Six wines in, four out, and an analysis of what happened with cheap wine in 2010. That's the result of the 2011 $10 Wine Hall of Fame. For all of the great wine I found last year -- from Sicily, from Oregon, and even from France -- this year's Hall was a bit of a disappointment. Click the previous link to see which wines made it, or go to the upper left hand corner of the page.
No new California wines made the Hall. For the most part, the California wines I tasted (save for the old dependables like Bogle and Toad Hollow) were boring and unimpressive. California can make much better cheap wine (and it has), and I hope 2011 will show a return to form.
The ground rules for this, the fifth annual, Hall of Fame: The wines have to cost $10 or less (Dallas prices, though I will make an exception if prices seem to be higher here) and be generally available. That means no wines like Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck, which are only sold at one retailer. The final decisions are my own, and take into account what I think wine should be: varietally correct, balanced, and interesting enough to buy again.
I do take suggestions and input from dozens of people -- blog visitors and wine drinkers, people I know in the wine business, and other wine writers. Thank you for your help.
Finally, two wines that almost made it:
• Barefoot merlot. I spent a lot of time on this one, and was encouraged by several people to add it, but finally decided not to. The Barefoot wines are professionally made, but I don't think they're as interesting as the wines I selected.
• Rene Barbier Mediterranean White: I love this wine, which is simple and pleasant and almost relaxing. But as much as I like it, it is, like the Barefoot, too simple. There's not just enough going on.