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2012 World Value Wine Challenge
Great Tasting Inexpensive Wines From All Over the Globe

Posted: October 24, 2012

By Jerald O’Kennard

One of the best things about tasting wines for a living is the joy of discovering a great new wine, perhaps from an obscure grape, region or producer, and sharing it with others. What makes this experience even better is if the discovery is not a highly prized wine that’s priced dearly, but an inexpensive and maybe even overlooked gem that shines brightly in a blind tasting, like the kind done every week here at BTI. I’m happy to report that our toils in the tasting room for this year’s 12th annual World Value Wine Challenge uncovered many such gems.

If I had to sum up this year’s experience of tasting the nearly 600 wines $20 and under in a nutshell it would be: greater quality from greater diversity. In the past (and present) you could always count on California, Australia, Southwest France, and South America to be producers of great value wines. But as a result of our tasting, we are pleased to add New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and yes Minnesota to the list of impressive value wine producing states and South Africa, Uruguay, Bulgaria, and Israel to the international honor roll.

And how about formerly “foxy” (not in the good way) hybrid grapes like Chambourcin, Vignoles, Seyval Blanc, Frontenac, Marechal Foch, and Petit Manseng? Each of these oft-overlooked (and sometimes derided) grapes produced award winning value wines in this year’s competition. In the value arena it seems that more advanced winemaking technology and acumen are not forces of homogenization creating a humdrum international wine style where all grapes and regions pretty much taste the same, but rather they are “removing the haze” and letting the individual characters of unique grapes and regions shine through. This is a refreshing and liberating trend, creating a kaleidoscopic landscape of new wines and appellations to explore.

I invite you to explore and discover these remarkable wines for yourself, I’m sure your palate and pocketbook will be pleased.

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