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Great Value Reds... ($10 - $20 range)

I used to be a passionate wine drinker but my hobby's somewhat dissapated. I'm looking to build back up and would love any recommendations for great reds in the $10 - $20 range. I prefer medium to full bodied wines, preferably anything from Italy, Spain, South Africa, Washington State, etc. I'd like to avoid the oldworld California wines and French wines that are already way overpriced. And I guess most Italian varietals as well. I have always trended toward the old world style of cabs and bordeaus, loved some pinot noirs, but I'm otherwise very open. Just in general nothing too fruit forward (i've never been a huge zinfandel fan) but I have had a number of syrah's that blew my socks off. Thanks in advance!

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  1. I'm too tired to think up a complete list at the moment. I'll be more thorough later on. But, off the top of my head, just focusing on Italy, and without vintage reccomendations...

    Piedmont:
    Ioppa Uva Rara
    Mauro Molino Barbera d'Alba
    Icardi Barbera d'Asti

    Tuscany:
    (Poderi San Lazzaro) Podere 72 Rosso Piceno Superiore
    Giacomo Mori Chianti

    Sicily:
    Morgante Nero d'Avola
    Firriato Chariamonte Nero d'Avola

    There are a TON, literally dozens, of Italian wines that I love in the $20-$25 range that I can list if you like...

    2 Replies
    1. re: whiner

      That would be phenomenal, the more help you can provide the better. Already we're off to great start.

      1. re: whiner

        Also from Tuscany, look for Morellino di Scansano... made from Sangiovese, but in the un-Chianti part of Tuscany, and a big "beefy" wine and great qpr.

      2. If you are looking for a good Spanish red, I just had Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2006, it was great and retails for about $14 (at least where I live).

        1 Reply
        1. re: jcoz23

          I'll give my Spanish list later tonight, as well as my Italy $20-$25, which is honestly just a gigantic list for me, but, noting that, YES, the Borsao Tres Picos has to be one of the best *consistent* values in red wine on the planet. Perfect reccomendation!

        2. I've been drinking the Ravenswood Red Zinfendel Vinters Blend Lately. I've also seen it marked down from 10 to 6.50 a bottle.

          For that price, it really couldn't be beat.

          1. As promised, here is more Italian. Sorry, my mind has been everywhere today so I cannot concentrate on any one thing for too long. I'll finish up tomorrow. BUT...

            $20-$25 Italians that are worth seeking out:

            Veneto:
            Zenato Ripassa
            Allegrini La Grola
            (I would say Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, but for the extra $2, get the La Grola)

            Piedmont (A lot of these you have to LOOK to get at $25 or under, but it can be done):
            Sandrone Barbera
            Clerico Barbera
            La Spinetta Barbera Ca di Pin
            Icardi Barbera d'Alba
            Icardi Nebbiolo
            Cavallotto Barbera
            *One whose name I will get*
            Ruche (I'll figure out if that is its full name)

            Tuscany:
            San Giusto a Rentenanno Chianti Classico
            Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino
            Pertimali (Sassetti) Rosso di Montalcino
            Ciacci Piccolomini Rosso di Montalcino

            Elsewhere:
            Again, I'll put together a list, there are a few Sicilians and some Aglianicos I really like, but I know them more by sight than name.

            6 Replies
            1. re: whiner

              The wine whose name I could not recall is Eraldo Viberti Langhe Nebbiolo

              1. re: whiner

                I've found that with this past years's release in particular, the prices on many of the Italian wines (particularly 2006 Rosso di Montalcino and 2003 Brunello) have really jumped. Not surprising, given the exchange rate and increased transportation cost, but it has taken most of the Rossos over the $20 mark (at least where I can get them).

                Notwithstanding exchange rate and fuel cost, I find there are still tons of great values from Spain. Mentioned above is the Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos, there are many others - Las Rocas Garnacha, Castell del Remei Gotim Bru, Bodegas Castano Monastrell, Capcanes Mas Donis, Palacios Petalos de Bierzo, several others I'm not currently thinking of. Some of these, particularly the garnachas, may be too fruit-forward for you, but I find that the monastrells and bierzos (made from an indigenous grape called mencia) often having a pleasing earthiness that will appeal to your old world tastes.

