Sometimes, all we need is a glass of wine. Whether it’s been a long day and we need to unwind, or, it’s the weekend and we’re looking to have some fun — a glass of wine will always do the trick.
When I’m looking for value driven wines for everyday drinking, $15 is the sweet spot. If you spend less than that and enjoy what you’re drinking, you’ve got a good value.
Another motivating factor for me is that there is a great bit of fun associated with finding deals. It’s simple enough to walk into a wine shop and plunk down a lot of money for a well-known wine or one that has huge points associated with it. Those experiences can be delicious, but they get a little dull and predictable after a while. With that in mind, I tasted through close to four dozen wines that routinely sell around the United States for $15 or less. Here are fifteen that I really liked and believe you should put on your to drink list this summer.
Our Daily Red 2013 Blend ($9)
This organic wine is a blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon, ruby cabernet and carignan. It’s a vegan, gluten free wine without detectable sulfites. Violets, black plum and blackberry aromas fill the nose. Dried cranberry, pomegranate and bits of sour black cherry are in evidence on the palate along with hints of savory herbs. All of those dark fruit characteristics and bits of spice carry through the solid finish. This is a modest and delicious red table wine that belies its price point. Too many of the red blends in this price category are almost syrupy sweet in nature. Our Daily Red is fruit driven but dry. If you’re looking for a house red to buy a case of, this would be a fine choice.
Stellar Organics Pinotage ($10)
This organic wine is entirely pinotage from the Western Cape region of South Africa. No sulfites are added. The dark aromas here show off black fruit, bits of leather and a touch of thyme. The darkness continues on the palate where blackberry and cherry flavors ride high. Roasted chicory and a bit of sweet dark chocolate are both part of the finish. Firm acid adds to the structure, mouth-watering nature, and wide food pairing possibilities of this pinotage.
Trivento 2013 Reserve Torrontés ($11)
This offering was made from 100 percent Torrontés grown in Mendoza. The nose here is remarkably floral, hints of citrus play a supporting role. Yellow melon and papaya notes dominate the fruity palate. The finish is smooth and even with a honeyed edge. Bits of tangerine peel are also present. Torrontés is Argentina’s signature white grape. Hopefully, affordable examples such as this will help it become better known in the US.
Trivento 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($11)
All of the fruit for this entirely varietal wine hails from the Mendoza region of Argentina. When I first started drinking South American wines some 20 plus years ago, it was the cabernet values that roped me in. This offering from Trivento brings me back. It offers lots of red berry aromas on the nose that are gently tinged by black fruits. The palate is loaded with sweet berry flavors, copious spices and bits of savory herb such as sage and bay leaf. The spices continue on the finish alongside bits of roasted espresso. This is a very solid entry level example of cabernet, one of the grapes Argentina excels at, suited for daily drinking.
Casillero del Diablo 2014 Chardonnay ($12)
Chile’s Limari Valley is the origin of the fruit for this offering. It’s 100 percent chardonnay. Loads of pear aromas are joined by apple, hints of peach and a touch of cream and vanilla. Yellow delicious apple flavors and bartlett pear are in heavy evidence on the palate. Baler’s spices and continued orchard fruit characteristics found out the finish which has excellent length for the price category. This wine is a fine example of how Chile often over delivers bang for the buck.
Layer Cake 2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($12)
The fruit for this wine came from Alexander Valley, Lake County and Lodi California. It’s entirely sauvignon blanc and fermented in stainless steel. Grapefruit and lemon ice aromas waft from the nose. Kiwi, gooseberry and a mélange of citrus flavors dot the palate alongside bits of honeydew melon. Continued citrus fruit characteristics mark the clean, crisp finish. This wine has excellent varietal typicity and is eminently enjoyable. Basically, it’s everything you can ask for in a wine for such a reasonable price.
