Tax Day (this year, April 17th) is almost here! For some, that means anticipating a refund and getting back some extra cash to splurge on the finer things in life—namely wine. Unfortunately, others may be scrimping and saving after finding out how much they owe Uncle Sam this year.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered no matter how tax season goes this year. From $15 to $1,116, here are a selection of wines whether you’re looking to celebrate a windfall, or just really need a drink on a budget after mailing out that tax check.
Budget Bottles to Save
Handpicked 2016 Version Chardonnay (Victoria); $15, 91 points. This brand, which employs an army of winemakers from around the world to make dozens of wines under the Handpicked label, has succeeded in crafting a delicious, delicate Chard at an affordable price. Attractive notes of red apple peels and blossoms are backed by a hint of baking spice and a copper penny tang. The palate is light and fresh, with a tight, chalky texture and a long ginger and apple-peel finish. One to sip with salads and seafood. American Spirits Exchange Ltd. Best Buy.—Christina Pickard
Reif Estate 2016 Riesling (Niagara Peninsula); $13, 90 points. Just off-dry, this richly-detailed Riesling invites introspection. Subtle layers reveal stone fruit, grapefruit, citrus rind and wet stone. This shows terrific complexity in a most affordable wine. Reif Estate Winery. Best Buy.—Paul Gregutt
Plungerhead 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel (Lodi); $14, 90 points. Generous fruit flavors make this wine a standout. There is very little new oak influence, and who needs it when the blueberry, blackberry and raspberry notes are so delicious and layered? A creamy texture and lingering finish complete the picture. Best Buy.—Jim Gordon
Les Domaines Auriol Claude Vialade 2016 Made with Organic Grapes Elegantly French Pinot Noir (Pays d’Oc); $10, 88 points. This organic bottling leads with inviting scents of garrigue, red currant and wild strawberry. A pleasant thread of orange zest weaves throughout, lending freshness and vibrancy to the fruit-forward palate. The tannins are fine and the finish is dry, with a final dusting of sweet spice on the close. Clean and easy drinking, enjoy now. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Best Buy.—Lauren Buzzeo
Fabre Montmayou 2017 Rosé (Mendoza); $12, 87 points. An easy mix of stone-fruit and orange aromas announces a clean rosé of fairly high quality. That assumption is confirmed on a citrusy, bouncy palate. Orange and underripe pineapple flavors finish sound and fresh. Elixir Wine Group. Drink now. Best Buy. —Michael Schachner
Spectacular Selections to Splurge
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2012 Vigna di Pianrosso Santa Caterina d’Oro Riserva (Brunello di Montalcino); $175, 100 points. This gorgeous wine opens with alluring aromas of sweet pipe tobacco, underbrush, new leather, truffle, plum and eucalyptus. Smooth and full-bodied yet elegant, the savory, juicy palate delivers crushed Marasca cherry, raspberry preserve, licorice and menthol alongside polished, enveloping tannins. Fresh acidity provides impeccable balance while an orange zest note lifts the finish. Drink 2023–2032. Indigenous Selections. Cellar Selection.—Kerin O’Keefe
Château Haut-Brion 2015 Pessac-Léognan; $1,116, 97 points. Always one of the great white wines of the world, this vintage continues that reputation. With its richness, density and layers of fruit and acidity, this wine is powerful and beautifully ripe. The wood aging is just a hint in background. Drink from 2024. Domaine Clarence Dillon. Cellar Selection.—Roger Voss
De Toren 2015 Book 17 XVII Red (Stellenbosch); $330, 96 points. This huge, dense and firmly structured bottling absolutely begs for time in the cellar to allow the primary characteristics to mellow and greater elegance and nuance to unfold. Currently, it’s an absolute bruiser, with boatloads of plush, ripe black berry and plum characteristics that are coupled with seductive notes of campfire, vanilla bean, Thin Mint, woodspice and licorice root. The assertive tannins produce a bold, extremely firm texture that is in equal measure to the superbly rich and concentrated fruit. Secondary notes of pencil shavings, violets, pipe tobacco and char unfold beneath the fruit, and suggest even further evolution and grace to come with time. Drink 2026–2038. Cape Classics. Cellar Selction.—L.B.
Louis Roederer 2008 Cristal Brut Rosé (Champagne); $600, 96 points. Interestingly released after the softer 2009 version of this wine, this 2008 vintage is beautifully balanced between crisp fruit and ripe maturity. With its red fruits still in place, it also has a toasty yeasty edge that is sophisticated and enticing. It is a superb wine, delicious to drink now although because of the quality of the vintage it will age for many more years, certainly into the 2020s. Maisons Marques & Domaines. Cellar Selection.—R.V.
Justin 2012 Eighty One Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles); $150, 95 points. Bold in ripeness yet layered and complex, this bottling shows plush blackberry, fresh raspberry, sugar plums, caramel-soaked coffee cake, light coconut and mint on the nose. The palate oozes with juicy flavors of black currant, coffee, cocoa nibs and roasted beef, set against a chalky but firm tannins frame and a buoyant acidity. Dried mint lifts the finish.—Matt Kettmann