Over the past couple of decades, the market for fine wine has increased dramatically. What has not increased is the size and production capabilities of the world’s best wineries, which leaves most customers priced out of the classic, great wines. So what are we to do? Should we resign ourselves to the idea that we cannot afford to be intellectually stimulated by our wines? Certainly not! We simply have to be better informed than our fellow drinkers.
The best wine under $50 that I have come across is Finca Sandoval. For those who know me, it will come as little surprise that this wine is Spanish, as I am obsessed with the country’s wines. Now is the time to buy the wines of Spain. Demand for their product is rising and the Euro is killing us. I can’t imagine that this wine, currently $37 a bottle, will be under $50 much longer.
Finca Sandoval hails from a sub-region of Castilla-La Mancha called Mancheula. It is the only wine from the region I have ever come across. The wine is a Syrah-based blend, with a variety of other grapes used from year to year including Bobal, Tempranillo and Monastrell. I discovered the wine over two years ago during a Syrah tasting. There were excellent Syrahs available from around the world. The Finca was the last of the night and it was the best of the tasting, regardless of price.
Since then I have had wines from the ‘02-‘05 vintages. It throws a great deal of sediment, even in its youth, but it ages gracefully. I am currently revisiting the 2005. For those familiar with with Syrahs of the Northern Rhone, which are earthy and peppery, and those of Australia (Shiraz), which are bold and rich, you will find a combination of the two in the Sandoval. The climate in Manchuela is much warmer than the Northern Rhone, which results in a riper, fuller-bodied and more fruit forward wine akin to the Aussie Shiraz. But this is a high quality producer in Spain growing grapes in arid conditions, which makes the wine highly concentrated, and aging the juice in French oak barrels, which softens the wine and imparts additional spice character. The palate is lush and full. The alcohol is well integrated and does not burn. The finish is very long, the wine hangs around. All in all, it is the complete package and worth snapping up if you can find it.
Importer: Jorge Ordoñez