by Fred Minnick

What is value wine?

In 2008, I wrote for an investment website,, that it’s a buyer’s market for wine and that wine is a great investment. I still believe that, but I also believe value wine comes with no price tag. How many of us have tasted $9 wines that beat $50 wines in blind tastings? Or a $50 wine that could compete against some of the world’s best?

I know I have.

Many of these wines have come from Spain, perhaps the best value wine country in the world right now. D.O. La Mancha, especially, is producing some fantastic value wines that can be enjoyed year-round.

2008 Volver Tempranillo – $12 to $17

This 100-percent Tempranillo comes from 50-year-old vines and aged 14 months in French oak. The LA Times called Volver’s 2007 Tempranillo “rich and muscular,” but the 2008 packs a nice punch of its own. With earthy aromas and black fruits, this mouth-filling wine gives superb blackberry flavors and is savory, concentrated and structured. It could age for another six or seven years.

2006 Campos Reales Gladium Crianza – $9 to $14

This wine is clean and bright, but gives your palate pleasing notes of intense ripe fruits. It’s medium-bodied, yet powerful, with a lingering pleasant aftertaste. A Tempranillo, this Crianza is young and should be enjoyed before end of 2011. It’s an excellent value wine to be paired with cured meats.

2009 Anil — Vinicola de Tomelloso — $14

Leaving behind D.O. Mancha’s bulk-wine making past, the large cooperative of 28 families created Vinicola de Tomelloso in 1986. Since then, they have been making excellent wine. Anil, a lovely white wine from the relatively unknown Macabeo grape, is almost golden in color and gives aromas of citrus, clover and gives lovely mineral and green apple tastes on the palate. It’s delicious and shows what happens when 28 families come together. Pair Anil with fish and pork.

2009 Los Galanes Airén —  Cooperativa Santa Catalina — $10 to $14

Airén is the world’s most widely planted grape, but is mostly used for bulk wine and brandy. Many people believe it’s a grape that does not fair well in the bottle, but the 1,200 farmers of Cooperative Santa Catalina have proven otherwise. In their Los Galanes Airen line, they’ve created a nice light wine that gives a aromas of fruits and flowers. It’s dry and very floral. This wine is a step in the right direction for getting Airén out of the bulk-wine making bubble.

2004 Bodega Manuel de la Osa – $30

The higher price point likely puts Manuel de la Osa wines out of most people’s value wine lists, but I argue it’s a lovely blend that ages beautifully and could make a nice investment wine, or be enjoyed with steak or smoked meats in the place of a $100 bottle. Named after a renowned Michelin star chef, the 2004 Manuel de la Osa includes 40 percent Syrah, 30 percent Graciano, 10 percent Tempranillo, 10 percent Cabernet Franc and 10 percent Merlot. It’s aged 12 months in French oak. This crimson-colored blend has a complex nose, revealing notes of spice box and blueberry. It’s ripe black fruits and black currants are followed by well-structured tannins and a complex finish. This might be hard to find, though. According to its importer, only 1,000 were made; 450 were sent to the U.S. market.

Fred Minnick is an international food, wine and spirits writer/photographed based in Louisville, Kentucky. View his work at or email him at