Villacezan Albarín 2011, Tierra de León, Spain. $8.99
Not to be confused with albariño (though everyone understandably will), albarín is a different Spanish grape, most often grown around the city of Leon. It tastes like a cross between aromatic, full-bodied gewürztraminer and the fresh, tangy acidity of albariño. Amazing value that pairs with grilled seafood and shellfish.
Pla del la Creu Blanc 2008, Penedes, Spain. $9.99
Xarel.lo, with it's weird Basque spelling, is best known as a grape used to make cava. Here it's a nonsparkling table wine. Very intense and ripe, with banana-bread aromas and a hint of smoke, but its slight acidity keeps things fresh. Strange wine but enjoyable — the very definition of "esoteric."
Evolocio Love Over Money Furmint 2011, Tokaj, Hungary. $9.99
The furmint grape is traditionally used in the famed Tokaji sweet wines, but the Hungarians have recently been bottling it in dry table wines. Full-bodied, with lots of green apple and apricot and nice minerality on the finish.
Buchegger Zweigelt 2008, Lower Austria. $12.99
Austria's whites, like grüner veltliner, have gained wide popularity, but you cannot go wrong with the country's light-bodied reds like this one. This wine looks and tastes "purple." Juicy, with lots of berry and plum notes.
Viña Eguia Reserva 2007, Rioja Spain. $9.99
Wines from Rioja, made from tempranillo, are not rare. However, a good reserva at under $10 is so rare, it might as well be a snow leopard. Spends 24 months in French and American oak, but there is still freshness and complexity. Nose of spice, vanilla and anise. Warm and rich in the mouth with a long finish. Drink with a steak from the grill.
Jean-Francois Mérieau Le Bois Jacou Gamay 2009, Touraine, France. $14.99
Once you get past the impossibly Frenchie name, you'll find your new favorite red for summer patio dining. Gamay, the light-bodied grape used here, is best know in Beaujolais. Here, there is something dark and rich — almost meaty — at work, with a balance of acidity and minerality you'd usually find in much more expensive wines.
Argiolas Perdera Isola dei Nuraghi 2009, Sardinia, Italy. $14.99
Do you know monica? You should: She's a grape grown on the island of Sardinia. This one is earthy, with dried flowers and leather on the nose. But there's also a freshness, with juicy acidity on the palate and just enough tannins to let you know you're drinking a wine that doesn't mess around. Unbelievable value.
— Jason Wilson