                You say you want to avoid overpriced CA and FR wines, but I think there's still plenty of wine coming from France - particularly the Rhone - that is very good and can still be had for under $20. Examples - Janasse CDR Terre d'Argile, St. Cosme Le Deux Albions CDR, Chave CDR Mon Coeur, Dom. d'Andezon Garnacha or CDR, Dom. la Garrigue Cuvee Romaine. Again the most recent releases of some of these may now push over $20, but even the basic Cotes du Rhone or Village bottlings from several of these producers are solid.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  FRANCE! How could I have forgotten Chateau Pesquie "Terrasses" -- just an outstanding value from the Ventoux. Higly reccomended based upon value.

                  Also, had a Mattie Barbera the other night. $15. Awesome value... 90+ point wine!

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    Agree with Frod on the Las Rocas and the Mas Donis. I would also add Prima a tempranillo from Toro. It's just outside the $20 range but I've seen it between 20 and 25 and this is a very good value red. Highly recommend this one

                  2. re: whiner

                    > Ruche (I'll figure out if that is its full name)

                    Ruche is a DOC... perhaps you are thinking of the Da Capo Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato 'Majoli'? I went looking through my tasting notes from last year's "try all the weird grapes" phase and this was a good one, albeit very different. Lots of cedar and tree bark, a bit alcoholic, spicy, medium-bodied. Memorably different.

                    1. re: ttriche

                      >>"> Ruche (I'll figure out if that is its full name)

                      Ruche is a DOC... perhaps you are thinking of the Da Capo Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato 'Majoli'? I went looking through my tasting notes from last year's "try all the weird grapes" phase and this was a good one, albeit very different. Lots of cedar and tree bark, a bit alcoholic, spicy, medium-bodied. Memorably different." <<

                      2006 Cascina 'Tavijn Ruche (di Castagnole) made by Nadia Verrua. Really nice wine. $27

                  3. I like Firehouse Red by Tamarack Cellers from Columbia Valley Washington. It is about $16.00 depending on where you are.

                    If you really like old world, Les Rouilleres is a Lorie Valley Cab Franc, it is very rustic, and only about $16.00. Also, Chateau Clos Chaumont a Bordeaux, it roles in a about $15. Got that one at Cost Co.

                    Enjoy!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: AaronSchaefer

                      There are a number of terrific Chinon, Bourgueil, and St. Nicolas de Bourgueil AOC offerings right now that are terrific values ($10-$15) if a person likes Cab Franc. The importer of the 'Les Rouilleres' you mentioned has been a consistently good source, and Joel Taluau offerings have also been delicious whenever I have tried one.

                    2. How about back to original post -- $10 - $20? I went from life with husband who bought old cellars in England (Petrus, Yquem) to life with a younger man sous chef (Columbia Crest Merlot, 7.99.) Poor but in love, I need wine closer to $10.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pickypicky

                        Sub $15 reds:

                        Mattie Barbera
                        Icardi Barbera d'Asti
                        Ioppa Uva Rara
                        Morgante Nero d'Avola
                        Chateau Pesquie Terrasses
                        Finca Sobreno Toro
                        Dhesa Gago Toro
                        Abadia Retuerta "Rivola"
                        Borsao Tres Picos
                        Borsao ($6.99! -- great QPR!)
                        Garnacha del Fuego ($7.99! -- great QPR!)

                      2. Cameron Hughes Lot 71 Alexander Valley Cab
                        purchased from a producer who sells it for $50+ it is a dream, and a steal

                        as is Lot 73, Chalk Hill cab Sav

                        These are both amazing values, and are from well known Cab producers & regions (the other valley) that are renowned for producing killer cabernets. I tasted both at a pre-release party and they will knock your socks off.

                        Both $15 available online or at better Costcos.

                        Happy drinking!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Vinquire

                          I love this idea of QPR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes! Now I won't feel so bad quaffing my decanted and spanked bargain wines. Finding a good one with balance, personality, finesse and a bit of complexity is always a thrill. I'll paste these lists in my little black book. I've enjoyed the Chalk Hill and look forward to treasurehunting the others. Thank you!

