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Everyday Budget Wines Under $15

Sorry if there's been a thread before.

What have been your recent discoveries that shouldn't be too hard to find?

Pictures would be great!

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  1. Two Italian whites, both of which were marked down from over $20 to $7.99 and $8.99, respectively:

    Altadonna Grillo
    Colleviete Falerio

    Both are lovely and super-drinkable. Excellent with cheese.

    6 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Would you describe them as sweet? Dry?

      1. re: harken banks

        They are both dry wines -- I'm not a fan of sweet wines.

        The Grillo is a Sicilian variety with a very intense bouquet and flavors of apricot and other ripe stone fruit.

        The Falerio has more tropical notes of banana and peach.

        1. re: linguafood

          Do you mean Il Conte Villa instead of Colleviete?

            1. re: linguafood

              I Googled Colleviete Falerio and the only mention of that anywhere was this thread. So, something is wrong with what you've written.

              Edited to Add:

              Found it! You left out the winery name.
              It is Cantine della Marca Falerio. The vineyard designate is "Collevite." From Les Marches, Italy.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Glad you found it. It really is a very nice wine.

    2. Just about any Oregon Pinot Gris.

        1. Recently at Whole Foods: Donnafugata Anthilia 2012, $9.99, a wonderfully minerally ansonica from Sicily. Also from Italy, a Corte Majoli Valpolicella 2011 from Tezza. Lovely bitter cherry.

          1. I'm sure that we could all shout out a lot of names, but it would be helpful if you could let us know what KIND of wines you like, and possibly what area of the planet you live in . . . no point recommending wines you can't find in your area.

            Even wines like Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay or Lindemans Bin 65 will be hard to find in some places, while being ubiquitous in others . . . .

            8 Replies
            1. re: zin1953

              I thought it would be helpful for anyone.

              For instance, I tried this the other night and it was very drinkable and only $9 bucks.

              1. re: Scoutmaster

                And there is no way of telling how anyone else could get this wine. House Wine is not a very googlable name. There is no winery name in the picture. You haven't told us where it was purchased.

                  1. re: wally

                    Interesting. When I enter House Wine in Google, it's the 3rd link. Sorry it doesn't work for you.

                    It really doesn't matter where it was purchased or the name of the winery. I wouldn't expect anyone to go on a "search" for a $9 bottle of wine. However, if someone is standing in the red wine isle and trying to decide what to get, they might think to themselves "oh yeah, I saw that on Chowhound and someone mentioned it was decent. I think I'll give it a try."

                    1. re: Scoutmaster

                      Google "personalizes" results (unless you disable that), so your results may have no relation to what anyone else does.

                  2. re: Scoutmaster

                    Any wine I'd recommend, you couldn't get.
                    And I can tell that without looking up where you're from.

                    ... now, can you guess where I'm from? (hint: not europe)

                    1. re: Chowrin

                      It has to be either Mars, New Zealand or Australia.

                      Probably New Zealand or Australia. I don't think the soil on Mars is correct for grape vines.

                      1. re: collioure

                        Try Pennsylvania.
                        With the state liquor control board, anything that gets sold in state stores is automagically expensive (the good stuff runs over 15 a bottle).
                        There's a nice little loophole for wines not sold in stores, but you have to drive out into the middle of nowhere to find the good wineries (well, for under $15 a bottle!)

                1. The red wines from Bogle (from Clarksburg, CA) remain among the best budget wines. They usually retail in the $10-$12 range, but sometimes they can be found for less.

                  Their best wine is a blend called Phantom that sells in the $15-$18 range.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DavidT

                    +1 for the bogle - I really like their petit syrah

                  2. Have had these in different years in the past & were consistently reliable:
                    Pascual Toso Malbec
                    Elsa Bianchi Malbec

                    Recent discoveries:
                    2010 Columbia Crest H3 "Les Chevaux"
                    Costco SF area: 2007 Vina Eguia, 9.99, very good

                    1. In whites under $15 personally I don't think you can beat riesling... no need to select any particular vineyards, in good years it's just an across-the-board well developed food friendly varietal. In great years if you're picky you can find very good to sometimes stupendous wines at or under $15. Nothing else close in whites or reds IMO.

