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Recession wines

After watching the Dow plunge yet again, I am finding myself much more open to recession wines.

Wine lovers, any favorites? I'm open to red or white, any varietal. In this case, I'll set the bar at $15 and under and exclude the Turning Leafs of the world.

Extra points to those easily obtained in SF without the whole mailing/shipping hassle....

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  1. My "regular" wines are in the $10-20 range. These are NOT recession wines. Rather, these are great wines that I consume regularly. One never needs an excuse to open great wines, and I find it silly that certain wines cost what they do.

    Were I you, I would visit -- not shop online, but actually go to the wine merchants listed below. You will find dozens of wines available, not the Kendall-Jackson's or Turning Leaf's of the world, but great wines from all over the world . . . and to be sure, there are many more options than these, but these will certainly "fit the bill," and then some!

    This is far from being a complete list, but each of these stores I've listed -- as opposed to, say, BevMo -- have knowledgeable people on staff who can help you find wines that will be to your liking. While I applaud your openness, to say you are "open to red or white, any varietal" is far too broad to be of much help. Style? Weight? Level of sweetness? In order to help you -- both here on Chowhound, and in the individual stores -- you need to be a bit more specific. Were I still in retail, I would ask you the following questions in order to help me select wines I have in the store that will best suit your needs AND your price range . . .

    1. You say you are "open to red or white, any varietal." Any country as well?
    2. Do you like your white wines light-, medium-, or full-bodied? Dry, off-dry, or sweet? Crisp or round?
    3. Do you like your reds light-medium-, or full-bodied? More fruit-driven, or "terroir-driven"? Smooth and supple, or more tannic and/or rustic in character?
    4. What are some specific wines you've enjoyed in the past?
    5. And finally, are you looking for wines for current consumption, or for cellaring?

    Normally, I'd also ask your price range, but you've already provided that information. I might also ask what sort of foods you generally eat at home, so as to have an idea of food pairings as I offered you various wines . . . .

    * * * * *

    I am happy to make some specific recommendations, but I would feel more comfortable knowing answers to the above questions, so as not to waste your time suggesting wines you won't like . . .


    K & L Wine Merchants
    638 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107

    Spanish Table
    1814 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

    Jug Shop Wine & Spirits
    1590 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Vintage Berkeley
    2113 Vine St, Berkeley, CA 94709

    Paul Marcus Wines
    5655 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

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

    Wine Mine
    5427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

    Wine House
    129 Carolina St, San Francisco, CA

    1. There are a lot of threads on inexpensive wines, BUT...

      2005 Mattei Barbera ($15 @ Biondivino)
      2006 Garnacha del Fuego ($7 @ Cost Plus)
      2007 Mason Sauvignon Blanc (<$15 lots of places if you keep an eye out)
      NV Mumm's Napa Blanc de Noirs (<$15 Safeway)

      My guess is that the 2006 Morgante Nero d'Avola is pretty good.

      There is an excellent $12 Prosecco with a regular cork and a very good $11 Tuscan that Ceri bought a ton of last vintage at Biondivino right now. Sorry I forget the names, but if you stop buy and tell her that the kid who is in love with Donabaum's wines reccomended them, she'll know what you are talking about. I'll try to get the names later. The Prosecco comes with a *strong* reccomendation from me at the price.

      2 Replies
      1. re: whiner

        Thank you, Whiner, for these recs. I will have to inspect the Mumm blanc de noirs soon! Bubbles bring levity to these dark financial times. And any decent Barbera under $15 is bound to be a go-to. Hope I can find it out here.

        1. re: whiner

          I just discovered the Morgante Nero d'Avola at Costco ($13.99) about a month ago. DH loved it (I'm off alcohol for a few months)!. Went out of stock soon after & is back in stock. I've bought it at both Foster City & Redwood City locations.

        2. If you like Italian wines, I bought a case of wine at Biondivino on Green St. 3 months ago of which 6 were $15 or less and 4 more were under $19. Those I have tried have been great, especially the stainless steel Mattei Barbera, which was an eye opener for me.

          1. I don't buy "recession wines" so much as I drink from my cellar, and replace less than I used to.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dinwiddie

              As do I . . .

              The key for me is, as I said above, I find many of the prices of wines today to be so inflated as to be ridiculous. (That's ME; YMMV.) I refuse to pay them. I can *afford* more than I generally spend, but I just see no reason to do so. I find some delicious, excellent wines mostly in the $10-20 range, with some as much as $30, and rarely have any "need" to spend more . . . EXCEPT for Champagnes, Porto, and certain high-end Rhones for which I have a soft spot for . . . .

