Yes, wine prices may be in flux, and the wine world may resent cheap wine more than ever. But that didn't stop the Wine Curmudgeon from adding a near-record number of wines to the 2012 $10 Wine Hall of Fame. Eight wines were inducted, and only four dropped out. Click on the link above for the entire list, or the $10 link on the upper left of this page.
In fact, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of cheap wine last year, and there were some dozen wines that almost made the Hall. Two in particular are worth mentioning -- the Picada 15 red blend from Argentina, which was delightful but doesn't seem to be available in much of the country, and the Montecillo crianza, also wonderful and also limited in availability.
Call this year's Hall the world tour -- wines from Washington state, Italy, France, Argentina, Spain and even California made it. I was especially pleased to see California in the mix, given last year's California disappointment. One other disappointment: The Toad Hollow pinot noir rose dropped out this year, the first time it hasn't been in the Hall since I started it for a Dallas magazine 10 years ago.
The ground rules for this, the sixth 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 (who sent more suggestions than ever this year), people I know in the wine business, and other wine writers. Thank you for your help.