It must be nice to be able to walk into a wine store and think, “Money is no object!” I do know folks who can afford to buy the most expensive bottles—the ones they keep locked in glass cases—and, sometimes, they share those bottles with me. However, I’m not one who can afford them. And, odds are, neither are you.
But that’s OK, because the biggest kick I get out of drinking and writing about wine is to find and share bargains. As I’ve said before, any old billionaire can walk into a wine store and walk out with a bottle of Henri Jayer Richebourg Grand Cru Burgundy for $16,000. But finding an interesting, tasty, well-made wine for under $10? Now there’s a challenge. Well, here are seven such wines that will set you back less than a single Hamilton.
Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc ($9.99): Named for a small bay tucked away on New Zealand’s Marlborough Coast, this wine is crisp and lively—a prototypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with passion fruit and grapefruit notes, along with hints of pineapple. Think shellfish.
Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc by Robert Mondavi ($6.99): Robert Mondavi Winery produces some 8 million—yes, million—cases of wine each year, so they certainly don’t need my help. However, I’m a big fan of this prototypical example of California Sauvignon Blanc, which frequently goes on sale here for $3.99 a bottle. It’s fermented in stainless-steel tanks and aged sur lie (on the yeast) which helps give the wine a surprisingly rich texture for the price. There’s a slightly smoky note that I really like, too. It’s great with pasta and white clam sauce.
Vinne Sklepy Lechovice MÃ¼ller-Thurgau ($9.59): I don’t run across too many Czech wines, but this one’s a great bang for your koruna. It’s made from the white grape variety called MÃ¼ller-Thurgau and has crisp green-apple flavors, peachy aromas and a nutty, mineral finish. It’s a good partner for white fish dishes.
Mirador Iberico ($7.99): Following his visit to the States in 2008, Spanish winemaker Carlos Rodriguez was driven to make a low-cost, high-quality wine for this market. With his 100 percent Tempranillo Mirador Iberico, he’s succeeded. This is a nicely balanced, medium-bodied wine with well-integrated hints of vanilla and oak—a terrific choice for a tapas tasting.
35 Degrees South Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot ($9.99): This tasty Chilean red is an 85/15 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Maipo and Rapel valleys. It’s organically made from hand-harvested grapes, with fermentation done in small tanks, and is a spicy, slightly smoky wine that will light up your backyard barbecue.
Line 39 Petite Syrah ($9.99): Line 39 is California’s Cecchetti Wine Company’s line of value wines, made by talented winemaker Bob Broman. And this Petite Syrah is a great example of the word “value.” It’s a rich, full-bodied wine with dark fruit flavors, hints of oak and a lengthy finish—a wine to bring to (or order at) your favorite steakhouse.
ChÃ¢teau du Donjon Rosé Minervois ($7.99): Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region of France, Minervois is an AOC that is the source of many good wine values. I first discovered Minervois at Tony Bourdain’s Les Halles restaurant, back when I was in grad school and couldn’t afford wines over $10. This lively Rosé is a salmon-colored blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. It’s brimming with ripe strawberry aromas, but don’t think for a minute that this is a sweet wine. It’s bone dry and goes great with baked ham and roasted chicken.