A good $10 bottle of red is not easy to find anymore. It's funny how people get excited about a great bargain, whether 10 bucks is all they can afford or they're buying it by the case for a barbecue. California isn't a lot of help. Too many of the reds selling for $10 or less aren't worth a spit.
Why can't more wine regions—particularly California—make wines like Altovinum's Evodia Old Vines Garnacha Calatayud 2011? It has lively raspberry aromas with hints of lead pencil and grilled herb plus flavors that are lively and ripe, but balanced with minerally acidity. The suggested retail is $10, but it often sells for less. I gave it 88 points, non-blind, on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale.
Garnacha is the Spanish name for Grenache, the dominant grape used in France for Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape and increasingly popular with California winemakers. Spain is laced with old Garnacha vineyards like the ones used to make Evodia. Located at altitudes between 2,400 to 3,000 feet in the mountains of the Calatayud region in Northern Spain, the vines were planted more than 70 years ago in dense slate soil.
Winemaker Jean-Marc Lafage further emphasizes the distinctiveness of the place by aging the wine for five months in stainless steel, not oak. Importer and Evodia partner Eric Solomon imported 25,000 cases of the 2011 to the States, so availability is decent. If you can't find it, you might try the similarly priced Las Rocas and Borsao Tres Picos Garnachas.
I'm sure the economics conspire against it, but I'd like to see California match that same bang for the buck. It's not really until you reach $15 or $20 a bottle that California can compete on the same quality level. California is still a decent value at that price point, no question, but it does make you wonder why so many domestic wines under $10 are palatable at best. Any readers care to challenge that notion? I'd welcome the discussion.