When it comes to new regions, the most popular may still be in Spain. The nation's enormous size along with its vastly improved winemaking facilities has led to a booming wine industry, with each wine region continuing to expand at an amazing clip. Other regions providing interesting new wines include southern France, Argentina, Australia, Italy, the U.S., South Africa and New Zealand.
We asked several area wine sellers and enthusiasts to share their latest favorites in more affordable price ranges.
Lea Freeman, co-owner of Partysist, suggests a 2005 Mustiguillo Mestizaje ($20) from the Utiel-Requena region in southeastern Spain. The wine is a blend of Bobal, an often-used grape from the area, with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Garnacha.
Freeman also likes a very affordable Bordeaux charmer. The 2003 Chateau Lagarosse Les Comptes Premieres de Bordeaux ($16), a dense and delicious wine, is highly rated and ready to drink, perhaps benefiting from a little decanting.
Swirl Wines' owner Beth Ribblett likes an intensely aromatic Borsao Crianza ($10). It's a blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
From the area of the heel in southern Italy's boot, Ribblett chooses a 2006 Tormaresca Neprica ($11) from Puglia. The wine is a blend of 40 percent Negroamaro and 30 percent each Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon.
From Argentina, another good red wine is the 2006 Dona Paula Shiraz-Malbec. "It's a dark, polished, modern style with mocha and espresso notes, rich plum sauce and blackberry flavors," Ribblett says.
Moving next door to France, she cites her new personal favorite, 2007 Saint Peyre Picpoul de Pinet ($13), a white blend (see wine review, p. 13).
A French white wine value selected by Elio Todaro for his Wine Warehouse is the unoaked Novellum Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes Chardonnay ($14), a French country wine from the Languedoc area.
Ric Hopper, from Hopper's Wine and Spirits, offers Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone ($16) as one of his best values. "[Lynch] sources grapes from some of his excellent growers in the region to produce the wine, and it's fantastic," Hopper says.
Martin Wine Cellar's P.J. Rosenberg prefers a 2006 Henri Brunier Le Pigeoulet en Provence Rouge ($16) for a value selection. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the wine is the third label from the esteemed Vieux Télégraphe.
Another Rosenberg pick, the 2005 Chateau Roques Mauriac Bordeaux Superieur ($17) also is a great bargain.
At Dorignac's, wine and spirits manager Butch Steadman recommends Gascon Malbec ($10) from Mendoza as a great drinking, high-value wine.
"The wine is well balanced with good structure and acidity, offering a big mouthful of juicy red and black fruits like plum and black currants," Steadman says.
Bryan Burkey, director of the Wine Institute of New Orleans (W.I.N.O.), also likes Argentine wines. "My vote for great value is still Argentina, not exactly emerging, but with terrific wines and varietals that seem to reach their peak in Argentina. What's really fun are the distinctive white wines from the Torrontes grape," he says. "They're perfect for warm weather, light and refreshing, with lots of enticing fruit flavors."
Burkey recommends the Zolo and La Yunta Torrontes ($12 each).
South Africa's bargain-priced Chenin Blancs are garnering lots of positive commentary as well. Artisan Fine Wines consultant Britt Nelson recommends the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin ($11). Select Brands wine broker Dwayne Shockley suggests the Simonsig Chenin Blanc ($11). Both are packed with lots of flavor and character per sip.