Monday, May 05, 2008

Recession Wines - Wines Under $15

For several months now the Euro is comfortably in the 1.5 range. Yup, it costs over $1.50 to buy one Euro. If you're in France, for example, and you exchange $100, you walk away with only 65 Euro, and that's before commissions and fees. This isn't going to change tomorrow or next month - we're going to live with this for a while I bet. As both Obama and Clinton can tell you, things are tough for the average American. Gas costs well over $3 a gallon (although we still pay less at the pump than people in almost every other industrialized country), food costs are rising, there are fewer jobs that are paying less overtime, people's homes are worth less now than they were a year ago, et cetera et cetera et cetera.

We are in a recession. I suppose there are people in the Bush administration, or other comparable wack jobs out there, who would try to tell you otherwise, but I think it's pretty much accepted these days. And it will probably get worse before it gets better.

When times get tough it's nice to find ways to cut back on spending, and I'm guessing that wine is a good place to reduce spending for many of us. It is for me, anyway. I'm not going to stop buying a nice bottle of Champagne every two weeks, but I sure will reduce my everyday bottle cost. I want to keep it below $15 for a while (it was creeping towards $20).

But I want to drink good wine on an everyday basis. What's good right now for less than $15? Normally this would be easy, but with the bad dollar wine that cost $13 a year ago costs $16 or more now. Yeah, American wine hasn't gone up, but I have yet to taste the under $15 American wine that I want to go out and buy for my own home.

I decided to ask for recommendations from some of my favorite wine buyers at my favorite wine stores, and to share those recommendations with you. I've tasted a few of the wines and I'm going to share my notes over the course of a few posts because cramming it all into this post, along with my comments, well that would be the longest post in the history of blogging.

Let me first say this - the point of this is to share ideas about high quality inexpensive wine, not to bicker about who makes the best wine. So please, share your thoughts and make suggestions, we'd all appreciate it. Who out there isn't looking for good wine under $15?

Here are the rules for this game: a wine cannot cost more than $15 to be eligible. That includes tax, which in NYC is 8.35% or something. I figured that recession wines should cost no more than $15 period - that's it. No case discount necessary to get to $15. Hand them a twenty, get 5 bucks back - simple. So the most expensive sticker price on these wines is actually $14, as with tax that comes to $15.14. So there. And without further ado, here is a list of recession wines.

Ben Hagan, one of the wine buyers at Slope Cellars in Park Slope, Brooklyn recommends (Slope Cellars prices listed):


2006 Caves de Saumur Saumur Les Pouches, $13, LVDH Imports (100% Chenin Blanc).
2006 Caves de Saumur Saumur Les Epinots, $13, LVDH Imports.
2006 Jardin de la Fruitiere, $10, VdP Loire Atlantique, JD Headrick Selections (50-50 Chardonnay and Melon de Bourgogne).
2005 Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc, $12, Kermit Lynch Imports (Blend of, in order, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, Muscat).
2005 Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur lie Clos des Allees Vieille Vignes, $14, Louis/Dressner Selections.


2005 Chateau la Rame, $13, Rosenthal Imports (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).
2006 Domaine St
Vincent Saumur-Champigny Les Trezillieres, $12, Winebow Imports.
2006 Pichierri Primativo del Tarantino Vermiglio, $14, Tricana Imports (Primitivo).
2006 D’Estezargues Cotes du Rhone Les Grandes Vignes, $13, Jenny & Francois Selections (100% Cinsault!).
2006 Jean-Marc Burgaud Beaujolais Villages Chateau de Thulon, $14, Langdon Shiverick Imports.

Amy Louise-Pommier, one of the wine buyers at Prospect Wine Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn recommends
(Prospect Wine Shop prices listed):


2006 Domaine des Cassagnoles Cuvee Gros Manseng, $12, Weygandt Metzler Imports.
2007 Hofer Gruner Veltliner Trocken (1 liter) $13, Skurnik Imports.
2006 Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pinceszet Traminer, $14, Skurnik Imports (Hungarian Gewurtztraminer).
2007 Muga Rioja Rose, $14, Tempranillo, Inc Imports.


2006 Vale da Torre Bin 717 Alentejano, Portugal, $9, Aidil Wines & Liquors Imports (Aragones and Trincadeira).
2006 La Sera Barbera “Il Falo,” Piedmonte, $11, Matt Brothers Imports.
2005 Domaine D’Aupilhac Coteaux du Languedoc Montpeyroux, $13, Kermit Lynch Imports.
2006 Bodegas Nekeas El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa, $14, Tempranillo, Inc Imports (old vines Grenache).

