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Good wines for $10 or less

This week’s NYT Dining & Wine section features a useful article about inexpensive wines:

Happiness for $10 or Less

The article’s author feels that “the best values are in the $10-to-$20 range, where you can find sensational wines made by small producers using traditional techniques. These sorts of wines are much harder to find at $10 and under”, and I agree. There’s a fine line between cheap (inexpensive) and cheap (bad), and it can be a challenge to find wines with any depth or personality at this price range. If you love your two-buck Chuck, that’s great. But for around $5 more, you can have something a little more interesting.

From the panel’s tasting of 25 red wines, here are the top five the article suggests, listed in order of preference:

Casa Cadaval Portugal Ribatejano, Padre Pedro 2002, $8.99
Domaine de l’Ameillaud France, Vin de Pays de Vaucluse 2005, $9
Viña Gormaz Spain Ribera del Duero, Tempranillo 2005, $9
Georges Duboeuf France, Beaujolais-Villages 2006, $9
Altas Cumbres Argentina Mendoza, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, $9

There are a few more mentioned in the article, but by no means is this an exhaustive list. The only one I’m familiar with is the Georges Dubouef, which is relatively easy to find — I believe Trader Joe’s carries it — but the others may require some digging. Take the list to your local wine shop to see if they carry them, or try a website like wine-searcher.com if you don’t mind buying online and paying for shipping.

A couple of my favorite under-$10 wines are available in the Chicago area. Here they are:

Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2005, $9.99

This South African sauvignon blanc is crisp and refreshing, with lime and green mango flavors and nice minerality. The style falls somewhere between the big juicy tropical and citrus fruits of the New Zealand sauvignon blancs and the lean, elegant minerality of Sancerres.

I like this as an aperitif or with some goat cheese and crackers. I found this at Gourmet 47 (112 N. May) in the West Loop. It’s been a while since I’ve gone there, so you may want to call to see if it’s still in stock.

Almira “Los Dos” Grenache/Syrah 2005, $6.99

Deliciously fragrant with ripe, juicy raspberry and cherry flavors. I think it’s safe to call this one a fruit bomb, but it’s Spanish, so it’s much more sophisticated than a jammy California fruit bomb like your typical merlots and whatnot. This one has a bit of minerality and a fairly long finish.

I first had this at avec last year and liked it so much I bought a case of the 2004 online since I couldn’t find it anywhere around here at the time. Then, of course, right after I got my shipment, I saw it at Lush, and now Sam’s Wine sells the 2005 for $6.99. It’s a great everyday, easy-drinking red.

As I’ve mentioned before, the best way to find the wine you like is to try lots of them. It may be a little more hit-or-miss in the under-$10 category, but at this price range it’s not too much of a loss if you run into a few duds.

wasabigelatine wants to know: What’s your favorite budget wine? (Night Train doesn’t count. Neither does Franzia.)

2 Comments

  1. Nina wrote:

    I generally do like Georges Duboeuf’s Beaujolais-Villages. Even better is the Beaujoulais Nouveau. But get those when they come out because they appear for about a month and then they’re gone!

    Monday, October 8, 2007 at 2:26 am | Permalink
  2. I really like Beaujoulais Nouveau as well and looking forward to it this year!

    Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

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