                      My two favorite riesling origins are germany and California, I find northeast U.S. bottlings a bit thin at times... but there's nice riesling elsewhere.

                      I don't have a comparable value for you in reds... Argentine malbec was a bargain but I think the words out on it for some time. In the 90's you could find some great values in the overlooked cali syrahs, but the words out on them now tooIn a great year you can find good values in a chilean cab, a cali zinfandel, an aussie shiraz...

                      For the 15 to 20 range, valpolicella ripassa superiore is probably the best consistent red value I know of...

                      IMO in reds especially, if you want great value at such a price as $15 you have to look where others aren't looking, and the word catches on fairly quickly.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TombstoneShadow

                        Not many California wineries make Rieslings, most of the ones I've tried are flabby and boring, and the exceptions are over $15. I've occasionally had good inexpensive Riesling from Columbia Valley.

                        Some German Rieslings in the $10-15 range are excellent values, others are plonk. Some good QbAs from the Mosel are in that price range.

                      2. Beaujolais crus!

                        I buy the very best over here for 7-to-9 euros ($9-$13)

                        Juliénas (Capitans), Fleurie (Déduits) and Cote-de-Brouilly (Grandes Vignes Vieilles Vignes)

                        30 bottles/year

                        36 Replies
                        1. re: collioure

                          In the US, you might find the Duboeuf for $15. Déduits would be at least $19.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Right you are.

                            Well, you can buy the flower bottle crus from DuBoeuf for less than $15 just about anywhere. Still very good wines.

                            BTW I bought Nesme's old vines bottling of Cote-de-Brouilly this year. Will try in January.

                            Additionally I'm having trouble reconciling why here in France I pay so little for good wines and why in California one must pay so much.

                            1. re: collioure

                              I was talking about the Juliénas Capitans Duboeuf. $15 is rock-bottom in the US.

                              I have many cases of under-$10 wines in my cellar here in California.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                That's funny. I pay about $10 for Déduits, $12 for Capitans.

                                Had them both in the last week. They're so good!

                                1. re: collioure

                                  Shipping isn't free and there are more taxes and middlemen.

                                  What's a Zinfandel that's $10 here cost you?

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Zinfandel? What's that?

                                    I can't even get my hands on a bottle of Primitivo.

                                    Actually someone was offering Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Zinfandel 2011 for 5.95€ ($8) this fall. If I had seen it, I might have bought it. I am desperate for Zinfandel here.

                                    I am limited to French and Spanish wines.

                                    1. re: collioure

                                      And speaking only for myself, I would love to be so limited.

                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                        Hey, some people are never satisifed.

                                        Now that I know the good food-wine combinations I long for a little Zinfandel, Friulano, Soave, Fiano, Greco, Aglianico and Malagouzia.

                                      2. re: collioure

                                        Ravenswood Zinfandel costs $17.95 in Toronto at the LCBO. I'm told by a friend that lives in Florida that he can get it for about $10.

                                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                                          In California, Ravenswood's entry-level Zinfandel goes for as little as $6, though they have others that cost up to $50.

                                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                                            and here in Los Angeles, i can get it for $9 or so

                                  2. re: collioure

                                    <Additionally I'm having trouble reconciling why here in France I pay so little for good wines and why in California one must pay so much.>

                                    Andy, I think the answer is shipping and taxes. There's a pretty high shipping charge from France to California. And I'm guessing you can't even find most California wines in France.... (if you care). ;)

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      I'm talking about French wines in France vs California wines in California. California wines seem expensive to me when I visit the Left Coast. At the same time they are exquisite. I would say best in world today.

                                      1. re: collioure

                                        Are you really surprised at the price disparity? REALLY??!??

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          Yes, I am surprised at the disparity, but I'm in my 11th year here. I come to California but once a year.

                                          Apparently Robert can explain it.

                                          1. re: collioure

                                            Among other reasons . . .

