Tour the world of wine with Robin Garr in 2004
Burgundy and Champagne tour with French Wine Explorers, May 24-30, 2004

New Zealand tour with Wine & Food Trails, Feb. 3-12, 2004

Today's sponsor

California Wine Club
The first month is free with The California Wine Club! It's a New Year, which means new resolutions to break and new wines to try! So if you've not yet joined The California Wine Club and not yet tried their selection of hard-to-find, award-winning wines there's no better time than now. Join now and your first month is free.
(Click to "California Wine Club" below)

In This Issue
 My best wine values of 2003
 California Wine Club
 Support WineLoversPage.Com and the 30 Second Wine Advisor
 This week on
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

click here

For all past editions,
click here

For information, E-mail

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 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
Domaine de Pouy 2001 Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne (France), $6.99
La Vieille Ferme 1999 Cotes du Luberon Blanc (France), $7.59
Hugues Beaulieu 2001 Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet (France) $7.99
Casa Castillo 2001 Jumilla Monastrell (Spain), $7.99
Chateau Saint-Yves 2000 Premières Côtes de Bordeaux (France), $7.99
Ironstone Vineyards 2001 "Obsession" California Symphony (U.S.), $7.99
Carchelo 2000 Jumilla (Spain), $7.99
Viña Alarba 2001 Calatayud (Spain), $7.99
Achaia Clauss "Imperial" Mavrodaphne of Patras (Greece), $8.79
Pasqua & Fazio "Mezzo Giorno" 1999 Nero d'Avola (Italy), $8.99
Tatachilla 2000 Breakneck Creek Shiraz (Australia), $8.99
Louis Jadot 2002 Beaujolais-Villages (France), $8.99
Altos Las Hormigas 2001 Mendoza Malbec (Argentina), $9.49
Chateau Labory 2000 Fronsac (France), $9.99
Domaine Manoir du Carra 2001 Beaujolais-Villages (France), $9.99
Mas de Gourgonnier 2001 Les Baux de Provence (France), $9.99
Bonny Doon 2002 "Ca' del Solo" California Big House White (U.S.), $9.99
Chateau du Donjon 2001 "Grand Tradition" Minervois (France), $9.99
Wirra Wirra 2001 "Hand Picked" Fleurieu Riesling (Australia), $10
Saint-Hilaire 2000 Blanquette de Limoux (France), $10

Wines retailing for more than $10

Guelbenzu 2000 "Azul" Ribera del Queiles (Spain), $10.99
Terlan 2001 Alto Adige Terlano Classico (Italy), $10.99
Domaine de la Chanteleuserie 2000 "Cuvée Beauvais" Bourgueil (France), $12.99
Charles Back 2001 Western Cape "Goat Rotí" (South Africa), $13.99
M.Chapoutier 1999 Mount Benson Shiraz (Australia), $14
Foreau 2000 Vouvray Sec (France), $14.99
Marquis Philips 2002 Shiraz (Australia), $15
Michel Frères 1997 Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé Cuvée Brut (France), $15.59
Chateau Cambon la Pelouse 2000 Haut-Medoc (France), $15.99
Chateau Lyonnat 2000 Lussac-Saint-Emilion (France), $16.99
Noval non-vintage "LB" Porto (Portugal), $16.99
Domaine Vincent Girardin 1999 Santenay "Le Saint Jean" (France), $17.99
Roger Lassarat 2001 Pouilly-Fuissé "Clos de la Grange Murgets" Vieilles Vignes (France), $20
Edmunds St.John 2001 Rocks and Gravel California Red Wine (U.S.), $20.99
Gould Campbell 2000 Vintage Porto (Portugal), $22.99
Rocca Family Vineyards 2000 Yountville Napa Valley Syrah (U.S.), $38

If you have a great wine-value discovery and would like to share the news, you're invited to join in an interactive, international online discussion on our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've set up a topic just for this purpose at.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'm sorry that the overwhelming amount of mail I receive makes it tough to respond personally every time, but I do try to get back to as many as I can.

California Wine Club

California Wine Club

The first month is free with The California Wine Club!

It's a New Year, which means new resolutions to break and new wines to try! So if you've not yet joined The California Wine Club and not yet tried their selection of hard-to-find, award-winning wines there's no better time than now. Join now and your first month is on them ... that's right, your first month is free.

There are certain restrictions, such as age, s valid credit card and they would like you to stay for a minimum of three paid months. Your shipments can arrive monthly, bi-monthly or even quarterly. A schedule that flexible would fit it to any New Year's resolution!

Just $32.95 per month plus shipping. Each two-bottle shipment also comes with an informative - yet entertaining - 8-page newsletter, Uncorked. Call 1-800-777-4443 or click to

Collector or Connoisseur? Ask about their Signature Series program ... they'll give you three bottles for the price of two in your first shipment!

Support and the 30 Second Wine Advisor

A thought for the New Year: If you're in the wine business, there is no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than an advertising "sponsorship" on

From a quick, simple text message in The 30 Second Wine Advisor to Web "banner" advertising or even an intense, saturation campaign reaching millions of wine-savvy readers, offers programs to meet the needs of wine businesses both large and small, with rates and effectiveness that the competition can't match.

For more information, write me today at

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles and features that I hope you'll enjoy:

WebWineMan: A Bounty of Bubbles
Champagne is not just for weddings or launching ships. It should be a part of a well-planned dinner party as well as family gatherings and, of course, the New Year's inaugural. Richard Fadeley and his Columbia Free-Times tasting team have sampled a bevy of sparkling wines, determined to present you with a list of "sure-fire" bubbly for your parties and get-togethers.

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Wine and alcohol
One of our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group participants asked a thought-provoking question the other day: "If you could have wine that was non-intoxicating . . . would you enjoy it just as much as you do now, or more, or would that spoil the fun for you? This topic has generated some intriguing speculation, as you might imagine . . . and you are welcome to read the posts - and join in the discussion - at

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
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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