At about the same time again – a festive period at the end of the year, when people are looking for the best bottles to buy, share, drink and give away without going bankrupt.

What better time to enjoy the experience of Tasting Director Alexander Pertry and take stock of the list of favourites of the year, the Top 100 Best Shopping 2020.

From Old World classics such as white Bordeaux and Italian Chianti to New World gems from Australia, South Africa, North and South America and beyond, we offer this list of the best and most affordable wines you can taste today. And don’t forget to check out all our recent wine reviews in the list of the Top 100 wines, which are marked as Best Buys.

If you’re looking for something beyond everyday pleasure, perhaps a special bottle for a special person, consider browsing our Top 100 Wineries 2020.

Get ready to make your wine shops easy.

Podcast: Best Buys for the Holidays

Podcast: Best Buys for the Holidays

Episode Transcript

Transcripts are created using a combination of voice recognition software and human transcriptors and may contain errors. Check the correct tone before quoting.

President: Lauren Buzzeo, Alexander Pertree.

Lauren Buzzeo 0:08
Hello and welcome to the Podcast, your show about wine trends and off-bottle lovers. I’m Lauren Buzzeo, editor-in-chief here, and in this episode I’m going to talk to trial director Alexander Pertree about everyone’s favorite list, the Top 100 Shopping. That’s right. Again, the end of the year, when we are all looking for the best wines we can buy, share, drink and give away without blowing up the couch. From Old World classics such as white Bordeaux and Italian Chianti to New World gems from Australia, South Africa, North and South America and beyond, we offer this list of the best and most affordable wines you can taste today. So be prepared for a serious consultation, so that all your holiday wine purchases need a push.

But first a small word from our partner Total Wine, which perfectly meets all your wishes. The total number of wines is a festive miracle with more than 8000 wines, 3000 spirits and 2500 beers. And with prices so low, you can afford to explore. The choice is inspiring, but not intimidating, especially if you imagine the expert Total Wines staff as friendly guides on your expedition. You’re wondering what’s going to happen to Turkey? Pinot Noir is of course, but if you want something more adventurous, try an oiled Chardonnay or a fresh Beaujolais. Looking for a wine to go with the pumpkin pie? Zinfandel is natural. They can always count on the recommendations of their experts. Total Wine also offers many easy ways to buy, such as online, in a shop or on the sidewalk in a van, as well as same-day delivery. Check totalwine.com for the options available in your area. Enter the Wonderland of Wine, Spirits and Beer in a store or online at totalwine.com

So today I’m talking to our test director, Alexander Pertry, and we’re talking about one of my favourite subjects. It’s the best time of the year. It’s time to talk about Best Buys. That’s why we published our long-awaited Top 100 of the Year in the November issue. This is a list based on our tastings and evaluations from last year. And it offers some of the best values and the best bang for your buck from what you can learn there. It’s the perfect time to give presents, drink daily, for whatever you need. So, Alex, thanks for telling me about Best Buys today.

Alex Pertry 2:53
Yes, it’s good to be here.

Lauren Buzzeo 2:55
Is that your favourite subject?

Alex Peartree 2:58
I mean, I really like the best wine I’ve ever bought. I mean, how could I not? These are wines that are generally widely available, and they are wines that people simply enjoy day in and day out. Usually it’s just wine you want to drink with pizza or pasta. They’re pretty random. But they can cover many regions or many types of wine. So it’s a very exciting category to enter.

Lauren Buzzeo 3:26
Of course, because who doesn’t like the feeling of having found the best value in buying wine and getting value for money? Really?

Alex Peartree 3:34
Absolutely, yes. Best Buy is 15 dollars or less to us. And they are within a certain price/performance ratio.

Lauren Buzzeo 3:48
So you must have a certain calibre and quality when it comes to their ranking on our 100-point scale in relation to their price, right?

Alex Pertry 3:56
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lauren Buzzeo 3:57
Okay, just for context: This list belongs to the top 100. How many Best Buys were awarded last year?

Alex Peartree 4:08
Last year we actually had one of our highest rooms so far. We’ve tried about 1,500, which you can buy at Best Buy.

Lauren Buzzo 4:19
Wow. So, if you think that wine is becoming more expensive and that its quality may be below a certain price range, you can’t be far from the truth, can you? There’s still enough for everyone to vote.

