Osborne Solaz, the Spanish red blend that has been a mainstay of the Hall since its inception in a Dallas magazine almost 10 years ago, is being phased out. The corporate term is “selectively distributed in stores throughout the U.S.,” but the reality is that the wine won't be for sale where you can buy it. Osborne is replacing the Solaz with a brand called TempraTantrum; hopefully, it tastes better than the name.
Otherwise, despite the weak dollar, 2009 was a banner year for cheap wine. The only other wines to drop out did so because the ailing dollar pushed their prices above $10 – Falesco Vitiano, which produces a solid rose, an even more solid white blend, and a stunning red blend made of sangiovese, cabernet and merlot. In fact, the Hall added five wines, the most ever:
• La Ferme de Gicon, red blend from the Rhone that may take the place of the Solaz as may favorite red wine for $10 or less. Or, as I noted in April: "The Wine Curmudgeon has just one question: How can a wine of this quality, at this price, have existed for so long without me knowing about it?"• vini merlot from Bulgaria, which may be the best cheap merlot I've ever tasted.
Also, look for the 2007 Bota Box cabernet sauvingon, which earns an honorable mention. Its price works out to $5 a bottle, which is a steal. However, it's not a full-fledged member of the Hall because I can't vouch for any newer vintages, and I'm not sure how long this vintage will be available.
Here’s the rest of the Hall of Fame:
• The $10 wines from California’s Bogle Vineyards, and especially the petite sirah.
• Cristalino, the Spanish sparkling wine, which comes in brut (dry), extra dry (sweeter than brut) and rose.
• California’s Toad Hollow pinot noir rose.
• Yellow+Blue malbec (about $12 for a 1-liter box), which puts most other malbecs in its price range to shame
• Meridian’s chardonnay, which can be found for as little as $6
• The Les Jamelles wines from southern France, which deliver surprising quality.
• Lockwood sauvignon blanc, perhaps the most pleasant surprise of any wine in the past couple of years.
For previous $10 Wine Hall of Fames: