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Copyright © 2015
Forkmedia LLC

by Fred McMillin
for October 2000

Chuck Ortman

Meridian Wine Whiz
Chuck Ortman.

What's Your Very Best Buy?


We're asked for Best Buy recommendations much more often than Best Wine advice. So here are our Top Ten white and red bargains.

Ranking Rules

  • Only wines rated 80 or higher by my panel may enter.
  • Only two entries per category are permitted. That is, only two Chiantis, only two Merlots, etc. may enter.
  • All wines are current releases. The whites are from 1998 and 1999, the reds 1997 and 1998.
  • The rating divided by the price tells us how big a bargain we have, our Best Buy Index The higher the index, the more bang for the buck.

    Since many enthusiasts like only red or only white, we provide a Top Ten for each. The biggest bargain is listed last. Here we go!


    White & Sparkling

      Name Price The Winery...Etc.
    10th Pinot Gris $10 Duck Pond, Willamette Valley, Oregon
    9th Gewürztraminer $8 Fetzer, California
    8th Gewürztraminer $8 Meridian, Santa Barbara County, California, (pictured)
    7th Late Harvest Riesling $9 Hogue, Columbia Valley, Washington
    6th Riesling $9 Jekel, Monterey County, California
    5th Sauvignon Blanc $7 Tarapaca (Beringer), Maipo Valley, Chile
    4th Sparkler $8 Barefoot Bubbly, California
    3rd Chardonnay $7 Etchart, Mendoza, Argentina
    2nd Chardonnay $6 Riverfort (Beringer), Pays d'Oc, France
    1st Torrontes $6 Santa Julia, Mendoza, Argentina


      Name Price The Winery...Etc.
    10th Black Muscat $12 Shenandoah, Amador County, (dessert) California
    9th Pinot Noir $7 Monterey Vineyard, Central Coast, California
    8th Malbec $7 Ecthart, Mendoza, Argentina
    7th Shiraz (Syrah) $8 McPherson, South Eastern Australia
    6th Cabernet Sauvignon $7 Glen Ellen Reserve, California
    5th Malbec $8 Santa Julia, Mendoza, Argentina
    4th Cabernet Sauvignon $7 Monterey Vineyard, Monterey County, California
    3rd Merlot $10 Farallon (Sebastiani), North Coast, California
    2nd Zinfandel $9 Ironstone, Sierra Foothills, California
    1st Shiraz (Syrah) $9 Carramar (Casella Wines), South Eastern Australia


    Non-California whites won six out of ten places, including the top three spots. Their reds won only four of the ten places, and only one of the top three.

    Lots of good types didn't get in because there are very few in this price range. Missing in action Viognier, Sangiovese, Meritage whites and reds, etc.

    Argentina topped the no-Cals, with an 8th, 5th, 3rd and a 1st.



    This page created October 2000