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NextWine Showcases the Best of "What's Next"

In This Issue

My top wine-value picks of 2002
Wine Tasting 101: Muscat
NextWine Showcases the Best of "What's Next"
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

My top wine-value picks of 2002

As the first of another year rolls around, it's time again to review my top wine value picks of the year just past: The wines I tasted during 2002 that stood out for their combination of quality and value, an intangible factor that online wine enthusiasts often abbreviate as "Quality-Price Ratio" or, for short, "QPR."

This year, despite continuing publicity about rising prices in some of the most sought-after wine categories, I'm delighted to report that there was still plenty of good wine to be had for relatively affordable prices. Here, then, are my top 50 wines of value (under the $10 range) for 2003.

My selections, perhaps somewhat influenced by personal tastes, ended up top-heavy with red wines - 38 of them, plus 11 whites and one rosé - which is roughly similar to the proportions on last year's list.

The changes in geographic distribution since last year, however, are interesting, and may offer some insight into changing market trends for value wine. Fifteen of the year's top value wines were from Italy and 13 from France, reversing last year's order of finish that saw French wines lead the value derby.

In an even more noteworthy shift, six of the top-value wines of 2002 were from Argentina and three from Chile. No wines from South America made it onto my value list the previous year. The rest of the 2002 list broke out this way: 4 from the U.S. (three California, one New York); two from Australia; and one each from New Zealand, Austria and South Africa.

Here is the complete list, presented in ascending order of price. For brief tasting notes on these wines, click to my online report, The Year's Top QPR,

Santa Julia 2001 Torrontes ($5.99)
Domaine de Bordeneuve 2000 Merlot Vin de Pays d'Oc ($6.99)
Codirosso 2000 Chianti ($6.99)
Domaine du Pouy 2000 Vin de Pays des Côtes des Gascogne ($6.99)
Vino de Eyzaguirre 1999 San Francisco de Mostaxal Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($6.99)
Santa Julia 2001 Mendoza Malbec ($6.99)
Pergolas Crianza 1997 Valdepenas Old Vines Tempranillo ($6.99)
Casa Castillo 1999 Jumilla Monastrell ($7.99)
Leasingham 2001 Bin 7 Clare Valley Riesling ($7.99)
Placido 1999 Chianti ($7.99)
San Francisco de Mostaxal 1999 Vino de Eyzaguirre Colchagua Valley Merlot ($7.99)
Calina 2000 Reserve Carmenere ($7.99)
Borsao 2000 Campo de Borja ($7.99)
Chateau de Campuget 2000 Costieres de Nimes ($7.99)
Laurel Glen 2000 REDS California Red Table Wine ($7.99)
Louis Tete 2000 "Le Pot" Beaujolais Villages ($7.99)
Louis Jadot 2001 Beaujolais-Villages ($7.99)
Di Majo Norante 2001 Terra Degli Osci Sangiovese ($7.99)
Cline 2000 "Oakley" California Vin Rouge ($7.99)
Pierre Boniface 2000 Apremont Vin de Savoie ($8.99)
Altos Las Hormigas 2000 Mendoza Malbec ($8.99)
Smoking Loon 1999 California Syrah ($8.99)
Cantele 1997 Salice Salentino Riserva ($8.99)
Domaine de la Brune 2001 Coteaux du Languedoc ($8.99)
Ca' del Solo 2000 California Big House Red ($9.39)
Boccadigabbia 1999 Rosso Piceno ($9.49)
Librandi 1999 Ciro Rosso Classico ($9.49)
San Fabiano 1999 Chianti ($9.49)
Francesco Boschis 1999 "Pianezzo" Dolcetto di Dogliani ($9.99)
Allegrini 1999 Valpolicella Classico ($9.99)
Mas de Gourgonnier 1999 Les Baux de Provence ($9.99)
Le Pigeoulet en Provence 2000 Vin de Pays de Vaucluse ($9.99)
Alamos 2000 Mendoza Bonarda ($9.99)
Penfolds 2001 Koonunga Hill South Eastern Australia Chardonnay ($9.99)
Chateau La Roque 2001 Coteaux du Languedoc Pic Saint Loup Rose ($9.99)
Fairview 2001 Goats Do Roam Red Table Wine ($9.99)
Freie Weingartner 2000 Terrasson Thal Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel ($9.99)
Zenato 2001 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie ($9.99)
Tiefenbrunner 2001 Pinot Grigio delle Venezie ($9.99)
E. Guigal 2000 Cotes-du-Rhone ($9.99)
Falesco 2001 Vitiano Umbria ($9.99)
Monte Antico 2000 Toscano ($9.99)
Chateau Bonnet 2000 Bordeaux ($9.99)
Graffigna 1999 Tulum Valley Malbec ($10.49)
Botromagno 2001 Gravina ($10.49)
Terra Rosa 1999 Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon ($10.99)
Tresantos 2000 Tierra del Vino de Zamora ($10.99)
Zenato 1999 Valpolicella Classico Superiore ($10.99)
Allan Scott 2001 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($10.99)
Salmon Run 2001 New York Johannisberg Riesling ($10.99)

