10 Red Wine Picks Under $100 Worth Quaffing This Winter
— 21 May 2024

10 Red Wine Picks Under $100 Worth Quaffing This Winter

— 21 May 2024
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

Despite Australia’s reputation for sun, surf, and various ‘day for it’ pursuits, we do get a rash of cold weather (towards the latter half of each year) that makes quaffing red wine seem seasonally appropriate — whether it’s at the neighbourhood trattoria or over a bit of steak au poivre at home, cooked in the Gozney Dome.

That seems as good an excuse as any to round up 10 of the best affordable bottles of red we’ve drunk this year thus far.

From classic Barossa steamrollers to light lo-fi naturals, and even a couple of gems we deem to be criminally good value, get your glass around our full red wine ‘Buyer’s Guide’ below.

RELATED: The 13 Best Champagnes To Buy In Australia In 2024



The Best Red Wine Bottles To Buy In 2024

Laurent Ponsot Cuvée des Peupliers Bourgogne Rouge 2020

red wine
Region: Burgundy, France
Varietals: Pinot Noir
ABV: 14%
 

In much of the New World, Burgundy is a haughty and somewhat intimidating word: often associated with large-format bottles which sell at auctions for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And while, Laurent Ponsot (formerly of the eponymous Domaine Ponsot) certainly makes a range of investible wines with Grand Cru provenance, this declassified Pinot Noir — crafted with fruit from a range of locales in the Burgundian village of Chambolle-Musigny — offers exemplary value in France’s most feted red wine region.

In textbook Chambolle style, this cuvée is textured with crunchy red fruit flavours and a silky tannin structure. Despite only partial maturation in oak, there’s immediate drinkability here — a characteristic that intertwines well with the case-friendly bottle price.


Krondorf ‘Stone Altar’ Old Vine Grenache 2021

best red wine
Region: Barossa Valley, South Australia
Varietals: Grenache
ABV: 14.5%
 

Krondorf is one of the premium names you’ll find in the Paragon Wine Estates range. The brand has been extant in the Barossa Valley since the 1970s, and is primarily known for its robust, fruit-forward wines.

In line with the region’s specialty, that means Cabernet and Shiraz, but more importantly…Grenache. Named for the makeshift sacred sites of Krondorf’s Silesian ancestors, ‘Stone Altar’ is composed using the best parcels of Grenache in Light Pass and Greenock.

Fermentation occurs skin-on for one week, in small open-top fermenters, before the resulting wine is matured in large French oak casks for an additional 12 months. Medium-bodied, you can expect flavours of raspberry and bing cherries; knit together with a fine line of acidity.


Maxime Graillot ‘Domaine Des Lises’ Crozes-Hermitage Rouge 2018

red wine
Region: Rhône Valley, France
Varietals: Syrah
ABV: 13%
 

Although there’s no denying that it can be challenging to find decent value picks (particularly for under $100) in the ‘Bordeaux’ and ‘Burgundy’ aisle of your local bottle-o, there’s still plenty of treasure as far as the Rhône Valley goes.

In the region’s northerly appellation of Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine des Lises is one such standard bearer: an excellent syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz), full of technical care and vinosity, made by the prodigal young gun Maxime Graillot. The vines used in this bottle’s making were planted in the 1980s and are now managed organically.

A wine with an immediate “what one wants” quality, this sapid French red offers juicy flavours of mineralic red and black fruit, overlaid with a whiff of Chinese five spice. The finish is long and resonant: rendered all the more impressive by its highly competitive price-point.


Wynns ‘Messenger’ Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

red wines
Region: Coonawarra, South Australia
Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon
ABV: 13.2%
 

Part of the same powerhouse portfolio that includes Penfolds and Californian heavyweight Stags’ Leap, Wynns is (by Aussie standards) a venerable old winery. The estate’s first vines were planted in 1891, and since then, the Coonawarra marque has developed a sterling reputation among critics: for best-of-vintage red wines such as the ‘Michael’ Shiraz.

Still, if you don’t fancy spending upwards of $100, the brand’s ‘Single Vineyard’ bottles evince a good mixture of quality and accessibility. Wynns has been pursuing limited-site winemaking since 2004.

In that time, the ‘Messenger’ vineyard (planted in 1975 on part of the estate’s Terra Rossa holding) has yielded Cabernet Sauvignon of exemplary quality. The newly-released 2021 vintage builds on the work of prior half-decades: exhibiting classically delicious flavours of sweet vanilla and blueberry, laced together by finely etched tannins supporting a long finish.


Leeona Rosso

best red wine
Region: Tuscany, Italy
Varietals: Sangiovese, Malvasia Bianco, Syrah
ABV: 12.5%
 

Adorably described by one notable Aussie importer as a “pizza and giallo” bottle, this Leeona Rosso (from Tuscan producer Buccia Nera) is an unfussy, lightly carbonic red wine. Predominantly Sangiovese — with a lick of Syrah and Malvasia Bianco — it is delicious year-round, but goes off an absolute treat during the warmer months.

Expect ripe morello cherry flavours to dominate, backed up by hints of orange peel and dry herbs. The level of acidity present is comfortably what we’d describe as “refreshing”: making for a drop that takes well to refrigeration, and excels when served with food.

