2010, the start of a new decade, will soon be here so it is time for some reflection upon the past year. At this time each year, the media publishes their lists of the best and worst of the past year, everything from books to movies to music. You will find Top Ten lists, Top 100 lists, and much more. You will also see lists detailing the best and worst of the past decade.
There will be plenty of lists of the best and worst food, restaurants and wines too, including on various blogs. Like those others, I will post some of my own Top & Favorite Lists for 2009, ranging from wine to food. You'll find these lists posted over the next couple weeks. I feel my Lists will be an excellent summary of the best I have encountered this past year, allowing my readers to more easily locate such items.
For my first List, you will find my Top Ten Wines Under $15. This list includes wines that during the past year I have enjoyed very much and which I also found to be particularly compelling for various reasons. They might be more unique wines or just excellent values for the price. They stand out for some particular reason above the other wines I tasted this past year. Each wine on this list is linked to my more detailed prior review.
The wines are not listed in any particular order and all are definitely worth your consideration. Please note that the actual price of the wine may vary in your area.
1. 2007 Cerejeiras Regional Tinto, Portugal ($5.60)
For under $6, this is the best value wine on this list!
2. 2007 Parés Baltà Blanc De Pacs, Spain ($10.99)
An interesting still wine made from the usual Cava grapes.
3. 2008 Yellow+Blue Rosé, Spain ($10.99)
A delicious Rosé that comes in a Tetra Pak, giving you a liter of wine.
4. 2008 Poderi Zanusso Sant' Andrat Bianco, Italy ($29/box-$7.25/bottle)
An organic box wine! Best box wine I have ever had, as well as an excellent wine in its own right.
5. 2007 Travessia Unoaked Chardonnay, New Bedford, MA ($10.40)
A local winery that is producing some delicious wines.
6. 2007 Ravine Wine Cellars Pinot Rose, Finger Lakes, NY ($14.95)
An unexpected delight showing the potential of this wine region.
7. 2006 Golden Kaan Pinotage, South Africa ($10)
I love Pinotage and this wine delivered plenty for the price.
8. 2008 Seven Sisters Bukettraube, South Africa ($12.99)
An unusual grape, that was new to me, and which I thoroughly enjoyed.
9. 2008 Salzl Gruner Veltliner, Austria ($13)
Bursting with flavor, having lots of character, this wine really impressed me.
10. 2008 Cucao PX, Chile ($13.99)
A dry still wine made from Pedro Ximinez, a grape usually seen in sweet Spanish wines.
Reviewing my list, there are some interesting items that arise. First, two of my choices do not come in bottles but possess alternative packaging, either a box or tetra pak. Though the wines in these types of packages often do not have a good reputation, we are now seeing more quality wines being placed into these packages. I suspect that the quality of these wines will continue to increase and I suggest you check out wines in these new packages.
Two, though two of the wines on my list are from the U.S., none come from the West Coast. Instead, the wines are from Massachusetts and New York. It seems harder to find value wines in California and there are plenty of other states producing some interesting, value wines. Check out the wines made in your own state and maybe you too will find some new favorites.
Three, six of the wines on my list are white wines. That seems unusual to me because I drink far more reds than whites. But, I taste plenty of whites when I get the chance, and it is well worth doing so because of these special wines I found. If you drink lots of reds, don't ignore whites as you might lose out on some excellent wines.
Fourth, many of the wines I have selected are made from less common grapes, such as Pedro Ximenez, Bukettraube, Friuliano, Paralleda, Macabeo, and Xarello. Expand your horizons and check out the wide diversity of grapes available. I love trying new and unusual grapes and blends, often finding something interesting.
I have other recommendations for wines under $15 on my blog and you just have to search for them. There remain many good buys available in this price range, especially in countries like Portugal, Spain, Argentina, and Chile. Most wine stores sell plenty of wines in this price range, but not all of them are of equal value.
Inexpensive does not have to mean one-dimensional wines that all taste the same. You can still find wines of character, though you might need to spend a little more time seeeking them out. Wine blogs can help you in that regard, pointing out wines that you might not otherwise know about. Tasting the wines before you buy them is another way to find such values.
If you have some of your own recommendations, please add them to the comments.