Mole squinted at me across our battered desk. It was unsettling. “What’s buggin’ ya, pal?” he asked.
“I’m not sure we haven’t taken a wrong turn. All these years we’ve been tellin’ readers ’bout the goodness of local wines instead of just guiding them to the best wine values, no matter where the wines come from. Maybe that meant they missed a lot of great vinos — and most of the locals either don’t give a rip or, worse, they’re pissed ’cause we didn’t do enough for them. So maybe we oughtta wheel it around, talk about great wines from, say, Italy or malbecs from Argentina or sauvignon blancs from Chile. Tasty cava from Spain, one of the most mind-boggling wine bargains in the world of sparkling wines …”
Here Mole broke in on my diatribe:
“But, Sleut’” — he calls me Sleuth; I take it as an honor — “we knew we had good reasons. First, it boosted dah local economy by keepin’ dah dough at home. We needs it, ’n mos’ local guys is small producers wit’ day jobs, workin’ lak Oompa-Loompas jes ta get by.”
“All true,” I admitted. “But look at all the yummy vinos available from ’round the globe, some at bargain prices. And sometimes the locals seem to be pricing themselves out of the market.”
“True dat,” Mole said, leaning in. “But der’re t’ousands a wines, so many even we miss sum realy good ones, ’n da local folk get no guvmint subsidies. Dey’re on der own.”
“Yep. Still, check these.”
Spain: Torreoria Cava Brut Reserve ($10!) is silky smooth bubbly at an absurd price, barely covering the cost of the wine, much less the heavy bottle, waterproof label, special cork, wire cage, all that plus shipping — huh?
France: Even if you’re stupid rich, you can’t buy first-growth Bordeaux — unless you’re already on some broker’s list of faves. But Randy Stokes, manager at Sundance Wines, can guide you to Chateau Sorbey 2010 Haut-Medoc, a Bordeaux with loads of forward black fruit priced at $13.50, still stiff (for us) but affordable with pals (wines, even more than beers, like sharing with pals, ’specially if good grub’s on the table, too).
Corsica (now France): Used to be, we could drink Corsican wines only if visiting the island and eating local chow; then, the wines tasted just right. Now, the wines are better made — for export to world markets. Randy snagged Domaine Vetriccie 2015 Rosé ($10), lovely, fruity (lotsa red fruit), stylish, fresh.
Local: Can’t help it. In Elkton, Terry Brandborg, a genuine wine-making talent, does swell work with riesling and gewürztraminer, styled Alsatian (dry) or German (sweet) — the back label will tell — depending on what nature gave in a season. If you can find Brandborg 2012 Oregon Riesling ($16), grab it: dry, but full of flavor, brisk acidity. Brandborg 2014 “Treats” Riesling ($20) is quite sweet (7.9 percent RS — residual sugar), but a stunning gold-medal wine, flavors of white flowers, quince, minerals, suitable as an aperitif or with dessert, beautiful stuff.
“Youse happy now?” Mole asked.
“Better,” I replied, smiling.
So much good wine, so little time. No Trump here.