There are so many terrific (and relatively inexpensive) wines in the world today that thereís absolutely no reason to drink plonk. For me itís not so much the vintage or varietal, itís the producer and terroir (all other things being equal). A competent producer makes very good wine even in off years by routinely declassifying the inferior fruit. While in no way is this a comprehensive list, these are among my favorite (affordable) wines by region:
From Australia (Barrosa and McLaren Vale), my favorite 3 producers are Mitolo, Torbreck, and Yalumba.
From California, my favorite 3 producers are Todd Anderson (St. Helena), David Ramey, and Helen Turley.
From France, my favorite 3 producers are Chateau Lascombes (Margaux), Chateau Quinault L'Enclos (St. Emilion), and Chateau Saint Pierre (St. Julien).
From Germany (Mosel-Saar-Ruhr), my favorite 3 producers are Dr. Loosen, J.J. Prum, and Selbach Oster.
From Italy (Piedmont), my favorite 3 producers are Domenico Clerico, Bruno Giacosa - the Professor of Nebbiolo (for very special occasions), and Luigi Pira. I especially enjoy single vineyard Barbarescos from the Rabaja region of Piedmont. These are my favorite table wines overall.
2007 BMW 335i Sedan, 6MT, ZSP
2004 BMW M3 Coupe, 6MT