There are plenty of well-made wines priced under $15, and these are a sampling of the best of the best. Even better, you should be able to find most of these wines for well under $15, often closer to $10. So why didn’t we call this list the “Top 10 under $10”? We didn’t because most of these wines have a “Suggested Retail” price of $15, but you will mostly see the wines for less.
Altos De Luzon Jumilla (Spain)
A rampaging fruit simpleton of a wine. Lush and vibrant, the intensely rich dark fruit and bing cherries roll around the tongue and finish off with a bit of smoked fennel seed.
McLean’s Farm Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia)
Everything you expect –the intense fruit, the heavy body, the black pepper– from such a blend, but there is much more stuffing here. From the classic Cabernet aromas to the vibrant cherry and nutmeg accents to the loamy finish.
Castell Del Remei Gotim Bru (Spain) A kitchen-sink blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot, Grenache… and maybe some Syrah? In any case, this bottle has a distinct personality. Lavender and roses aroma commingle with licorice and vanilla. Spices and bitter chocolate blend with black cherry and fire-roasted plum notes.
Marquis Philips Holly’s Blend (Australia) Ah, a barrel-fermented & bone-dry Verdelho. This is a favored style for Aussie wine enthusiasts, but you don’t see this in the states much. This grape is originally from Portugal and one of the primary grapes of Madeira. The Aussies don’t make a Madeira-style wine; instead, they create a wine that will please even the most hardened Chardonnay drinker.
Hijos De Juan Gil Juan Gil (Spain) This twice-named wine is primarily Mouvedre and a varietal overlooked far too often. Not to get off the subject of a wine review, but Ridge Winery used to bottle a Mouvedre in the Nineties (under the synonym Mataro ). I really miss that wine. ANYWAYS… this Mouvedre paints its bitter-chocolate tannins straight across the glass and a nose-full of toast and burnt cloves. A big winner, even if it’s not the Ridge.
Step Road Chardonnay (Spain) This is not a Chardonnay for Chardonnay drinkers. This is a Chardonnay for Mersault drinkers. Enough said.
Olivares Altos 2005 De La Hoya (Spain) This one has serious stuffing, with a nice interplay of complex fruit flavors. Full-bodied and creamy, this is the definition of “fruit bomb.”
Rocky Gully 2004 Shiraz/ Viognier (Australia) A few bottles of Shiraz/Viognier have been circulating through the wine bar scene lately –“Le Freak” is the biggest culprit– that have given this blend a bad name. Fortunately, Rocky Gully’s offering puts this classic blend back into the limelight. Floral highlights, blackberry, and rich gamey notes jump out of the glass. Full-bodied, this wine roars through layers of black fruit flavors and a bare flicker of oak notes.
Argiolas 2005 S’elegas (Italy), Made from an obscure Sardinia grape names Nuragus, is somewhere between a bowl of lemon sherbet and a glass of Chablis. Intensely mineral-laden, the wine shows a racy acidity moderated by a lush body resembling a creamsicle with its creamy, lemony richness. Throw on top of that a whiff of burnt hay and fresh basil. Exquisite.
There’s never a number one. :)