The Amazing Race for Values

A journey to find great bargains across the Southern Hemisphere

The Amazing Race for Values
There are plenty of delicious wines to be had on a limited budget—if you know where to look. (Stephen Collins)
From the Oct 31, 2022, issue

Your budget is limited, but your assignment is clear: You’re on a global mission to find the best wines across the Southern Hemisphere for $30 or less. Where should you begin?

Our wine adventure takes you from continent to continent, into diverse regions where distinctive flavors abound. At every destination, though, the prize is the same: delicious wines at affordable prices. All of the bottlings here rated 89 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale and are made in large enough quantities to be widely available. Make sure your passports are renewed, because the world of wine awaits. Good luck. Travel safe. Go!


 An illustration of two men riding a blue motorcycle and sidecar up a winding road leading to snowy mountains, upon which is perched an outsized bottle of red wine
Chile offers old-vine bottlings of classic Bordeaux varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère. (Stephen Collins)

Chile traces its modern wine industry back to the late 19th century, when French vintners came looking for a new start after phylloxera devastated their native vineyards. It’s no surprise, then, that the key grapes for Chilean winemakers are French in origin, particularly varieties from Bordeaux. The Left Bank’s leading grape, Cabernet Sauvignon, has become Chile’s signature wine as well, yielding flavorful versions that show both structure and balance.

One of Bordeaux’s blending grapes, Carmenère, has also made its mark in Chile, as have Syrah and Carignan among reds and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc among whites. Producers have long relied on the country’s many old vines to deliver the distinctive character their wines are known for, while also pushing more recently into cooler-climate regions for a wider range of styles.


Syrah Colchagua Valley Alpha 2019

Score: 93 | $20

WS Review: This opens with a whiff of chrysanthemum and smoky game, while the rich, creamy palate offers juicy black cherry, blackberry and açaí berry.—M.W.


Carmenère Cachapoal Valley Gran Reserva 2019

Score: 91 | $17

WS Review: Well-structured and vibrant, with dried lavender and geranium paving the way for crunchy cherry and cranberry flavors.—A.R.


Syrah Colchagua Valley Cromas Gran Reserva 2019

Score: 91 | $27

WS Review: Richly fruity, offering dark plum and dark currant flavors that are pure and direct, with peppery accents.—K.M


Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley Hussonet Gran Reserva 2019

Score: 90 | $15

WS Review: This sanguine red opens with roasted coffee bean notes, which join a core of cherry tart and minerally acidity.—A.R.


Cabernet Sauvignon Marchigue Serie Riberas Gran Reserva 2019

Score: 90 | $17

WS Review: Offers roasted plum and dark cherry flavors, with brambly and toasty accents.—K.M.


Carmenère Maipo Valley Gran Reserva 2020

Score: 90 | $19

WS Review: Distinctive for its loamy and chalky cast, with vibrant, juicy red currant and raspberry flavors—M.W.


Carmenère Maipo Valley Legado Reserva 2020

Score: 90 | $20

WS Review: Zesty and redolent, with cherry and raspberry flavors up front, backed by fresh acidity.—M.W.


Chardonnay Limarí Valley Legado Reserva 2020

Score: 90 | $20

WS Review: There’s a nice buttered pastry thread running through this, with plenty of acidity lifting its dried pineapple and citrus flavors.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley Carolina Reserva 2021

Score: 89 | $10

WS Review: A very inviting white, thanks to its floral aromatics, with vibrant citrus and peach flavors, plus subtle herb details.—A.R.


Carmenère Cachapoal Valley Select Terroir Reserva 2020

Score: 89 | $10

WS Review: This fresh red offers floral, peppery accents to its red currant and plum flavors, ending with a cocoa powder note.—A.R.


Sauvignon Blanc Casablanca Valley Single Vineyard Reserva 2021

Score: 89 | $14

WS Review: Orange blossom and lemon peel leap from the glass in this fresh white, joining flavors of Manila mango.—A.R.


