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Are there any decent wines under $7?

trolley Oct 27, 2007 06:24 PM

I just came back from TJ's and spent about 30 min looking at all the wines to come home with none. I noticed there are quite a few bottles for $5.99 and even $4.99. I recently put myself on a budget and was wondering if anyone has had any great luck with those "cheap" wines aside from chuck shaws.

  1. t
    thursday Mar 8, 2008 01:57 PM

    At TJ's there's a great Cave des Papes Cote-du-Rhone at $4.99 (squat bottle, gold label), a white Cote du Rhone also at $4.99--I forget the maker, but I'll repost if I find it and it's the only they sell--, a great Rioja (they have white, red, and pink, but the red is the best--around $8) and my personal new favorite, a Vouvray made by...LaChateau, (I think? Something like that) at $5.99 that's excellent--peachy without being sweet, perfect for hot nights with meaty fish like salmon or spicy foods. At the grocery and Costco, you can usually find Chateau St. Michelle for less than $7 on sale--their Reisling is very sweet but exactly what I want when I want a Reisling, and their Cab, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are all reliable, though sometimes a couple of dollars more than your price range.

    I love trying new cheapies from Trader Joe's and rarely get steered wrong...how can you go wrong for less than $6 a bottle?

    1 Reply
    1. re: thursday
      j
      jjrzut Mar 8, 2008 09:59 PM

      I've recently had the Cote-du-Rhone you reference and enjoyed it (though at $5.99) but I've read elsewhere reports that 1 out of 2 bottles may be tainted. Hopefully they have solved those quality issues. As of now I plan on buying more until the same thing happends to me.

    2. j
      jjrzut Mar 3, 2008 09:54 PM

      Many people don't like filtering through the masses at Trader Joe's to uncover the gems. Me, myself, I find it an adventure. Here are my Top 10 for February:

      1. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico - $5
      2. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere - $7
      3. 2005 Rocking Horse Napa Valley Zinfandel - $8
      4. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc - $8
      5. 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot - $6
      6. 2005 Kono Sauvignon Blanc - $8
      7. 2004 Chasing Clouds Central Ranges Shiraz - $3
      8. 2006 Aquila d’Oro Toscana - $4
      9. 2006 Castle Rock Monterrey County Pinot Noir - $10
      10. 2005 Archero Nero d’ Avola Ruggero di Tasso - $4

      Half of these are in your price range and should help the budget.

      Hope you enjoy!

      Jason
      www.jasonswineblog.com

      1 Reply
      1. re: jjrzut
        Walla2WineWoman Mar 3, 2008 10:07 PM

        Jason, I'm with you. I love going looking through wines and even the closeout bins. It's like hunting for a treasure. And it has paid off when I have found some medal winning wines for half the price.

      2. d
        domaine547 Mar 2, 2008 10:39 AM

        don't have time to read through all these posts so forgive any repetition. The Protocolo Tinto and Blanco are decent for under $7 a bottle, as is Borsao. They won't blow you away, but I find them far more appealing than the Yellowtails of the world...

        I should add...Trader Joe's gets their wines from one distributor for the most part, so you're missing out if you're just picking your wines up there. Zin1953 makes a good point about learning from your smaller/local wine merchants. Though there is one wine that I like a lot at Trader Joe's (from a different distributor than the majority of their wares), and that's the 05 Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone. It's $6.99 and I think the best deal in the store.

        1. c
          cavandre Dec 10, 2007 08:10 AM

          World Market is selling a Hess Cal. Cab. called "XS Red 2005" for $5.99 a bottle.

          Tastes like it should cost 2 or 3 times the price.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cavandre
            Walla2WineWoman Mar 2, 2008 10:33 AM

            I haven't heard that Yellow Tail's sweetness is a result of chaptilization and I rather doubt it. They just don't ferment it all the way to dry leaving a small percentage of RS. I don't care for Yellow Tail, but in it's defense, I think it is an okay red wine for beginner's who want to wean themselves off of white wine and start learning to drink reds. And hoping that they eventually wean themselves off of Yellow Tail reds.