                                            -- labor costs are higher here in the States;
                                            -- the economies of scale doesn't kick in until you're making thousands & thousands of cases of the same wine (and how many European producers are making that much of a single wine?);
                                            -- land costs here are higher* for low-end wines;
                                            -- and so on and so on.

                                            / / / / /

                                            * True, the cost of high-end vineyards in the Côte d'Or are $$$$$, but we're talking VdT, VdP, and lesser AOC's compared to California's Central Coast. Land *is* cheaper, and yields are higher in the Central Valley, but that's mostly generics.

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              I'm talking AOC wines, Jason. Top Beaujolais crus, Jurançcon, Pouilly-Fumé, Riesling, Gewurz, award-winning Cotes-du-Roussillon Villages, and Albariño from Galicia.

                                              The price of a qualty Cotes-du-Roussillon Villages is 7€ ($9). For 13€ ($17) I bought a CdRV that gets *** from Hachette, and I just went back and bought more.

                                              I'm just amazed that I can spend $2000 a year on wine for two and drink well every evening. I love it, of ocurse.

                                              Surely land is more expensive in California. And labor too, And the wines are fantastic.

                                              1. re: collioure

                                                1) The point remains valid, regardless of whether one is speaking of AOC wines or not.

                                                2) As for VdP vs. IGP, you're quite right of course; "old habits die hard" is all I can say.

                                                3) California has long made the most fantastic California wines in the world . . .

                                                1. re: collioure

                                                  I think one huge difference is that in some parts of France many wineries are trying to make the best wines possible at a modest price point, so they're growing grapes bred for that purpose such as Gamay, Carignan, and Cinsault, often blending them, and vinifying them to be drunk young, with meals.

                                                  In contrast, moderately priced California wines are usually made with Bordeaux and Burgundy grape varieties. Making a delicious $10 wine that's 75% or more Cabernet Sauvignon is at best difficult, and California winemakers often compound that by vinifying their wines in ways more suitable for wine meant to be aged.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Are you sure about that, Robert?

                                                    The EU is paying vintners to replace Carignan (which when young produces "nothing" wines). Acreage is declining. Being replaced with Grenache, Syrah, and the wild card grape in our wines Mourvèdre.

                                                    1. re: collioure

                                                      Many of those winemakers may not have been making very good wine in the first place. Southern France used to make a lot of cheap plonk from high-producing mediocre grape varieties, demand for which has declined.

                                                      The French wines I like usually have long local traditions. In some cases the traditions were abandoned and old varieties have been brought back by eccentric winemakers. Robert Camuto's "Corkscrewed" is largely about that trend.

                                                      1. re: collioure

                                                        The weighted average price paid ***in California*** for Carignane* grapes in 2012 was $520.98/ton. The lowest was for Central Valley Carignane ($351.90/ton); the highest was for Carignane grown in Napa Valley ($2,867.84/ton). The fact that the state's weighted average is so low tells you where most of the Carignane is grown.

                                                        In contrast, the weighted average price paid for California Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in 2012 was $1,385.36/ton. The lowest was for Central Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($542.87/ton); the highest was -- as one might expect -- for Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Napa Valley ($5,059.96/ton). While still substantially less than the Napa weighted average, the state's weighted average is nearly three times the lowest price.

                                                        Since we were talking about Zinfandel earlier, $3.030.43 was the 2012 Napa Valley weighted average price, while the state average was $715.29 -- more than double that of Carignane.

                                                        * In the States, the grape is "officially" spelled with a final "e," whereas in France, the word ends with the letter "n."

                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                          Well, I'm no fan of Carignan though at the best vintners here I have tasted rather good juice which they use for blending only. I don't like old vines (30+ years) Carignan which often has licorice flavors either. So I rarely buy any wine that contains more than 35% Carignan. Roussillon remains the world capital of Carignan, if not in total acreage, then in concentration.

                                                          When I got here in 2002, I was convinced that we were 20 years behind Languedoc and that we had kept alive their former title - “la piquette de la France." I still think that though a number of fine vintners have emerged in the last 10 years.

