Every year we publish our compilation our report of quality red wines we’ve found that are under $25.  These wines are a result of various tasting events, restaurant experiences, and sommelier suggestions we’ve had this year.  Some usual suspects pop up, as well as interesting bargains from under-appreciated regions such as Lirac in Southern Rhone.

The Top 5 Value Wines

We have identified five special wines from this group of 25 that are exceptional values and really noteworthy:

Palazzo della Torre

The Allegrini Family makes some seriously great wines at many price points.  This wine has always impressed us with its consistent quality and value, and it is easy to find.  Allegrini uses an innovative “ripasso” method that gives this wine a style similar to higher end Amarone wines.  Bursting with dark, dried cherries, blackberries, and hints of dates, this wine has a lasting finish bolstered with just enough tannin to make it interesting, and worthy of a few years in the cellar.  Pair with pasta, chicken, or mild sausage. Corvina, Rondinella and Sangiovese. (typically $17 to $20).

Tua Rita Rosso

The Tua Rita winery is located on the western side of Tuscany, near the sea.  They are world-renowned for making exquisite single varietal wines, such as the Redigaffi which typically is more than $250 per bottle.  Their entry-level wine, which we tasted for the first time this year, is much more approachable – about $20 to $22.  It is made from Sangiovese, Merlot,  Cabernet Sauvignon, and a touch of Syrah. This is a vibrant wine, with dark red fruit (cherry, currant) that meld into licorice, tobacco and smoke in a wine of power and length. superb value. Readers looking for a drop-dead gorgeous, delicious wine made in a Super Tuscan style that won’t break the bank should check out this wine.

Etna Rosso – Graci

We came across this wine at the amazing restaurant Vetri in Philadelphia recently, and we fell in love.  You can get this wine in the PA state stores, and elsewhere in the US. Pale cherry red color, this is a fruit-forward wine that is smoky and complex with a nice savory finish.   This Rosso offers food-friendly acidity that’s balanced, and works well with pasta, poultry, and meaty fish such as salmon. 100% Nerello Mascalese. About $18 to $22.

Giovanni Rocca – Barbera D’Alba

This wine again was featured at Vetri in Philadelphia, and can be found for $18 to $20 in PA state stores.  Other vintages may also be found throughout the US – the 2013 is also suppose to be excellent.  This wine is fresh and concentrated, packed with black currant and black cherry flavors.  This is a nicely balanced wine that also has enough power to match up with spicy food, but works well with meaty fish and poultry. – $20

Marlborough Estate Reserve Pinot Noir

This is a Pinot Noir done in a “classic” New Zealand style:  zippy, flavorful, and fun. There is a bit of earthly quality in the smell and taste (some mushroom, green tea, and mineral), with the predominate aroma and palate of ripe red berries and a tart/sweet finish of cranberry and raspberry.  It is on the light side, with silky tannins and crisp acids that work well with an array of foods – bring this to almost any dinner party, and it should impress.  We think this is absolutely the best NZ pinot noir for the price – at about $18.

Here are the 20 other wines from our 2015 review that you should consider – and there are a few under $15 bargains in this group

Et Fille – Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Small production makes this wonderful Oregon wines hard to find.  We found the 2010 at a local wine store, but the 2012 is suppose to be even better.  A vibrant pinot noir, with some deep red fruit flavors – black cherry and plum – balanced acidity with nice fine-grained tannins  – $24

La Calonica – Rosso di Montepulciano –

A perfect pasta wine made from the Montepulciano clone of Sangiovese, from a quality producer of the more expensive Vino Nobile.  Beautiful light red berries: cherries, strawberries and currant, with earthy notes at the end. Rich and complex  – $20

Famille Brechet – Lirac Plateau

From the Lirac region of Southern Rhone, this wine is incredible for the price – a baby Châteauneuf-du-Pape at a fraction of the price. A blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache, this wine has powerful aromas & flavors of black fruit, with a slight hint of smoke.  – $20

Vietti Barbera D’Asti Tre Vigne

We love this bright, flashy Barbera – we pair it with antipasti, rich salads, grilled seasoned vegetables, fish, poultry, and pasta on a regular basis. Balanced wine with nice flavors of black currant and blackberry fruit that shows notes of vanilla and spice.  – $20

Vina Herminia ‘Excelsus’ Rioja

There is no need to buy an expensive Rioja when wines like this can be found.  Deep and elegant blackberry aromas and flavors with exotic spicy and vanilla tones, with long complex finish. Pairs well with lamb, braised, stewed beef, duck and other game, roasted meats and more.   – $20

Peter Yealands Pinot Noir

This dark ruby New Zealand beauty expresses dark red cherries and blackcurrant, along with some spicy and earthy notes. It’s got nice balance, with a medium-short  finish.  A real pleaser at $18.

