Drinks

Wine Wednesday: Bargain wines from France, Italy and Spain

May 21, 2014 at 1:04 PM ET


Bargain wine regions in Europe
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Think you can't find a decent wine bottle from across the pond for less than $15? We've rounded up six regions in Europe that make terrific wines at bargain prices—and you might be surprised by a few of them.

FRANCE

Burgundy

"Yes, Burgundy," says Andrew McMurray, vice president of Zachys Wine & Liquor. Though it's the most expensive wine region, with some of the oldest vineyards in the world, Burgundy offers a number of good-value bottles. Some of the region’s most prestigious producers, like Joseph Drouhin, are making affordable wines with grapes from their younger vines. Recent vintages of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offer the best steals. 

Try these bottles:

Laforet Pinot Noir Joseph Drouhin 2011  ($15)

Laforet Chardonnay Joseph Drouhin 2012  ($13)

Côtes du Rhône

Though it's the home of the fabled Chateauneuf du Pape wines, the Rhône Valley in the South of France also turns out bottles with big flavor and low cost, says McMurray. Again, that's because of the newer plantings at many of the prominent properties of the region. To find Côtes du Rhônes under $15, look for both iconic names and younger winemakers like Jaboulet, Guigal, Janasse, Charvin, Roger Sabon and Pierre Henri Morel.

Try this bottle:

Cotes Du Rhone Villages Signargues Pierre Henri Morel 2011  ($15)

Languedoc-Roussillon

"There's more to Southern France than Côtes du Rhône for value," says McMurray. Abutting the Rhône, the Languedoc-Roussillon region grows many of the same grapes as its famous neighbor; it's just not as much of a household name. Many of the wines coming from this historic area incorporate the Carignan grape, which mirrors many of the snappy flavors of the more well-known Grenache and Syrah.

Try this bottle:

Cotes du Roussillon Villages Bila Haut Chapoutier 2012  ($13)

ITALY

Sicily

"Sicily is not known as a traditional wine region the way Tuscany is with Chianti," notes Christian Galliani, CEO of wine consulting and education firm Wine for the 99. But that doesn't mean its volcanic soil isn't extremely wine-friendly. Look for Nero d'Avola wines, made from the ubiquitous red grape of the region— a fruity varietal that thrives in the island's hot weather.

Try this bottle:

Cusumano Nero d'Avola 2012  ($12)

Puglia

If you like Zinfandel but wince at the price tags coming out of California, give Puglia's Primitivo varietal a try. As McMurray explains, Primitivo, which is native to the region, is thought to be the grandfather of the Zinfandel grape. Tomaresca, an estate managed by the venerable Antinori winemaking family, produces a juicy blend called Neprica. It's "one of the great values in the world of wine," says McMurray, "a rich, juicy blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon." 

Try this bottle: 

Tomaresca Neprica 2011 ($10)

SPAIN

Montsant

Just across the French border in Catalonia lies Montsant, a region of mountainous vineyards. "In Montsant, you have an old winemaking tradition, and the microclimates and the terroir are almost exactly the same as in the Rhône Valley," Galliani says. "They've had great success with Rhône varietals. You can get something that tastes like a $50 bottle there for much less." Look for blends with the same Grenache-Carignan-Syrah blends as the Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillion wines.

Try this bottle: 

Celler Can Blau "Can Blau" 2011  ($13)


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