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Ask a Somm: What is the Best Wine Under $12?

Welcome to Ask a Somm, a column in which experts from across the country answer questions about wine. Wondering about a bottle? Drop us a line.

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In two and a half short years, Los Angeles restaurant Bestia has skyrocketed into the spotlight on both the local and national levels, garnering a devout following for chef Ori Menashe's inspired, seasonal Italian plates. And not to be outdone by smoked sea urchin salads and 'nduja pizzas, wine director Ryan Ibsen oversees an expert selection of micro production wines from California and abroad. Expect to find mostly biodynamic, organic, and "natural" bottles in a range of styles from traditional to unfiltered and experimental. Luckily, great wine doesn't always need to be spendy and below Ibsen shares several super affordable picks.

Q: What is the best $6 wine? Or $10 or $12?

Ibsen: I don’t know that $6 is very possible anymore. Certainly there are wines out there at this price, but I would be hard-pressed to emphatically recommend anything in that price point at retail these days. However, $10-$12 is another story. There are still a few great options out there at that price, usually hailing from southern France and emerging regions in Spain or Portugal. Some of my favorites would absolutely be:

Château d'Oupia, "Les Hérétiques," VdP de l'Hérault, Iché ($9): The famed importer Louis/Dressner has been bringing this old vine Carignan and Syrah blend from the Languedoc into the U.S. for years and it never disappoints. Always bold, bright, plummy and seemingly impervious to bad vintages. You can usually find it these days for about $11 and it is worth every cent, and perhaps a few more, but you didn’t hear that from me.

Bodegas Verasol, Tempranillo-Garnacha ($12): This blend from Navarra, adjacent to Rioja, manages to capture a whole lot of what makes people love Spanish reds at a price that is usually right around the $10 mark. It is a fresh, fruity and aromatic red that manages a deft balance of structure and finesse usually reserved for much higher price points.

Domaine des Cassagnoles, Côte de Gascogne Blanc ($12): This Sauvignon Blanc from pretty far south of the famed Loire Valley (home to the world’s greatest expressions of this grape) manages to placate a whole lot of Sancerre devotees for a fraction of what one can expect to pay for decent Sauvignon Blanc elsewhere. Racy, flinty and wholly refreshing, it always disappears quickly. Especially in spring and summer.

Broadbent Vinho Verdhe ($7): I am unable to think of a better antidote to a hot summer day than something cold, spritzy and slightly alcoholic. I am a huge fan Vinho Verdhe from Portugal and Txakoli from Spain (which typically costs a bunch more). Almost always lightly fizzy and possessed of zippy acidity that works whether or not there is a pile of shellfish in front of you. There is a lot of affordable Vinho Verdhe out there, but I often pick the Broadbent when I see it because I know that they are meticulous about keeping only fresh wine in the marketplace. And much like Prosecco, this is a style of wine that is usually only as good as it is fresh.


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Bestia

2121 East 7th Place, , CA 90021 (213) 514-5724 Visit Website

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