Carmenère Colchagua Valley Humo Blanco 2020

Score: 89 | $15

WS Review: Marries rich, savory roasted herb and cocoa with brambly berry flavors on a smooth frame.—A.R.


Apalta 2020

Score: 89 | $16

WS Review: Generously fruity, with pure flavors of plum and cherry balanced by a thread of slate. Shows hints of chocolate cosmos and baking spices. Cabernet Sauvignon blend.—A.R.


Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley 1865 Selected Vineyards 2020

Score: 89 | $16

WS Review: Markedly gravelly, featuring ripe blackberry and plum flavors, with fine tannins.—A.R.


Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Gran Reserva Single Vineyard 2020

Score: 89 | $18

WS Review: Balances savory tobacco and toasted spice notes against macerated cherry and plum, with a push of fresh acidity.—A.R.


Syrah Apalta Cuvée Alexandre 2020

Score: 89 | $22

WS Review: Floral and inviting, with pretty notes of cherry and concentrated blackberry preserves, showing violet hints.—A.R.


Pop across the border to Argentina to pick up some of these ripe, intense Malbecs, which are packed with powerful dark fruit flavors.


Malbec Paraje Altamira 2020

Score: 92 | $20

WS Review: A fresh and distinctive Malbec, with hibiscus, blood orange and Rainier cherry flavors that never quit, while details of pomegranate, graphite and herbs fold in around caressing tannins.—A.R.


Malbec Agrelo Remolinos Vineyard 2019

Score: 92 | $22

WS Review: Offers plenty of verve, with lively acidity and firm tannins giving structure to the floral, loam-laced core of dark plum and cherry flavors that show mineral and spice notes.—M.W.


M Blend Mendoza 2019

Score: 91 | $22

WS Review: Floral and spice aromas pull you in and fold over to the palate, adding juicy boysenberry and blueberry pastry notes. The flavors fan out from a push of fresh acidity. Malbec.—M.W.


Malbec Uco Valley Susana Balbo Signature 2019

Score: 91 | $24

WS Review: Well-structured dark fruit and berry flavors show sanguine and underbrush notes, backed by firm tannins and acidity.—K.M.


Malbec Mendoza Uno 2019

Score: 90 | $15

WS Review: This version has a brambly blackberry cast to it, with violet, thyme and mineral notes joining in around fresh acidity.—M.W.


Malbec Tupungato 2021

Score: 90 | $13

WS Review: A fresh, lively expression, offering floral cherry and raspberry notes woven with loamy earth and spice details, backed by a push of fresh acidity.—M.W.


 An illustration of a man and woman in a blue convertible driving on a winding road leading to an outsized bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
Zippy Sauvignon Blancs and elegant Pinot Noirs dominate New Zealand’s value offerings. (Stephen Collins)

Few wines in the world are as recognizable as Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Light-bodied, crisp and refreshing, these sleek whites are also complex and distinctive, offering a range of fresh fruit character—from lemon, lime and grapefuit to tropical fruit and melon—accented by hints of mineral and herb. The country’s signature versions come from Marlborough, a region at the north end of the South Island, where quality continues to rise, even while prices remain affordable.

Vintners have also shown impressive results with Pinot Noir, which now has a proven track record for delivering fresh, elegant examples of this famously difficult-to-grow variety.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021

Score: 94 | $23

WS Review: This stunning white is aromatic, fresh and intense, with notes of lemon curd, yuzu, peach, ripe melon and honeysuckle that are effortless and mouthwatering.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Classic 2021

Score: 92 | $13

WS Review: Mouth-watering in its intensity, showing flavors of passion fruit, Key lime, lemon blossom, ruby grapefruit and lime zest, with a sleek finish.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Single Vineyard 2021

Score: 92 | $19

WS Review: Focused and intense, offering juicy fresh grated ginger, Meyer lemon, green apple and white grapefruit flavors, with plenty of verve and energy.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough X, Sarah Jessica Parker 2021

Score: 92 | $20

WS Review: Juicy and very drinkable, with ripe apricot, candied ginger, melon and aromatic citrus zest notes on a fleshy frame.—M.W.


