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Value Wines: 15 Currently Available Good Values

July 13, 2010

Martin Weiner (yellow windbreaker) and his Saturday Wine Lunch group

I readily admit it: I’m not really a “value wines” kind of guy. If you’ve been following my posts over the years, or this blog, you know I mainly write about high end wines, especially the old and rare, like vintage Madeiras and Grand Cru Burgundy. As a wine enthusiast, I am after the extraordinary aesthetic highs wines like that can deliver, and it’s best not to think too much about the cost. I also love geeky wines–out of the way varietals and wines from overlooked regions–and my focus there, again, is on their aesthetic and/or intellectual value. Nonetheless, I respect those who regularly do focus on wine values, people like Jason Mancebo who writes the $20 Wine Blog: http://www.20dollarwineblog.com, and one of my longtime buddies in the wine business, Martin Weiner, who loves high end wines as much as I do, but who has also for many years put out a bi-monthly newsletter called “Martin’s Wines to Wine Bargains.”

Martin and his well-heeled but budget-conscious buddies (my beloved Saturday lunch group in L.A., pictured above) have taught me to be particularly respectful and appreciative of great wine that also happens to be well priced. Because I do a vast amount of tasting (over 4,000 wines a year), and try to adhere to a personal wine budget, really good wines that are not very expensive get even my attention. So while this blog will never be devoted to value or bargain wines, as that’s just not my passion, I will periodically highlight wines here that I come across in my tasting travels that strike me as especially good values.

The following 15 are wines that stood out to me in tastings over the past 12 months as particularly good values for their type, and I believe most of these are still available for purchase. As you’ll see below, one is a sparkling wine, 7 represent a diverse array of whites, 4 are Pinots (and I taste more Pinot than anything else, and know just how rare and special a decent bottle of Pinot for under $25 is), while the final 3 are other Reds (2 Syrahs and a Port blend).

I look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions as to additional wines to check out that might add to this list.

Sparkling

  • 2006 Josep Maria Raventós i Blanc Cava L’Hereu de Nit – Spain, Catalunya, Cava (4/25/2010)
    Very light salmon pink color; light strawberry, roses nose; creamy textured, tart strawberry, floral, roses palate; medium finish (disgorged 7/17/09; good value at $19) (91 pts.)
  • Whites

    • 2008 Argie Torrontés – Argentina, Mendoza (7/2/2010)
      Very light canary yellow color; nice, floral, orange blossom nose; tasty, lightly oily textured, flavorful, tart citrus, grapefruit, lime, smoke, mineral palate; medium finish 90+ pts. (good value for about $12) (90 pts.)
    • 2008 Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Petit – South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch (4/28/2010)
      Light yellow color; apple, mineral, lime nose; tasty, tart lime, green fruit, mineral palate with good acidity; medium finish (good value for about $10) (90 pts.)
    • 2009 Claudia Springs Viognier Lolonis Vineyard – USA, California, North Coast, Redwood Valley (4/27/2010)
      Honeysuckle, floral nose; tasty, poised, tart citrus, apple, honeysuckle palate; medium finish (decent value for $20) (90 pts.)
    • 2009 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough (3/5/2010)
      Very light yellow color; big lemon grass, lime nose; solid, juicy, tart lemon grass, lime, mineral, green herb palate with good acidity; medium finish (good value for around $15) (89 pts.)
    • 2008 J. C. Pichot Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette – France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Vouvray (1/29/2010)
      Light green yellow color; peach, green fruit nose; juicy, tart peach, ripe lime, mineral palate; medium finish (always a good value, usually around $12 to $13) (90 pts.)
    • 2008 Corvidae Wine Co. Chardonnay Mirth – USA, Oregon/Washington (9/16/2009)
      Very light canary yellow color; lemon cream, tangerine, lime nose; creamy textured, lemon cream, lime, solid palate; medium-plus finish (good value for under $11) (90 pts.)
    • 2007 Domaine Guy Roulot Bourgogne Blanc – France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc (9/8/2009)
      Bright yellow color; lemon, orange, white flower, oily nose; tasty, youthful, mineral, tart yellow fruit, lemon, light oily texture; medium finish (good value at $22 retail) (91 pts.)
    • Pinot Noir

    • 2008 Evening Land Vineyards Pinot Noir The Evening Coast – USA, American (6/27/2010)
      Rosehips, hyacinth nose; tart red fruit, rosehips palate; medium finish (90% Sonoma, 10% Santa Rita Hills fruit; good value at $25) (89 pts.)
    • 2007 Husch Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Bottled – USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley (4/27/2010)
      Big cherry nose; very tasty, cherry, spice palate with balance; medium finish 91+ pts. (10 mos. in French oak, 25% new; great value at $23) (91 pts.)
    • 2008 WildAire Cellars Pinot Noir Timothy – USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley (3/27/2010)
      Dark cherry red color with pale meniscus; tart cherry, cranberry nose; tart strawberry, sous bois, mineral palate; medium finish 89+ pts. (16 mos., 20% new French oak; good value for under $20) (89 pts.)
    • 2006 Cambria Pinot Noir Julia’s Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (12/20/2009)
      Tart cherry, cranberry nose; tart cherry, mineral, cranberry palate with good acidity; medium finish (great value for about $18) (91 pts.)
    • Other Reds

    • N.V. Quinta do Noval Porto Noval Black – Portugal, Douro, Porto (5/18/2010)
      Opaque red violet color; tart berry, black fruit nose; tasty, rich, berry, blackberry, raspberry palate; medium-plus finish (good value at $16 to $22) (91 pts.)
    • 2008 Domaine Faury Syrah Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes – France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes (3/10/2010)
      Dark red violet color; big, herbaceous, pepper, smoke, roasted meat nose; tasty, tart black fruit, herbaceous, pepper, smoke palate; medium-plus finish (good value for under $20) (92 pts.)
    • 2007 Novy Family Wines Syrah Napa Valley – USA, California, Napa Valley (8/10/2009)
      Dark red violet color; tight but intriguing black fruit and tar nose with a touch of green peppercorn; nice, ripe and tasty blackbery, mulberry, berry and tar palate with good texture and balance; medium-plus finish (declassified Page Nord fruit, 70% from young vines and 30% from older vines near the river; winemaker Adam Lee’s #1 wine of the 10 Novy Syrahs we tasted blind too, this will be a tremendous value at $20 or so on release) (93 pts.)


    RJ, not drinking “value wines”

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