This website has recently featured three great Italian red wine
values, so in anticipation of unveiling our official Top 5 Italian Red Wine Values
list, it’s fitting that we found sales on two more candidates.
Unfortunately, we’re not likely to see the $8 sale prices we found
for Tormaresca Neprica Puglia IGT
at the end of last year, at least until the new 2011 vintage reaches the Washington area, and maybe not until clearance sales later this year. (The 2011 has been released in some parts of the country
, but we haven’t found it in Virginia, Maryland or the District yet. The importer and distributor say it’s in the warehouse and coming soon.)
The 2010 vintage is on sale at Pearson’s in Glover Park
a bottle, marked down from an inflated $15.99 regular price. It can be found in the District at Rodman’s on Wisconsin Ave.
for $9.99 and at Calvert Woodley
for $10.99. It’s also available in Maryland at some Montgomery County Liquor stores
for $10.85 a bottle, but Total Wine
has bumped its price up to $11.99. (So glad we scored a case of the 2010 at the old $7.99 price.
As noted in the Top 5 French red wine values
, 2006 Château de Ségriès
was among the first Cotes du Rhônes recommended in this column
. Six vintages later, you can try the 2012 for the same $9 sale price featured here more than four years ago.
There are probably a dozen or more Cotes du Rhônes that are credible candidates to join Château de Ségriès and the various bottlings from Perrin et Fils on the Top 5 French red wine values
list. But none have the consistency year-in and year-out of the basic red from Henri de Lanzac, who bought the Château de Ségriès estate nearly 20 years ago and has been improving the wines ever since.
This website was a little late alerting readers to the latest vintage of a pair of Top 5 Italian red wines. Supplies were already running thin when we recommended the 2010 vintage of both Falesco Vitiano Rosso
and Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Superiore le Orme
last week. That shouldn’t be the case with “a Tuscan classic” that’s just now reaching the market.
The 2009 vintage of Monte Antico Rosso Tuscana
got an extra six months of aging in bottle before its release, and it’s only now showing up on store shelves; you’re just as likely to find the 2008 or even 2007 in many wine
shops. And though the new vintage hasn’t yet been scored by the critics, it comes from a long line of delicious reds that have scored well every year over the past 20 or more, yet still sells for between $10 and $12 a bottle. The 2006 earned a place on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2009
(we recommended it
a month before the Spectator
list came out), scoring 90 points, followed by the 88-point 2007 (recommended here
) and 88-point 2008.
The red blend recommended earlier this week
has been a go-to Italian wine for nearly 15 years because it’s always good and almost always available for less than $10 a bottle. But as Food & Wine
magazine’s Ray Isle observes in the current issue
, “No one does $15 better than Italy.”
Indeed, if you can spend just a bit more than $10 for a bottle, there are lots of wonderful reds from Italy that are versatile and food-friendly, making them perfect companions to the backyard barbeque. And right now there are bargains to be had on some delightful wines you may want to stock up on for the barbeque season—assuming springtime ever really comes
to the Washington area.
Because this is a value wine
website, and we live in one of the most competitive wine markets in the country, we’d paraphrase our colleague Mr. Isle to assert that “no one does $12 better than Italy” (with apologies to Spain, Argentina, Chile and southern France, who could arguable make the same claim). Among our favorite consistently pleasing, perfect-for-grillin’ Italian reds
is Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti Superiore le Orme
, widely available in the Washington area for as little as $12 a bottle.
Our annual spring call to be on the lookout for versatile Italian red wines
to help launch backyard barbeque season comes a little late this year. The lingering chill kept us from hunting down these springtime staples at the first sign of warmth in March as we typically do.
And now since we're about a month behind in the hunt, the current vintage of our top go-to Italian red might be a bit harder to find than usual.
We bought the last 12 bottles of Falesco Vitiano Rosso 2010
at the Total Wine
in McLean yesterday for the insanely low everyday price of $7.99
a bottle ($7.19 with the 10 percent case discount). And a quick spot check of other Total Wine stores found just a handful of bottles left on the shelf in Fairfax, Alexandria and Chantilly in Virginia and in Laurel and Towson in Maryland (where it costs a still-reasonable $9.99 a bottle).
Usually the first week or two of spring has us looking for white wine values. But the ground hog was wrong this year, and we’re still reaching for hearty reds to ward off the lingering chill.
