The world of wine is too vast for any one person to know all its secrets, especially when it comes to tracking down the best bargains. So, we called in Wine Spectator’s team of editors for the second year in a row to select the top values of the past 12 months. This is an extension of our regular coverage of values in the magazine and at WineSpectator.com, highlighting delicious, affordable bottlings that overdeliver on quality for the price.
Wines that are easy on your wallet offer an ideal entry point for a region or variety, giving you an opportunity for exploration without breaking the bank. The thrill of trying something new is one of the many pleasures of wine, and as quality has risen across the globe, it’s easier than ever to find a wine you love. This means that well-priced wines from California to Italy to Argentina offer some of the special qualities that distinguish their pricier counterparts.
This list of the Top 10 Values of 2022 is capped by our choice for Wine Value of the Year. All of the wines on this list rated 90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale, cost $40 or less and were made in large-enough quantities to be widely available. We hope you’ll find a new everyday favorite on this list or start along a new path of discovery.
Below our editors profile picks 2 through 10. Read more about the Wine Value of the Year, Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2019.
Limited Red Napa Valley 2019
91 points | $30 | California
Decoy began as a second label for Duckhorn in the 1980s, when founders Dan and Margaret Duckhorn saw an opportunity for a value-oriented brand. It evolved into its own stand-alone winery and was eventually joined by Migration, Goldeneye and other labels within the Duckhorn portfolio. The Limited Red 2019 is a prime example of Decoy’s approach. The wine carries a Napa Valley designation, which means at least 85% of the grapes were harvested there. That’s quite an achievement for a $30 bottle of wine, considering the price of Napa grapes. Winemaker Dana Epperson put together a blend of 58% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Malbec, with a dash of Petit Verdot and Zinfandel. She aged it 18 months in French oak barrels, 40% of them new. 32,500 cases made.—Tim Fish
Toscana Villa Antinori 2019
90 points| $20 | Italy
Villa Antinori was first produced in 1928 and is named after the Villa del Cigliano in San Casciano Val di Pesa that used to be owned by the Antinori family. The IGT Toscana designation was introduced in 2001. The grapes for the 2019 bottling come from estate vineyards in Montalcino and Maremma. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, the wine is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 12 to 15 days, using both pumping-over and punching-down to extract color, flavor and tannins. It then ages 12 months before bottling in barriques, of which 20% are new and the rest either 1, 2 or 3 years old. The wine shows ample black cherry and blackberry fruit, yet it can benefit from a year or two of aging after release. 80,000 cases imported.—Bruce Sanderson
4. BODEGAS MARQUÉS DE MURRIETA
Rioja Finca Ygay Reserva 2018
91 points| $32 | Spain
Marqués de Murrieta owner Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga has spent nearly three decades walking a fine line between respecting tradition at this venerated Rioja estate and positioning its bottlings for success in the modern world of wine. 2018 was the first harvest vinified in a new winemaking facility that offers more space and employs state-of-the-art technology, allowing for greater precision. The vintage puts an emphasis on the fruit sourced wholly from the 740-acre Ygay estate and brings Cebrián-Sagarriga even closer to his goal for the winery: “Elegance, freshness, complexity—this is Murrieta today.” This philosophy also applies to the extended aging requirements of the reserva category, with the 2018 seeing 21 months in American barriques, versus the 60 to 70 months common 20 years ago, and the eschewal of old oak for new during the initial six to seven months. 14,000 cases imported.—Alison Napjus
5. JOEL GOTT
Sauvignon Blanc California 2021
91 points | $16 | California
Joel Gott has been dedicated to value from the beginning—not just with his wines, but also his restaurant ventures, including the Station in St. Helena and multiple locations of Gott’s Roadside. He likes the intersection of high-brow products and low-end prices. Gott’s eponymous label is a family affair (his wife, Sarah, is the winemaker), and he believes it’s unusual for a family-owned winery to make handcrafted wines at affordable prices—that’s usually done by larger companies. His strategy is to shop the entire Golden State. A fifth-generation vintner, he understands that well-priced grapes come from outside of Napa and Sonoma. “Remember, I didn’t build this overnight,” Gott says. “This has been 25 years of this, every day.” 92,000 cases made.—MaryAnn Worobiec
6. DOMAINE BOUSQUET
Malbec Tupungato 2021
90 points | $13 | Argentina
As wine drinkers become more conscious about what’s in their glass, Domaine Bousquet stands out in Argentina as the country’s largest exporter of certified organic wines, including representation in 50 countries. When founder Jean Bousquet purchased untouched land in 1998, few were willing to risk growing grapes in Uco Valley’s remote and unproven area of Gualtallary in Tupungato, where elevations soar beyond 4,000 feet above sea level. Today, Bousquet’s daughter Anne and her husband, Labid al Ameri, operate the winery, whose 593 acres of organically farmed vineyards are the foundation for many of its wines. The 2021 is a tremendous expression of Argentine Malbec. Winemaker Rodrigo Serrano fermented the wine entirely in stainless steel tanks to preserve the lively profile of floral cherry and raspberry notes. It should be widely available wherever you shop for wine and offers an eco-friendly choice to boot. 49,122 cases imported.—A.R.
