This month I will delve into the concept of ‘QPR’ or Quality-Price ratio. This is a fairly common term used in wine circles that identify wines that have a great price compared with wines of a similar quality within the same varietal (grape) type. In order to be considered as having a high ‘QPR’ a particular wine has to be well balanced, flavor-filled, representative of its varietal or blend and be a solid value.
High ‘QPR’ wines should not be automatically equated with inexpensive wines. There are plenty of cheap wines that you will find on the bottom shelves at our local supermarkets at aren’t worth the few bucks that you would pay for them. At the same time a Grand Cru Burgundy or Napa cult cabernet, while usually quite delicious and of the highest quality are not typically considered great values. Simply put: high ‘QPR’ wines are over performers for their price point.
My experience is that the relationship between the price paid for a bottle of wine and its relative value can be best expressed as a curve on a graph that flattens out as it rises. The largest benefits generally occur in the first $30 spent, after which the gains in quality per dollar spent starts to diminish. For example: Buying a bottle of very good wine at $20 vs. spending $100 for a different, high quality wine. Both wines may be well balanced and flavor filled, but the real question is whether the $100 bottle is five times better? In many instances that is not the case.
There are a number of strategies one can use to discover high ‘QPR’ wines. As I mentioned in my January article, seek out wine from ‘value wine regions’ such as Spain; Argentina; South Africa; the Loire Valley and Languedoc regions of France. Second, identify wine companies known for routinely producing high quality, value priced wines, such as Bogle; Kendall Jackson; McManis and Charles Smith. Third, take a look at the annual ‘Best Buy’ list from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. These lists contain what the editors feel are the top 100 value wines of the year and can be found both in print and online. The descriptions for each wine will give you a sense if the product fits your style. Often the challenge will be locating many of these wines in what can be a difficult retail market here in Tucson. Finally, be willing to try unfamiliar varietals. Rather than sticking with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, branch out to Grenache, Mourvedre or Tempranillo. Getting fatigued with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc? If so, there are wonderful, well made and inexpensive Albariños, Torrontes and Chenin Blancs.
Remember, high ‘QPR’ wine aren’t necessarily inexpensive; rather they provide you with the biggest bang for your buck at a particular price point. I’ve listed a few of my favorite over performers that are usually available in the Tucson retail market:
DeLille Cellars D2: This Washington State red that is crafted in the style of a right bank Bordeaux blend and contains 58% Merlot, 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. It has great structure with wonderfully complex aromas and flavors. ($39 – Total Wine)
Andrew Murray, Tous Les Jours Syrah: One of the best Syrah’s for the money hands down, showing incredible depth for a wine under twenty dollars. ($18 – Plaza Liquors)
Villa Antinori Rosso Toscana: This wine is Marchesi Antinori’s entry level Super Tuscan; a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese and Petit Verdot. A medium-bodied Italian red that drinks well over its price point. ($14 – Costco, also widely available elsewhere)
D'Arenberg ‘The Hermit Crab’: An Australian producer, known more for their robust Shiraz, Cab’s and Grenache; this white wine is a blend of Viognier and Marsanne. It is aromatic, with stone fruit and citrus notes and a great mouthfeel. ($11 - Costco)
Spier Chenin Blanc: An exceptional value from South Africa, this white is crisp and clean with tropical and stone fruit flavors. If you only pick up one bottle you’ll regret it. ($9 – Total Wine)
Tom Oetinger holds an advanced certification in wine & spirits from the WSET in London, England and is available to answer your wine questions at email@example.com