              1. re: dinwiddie

                We also are happy we have a stocked cellar, especially the 2000 Barolos we bought three years ago.

              2. Actually, I don't think I will need to lower my usual $15-$30 range.
                what I expect is that there will be very good deals on my favorite wines.
                I see that the Vino Noceto Linsteadt Barbera which is normally $25+
                is down to $20. I expect a sharp decline in overpriced Napa Cabernets
                or Oregon and Russian River pinots. I stand ready to buy when the
                price is right. At some point, there might even be opportunities
                to buy a winery at a decent price [vulture hat on].

                1. I live in Florida so I don't know if you can find this, but it's a new varietal to me and I LOVE it: Tormaresca Neprica Puglia...a lovely dark red Italian wine for around $10...oh my! Outstanding QPR!

                  1. "If you want value, look where no one else is looking" - Kermit Lynch

                    Speaking as someone who worked for a several years for one of the nation's premier wine retailers, let me tell you what I believe is the absolute best way to maximize value for your wine purchases.

                    First of all, there are simple micro-economic laws in place - so, the more demand there is for a certain wine, or brand, the higher the price it will command. Big brands tend - although there are exceptions - not to be the best values. Little oddball wines with no brand or category recognition - that are, despite these obvious obstacles, intentionally brought in by professional, reliable, knowedgeable retailers, are probably good! Why else would they be there?

                    The best values are typically little under-the-radar, often low-production wines that most of us have never heard of - either obscure or esoteric as far as brand or category is concerned. In other words, like Lynch says, look for the oddball stuff!

                    Problem is - not all oddball stuff is good, and it takes a great deal of knowledge to navigate well through the chaff. Since most of us don't have the time or inclination to track down these little gems - (it should be noted that I don't discount anyone's recommendations, but in many cases, especially considering this is a national board, it may often be tough to find these particular wines in your area).

                    THE SOLUTION: Find a good retailer in your area - that has a knowledgeable staff - make friends with one of the salesman you like, and make him/her do the work for you! Ask them what days they work/don't work, and use them. If they're good, their recommendations will only improve with frequency as you return again and again - the more they know about your likes and dislikes, the better they will get. Eventually, if you find a good one, you should hit the bull's eye 90% of the time.

                    Make friends with a retailer and let them do the work for you!

                    1. Hi iwantmytwodollars - love the Better Off Dead reference! Anyways, here's a short list of affordable wines (<$15) I keep stocked for my weekday drinking:

                      7 Deadly Zins
                      Sterling Vintner's Collection Cabernet Sauvingnon
                      Morgante Nero d' Avola - this wine gets a lot of love on this board!
                      Courtney's Angels - both the Cabernet Sauvingnon and the Zinfandel
                      BV Coastal Estates Pinot Noir

                      1. Everything is tasting good right now.....

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: The Chowfather

                          If the markets keep collapsing like they have I will move to a whiskey only beverage diet :)

                          Thanks to everyone for their suggestions! I had never even heard of Tormaresca Neprica Puglia before this post. Huzzah.

                          And if you have any good investment advice, let me know!

                          1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                            I first saw it at local grocery store, Publix..here's some more information on it if you would like--of course, I'm not sure if it's available where you live--it certainly has received some very good reviews/ratings:

                            1. re: Val

                              God I love cellartracker. I'll see if I can rustle some up. Thanks!

                                1. re: wally

                                  I work a dangerous three blocks away from K&L. Thanks for letting me know it's there!

                        2. As a struggling-artist poor wine lover even before the plunge, I can tell you a few bottles available at any grocery store, World Market, or Trader Joe's on the West Coast. (I would love to buy at an independent, but can't trust myself to go in and get carried away. We live on a very fixed income.) A few of our absolute mainstays include Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet, and Chardonnay often 7.99 a bottle here. Novella Synergy at Trader Joe's (5.99) Louis Bernard Cotes-du-Rhone 2006 9.99 at Whole Foods. Aveleda Vinho Verde (World Market 5,99) Domaine Ste. Michelle sparkling wines (8.99 on sale. love the Blanc de Noir) and my current fave Gruet sparkling from New Mexico, $16 here in CA, often much less closer to NM. WE do lots of blind tasting which is great fun with recession wines. The losers go into our vinegar crock!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: pickypicky

                            Hey, World Market had the Garnacha de Fuego for $5.97 this week near us, damned good value! They do have an interesting inventory.

