Weekend wine list — experts’ picks: From Orvieto to Central Coast Syrah

Comparing the picks: A survey of recent selections from top wine experts. Whenever there’s an option, I highlight the more-affordable wines, focusing on possible choices for weekend purchases. Check their websites for full descriptions and other picks:

2006 Viña Maipo Carménère Reserve Rapel Valley, Chile:
Natalie MacLean — displays a “rich red with leather, black fruit, mint and earth notes.” She calls this a “fantastic value” in a full-bodied wine.” Her best value red. $13.95

2004 Paul Jaboulet Aine “Les Jalets” Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France:
Jerry Shriver — “easy-going sipper from one of the Rhone Valley’s best-known and reliable producers.” About $18

Domaine de Saint Siffrein (Claude Chastan) 2003:
Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher — a Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is “nicely restrained, with surprising structure (and) clean, crisp tastes.” $29

Orovela Saperavi 2004 Kakheti, Georgia (Black Sea, not the southern American state):
Jancis Robinson — “the best Georgian wine I have ever tasted … worth a whirl by any truly curious wine drinker.” Apparently available only in the UK, at a low of £14.99

2006 Ruffino Orvieto Classico:
Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg — “dry yet fruity wine with the flavor of green apples and an almondy finish … an exceptional bargain.” $8

2005 Qupé Central Coast Syrah:
Lynne Char Bennett — “sweet fruit, licorice, pepper and bright acidity in this nicely balanced Syrah.” She calls it money well spent. $17

Tip: Print out this list and bring it to you local wine shop — even if a specific favorite isn’t available, ask the salesperson to recommend something similar. Or try browsing the latest wine reports from this custom collection of hundreds of news websites — filtered for bargains, continuously updated, and quick and easy to scan:

  • Reds (from Beaujolais to Zinfandel)
  • Whites (from Chablis to Sauvignon Blanc).

To hit closer to home, try WNR’s Advanced Wine Search tool and see what wine finds local columnists and wine experts may be writing about in your area. Once there, just type in your city and state (within quotation marks, as in, “Napa, California”), to get results ranked by relevance.

Or dig into some perennial standbys at SFGate.com’s Top 100 Wines of 2006, the Top 100 of 2006 list (PDF download) from Wine Spectator and the list of 50 Wines You Can Always Trust from Food & Wine.

Attracted to a bottle that’s advertised in the local paper or sitting on the local wine store shelf?

Do a little background research with Wine Enthusiast’s free, searchable Wine Buying Guide—either with a specific name or by types and price. For a little extra info, try Robert Parker’s handy Vintage Chart. Or see what the online wine community says about it with the search tools at cork’d, snooth or Wine Log.

Once you’ve selected the wine, you naturally want to decide what to eat with it. For some savvy guidance, try Natalie MacLean’s Wine & Food Matcher, which boasts a database of 360,000 wine-food pairings.

The Web is about community. So take a moment to comment about your experience with a particular wine — to help steer others to or away from it. And of course, have a great weekend!

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