Two great values lead our lineup this week – an inexpensive chenin blanc from South Africa and, for red wine fans, an affordable Bordeaux. And with Valentine’s Day approaching, we have a rosé Champagne that’s as striking in color as it is in flavor, as well as a more wallet-friendly bubbly from the same producer’s California cousin. A lush cabernet sauvignon from Chile rounds out the lineup.
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Releaf Chenin Blanc 2021
One and one-half stars (Good/Excellent)
Western Cape, South Africa, $10
Here’s a straightforward South African chenin blanc, with melon and apricot flavors and a slightly sweet finish. It’s fine by itself or with a casual meal. This is a winery-direct exclusive for Total Wine & More. Sustainable. Alcohol by volume: 12.5 percent. Bottle weight: 460 grams (Light).
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Château Moulinat 2019
Two stars (Excellent)
Bordeaux, France, $14
Bordeaux doesn’t have to be expensive. This affordable charmer exemplifies the flavor profile we associate with reds from the region: black currant fruit flavors and “pencil shavings” in the aroma. Put those expensive bottles in your temperature-controlled cellar for aging, and keep some Moulinat on hand for casual drinking now. ABV: 13 percent. BW: 450 grams (Light).
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Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs
Two and one-half stars (Excellent/Extraordinary)
Sonoma County, Calif., $22
Piper Sonoma is the California outpost of the family behind the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne house. While a blanc de blancs Champagne is most likely made entirely of chardonnay, this California version is one-quarter pinot blanc. The result is a bit lighter, with a lively mousse of bubbles and persistent flavors of apples and citrus flowers. ABV: 12.9 percent. BW: 860 grams (Sparkling).
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Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Three stars (Extraordinary)
Apalta, Chile, $35
Rich, velvety and mouth-filling, this lush cabernet from the slopes of the Apalta Valley shows Chile at its best. Look for upfront fruit flavors laced with baking spice notes and fine oak tannins, leading to a long finish. The alcohol is not shy, but the fruit and structure hold up to it. Certified carbon neutral. ABV: 14.5 percent. BW: 515 grams (Average).
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Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage
Three and one-half stars (Extraordinary/Sublime)
Champagne, France, $69
The berry-red color of this Champagne comes from a higher than usual percentage of still red wine in the blend. The result is a vibrant bubbly with cascading flavors of strawberries, raspberries and pomegranate. It’s absolutely delicious. ABV: 12 percent. BW: 860 grams (Sparkling).
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Availability information is based on distributor records. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.
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