This post is not only about how to find a bargain on well known, award winning premium red wines, but is intended to give you tips on where and what to look for when evaluating an offer on a certain case of wine. Besides cleanskins, there are many reasonably priced good reds you can buy from various stores online for no more than $10 a bottle, but how would you know if they are any good?
Based on a survey which I came across, after the grape variety, the second most important factor which people consider when purchasing wine is the price. However, costs are never included in the points wine ratings refer to, so to determine a wine’s QPR (quality price ratio) you’ll have to rely on pure and basic knowledge of vintages, regions, and reviews of other wine-lovers. In Australia alone, there are hundreds of less recognised wineries out there but just because they're relatively unknown shouldn't be an indicator that the wines which they produce are of inferior quality.
If grape variety is the most important factor in buying wine, lets base our hunt for a cheap quality red on the 4 most important wine grapes, Australias’s pride, the Shiraz and the noble reds - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.
It actually isn’t hard to find a good Shiraz for below $10 a bottle. It’s the most popular red in Australia, seems like not only to drink but to promote as well. We have seen plenty of steaming bargains on Buckscoop for big names such as Penfolds, Wynns, Taylors, Lindeman’s and Pepperjack which keep popping up mainly from Dan Murphy’s and WineMarket. If you’re willing to experiment to save even more by going for a lesser known label, look for a South Australian Shiraz, preferably from the Barossa Valley produced during 2009, 2010 or 2012.
Dan Murphy's has one of the widest selection of wine from all regions, the best part is that you can pick a variety, filter your search by regions and sort the results by price (from low to high). This way you can browse wines meeting your criteria without having to look for a specific bottle. It's just perfect for what we're after. The Shiraz I would go for in this case is the 2012 vintage Warburn Premium Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz for just $45 a case of six or $7.50 a bottle (delivered free to metro areas with Dan Murphy's voucher).
For the best deals on any alcoholic beverage, I would recommend looking for a local producer to avoid high prices as a result of import costs. Luckily, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most commonly planted variety in the world, but despite the diversity of the regions, the inimitable character will remain in each version of this red. It is the key grape variety grown in the iron-rich soils of Coonawarra, from which region you’ll find dry and full-bodied examples of a quality Cabernet Sauvignon. You can try Tolley's Watercolour Cabernet Sauvignon for example, which would cost you $50.70 for the case of six ($8.55 a bottle).
Merlot is a variety which is somewhat a safe bet. It’s complex and versatile, which is why it’s used to soften other varieties, making them more rounded and “easy-drinking”. The grapes grow well in cooler climates as well, and here in the Australian heat they play an important role in producing some of the best balanced and intense red blends from Coonawarra and Margaret River. Although the Cawarra Merlot is not from any of these specific regions, it's produced by Lindeman's and was one of the top 100 most popular bottles to purchase at Dan Murphy's in 2012. The current 2013 vintage is selling for below $5 a bottle at $4.75, which brings the total on a case of six to just $28.15. Definitely worth a try.
Generally speaking, Pinot Noir is the most expensive variety you’ll find on the market. Reason for that is the high demand - low production ratio due to the grape’s terroir sensitivity. So when searching for a quality Pinot Noir, region should be your key. Although the grape is hard to grow, it does so especially well in Victoria where you’ll find Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s oldest wine regions with perfect conditions for this equally “old-timer” grape variety. From Victoria as well, this Yea Valley Cleanskin Pinot Noir received very good reviews from Dan Murphy's Wine Panel priced at $8.55 a bottle, which works out at just a bit over $50 for six of them ($50.70). According to the experts it "Scares the life out of peers more than double the price!"
On a finishing note, you’ll typically be better off buying something on special, or at a discount using a voucher code to save some extra bucks. For inspiration or recommendations, you can check out Bucksoop’s deals board, where wine deals tend to be posted regularly by one of the bargain hunters of our community.