Lyle Fass, one of the wine buyers at Chambers Street Wines recommends
(Chambers Street prices listed):


2007 Hofer Gruner Veltliner Trocken, (1 liter), $11, Skurnik Imports.
2006 Graf Hardegg Veltlinsky, $12, Frederick Wildman Imports (Gruner Veltliner).


2006 Clos Roche Blanche Touraine Pif, $14, Louis/Dressner Selections (blend of old vines Malbec, young Cabernet Franc).
2004 Sandro Fay Rosso del Valtellina, $13.50, Omni Wines importer (100% Nebbiolo).

I decided to also ask someone at a respected store that I don't usually shop in. So I went into Smith & Vine in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Max, one of the wine buyers recommends at Smith & Vine recommends (Smith & Vine prices listed):

Whites :

2005 Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc, $11, Kermit Lynch Imports.
2006 Domaine Labbe Vin de Savoie Abymes, $10, Skurnik Imports (100% Jaquere).


2004 Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardigna Reserve, $12, Palm Bay Imports (100% Grenache).
2006 Domaine Ricard Le Clos de Variou, $10, Fleet Street Imports (100% Gamay).


Drink, Memory said...

I just bought a case of Luzon Verde, an organic Spanish wine that I found on sale at Astor Wines for $7.99 a bottle.

Anonymous said...

I thought you were going to recommend cutting back on drinking for the recession. I was already calculating how much Pabst it meant I would have to incorporate on a daily basis.

Pine and Post makes a pretty decent chardonnay in the $6-8 range, I think it's Columbia Valley fruit.

peter said...

While I admire your diligent research, I must impugn your patriotism for being so bold, so brash, so- dare I say it- French for suggesting that there's ANYTHING wrong with our beloved US economy, or the people so ably running the show right now.

But now that you mention it, Saumur is always a good deal, and I love the d'Aupilhac, and the Muga rosé is quite good (though I pay $10 for it up here= $8.50 after discount.)

I like a bunch of other rosés right now, for Spring: Château Roquefort Corail, Mas de Gourgonnier, and Carpineto rosato Toscano are all favorites right now. Fizzy Saumur rosé from Vieux Pressoir is a pretty sexy aperitif.

And just to be clear, I use them to wash my Hummer, not to drink.

Brooklynguy said...

he memoree - i've seen that - white and orange label in a sort of palm leave pattern, right? did you buy the case untated or you've had it before? what is it, anyway?

jeff - cutting back is a legit way to go, and to those who do that, I tip my cap. but i'd prefer to drink cheaper wine, and maybe cut back a little bit. and although i like Pabst, i kind of need to be eating BBQ to really get into it. i hope you stick with vino. thanks for the chardonnay tip - that's washington state, right?

hi peter - thanks, as always, for your comments. i'm going to go ahead and ignore your vicious attacks on my patriotism, and move instead to the end of your comment. i will remind you that this blog is rated PG-13 - no "wash my hummer" comments around here. keep it clean, buddy.

i love the pressoir rose, but you're going to have to tell me who sells it for under $17 - even Astor Wines has it at $17.

peter said...

$17.00 minus case discount of 15% = $14.45. But I get your point.

In lean times such as these, I have been known to pad a case with $5 or $6 dollar bottles for cooking so that I can still enjoy the discount on the good stuff. It's an effective workaround, and usually adds up to saving one decent bottle's worth per case.

I thought that vicious attacks on other people's patriotism IS patriotism. Sorry for any misunderestimation.

Wicker Parker said...

Great idea to list these, no matter how unpatriotic the results.

I'll second the opinions on the Sella & Mosca Cannonau, the Muga Rose, the Cassagnoles Gros Manseng, and of course the Luneau-Papin Muscadet.

To these I'll add the following; all are $12 or less:

2004 Huia Marlborough Riesling (dry, w/ weighty apricot)
2005 Domaine Frissant Touraine Sauvignon (chives!)
2006 Punto Final Malbec (has some earth and spice)
2006 Zantho Zweigelt Burgenland (exuberant!)
2004 Guilhem Durand Vieilles Vignes Syrah Vin de Pays d'Hauterive (cool and complex)
and especially the spicy, rich, balanced, oak-free, purple-fruited, handful-of-herbs, Cinsault-dominated 2004 Château Tour Boisée Minervois Cuvée Marielle et Frédérique, of which I can never get enough.

Wicker Parker said...

Lordy, I forgot to mention the American contribution! Gruet makes a very nice everyday methode Champenoise sparkler for under $14, and they're straight outta New Mexico! Although the family is French, so maybe file this under "freedom fries."

Anonymous said...