Alex Peartree 4:34
Absolutely, I mean, I’ve seen that number increase year after year, so there are definitely a lot of great wines that you can buy that cost $ 15 or less.

Lauren Buzzeo 4:43
I love it. And we’re talking about all the wines, so we’re talking about red and white wine, roses and sparkling wine and even some desserts.

Alex Peartree 4:52
Yes, even some desserts, even sherry, so yes, it covers the whole range of wines, which is quite amazing. Normally you’d think red wines would be more expensive, but no. The list is pretty heavy on the red wines, pretty heavy on the white wines, and then there is pepper on some interesting roses, glitter and sherry.

Lauren Buzzeo 5:19
What is the actual outcome of this year’s list regarding the red-white or stylistic classification?

Alex Peartree 5:26
This year’s list includes 48 red wines, 36 white wines, nine rosé wines, five sparkling wines, a sweet wine and a sherry.

Lauren Buzzeo 5:41
So you can drink the whole spectrum for $15 or you can’t like it.

Alex Peartree 5:49
We always try to get a good selection of styles and regions here. So we have 16 countries on our list, from California, Oregon, Washington, New York to Germany, Spain, Argentina and now even Uruguay.

Lauren Buzzeo 6:15
Nice. I’m glad you said that, because I’m sure a lot of people actually assume that most of the best purchases come from maybe more parts of the New World, America, maybe Australia. But you can find the Best Buy and Valuables in the Old and New World across the street, right?

Alex Pertry 6:36
Absolutely. Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of old world choices on the list of France, Italy, Spain, like I said before. Thus, it is not only local wines or wines from the New World that are generally associated with lower costs. The classic wine regions of the Old World are also of great value.

Lauren Buzzeo 7:01
I love it. So I know we can’t go into details and reveal all our tricks. As a former tasting manager, I know a number of things that go with it. But Alex, as the current head of the tasting, tell me, if you have more than 1500 wines with the Best Buys designation, how do you get this list in the top 100? What are you looking at? What do you do for a living?

Alex Peartree 7:26
Well, of course a lot of people look at spreadsheets, which is always fun. But when we look at the lists, we try to take many of the variables that our readers often look for. One of the most important things is accessibility. Normally we want the wines on the list to be widely distributed, so that everyone who consults the lists can say what he or she wants: Oh, I’ve seen this wine on the shelves before or let me see it, and when I go on the internet, you’ll see some merchants around you who actually have this wine. So I think availability is the key to this list.

Lauren Buzzeo 8:11
Yes, of course. In addition to what you’ve already been awarded with Best Buy, all these wines and you’ve already talked a little bit about balance, geographical balance, style and accessibility. And I think that’s why so many people love him.

Alex Peartree 8:33
Absolutely, yes. Today, I think this list is actually a big key, because many of these wines are available in online stores. So you don’t have to go out anymore. You can just send them directly to you.

Lauren Buzzeo 8:50
Correct. And just on this day and at this age: The more convenient and easy it is to deliver our wine safely, the better. Today, everyone is looking for these possibilities and means. So it’s a good time for that list. So tell me, let’s do it again. Tell me about this year’s number one wine.

Alex Peartree 9:12
Yes, so this year’s best wine really comes from Spain. It comes from the historic estate of La Rioja called Montecillo. And this year it was Montecillo 2016 the Crianza. The year 2016 was actually very important throughout Europe, and for a Northern Spanish region like La Rioja this led to some of its more economic bottlenecks, because it just had the power to show a little more quality. So this is the starting phase of Rioja, but it certainly has a lot of weight, which is not too typical for many wine lovers on the market, but it certainly fits the score.

Lauren Buzzeo 9:23
And the starting level should not be transferred to a lower quality, because it is still a 90 point wine. Yeah, it’s $11, but doesn’t that make it any better? You read a magazine and fresh berries, red plum, with a little oak spice, vanilla. You also mentioned a sufficiently penetrating acidity for this balance. It possesses all the great qualities and elements one looks for in a good wine. And that’s something, for 11 bucks and 90 points you can drink it all week.

Alex Peartree 10:42
Absolutely, yes. I drank that wine the other day, and he kicked me out because it was so cheap. It’s of an amazing quality. And this wine is available nationwide, so it’s pretty easy to get.

