VALUES

Our panels tasted 1,342 new-release wines for this October 2003 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.

WHITES
GV I Beringer $6
2002 California Johannisberg Riesling
Chill this wine down for an early evening aperitif. It's a nice refresher, with its flavors of green apple taken to full ripeness.
Beringer Vineyards, St. Helena, CA
 
EV I Quinta do Minho $9.99
2002 Vinho Verde Vinha Verde
Fresh and supple nectarine fruit gives this wine a lasting fragrance. It's crisp and light with a nervous acidity that tightens around the fruit. A refreshing choice for fruits de mer.
World Shippers & Importers Co., Philadelphia, PA
 
ROSÉ
EV I Cune $8.99
2002 Rioja Rosado
This gentle salmon-pink rosé is full of strawberry flavor, lightly tweaked by acidity toward the end. Ideal with any kind of tapas.
Matt Brothers, NY
 
REDS
GV I Walnut Crest $6
2002 Rapel Merlot
A soft red with cherry and eucalyptus scents, this gentle, fruity wine is ready for pork chops off the grill.
Banfi Vintners, Old Brookville, NY
 
GV I Woodbridge $7
2001 California Zinfandel
A wine with a healthy dose of sweet red cherry fruit, this Central Valley zin is leavened by an herbal tang of tannin on the back, which would serve grilled chicken nicely.
Woodbridge Winery, Woodbridge, CA
 
EV I Delicato $7.95
2002 California Shiraz
About as jammy as an $8 wine can dare to get, this simple, irresistible shiraz has a lush core of deep blueberry fruit that doesn't draw away from its sunny disposition. For any picnic with a grill.
Delicato Family Vineyards, Manteca, CA
 
GV I Jacques Daussant $8.99
2001 Côtes-du-Rhône Château La France
With cherry-berry flavors, fresh acidity, and a lashing of oak, this was built for parties in the backyard.
Parliament Import Co., Atlantic City, NJ
 
EV I Napa Ridge $10
2002 Lodi Zinfandel
This warm weather Lodi zin is lightly scented with red cherry and cherry sap, with a peppery bite of tannin. A natural foil to a pulled pork sandwich.
Napa Ridge Winery, Napa, CA
 
EV I Georges Duboeuf $11.99
2002 Fleurie
The brightness of the color and the violet scent set the stage for this firm, fresh Beaujolais. Its clean, crisp structure keeps all the juicy dark fruit in line, the flavors extending in a satisfying finish.
W.J. Deutsch & Sons, Harrison, NY
 
EV I Quinta do Crasto $14
2000 Douro
Scents of black licorice and dark fruit turn brighter, as the wine's acidity shines through the tannin to spark a fresh red aspect in the fruit. Tight and elegant, if relatively short, this should take on some complexity with a few years of age.
Broadbent Selections, San Francisco, CA
 

In this time of tight wallets there's an awful lot of cheap wine out there. But cheap doesn't matter if the wine isn't good. At W&S, we define "good" as tasting like what a wine says it is; if the label reads "merlot," we don't want a glass of broccoli. That's not all: it's got to be lip-smacking, too. These may sound like high requisites for wines that sell for $15 or less, but here are 54 brands that manage it regularly - 20 American and 34 imported. Every winery listed here had at least two - but more likely four and up to nine - wines for $15 or less that were recommended over the last 12 months. These are names you can rely on when you walk into a 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 cheerful sparklers and spaghetti reds to whites with four-star class and steakhouse pours that would impress the boss.

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