Saturday, July 5, 2008

Real bargains, not cheap wines: Best 48 wine values of first half, 2008

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What are the best wine bargains for the first half of 2008? Let's start by defining "wine value". We'll define wine value as occurring when the perceived quality of the wine exceeds its cost. To assess this on Spirit of Wine, we simply compare the number of ***'s in each rating to the number of $$$'s.

When the ***'s meet or exceed the $$$'s, that is good value. When the ***'s exceed the $$$'s by two or more, that is exceptional value - a real bargain. So that is what we are hunting for... wines where the Spirit of Wine quality rating exceeds the cost by two or more categories.

Keep in mind that virtually every wine reviewed in Spirit of Wine is one that was pre-selected based on a positive reputation. In fact, in most cases where one of our reviewed wines has a traditional rating (eg, Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, etc), that rating is 90 or better. So high values within Spirit of Wine already represent the "best of the best". We're tough graders.

Based on Spirit of Wine ratings for over 150 wines reviewed in the first half of 2008, and based on the definitions above, below are the real bargains for 2007 wines (with links to reviews). They're sorted from highest ratings first. Scan the list below for wines in a style you like - you'll be assured of outstanding value.

For the best wines from the second half of 2008, check out our updated article here.

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars.
Think of them this way:
* (ONE STAR): What is this?!! - I can't finish the glass!.
** (TWO STARS): Interesting experience, but I'm ok if this is the last glass I ever drink.
*** (THREE STARS): I really enjoyed this and I'd like it again sometime; but I'll try another wine tonight too.
**** (FOUR STARS): I would refuse to drink anything else tonight.
***** (FIVE STARS): Get between me and this wine bottle at your own risk!!
(PLUS): A plus may be added to any level at my discretion.

Reminder: Prices mean the following:
$: Practically Free. (generally <$11 U.S.)
: Value Priced. (around $12-20 U.S.)
: Moderately Priced. (around $20-35 U.S.)
: A Splurge. (around $35-50 U.S.)
: Connoisseurs Unite! (generally >$50 U.S.)

***** Five star best values:

***** $$$ Calistoga Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, Napa, CA

Review and Rating: ***** $$$ Oliverhill Winery "Jimmy Section" Shiraz, 2005, McLaren Vale, Australia

**** Four star best values:

Review and Rating: **** $$ Penfold's Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, 2001, South Australia

Review and Rating: **** $ Luis Felipe Edwards Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, 2007, Central Valley, Chile

Review and Rating: **** $ Turner & Cole Riesling Eden Valley, 2005, Australia

Review and Rating: **** Castillo de Monte la Reina Roble, 2006, Toro, Spain

Review and Rating: **** $ St. John's Road Julia Greenock Shiraz, 2003, Barossa Valley, Australia

Review and Rating: **** $$ Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz, 2005, Limestone Coast, Australia

Review and Rating: **** $$ Cameron Hughes Lot 38 Barossa Shiraz 100 Year Old Vines, 2005, Australia

Review and Rating: ****+ $ Venta Mazzaron Tempranillo, 2004, Spain

Review and Rating: **** $$ Racchus Reserve Red Wine, 2005, Sonoma, CA

Review and Rating: **** $$ Mr. Black's Concoction, Small Gully, Shiraz Viognier, Barossa Valley, Australia

Review and Rating: **** $$ Cameron Hughes Lot 39 Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2005, Australia

Review and Rating: **** $$ Rollan de By, 2004, Medoc, France

Review and Rating: **** Ferreira Porto Dona Antonia Tawny N/V, Portugal - bright, heady, alcoholic opening, alcohol apparent in the middle, sweet, citrusy on the finish.

Rating: **** Beringer Founder's Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, Sonoma CA - classic cabernet nose

Review and Rating: **** $$ Berrys' Chilean Merlot Doña Javiera Estate, Maipo Valley, Chile

Review and Rating: **** $ La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Ventoux Rouge, 2006, Rhone, France

Review and Rating: **** $$ SUXX Shiraz, 2006, South Australia

Review and Rating: **** $$ Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh Vendemiaire, 2003, France

Review and Rating: **** $$ d'Arenberg The Love Grass Shiraz, 2004, McLaren Vale, Australia

Review and Rating: **** $$ Glen Carlou Grand Classique, 2002, South Africa

Review and Rating: **** $$ Hijos de Juan Gil, 2005, Portugal

Review and Rating: **** $$ Dr. Thanisch Estate Riesling, 2005, Germany

Review and Rating: **** $$ Simi Cabernet Sauvignon, 2004, Sonoma County, CA

Review and Rating: **** $ MandraRossa Fiano, 2006, Italy

Review and Rating: ****+ $$ Root: 1 Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, 2006, Chile

**** $ Cycles Gladiator Syrah

Three star value wines:

Review and Rating: *** $ Blackstone Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, CA

Review and Rating: *** $ Haddon Cellars Pinot Grigio, 2006, CA

Rating: *** $ Millaman Condor Shiraz, 2005, Central Valley, Chile

Review and Rating: *** $ Coeur d'Alene Cellars Viognier, 2005, Columbia Valley, WA

Review and Rating: ***+ $ Quail Creek Merlot, 2003, North Coast, CA

Review and Rating: *** $ CataMayor Tannat, 2005, San Jose, Uruguay

Review and Rating: ***+ $ Thorpe 2004 Nymph Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, Australia

Review and Rating: *** $ Tin Roof Cellars Syrah-Cabernet, 2005, California

Review and Rating: *** $ Taylor California Cellars Chablis, CA

Review and Rating: ***+ $ Altos de la Hoya Monastrell, 2005, Jumilla, Spain

Rating: ***+ $ 2003 Boolaroo Shiraz - Victoria, Australia

Review and Rating: ***+ $ Quinta de Cabriz, 2005, Dao, Portugal

Review and Rating: *** $ Copperidge Chardonnay, N/V, Copperidge Vineyards, CA

Review and Rating: **** Finnegan's Lake "Fin" Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, CA

Review and Rating: *** $ Yellow Tail Shiraz, 2006, South Eastern Australia

Review and Rating: *** $ Santa Julia Merlot, 2006, Mendoza, Argentina

Review and Rating: *** $ Villa Masetti Pinot Grigio, 2006, Venezie, Italy

Review and Rating: ***+ $ Paringa Sparkling Shiraz, 2004, South Australia

Review and Rating: ***+ $ Bartenura Moscato, 2007, Provincia di Pavia, Italy

Review and Rating: ***+ $ R. H. Phillips EXP Syrah, 2004, CA

Review and Rating: *** $ Checkered Cab Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, South Australia

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