Lauren Buzzeo 11:01
I love it. And it’s one of eight Spanish wines on the list. So if tempranillo or classic Rioja, or maybe even modern Rioja, is not your thing, there are other wines from Spain that you can take off the list to warm your palate.

Alex Pertry 11:18
Yes, absolutely. There’s a Jumilla Monster just south of there. And if you like something richer, something fuller, something closer, it will certainly appeal to you.

Lauren Buzzeo 11:37
Love him. That’s 90 points. Out of curiosity, what is the average score of all wines on this list? Does it exist somewhere?

Alex Peartree 11:48
Uh, yeah, actually. The average score is therefore slightly above 89.5 points. As a result, estimates generally vary from the lower 1990s to the 1980s. On our scale, wines between 87 and 89 points are of good quality and high value, so these wines are on our list.

Lauren Buzzeo 12:21
I think they are indeed ranked as very good wines, Alex.

Alex Pertry 12:24
Okay. Wow.

Lauren Buzzeo 12:28
Well, the average score is actually 89.5, I think it’s like 89.65 that you have this year, I have to give you my hat, sir, because I think you have the highest average score on this list that I can even remember for my term in the past. Thank you for setting the bar so high. I don’t know how you’ll get over it next year. Good luck, but thanks for this year.

Alex Peartree 12:58
We need to see what happens next year.

Lauren Buzzeo 13:00
You will certainly use some tips. So more than 89.5 points, or an average of almost 90 points. What about the average price? Number one wine, 11 bucks? Is that about the average of the list?

Alex Peartree 13:13
The average value of the list is about $13. So a little more than the number one wine, but of course not too much price increase there. The prices are probably between 15 and 8 dollars, I think that’s one of the lowest prices.

Lauren Buzzo 13:31
Wow. And I know that if you’re talking about a 750 millilitre bottle, I think we’ve got a couple of cases on the list, right? And it’s less than 750, isn’t it?

Yeah, we’ve got a botabox. I mean, I can’t figure out where this is going right now. You’re making me do math, Lauren…

Lauren Buzzeo 13:54
I mean, I think it costs $23 for three liters, which is almost $6 for $750 million.

Alex Pertry 14:01
Sounds perfect.

I mean, who wouldn’t? And that’s 89 points. Six dollars, mainly for 750 ml with 89 points. You can’t go wrong. So, tell me about the new additions to this year’s list. I know we have a couple more that, oh, that’s cool. I want to try. I didn’t hear that. Maybe you remember something you said: Oh, that’s really cool. I want to try. I don’t know him very well.

Alex Peartree 14:31
Eh, yes, indeed, our number four wine was really interesting to me. It’s wine from Argentina. Producer – wine with passion. And here’s his Malbec-Syrian mix. When you hear about Argentina, you usually go directly to Malbeck. Many people don’t know that they also make blends with Syrah or even that they use Cabernet French or other Bordeaux grapes, but this grape variety blew my mind because it’s not a typical Argentine oak wine known to many people. It tasted like a purer berry. I’m not even sure he sees an oak tree. When I ate it, it was like drinking a delicious adult juice. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

Lauren Buzzeo 15:27
Certainly not. I know I love wine number 44, a rose from Rucillon in the south of France. Yeah, I tried, so I was glad to see him there. I remember how excited I was when I took it out of my pocket, and it was revealed after I finished my notes. I was so, oh, this is delicious. 91 points, 15 bucks. Here is again the Rose Fortes Resort 2019 in Rucillon. I think for many consumers it is a good example of a developing region they are not too familiar with, but there is much to offer and much value to be found in many of these wines. They are certainly best known for their red wines, which are quite fruity and powerful. It’s a pretty warm climate in general. But roses are also breathtakingly beautiful. A perfect balance between acidity and ripeness of the fruit. I was very excited when I saw that he had made the choice. Thank you, sir. I must also say that I like what you always notice when you talk about development regions like Bulgaria. There is always Bulgarian wine on the list. They are always clearly visible, with an excellent price/quality ratio. This year, I think it’s Pinot Noir. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So it’s really cool to see all those different things that you know people haven’t necessarily tried. But if it allows people to think off the beaten track and try something new, I find it incredible.

