Are there truly great wines available under $50?

As I was looking through my CT page, I noticed many of the wines I’ve loved have climbed over this $50 threshold (and not all of these would I call ‘great’ wines). So I started thinking about what wines remain commonly available under $50 and are also great wines?

Now, I know ‘great’ is a subjective word and open to interpretation. I mean wines that when you are in the mood for an outstanding wine experience from region X, you are as likely to grab this sub $50 wine as you are one 2-3X the price. I’m talking about wines that you would score somewhere around or north of 95pts. These wines aren’t great values, aren’t great for the region or variety, they are great without qualification. They might take decades to get there or be ready out of the styrofoam shipper. Either way, are there any current release wines you think routinely (allowing for vintage variation and other sporadic calamities) reach greatness that are still readily available under $50?

After some thought, I came up with a few:
I think the reds of Lopez de Heredia can get there. The ones I’ve had have been memorable experiences.

I would also throw CVNE Imperial into the mix, though WS probably reset the price point on this one moving forward.

Before the sale and change in Huet, I suspect many would have nominated these wines.

I’m tempted to nominate Ridge’s Geyserville and Lytton Zins. Some argue that zinfandel simply can’t achieve greatness, but I think these Ridge wines can show otherwise.

other nominations? thoughts?

J J Prum “WS” Spat/Auslese
year in, year out more or less…

The ones in my signature except the Ampeau, Métras, and Clonakilla were all bought for < $50, some much less.

Tons of “great” German Rieslings for under $50, and not just from Prum.

I am absolutely amazed by 2012 Rode Cellars Pinot Noir. Only $4.25 a bottle, from a restaurant only supplier. Can’t find any info on the wine, and I can’t get enough of it. [wow.gif]

Musar red and white, for me, belong in that category.

I just served a 1995 Ridge Lytton Springs at a WB offline last week, and it was several WBers’ favorite of the night, on a table crowded with $100+ big name Napa wines. I’m not sure I’d quite put it in the “truly great” category as you have outlined it, but it’s definitely in the zip code.

The $40 Carslisle Zinfandel Papera Vineyard 2011 astounded me the two times I’ve opened it. The grape and producer may not have the cachet and history of the wines normally thought to belong in the “truly great wines of the world” category, but that offered about as much pleasure as any bottle I’ve opened in a long time.

Some Produttori Riservas have been 95pt wines for my tastes, with enough age. They remain below $50.

As David said, lots of great Riesling.
Pepiere Briords, for under $20, is great by any reference I can think of.
Some top cru Beaujolais.
Either Cotat.
While it might not be CSH, I’ve had lots of great Cuvee Frederic Emile (just regular).

Valdespino Sherries.

For my palate, too many to count.


Gonon St. Joseph (just barely now)

I think cerbaiona and cerbaiola rosso di montalcino is great value for about 40$.

Agree and add Trimbach Cuvee Fred and Mann Schlossberg from Alsace

For a red, how about Chateau Pradeaux.

Or Chandon de Briailles Ille de Vergelesses.

Levet Cote Rotie although its pushing $55.

Also their rose.

You could look to Italy for lots of great wines at less than $50/btl. Same could be said for several other regions of the world as well.

Sure there are if you’re willing to do your homework. Are we talking types of wine or from specific makers. Right off the top of my head:

  • Canadian Vidal icewine
  • Gonzalez-Byass 30 YO VORS series of sherries
  • Tablas Creek Cotes du Tablas and Esprit de Beaucastel/Tablas wines
  • German Riesling, especially Kabinett and Spatlese and some Trocken as well
  • Alsacian white wine
  • Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc
  • Italian Passito and Recioto wines
  • Greek Vinsanto
  • Aussie and NZ “stickies”
  • Sauternes
  • Portuguese Madeira

Just gotta hunt carefully. I also tend to favor more expensive wines as well for both prestige and quality reasons but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to find great wine at any specific price point and $50 a bottle and under is actually quite a generous cap when it comes to finding great wine.

Right here right now…2003 Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume 95 points [wow.gif]

Edmunds St John alone provides numerous options for “great wines available under $50”
At least to my palate.