The Wine Trials 2010

($15) By Goldstein and Herschkowitsch

Robin Goldstein may know more about cheap wine than anyone else. He is the co-author and guiding force of  “The Wine Trials 2010”, the second edition of the book that rates 150 of the best wines in the world that cost less than $15. His method – blind tastings – and his results – cheap wines that have fared significantly better than more famous and more expensive ones – have infuriated the mainstream wine world. One eminent wine writer went so far as to call Goldstein’s approach “almost an anti-intellectual position.”

Which is an interesting thing to say, given that the book has a scientific advisory board and 30 footnotes, in addition to the 150 wine ratings. (Full disclosure: I participated in one of the blind tasting panels for the first edition in 2008.)

More than anyone else, the mainstream wine world, which has so much invested in the concept that expensive wine is always better than less expensive wine, doesn’t like the idea that a wine can’t be judged by its price. I don’t know that I agree with all 150 wines in the book (and I’ve tasted all but 25 or so); many simple, fruity wines did better than they should have, and there aren’t enough roses again this year. But Goldstein’s concept is sound. Price is a better guide to quality than a cute label, but it’s not the be-all and end-all the experts want us to think it is.

Here are some of my favorites from this year’s selections:

  • Rene Barbier Mediterranean White (about $6). Chill this, and drink it when the summer heat drives you crazy. I tasted it with some wine types when I did a story about $6 wine a couple of years ago, and we were stunned at how well-made it was.
  • Falesco Vitiano Red (about $12). One of my all-time favorite wines – bring on the red sauce and Italian sauces, and marvel that a wine this well-made could be this inexpensive.
  • Casteller Cava (about $12). This sparkling wine from Spain is a step up from $8 cavas like Cristalin0 – a little richer and a little less tight (a wine term that denotes where the flavors seem crammed together.)

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