Hey Brooklynguy - I always llok for good values in the under $15 category and here are two recent wines that I had that I can recommend:

2006 Dr. L Riesling - $9.99 (a lot of good entry level rieslings from Germany can be head for $15 or less)
2005 Josephine Dubois Bourgogne Pinot Noir - can be found for as low as $10

Drink, Memory said...


Luzon Verde is 100% Monastrell, from Jumilla, Spain. I tasted it a year ago and remembered liking it, though it's nothing special. I bought a case because I can't afford to drink my favorites on a daily basis (mostly New York wines, usually around $15-$20)
and also because it's organic and
pretty tasty. I do wish the alcohol content was lower (it's 13.5) because I drink it everyday, but oh well. The label is white with green grass and a little firefly and ladybug on it.

Kathleen said...

At Olivino Wines, we carry a couple of sparklings under $15 - Charles de Fere (either the basic Brut, or their Jean-Louis) at $10.99, Cristalino Cava, also at $10.99, and we also carry a number of still wines for under $15 (even with tax!)

Faunus, Nero d'Avola and Primitivo, both $9.99 and both tasty. (Tri-Vin)

Luc Pirlet Pinot Noir (Languedoc) 2005, $10.99 (Baron Francois)

Notre Dame de Cousignac (Cote du Rhone) 2006, $11.99 (VOS)

Massaya (Lebanon) 2006, $11.99 (Winebow)

Salmon Run (Finger Lakes, NY), 2006, $11.99 (Lauber)

And that's just a few, from different regions. I don't even think those are necessarily our best, just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Our Bed-Stuy location has a display of a selection of our wines priced under $10.00.

Brooklynguy said...

thanks for all of these suggestions, y'all. very interesting stuff. this should fuel my under $15 spree for quite some time. i have to come check out your store sometime kathleen.

Unknown said...

I just went to the Village Corner Presale Wine Tasting. Some of the
highlights were.
Columbia Crest Two Vines Vineyard 1o Washington Red, $6.79 on list

Robert Pepi California Sangiovese
$9.39 on list

Sobon Estate Hillside Amador Zinfandel, $9.99

Portes De La Mediterranee Beret Frog, Ch La Canorgue $9.99

Cotes De Gascogne,Domaine San De Guilhem $6.49

Bourgogne Chardonnay Laforet, Joseph Drouhin $10.49

Vernaccia Di San Gimignano, Le Rotie $12.99

Vinho Verde Famega Cabes De Cerca

Gainey Santa Ynez Sauvignon Blanc

Frei Bros. Redwood Creek California Sauvignon Blanc $4.69

Jeff said...

Brooklyn guy - yeah, pine and post is from washington state.

SLAKED! said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. I would add Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2005 to this list...just under the $15 limit and not bad I thought.

Cliff said...

Thanks so much for the notes! I've been really enjoying looking over the blog.

Just a couple of quick notes. While I share your preference for European wines -- and many of the same wines -- my list of affordable, go-to wines would include Edmonds St. John. Though, they're apparently considered spiritually French...

In terms of actual French stuff, I just had the 2005 Château Peybonhomme les Tours. (Sorry if I've missed it here.) While I don't drink a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a terrific, affordable bottle, for now or later. $11.25 with discount


Dave said...

"I have yet to taste the under $15 American wine that I want to go out and buy for my own home."

Then you aren't looking in the right places. Try the Santa Cruz mountains for once. The Chardonnays are great: try Chaine d'Or, Cooper Garrod, Thomas Fogarty or Clos LaChance. Cinnabar's Mercury Rising Blanc is an interesting blend.

From the reds I've been drinking Fogarty Skyline, Cinnabar Mercury Rising, Vidovich Cabernet, Zayante Zinfandel and Roudon Smith Claret.

Plus I've picked up some terrific bargains from Cronin and Trout Gulch recently.

Check my blog for more info.

Brooklynguy said...

thanks to you all too for the new suggestions. glad you're enjoying Cliff. And dave - not one of those producers have i seen on shelves here, except for Fogarty, and that's a more expensive bottle.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty late to the party here, but I sure hope you didn't buy any of that Pine and Post. I have had this wine 3 times, from 3 different vintages, and it always went into the toilet.

There are 3 wines that I drink quite regularly that cost under $15.00.

My favorite is the Alaia. This is a wine from the Castillo Y Leon D.O., and is 50% Prieto Picudo, 45%Tempranillo and 5% Merlot. It is a tad over oaked, but offers up some really nice flavors and aromas of smoke, blueberry, sour cherry, plum, tobacco and leather. Try serving this at a party and tell everyone, (truthfully), that you paid $9.00 for this. You will be called a damn liar!

