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exploring wine with tim fish

Château Latour 1945 on a Tuesday Night?

You wish, pal, it’s time to tighten the fiscal belt
Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Jan 29, 2014 10:00am ET

The only good thing about junk mail is how easy it is to throw out, or light a fire with. And yet here we are at the end of January, when every letter and slice of paper in the mailbox must be sifted through in case a Christmas bill or tax form is overlooked.

As tempting as it is to burn those, too, it won't get you very far. It's time to buck up, and if need be, take on some fiscal responsibility. As a wine lover, that is never a first choice, obviously. We all want to drink Château Latour 1945 on a Tuesday night. Well, I do anyway, but that's probably not going to happen, not even on a Friday or Saturday night.

The point is that fiscal responsibility as a wine lover may not be preferable, but it is possible.

Case in point: the 10 wines detailed below. Each sells for $20 or less and earned an 88-point rating or higher on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale. That's a tough quality-to-price ratio to beat.

All of the wines are produced in good quantities and should be available in markets around the country. WineSpectactor.com subscribers can read more detailed reviews by clicking on the links.

So if you're broke on April 15, don't come complaining to me. I gave you 10 ways out. But—ahem—if you have any belt-tightening values you'd like to share with us all right now, I won't say no.

Château Haut Bergey Pessac-Léognan 2011 (90 points, $20)
Pleasantly bouncy with briary, floral plum and anise aromas.

Charles Smith Riesling Columbia Valley Kung Fu Girl Evergreen 2012 (90, $12)
Expressive, vibrant and lusciously off-dry.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay Columbia Valley 2012 (89, $11)
Sleek and lively with juicy pear and grapefruit flavors and refreshing acidity.

D'Arenberg The Stump Jump Red McLaren Vale 2011 (89, $13)
A juicy Rhône blend with spicy plum flavors.

De Loach Pinot Noir Central Coast 2012 (89, $20)
Firm yet rich with notes of lavender, dark berry and crushed rock.

Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc California 2012 (89, $12)
Fresh and vivid with honeysuckle aromas and melon flavors.

E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2010 (89, $17)
Distinctly Southern Rhône with dark and brambly plum and tobacco notes.

Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Crianza 2009 (89, $15)
A sleek and harmonious red with black cherry, mineral and herb flavors.

Ravenswood Zinfandel Napa Valley Old Vine 2011 (89, $15)
Jammy, ripe and easy to drink, with lots of raspberry, pepper and toasted herb notes.

Bogle Merlot California 2010 (88, $10)
A lively red with zesty black cherry.

Bill Matarese
Florida, USA —  January 29, 2014 1:30pm ET
Just to add something Italian to the list, I would like to mention the Antinori Santa Cristina Toscana 2011. Rated 88 points by Wine Spectator, this is quite delicious and can often be found for less than $9.
John Kmiecik
Chicago —  January 29, 2014 6:43pm ET
Always love your picks Tim. Thanks
Ted Hudgins
Naples, FL —  January 30, 2014 1:14pm ET
One of my all time go-to wines has been the Seghesio Sonoma (Blue Cap) Zin at the local Costco for $18.99.
Stan Hagan
auburn alabama, usa —  January 30, 2014 2:59pm ET
Bogle Essential red 2011 is a best seller at $12.00
Peter Vangsness
East Longmeadow, MA —  January 30, 2014 3:27pm ET
Tim,
Please include Capezzana Barco Reale Toscana - usually $12-15. Always good, regardless of vintage.
Ryan Pease
Paso Robles, CA —  January 31, 2014 7:39pm ET
Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rouge and Blanc. $20. $15 at Trader Joes. Seriously over delivers.
John Sgarlata
Wauwatosa WI. —  February 1, 2014 11:11pm ET
Gnarly Head,Estancia and Sterling,all 2012 Pinot Noir under $15.
If I get a refund,I break out the Kosta Browne!!
John Petrick
Louisville, Kentucky,USA —  February 4, 2014 3:11pm ET
Great Submissions all. With our family we have two-for lack of a better term-classifications; "House Wine" and "Weekend Wine". "House Wine" consists of our daily drinkers which must fall under $18 Bottle, and "Weekend Wine" is something from the cellar.

Our house wines have actually included a some of the previously mentioned options. We find some bottles we like, drink them until no longer available, then blind taste new candidates to fill the void. Repeat. :-)
Shelby Nussbaum
Glastonbury, Ct —  February 4, 2014 4:46pm ET
I would add Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon to this list. WS rated 88 and value priced at $14-16. Consistently good year to year.
Robert
Calgary, Canada —  February 6, 2014 11:33pm ET
M. Chapoutier Cotes du Roussillon Villages Domaine de Bila-Haut is one of my favorite value wines at $15. Bisquertt Family Vineyards Casa La Joya Reserve Viognier at just under $20 for my go to white. Great picks as well Tim.
Patrick Benton
Thousand Oaks —  February 11, 2014 11:25pm ET
We too have our "week day" wines and would like to add an Italian to the mix. Aia Vecchia's basic Lagone is an easy drinking Merlot based wine that works well with lots of food combinations. The 2010 didn't fare as well, but it usually gets 90 points + and can be found for under $15.
Shelley Gans
Townsend, Ma U.S. —  February 12, 2014 4:28pm ET
Argentina's Trapiche Malbec Mendoza Broquel 2011 rated 90pts by WS for less than $10 at NH Liquor Stores. Great tasting Malbec !

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