The work is mostly done for the fifth annual $10 Wine Hall of Fame, which will appear on the blog on Jan. 3. I'm still doing some fine tuning, but most of the decisions about which wines will drop out and which wines will be added have been made.
We're even going to do a special Internet radio kickoff for the 2011 $10 Hall -- 8 p.m. central on Jan. 2 on Olivia Wilder's Art of Living program on Blog Talk Radio. Olivia and I will talk about the wines, take questions from listeners, and field queries from the show's chat room.
The good news is that there were many great $10 wines in 2010, and I'll probably add a half dozen or so to the Hall. The recession focused consumer attention on cheap wine, and wine drinkers discovered that they didn't have to pay $15 or $20 or more for quality wine.
The bad news is that I tasted way too many flabby and dull $10 wines over the past year, and especially $10 wines from California. Lots of producers were apparently throwing anything in a bottle that they could find to sell for $10 or less, regardless of quality, in order to lure all those customers who had discovered cheap wine during the recession. Or, sadly, they were downgrading the quality of the wine to keep their margins up, figuring their customers were too stupid to know the difference.
The results, too often, were not pleasant. So call the 2011 edition a mixed case -- some fine wines, but lots of disappointment.