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I've been given a budget to work with to create my rehearsal dinner for 50 people. Almost all of it is blown on the food, so I'm trying to do the best I can with what I have left. The dinner will be a sort of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding Rehearsal Dinner" in that the menu is Greek, or at least Greek-inspired. It will be casual and hopefully take place outside on an early July evening. So I'm looking for light and easy-drinking stuff. And above all, it must be cheap. I might buy a case or two of something that costs $15/bottle if necessary, but it'd be a big help if I can get by with everything being less than $10/bottle.

I've been to Schneider's in my quest for the right grapes, and I've come across a few that fit the bill. On the high end of the spectrum, price-wise, Terry from Schneider's suggested a 2002 Greek red from Santorini called Atlantis. I was surprised by this wine, because I've had so few Greek wines I've enjoyed-- even when I was in Greece. This was excellent-- nice and fruity with a lot of cherry flavor. This might be the one I splurge on at $15/bottle.

There is also a 2003 50/50 Grenache and Syrah wine from Costieres de Nimes called Chateau Montroche for $9/pop. This is a Robert Kacher selection, and it's been sort of my house wine lately. I tend to think it might be slightly too heavy for something to gulp down with mini lamb and mint patties, spanakopita, eggplant/walnut dip, tzatziki, a sort of Mediterranean Nicoise salad platter, chick pea salad, and Greek spiced roasted chicken. But, you can't beat the price.

I need some whites, but so many that I have tried have been that cat wiz style Sauvignon Blanc that I can't really get excited about. Hold on while I pop another cork. Hmmm, not thrilled with this 2004 "Dry White Wine of the Peloponnese" from Lafazanis. Kinda dull. Though it does remind me that a good Vinho Verde might fit my requirements.

So, I need help. What might you suggest? I'm not concerned with blowing people away with sophisticated choices here; we've saved that for the wedding itself. I just want good casual eminently quaffable plonk.

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A couple of cheap inoffensive whites.

(cue broken record)

Hugues Beaulieu Picpoul de Pinet. Couteaux de Languedoc. $6.44 bottle at Magruders. $8 Total Wine

Domaines de Pouy. Cotes de Gascogne $7 Total Wine

For a red, perhaps a Nero d'Avila (Sicily). DCMark introduced this grape to me at our dinner at Sette last year. Light, fruity, generally cheap.

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The '04 Roses coming out of Europe are a great steal. Most are under $15, and you should seek out Pavie, Mondree and 1+1=3. The three are very different in style. The Pavie is elegant, the Mondree is a classic Tavel, and the 1+1=3 is a fruity, yet dry wine.

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Domaines de Pouy. Cotes de Gascogne $7 Total Wine

JPW beat me to it. This wine is a fantastic value, and goes with just about everything. You can find it with the Robert Kacher selections at Total Wine.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll get my hands on a few of them and try them out.

Has anyone tried any of the following? I got wind of these from a newsletter from Schneider's:

Arcs 2003 Terra Alta.....Reg:$9.99....................Sale:$7.99

Parker said "buy it by the trunkful". This wine is a blend of 88% Grenache and 12% Tempranillo (the most widely planted grape in Spain). It is quite fruity with raspberry fruit and flavors in a light to medium bodied package. Delicious!

Sipacha Garnacha 2003 Calatayud.......Reg:$10.99...........Sale:$8.99

Very fruity like the Arcs but with a peppery spice character that lends itself to spicy dishes and barbeque. What a bargain!

IA Garnacha 2003 Calatayud....Reg:$10.99.......Sale:$8.99

This is the fullest bodied of the three, with deep, dark fruit flavors and fatness in the mouth.

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Cleveland Park Liquors always has an excellent cheap and cheerful selection. They just had a closeout on the 02 Charles (chuck to his friends) Whiffen SB from New Zealand at $8 with the case discount so I bought two cases for summer quaffing. The older vintage didn't put me off as I know this producer ages nicely though I will drink my bottles this summer.

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The A.mano Primitivo from Puglia is a delicious wine with much more complexity than you'd expect for the price. Jarad had it on the wine list at Nectar when I was bartending there and I fell in love with it. I know they have it at P St. Whole Foods - I bought the 2001 vintage from there - but I'm not sure how much it is ($13 at the MOST, probably around $9). This is definitely a wine I'd buy by the truckload.

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8.99 @ CW

http://www.wineaccess.com/store/calvertwoo...uct_id=10728533

The A.mano Primitivo from Puglia is a delicious wine with much more complexity than you'd expect for the price.  Jarad had it on the wine list at Nectar when I was bartending there and I fell in love with it.  I know they have it at P St. Whole Foods - I bought the 2001 vintage from there - but I'm not sure how much it is ($13 at the MOST, probably around $9).  This is definitely a wine I'd buy by the truckload.