If we had to pick one ‘sessionable’ option on this list, this would most certainly be it.


Henschke Keyneton Euphonium

red wine
Region: Eden and Barossa Valleys, South Australia
Varietals: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
ABV: 14.5%
 

Named for the Henschke clan’s original assortment of antique brass instruments (seriously), Keyneton Euphonium has been an affordable gem in the eponymous Barossa brand’s repertoire since 1958. An admirable feat, considering the estate could get away with focusing on its vaunted single-estate ‘Hill of Grace’ Shirazes — red wines that regularly sell for thousands of dollars.

The ultimate table vino, to all intents and purposes, Euphonium is crafted with immediate drinkability in mind. That said, the best vintages tend to possess a 25-year shelf life; with the core flavours of plum, black berry, and cassis intensifying over time. The current 2021 vintage looks set to offer just such impressive cellaring potential.

Consumed early, Euphonium is a very food-friendly wine. The elegant and brambly palate is balanced by bright acidity (essential when you’re pairing rich meat courses), all held together by a long finely grained spine of tannin.


Pegasus Bay Estate Pinot Noir 2021

red wine
Region: Waipara Valley, New Zealand
Varietals: Pinot Noir
ABV: 13%
 

A very classic, put-together evocation of Kiwi winemaking in the South Island, we wager that Pegasus Bay will be up to snuff — if you enjoy homegrown producers in the mould of Paringa Estate and Holyman.

Pegasus Bay’s unique terroir, consisting of decades-old vines planted to ‘Glasnevin Gravel’ soils sitting in the lee of the Teviotdale Range, yield wine grapes that are low in quantity yet optimally ripened and of almost uniformly high quality.

Add to this a range of “traditional Burgundian” vinification techniques (e.g. partial whole-bunch fermentation and ageing in French barriques), and you have the crux of a world-class cold climate Pinot.

The current ‘Estate’ release (2021) sports a deep ruby hue. Pegasus Bay’s distinctive bouquet of cacao, boysenberry and black stone fruit leaps out of the glass; and the palate offers up all of the supple, perfectly weighted notes that have made Waipara Pinot Noir so popular around the globe.


Radikon RS 2021

Region: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Varietals: Merlot, Pignoli
ABV: 13.5%
 

Radikon’s near-$100 sticker price may, at first, be a little hard to comprehend; but wine nerds with a penchant for Italian craft will be quick to explain.

The label, located in Fruili, helped to pioneer the northeasterly region’s renaissance of skin contact white wines. In addition, Stanko Radikon — patriarch of the eponymous, family-owned winery — was a pioneer in the use of amphorae: a ceramic device he insists produced more expressive, age-worthy wines.

Fortunately, ‘RS’ is a shade more conventional. Chiefly the brainchild of Stanko’s son Saša, the 2021 release is mostly Merlot; with a quarter of the final blend accounted for by pignoli (a native Fruilan grape variety) that has been grown in compressed clay. Both varietals are fermented and racked separately, before being combined in Slavonian oak for three years.

A wine full of delicious contrasts and contradictions, it’s allocated in Australia in fairly sparse numbers. Regardless of whether you’re a ‘natty’ wine lover or not, we’d say it’s worth trying at least once.


Ten Minutes by Tractor Estate Pinot Noir 2020

Region: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Varietals: Pinot Noir
ABV: 13.5%
 

A very meticulous red wine (that will give some indication as to why the Mornington Peninsula is feted for being one of “the best Pinot regions in Australia”) Ten Minutes By Tractor’s ‘Estate’ bottling makes use of fruit sourced from both up and down the the winery’s original vineyards at Main Ridge.

Offering drinkers a ‘snapshot’ of the TMBT house style, there are delicately spiced notes of dark cherry, pomegranate and, to a lesser extent, a distinctive clove note — making this a fantastic drop to pair alongside dry-aged duck breast, or other similarly bold meat & poultry dishes.

It is also, to get nerdy for a moment, an exemplary expression of craft: a red wine, for under $100, made using hand-sorted, manually destemmed fruit that is then aged in (21% new) French barriques. Superb.


Buscemi ‘Il Rosso’ 2019

Region: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
Varietals: Nerollo Mascalese, Grenache
ABV: 14%
 

Sicilian producers have been gaining a lot of traction outside of the Eurozone this past decade, thanks in no small part to the advocacy of winemakers such as Marco De Grazia and Giusto Occhipinti.

To that compact-yet-growing list, we’d like to add Buscemi: a relatively new operation, ensconced in the volcanic soil of Mount Etna, that is behind the simply named ‘Il Rosso’.

Something akin to a field blend, the 2019 release is built around Grenache — grown on vines that are, on average, an impressive 90 years old — in addition to supplementary ratios of Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese (both delicious varietals that are indigenous to Sicily).

Aussie retailers have taken to marketing this as a ‘summer red’, but really, it’s fantastic all-year-round. A lively grip of acid and juicy red fruit flavours marry well with the blend’s medium weight; and we can think of scant few social situations in which rocking up with this won’t net you points.


If you’ve enjoyed this guide to our favourite red wine bottles this year, why not consider checking out some of our drinks-related stories below?

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Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].

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