                          1. re: pickypicky

                            Pickypicky, perhaps you’re near Pasadena from time to time. My QPR collection was getting low, so I made a run to the Chronicle Wine Cellar last weekend. www.cwcellar.com

                            2003 Vin’O Tscheppe, “Czamillonberg”, Sauvignon Blanc, Austria - $3.95
                            2005 Las Rocas de San Alejandro, Granacha, Calatyayud, Spain - 8.95
                            2005 Bodegas Alto Almanzora, “Este”, red table wine, Spain - $8.95
                            A blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo, Gamacha, Cabernet Sauvignon,
                            Syrah, Merlot and the kitchen sink. Robert Parker 89
                            2005 Domaine d’Andézon, Cotes du Rhone (100% Syrah), France - $9.95
                            2003 La Craie, Vouvray, France - $10.95
                            2007 Cono Sur, “Visión”, Viognier, Colchagua Valley, Chile - $10.95
                            2005 Fritz, Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley - $15.95
                            2003 Michele Castellani, Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso, Collezione Cà del Pipa - $19.95
                            But then I went nuts:
                            2005 Bodegas mas Alta, “Artigas”, Priorat, Spain - $33.95
                            65% Grenache, 35% Carignan, Robert Parker 91

                            1. re: BN1

                              The Chinon and St. Nicolas de Borgeuil that Gus picked up recently is also very nice. And the old standby Cono Sur Carmenere is hard to beat for QPR ar $6.95. (The Cono Sur Viognier is good, but so are the 3 Verdejos and the 3 Albarinos that Chronicle currently carries, and I feel like they go with more types of food)

                              For Italian wines I feel compelled to periodically place an order with K&L, their Italian buyer (Greg St. Clair) works at the Hollywood store and he direct-imports some bottles that nobody else will. (I would not have discovered how much I love red wines from the Valtellina if it were not for his importing Nino Negri and Rainoldi bottles around $20, which for me counts as 'special occasion' pricing)

                            2. re: pickypicky

                              Treasurehunting for wine is part of the fun!
                              Why don't you post the finished list - you can use our site to "hunt" locally and I'll taste some of these other great suggestions too!

                              Yum!

                              1. re: Vinquire

                                Yall are the best. Thank you thank you. So exciting to have these amazing possibilities.(I wish I was up your way, but I'm in San Diego.) I've always thought someone should do a trustworthy wine blog on selections under $10. I believe in no time a blog like that would have industry influence. Years ago, I learned from my ex- to blind-taste wines. Very instructional to remove bias and trust your tongue, nose, and brain instead of pricetag. (And of course, now there's a new book proving my point.) Yesterday for our upcoming wedding we tasted a Cristolino Brut (from a CH reco), and wow! There really can't be anything better on earth than a pleasing, clean 6.99 sparkly tipple. Perfect for a Tex-Mex wedding shindig.

                                1. re: pickypicky

                                  Not under $10, but there is an excellent blog for Good Wine Under $20 ;-)

                          2. R.H. Phillips Winery's Nigh Harvest Cabernet is ~$10, and it tastes like a much pricier California cab. Really smooth and lovely.

                            1. As far as good value Italian reds in your price category, I recommend
                              Colosi Sicilian blend (Nero d'Avola)
                              Firriato Chiaramonte
                              I Perrazzi Morellino di Scansano

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: vvvindaloo

                                thanks VVvindaloo! husband and I just fell in love with Colosi Sicilian blend (Nero d'Avola) 2008. Know of any winships East Bay or 'City that have this?

                                If not, I'll pull out yellow pages. thanks again!

                                1. re: bunky

                                  bunky, just bought the Colosi Nero for 3rd time after a long absence from it...really really lovely for $10, must say...Total Wine near us carries it now.

                              2. Whiner, Vinquire, It's taken hours to log in your recommendations to my lists. But I feel very prepared. I also just subscribed to <goodwineunder20> which I love. Very literate and informative. Now I just have to hope she dips occasionally into the bargain bins. Thank you again. Oh, and I made a note to get the Borsao Red for our wedding texmex feast.

                                1. I recently had Scarbolo Merlot '05 at a wine dinner and loved it. I believe retail would be around $13 - $14. It is a wonderful Italian red. I encourage you to give it a try.

