In a collaboration with Bevfluence, several wine writers across the country shopped the $12.99 and under category at the top selling wine shops in their regions to create a budget friendly buying guide for sippers seeking good value vino regardless of their location in the U.S.
My contributions come from Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods. The first Spec’s opened in my hometown of Houston in 1962 and has grown into more than 120 store locations across Texas. I shopped at the flagship store at 2410 Smith St and selected 20 bottles which were each priced under $12.99. It was easy to find numerous bottles of interest in the large shop in this price range, although pricing and selection may vary by location. I picked some wines from classic regions and some from more up and coming areas, as well.
These are my top scoring bottles for best quality in this price point.
Dibon Cava Brut Rosé - Made from organically grown Grenache grapes, this old world sparkler offers a lot of bang for the buck. Crisp, fresh, lively, and fruity with mixed red berry notes and a light mineral laced finish, delicious on its own or use it to make a better bubble-based cocktail. $10.99
Vallobera Rioja Blanco 2019 - This white hails from Spain’s most iconic region though it is made from the lesser known Viura grape. Dry with a medium body, the wine is fresh with floral notes, grapefruit and tropical flavors and a clean finish, pair it with green salads or simply grilled fish. $12.99
McPherson Piquepoul Blanc Timmons Estate 2017 - The grape variety comes from southern France but the wine is pure Texan. Grown on the High Texas Plain where the piquepoul retains its acidity and creates a light body, crisp white that pairs well with iced seafood platters while also being very drinkable on its own displaying refreshing notes of white peach, lemon, and green apple. $11.49
Domaine Vigneret Côtes de Provence Rosé - This zippy Provence pink is a blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsault. The producer is located in the prestigious Bandol region but has vineyards in Provence as well. This dry, medium body rose is loaded with mixed fruit aromas and flavors - grapefruit, peach, strawberry, and lime with a pleasant easy drinking roundness and a persistent fruity finish. $12.99
Girasole Sangiovese 2017 Mendocino County - This red is made from organic grapes in a leaner style than some of its Tuscan relatives. In the glass, the wine is dry, with well balanced medium tannins and acidity with notes of black cherry and dried herbs. Like its Italian counterparts, this wine is ideal with pizza, hamburgers, or any red sauced pasta. $12.99
Le Vassal de Mercues Malbec de Cahors 2018 - From a medieval castle located in a small region in southwest France, this is a Malbec wine grown on its home turf. Dry and full bodied with a spicy red fruit character, a savory note, and a good balance of soft, velvety tannin and juicy acidity. This red works with a variety of heavier meals from roasted duck with vegetables to grilled steaks. $12.99
This challenge was a good reminder of the great value that exists in this category and the good quality that can be found from producers around the globe. There were several close runner ups/ honorable mentions but writers were asked for only their top 5-6 wines so I’m saving the rest of my notes for a future article.
Share your favorite budget friendly finds in the comments below.
Check out some of the other writers top picks:
I will add more links as they are published.