Who doesn’t love a good value when it comes to wine? While trade publications such as the “State of the U.S. Wine Industry” report on the price-conscious purchasing habits of younger consumers—$15 for a bottle is the sweet spot—there’s no reason to relegate these bottles to the young and thrifty. Here are a few that will please drinkers of any age or budget. Added value: they speak of place and many are produced by family wineries with an eye toward sustainability.
Château de Fontenille Entre-deux-Mers Blanc 2021 ($15), Bordeaux, France. This blend of 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sauvignon Gris, 20% Sémillon and 20% Muscadelle is typical for this region between Bordeaux’s two rivers, known for its fresh and racy whites. This one lives up to that reputation with some leanings toward tropical fruits, Meyer lemon, a bit smoothed out by four months on the lees. Round and delicious.
Fat Bastard Pinot Noir 2021 ($14), Pays d’Oc, France. Hailing from Languedoc, this is a medium-to full-bodied and berry- and cherry-forward wine that goes down easy any night of the week. Juicy, simple and a solid choice for a variety of fall fare.
Clean Slate Riesling 2021 ($12), Mosel, Germany. An easy and tasty entry into Riesling from the Mosel Valley (which can be a difficult region for the novice). Slightly off dry, it expresses fresh ripe peach, underscored by some bright spice and mineral notes. Named for the slate soils along the steep riverbank.
Gai’a Monograph Moschofilero 2022 ($13), Peloponnese Greece. Coming from one of Greece’s most respected winemakers, this white from the mainland (he also produces wines on the island of Santorini) shows off its floral aromatics, followed onto the palate by citrus and other orchard fruits such as peach and green apple and a bit of a saline note.
Librandi Cirò Rosso 2021 ($15), Cirò DOC, Italy. One of Calabria’s long-standing wine families, the Librandis are committed to the region’s indigenous grapes. This one, made of 100% Gaglioppo, is an example of how what was once considered a rustic grape can step it up when placed in the right hands. This one is on the lighter side of garnet, juicy and tart; showing cranberry, currants and wild berries. Drink this with a slight chill and drink with anything.
Zenato Pinot Grigio 2022 ($13), delle Venezia, Italy. A Veneto classic that belies what you might think of the oft-maligned grape. Again, in the right hands—this one a renowned producer of Amarone and Valpolicella—a simple wine can be made into something that punches above its weight. This one has plenty of fresh apples, white peaches and citrus in a medium body. Drink on its own or with light fare. I liked it with curried coconut shrimp with hot peppers.
Quinta de Chocopalha Arinto Branco 2020 ($15), Lisboa, Portugal. Portuguese whites bring such pleasure and are truly wines of discovery! This Arinto is sourced from vineyards northwest of Lisbon, vinified in stainless steel vats and aged for five months on the lees, which contributes roundness and a creamy texture. Leans towards the tropical fruits and has a medium body, so enjoy this with lobster, white sauced-dishes and spicy cuisines.
Bodegas Borsao Rosé 2022 ($11), Campo de Borja DO Spain. Made from 100% Garnacha, this pops with late-summer strawberries, tangerine and some ginger-y spice in a straight-forward, slightly darker-hued rose from the northeast, just south of Rioja. Fresh and crisp, it’s a wine for transitioning from summer fare into fall.
Tilia Malbec 2021 ($11), Mendoza Argentina. One of the Malbecs that put Argentina on the “by the glass” wine map in many a restaurant. Rich, jammy and juicy redolent of purple flowers and black fruits, this is a round, full-bodied and plush red for fall and into winter.
Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2021 ($15), South Australia. From a historic Australian winemaking family comes this round and medium-weighted viognier. Aromatic as you’d expect with white flowers like honeysuckle, it’s viscous on the palate but without the heaviness you’d find in Condrieu. Elevated by ginger spice and some brisk acidity, this is another good one for spiced Asian cuisines.
Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2019 ($13), Maipo Valley, Chile. This Cabernet-driven blend (85%), with the rest comprised of Syrah, sees some time in oak, which helps tame the tannins and Cabernet’s signature phenolics. You’ll find plenty of dark berries, black plum and some espresso notes that require a hearty grill or roast. Root:1 is the first winery in Chile to be certified 100% sustainable by Wines of Chile and the first to adopt carbon offset measures.
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2022 ($15), Marlborough, New Zealand. The grapes for this wine are sourced from Marlborough vineyards, so you can expect the signature tangy profile of gooseberry, lime, grapefruit and some tropical fruits. If you’re a fan of this style, this is a step up from the larger commercial offerings that can seem monolithic. Fresh and fun on its own or pair with oysters.