Pinot Noir Marlborough 2020

Score: 92 | $22

WS Review: This has a core of juicy, vibrant cherry, cranberry and pomegranate flavors, with notes of tomato leaf, spice, white pepper and tobacco.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Sur Lie 2021

Score: 91 | $16

WS Review: Intense guava and passion fruit mingle with vetiver aromatics on a light, juicy and succulent frame, with citrus and pineapple notes on the crisp finish.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021

Score: 91 | $17

WS Review: Fresh and vibrant, with pomelo, pickled ginger and lime sherbet flavors, expanding into lemon curd, tangerine and dried pineapple on the finish.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021

Score: 90 | $16

WS Review: Supple and elegant, with candied ginger, dried orange zest, peach cobbler and honeysuckle accents.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Otuwhero Estate 2021

Score: 90 | $19

WS Review: Shows green, clipped herbal notes, with lemongrass, lemon verbena and litsea oil to complement the lemon-lime and ruby grapefruit core on a sleek, juicy frame.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021

Score: 90 | $20

WS Review: Bright and expressive, with fresh tropical, lemongrass and ripe melon flavors, with chamomile accents on a supple frame.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021

Score: 90 | $20

WS Review: Shows Key lime, passion fruit and green apple flavors that are fresh and crisp on a sleek frame.—M.W.


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021

Score: 90 | $21

WS Review: Elegant and aromatic, with lemongrass and lemon thyme notes, plus citrus and apple flavors.—M.W.


Pinot Noir Central Otago 2020

Score: 90 | $25

WS Review: Firm and appealing, with a thread of minerality and herbal overtones to the stewed plum and pomegranate notes.—M.W.


 An illustration of six people relaxing with glasses of red wine at a table, upon which are two bottles of red wine
Barossa and McLaren Vale produce some of the best Shiraz bottlings in the world, plus many good values. (Stephen Collins)

Stop over in Australia to track down a few of these bold, full-bodied Shirazes, offering rich and complex flavors.


Shiraz Barossa Mother’s Milk 2020

Score: 92 | $20

WS Review: This juicy red offers a core of fresh cherry and açaí berry flavors highlighted by notes of dried rose petal, sandalwood, salted dark chocolate and fresh tobacco.—M.W.


Shiraz McLaren Vale The Boxer 2020

Score: 92 | $30

WS Review: Black licorice, kirsch and olive notes are dense and dark in this harmonious red, with plush blackberry and blueberry notes.—M.W.


Shiraz McLaren Vale Luna 2020

Score: 90 | $18

WS Review: Rich and expressive, with dark chocolate, currant preserves, dried cherry, herb and tobacco notes.—M.W.


Shiraz Barossa Samuel’s Collection 2019

Score: 90 | $20

WS Review: Dense, dark and fleshy, offering black licorice, iodine, blackberry, blueberry and black tea, with a thread of minerality.—M.W.


Shiraz McLaren Vale Tintara Reserve 2019

Score: 90 | $25

WS Review: This version has a rich lushness to the flavors of blueberry preserves, showing notes of cracked black pepper, dried violet, dried cherry and Assam tea, with dense tannins.—M.W.


Shiraz McLaren Vale The Stump Jump 2018

Score: 89 | $14

WS Review: Firm yet juicy, with flavors of black tea, maraschino cherry, raspberry coulis and red licorice.—M.W.


Shiraz McLaren Vale 2018

Score: 89 | $20

WS Review: Rich and toothsome, with appealing density to the dark chocolate-covered dried blueberry flavors.—M.W.


 An illustration of two people on safari, with a cheetah, zebra, two elephants and a large bottle of wine in the distance
South Africa shines in bottlings ranging from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc to blends based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. (Stephen Collins)

With a wide array of divergent terroirs, South Africa has found success with a range of different grape varieties. Chenin Blanc has become the country’s anchor—producing both vibrant, unoaked versions and lusher, fuller expressions, all with the grape’s distinctive profile of peach, yellow apple, melon, green almond and honeysuckle flavors.

