Feature Coverage

Value Brands of the Year

“Commit these names to memory and you’ll never be at loss for a well-priced bottle of wine. These are the brands that regularly turn out excellent wines for $18 or less, the ones that you can trust when every dollar counts. To find them, we looked at all the more than 12,000 wines we tasted over the past year and selected out the brands with the most high-scoring wines in this price range. To make your summer wine shopping easier, we’ve listed the two top-scoring wines for each brand and present them where we think you’ll most enjoy drinking them: At the beach, a barbecue, a picnic or even at an ambitious evening soiree.

“Many of the great places in the world for steak happen to be wine-region-adjacent, where a steak-friendly red is grown and made. Take for example the Chiana Valley near Chianti and Montepulciano, where the cattle are raised for bistecca alla florentine, the Argentine stepe of Mendoza (grazing lands for its beef cattle that provide magnificent asados), the plains of Swartland as source for a South Arican braai or the grazing lands of California’s Central Coast, suppliers to barbecue restaurants from Nipomo to Buellton.

“Whatever the occasion and whatever the location, the idea is to find reds that are picnic-table casual, and affordable enough to have several bottles on hand. In Tuscany, that might be a Chianti or a deeper, darker cabernet sauvignon from the coast — Prelius, Castello di Volpaia’s Maremma winery, makes a terrific example for $16.

“Prelius 2012 Maremma Toscana Vermentino (90 points, $14). Prelius 2012 Maremma Toscana Cabernet Sauvignon (89 points, $16).”

Patrick J. Comiskey, June 2014
Value Brands of the Year