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Let's keep this thread going. I'm tired of drinking the same stuff.

Couple of bottles I've enjoyed recently:

Neil Ellis -- Sincerely 2004. Ignore weakly punning name. Good South African Sauvignon Blanc. Quite "Loire" and racy. $11ish at Magruders.

Falesco -- Vitiano 2003. Umbria. Sangiovese, Cab, Merlot. $8-$10. All over.

Marquis Phillips "Holly's Blend" 2004 -- Semillon/Verdelho. $9. Nice.

PS: Magruders has the Domaine De Pouy at $5.99 this week, Joe!

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La Vieille Ferme Cotes Du Ventoux- A RHone blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. It is made by the Perrin family and it is a great value at around $6-7 a bottle.

Just tried a SB from New Zealand called Monkey bay. Very light and refreshing perfect for a day like today

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This weeks CW specials

2000 Marques de Moral Valdepenas, Spain

“If there is a better wine currently available from anywhere in the world for the same price, I am unaware of it. Perfectly mature, it shows superb balance and integration, with subtle notes of smoke and spices accenting a core of soft cherry fruit.”

Michael Franz "The Washington Post"

2000 Marques de Moral Val de Penas

Red Wine; Tempranillo; Spain;

Sale Price $5.99

Regular Price $6.99

Offer good through 6/14/05

2003 Chateau

Clos Floridene

Graves Blanc

“A blend of 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle, this stylish white Bordeaux is wonderfully balanced, intensely flavored and possesses a superb purity of fruit.”

Calvert Woodley Wine Staff

"One taste of the wonderful wines he makes reveals that Clos Floridene is a superb white Graves, nearly matching the quality of such legends as Laville Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion-Blanc, and Domaine de Chevalier. The price remains a relative steal, although Dubourdieu’s talents have been recognized throughout Europe and Great Britain; Clos Floridene has indeed been discovered. This is a terribly underestimated, excellent wine that deserves to be a classified growth in the Graves firmament."

Robert Parker “Bordeaux”

2003 Clos Floridene Bordeaux Blanc

White Wine; Sauvignon Blanc; Other Bordeaux;

Sale Price $16.99

Regular Price $19.99

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This weeks CW specials

2000 Marques de Moral Valdepenas, Spain

“If there is a better wine currently available from anywhere in the world for the same price, I am unaware of it. Perfectly mature, it shows superb balance and integration, with subtle notes of smoke and spices accenting a core of soft cherry fruit.”

Michael Franz "The Washington Post"

2000 Marques de Moral Val de Penas

Red Wine; Tempranillo; Spain; 

Sale Price $5.99

Regular Price $6.99

Offer good through 6/14/05

2003 Chateau

Clos Floridene

Graves Blanc

“A blend of 50% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle, this stylish white Bordeaux is wonderfully balanced, intensely flavored and possesses a superb purity of fruit.”

Calvert Woodley Wine Staff

"One taste of the wonderful wines he makes reveals that Clos Floridene is a superb white Graves, nearly matching the quality of such legends as Laville Haut-Brion, Haut-Brion-Blanc, and Domaine de Chevalier. The price remains a relative steal, although Dubourdieu’s talents have been recognized throughout Europe and Great Britain; Clos Floridene has indeed been discovered. This is a terribly underestimated, excellent wine that deserves to be a classified growth in the Graves firmament."

Robert Parker “Bordeaux”

2003 Clos Floridene Bordeaux Blanc

White Wine; Sauvignon Blanc; Other Bordeaux; 

Sale Price $16.99

Regular Price $19.99

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Mulderbosch is now making a delicious Rose with 100 percent Cabernet. I think its retailing for lucky $13. Depending on where you can find it, I found it at Planet Wine in DelRay, the old Daily Planet location, name change.

The Mulderbosch rose is delicious. They serve it by the glass at R. Eve.

edited to add: Welcome to DR.com, Rabbi.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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Mulderbosch

This is a label to look for. Their Sauvignon Blanc's are usually good too, as are their Chenins. Other Southern Hemisphere roses that I've enjoyed recently are the Delheim Pinotage Rose from South Africa and the Margan "Saignee" from Oz, which is shiraz.

Get them before the dollar tanks, erm, even more. :lol:

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Mulderbosch is now making a delicious Rose with 100 percent Cabernet. I think its retailing for lucky $13. Depending on where you can find it, I found it at Planet Wine in DelRay, the old Daily Planet location, name change.

