A Damn Good Search – Best Value Wines Under $45
January 7, 2015
by Wink Lorch
We crunch the numbers looking for value and find wines with similar scores to ones that cost 10 times as much.
As the New Year beds in, we thought it was time to look for some good value in the world of wine, so we asked our database manager to run a few figures for us, using the sort of complicated algorithms that only he understands.
It turns out that the choice of highly rated wines below $45 is much wider in white wines than it is in red wines. White wines undoubtedly do offer better value but we decided to select the six best-value wines of both colors based on the following criteria:
• The average price before tax in U.S. dollars was below $45 in mid-December.
• The wines were rated by at least three critics.
• There were listings to buy these wines in a selection of stores in the U.S., the U.K. and at least two other countries.
• We thought it was only fair to run the figures on specific vintages, but we are confident that the following list features wines that show consistent good quality/price ratio through the vintages.
Looking through the top 100 wines under the above criteria, it was interesting to note that the only French wine regions represented were Sauternes and the Rhône Valley, while the only wines from the U.S. appeared right at the bottom of the list – 2012 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel and 2011 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay.
1. Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2011
Kevin Judd started Greywacke after leaving Cloudy Bay, where he made the Sauvignon Blanc that created New Zealand’s reputation for high-class Sauvignon. His Wild Sauvignon is the higher priced version of two Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs he makes under his own label, fermented in French oak, mainly old, using indigenous yeast. It stays in barrel for a year and then is left on yeast for a few months. This wine was released in February 2013. At $30 it is one of the higher priced Marlborough Sauvignons; the 2011 vintage was scored by seven critics and received 92 from Wine Spectator.
4. John Duval Plexus Syrah Grenache Mourvedre 2009
The SGM from the former Penfold’s Grange winemaker John Duval is feted by both Australian critics and American ones, who say that although it is drinking well it can last for some years yet. Made from 48 percent Shiraz, 31 percent Grenache and 21 percent Mourvèdre, all from old vineyards (in the case of the Mourvèdre from bush vines more than 100 years old), the wine was barrel aged with only a touch of new oak for some of the Syrah. Duval states that he uses low-intervention winemaking techniques with Plexus.