            When in doubt, I tell people to look for the Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest brands of wine. There are often sales for about $6.99 and these are really great wines for the dollar (and even win awards). Sageland Merlot was mentioned above and I agree - good wine for the dollar.

          2. misohungrychewlow Nov 23, 2007 08:48 PM

            Don't have the labels in front of me, but ... Cavit Italian pinot grigio ... Casilleros de Diablo Chilean sauvignon blanc ... a really good barbera de Alba from TJ's ... Tuscan Moon sangiovese from TJ's, also their pinot grigio ... Marcos de Riscal rueda, TJ's ... Pine & Post chardonnay and merlot, from Washington ... Santa Rita 120 wines from Chile ... TJ's usually has a hodge podge of cheap Bordeaux, Medoc, etc. on hand -- they are often drinkable ... Indaba chard and SB from South Africa ... Fetzer ... Hays Ranch.

            1. c
              Cerise 37 Nov 23, 2007 07:55 PM

              Okay, sent my husband to buy the Archeo Nero d'Avolo from TJ. We opened it and it smelled of plums, took a sip and tasted prunes. ( his first comments were dry, short finish, no complexity, but okay) Let it it sit as he grilled a Butterflied Leg of Lamb, also from TJ's that was just the right size for 2 to 4 people. (never seen one so small, but perfect for you, your better half and a couple of friends.)

              It tasted damn good with the lamb, and reminded us of wine froma local village in France. He said he felt the value was of a $7.99 to $8.99 wine.

              This is why I love Chowhounds, I would never have noticed the wine, otherwise.

              Okay, now let's see if you are paying attention. I had a Reisling from South Eastern Australia and it tasted like gasoline. I'm not kidding. What went wrong? Ghastly! '. What happened?

              It was truly shocking, because a couple of nights before, I had a Reisling from the Clare Valley (Australia) that was sublime.

              Thanks!

              Cerise

              1. AnneInMpls Nov 9, 2007 02:13 PM

                Here's one - at the top of your price range - that I really like.

                Chateau d'Oupia 'Les Heretiques' Vin de Pays de l'Hérault

                It usually costs $7 - $8 (and it's on sale at my neighborhood store for $6). This wine is rustic, hearty, rich, and very tasty with Mediteranean food.

                Anne

                1 Reply
                1. re: AnneInMpls
                  z
                  zin1953 Nov 9, 2007 04:11 PM

                  Great choice!

                2. jcoz23 Nov 9, 2007 01:12 PM

                  I would try the Archeo Nero D'Avola at Trader Joes for $5. Decent, full flavored Sicilian wine, not watered-down tasting like the two buck chuck. Other than that, the only thing I have found that cheap with any flavor is an Aussie shiraz, and the "Wrongo Dongo" Spanish wine referenced in the first reply... I got that for $7 (but it was on sale) at Cost Plus a few weeks ago.

                  1. c
                    comestible Nov 7, 2007 08:59 AM

                    Well, I am in NYC and the local liquor place has Pepperwood Shiraz, very good at $7. I like the Carmenere that was mentioned, but it is closer to $10-12 here. Manhattan's Warehouse Wines/Spirits always has something decent in that range.

                    There are some Italian Primitivos in the $7 range.

                    When I have a car available, I like to drive over to Bayway Liquors in Elizabeth, NJ. There is a Portuguese community there, and the store accommodates them with quite a few good Portuguese and Spanish wines...astounding how cheap some are...$3.99 even. I haven't had the nerve to try the Portuguese red that comes in a 3-4 liter bottle yet...I'm the only one drinking wine in the house, and it would go bad before I finished it anyway.

