VALUES

Our panels tasted 1,854 new-release wines for this October 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.

WHITES
GV I Pepi $8
2003 California Sauvignon Blanc
A simple, grapey white with an edge of musk melon flavor, this is made for aperitifs with prawns.
Pepi Winery, Oakville, CA
 
EV I Boekenhoutskloof $9
2003 Western Cape Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc
Rich fruit forms this wine's core, with tropical notes of guava. Freshness brackets either end, with tart scents of herbs that recall the rhinovelt, the local flora in the hills surrounding many of the Cape's vineyards.
Vineyard Brands, Birmingham, AL
 
REDS
GV I Caves Primavera $6.99
2002 Beiras VR Beira Litoral
A bright and spicy Portuguese quaff, this packs simple sour cherry flavors into a pleasingly rustic red. Light enough for grilled sardines.
Wine Enterprises, L.L.C, Newark, NJ
 
EV I Fantelli $8
2002 Mendoza Syrah
Dense with black fruit and a coal scent that plays around the blackberry and bitter chocolate flavors; its mineral darkness is savory, supported by muscular tannins. For a generous cut of rare roast lamb.
Kensington Distributors, Reno, NV
 
EV I Concha y Toro $9
2003 Rapel Valley Casillero del Diablo Merlot
Here's another terrific value from the Casillero line. This meaty merlot fills the mouth with its black cherry and tea leaf scents over a soft and dense texture of tannins. The freshness of its fruit makes it approachable now with fettuccine Alfredo.
Banfi Vintners, Old Brookville, NY
 
EV I Boutari $11
2002 Naoussa
A Naoussa of terrific elegance and finesse, light but oh-so-fragrant, full of roses and spice. That fragrance carries it, long and graceful, tethered by fine but firm tannins that give the dried cherry fruit a meaty taste. Approachable now, but worthy of age.
Paterno Wines Int'l., Lake Bluff, IL
 
EV I Wynns Coonawarra Estate $11
2001 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz Merlot
A well-blended, easy red, this offers simple black cherry flavors and the toasty char of oak. It's an everyday pour for anything from grilled chicken to lamb chops.
Southcorp Wines, The Americas, Napa, CA
 
GV I Brancott Vineyards $11
2002 Marlborough Pinot Noir
A delicate, small-scale pinot, this wine has good depth and brightness in both color and flavor. Its gentle, light cherry fruit will complement grilled chicken.
Allied Domecq Wines USA, Healdsburg, CA
 
GV I Waterbrook $13
2003 Columbia Valley Melange
Toasty, round and simple, this blend of cabernet, sangiovese, merlot, and syrah offers red currant flavors set against the feel of polished leather. Still youthful, this could use a year of age.
Waterbrook Winery, Walla Walla, WA
 
GV I Chateau la Paws $15
2002 Sonoma County Zinfandel
Zin in a beauty contest, a slim strawberry blonde. Beautifully fresh, with raspberry and strawberry redness, this lasts long and lovely, evocative of Sonoma County roses and the sassafras scent of coastal woodlands. It's light and generous in spirit.
Chateau la Paws Winery, Alameda, CA
 

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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