Some people say the best wine in the world is the one you enjoy the most that costs the least. By this metric, it’s never been a better time to drink wine, considering the relative bargains available today. We understand that rare, fine wines that garner some of the highest ratings at JamesSuckling.com can cost a fortune, but we also taste literally thousands of wines costing $35 or less that can taste like a $100-plus bottle. That’s the sweet spot for finding great wines at great prices.
This report covers wines from all over the world that sell at that price point, which we rated highly. Prices can vary depending on the country you’re in, transport costs, taxes and retailer mark-ups, among other factors. While we can’t guarantee these wines are available at a reputable wine merchant near you for $35 or less, each meets a high
standard of availability at a reasonable cost.
The Top 100 Value Wines of 2021 is one of our most inclusive listings yet, with 15 different countries represented, all producing wine at a level and price that can’t be beaten. As with last year, Italy was again the top source of value wines, providing 19 to this list. Next came Spain and the US, at a dozen each, with Argentina, Chile and
France each providing 10, South Africa six, New Zealand five, Germany four, three from Australia and Austria, two from Israel and Portugal, and one from Uruguay and Hungary.
What we didn’t expect is that five of the top 10 and eight of the top 25 wines on this list would be Beaujolais Crus. These picks, though, did fit in with our tastes: at JamesSuckling.com, we all love good Beaujolais for its bright berry and cherry fruit, mineral freshness and elegant tannins. It’s also really exciting to follow the rapid progress of the leading group of winemakers in turning the unique granite and volcanic terroirs of the Beaujolais Cru into great wines.
Even more astonishing, four of the five Bojo Crus in the top 10 are Morgon wines, with two each from Michel Guignier and Jean-Marc Burgaud. This is an astonishing achievement for both winemakers and for a single Beaujolais Cru.
Our Top 100 Value list is otherwise dominated by red wines, with 58, but white wines are well represented with 40, and there’s also one sparkling and one fortified wine. If you prefer white over red or vice versa, this list has you well covered, with fantastic options in both departments.
As our top source of value wines, Italy offers a wide variety of different styles and varietals at affordable prices, from down south in Sicily all the way up to Veneto and everywhere in between. The top Italian wine on our value list is the Foradori Manzoni Bianco Vigneti delle Dolomiti Fontanasanta 2020, which came in at number 4. It’s a Demeter-certified biodynamic wine that senior editor Stuart Pigott described as “maybe the greatest natural white wine I’ve ever tasted”.
It was Australia’s Eden Valley, though, that gave us our top-value wine for the second year in a row, with another one of its great-quality rieslings: the Pewsey Vale Riesling Eden Valley 2021. We found this wine to be so fresh and exhilarating, with intense and balanced flavours of lemon and stone fruit. Besides being delicious, the best
thing about it is that it’s priced at an average of $16 and is available just about everywhere.
In fact, riesling is the most featured white grape variety on our Top 100 Great Value list. You know we love great riesling, whether it’s from the best vineyard sites of Germany, Austria and Australia or from lesser known wineries in New York or Alto Adige. But for this list we run the gamut with rieslings from such storied German wineries like Donnhoff, which produced our German Wine of the Year in 2021, to Moric in Hungary, which made a boundary-pushing riesling-furmint blend that tastes so balanced and effortless you’ll wonder why the two grape varieties aren’t blended more often.
Cabernet sauvignon led the way for great value reds this year with eight single-varietal bottlings making it on to our list, not including all of the blends it’s in. While cabernet sauvignon is perhaps most famous for growing in high-profile regions such as Bordeaux and Napa Valley, it can also be produced to very high standards in places
like Mendoza, Argentina, and Central Valley, Chile, where it’s also available at a fraction of the price of the more popular wine regions.
Diversity in style and accessibility through price and availability are allowing for so much good wine to be enjoyed by so many people in today’s market. More and more people can drink the wines they like at prices they can afford. The average wine consumer can drink better today than ever before, thanks to modern techniques and knowledge among those creating these wines. These stories are at the centre of what we do at JamesSuckling.com, and we’ll continue to cover them extensively in 2022. Enjoy.
Top 5: The Best Value Wines of 2021
PEWSEY VALE RIESLING EDEN VALLEY 2021
A very fresh, piercing nose of sliced lemon with plenty of sweet perfume, too. The palate is similarly intense and vibrant with white stone-fruit and lemon flavours, delivered in an impressively intense and balanced mode.
MICHEL GUIGNIER MORGON VIEILLES VIGNES 2019
So deep and subtle, but also bright and floral on the nose, it takes your breath away. Stunning energy on the racy, pristine palate.
JEAN-MARC BURGAUD MORGON CÔTE DU PY 2019
The blackest cherries you can imagine here, but it’s startlingly fresh. Still very young, but with a fabulously silky texture and delicate minerality.
FORADORI MANZONI BIANCO VIGNETI DELLE DOLOMITI FONTANASANTA 2020
Maybe the greatest natural white wine I’ve ever tasted. Complex and strikingly original lemon-zest, smoke and dried-chamomile aromas pour from the glass. Then comes the concentrated but very refined palate, followed by a super-long finish.
EL ENEMIGO SEMILLON MENDOZA 2019
Peach, dried-mango, lime-zest, clove and flint aromas. It’s medium-to full-bodied with zesty acidity and a waxy texture. One of the top whites of Argentina.