                    1. Chuckles the Clone Nov 5, 2007 08:33 PM

                      Santa Rita cab from Chile sells for about $7 at TJs and is completely drinkable.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone
                        pierrot Nov 6, 2007 02:47 PM

                        There are some good deals on box wines. They mean nothing on quality and are often better than wines in a similar price range b/c they don't cost so much from the packaging. One great wine- the Faux Frog Pinot Noir box. Sells for around 30 dollars- about 4-5 bottles worth. Is it it the greatest pinot of course not, but a great deal for a easy drinking red. store it in the fridge and tap a glass when you want. box's will typically keep for about 4 weeks.

                      2. c
                        Chicago Mike Oct 31, 2007 03:57 PM

                        California riesling

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Chicago Mike
                          drewb123 Nov 1, 2007 01:06 AM

                          Tres pinos or penos? I si 4.99 awesome!!! it is 3 grapes blended. I scored 1 0f 2 bottles left on the bottom shelf. I have had compliments as well, stock up!!!!

                          1. re: drewb123
                            Zucumber84 Nov 1, 2007 12:17 PM

                            Yes - I like this wine! It is great and unbelievably cheap! Let the wine flow!

                            1. re: Zucumber84
                              trolley Nov 1, 2007 03:00 PM

                              you guys are awesome. these suggestions are wonderful.

                        2. diablo Oct 31, 2007 07:32 AM

                          1. Barefoot wines makes a good chardonnay and pinot grigio.
                          2. Jacobs Creek (all types)
                          3. Alice White chardonnay
                          4. Concha Y Toro (all Types)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: diablo
                            Zucumber84 Oct 31, 2007 08:38 AM

                            I lived in Chile for 5 months and I have to say I am addicted to South American wines. You can usually find a Malbec or Chilean/Argentine wine at a really decent price. The South American wines are just entering the market, which is why they are so low cost, it is all about getting people to drink them.

                            I suggest staying with a region, more than a price range when it comes to win.

                            1. re: Zucumber84
                              o
                              olasek Oct 31, 2007 03:29 PM

                              >> The South American wines are just entering the market, which is why they are so low cost <<

                              You may be right. I purchased recently Argentine Altocedro Reserva Malbec 2003 - for $16 a bottle I could not believe what kind of wine I was getting for the price. I quickly scooped up all the remaining bottles in the store.

                              1. re: olasek
                                karmalaw Feb 28, 2008 11:05 AM

                                good score... here in Florida the same wine is $29.99 a bottle :-(... and I agree -- it's a great wine - even at $29.

                              2. re: Zucumber84
                                c
                                cooknKate Dec 7, 2007 04:21 AM

                                Count me in as another enthusiastic supporter of South American wines. I love malbec, carmenere, torrontes. Prices are reasonable and the wine is always a pleasure.

                              3. re: diablo
                                TMWeddlle Dec 12, 2007 06:50 AM

                                As to OP - it all depends on what you call "decent" but I really like the Frontera - Concha Y Toro wines also - especially the the Carmenere!! A 1.5 litre retails here (Central Ohio) for less than ten dollars.

                              4. c
                                chazzerking Oct 29, 2007 08:32 PM

                                Look at the thread on this board about wine cubes and 2BC. there are a number of quite drinkable swills listed there, almost all for less than $7.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: chazzerking
                                  g
                                  gryphonskeeper Oct 30, 2007 04:56 PM

                                  lol@ drinkable swills... I hear you there brother.

                                  I have eaten in some crappy places, but when it comes to wine I just can't... to me wine is all about the love.

                                2. v
                                  Val Oct 29, 2007 06:04 PM

                                  We don't have TJ's here in FL...but I can find a (very) few $7 or under that are decent: Almira Los Dos, Wyndham Estates Bin 555 Shiraz, Norton Malbec and Fuego Garnacha. Those are ones that I've bought a few times. For my favorite recent splurge, I bought an outstanding Calina Carmenere for $10.99; oh boy oh boy, I do like Carmeneres! That was my first carmenere, too.