                          2. I keep a running list of wines under $10 from Trader Joe's. Here is my current version...

                            1. 2006 The California Wine Party Franc Merlot - $5
                            2. 2005 Chariot Gypsy - $5
                            3. 2006 Geyser Peak California Sauvignon Blanc - $8
                            4. 2006 Dynamic Red Table Wine- $9
                            5. 2007 King Shag Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc - $7
                            6. 2005 Epicuro Aglianico - $5
                            7. 2007 Novella Synergy Blanc - $6
                            8. 2006 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere - $8
                            9. 2005 Santa Ynez Valley Winery Cabernet Franc - $9
                            10. 2007 Chateau des Cleons Muscadet Sevre et Maine “Sur Lie” - $6

                            Let me know what you think...Enjoy!


                            5 Replies
                            1. re: jjrzut

                              Great list, jason! we love the Gypsy. I will carry your list on my next visit to TJ, although all of them have different wines. My wine guy at our local TJ's is young and very knowledgeable. It's a joy to try his reco's. What do you think of the Novella Synergy Red?

                              1. re: pickypicky

                                I've had the '04 version and thought that at $7 there were better options available. Haven't given it another try since....

                              2. re: jjrzut

                                We just recently bought the Casillero Del Diablo Carmenere and thought it was great. (I have had many Concha Y Toro wines previously, but this one seems extra good.) And I have often found myself buying the Geyser Peak sav blanc in a pinch. Seems I'm in a pinch more often these days :)

                                Can't wait to try the rest. Thanks for the recs! I will post my own cheap notables in a few days.

                                1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                  look forward to hearing your recommendations...

                                  1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                    You may already know this story.... We visited the Concha y Toro winery in Santiago about ten years ago. The owners back years ago came from Europe and built their winery. They didn't want the "help" to drink the "good stuff" so they put it in the Casillero del Diablo ( cellar of the devil) so scare them off :) We loved that story.

                                2. Well look what I found!

                                  It's a K&L blog entry on recession wines. Perfect!


                                  I have had the ubiquitous Las Rocas garnacha on many occasions. And s/he who hasn't experienced the joy of a liter bottle of Austrian Gruner, well, there's still time.

                                  I also think in this column they give good advice on trying less in demand varietals as George did in his post here. A while ago, I started picking up pinot blancs from all my favorite Oregon and cool weather Cali pinot noir producers just to check it out. It was great! The winemaking is just as good, and the bottle is usually about half the price ($12-$15). Of course it doesn't quite go with lamb stew, and I don't really know about the aging potential, but what the heck. Indian summer here and all.

                                  My favorite cheap hot weather white of the year, though, has to be the Famega Vinho Verde. Got it at Rainbow for $7, but I have seen it for $4.99 elsewhere. Super crisp, minerally, and ever so slightly effervescent. Only 9 percent alcohol, so you can booze away and still be alert the next day. Plus it's way cheaper than my favorite rose of all time, Tempier du Bandol, which has shot up in price to a ridiculous $37 a bottle. Seriously!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: iwantmytwodollars

                                    The Bandol is expensive but one of my guilty pleasures, Unequivocally the best Rose in the world at a tenth of the price of top Bordeaux. I need to look for the Vinho Verde, have to swing by Rainbow. I've had some luck at K&L. A nice Veramonte Sauv Blanc and the Pascual Toso Malbec are the two most recent. Haven't visited lately...

                                  2. Good call, Jason! The Epicuro Aglianico 2006 is delicious. And for $5, that's f - i - v - e dollars, folks, amazing! About the Aglianico varietal, Hugh Johnson writes, ". . .typical of the more drinkable kind of southern [Italian] wine. It is very strong (15 per cent alcohol, or half as strong again as French vin ordinaire). Aglianico has more scent than most of these wines and a flavour more interesting than the usual black bite of the far south." Very true. Not long on finish or complex, but a nice leather-scented nose, a round clean full fruity taste. Perfect with our pasta. AND I learned a new varietal. I better hightail it back to TJ and buy more before it goes the way of your Gypsy. . .

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                      I believe, like me you live in SD. If that is the case The Third Corner often carries Caparone Aglianico for around 10-12 dollars per bottle. I've been to this small Paso winery many times and love their unfiltered italian reds.
                                      I would call to see if they have it in stock but I am always impressed with the 3rd Corners options.