Budget-Friendly Wines for Warm Weather

Red wines, white wines, and sparkling wines from across the globe

One of the nice things about wine is that there are many options to choose from. But, while to some this is a challenge to be approached with gusto, to others it is daunting.

But, no matter where you are in the spectrum, it is fun to try new things, particularly if you can find bargains. That’s where this under-the-radar and value-priced commentary comes in. It is done regularly as part of Distinctive New Wines (to read the last article click here). There is a wide variety of wines at attractive prices points. Celebrate spring and be adventuresome. Cheers!

White Wines


Grüner Veltliner
Grüner veltliner is a very food-friendly wine that is great with a wide variety of foods including vegetable dishes. This is a lovely example.

2011 Weingut Allram Grüner Veltliner Reserve Gaisberg Kamptal
Light yellow gold in color, this wine has a lovely complex perfume with floral/herbal nuances and hints of citrus, peach, and apricot. With lovely subtle fruit flavors showing faint suggestions of peach, melon, and citrus it is rounded and supple with a faint crispness on the finish. This is a wine to drink now, although many grüner veltliners are capable of aging for an extended period – Highly Recommended Plus. $19.99.  A K&L Wines Selection imported by Premier Wine Company Richmond, Calif.


Below are notes on a wonderful and unusual white wine from Tablas Creek Vineyard and a chardonnay from Toad Hollow Vineyards made without oak. Tablas Creek makes consistently excellent Rhone varietals sourced from their estate vineyards and other vineyards in Paso Robles. Toad Hollow Vineyards makes consistently fine food friendly and value priced wines sourced from Northern California vineyards.

Vermentino is Mediterranean varietal grape grown in Corsica, Northern Italy, and Sardinia. It is also grown in the Rhone Valley and particularly in the Côtes de Provence, where it is known as rolle.

2012 Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino Paso Robles
This is the 11th vintage for Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino. It is a great example of this relatively unknown varietal. Initially a bit closed, the wine really benefits from some air. This is a wine I would recommend decanting before serving. It is light yellow in color and has a lovely floral-tinged perfume with hints of peach and quince. The wine has great elegance and balance with a low 12.5 percent alcohol and is also very flavorful with hints of peach and quince accented by a tinge of citrus. A particularly attractive feature is the bright crispness that is very transparent in the finish. This is a unique wine and one that has a lot of appeal with a wide variety of lighter foods — Outstanding.      $27

2011 Toad Hollow Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay Francine’s Selection Mendocino County
This is the 19th vintage for Toad Hollow Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay. The grapes come from three 20- to 40-year-old low-yielding Mendocino vineyards that have been tended for decades by their family growers. This is a lovely expression of chardonnay fruit without the influence and it is very food friendly. Light yellow in color, the wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of apple and pear and a very faint tropical nuance. Very pure, with apple and pear fruit complemented by tropical and citrus notes, this chardonnay is balanced and very tasty with a lot of early appeal — Highly Recommended. $14.99. Best Buy.

Click here to find more value wines from California, France, and Spain.


— John Tilson, Underground Wine Letter