                                  1. Chinon00 Oct 29, 2007 05:03 PM

                                    I've noticed that price and quality can be often varietal driven. For example, it has been to my observation very difficult to get quality Pinot Noir for under $20. Where really solid quality Sauvignon Blanc is easily had for under $10. I picked up one from NZ called Stormhoek for $7.99 that was sharp and acidic with gooseberry and all the rest. Quite good. Cheap Chardonnay that is decent can be had but it tends to be of the big butter bomb variety. Cheap Rose can also be readily had for under $10. I enjoyed Mouton Cadet Rose all this summer for $6.99. Cheap Cabernet Sauvignon can be rather anonymous, all sort of having that New World oaked up sweetness to them. I've never had a decent Riesling under $10 although good Alsace can be had for around $15.

                                    1. tacostacoseverywhere Oct 29, 2007 02:50 PM

                                      I dig the Valle Escondido line from Gougenheim... their malbec and syrah are both quite good, and the rest of the line is at the very least varietally correct. Should be retailing around 7-8.

                                      1. c
                                        chefdilettante Oct 29, 2007 01:12 PM

                                        Frank, are you thinking of the Rene Barbier Mediteranean Tinto? I agree it's not bad.

                                        My pick is definitely the Grao Vasco Dao. We stock up on it for $5.99 bottle and use it as a great go-to quaff and for cooking (it's unoaked). Rustic would describe it, but in a good--not cloying--way.

                                        1. f
                                          FrankJBN Oct 29, 2007 12:46 PM

                                          "Decent" leaves a lot of 'wiggle room'.

                                          I buy Mouton Cadet for $6.12. Go ahead, tell me you can't drink it..

                                          I think Latour's Ardeche Chardonnay is around $6.99, likewise Wyndham Estate's.

                                          I recommend - damme - I can't think of the name - Spanish guy, makes a red, white and rose - certainly the white is worth buying at $4.00 and both of the others are "decent" Nope, I just can't think of it. They're in clear bottles - the white has a beach scene. Look at your local's cheap wine shelf.

                                          DuBeouef makes a blended red VdP wine that sells around $4.

                                          If you are lucky, you might find Osborne Solaz for $7 and change.

                                          Look for Portuguese Dao. Rustic, but can be right.

                                          1. a
                                            adventuresinbaking Oct 29, 2007 12:23 PM

                                            Vino Verde's (Green Wine) are typically a good budget wine. They are lite and a bit bubbly. My favorite is Casal Garcia, I pay about 8 bucks a bottle for it, although my local wine shop carries some for 6.

                                            They are fun and lite.

                                            1. washingtonred Oct 29, 2007 09:19 AM

                                              Yesterday at Fred Meyer I saw both Sageland's Merlot and Red Diamond's Merlot for 6.99. For a great cheap bottle they are both good!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: washingtonred
                                                todd149084 Oct 29, 2007 12:12 PM

                                                I have a great relationship with the wine buyer at my local QFC In westmoreland and she consistently gets me great wines, including a few budget brands. You get great pricing when you purchase by the case ( cost +10%)

                                                try pepperwood grove zinfandel.. about $55 bucks a case . This is our "house red" and goes great with just about anything

                                                Mosen Cleto - ( bottle covered in sand )- it's about $55 a case as well. it's a mix of 75% grenache and 25% syrah .. great everyday drinker

                                                We've also been drinking a lot of Campus Oaks Zinfandel - At 118 case it's not under $7 a bottle, but at less than $10/bottle it's a steal... it drinks better than most of the zins in the $25-35 range ( in my humble opinion )

                                              2. OysterHo Oct 28, 2007 06:53 PM

                                                Norton Malbec is really good, but I'm not sure if it's under 10 or 7. It's worth looking at though.

                                                1. s
                                                  Sobe Oct 28, 2007 01:39 PM

                                                  Arthur Damond's Wine Discoveries The Guide to Exceptional Wines Under Eight Dollars is a must buy. It's published bi-monthly and is a great source.

                                                  http://www.damondswinediscoveries.com/

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Sobe
                                                    b
                                                    bob192 Nov 17, 2007 07:30 AM

                                                    Second Mr. Damond's Wine Discoveries, using it more than Parker lately (and his notes on more expensive wines are generally right on the money too!)

