Good Wines For Tough Times

We all know that our nation – and the world, really – are in tough times. Of course, the wealthy and the genuinely rich will never have to worry – they may have lost a couple hundred million in the stock market, which means they have “only” several hundred million left. Well, maybe not Bernie. Although you know Ruth’s gotta have some squirreled away.

Anyway, for the rest of us wine may seem like a luxury and an unnecessary indulgence more than ever before. Now I don’t know about you, but for me wine is a necessity, so I’m looking even harder for value-priced wines, those in the $10-$20 range that still represent high quality and solid craftsmanship. Sort of like the Bob’s Furniture of wine, if you will. And that doesn’t mean buying swill. In fact, there’s a lot of excellent wine to be had under 20 bucks, although a great deal of it comes from France…and Spain…and Australia.

Surprised? Well, Napa and Sonoma are two of my favorite places on earth and I sing the praises of their wines on, elsewhere and whenever I talk about wine. I was just there a couple weeks ago, in fact, visiting Cliff Lede (interesting sparkling wines, and good Sauvignon Blanc); Pine Ridge (underappreciated reds, mainly because their Chenin Blanc/Viognier is one of the best inexpensive white wines on the planet), Robert Sinskey (the Three Amigos Pinot Noir is tremendous), and my good friends at Corley Family Napa Valley, where I like everything. I’m a fan of Washington and Oregon wines, and I appreciate the amazingly great stuff that comes from the Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes and Long Island regions of New York, driving distance NJ.

But the truth is that a lotta American wineries, especially in California, have simply priced themselves out of the market.

For example, I’m reading an article from a wine consumer magazine that describes “an affordable, lush Napa Cabernet” – for $80/bottle. For some folks perhaps that is affordable, but to me it means that the producers haven’t seen a dictionary in quite some time. Nor are they in truly in touch with anyone but the highest of high-end customers.

But, hey, there are still lots of great wines to be had that won’t add to our financial woes. Not much, anyway.  And to be fair, there are a few from Napa!


Benzinger Carneros Chardonnay 2005 (Carneros CA) $16

Mt. Nelson Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (New Zealand) $16
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier 2007 (Napa) $15

Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Sonoma Valley) $15
Martin Codax Albarino 2007 (Spanish Albarino from Rias Baixas) $13-15
Laboure Roi Macon Villages Saint Armand 2006 (Unoaked, France) $13
Chateau Turcaud Entre Deux Mers Blanc 2007 (Sauvignon Blanc, France) $13

Nieto Senetiner Reserva Torrontes 2008 (Torrontes, Argentina) $12
Gravitas Chardonnay 2006 (Unoaked, New Zealand) $11
Gravitas Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (New Zealand) $10


Erath Pinot Noir 2007 (Oregon) $19
Concha y Toro Puenta Alto Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile) $19

Castellani Chianti Classico Campomaggio (Sangiovese, Italy) $18
Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon (Washington) $18
Villa Mt. Eden Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Napa Cab) $15
Castillo de Baron Monastrell 2008 (also called Mourvedra, Spain) $13
Renacer Punto Final Malbec 2007 (Argentina) $13
Pillar Box Padthaway Red 2006 (Shiraz/Cabernet mix, Australia) $13
Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2005 (Spanish Grenache) $12
Bodegas Castano Hecula 2005 (Spanish Mourvedre) $12

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