While it’s great to support Sonoma County brands, sometimes you want to explore bottlings from far the flung reaches of the world. Call it a geographic urge.
In this economic downturn, it’s also a pragmatic urge when you can find a tasty French white under $5 and a snappy Spanish red for $7. Sometimes you just have to suspend allegiances a bit and follow your palate and pocketbook to become a world citizen.
I trekked through our region on a global search, asking retailers what are the hottest-selling, value imports. I bought them up, tasted them and the list you see below is what made the cut.
Perrin & Fils, 2007 Cotes du Rhone Villages, France. This is a tasty Rhone blend, 50 percent grenache and 50 percent syrah. Great acid, with tasty notes of violet and cherry. (Under $10.)
Cavallo, 2005 Grillo Sicilia, Italy. A tasty white with bright notes of citrus, herbs and earth. A good everyday white. Has a nice texture. (Under $5, a special bottling at Traverso’s in Santa Rosa.)
Alamos, 2008 Malbec Argentina, $13. A tasty wine that can stand up to a steak. A bright malbec with great minerality. Notes of blackberry, plum and pencil lead, with firm tannins. (Under $15)
Evodia, 2007 Altovinum Old Vines Garnacha, Spain. A great rib match. Aromas and flavors of violet, blackberry, smoke and spice with firm tannins. (Under $10)
Tres Ojos, 2007 Old Vines Garnacha, Calatayud, Spain. A hearty red with aromas and flavors of blueberry, spice and smoke. (Under $10.)
If you can’t find all these imports, don’t worry. Just ask a retailer you trust to point out a few of the most popular and then taste through them. Among the best are Cotes du Rhones from France, whites from Italy, malbecs from Argentina and garnachas from Spain. By the end of your journey, you’ll be a well-equipped world citizen.