                                                    1. re: bob192
                                                      z
                                                      zin1953 Nov 17, 2007 09:28 AM

                                                      I agree that Arthur Damond is a great source for inexpensive wines -- something Parker seems to have largely (but not completely) forgotten about.

                                                      That said, the very BEST source for information is one's local wine merchant. I don't mean your local supermarket, "big box" store, and mom-and-pop shop on the corner, but rather "serious" wine merchants. There are some (almost) everywhere. Here in the Berkeley/Oakland area we have a number of great high-end merchants, but they all carry "affordable" wines, too. I'll certainly grant you that it will be difficult to find "Under $7" wines at Kermit, North Berkeley and Premier Cru -- but in the $15-20 range, it certainly works.

                                                      Other stores actually feature low-end wines -- either exclusively or to a very significant extent. Stores like Vintage Berkeley, Solano Cellars, Oddlots, The Spanish Table, Paul Marcus, and Wine Mine ALL have selections of very affordable wines (as well as those on the higher end of things) AND a knowledgeable staff to help you find wines to suit your palate.

                                                      Even after 35+ years, I still learn more from my local wine merchants than I do from Parker, the Spectator, etc.

                                                      Cheers,
                                                      Jason

                                                      -----
                                                      Spanish Table
                                                      1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                      Vintage Berkeley
                                                      2113 Vine St, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                      Oddlots Wine Shop
                                                      1025 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                                                      Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
                                                      1605 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                      Paul Marcus Wines
                                                      5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

                                                      Premier Cru
                                                      1011 University Ave, Berkeley, CA

                                                      Solano Cellars Bistro & Wine
                                                      1580 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                                                      North Berkeley Wine Co
                                                      1601 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                      Wine Mine
                                                      5427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                  2. cassis Oct 28, 2007 12:10 PM

                                                    That's about my weekly budget too, and I find that TJ's is the only place with a selection in that range. Trouble is, they never seem to have the same wine twice if you find a good one. However, recently I enjoyed a Ruggero di Tasso Nero d'Avola for $4.99, and I won't drink chuck shaw either (ok for a party); none of them have been undrinkable. I have one of those nifty wine saver corks. Let us know if you find something good!

                                                    1. ChefJune Oct 28, 2007 10:28 AM

                                                      Gato Negro, a Chilean brand, sells in the New York market for around $5 for 1.5 liter bottle. The Sauvignon Blanc is downright tasty, and the Cabernet Sauvignon is not bad, either. Have the Chardonnay on deck for a fundraiser today. Haven't had that one yet, but the qpr is undeniable! and it's SO much better than yellowtail that there's no comparison!

                                                      Does everyone know that sugar is added to Yellowtail for the US market????? might as well drink white zin!

                                                      11 Replies
                                                      1. re: ChefJune
                                                        z
                                                        zin1953 Oct 28, 2007 10:33 AM

                                                        Hardly an issue, June. KJ has been deliberately leaving rs in their Chardonnay (and using Muscat) for years. Heck, DeLoach started leaving rs in their Chardonnay in 1981!

                                                        1. re: ChefJune
                                                          w
                                                          Winer Oct 28, 2007 01:36 PM

                                                          Does everyone know that sugar is added to Yellowtail for the US market????? might as well drink white zin!
                                                          What makes you think sugar is added for the US market?

                                                          1. re: Winer
                                                            maria lorraine Oct 28, 2007 05:12 PM

                                                            Is sugar added or is the fermentation stopped at about 2% RS?

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine
                                                              w
                                                              Winer Oct 28, 2007 05:18 PM

                                                              Chaptilization is against the law in Australia as far as I know

                                                              1. re: Winer
                                                                maria lorraine Oct 28, 2007 05:28 PM

                                                                My understanding is that chaptalization is sugar added to wine *before* fermentation to increase the percentage of alcohol. The sugar adds alcohol, not sweetness.