Fattoria Del Cerro Vino Nobile Montepulciano

Finding a great Vino Nobile under $25 is tough – but here it is.  Medium bodied wine with aromas of black cherries, smoke, herbs, and spices; very good depth and length.  Smooth & silky, and worthy of a few more years in the cellar.  Ideal for grilled or braised meats. – $24

Lang & Reed North Coast – Cab Franc

This winery has pioneered the use of Cabernet France as a single varietal wine in California.  Very juicy, with hints of licorice, tobacco and herbs.  We had this wine with a plate of charcuterie and aged cheese, and it was a perfect match.  And the label is really cool – $20

Rex Hill Willamette – Pinot Noir

This is a stunning pinot Noir for this price – ripe but balanced, with lots of  intense cherry, black currant and raspberry coupled with smoky notes and sweet herbs.  A very full-bodied wine for a pinot noir, with a finish that lingers with coffee and cocoa flavors.  – $24

Chateau Lyonnat Lussac – Saint Emilion

The Serious Foodie fell in love with Saint Emilion on a recent trip through Bordeaux – and realized how tough it is to find bargains from this region.  Here’s a bottle that shows power and subtlety at a great price. Deep dark red fruit with mocha/coffee hints which pleasantly lingers.  – $20

Les Darons – Languedoc

This wine may be the bargain of all bargains.  We are fast becoming fans of Languedoc in Southern France as a go-to region for reasonably priced everyday wines.  Les Darons is a blend of Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah, and is not aged in oak.  This is a wine with a lot of character, with ripe red fruit aromas & taste, followed up with spice and a streak of mineral with good acid balance that makes this a food-friendly red.  – $12

Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso

One of the wines featured in our Veneto tasting this year (click HERE for article).  A typical Veneto blend of Covina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes using the Ripasso technique,  this wine has a big aromatic bouquet of ripe cherries, stronger red berry flavors, and quite a bit of licorice which nicely persists. Like the Allegrini Palazzo della Torre, this wine pairs well with grilled meats, and also works well with salads.  – $21

Phillip Alliet – Chinon

We came across this wine at a NYC restaurant – but, alas, it may be hard to find.   We encourage our readers to either find this bottle, or to explore Chinon (Cabernet Franc) from the Loire.  Like this one, good versions will be medium bodied, have nice red fruit (e.g., strawberry) and a nice tannin/acid balance.  A fantastic red for warmer weather, matching well with grilled poultry and salads. – $23

Kaiken Ultra Malbec

There is always at least one Malbec that makes our list, since Argentina is a great value region.  This is a seriously good wine, with intense aromas and flavors of ripe berry and chocolate follow in a full bodied wine.  The intriguing notes of blueberry and light vanilla pleasantly linger. This wine was made for grilled meats. – $17

Domaine Lafond Lirac

Another find from the Southern Rhone, this wine is silky smooth for a young wine with a lot of layered flavors:  boysenberry, raspberry, and plum along with licorice and light wood. A powerful and full-bodied wine with a deep ruby red color.  Pairs well with delicatessen meats, red meat, game, and cheese. – $17

l Poggione – Rosso di Montalcino

A true example of a “baby Brunello” done by a great winemaker at a good price.  This wine as the typical Sangiovese cherry aroma and flavor, along with floral, tobacco and spice notes. The lively acidity and refined tannins frame the flavors, making it a food-friendly wine. Lingering finish. – $20

Venus La Universal ‘Dido’ Red

A blend of Garnacha, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that gives a nice palate of black fruit, licorice and herbs with some earthy notes and floral overtones. Medium-bodied with lively acidity and a long finish, this is a delicious, serious red showing balance and personality. Perfect with red meat, roast poultry, braised lamb shanks or grilled lamb chop.- $22

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel

Rarely can you find a Zinfandel at this price that has this quality – it is everything you would want in a Zin, or any drink-now red wine.  It is a lively, medium bodied wine that offers bright cherry and raspberry, with touches of nutmeg and black pepper along with a hint of chocolate. Has a nice long, dry finish.- $20

Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon

It’s hard to find a cabernet sauvignon that will drink well while young, especially one with some character.  This bottle was fresh and expressive,  with raspberry, cherry, and boysenberry flavors supported by sweet spices and pepper. A nice finish for a bargain wine. – $15

Michael David Petite Petit – 2013

Michael David produces fun wines, and this one is at our price point sweet spot.  This Lodi producer does a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot that produces gorgeous blueberry and blackberry notes in a  full-bodied wine that is also subtle at the same tim.  A nice long finish on this wine that over-delivers in a big way– $18

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