Yet Cape vintners have achieved impressive results with other grapes as well, from Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon among reds to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc among whites. Prices remain exceptionally wallet-friendly, and the future for this country looks brighter than ever, as vintners continue to refine their techniques and expand their reach.


Secateurs Riviera Swartland 2021

Score: 92 | $18

WS Review: Gauzy and deeply golden in hue, this skin-contact white offers steeped raspberry and poached apricot fruit, with herbs, flowers and orange peel, plus clove and graphite. Chenin Blanc blend.—A.N.


Cabernet Sauvignon Jonkershoek Valley 2019

Score: 92 | $30

WS Review: A pure beam of dark, ripe black currant fruit shows a streak of spicy mineral in this concentrated red, with accents of vanilla bean, rose hip and orange peel adding to the expressive character.—A.N.


Seriously Old Dirt Western Cape 2019

Score: 92 | $30

WS Review: Chalky tannins provide good tension and definition to the flavors of black and red currant, bay leaf, olive and anise, with hints of minerally salt and smoke. Fresh, focused and harmonious. Cabernet Sauvignon blend.—A.N.


Chardonnay Robertson Limestone Hill 2021

Score: 90 | $17

WS Review: Pear and pineapple fruit flavors are bright and juicy in this lively white, which is lithe and zesty.—A.N.


Chardonnay Stellenbosch 2021

Score: 91 | $24

WS Review: Offers pretty notes of orchard blossom, vanilla and graphite enmeshed with flavors of creamed apple, honey, persimmon and slivered almond.—A.N.


Constantia Red 2018

Score: 91 | $30

WS Review: This round red offers flavors of baked black cherry and boysenberry, tobacco, dried mint, dark chocolate and spice. Cabernet Sauvignon blend.—A.N.


Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2021

Score: 90 | $17

WS Review: Vibrant, with hints of honeysuckle, verbena and green almond that play off the bright, expressive passion fruit and blood orange flavors.—A.N.


Sauvignon Blanc Constantia 2021

Score: 90 | $23

WS Review: Well-cut, with ripe, juicy apricot and white cherry fruit enlivened by hints of ginger and pink grapefruit zest.—A.N.


Chakalaka Swartland 2018

Score: 90 | $26

WS Review: A fresh red, with black cherry and boysenberry fruit flavors underscored by loamy earth and mineral. Syrah blend.—A.N.


Sauvignon Blanc Constantia Bayten 2021

Score: 89 | $15

WS Review: Chive and stone aromas lace juicy flavors of pear, peach and melon rind in this snappy, light-bodied white, with a zesty finish.—A.N.


Vine-hugger Red Western Cape 2019

Score: 89 | $15

WS Review: Fresh and chewy, this red offers an enticing range of ripe red currant and blackberry fruit, leather, spiced orange and wild herbs. Syrah blend.—A.N.


Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2021

Score: 89 | $17

WS Review: This lithe, lively white offers a pretty overtone of elderflower and other white blossoms, with a subtle streak of minerality underscoring.—A.N.


Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch DMZ 2021

Score: 89 | $18

WS Review: This lively white has a light, plump juiciness, with flavors of fleshy apricot and yellow plum set on a minerally base of stone and flint.—A.N.


Sauvignon Blanc Walker Bay 2021

Score: 89 | $18

WS Review: Juicy and balanced, with a minerally underpinning of flint and stone, this lithe white offers poached apricot and mandarin orange fruit.—A.N.


Cabernet Sauvignon Western Cape 2020

Score: 89 | $25

WS Review: A creamy red, with cassis and creamed boysenberry fruit flavors, backed by a toasty underpinning.—A.N.

values Red Wines White Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère Chardonnay Chenin Blanc Malbec Syrah / Shiraz Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Noir argentina australia chile new-zealand south-africa 2020 2021 Tasting Reports

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