                                                                Sugar added after the ferm is complete would sweeten the wine. This would be in addition to any RS sweetness, or in lieu of stopping the ferm early. (And one way to stop a ferm is to add a lot of sugar.) Which is it for Yellowtail and other
                                                                slight RS wine brands?

                                                                1. re: maria lorraine
                                                                  w
                                                                  Winer Oct 28, 2007 05:50 PM

                                                                  Maria,
                                                                  Chaptilization can add both alcohol and sweetness depending on when you stall fermentation. Never the less [yellowtail] is not in the business of sweetening up wine. The initial post was off base infering that [yellowtail] added sugar for the American market as the entire brand was designed for the American market and only recently has been sold outside the US

                                                                  1. re: Winer
                                                                    maria lorraine Oct 28, 2007 05:59 PM

                                                                    Just to be clear, are you saying that the sweetness of Yellowtail is not the result of added sugar, that it is RS sweetness? Thanks........

                                                                    1. re: maria lorraine
                                                                      w
                                                                      Winer Oct 28, 2007 06:19 PM

                                                                      To the best of my knowledge it is not utilized, and the argument commonly put forth that they do is the fact that "enrichment" in some forms is legal in Australia, this is only BEFORE secondary fermentation and only used for sparkling wines, this is essentially grape concentrate as sugar is illegal to add in Australia.

                                                                      1. re: Winer
                                                                        n
                                                                        newJJD Nov 15, 2007 02:06 AM

                                                                        The process yellow tail and other critter wines often use is "Suss Reserve" or "Sweet Reserve" They save the sweet unfermented grape must and add it back into the fermented wine prior to bottling.

                                                                        In Europe, it is used to add sweetness to acidic wines and also to lower the alcohol content - good examples would be Riesling, Moscato d'Asti.

                                                                        In Australia, IMHO, it is used to cover up the harsh flavour of the wine that is made from the cheapest available grapes, usually from the Riverina region. Most of those grapes did not survive the horrible drought and frost of '07 so one wonders what Yellow Tail and others will do.

                                                                        I can't stand Yellow Tail. I am not a wine snob, I have wines cheaper than Yellow Tail in my cellar. To say that Yellow Tail must be among the best wines because of their sales volume, is to say McDonald's and Subway are among the great restaurants of the world, the Ford Focus is one of the best cars in the world, and the Holiday Inn is one of the world's finest hotels!

                                                                        1. re: newJJD
                                                                          z
                                                                          zin1953 Nov 15, 2007 05:24 AM

                                                                          In the US, the is called "back-blending" or "adding muté." It is he opposite of adding "Jesus Units."

                                                                          1. re: newJJD
                                                                            w
                                                                            Winer Nov 22, 2007 06:24 AM

                                                                            The process yellow tail and other critter wines often use is "Suss Reserve" or "Sweet Reserve" They save the sweet unfermented grape must and add it back into the fermented wine prior to bottling- newJJD
                                                                            I am curious how you know that Yellow Tail uses this process, regardless of your personal feelings on the wine.

                                                          2. z
                                                            zin1953 Oct 28, 2007 10:24 AM

                                                            Under $10, yes. Under $7, very difficult.

                                                            I generally don't find very interesting wines at TJ's, but YMMV.

                                                            16 Replies
                                                            1. re: zin1953
                                                              trolley Oct 28, 2007 10:34 AM

                                                              isn't it difficult? i'm tempted to buy a bottle at TJ's one day and probably will. really, it won't be a huge loss since i'd only be spending $6 or so. there's quite a few out there. my wine shop really doesn't carry anything under $7. since i'm unemployed right now i'm trying to be super budget conscious.

                                                              1. re: trolley
                                                                ttriche Oct 28, 2007 04:44 PM

                                                                Try the Casillero del Diablo Carmenere. 2005 was great with grilled meats, 2006 may be good too; it is the same price but I have no idea whether anything changes year-to-year in those great big tanks at Concho y Toro. They make a Cabernet which is also allegedly serviceable; I haven't tried that one.