Among our favorite value reds is one that defies the rule of thumb often repeated in this column: that California is not a great source of good, inexpensive wine. We’ve frequently chided California for its low-priced Cabernet Sauvignon
– better values can be found south of the border – and inexpensive chardonnay
– typically and overoaked and unexciting. But we’ve always been fans of the state’s kitchen-sink red blends.Sacred Stone Master's Blend, St. Francis RED Sonoma County
, Ledgewood Creek "Owl House Red" California
and Snap Dragon California Red
are just a few of the “field blends” that defy California’s well-earned reputation for making lots of good, expensive wine, but generally turning out lackluster, generic-tasting wines at affordable price points.
Incredibly consistent quality, wide availability across the Washington area and persistently low prices are the hallmarks of our Top 5 Value Wines
. And there’s possibly no more consistently good inexpensive red than Borsao Garnacha, a tremendous bargain at its typical price of $8 to $10 a bottle, on sale now for less than $7 a bottle.
The 2011 vintage of Borsao Garnacha
earned 90 points from Wine Advocate
, its highest score ever, culminating a remarkable string of excellent scores for 16 vintages spanning 18 years. (Robert Parker’s influential newsletter didn’t review the 2002 or 1997 vintages, though those two years earned “Good” ratings and appealing reviews from Wine Spectator.) Borsao’s string of consistently good wines with sub-$10 price tags dating back to 1993 is truly unprecedented.
The DC Budget Wine Examiner
took a road trip Friday with two main goals: to check out a DC wine
institution that had suddenly changed hands, and to pick up the new vintage of one of our Top 5 Spanish red wine values
at a ridiculously low sale price.
We stumbled upon the news last week the same way a lot of Magruder’s shoppers did, by first noticing the thinly stocked shelves then the 50-percent-off everything signs that went up Wednesday. The local grocery chain that’s been a Washington-area institution since 1875 was selling its remaining four stores
, including the Chevy Chase store that has been an oasis for value wine shoppers as long as memory serves. But while the stores in Alexandria, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Vienna were selling off inventory and still seeking a buyer, the Chevy Chase store on Connecticut Ave. was already sold and would continue to operate as Magruder’s under new ownership.
If you are heading downtown to stock up on the delicious and affordable reds from France’s Rhône Valley recommended here last week
, you might want to stop in Chevy Chase on the way.Paul’s Wine and Spirits
on Wisconsin Ave. in Friendship Heights (more convenient to you Montgomery County wine drinkers) today announced its “Inventory Reduction Sale,” slashing 20 to 30 percent off Rhône Valley wines in the store. Among them, as noted last week, is the 2009 La Grand Ribe Cotes du Rhone Villages Centenaire
that Robert Parker of Wine Advocate
says “tastes more like a Chateauneuf du Pape than a Cotes du Rhone.”
And instead of the $12- to $13-a-bottle sale price highlighted last week, Paul’s is selling the wine Parker scored a whopping 91-93 points for just $10.49
a bottle, easily the lowest price in the country
And if $10 is still too rich for you blood, there’s another awesome $8 bargain on a perennial Rhône favorite –Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve 2010
– at least through tomorrow at Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits
. And the Chevy Chase price of $7.99
a bottle for a wine Parker called a “top value” at $18 is also the lowest price in the country
. (It’s also on sale at for $7.99 Schneider’s of Capital Hill
, but appears to be sold out.)
Among the highlights of the New Year – at least for budget wine
shoppers – is the annual release of the Wine Curmudgeon’s $10 Hall of Fame
. His recommendations are almost always spot-on, and seeking out these wines locally is a January ritual for this column.
But this year one of our New Year’s resolutions is to venture more regularly outside our $10-and-under comfort zone. That’s not to say we’re abandoning our core value sensibilities. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the golden age of inexpensive wine, when, as the Curmudgeon points out, there are more bottles than ever of delicious whites, reds and rosès available for $10 or less. Everyday wine drinking – a responsible and healthy glass or two daily – doesn’t have to cost more than $2 to $4 a day; half the cost and immeasurably better for you as a pack-a-day cigarette habit.
Yet a $10-a-bottle threshold seems a bit too confining these days, when we’re awash in delicious wine that’s so affordably priced. Enjoying the occasional $12 to $13 bottle, or breaking out a $15 bottle for a nice Saturday night steak dinner isn’t exactly going to break the bank. A $12 bottle only adds about 40 cents to the cost of a glass of wine, compared with a $10 bottle, while a $15 bottle still yields a $3 glass of wine; hardly an extravagance every now and then.