ABOUT AVAILABILITY: I purchased all these wines at retail wine shops in and around Louisville, Ky., and the prices listed are the actual retail price I paid; pricing may vary in other parts of the world.

I have no way of knowing their availability in other parts of the world or from online merchants; but in seeking any wine of interest, I always recommend starting with a good wine shop in your own community. If you live in a region where you may legally buy wine by mail order or online, try seeking Internet vendors with the Wine-Searcher database,

YOU BE THE CRITIC: Would you like to share your own wine-value favorites with wine lovers around the world? Feel free to enter your selections, and brief comments, into our Wine Value Database entry form:

To browse through wine-value reports that others have submitted, see:

Wine Tasting 101: Muscat

In response to many suggestions that we propose a dessert wine for study in our interactive Wine Tasting 101 program, you're invited to get familiar with the featured variety for January 2003: Muscat!

Thought to be one of the most ancient wine grapes, Muscat was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Because its aromas and flavors are so intensely grapey with overtones of musk (hence the name), Muscat wines are rarely listed among the world's most elegant and refined. But at its best it can make memorable wines, particularly sweet dessert wines.

The benchmark wine of the month is Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from the Rhone Valley in France, but you're also welcome to try Muscats from Australia, the U.S., or anywhere. If you would like to learn more about tasting wine and recording notes on your tastings, you're invited to join the friendly, supportive environment of Wine Tasting 101. For the details, click to

NextWine Showcases the Best of "What's Next"

Napa Valley-based NextWine is a leading source for high-quality, handcrafted, small production wines that aren't widely available. Check out our selection at
and be the first on your block with these NOT QUITE FAMOUS AND SHOULD BE wines from California.

We started singing the praises of John Ruston's wine long before it was ever rated. Robert Parker just gave the 1999 RUSTON FAMILY VINEYARDS MERLOT 89 points and says "This complex, earthy, delicious offering is everything a fine wine should be." Another discovery on
is VISION CELLARS PINOT NOIR. We've watched Mac McDonald's winemaking talent evolve through four vintages, and he just gets better each year.

We also love the 1999 ANDERSON'S CONN VALLEY VINEYARDS ELOGE, a Bordeaux-style Cabernet blend. Robert Parker gives it 92 points and calls it "one of California's most intriguing proprietary reds." We call it a Napa Valley classic. Browse
for two of our favorite Chards: the 2001 JOCELYN RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY CHARDONNAY (Kistler-like in everything but the price) and the 2000 VARNER CHARDONNAY BEE BLOCK SPRING RIDGE VINEYARD (think Autumn in a bottle) - 90 points from Parker.

PAGE WINERY 2000 MERLOT is a favorite of a rock musician friend, and it's now on the NextWine list of WINES TO WATCH. Big and well structured, with rich chocolate and black fruit, it's got blockbuster written all over it.

Of all the wines we sampled in 2002, the one that's surely destined for cult status is Darioush. 2000 DARIOUSH CABERNET SAUVIGNON will be available at
in March, so mark your calendars. This highly allocated wine will go fast. For wines you want now and wines you want next

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is currently distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

Wine, health and political correctness (Jan. 3)

Wine trends and "Two Buck Chuck" (Dec. 30, 2002)

Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Oven-baked frittata (Jan. 2)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Monday, Jan. 6, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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