                                                                The Muscadet, Cotes du Rhone (Les Moirets), and the weird Hungarian "Woodsman's White" made from Cserzegi Fuszeres (sp?) are all less than $7 at TJs and none of them ended up circling the drain in my house. Nothing earth shattering (although the Hungarian white probably will surprise you), but certainly better than their prices would suggest when I tried them. If they still have any of the Nero D'avola you might want to try that too. I think it was also sub-$7 and probably the only decent Italian wine I have had from TJ's.

                                                                The Latour 'Duet' Viognier/Chard was nice for $6 or whatever it cost, but beware, it is off-dry. Not bad, but certainly not a bone-dry white. We dumped about half a bottle into some mussels on Friday and drank the rest -- I liked it better than a Mersault which a dinner companion purchased recently, at probably 10x the price of this curious blend. But then, I've never come across an unadulterated Chardonnay which I actually enjoyed. YMMV.

                                                                Trader Joe's is a crapshoot, but let's put this in perspective -- most wines are. Just not to the extent of the stuff they stock at TJs :-). For $7 you can buy a wide variety of vinous lottery tickets from that vendor, some of which are dandy.

                                                                1. re: ttriche
                                                                  f
                                                                  FrankJBN Oct 29, 2007 12:35 PM

                                                                  I think one would be hard-pressed to find Casillero del Diablo Carmenere under $7

                                                                  1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                    Joe Blowe Oct 29, 2007 07:42 PM

                                                                    Just bought a bottle today at TJ's - $6.99 plus tax... ;-)

                                                                    1. re: FrankJBN
                                                                      ttriche Oct 31, 2007 09:23 PM

                                                                      My wife and I split a bottle (actually just a few glasses) with some lamb chops and red wine reduction on Monday. $6.99 at TJ's, Hastings Ranch, Pasadena, CA. The 2006 (which we had this time) was better than the 2005 (it's sturdier and more complex).

                                                                      I was at the Silverlake Trader Joe's today and the price was the same ($6.99).

                                                                      If you're paying more than $7 for this, you're getting a raw deal. Although it is still a good value since it tastes as complex as many far more expensive reds.

                                                                    2. re: ttriche
                                                                      goodhealthgourmet Nov 10, 2007 09:15 PM

                                                                      ttriche: if you're talking about the archeo nero d'avola, i'll second that suggestion. surprisingly solid.

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                        ttriche Nov 11, 2007 01:22 PM

                                                                        re. the Archeo / Ruggero di Tasso Nero d'Avola -- that's the one.

                                                                        Found another bottle on Friday in Eagle Rock, after visiting the Oinkster (which has gone downhill IMHO) -- now it's $3.99. At that price I bought two.

                                                                        It's not as satisfying as the Carmenere, but it is, as you said, surprisingly solid. (Is it as good as a Cerasuolo di Vittoria? Oh hell no. But considering the price, I'll let that slide... it's great for Italian Movie Night at Bulgarini, for example, and for $4, I would have to say it's twice as good as 2BC, too.)

                                                                    3. re: trolley
                                                                      z
                                                                      zin1953 Oct 29, 2007 07:26 AM

                                                                      Traditionally, from the days when TJ's first started through the early 1990s, people used to run to TJ's when they first received the latest issue of the "Fearless Flyer" with a corkscrew and a couple of wine glasses . . . they'd buy a bottle each of all the $1.99-3.99 wines that sounded interesting, and go back to the parkling lot. They'd open them up, taste them, and then go back inside and buy a case of the two or three bottles they really liked. So what if they didn't like ten out of the 12 -- they were only $2 each!

                                                                      Today, that approach isn't as practical, but some still do it. I prefer to seek out wines from serious wine merchants, not mass merchandisers, but that's me -- and as I said above, YMMV.

                                                                      1. re: trolley
                                                                        z
                                                                        zin1953 Oct 30, 2007 06:49 AM

                                                                        Keep in mind -- above all -- that what is "decent" (or even "excellent") to one individual may be different to another. We all have our own individual tastes. Obviously there are many people who think Charles Shaw (aka 2BC) is really good . . . why else would the same people go back to buy case after case after case? But to my palate . . . yuck! Same wine; two very different opinions.

