Great wine values | Part II

Chilean Values | Lou Phillips

As stated in Part I, “Wine lovers love a wine bargain.”

Read Part I:  Great wine values | Part I

To start Part II, let’s specify what it takes to qualify for our roster. First, a wine must over deliver whether it costs $10, hundreds of dollars, or anything in between. Second, each producer must offer wines starting at $10 or less, although most offer wines at much higher price points, as well. Third, the wines must be widely available. Meaning, the overall production levels are high, but high-end wines will usually be produced in small numbers. Fourth, and most importantly, wines have to deliver great bang-for-your-buck at all quality and price levels.

Even in the sub-$10 category, you’ll find well-made wines that will make you wonder why Chile is such a secret in the wine world.

California Value Stars | Lou Phillips

Batting leadoff in Part II is an entire country that consistently makes wines that punch way above their weight class: Chile. Look for brand names such as Concha y Toro and Veramonte and stick with classic grapes such as Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Even in the sub-$10 category, you’ll find well-made wines that will make you wonder why Chile is such a secret in the wine world.

For the more adventurous, try Chilean Carménère, which are bold reds made from a former primary grape of Bordeaux, perfect partners for grilled foods.

By the way, Concha y Toro now owns another value producer from the Sierra Foothills, namely Montevina Winery, best known for equally sturdy and tasty wines. Montevina’s Barbera, at about $10, is one of the wine world’s tastiest values.

Our next value brand is McManis Family Vineyards, a multi-generational family operation that was started by Ron and Jamie McManis in 1990. The extended family now sustainably farms more than 2,700 acres in California. They offer a dozen or more different varietal wines and I consider all of them to over-deliver because they are unfailingly delicious and none costs more than $12 retail.

Sangre de Toro | Courtesy Torres wines

This is made possible by their familial team system and vineyard ownership, which allows them to control viticulture and production costs. Standouts in their lineup are the Petite Sirah and Viognier, which stand up to competitors at much higher price points.

We will end with Torres Wines. Started in 1870 in the Penedès region in Northern Spain, Torres now reaches across continents to California and Chile, producing quality value wines wherever they go. Their Spanish offerings are the real stars because even the sub-$10 wines are authentic and tasty and who can resist their Sangre de Toro, aka “Blood of the Bull,” red wine with the plastic bull around the neck. Collectors should look for their Mas La Plana and Planeta bottlings to experience some of the best Spain has to offer. These two complex and delicious reds will improve for decades.

Enjoy wines from these six producers no matter your budget. Cheers.


Lou Phillips

Lou is a Level 3 Sommelier based on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, who loves traveling the wine world doing research for his writing. He also consults for collectors and businesses buying and selling fine wine and creating special events.