I've been buying -- and drinking -- a fair amount of wine lately, pretty much always wines in the $8-$12 range. That makes me the King of Table Wine (the Roi of Vin Ordinaire?), which isn't such a piddly title all told. I know that the real sweet spot for great wine bargains is more the $20 - $25 range, but I don't have the expertise or confidence to spend that amount. For $10 I'll purchase wine on the basis of the label or grape varietal alone with no other background knowledge. Lately any Malbec is fine by me. For a while it was Zinfandel. For a while it was anything from Bonny Doon or Ravenswood that I could afford.
Today, like most Fridays, I walked over to Surdyk's which happened to be having one of their periodic 20% off all wines sales, which is slightly relevant to this anecdote. There I was at the checkout, waiting in line with my inexpensive Malbecs and a Rioja. The man in front of me had two bottles of wine, both the same, but as he was purchasing them he realized that his wife was over in the cheese store with the credit card and he had cash enough for one bottle only. Amidst sincere apologies he bought just the one and decided to leave the other behind. On pure quick impulse, I decided to buy it. I figured this was as good a recommendation as any.
So I bought a bottle of Condado de Haza. I checked on the Internet, and Condado de Haza is the name of the winery as well. Perhaps they produce only this one type of wine. According to the label:
Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera de Duero initiated the replanting of Spain's Ribera del Duero region in the 1970s, where his red wines made from Tempranillo grapes are internationally famous. Condado de Haza is a Southfacing slope along one kilometer of the Duero River, where planting began in 1989. Superior exposure and soils, artisanal winemaking and fifteen months in oak yield a noble wine of which Alejandro is justifiably proud.
Of course, I didn't have a chance to read that until long after I'd purchased the wine. The wine was 29.99 sale-priced to 23.99, so it wasn't a bank-breaking risk.
On my way out I caught up with the man who had returned the wine and told him that I'd bought the bottle he didn't want, taking his purchase as a recommendation. He said that it is very good wine. The label sure is pretty, with a nice watercolor of a Spanish building and the retro font of the credits of a Brat Pack movie, or perhaps the Pink Panther, or -- come to think of it -- Gidget Goes to Rome.
The real fun, though, is that I will tell perkk this story tonight and he will get just as much of a kick as I will out of trying this out and rolling it around on our tongues and deciding whether the wine fairy was being generous or mischievous in placing this wine impulse before me.
Or maybe I'm the wine fairy.