My Second choice, and a close second at that, is the 2006 Monmousseau Vouvray. This $9.99 Vouvray is textbook. I'll spare you the details, you know enough about Vouvray to know what they taste like. This isn't as complex as Champalou or Pinon, but is just over half the price. Every time I break down and buy a Cuvee Tradition I have to debate with mysef for 20 minutes if the extra money is really worth it. The Monmouseau is sweeter then the Tradition but every gram of RS is blanced with the proper acidity.

Finally, I really enjoy the 2004 Envero from Apaltagua of Chile. This blend is 90% Carmenere and 10%Cabernet Sauvignon. It's very earthy. The aroma and finish on this wine is pure mulch. I personally enjoy that, but I suppose many may not. It is well structured with a lush silky texture and some chocolate notes that just seduce me.

It is a mine field for sure, but I think there is more good wine available in the under $15.00 range than most wine drinkers realize.

Cliff said...

Thanks, Scott, for bringing this back up. Our pitiful currency does make the exercise difficult. It's especially hard for me, b/c I like to have wine with dinner on a daily basis but also want that wine to be hand made, from hand-picked fruit, and that's getting harder at a price I can afford everyday. All this to say, I've been thinking about this more than usual lately and can offer the following (I do the overwhelming majority of my shopping at CSW):

[I heartily second, or third, the Hofer GruVe; how do they do it? I'm less fond of Fay's basic Valtellina, though I love their more expensive bottlings.]

Astoria NV Prosecco del Veneto, $8.99 -- great for summer, impossible to beat for the price.

Luneau-Papin 2007 Gros Plant du Pays Nantais Vieille Vignes, $11.99

Monpertuis 2005 Vin de Pays du Gard La Ramière Counoise, $11.49 -- a staple regardless of vintage at our place, but not for the acid-shy.

Hidalgo Jerez Manzanilla La Gitana, $11.99 -- I think we need a whole blog on sherry, by far the best bargain in booze. Not only is this a great deal, you can nurse it for longer than a regular bottle of table wine.

Hiedler 2007 Kamptal Gruner Veltliner Loss, okay, it's $15.99; you'll need the case discount for this one.

Terres Dorees 2007 Beaujolais A l'Ancien Vieilles Vignes, $16.99 (before discount) -- this has to be on all basic shopping lists; not sure if we're into the contraband cuvée that got denied AOC for political reasons, as in, it's too good for the industrial types who control such things.

Menguante 2005 Cariñena Garnacha, $9.99 -- I saw David Lillie's note on this awhile ago and finally tried it: it blew me away. Amazing at this price.

Verdi 2007 Oltrepò Pavese Sangue di Guida, $13.99 -- frizzante and pretty sweet, great with spicy stuff from the grill or antipasti.

Pépière (Marc Ollivier) 2007 Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie, $12.99 -- another basic staple. Haven't tried this year's version but have yet to be disappointed in about a decade of experiences.

Clos Roche Blanche 2006 Touraine Cabernet, $15.99 (before discount) -- another staple, and, to stretch things farther, it does very well right now if you pour off half into a 375 and save it for a day or two.

Cros 2006 Marcillac Lo Sang del Pais, $12.99 -- I LOVE this wine. It is not perfect and would not get one million points (from anyone else), even if they were to rate it. But it is real and authentic. It's funky and a little quirky, an authentic, rustic wine that doesn't try to hide its origins with oak or Merlot. (I believe this is 100% pure Fer Servadou.) I have tried the reserve cuvée, which is good, and a bargain in its own right; but this is the one that does it for me.

Laffitte-Teston 2004 Madiran Tradition, $15.99 (before discount) -- this one is more "down the middle," but still lovely.

Wirsching, Hans 2007 Franken Silvaner, $14.99 -- Wirsching is a genius.

OK, need to put an order in soon.

Brooklynguy said...

thanks for your notes scott, much appreciated.

cliff - is that stuff all available now at CSW???

Cliff said...

Hi Brooklynguy,

Yep, I just scanned their site. The only thing that's not in (yet) is the Wirsching, which is on pre-arrival. The rest should be on the shelves or in the basement. I should have noted that all the prices are before discount -- I only noted the ones slightly above $15.


Cliff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We are not talking about wines that are cheap and taste.I hope you will never catch me making excuses for a mediocre inexpensive wine. The wine pig is also a goal is to enlighten the visitors to the delicious wines that can be had for a fraction of their percieved value. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I just tried an amazing new value wine from Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina -- called Belasco de Baquedano Malbec. It's 100-Year Old Vine, but just introduced in the U.S., its website says ( I had the Llama, and there are three others (Swinto, AR Guentota, Rosa rose) all from the same Malbec estate. Have you tried this? What do you think? I was amazed at how low the price is, about $15 for the Llama. Are all Argentine malbecs so excellent?