16.) Bonterra's newest project is eco-friendly canned wine; check with your retailer for arrival.

Rose Trevenezie, "11 Minutes", Pasqua (Trevenezie, Italy) offers pale salmon color, dry with fresh strawberry aromas and an interplay between mild fruit flavor, soft texture, and firm acidity. "11 minutes" is magic, according to Pasqua's winemaker, the optimum time to macerate grape skins with juice to extract the most pleasurable rose hues and flavors. It's also the time to derive maximum pleasure from your true love, according to regional poet Catullus (84 - 54 B.C.), who chronicled ecstasy, despair, and all the emotional states in between. Peer through the label to spy his love in her pleased, rosy glow. The traditional pint-shaped bottle gives satisfying heft to your pour. The cork gave this wine lover pushback on opening, but shouldn't deter anyone's enjoyment of this eminently satisfying wine. (About $20.)

Rose de Cotes de Provence (Cotes de Provence, France): Pale, star-bright color sparkles through a beautifully-etched bottle, with all sorts of repurposing possibilities. Ripe red berries, cinnamon, and white pepper accents and refreshing, dry finish make a dynamic complement a range of cuisine, primarily regional Mediterranean flavors of salads and antipasti, grilled meats and seafood. In bad form, this palate consumed this delicious wine so quickly; I had to ask for another bottle for notes! (About $21.)

Sangiovese di Toscana, Il Bastardo (Italy): Camp meets quality in this perennial excellent value red. From the most-planted grape in Italy (Sangiovese), grown in one of its finest regions (Tuscany), this fleshy, firm and fun wine has winemaking cred: Grapes are sourced from finest growers throughout top Chianti zones and harvested just as fruit flavors ripen to balance refreshing acidity. Crushed grapes macerate with skins for ten days for bright color, pleasing tannin, and eminently-drinkable berry and spice flavor. You don't have to be Italian -- and neither does your food -- to enjoy this wine as a cocktail and to wash down the broadest range of savory dishes including BBQ wings and chili, lamb curry, stuffed portobellos or your favorite pizza. Look for the new label with our favorite Bastardo on a zippy Vespa. (About $10.)

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