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Nice weather, good, cheap wines at South Beach Festival


   It was the South Beach Wine & Food Festival at its most charming: 70 degrees with a light breeze – perfect wine tasting weather in the big, white tents on the sand beside the Atlantic Ocean in Miami Beach.
   Approaching the wine tasting tents, one runs the gauntlet of pretty young women in bikinis holding out trays of martinis, tequila and beer, trying to dull your senses before you reach the wine.
   But one perseveres and reaches the wine tables, where winery reps pour their wares and chat about them with the wine fans.
    ‘‘I'm doing a story about inexpensive wines," I told them. "What do you have under $12?"
   "We make lots of $20 wines, but we brought a lot of $10 ones to the tasting because that's what everybody seems to want right now," said Dan Cooper, Florida manager for AV Brands.
   ‘‘You have to look around the world. California is still kind of high."
   Another sipper overheard.
   "You're looking for the cheap wines? Great. I'll follow you," said Andy Korn of Orlando.
   And he did. Pleasant fellow, though. Told me what he thought of the wines.
   We found some pretty good ones for $12 and less. The Loredona Riesling came in 24th in a Wine Enthusiast magazine list of 100 best buys in this price category. The Graffigna
pinot grigio was packed with fruit for a wine that can sometimes be bland in
its less-expensive forms.
   One good and interesting wine I tried was the Tocai Friulano from the Italian vineyards owned by Lidia Bastianich and her son, Joseph. She's the chef-host of Lidia's Italy on television; he's a wine expert and partner with chef Mario Batali in New York restaurants including Babbo.
   Good stuff.


   • 2006 Loredona
Riesling, Monterey, Calif.:
intense, juicy ripe peach
aromas and flavors; lightly
sweet; $12.

   • 2006 Bastianich
Tocai Friulano, Italy:
green pears, smoke and
minerals; very dry, power-
ful; $11.

• 2007 Graffigna
Centenario Pinot Grigio,
San Juan, Argentina:
intense, zingy, juicy ripe
pear and green pineapple
flavors; $9.


   • 2007 Carmen
Cabernet Sauvignon,
Maipo Valley, Chile: soft,
sweet black cherry and
black coffee flavors; $8.

   • 2006 Voga Merlot,
Sicily: soft, sweet red
plums, $8.

   • 2008 Two Oceans
Shiraz, Western Cape,
South Africa: smoke, black
cherries and milk chocolate,
soft and sweet; $8.

   • 2007 Rondolino
Vernacia di San Gimig-
nano, Italy: green pears,
minerals, cinnamon; $10.

   • 2007 Bodega Mal-
bec, Mendoza, Argentina:
sweet and zingy, red rasp-
berry flavors; $7.

   • 2006 Balduzzi
Cabernet Sauvignon
Reserva, Maule, Chile: soft
and sweet, anise and black

   • 2008 Los Vascos
Sauvignon Blanc, Casa-
blanca, Chile: crisp cut
grass and green apple aro-
mas and flavors; $11.



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