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Two Value Reds to Reward Your Hard Labor - 09/07/2009 - Insider's Advantage

We get it. You work hard for your money, so it's hard to part with a lot of coin for everyday wine. That's why we search high and low for spectacular values that belie their modest price. Here are two of our current faves:

2006 Castle Rock Columbia Valley Syrah ($9.99)

Voted one of the "Top 100 Best Buys of 2008" by Wine Enthusiast Magazine: "Somehow, this California winery manages to put out the best budget Syrah in all of Washington State. Pure varietal, this excellent bottle brings clean berry fruit, natural acids and moderate tannins into play, with none of the bizarrely sweet vanilla and tobacco flavors that typically show up on Yellowtail wannabes. This wine just wants to be what it is--affordable, juicy and nicely representative of the higher acid, food-ready flavors of Washington state grapes." (12/31/2008) The Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine called the Castle Rock Syrah a "Good Value," writing: "The folks at Castle Rock have done it again in providing a deep and impressively filled wine at an altogether extraordinary price, and, if a touch quiet in terms of varietal spice, its combination of continuous berry-like fruit, sweet oak and real palatal polish makes it a remarkable value that should not be missed. Its easy manner invites drinking now, yet it will not be harmed in the least by a bit of age should you choose to buy it by case." (07/09) The thing that first tipped me off to the fact that this could be a special value was the nose, full of fennel, black peppercorn and fried sage this really struck me as being a very varietally correct Syrah. That honesty is echoed on the palate with a continuation of the spice notes and a big layer of tangy boysenberry fruit that is simply delicious. (Bryan Brick, K&L)

Staff ImageGary Westby | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: September 09, 2009

The world is awash with cheap tasting Syrah, much of which is labeled Shiraz and, unfortunately, not as cheap as it tastes. This is not part of that great lake of red, but rather a rare breed of inexpensive, honest, delightful wine. With flavors of pepper and blueberry and a touch of round ripeness, I think that you will be surprised at how far $6.99 takes you with this bottle. Thank you Castle Rock! You have delivered value to the table!

Staff Image

2006 Creta Roble Ribera del Duero, Spain ($12.99)

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2006 Roble is sourced from a single vineyard at 850 meters of elevation, the highest vineyard in Ribera del Duero. The wine was aged for 4 to 5 months in French and American oak. Purple/black in color, the nose reveals cedar, mineral, damp earth, and assorted black fruits. Powerful on the palate, this tannic, structured effort has superb depth and grip and should evolve for 3-4 years." (08/08) 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright ruby. Complex bouquet displays raspberry, blackberry and an exotic blood orange quality. Fresh and spicy, with lively red fruit flavors, good mineral snap and no obvious tannins. An elegant and precise wine that offers excellent clarity and finishing sweetness. And a solid value." (Sept/Oct '08) This is a "mystery" crianza bottling, which basically means that a very famous winery's fruit source was used to produce this impressive entry level wine. 70-year-old Tempranillo vines are responsible for the intense, fleshy, dark fruit here. The wine is showy, maybe even a bit flashy, but representative of the best Ribera del Duero has to offer for a nominal charge. (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish wine buyer) Definitely on the richer side of Tempranillo, but by no means too heavy. This is still a heartly little wine with black plum flavors, Asian spice box and red currants. There is a touch of sweet oak and bramble that gives this wine a classic feel. (Keith Mabry, K&L Hollywood)

We have more than 1,000 panel-approved value reds from around the world at KLWines.com