Hmmmm. And just a few short blocks from Taqueria. Does anyone know anything about bringing bottles to Taqueria? That is, in case any of us are thinking of perhaps going there sometime soon.
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Around $15 in stores, though available as low as $9.99 on the Intar Web, Raats Family Wines Original Chenin Blanc, 2004. From one of the better new-school South African Chenin producers. Unwooded and crisp, lots of citrus. I'm buying more.

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I'll also vouch for the not-so-well-guarded-secrets of Picpoul and Du Pouy... Other value wines to consider include:

Chateau Montet -- good, mineraly white Bordeaux available at Total Bev for $10 or $11. I think it is one of Andre Lurton's wines.

Jest White -- fruity white blend available at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and probably other places. Good summer wine for $7.

Didgeridoo -- Nicely balanced Aussie cab/shiraz blend. A steal from Trader Joe's at $3.99 per bottle. Shhh... don't tell anybody!

Hawk's Crest -- They make several good wines in the $10-14 range, I think. They are the "second wine" of Stag's Leap Cellars.

Columbia Crest -- From Washington state, their "Grand Estates" wines are very good values (merlot and chardonnay, in particular). And, it gets bonus points for being available in most supermarkets.

Cheers!

Edited by bigpinot
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I was at my friendly neighborhood wine shop this weekend and they had a few Italians on the counter for tasting. They were all outstanding and a good value but this one I think fits in this category particularly well. It is the 2003 Zenato Lugana. It is made from a grape that I hadn't heard of before (unfortunately I don't remember the name and it is not on the bottle) and was just outstanding. I'm not too good with wine descriptors so suffice it to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit and at $12.99 a bottle, a good bargain I think. The Curious Grape in Shirlington has it but as of this weekend they were down to just a couple of cases.

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I was at my friendly neighborhood wine shop this weekend and they had a few Italians on the counter for tasting.  They were all outstanding and a good value but this one I think fits in this category particularly well.  It is the 2003 Zenato Lugana.  It is made from a grape that I hadn't heard of before (unfortunately I don't remember the name and it is not on the bottle) and was just outstanding.  I'm not too good with wine descriptors so suffice it to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit and at $12.99 a bottle, a good bargain I think.  The Curious Grape in Shirlington has it but as of this weekend they were down to just a couple of cases.

I believe the grape in question is Trebbiano (also known as Ugni Blanc). I read somewhere that it is Italy's most commonly planted white grape

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Trebbiano and Ugni Blanc I know - I believe it started with an "A".  I will check this evening when I'm there for a Loire Valley tasting.

Arneis is an obscure Italian varietal that I like from northern Italy. Medium bodied with lots of tropical fruit aromas...

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Arneis is an obscure Italian varietal that I like from northern Italy.  Medium bodied with lots of tropical fruit aromas...

That is it! Thank you! Unfortunately the Curious Grape is now out of the wine and I couldn't get the info tonight. I did, however, taste some great wines from the Loire Valley that were almost all under $15. I will post the info tomorrow.

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I have to say one of my favorite reds for under $15 is the 2003 Castle Rock Russian River reserve Pinot Noir. I bought it a while back on Wine Exchange for $11.99 a bottle and it has trememdous fruit and depth for the price. This pinot can easily out match those that are twice it's price.

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Had a 2003 Ca' Del Solo Malvasia Bianca last night. $13.99 and worth every cent. Never tried Malvasia before so don't know if it was a pure and true expression of the grape etc. etc., but it did have a great citrusy nose and some really bright acid zing on the palate. Would go well with a spicy, shrimpy stir-fry, I think.

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From this week's Arrowine e-mail special (Yes, it's puffed up as an ad, but it does sound pretty promising and worth trying. They usually have great stuff):

-------------------------------------------------

2004 Sancerre, Domaine Cherrier Blanc

This is the best Sancerre (and maybe the best Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere) that you can buy for the money!

Reg. $17.99 E-mail Special: Buy 6 at $15.99 each.

Case (12 or more) E-mail Special: only $14.99 each.

Only 75 cases available. Arrives Friday.

I've had many vintages of Pierre Cherrier's Sancerre but this 2004 is his best ever. This price is ridiculous, one of the best white wine values I've seen. Cherrier's Sancerre is delicious and absolutely perfect for Summertime drinking-- an all purpose white that can be used as an aperitif, or with any white meat be it grilled chicken or fish. Made from 100% sauvignon blanc it is a natural fit, too, with any dish that includes tomatoes, such as an appetizer with those delicious, ripe, juicy backyard tomato varieties with fresh basil and olive oil or summer salsas. Don't leave on your summer beach trip without a case.

