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VINTAGES-BUY

Some stellar sparklers for Valentine's Day. 

Our "greatest value" of the week is a delightful chenin blanc from Ken Forrester in South Africa, a food-friendly, exciting wine that will set you back only $12. Stock up!

Charles Orban Brut Rosé

Three stars

Champagne, France, $47

What a way to start an evening! This delightful champagne bursts with flavors of strawberries and raspberries, tied to a mineral core that keeps those flavors from floating away with the bubbles. Your mood might soar as you sip this beauty. Alcohol by volume: 12 percent.

GREAT VALUE

Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc 2018

Two and a half stars

Stellenbosch, South Africa, $12

Chenin blanc may claim the Loire Valley as its spiritual homeland, but South Africa does it best (at least in its dry version). I recommended one of Ken Forrester's other chenins a few months ago, and it was stellar. So is this more modest rendition (thus the name, "Petit"). I recently tasted the 2017 vintage, and it was exuberant and full-bodied. The 2018 right now is more lithe and gossamer, but it should continue to develop over the next several months. Here's a strategy: Buy a case, then drink one bottle a month and enjoy its evolution. By the time you're done, the 2019 vintage will be here. ABV: 13 percent.

Lucas & Lewellen Pinot Noir 2016

Two stars

Santa Barbara County, Calif., $22

Dark cherry, cocoa and sassafras flavors highlight this brooding pinot noir. The wine improves after being open a day or so, suggesting it will be fine in your collection for a few years. Enjoy this with pork, salmon or poultry. ABV: 14.2 percent.

GREAT VALUE

Belle Jardin Blanc de Blancs Brut

Two stars

France, $14

Here's a basic sparkling wine from France that tastes more sophisticated than it costs. It's a great mood-setter, a spark to turn a mundane day into a celebration, or even a nice base for a sparkling wine cocktail. Anyone planning a wedding this year should consider stocking up on this for the reception. ABV: 11.5 percent.

GREAT VALUE

Fontella Chianti 2016

Two stars

Tuscany, Italy, $12

This is classic chianti, a blend of various grapes based on sangiovese. It features bright cherry and sour plum flavors with a plush texture and a great finish. Don't limit this to your pasta-with-red-sauce dinners; its refreshing acidity makes it a nice partner with seafood and poultry dishes as well. ABV: 13 percent.

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Ratings

3 stars: Exceptional; 2 stars: Excellent; 1 star: Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

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