Wine value is a relative term. It all depends on how much money you have and how important wine is to you. In most wine publications, wine value is something that is good and is priced under $20 to $25. Personally, I happen to believe you can find value for less than that. One of my favorite wine writers, Ray Isle of Food and Wine Magazine recently went on a quest to find the 10 best bargain wines, bargain wines being defined as under $13.
His method was to ask the 12 biggest wine retailers around the country what their best sellers were under $13 in 2012; not what the wine store thought was best, but what people were actually buying. Ray concentrated on stores whose focus was wine, rather than on big box stores. The idea was to see if the best sellers were really wine values. Turns out some were. The final list was 120 wines. Then he did a blind tasting of all of them. Tough job, but someone had to do it.
Although most of the wines were neither very bad nor very good, there were exceptions, and he came up with a list of the 5 best red wine values and the 5 best white wine values. Yes, a Top 10 List, but in no particular order. Remember, these were all tasted blind, which means Ray did not know which wine he was tasting at any given time. That way you taste the wine, not the label.
He also offered the opinion that if a good wine retailer is pushing a wine you never heard of, instead of something familiar, it is most likely worth a look. My experience is that it depends on the retailer. Caveat Emptor – Let The Buyer Beware – is never a bad idea. If the retailer offers an opportunity to taste such a wine, however, take advantage of it. Grab wine values where and when you can.
Fortunately, I have had 6 of the top 10.
2011 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha. I have had the 2010 version, which is very similar. 100% Garnacha (Grenache), it is a very bright, fruit driven Spanish red that will be at home with a backyard BBQ. Good Stuff
2010 Tormaresca Neprica. The 2009 version of this Italian wine was featured in a post here on Avoid Bad Wine.com. It was described as a great wine value then, and it still is. A blend of 3 grapes, it is full of spicy red fruit.
2010 Pascual Toso Malbec. This is a well known Argentinian producer whose founder emigrated from Italy many years ago. The basic Malbec is typical, with dark fruit. There is so much Malbec around, it is good to hear about one that is a good value.
2010 Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. I have not had this wine, but it is widely available. Based on Ray Isle’s recommendation, I’m going to grab some.
2011 Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. The ubiquitous KJ Chard has been something of a joke to so-called knowledgeable wine people. In all honesty it has been kind of sweet and flabby in the past. I have not had this wine in a couple of years, but again, based on Ray’s recommendation, I’m going to try it again. He calls it “…remarkably good. Rich without being fat”. Rich without being fat is a good thing for just about anybody. Try the KJ.
2011 Dashwood New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Typical of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, if you like it, you’ll like this one. It leans toward the gooseberry/green pepper side of the SB flavor spectrum.
2011 Kris Pinot Grigio. I tried the 2010 version of this, and it was very good. Like with Malbec, there is an ocean of Pinot Grigio around, and it is good to find a reliable value.
If you get the chance, Click Here to check out Ray Isle’s blog.