Most complex wines under <$50

I think this is the definition of wine I’m trying to shop for. I feel like I’ve been drinking too many ‘easy drinkers’ or crowd pleaser wines, but I’m looking for some wines that I can really savor and enjoy, open hours in advance and keep tasting from it to see how it evolves.

For me over the past few years. CdP, and there are a lot of great ones in that price range, especially the 15’s.

If I’m picking only one, Lopez de Heredia Tondonia or Bosconia

Not the most complex, but < $50 and for purely seeing an evolution over time.

  1. Sauternes. I think Suduirat can change a bit with an opening aroma (for me) that is too strong on petrol/tennis ball notes, that fades for a more racy wine on day 2-3. ~$50.
  2. 2016 Produttori Langhe is one folks have discussed at length on another thread. For me the wine was very tannic on day 1, and then so much more softer/approachable on day 2-3. ~$20.

Maybe you should visit a wine destination that you asked for and find out for yourself. :wink:

This is an interesting question. On whites, I’d go toward chenin blanc, Chidaine or Sandland’s; Chablis would also fit, as would Reisling, of course, and some of the age-worthy alvarinhos. On red, Oregon or Santa Barbara/Santa Maria pinot immediately come to mind, as do wines from Sicily or Campania, Nerello Mascelese or Aglianico.
Enjoy–as I often say, with wine the learning curve is not so rough, not like learning a foreign language or trig; just drink a lot and find out what interests and pleases you.

Maximin Grunhauser Abtsberg Kabinett or Spatlese
Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Kabinett or Spatlese
[I could go on with German wines for a while, but will stop here]
Chateau Climens 2014 (under $50 if in half bottles, which is how I buy them)
Cotat Sancere
Christian Moreau Chablis - any of his various premier crus
Chartogne-Taillet Champagne
Sociando Mallet
Duroche Gevrey Chambertin
Hudelot-Noellat Bourgogne Rouge
Felettig Chambolle Musigny or Vosne Romanee
Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici
Piedmont wines - to be named by others who know them better
Baudry (and other) Chinon
Ridge Geyserville

I would add Giacosa Arneis and Carbonnieux Blanc to the list. Both deliver complexity and value to me.


‘Complex’ is such a subjective term IMHO - and that makes this a difficult question to answer. I would go to my local wine shop and attend tastings and get a wider array of wines in front of you to experiment with.


Baudry’s top cuvees
Plouzeau Franc de Pied
Sociando Mallet
Joguet - when it is on
Gonon - but that price might have sailed
Raffault - but needs 20+ years to show that complexity
Ridge Geyserville - complexity comes with time, unadulterated pleasure when young

These two immediately popped into my mind when I read the title of this thread.

Bedrock Hudson Syrah
Carlisle Zin

Thivin for me as well. The 2017 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly is already so good and shows great early complexity.

I buy both every vintage. My highest rated sub $40 are Julien Cruchandeau Ladoix “Les Ranches” and Platinetti Guido Vigna Ronco Maso Ghemme.

Bouland slayed it in 2017 as well. The Morgon Delys Cuvee is a 20+ year wine.

In our market, you’ll find some pleasant swallowable Lieux-dits around $30, but you can fuhgeddabout 1er Cru [unless you extend your budget from $50 out towards the $75+ range].

Ramey, Russian River Chardonnay $40
Lucia, Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir $45
Carlisle, Papa’s Block Syrah $40
Seghesio, Old Vine Zinfandel $35
Hall, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon $50

I feel like I’ve been drinking too many ‘easy drinkers’ or crowd pleaser wines, but I’m looking for some wines that I can really savor and enjoy, open hours in advance and keep tasting from it to see how it evolves

I don’t know what you mean by crowd pleaser wines. Does that mean a lot of fruit? Something like Caymus or Rombauer? Or anything made by the Wagners or Dave Phinney? Those sell by the thousands and must please many crowds. If that’s what you’re drinking, then just pay less for their cheaper offerings. They’re all pretty much the same.

There are thousands of wines under $50 that will be far more complex and interesting than those, whether made in the US or elsewhere.

You’re getting a completely random assortment on this thread and will probably get many more suggestions, all stated authoritatively. And reflecting only those wines the individual making the suggestion is familiar with.

Why not do as some have suggested and go to a few wine stores or tastings? Or just go shopping and if you stay away from the supermarket wines and spend less than $50, it will be more useful than walking in with a random list. Then you’ll figure out what you like and can explore from there.

For me, an old vine field blend with some age. Something like Ridge Geyserville, Bucklin Old Hill, Carlisle Two Acre, Bedrock Heritage …

I don’t know where you’re market is, Nathan,
But almost at random, here are some below from Chicagoland (Bessin). I get offered 1er Cru Chablis nearly every day <$50

2015 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume ex-Domaine $45.99 24
2016 Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume ex-Domaine $42.99 44
2015 Chablis 1er Cru La Foret ex-Domaine $34.95 60
2015 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains ex-Domaine $45.99 10
2016 Chablis 1er Cru Montmains ex-Domaine $42.99 6
2016 Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons ex-Domaine $35.99 60