7. MUMM NAPA
Brut Napa County Prestige NV
90 points | $24 | California
Should a sparkling wine producer be judged by its most luxurious wine—its tête de cuvée, as the French say—or by its workhorse, non-vintage bottling? Many bubbly winemakers would argue that NV cuvées are the heart of their program. Exhibit A is the Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV. It’s among the most consistent sparkling buys in California and a persuasive calling card for the winery. Established in the late 1970s as the California outpost of Champagne’s G.H. Mumm, the winery produced its first vintage in 1983. Today, the brand is owned by Pernod Ricard. Winemaker Tami Lotz harvests from nearly 50 growers in Napa County’s coolest regions, mainly Oak Knoll and Carneros. This bottling is equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a 10% blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier. It was fermented in stainless steel, with small amounts aged in French oak. 220,000 cases made.—T.F.
Merlot Sonoma County Vintner’s Reserve 2019
90 points | $24 | California
California Merlot was the consumer darling of the 1990s. It was considered a more mellow alternative to the structured and often tannic Cabernet Sauvignons of the day. Wineries couldn’t bottle it fast enough. But Merlot’s fall was as swift as its rise, and softer reds like Pinot Noir captured consumer attention. Jackson Family Wines, which owns Kendall-Jackson, has retained Merlot in its portfolio and across several company brands, including Matanzas Creek, Mt. Brave and La Jota. The Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve is the bargain of the bunch. The company’s long-standing collection of vineyards in Sonoma County, which accounted for 93% of the 2019, allows it to moderate prices. Susan Lueker and Randy Ullom head up the winemaking team, which blended in small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The wine was aged 21 months in mostly French oak, with about 25% American. 50,000 cases made.—T.F.
Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Red Cap 2019
90 points | $25 | Oregon
Back in 1905, John Forbis named his ranch Montinore, a combination of his former home in Montana and his new life in Oregon. It took 80 years before a vineyard was planted, but the Montinore name stuck. Inspired by his Italian immigrant grandparents Carlo and Rosa Marchesi, Rudy Marchesi went into the wine business and was working as a distributor when he came across Montinore, which produced its first wine with the 1990 vintage. He joined Montinore as a consultant in 1998, and by 2005 he owned the vineyard and winery. Red Cap is Montinore’s entry-level Pinot Noir, harvested from three biodynamically farmed vineyards in Tualatin Hills and Yamhill-Carlton. Winemaker Stephen Webber aged the wine in French and Hungarian oak, 20% of which was new. 19,849 cases made.—T.F.
10. DROUHIN VAUDON
90 points | $27 | France
In the late 1960s, Robert Drouhin had the foresight to invest in Chablis, where vineyard acreage had been shrinking since the phylloxera scourge in the late 19th century. Today, Chablis offers some of the best value available when it comes to white Burgundy, featuring a unique, steely profile combined with delicate aromas and flavors typical of Chardonnay from the region’s Kimmeridgian soils. Named for a mill on the property that straddles the Serein River, Drouhin Vaudon farms 94 acres in Chablis. There are two village-level bottlings: The Réserve de Vaudon is all estate grapes, thus a bit more expensive, while this Chablis is made from purchased grapes, juice and wine, keeping the price at a more reasonable level. It’s fermented and aged seven to nine months (depending on the vintage) in stainless steel tanks. 19,000 cases imported.—B.S.