I love drinking refreshing wines like this. The aromas are captivating with essences of green pears, yellow peaches and chalk dust. The palate is big, rich and juicy with delicious flavors of ripe pear, red currants and lemons. It has an incredible mouthwatering, palate-cleansing finish that urges you on for another glass. It's extremely well-balanced and long. Estate-bottled, high quality Sancerre from a great vintage at $14.99 is not something you see every day. You can't go wrong, I promise! Order at least a case. Six bottles won't last through the summer!

To order, please call us at 703-525-0990 or reply to this e-mail. We will need your name, phone number, and Visa or MasterCard information (with expiration date).

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From this week's Arrowine e-mail special (Yes, it's puffed up as an ad, but it does sound pretty promising and worth trying.  They usually have great stuff):

-------------------------------------------------

2004 Sancerre, Domaine Cherrier Blanc

This is the best Sancerre (and maybe the best Sauvignon Blanc from anywhere) that you can buy for the money! 

Reg. $17.99 E-mail Special: Buy 6 at $15.99 each.

Case (12 or more) E-mail Special: only $14.99 each.

Only 75 cases available.  Arrives Friday. 

I've had many vintages of Pierre Cherrier's Sancerre but this 2004 is his best ever.  This price is ridiculous, one of the best white wine values I've seen.  Cherrier's Sancerre is delicious and absolutely perfect for Summertime drinking-- an all purpose white that can be used as an aperitif, or with any white meat be it grilled chicken or fish.  Made from 100% sauvignon blanc it is a natural fit, too, with any dish that includes tomatoes, such as an appetizer with those delicious, ripe, juicy backyard tomato varieties with fresh basil and olive oil or summer salsas.  Don't leave on your summer beach trip without a case.

I love drinking refreshing wines like this.  The aromas are captivating with essences of green pears, yellow peaches and chalk dust.  The palate is big, rich and juicy with delicious flavors of ripe pear, red currants and lemons.  It has an incredible mouthwatering, palate-cleansing finish that urges you on for another glass.  It's extremely well-balanced and long.  Estate-bottled, high quality Sancerre from a great vintage at $14.99 is not something you see every day.  You can't go wrong, I promise!  Order at least a case. Six bottles won't last through the summer!

To order, please call us at 703-525-0990 or reply to this e-mail.  We will need your name, phone number, and Visa or MasterCard information (with expiration date).

Has anyone tried this? I would like to have some 'known' comments before buying a few bottles.

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Has anyone tried this?  I would like to have some 'known' comments before buying a few bottles.

What's the worst that could happen? You end up having to drink a couple of bottles of average Sancerre, cold, with Coquilles Saint-Jacques.

I'm hungry.

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Best wine from a line-up of Robert Kacher selections I had at a dinner this week was Domaine St. Eugenie 2002. A carignane/syrah/grenache blend from Corbières that I thought was very, very tasty. Look for it-- should be only about $10. Apparently a reserve bottling will show up in the fall at about $14 (Kacher was really excited about this one).

*Edit to add-- this is now on sale at Addy Bassin's for $7.99. A total steal.

Edited by cjsadler
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My wife and I enjoyed some red in Florida back in May, Condesa de Leganza Crianza 1999. We were glad to find it at Wegman's in Fairfax in the wine shop. $9 a bottle. 100% Tempranillo. It goes great with a grilled steak, or other grilled meat. We had it tonight with a hanger steak. My wife enjoyed it with grilled rare tuna in Florida, so it's pretty versatile.

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Had an interesting Spanish red with dinner last night. Goes by "El Copero" (producer is Bodegas Murviedro) and can allegedly be found all the way down at $6.99, though I paid $8, I think, at Morris Miller. From Valencia, a blend of the local grapes Bobal and Monastrell, not much barrel age, a bit reminiscent of Gamay and of similar merit: light, soft, juicy and cheap. We had it slightly chilled with a chicken and pepper fricassee. Don't be put off by the odd frosted bottle. Definitely recommended.

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Paul's e-mail sale this week includes 2004 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare (Rose) for $9.99. Regular price is $12.99. I cracked one last night and it is excellent.

I stopped in to buy gin at the MoCo liquor store below Trader Joe's in Bethesda today. I swore I'd never buy wine in Montgomery County, because of the horrible system and prices they have regarding wine--though ironically I find that it's a very good place to buy liquor. But they had the 2001 Louis Martini Napa Valley Cabernet on sale for $14.50. I paid $17.99 not long ago. It's a really tasty, full-bodied, well balanced cab, and I like it a LOT more than the slightly cheaper Sonoma bottling.

By the way, if you like Plymouth gin, it's on sale for $16.50 a bottle.

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