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
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.
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
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.
Belle Jardin Blanc de Blancs Brut
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.
Fontella Chianti 2016
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.