With current vintages of first-growth Bordeaux commanding prices in excess of $300 a bottle and boutique California bottles both scarce and exorbitantly expensive, one might well wonder whether wine has been priced out of the reach of mere mortals. I'm happy to report that this just is not the case. In fact, during my recent extensive tastings for Food & Wine Magazine's Official Wine Guide 1999, I uncorked more satisfying and affordable bottles than I could possibly cram into a pocket-size book. And best of all, every one listed here can actually be found on retailers' shelves.
I have included tasting notes for 25 wines, each made from one of five of the most popular French (now international) grape varieties and selling for $15 or less. You can buy between two and four cases of each for what you'd spend on a single bottle of 1995 Château Latour. And best of all, every one of them is ready to drink now.
Wines marked $ cost $12 or less; those marked $$ range from $13 to $15.