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Bogle edges Barefoot to win 2014 cheap wine poll

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2014 cheap wine pollTalk about a hanging chad. Bogle won the 2014 cheap wine poll by a margin so thin that the outcome was in doubt until the voting ended on Tuesday night. It recorded just four more thumbs up votes than runner-up Barefoot; the latter’s thumbs down votes were more harmful, with three times as many as Bogle.

This is shocking, given that Barefoot finished sixth last year after spending most of the poll in ninth place. Plus, it’s not like I’ve been enthusiastic about Barefoot over the years, and the brands that it beat are some of the best cheap wines in the world. Barefoot second ahead of last year’s winner, Falesco Vitiano, which dropped to seventh? Unbelievable.

The explanation? Availability, I think. The top three wines, which included McManis at No. 3, are sold in grocery stores and are easier to find than most of the rest. You can only vote on what you’ve tasted, and a lot of people have tasted Barefoot. On the other hand, Two-buck Chuck was a badly beaten 10th for the second year in a row, and a lot of people have tasted it.

Other surprises? Chateau Bonnet, which is one of the last cheap French wines that tastes French and not like it was made by a committee obsessed with the so-called American palate, was ninth, with more negative votes than positive after finishing fifth in 2013. I can’t think of a reason for this, unless the voters don’t like French wines that taste French or are still hung up on freedom fries. On the other hand, Domain du Tariquet finished fourth, and that’s also a French wine that remains completely French.

Complete results are here, or you can click on the graphic at the top of the post. You can see last year’s poll here. Thanks to everyone for voting. We mostly equaled last year’s vote tally, and given the site’s Google woes over the past 12 months, that’s not too bad.

What’s the best cheap wine brand 2014?

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best cheap wineWelcome to the Wine Curmudgeon’s second annual cheap wine poll, which runs today through Dec. 16. I’ll post the results on Dec. 18.

You can vote for the brand you like the most or against a label that you don’t like — just click on the respective buttons next to each entry at the bottom of this post. You can vote here or on the Ranker site, where the poll is hosted (and thanks again to Ranker, the blog’s unofficial polling widget). If you get the blog via RSS or email, click here to vote on the blog or here to vote at Ranker.

Share the poll with your friends and fellow cheap wine drinkers by clicking on any of the social media buttons at the bottom of the poll or at end of the post. I want to beat last year’s 700 participants.

I’ve included 10 producers, including a new one from last year, based on several criteria: The wines cost around $10, they’re generally available (which means you can find them in a retailer in a decent-sized city), and they’re popular enough so that people have heard of them. Falesco Vitiano won last year and Two-buck Chuck finished last.

The Best Cheap Wine Brand 2014

Wine of the week: Melini Chianti Borghi d’Elsa 2013

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Melini ChiantiThis summer, the Wine Curmudgeon attended a big-time Italian trade tasting, which included five Chiantis from the Melini producer. None of them cost more than $25 or $30, which is saying something for big-time Italian trade tastings.

All of which means that the 300-year-old Melini knows a thing or two about making quality cheap wine, and the Borghi d’Elsa ($7, purchased, 13%) amply demonstrates this expertise. It’s a red wine made with sangiovese from the Chianti region of Italy, and every time I taste it, I’m surprised by how well done it is. Look for berry fruit, more black than red, clean and fresh, and just enough character — some tannins and earthiness — to let you know this is wine from Italy. It’s a simple wine, but as I have noted before, simple does not have to mean stupid.

The other that impresses me about the Melini Chianti? The company doesn’t waste money on the bottle, which is lightweight and without much of a punt. Would that other cheap wine producers did the same thing.

This is winter red sauce wine, and braised pot roast wouldn’t be so bad, either. If it’s not quite a $10 Hall of Fame wine, it’s still better than most of the $10 wine on store shelves, and shows just how much great cheap wine there is in the world.

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