                                  1. i always tell people the best way to shop is by the importer.... you can trust the wines from a handful of importers as always being high quality. for instance:
                                    neal rosenthal
                                    terry thiese
                                    louis dressner
                                    weygandt metzler
                                    aurelio cobastrero
                                    european cellars
                                    domaine select
                                    robert kacher

                                    all importers of old world wines that aren't necessarily "fruit forward" wines

                                    just to name a few...

                                    1. I'm thrilled to have a candidate for you, and from France, no less!

                                      Coudoulet de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone 2004

                                      I got it at Costco for $17.99. I'm drinking it right now, after a Friday evening "throw some stuff together" dinner, and I have to say, it's wonderful. Because it's August, and So.Cal, I chilled it first, then took it out, opened it about 30 min before dinner. Dinner was takeout Vietnamese/French sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, and shrimp potstickers (it actually worked). The nose is earthy, with sweet berries, and the flavors are all red fruit with some earth, which I love. I've wanted to buy the Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape, but the price is a little out of my comfort zone. I jumped at this CDR for under $20, and plan another trip to Costco this weekend for more!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: vickib

                                        If you enjoyed that, you might also enjoy the Chateau Pesquie 'Quintessence'. Bears a similar relationship to a good CDR as demi-glace bears to stock...

                                      2. tastings always work for me since many times they sample out wines in this price range.

                                        I've found value in

                                        Sageland's "Four Corners" Merlot from Washington
                                        CMS by Hedge's also from Washington
                                        Chateau Haut-Beausejour (03, 04, or 05)
                                        Mitolo "Jester" Shiraz (2004)
                                        Whitehaven Pinot Noir
                                        and tonight I had Sierra Cantabria 2003 Rioja which is decent with a floral nose and cherry theme ($16)

                                        Happy drinking in NYC

                                        1. Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone 2006 (Whole Foods 8.99) Snatched it up last night cuz I couldn't find anything else at WF that interested me. Wow. It was delightful. Clean, balanced, and as the evening progressed, so did the wine. Definitely profitted from decanting and needs a few more years. I'd buy a case if I could, particularly after the string of low-cost losers we've had lately from CA.

                                          1. Bodegas Norton (malbec-Argentina), Tapena Garnacha (Spain), Borsao Tres Picos..all consistently good, smooth and cheap (around $10-15).
                                            For whites..throw in any Vinho Verde from Portugal (under $10), Albarino from Spain.

                                            1. O'Reilly's Pinot Noir is always very good, and in some years fantastic. Priced around $18, it is well worth the $. Also, I see you are not a fan of Zinfandel, but for my money, it is tough to beat Seghesio Sonoma Zin at $17. For those times when you just want a glass of wine, that is the bottle I almost always pull out of the cellar (and it is great with grilled meats, barbecue, and pizza. But for those that frown on this humble varietal, feel free to avoid it (and hopefully it will help keep the price down for us Zinfans).

                                              1. I'm VERY confused . . .

                                                You first write, "I'd like to avoid the oldworld California wines and French wines that are already way overpriced."

                                                1. OK, first, California is in the New World, not the Old, and secondly, I find better values in the "under $20 range" from France than any other country.

                                                Then you write, "And I guess most Italian varietals as well. I have always trended toward the old world style of cabs and bordeaus, loved some pinot noirs, but I'm otherwise very open. Just in general nothing too fruit forward . . ."

                                                2. When people *generally* (YMMV) use the terms "Old World" and "New World," they are referring if not to physical location, to the STYLE of wines, with "Old World" wines typically being more terroir driven, and "New World" wines typically being more fruit driven.

                                                So what I take from this is that you are -- again GENERALLY speaking (as there are always specific exceptions to every rule) -- looking for wines which originate primarily from the Old World and produced in a traditional style, and you wish to avoid the more fruit-driven wines common to California and Australia . . . is that right?

                                                If I were you, in addition to soliciting recommendations from fellow Chowhounds, I'd visit Chambers St. Wines, and tell them what you're looking for . . .

                                                Cheers,
                                                Jason

                                                1. give California wines a chance. there are tons of great CA wines at a value that you seek. one might be the Avalon 2007 Cab. its $9.99 at some stores (ie. Bev Mo)