                                                          1. re: collioure

                                                            No offense, but I find that to be rather irrelevant IN THAT it doesn't really matter if you like Carignan or not. I used Carignan as the example because YOU brought it up. If you would like, I will happily provide you with similar pricing for the other grapes you mentioned.

                                                            In California, the statewide / low / high weighted average price per ton was:

                                                            -- Albariño/Alvarinho, $1,056.97 / $390.81 / $2,200.00
                                                            -- Gewürztraminer, $807.72 / $450.00 / $1,550.00
                                                            -- Riesling, $804.98 / $436.45 / $2,654.49
                                                            -- Sauvignon Blanc, $862.94 / $393.24 / $1,861.25

                                                            -- Gamay Noir, $1,700.00 / $1,700.00 / $1,700.00*
                                                            -- Grenache, $478.75 (!) / $334.21 / $3,324.55
                                                            -- Mourvèdre, $1,429.72 / $506.80 / $2,806.55
                                                            -- Syrah, $760.60 / $441.54 / $3,031.14

                                                            Hope that helps . . .
                                                            * Gamay Noir is only reported as growing in one of California's 17 agricultural districts.

                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                              But the price for purchased grapes has less to do with cost of production and much more to do with market value.

                                                              1. re: zin1953

                                                                $3000+ a ton for Grenache? I guess that must be Sine Qua Non.

                                                                I'm not sure how grape prices shed light on anything. Prices for some varieties in some areas are highly inflated due to the hundreds of wineries whose business plans depend on getting high Parker scores and charging $100+ a bottle.

                                                                Most of the Gamay Noir in California are relatively recent plantings in El Dorado County that Edmunds St. John uses for Bone-Jolly. Andrew Lane also makes some from a two-acre vineyard near Calistoga, plus they make a nouveau from North Coast grapes. Why those don't show up on the crush report I don't know.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Back to front:

                                                                  El Dorado Co. is where the Gamay Noir is listed.

                                                                  Grape prices work (IMHO, of course), because one looks at the WEIGHTED statewide average. We're talking about affordable wines here, aren't we, Robert? <$15? Of course the (e.g.) Napa grapes are more money, but relatively few Napa wines are less than $15 on a day-in, day-out basis.

                                                                  Not that it matters, as it's certainly more than $15, but I didn't think Manfred used Napa Valley Grenache . . .

                                                                  Also, FWIW, there were only 34 acres of Grenache bearing fruit in Napa in 2012. Those 34 acres yielded a total of 104.8 tons, or 3.08 tons/acres. Keep in mind, Robert, that even the $3,324.55/ton was the weighted average price per ton. The ACTUAL prices that were paid for Napa Valley Grenache range from a low of $1,483.00 (FYI, 14.2 tons sold at that price) to a high of $5,500.00, but that was for 1,200 pounds (0.6 tons). Most sold between (roughly) $2,625 and $3,500/ton.

                                                                  1. re: zin1953

                                                                    I'm not following your argument.

                                                                    Napa grapes are relatively expensive, so the many moderately priced California wines come from other areas, just as moderately priced French wines don't come from the Côte d'Or or Pauillac.

                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      To begin with, Robert, I'm not arguing.

                                                                      As I said above, "Grape prices work (IMHO, of course), because one looks at the WEIGHTED statewide average." Perhaps I should written "WEIGHTED STATEWIDE AVERAGE," all with equal emphasis -- or maybe "weighted STATEWIDE average." I don't know. You, after all, are the one that brought up Napa in connection with the Grenache -- I am merely responding to your post.

                                                                      If you return to my initial post vis-a-vis pricing, what I wrote was, "The weighted average price paid ***in California*** for Carignane* grapes in 2012 was $520.98/ton. The lowest was for Central Valley Carignane ($351.90/ton); the highest was for Carignane grown in Napa Valley ($2,867.84/ton). The fact that the state's weighted average is so low tells you where most of the Carignane is grown."

                                                                      CLEARLY the wines carrying a <$15 price tag don't come from Napa (at least not very often, especially reds), but elsewhere in the state.

