House (Wine) Hunters: One red each from France, Italy, and Spain that perform well above their price

We've lately been gravitating to a very summertime lineup dominated by white and rosé wines from our all-white best of June, to our celebration of Rosé Day and our exploration of Sweden's Vingården i Klagshamn, and most recently capped off with our Fourth of July Red, white, blue, sparkling, and rosé celebration. Yes, we've been happily immersed in cool, refreshing wines as we enjoy the summer.

Further reading: Our top wine picks for June, these five refreshing white wines will keep you happy all summer

Not today. We’ve tasted three great house reds that perform better than their price. We love this particular lineup because it features one bottle from three of Europe's great winemaking countries of France, Italy, and Spain. We're sharing them so that you can:

  • Spend a bit less on wine by serving something that is better than its price;
  • Take advantage of economy of scale by purchasing a case (12 bottles) at a discount to drive the per bottle cost down;
  • Have some bottles on hand for lazy evenings that don't call for anything fancy;
  • Use some discretion when serving guests who aren't as picky (or whose tastes not as sophisticated); and
  • Avoid blowing an expensive wine for that "last bottle" when friends are over (you never fully appreciate the "last bottle").

When choosing a house wine, use our three main criteria that the wine:

  1. Be broadly pleasing, i.e. something that most people can enjoy; 
  2. Outperform its price point, i.e. is better than what you'd expect for the price; and
  3. Cost no more than $15 per bottle when purchased by the case (in most cases we're looking at house wines in the $8 - $12 range).

Further reading: House (Wine) Hunters: Two whites and two reds that taste much better than their low price

2014 Le Chaz (France, at $7.32 per bottle when purchased by the case)

The Le Chaz from France's Vin de Pays (VDP) region has made multiple appearances in our low-cost yet high performing house wine lineup. It's sweet smelling, with bright chocolate strawberry notes and a little confectioner sugar whose nose is repeated in the palate (i.e. it tastes how it smells). It's an immensely simple wine, but a very easy drinker and crowd pleaser that should make most red wine drinkers quite happy in a casual setting.

2013 Ziobaffa "The Filmmaker's Edition" (Italy, at $8.24 per bottle when purchased by the case)

This affordable red from Tuscany (in Italy) served us well as a case worth of house wine. A smart pairing with food, yet highly drinkable on its own, the nose of graphite, a little slate and mineral gives way to some plum and milk chocolate after a few minutes. It's light and fruit forward with some coffee on the palate, and finishes with a bit of a tart aftertaste.

2015 D Mateos Vendimia Seleccionada La Mateo (Spain, at $8.49 per bottle when purchased by the case)

For the price, this is a wonderful bottle from Spain's Rioja region, first filling the nose with notes of smoldering wood as if from a campfire, then dried blueberries and a slightly hot touch of alcohol. It is surprisingly a little sweet on the palate, but tastes much as it smells with rather Ribera del Duero (a nearby region in Spain) like blueberry notes throughout. Quite velvety smooth for a wine at this price, you might find a little cashew nuttiness in the back, something that reminds us of the flavor profile of a fortified wine, perhaps raisin? It's satisfyingly warm as it goes down.