Alex Peartree 17:08
Yes, and if you choose a Bulgarian wine, you might think that it is hard to find in a region where you have never heard of wine production. But in fact, less than 10 minutes from my home in New Jersey, this wine was completely stored in one of the big crate stores. So this wine is easily available.

Lauren Buzzeo 17:37
So I would like to ask you how you see the Italian wines from our editor Karen O’Keefe, but I have noticed that we have quite a few Italian wines on the list. And I think that’s a little surprising, because it’s not necessarily a region that many people associate with a value, maybe. Can you tell me about the Italian selection? Are there certain areas, perhaps better known, where these values or feelings of guilt are present, to which people can turn?

Alex Pertry 18:47
Yes, of course. Of the regions that Karen O’Keefe covers for us, I think one of the most emblematic is the Chianti in Tuscany. This year we have in 86th place the Piccini 2019 Mario Primo, which is quite light and classically spiced and brings the Chianti to the cherry with 88 points and 13 dollars. But as for the other regions, which are more manageable values, I must say that the regions that I myself cover, such as Puglia and Abruzzo, are probably very good areas to focus on a more valuable way of thinking about wine. So for Abruzzo, number 88, Umani Ronchi 2018 Podere. This is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and this wine is usually very cherry, but has the classic quality of the menthol grass that I find in Montepulciano. Not much oak, but it has exactly that good balance of plush fruit with a lively acidity, making it a very, very large red weekday that you can enjoy with a red sauce or pizza, or even as a roasted pass if you wish.

Lauren Buzzeo 20:23
It also struck me that there are many, many white wines from Italy. It was very exciting for me. It’s like number five is the Sauvage Classico. And under number 9 we have Prosecco. I just find it very exciting that Prosecco is shiny and Sowe white. But there were more blanks that I saw later on the list. I think it was one of the mezzcaronas, so you’re talking about the Trentino. Of course, a Pinot Grigio who doesn’t like a good Pinot Grigio? We even have a Gavi with the number 73, which I think is a different style of wine, which may have been a bit more popular in the past than it is now, but I’d like to see it come back and generate new interest. Tell me about wine number 73.

Alex Peartree 21:12
Bricco dei Guazzi really for great value. As you said, many people seem to associate Gavi with this fleeting fantasy, maybe ten years ago. Just copied, like maybe another Pinot Grigio wine, in a very innocent way. But I think Piedmontese white wines, often blurred by the harder Barolo and Barbaresco wines of Piedmont, but Piedmontese white wines are definitely something to look at. Gavi offers great value, especially in terms of price. That’s why I think the number 73 is exactly that.

Lauren Buzzeo 22:02
I must also, you know me, I must applaud the wine number 95, Excelsior. This taxi from Robertson, South Africa, is of course close to my heart. But what I wanted to say, not to mention the fact that I was allowed to say it. I mean, I love this list, in fact, after years of looking at it, or even as a reader, when you come back year after year, you will find that there are certain brands that may resurface, that just have this reputation for offering high quality wines at reasonable and affordable prices. Excelsior is for me one of the leaders in this kind of brands and vineyards. In all their suggestions and variations, I think they’re completely linear at $10. They are all really good or very good in terms of scores on our scales, and they just offer great value. I’d like to examine this list and identify these marks. I think Aveleda, from Portugal, is another character we always see on this list with Vinho Verde. Are there others you have noticed or taken and for which you have a weakness?

Alex Pertry 23:25
Yes, of course. There’s also Bogle. Bogle appears continuously in these lists. And I don’t think it’s for nothing. They enjoy their wines so much. They’re super competitive. And then the quality. Of course, there’s quality. Another one I think is coming out soon is Oregon’s Foris Pinot Gris. This manufacturer is of course smaller than Bogle, but it remains surprising. Anyone who comes in with 14-92 points and 14 bucks is a robbery.

Lauren Buzzeo 24:11
I like that, because you’re also talking about the great diversity of the area, which is known for it. For example, the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon is an ideal place to produce high quality pinot gris. This allows people to access this diversity, to this region for yet another very high quality at a truly reasonable price. What we’re always worried about is people discovering new things, new wines. It’s exciting. I think that just like another brand, J. Lohr, that we see very often in this list, Kirkland Signature, which talks about availability and accessibility, we all know and love the fact that the Kirkland brand comes from Costco. It’s another thing we keep seeing with quality wines and affordable prices at the top of the list. So there really are those tricks that I see over and over again, year after year, on the list. This is San Pedro in Chile. It is another great classic in viticulture.

