VALUES

Our panels tasted 1,760 new-release wines for this December 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 Codorníu $9.99
Cava Brut Cuvée Raventos (Spain)
Green apple and lemon-drop scents rise with the bubbles in this creamy Cava.
Vinum Int'l., Napa, CA
 
EV I Korbel $10.99
California Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine
Clean strawberry flavors last in this easy, well-blended sparkler. It's brash in a lightly sweet way, for aperitifs.
F. Korbel & Bros., Guerneville, CA
 
EV I Rimarts $15
Cava Brut Nature (Spain)
This zippy Cava's full of lime rind and green apple aromas, with a taste that suggests the tart crunch of a Granny Smith, too. Just right for grilled razor clams.
Oenos Global, San Diego, CA
 
EV I Scharffenberger $15
Mendocino Brut Sparkling Wine
Yeasty and dry in style, this emphasizes broad richness of flavor. It gives a soft, round impression, then ends integrated and clean. Serve with roast veal in a light cream sauce.
Scharffenberger Cellars, Philo, CA
 
WHITES
EV I Tortoise Creek $8
2003 Tortoise Creek Vin de Pays d'Oc Les Amoureux Chardonnay-Viognier (France)
Fresh, bright golden apple, honey and floral notes make the transition into winter a little easier.
Master Père et Fils, Denver, CO
 
REDS
GV I Cellier des Dauphins $7.99
2003 Côtes du Rhône Prestige (France)
Simple and light with smoky cherry flavor, this is built for herb-roasted chicken.
Bercut Vandervoort, San Francisco, CA
 
EV I Finca Antigua $8
2002 Martinez Bujanda Finca Antigua La Mancha Cabernet Sauvignon (Spain)
An herbal, tobacco-tinged take on cabernet from the hot plains of La Mancha, great for grilled lamb sausages.
CIV (USA), Sacramento, CA
 
GV I Redwood Creek $9.99
2002 California Pinot Noir
This soft, elegant pinot is full of bright raspberry flavor and subtle notes of cedar, perfect for a lively pasta primavera.
Frei Bros. Vineyards, Modesto, CA
 
GV I Bogle $10
2002 California Petite Sirah
All bold blueberry and black plum, this richly textured petite sirah would complement burgers off the grill.
Bogle Vineyards, Clarksburg, CA
 
GV I Six Prong $13.99
2002 Columbia Valley Red
This blend of cabernet sauvignon with malbec, grenache, cabernet franc, merlot and syrah has the scent of violets, the flavors of red berries and fresh currants. A great wine for barbecue. (1,000 cases)
Six Prong, Rock Island, WA
 

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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