There's no particular theme to this last-minute grab bag of good, inexpensive wines, though I was flipping through my notes and I did come across this comment from wine importer Bart Broadbent: "Wines are like people. If they please everyone, they're bland." This was said in the context of a tasting of Chateau Musar's unquestionably un-bland wines, but it's good food for thought regardless.
Anyway. I don't think that the 2006 Feudi di San Marzano Sud Negroamaro ($12) from Puglia would necessarily please everyone—it's too luscious and dark-fruited for folks who like their reds lean and angular—but it would certainly please a lot of people with its cassis and blackberry fruit. And no, it isn't bland.
Even less bland is the impressive 2006 Domaine de la Petite Cassagne Rouge ($15) a juicy, lightly funky red with black plum fruit and prickly tannins that wake up your tongue. It's a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane from the Costières-de-Nimes, and it's a steal.
Once your tongue is awake, you could keep it that way by drinking some 2007 Rocky Gully Shiraz-Viognier ($14), which proves that not all inexpensive Aussie Shiraz tastes like blackberry jam. This one is lighter than the usual run, with bright fruit and evocative peppery notes in both the aroma and the taste. Stunning with seared kangaroo kidneys, or what have you.
If you're after rosé—which, yes, can still be drunk without hesitation despite the season—the 2007 Jean-Luc Colombo Rosé de Côte Bleue ($13) has a pretty raspberry-strawberry character and good texture. It's still drinking just fine. And if you put it outside for twenty minutes, it'll be exactly the right temperature.