VALUES

Our panels tasted 1,188 new-release wines for this August 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
EV I Casa de Sezim $4.45
2002 Vinho Verde
Cool as the water in a deep stone well, this mineral-tinged white balances the green lime spice and grape skin with lithe, crisp acidity.
R.C. Importers Wine Cellars, Yonkers, NY
 
GV I Papaioannou $6.99
2001 Pelopponese Roditys/Sauvignon
This light, lemony summer sipper would be perfect before a barbecue; pour Papaioannou's Nemea red when the burgers come off the grill.
Amerikus, NY
 
EV I Aveleda $6.99
2002 Vinho Verde Alvarinho
Musky and unctuous, this has a lemon acidity that keeps all the florid fruit in focus. For a seafood stew.
Tri-Vin Imports, Mount Vernon, NY
 
GV I Castoro Cellars $8.95
2001 Paso Robles Fumè Blanc
A rich and tropical style, somewhat unusual for sauvignon but hardly for Paso Robles, you'll find apricot scents and a ripe mouthfeel to this simple white. A natural for a white cheese plate.
Castoro Wines, San Miguel, CA
 
GV I Chateau Ste. Michelle $9
2002 Columbia Valley Gewurztraminer
Sweet, a little sappy, with varietally correct flavors of melon and litchi, chill this one down for a turkey sandwich topped with spicy cranberry relish.
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Woodinville, WA
 
EV I Smoking Loon $9
2001 California Viognier
Sweet aromas of peach blossom and apricot yield to a surprisingly dry and firm texture on the palate; an afternoon white for the porch.
Smoking Loon Winery, Napa, CA
 
GV I Forest Glen $9.99
2002 California Pinot Grigio
Tart and herbal, with hints of fig and melon flavors, this grigio has sufficient inherent tartness to stand up nicely to a fish fry.
Forest Glen Winery, Sonoma, CA
 
EV I Segura Viudas $10
Cava Brut Reserva
Complex and layered, with ripe apple fruitiness rising above a dry hint of apple skin, wrapped up in a citrus and mineral grip. For grilled shellfish.
Freixenet USA, Sonoma, CA
 
REDS
GV I Delas Frères $9
2001 Côtes du Ventoux
Pepper notes spark up this cherry-juicy wine, a light and easy red for summertime.
Maisons Marques & Domaines USA, Oakland, CA
 
GV I Calliga $9.90
Cephalonia Rubis
Red cherry flavors with bright acidity make a great picnic pour with sliced meats and sheep cheeses.
Nestor Imports, NY
 
EV I Bridgeview $9.95
2001 Oregon Cabernet-Merlot
Light and brisk, the exuberant red cherry fruit makes this a breath of fresh air in the weighty and tannic world of cabernet blends. It wants to be your picnic wine.
Bridgeview Vineyards, Cave Junction, OR
 
EV I Feudo Arancio $9.99
2001 Sicilia Syrah
Plush, fragrant, simple syrah, this spicy Sicilian version stands in well for a Côtes du Rhône.
Prestige Wine Imports, NY
 

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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