Biltmore 2013 Riesling ($12)
Mostly Riesling with dollops of Gewürztraminer and Muscat Canelli blended in. It was fermented in stainless steel, blended and immediately bottled to retain freshness. The aromas here scream apricot and yellow peach. Stone and tropical fruit flavors absolutely dominate the palate with peach, mango and papaya all pitching in. A host of spices, mesquite honey and continued yellow fruit flavors dot the solid finish. The Biltmore Riesling will work fabulously with spicy foods.
LangeTwins 2012 Zinfandel ($14)
Made entirely from Estate grown, sustainably farmed Lodi California zinfandel, it was aged in American oak. Aromas of bramble and Mexican vanilla bean fill the nose. Blackberry and raspberry flavors lead the layered and even keeled palate. Black plum, dusty cocoa, and black pepper are in evidence on the finish which has terrific length for the price point. This is a textbook example of a well-made, proportionate zinfandel.
Giesen 2013 Estate Riesling ($14)
The fruit for this wine came from two regions in New Zealand, Marlborough & Waipara. It was fermented in stainless steel. Lemon zest, Anjou pear and linseed oil aromas all emerge from the engaging nose. White peach flavors dominate the palate with bits of lychee fruit in a supporting role. Wisps of orange rind and a core of spices mark the generous finish. There is an inherent fruitiness that gives the impression of sweetness.
Amado Sur 2014 Chardonnay Blend ($15)
This wine is largely chardonnay (70 percent), with smaller amounts of pinot grigio (20 percent), and vognier (10 percent) blended in. All of the fruit is from Mendoza. Floral aromas dominate the nose with hints of peach and apple present as well. Anjou pear, apple and bits of mango fill the sumptuous palate. All of those flavors are joined by a bit of spice on the fruity and slightly honeyed finish. This is a really nice blend with all 3 varietals coming together to form a cohesive wine.
Goose Ridge 2012 “G3” Chardonnay ($15)
All of the fruit for this chardonnay is from Washington State’s Columbia Valley. It’s 100 percent chardonnay. It was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and barrel. Granny smith apple, toasted hazelnut and vanilla bean aromas float from the nose. Pineapple, pear and golden delicious apple lead the core of pure and appealing fruit flavors. Continuing orchard fruit, crème fraiche and wisps of marzipan are all part of the finish which has solid length and depth.
Campo Viejo Reserva Brut ($15)
This cava was made from a blend of Xarello, Parellada, and Macabeo. It was produced in the traditional method. The subtle and somewhat reticent nose features white flowers and bits of honeydew melon. The gentle palate shows off a host of white fruits and spice as well as a bit of toast and vanilla. The lingering finish hints at brioche and white pepper. This is a very refined and somewhat sophisticated cava for the price.
Campo Viejo Brut Rosé ($15)
100 percent Trepat, this cava was produced using traditional methods. This cava shimmers beautifully in the glass with a lovely deep salmon hue. Red raspberry and ripe wild strawberry aromas dominate the nose. From the first sip the red berry flavors rule as well. Hints of flaky biscuit and a touch of cream emerge on the above average finish. If you’re hosting or attending a brunch this summer, this sparkling wine from Spain would be a perfect choice.
M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut 2014 Les Vignes Rosé ($15)
Cinsault and grenache were blended together to create this wine, fermented and aged in tank. Fresh, wild strawberry aromas light up the nose here. Big cherry flavors dominate the palate along with spices and a hint of orange peel. Crème fraiche, continued cherry elements and a lingering bit of white pepper. This is a lovely, traditional, and refreshing example of rosé.
M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut 2014 Les Vignes White ($15)
This wine brings together grenache blanc, grenache gris, vermentino, and macabeo. Fermentation and aging took place in tank. Lychee fruit and toasted pecan aromas emerge from the nos. The palate is soft and layered with fruit, spice, and bits of salinity. The finish here is reasonably long and slightly lusty. This lovely blend is a killer food wine.
What ties these fifteen wines together is the fact that they are all delicious, affordable and good values. You won’t mind bringing them to a party or opening them up on a random Tuesday night with a slice of pizza or some tacos and guacamole. These are wines intended to enjoy now with everyday life, pop a cork or twist off a cap and do just that.