Top Budget Wines of the Year

Our Western Wine Awards judges tasted 500 wines to bring you the most extraordinary. At $15 and under, these winning bottles are sure please your palette and your pocketbook.

Whites: Winner
Gruet Nonvintage Blanc de Noir. Wild strawberries pop with rich, yeasty bubbles. (Lower Rio Grande New Mexico, $15)

Liberty School 2009 Chardonnay
Whites: Runner-up
Liberty School 2009 Chardonnay. Spicy apple and pear with a touch of pineapple and toasty brûlée balanced with bright acidity. (Central Coast, $12)

Clayhouse 2010
Whites: Runner-up
Clayhouse 2010 "Adobe Pink". Strawberry and raspberry spiked with citrus and minerality. (Central Coast, $15)

Project Paso 2009 Red Wine Blend
Reds: Winner
Project Paso 2009 Red Wine Blend. Plump cherries and strawberries are laced with chocolate in the Grenache blend. (Paso Robles; $14)

Hahn 2009 Syrah
Reds: Runner-up
Hahn 2009 Syrah. Intriguing herbs, black olives, and white pepper put this dark-berried Syrah on the wild side. (Central Coast; $12)

Waterbrook 2008 Merlot
Reds: Runner-up
Waterbrook 2008 Merlot. Brambly black currant and berries with a dusting of cocoa and cracked pepper. (Columbia Valley; $12)

Best good value wines of the year
Best wines of the year for connoisseurs
Best special occasion wines of the year
Best splurge-worthy wines of the year
The 2011 Western wine scene
Wine pairing guide