Eight Places to Find Insane Value in Wine Now
“Hi, I’d like a bottle of mediocre wine at an uncomfortably high price,” said literally no one ever. Yes, it’s generally true — in wine as in life — that you get what you pay for. But there are exceptions to the rule, and we found them! These eight regions are producing superior sips that just happen to be affordable.
Yes, yes, yes, we all love Willamette. But let’s not forget about Southern Oregon, home to the oldest history of grape growing in the state and some noteworthy sub-appellations like Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley. The climate here is generally warmer than the rest of Oregon, but there are some cooler meso-climates within the region’s hillsides and valleys, which makes it an ideal place for growing a diverse range of grape varieties.
Look for: Tempranillo, Tinta Amarela, Pinot Gris, Riesling
Italy is perhaps one of the toughest wine regions to fully grasp, because of the sheer diversity of its grape-growing areas, and dizzying number of indigenous grape varieties. Located just south of Tuscany, Umbria shares many climatic and geologic similarities to its more famed neighbor. As a result, quality wine at great prices can be found, made from familiar native Italian varieties like Sangiovese and Sagrantino, and international grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Look for: Orvieto, Montefalco Rosso, Torgiano
When we think of the Loire Valley, most people automatically think of Sancerre and Vouvray. But, those in what we like to refer to as the know, think of an underappreciated Loire Valley appellation called Touraine. Here, you can find wines of all types, from sparkling to still, red, white, rosé, and everything in between, with plenty of killer value to be found.
Look for: Gamay, Grolleau, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc
This little-known region — translating to “under the mountain” — is, in fact, just that. Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, this small area is making a name for itself for its movement in recent years toward modern winemaking techniques and use of international grape varieties, although some producers are reviving the more traditional native grapes to the area with great success.
Look for: Tempranillo, Garnacha, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer
Lujan de Cujo, Argentina
This sub-zone of the well-known Mendoza wine producing province in Argentina is actually the birthplace of Argentine Malbec, which was planted here first in 1853. While great value can be found in Argentine wines in general, especially when compared to domestic wines, the immense quality of wines coming out of Lujan de Cujo — especially those made from old-vine grapes, which are abundant here — sets this region apart.
Look for: Malbec
While great value can be found in Argentine wines in general, the immense quality of wines coming out of Lujan de Cujo — especially those made from old-vine grapes — sets this region apart.
Portugal as a wine destination has been having a bit of a moment for quite some time now. The wine trade and everyday wine consumers have been taking notice of the increasing quality of Portuguese wines, not to mention the screaming value that can be found. While Lisbon has emerged as a hot travel destination, the region’s wines — often unique blends of what may seem like a staggering number of native (of which there are 250+!) and international grape varieties — are catching up as one of the area’s top draws.
Look for: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Arinto
Let’s be honest. We are all looking for any reason to travel to Greece, so Greek wine is really just icing on the cake. But if travel is not in the cards for you right now, we are thankfully starting to see more and more Greek wines in the marketplace these days, and with good reason — they are delicious, and they are reasonably priced. Naoussa is most known for the grape Xinomavro, which is often compared to Nebbiolo (the celebrated grape of Barolo and Barbaresco) in tannin, color, acid, and elegance, but certainly not in price.
Look for: Xinomavro
Given the sheer size of South Africa, it’s no wonder we can find a vast and diverse range of different meso-climates, soil types, and winemaking philosophies here. And, while the history of winemaking runs deep in South Africa, the region has truly come into its own in recent years thanks to a growing attention to modern winemaking techniques, as well as investment from top producers in other major wine regions. From rich, yet elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Cinsault, to bright and steely Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, to the unstoppable Cap Classique (AKA made like Champagne) sparkling wines, there is a wine — or five, given the prices! — here for everyone.
Look for: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Cinsault, Syrah, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cap Classique sparkling wines
Where to score more great wines
With a little bit of Internet sleuthing, you should be able to find wines from most of these regions and producers online (wine.com is always a great resource for your online wine buying). And, of course, always make friends with the folks at your local wine shop; they can provide tons of great information and wine advice.