                                                                        1. re: zin1953
                                                                          Chinon00 Oct 30, 2007 09:18 AM

                                                                          And I will say of that . . . chaos!

                                                                          1. re: zin1953
                                                                            trolley Oct 30, 2007 10:07 AM

                                                                            very true. that is why i specified "no chuck shaw" in hopes that I could set some kind of meter for my taste and what's acceptable as "decent", which you mentioned can be vast in definition.

                                                                            When I have money I try to buy wines from smaller stores. in my area i have a place called du vin in w.hollywood and a place called hertiage in pasadena, ca where i live. there's people there who know wines and can suggest good ones but they never carry anything priced as low as TJ's. i don't know much about wines. i drink it and know what i enjoy but that's about my extend. i also know i'm not a huge two buck chuck fan.

                                                                            all of these suggestions are great and i look forward to spending my meager unemployment check on some of them if i can find them in my area.

                                                                            1. re: trolley
                                                                              z
                                                                              zin1953 Oct 31, 2007 07:15 AM

                                                                              Money isn't an issue -- or at least, it shouldn't be. You can find great wines at Du Vin or Heritage (or Mission Wines, or Wine House, or even BevMo!) in the $10 range as well as the $100 range . . . I know this was the case when I shopped there, and still is in the places I shop in now . . . .

                                                                              1. re: zin1953
                                                                                ttriche Oct 31, 2007 09:33 PM

                                                                                If you're going shopping on a tight budget in Los Angeles, there's really only one place to go: the Chronicle Wine Cellar (http://www.cwcellar.com/) in Pasadena. Nothing else comes close (in every sense of the word, I'm afraid...

                                                                                )

                                                                                I like to go shopping at K&L when I am having people over for a nice dinner because Greg St. Clair, their Italian buyer, seems almost clairvoyant in terms of suggesting interesting (novel) matches that delight people. And he has forgotten more about Italian wines than I am ever likely to learn, which means I usually learn something when I go to K&L. But for raw value it is very hard to beat the old Chronicle operation. (I assume you are familiar with their very strange little ''store'' if you have lived down here)

                                                                                In spite of the motel-room ambiance, they carry interesting wines at extremely competitive prices. Plus they are the anti-BevMo in every respect that matters.

                                                                                1. re: ttriche
                                                                                  trolley Nov 2, 2007 09:05 AM

                                                                                  i live right near this place and i walked by it the other day. i will be taking a walk there today. thanks for the tip. there's seems to be some good stuff there. i like anything anti bevmo.

                                                                                  1. re: ttriche
                                                                                    GilbyEast Nov 6, 2007 03:23 PM

                                                                                    I loved Chronicle when I lived in Glendale. It is also a great place to get gifts. They have lots of wines in older vintages, so not much trouble to come up with a 1977 for a 30th birthday. Even if it is only of mediocre quality, it sure is a hoot. And if you go, don't forget to stop at Pie and Burger (if it's still there). Last I knew, they'd let you open a bottle with your burger.

                                                                                  2. re: zin1953
                                                                                    trolley Nov 1, 2007 03:01 PM

                                                                                    i like mission wines and heritage. i find great wines there in the 10-15 but rarely 4.99-5.99 range.

                                                                          2. Frodnesor Oct 27, 2007 08:51 PM

                                                                            I don't know what your wine store keeps in stock but here are a few very drinkable cheapies that I know of (all Spanish except the last which is Italian) ->

                                                                            - Bodegas Castano Monastrell
                                                                            - Bodegas Luzon "Luzon"
                                                                            - Bodegas Olivares Jumilla
                                                                            - Bodegas Borsao Campo de Borja
                                                                            - Juan Gil "Wrongo Dongo" Jumilla
                                                                            - Falesco Vitiano

                                                                            All should be well under $10 and can be found on winesearcher in $7-8 range.

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