My best wine values of 2003
If you're even halfway seriously interested in wine, then you probably find it as difficult as I do to get along without a simple wine-tasting accessory: A notepad and pen, or the digital equivalent.
I've been recording wine notes for many years, on media ranging from steno pads to desktop computers to palm-size PDAs, and I've never been sorry. I find that jotting down even brief, casual impressions about a wine helps me remember it, and that's useful the next time I taste a wine from the same or related region, grape or style and reflect on the similarities and differences.
In the past year or so, I've started using a database system to record my wine notes and prepare them for online publication. And now, at the start of the New Year, I'm delighted to see how easy this makes my annual custom of looking back over the best-value wines of the year - the wines that, as online wine enthusiasts say, offer the best "Quality-Price Ratio" or "QPR."
A simple command or two, a mouse-click, and bam! All my tasting reports come back, organized in order with the wines that I liked best and considered the best value at the head of the line.
Wine statisticians will be interested to note that wines from France dominated the list with 17 of 37 entries, trailed by Spain with 5 and the United States and Australia with 4 each. Italy and Portugal each placed 2 wines on my best-value list, and there was 1 each from Greece, Argentina and South Africa.
If you're budget-conscious, though, it's worth noting that the wines of Spain were disproportionately represented in the under-$10 group, while many of the top-ranked French wines I tasted fell into the $10-and-over category. This suggests that the modest wines of Spain are excellent performers in the quest for both quality and value. On the other side of the coin, although both the United States and Italy produce excellent wines that I enjoy, few of those I tasted during the past year can be ranked as bargains, at least by the standard of retail pricing and availability where I live.
Without further ado, let's cut to the chase. Here are the three dozen-plus best-value wines I tasted during 2003. The wines on this list all ranked in the top 10 percent of my tastings based on quality, and appear in order of increasing retail price.
To save space in your E-mail box, this list is presented in simple form, featuring the name and vintage of the wine, the country of origin, and the price I paid at retail in Louisville, Ky. If you would like to view more detailed tasting notes and browse the Wine-Searcher.com database to compare prices and find online vendors for the wines, click to the online version of this annual report at
Wines retailing for $10 or less
Protocolo 2000 Vino de la Tierra de Manchuela (Spain), $5.99
Wines retailing for more than $10
Guelbenzu 2000 "Azul" Ribera del Queiles (Spain), $10.99
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This week on WineLoversPage.com
Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:
WebWineMan: A Bounty of Bubbles
Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Wine and alcohol
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Introducing Burgundy: Chorey-les-Beaune (Jan. 2, 2004)
A bubbly bargain (Dec. 31, 2003)
A rare old treat (Dec. 29, 2003)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Gougeres (Dec. 30, 2003)
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. 5, 2004