Here are Dave McIntyre's Recession Buster recommendations for holiday wines that retail for $15 or less and provide exceptional value.
Chateau le Gris, 2009
Bordeaux, France, $10
The 2009 vintage was exceptional throughout France, and this early entrant from Bordeaux is evidence that even the cheapest wines will be special.
M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Barrel House Liquors, Best D.C. Supermarket, Cathedral Liquors, Circle Wine & Liquor, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Paul's of Chevy Chase, Rodman's, Towne Wine & Liquors. Available in Maryland at Balducci's in Bethesda, Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville, Old Farm Liquors on Frederick, Rodman's in Wheaton and White Flint, Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington, Wheaton Winery. Available in Virginia at Cecile's Wine Cellar and the Vineyard in McLean, and Le Tastevin Fine Wines in Alexandria
Colonia las Liebres, Bonarda, 2008
Mendoza, Argentina, $8
This terrific wine is another example of how Argentina is setting the standard for value-priced wine from the New World. Bonarda is an obscure Italian variety the Argentines have made their own; it would be as popular as malbec if Argentina made enough of it.
Bacchus: Available in the District at A.M. Wine Shoppe, Burka's Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, De Vinos, D'Vines, Magruder's, Metro K Supermarket, Modern Liquors, Paul's of Chevy Chase, Rodman's, Sheffield Wine & Liquor Shoppe, Whole Foods Market Tenleytown; on the list at Agora, Cedar, Fogo de Chao, Room 11, Masa 14. Available in Maryland at Annebeth's in Annapolis, Eddie's Liquor, Loading Dock Discount Liquors and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore, Goska's Liquors in Severna Park, Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa, Montgomery Plaza Liquors in Catonsville, North Ridge Wine & Spirits in Ellicott City, Swirl Wine in Timonium, Valley Village Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills.
Cono Sur, Vision, Pinot Noir 2009
Colchagua Valley, Chile, $14
Good, inexpensive pinot noir is hard to come by, but this one excels. It offers impeccable pinot flavors with an austere acidity reminiscent of the delicate but "lesser" Burgundies such as Savigny, and at half the price.
Vineyard Brands/Bacchus: available in the District at 1 W Dupont Circle Wine & Liquors, Bacchus Wine Cellar, Bell Wine & Spirits, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Chat's Liquors, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue, Whole Foods Market Glover Park; on the list at 1905, Agora, Equinox, Heritage India, Kemble Park Tavern, Logan Tavern, Ray's the Steaks East River. Available in Maryland at Bin 604 Wine Sellers, North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits, Quarry Wine & Spirits and Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore, Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, Edgewater Liquors, Fenwick Beer and Wine in Silver Spring, Mays Chapel Wine & Spirit Shop in Timonium, Olney Village Beer & Wine, Wine Merchant in Lutherville. Country Vintner in Virginia: Available at Leesburg Vintner and Rick's Wine and Gourmet and Unwined in Alexandria; on the list at Ray's the Steaks in Arlington, the Blue Rock Inn in Washington.
Firestone Vineyard, "Discoveries" Chardonnay 2008
What a delight to find a $10 California chardonnay that tastes like something other than oak chips and sawdust. This is ideal for a "house white" or a party offering during the holidays.
F.P. Winner: Available in the District at Cathedral Liquors, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Circle Wine & Liquor, De Vinos, D'Vines, various Giant and Harris Teeter locations, Yes! Organic Market. Virginia Imports in Virginia: Available at various Giant Food and Harris Teeter stores.
*** Exceptional ** Excellent * Very Good
Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.