Alex Pertry 25:18
Dr. Loosen, another one.

Lauren Buzzeo 25:20
Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. So we reported on Chile and Germany. What else did we deal with? Oregon…

Alex Pertry 25:28
Argentina, Italy …

Lauren Buzzeo 25:29
California….

Alex Peartree 25:32
A to Z

Lauren Buzzeo 25:34
Oh, A to Z

Alex Birnbaum 25:35
A to Z Chard!

Lauren Buzzeo 25:39
Oh, and of course it started with Excelsior in South Africa. So no matter where you want to go, what you want to drink, what style you’re looking for, I think this list will help you not only choose those individual wines, but also know which brands you can really trust and turn to for quality and affordable wines.

Alex Pertree 26:03
Absolutely, yes. And I’m lighting my own horn here, because I have to.

Lauren Buzzeo 26:10
Go.

Alex Pertry 26:14
On this list you will find some great New York wines. I don’t think many people will associate New York with wines that cost 15 dollars or less, but this year there was actually a good selection of wines. And I think when you mention New York, you consider Fingerseen one of the most important regions. If you choose the variety, it will be Riesling. And yes, there’s a wonderful example of Fingerseen on that list, who recently took 63rd place. These are Lamoreaux Landing 2018 Semi-Dry, but there is also Gewürztraminer, another variety, and Cab Franc rosé. So he’s got everything.

Lauren Buzzeo 27:06
That’s great. I think it’s a very good point, very cool. And you can apply it to other areas as well. I know there’s a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand on that list. You can even have more than one. I have just noticed the number 77, again Villa Maria, a high quality classic that everyone knows and trusts. Villa Maria 2019 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, 89 points, $14. It comes from New Zealand, from the Marlborough region, known for its Sauvignon Blanc production. But if you continue, you’ll see Merlot Oyster Bay 2018, where Hawkes Bay is number 98. What? New Zealand Merlot? What’s going on here? So there’s a lot more to discover. And we’re trying to get him on that list, aren’t we?

Alex Pertry 28:07
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Speaking of Merlot, not many people know about Hawkeye Bay. This region of New Zealand is best known for its red wines, blended in the Merlot or Bordeaux style, including Merlot, Cab Owls and Cab Frank.

Lauren Buzzo 28:28
Even a little Sira.

Alex Birnbaum 28:29
Right, yes. So there are many discoveries.

Lauren Buzzeo 28:35
I love it. Well, we could probably discuss all the wines on this list if we had time, just because we’re idiots and we like it. But I think, in order to get rid of some of the listeners, for now we just have to let everyone know that the list is available. Live on winemag.com. So, anyway, everyone should check it out. There are tons of discoveries, tons of exciting things to look for, and the good news is that you shouldn’t look too hard, because that’s the nature of this list.

Alex Pertry 29:11
Absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Lauren Buzzeo 29:14
Okay, Alex, thanks for telling me about Best Buys today. And I think we’ll get to the next list, thanks for making the list.

Alex Pertry 29:24
Thanks for the invitation, Lauren.

Lauren Buzzeo 29:29
Thanks for listening to this episode of the podcast Of course we love our Top 100 lists, especially the Best Buys, and there are so many delicacies just waiting to be tasted. We certainly talked today about many different selections on the list, with so many exciting recommendations worth seeing in the 100, but also in our wines marked as Best Buy. Don’t forget to visit winemag.com/podcast to learn more about these monsters and much more. You can also view our November issue, which lists the top 100 purchases for 2020 currently available from kiosks and digital media providers such as Apple News Plus and Zinio. Subscribe to podcasts in iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you can find a podcast. And if you enjoyed today’s episode, we’d like to read your comments and hear your opinion. And why don’t you tell your wine-loving friends to come and see us too. You can also leave a message at [email protected] For more wine reviews, recipe guides, dive guides and stories, visit winemag.com and contact us via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @wineenthousiast. The podcast is by Lauren Buzzeo and Jenny Groza. Until the next episode: Your health.

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