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Inexpensive reds for expensive tastebuds?

I'm trying desperately to get into red wine, but I'm encountering a bit of a problem. The only reds I seem to enjoy come with hefty price tags. Ideally, I'd like to find something around $20 or less. The problem is that most of the reds I've tried in that range are either god-awful or completely unremarkable. While I have no problem shelling out for a nice bottle on a special occasion, I would really like to find a couple reds that I can drink on a daily basis without completely breaking my bank.

I'm a big fan of Silver Oak (and, to a lesser extent, Caymus). I like full-bodied wines that aren't too acidic and have a very smooth finish. Any suggestions?

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  1. BV coastal reds are a great value right now ($10 and less). BV's top vineyards (Latour and tapestry) had great production for 3 years running. BV doesn't bump up production numbers for these wines, they are capped. The result is that lesser BV wines have benefitted from higher quality juice that was bumped down into "lesser" value priced lines. The Napa and Sonoma series cost a bit more, but have benefitted from this situation as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Brandon Nelson

      I like BV, too! South American Carmenere's are very very nice reds to try now also...Calina Carmenere specifically is excellent, and I've also had Anakena, both under $20. Tonight I'm having some Flichman Malbec Misterio that is pretty good, under $10. For a really cheap red that I just keep coming back to and am always happy that I do when I'm really low low low on $$ is Almira Los Dos, a Spanish red wine...used to be $5.99 here in SW FL but is up to $6.99 now...heh! Huge 'bang-for-your-buck' or QPR, as the correct lingo dictates. OH...please look for a thread "Best under $10" on this board...I've tried many excellent reds from that thread, notably Paul Jaboulet Paralelle 45, a French red--delicious!

    2. IMO the best values in great red wine would include:

      Zinfandel
      Valpolicella Superiore
      Rioja

      Ask your wine vendors what they have in the above.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Chicago Mike

        A few suggestions:

        1) Michael David's "Petite Petit" (Lodi), a 50-50 blend of petite syrah and petit verdot that is quite luscious, especially with a few hours of decanting, and retails for around $18 in the US.

        2) From Rioja, try the Conde de Valdemar Crianza 2003. Had it last night. It certainly needs time to breathe, but from what I tasted, it would be the perfect accompaniment to manchego cheese and serrano ham.

        3) From Chile, try Dona Paula's "Alluvia," a single vineyard cabernet franc that is quite restrained but really starts to shine with a few hours of "air time," especially when accompanied by a big hunk of red meat.

        4) From Monastrell, in Spain, try "Hecula," a really great value wine that should retail for around $12 in the US. It fits the description you have provided.

        5) From Italy (primarily Tuscany), try the wines from "Falesco," a company that makes wine in large volume but maintains pretty decent quality control in my opinion.

        I could go on, but I am sure that others will chime in. Everybody's taste buds are different.

        Generally speaking, you will improve the taste of any red wine by decanting it for about an hour, in a cool place (i.e. a root cellar, basement room) so that the wine is served around 15-17 C. I cannot enjoy warm wine anymore; the flavours get lost and it tastes very murky. If you do not have such a room, try this; pour the wine into a decanter, let it breathe for about an hour, then, with the aid of a funnel, pour it from the decanter back into the bottle, and put the bottle in your fridge for 15 minutes before drinking. This process will first oxygenate the wine and then cool it down to a temperature at which the flavours can gain clarity. And always do your research around food pairings; that can either make or break a wine (i.e. if you serve any red with a dish that has asparagus, the red is likely to taste awful; similarly, avoid pairing red wines with really spicy foods that have hot chilies).

        1. re: anewton

          Good call on the temp. Far, far too many serve their reds to warm. Even a '70 Latour will not benefit from that.

          Hunt

      2. Some of the Chileans and Argentinean reds are GREAT qpr. Catena is a good name to look for. I consistently like Escudo Rojo, a Cab blend made by the Mouton Rothschild folks in Chile -- costs $18, tastes $40.

        1. Had a party Friday night, opened up a case of 2005 Cotes du Rhone that I just acquired. Also had some King Estate 2006 Pinot Noir and 2006 Shea. The Cotes du Rhone was very much enjoyed by many in the group, smooth, good juice. I bought it for $9 a bottle by the case. I just ordered four more cases.

          2 Replies
            1. re: wally

              2005 Chateau Mont-Redon Cotes Du Rhone Abeille-Fabre

              Located at Roquemaure on the bank of the Rhone opposite the Chateauneuf-du-pape estate. I have stayed just downstream from there, only a mile or two from CdP.

          1. there are some good south african & spanish reds out there.

            for solid, affordable domestics i like:
            columbia crest
            peter lehmann
            coppola [esp. the diamond series]

            and i don't know which cotes du rhone duck833 is drinking, but i'm a big fan of e. guigal.