VALUES

Our panels tasted 1,155 new-release wines for this August 2004 issue, and singled out a range of inexpensive wines for the value they offer. W&S critics Tara Q. Thomas and Patrick Comiskey then tasted these wines and rated them for their quality-price ratio. These ten wines - designated "Good Value" or "Exceptional Value" - represent the best overall quality for the lowest price. Suggested national retail prices have been quoted by the winery or importer, but prices in your area may vary considerably. If you shop carefully, you may be able to find these wines at a significant discount to the price listed here.

SPARKLING
EV I Cristalino $8
Cava Brut Rosé
With its strawberry liqueur scent and peppery red fruit flavor, this is a fine, lightly sweet Cava for a Sunday picnic in the park.
CIV (USA), Sacramento, CA
 
GV I Mionetto $12.49
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
Toasted lees scents introduce this flowery wine. It's tart with fresh pear and burnt orange flavor, clean and integrated. The tart balance favors poached shrimp.
Mionetto USA, NY
 
WHITES
EV I Crane Lake $4.99
2003 California Sauvignon Blanc
A real steal: just simple, uncomplicated sauvignon flavors of quince and a touch of grapefruit. Chill it down to enjoy on your next beach picnic.
Crane Lake Cellars, Napa, CA
 
GV I Covey Run $7
2003 Washington Dry Riesling
Dry but not too dry, this wine has a crisp apple feel to its fruit; the light, zippy flavors would make a good foil for a pork loin sandwich.
Covey Run Vintners, Woodinville, WA
 
GV I Aveleda $7.99
2003 Vinho Verde Loureiro
A fragrant Vinho Verde, this hits the tongue with spicy floral perfume and tangerine flavors that last. It's lively and clean, with that citrus-zest cut for river fish.
Tri-Vin Imports, Mount Vernon, NY
 
GV I Smoking Loon $7.99
2002 California Viognier
Clean, crisp and snappy, this wine is refreshingly lean, with just enough of the dry white peach flavors that are the grape's calling card. Fill an ice chest and take a few bottles to your next cookout.
Smoking Loon Winery, Napa, CA
 
GV I Hogue $9
2003 Columbia Valley Chenin Blanc
Fresh, clean and limey, with a touch of sweetness to round it out, this is a wine to enjoy ice cold on the porch with an antipasto plate to nibble on.
The Hogue Cellars, Prosser, WA
 
REDS
GV I Fortant de France $7
2003 Vin de Pays d'Oc Cabernet Sauvignon
With rich, plummy fruit, black pepper spice and just enough tannin to hold the wine's flavor, this cabernet would be a bargain at twice the price.
Kobrand Corp., NY
 
GV I Turning Leaf $8
2001 California Reserve Merlot
Simple, sweet, red cherry fruit gets a touch of complexity from an earthy, stemmy component. Pour it with a barbecued beef sandwich.
Turning Leaf Vineyards, Modesto, CA
 
GV I Gaia $11
2003 Nemea Nótios Agiorgitiko
This purple, juicy wine is so fresh and full it feels like it wants to burst out of the glass. Instead, it bursts onto the tongue with black fruit, red cherries and plenty of spice, all bound in chocolate richness.
Athenee Importers & Distributors, Malverne, NY
 

There are times when you want to splurge on a bottle of wine - birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations of any kind. But for a casual dinner, or a picnic in the park, those times when wine is simply a part of your life, it seems crazy to spring for a big-bucks bottle, especially when there's so much good wine out there at such reasonable prices. Doubtful? Trust us. Here are 51 brands that regularly manage to produce great wine for under $15 a bottle - 20 American and 31 imported. Every winery listed here had at least two-but more likely four and up to nine- wines for $15 or less that W&S recommended over the last 12 months. These are names you can rely on when you walk into an new store or glance down an unfamiliar wine list, or simply when you want lots of bang for your buck. There's something for every occasion, from light-hearted sparklers and spaghetti reds to whites with four-star class and reds that can go mano a mano with a Porterhouse steak. Buy a bottle or two; or a case or two, for that matter. Why not?

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