                                                                      You may not follow my "argument," but then I'm not sure why you'd state something so obvious and off the main point. Guess we're even . . .

                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                        If you wonder where grapes are grown, you don't need to extrapolate from prices. The crush reports have tables breaking down tonnage for each tracked variety by region. But I don't understand how that's relevant to the discussion.

                                                                        The most telling thing to me about the tonnage chart is the dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon (22% of total red wine grapes), Chardonnay (43% of total white wine grapes), and other big-name grape varieties. Obviously much of that production is are being used to make less expensive wines. I'm quite certain that those wines would be better if they were made from varieties more suitable for making simple, straightforward wines.

                                                                        But California wine consumers would rather pay for words on the label.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          Robert, I am not wondering. I know. But this wasn't directed at you, was it? I posted in response to someone else. I'm done.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            What varietals do you think better for making "simple straightforward wines?"

                                                                            1. re: Chowrin

                                                                              Depends on the soil, climate, etc. There are hundreds of grape varieties and clones in Europe that have been bred over generations to do well in various conditions.

                                                                              The occasional such reds I've had in California are often made from Italian field blends, usually dominated by Zinfandel. Occasionally I've found nice whites made from Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, German/Alsatian blends, or kitchen-sink blends.

                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                Ah. I think Concord's traditional up my neck of the woods.

                                                      2. re: zin1953

                                                        BTW, Jason, and you may know more about this than me - VdP has been replaced for the most part by IGP (indication géographique protégée)

                                                  2. re: collioure

                                                    There are plenty of California wines in California that are inexpensive. K&L, which doesn't sell cheap crap, has around 40 California wines regularly priced (not on closeout or with a club discount) from $8 to $10.

                                                    The question to me is why in France I can find wines in that price range and even lower that are to my taste interesting and delicious, while in California it's very rare that I find a local wine I like for under $15 (which is more than I pay for most of the imported wines that make up the bulk of my cellar).

                                                    There are so many reasons for that that someone could write a book. Maybe someone has already.

                                            1. I've found Spanish reds to be the best value overall in the $10 price range (full disclosure, a price range I seldom venture out of, but certainly know well as a consequence).

                                              Some that I'd recommend, that shouldn't be too hard to find:
                                              Borsao Garnache: approx $9 ("Possibly the single greatest dry red wine value in the world, this is an unbelievable wine" - Robert Parker, for what it's worth)
                                              Monte Oton Grenache: approx $8
                                              Hernacia Altes Garnatxa Negra: approx $10
                                              Evodia Old Vine Grenache: approx $9
                                              Flaco Tempranillo: approx $7 (not quite as good as the grenaches, but a buck or two cheaper, which lands it more in my own personal "everyday budget" category)

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: tomjb27

                                                I have to second all these recommendations for Spanish grenache. Due to budgetary restrictions, I live in an under $15/bottle world. The Borsao Garnache is our house red -- we can get it for about $6.50 a bottle in MA when we buy it by the case. Vina Borgia is also widely available and decent, though not quite as good as the others. Castell de Remeii Gotim Bru is a Spanish blend that is mostly tempranilllo and is usually under $15 and is very good.

                                                Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno is widely available and is under $10. It is a very good Italian bargain and is mostly Sangiovese with some Montepulciano.

                                                I keep trying under $15 California blends (e.g. Coppola Rosso, Big House Red etc.), hoping to find a good one, but they are consistently one dimensional to my taste. The Spanish reds are much more interesting and much more food-friendly.

                                                1. re: weg

                                                  >>> I keep trying under $15 California blends (e.g. Coppola Rosso, Big House Red etc.), hoping to find a good one, but they are consistently one dimensional to my taste. The Spanish reds are much more interesting and much more food-friendly. <<<

                                                  I completely agree, and my advice is simply STOP. California wines in this price category tend to either be overly commercialized, mass produced, and soulless; or they are simply boring and only marginally interesting -- blown away by imports from Spain, Portugal, France and elsewhere.

                                                  1. re: weg

                                                    Marietta Old Vine Red used to be my favorite CA blend. I haven't had it in a few years.