A Nice Little Wine For Not Very Much Money

There was a vintage many years ago (I don't remember which) of Buena Vista zinfandel that tasted so right to me, and so much better, in a confident, low-key way, than most of the pricier zinfandels then on the market, that I bought cases of it at a time. On another occasion, soon after I moved from California to the East Coast, I ran across an inexpensive rosé of cabernet franc made by Stonington Vineyards in Connecticut from Long Island grapes (they don't produce it anymore) that tasted like summer in a glass to me, and was in my glass all summer.

A few weeks ago at an event of the kind known more for conviviality than for enological sophistication, I asked for a glass of red wine and took a sip and knew that I had found another object of affection. It was bright and clean in color (the color being an attractive garnet red); it offered plenty of fruit but it tasted like wine and not like cherries or plums or even grapes; it showed some grape tannins but no confounding oak; it filled the middle of the mouth perfectly, and was just really nicely balanced. Was it a wine of great refinement or complexity? Certainly not. Would it be apt to score 90+ from one of those wine magazines people who don't know much about wine follow slavishly? I doubt it sincerely. But sipping it that first evening, and enjoying it on several occasions since, I find myself thinking that it is pretty much everything I want a casually enjoyable wine to be.

I suppose at this point I should mention what it is: It's 2014 Babor Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine produced in Chile's Maipo Valley by Odfjell Vineyards, a quarter-century-old property owned by the Odfjell shipping and tank terminal company from Bergen, Norway. The wine costs between $8 and $11 a bottle, depending on where you find it, and I'd put it up against a lot of cabernets for three or four times as much.