The NJ Star Ledger has an interview with Howard Kaplan, founder of Executive Wine Seminars and one of the world's foremost wine authorities. The interview covers many topics, and although he is often awash in the really good juice he offered the following suggestions for inexpensive daily wines:
My current favorite inexpensive red wines are 2001 Wynn's Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra, Australia) and 2001 Sierra Cantabria Crianza (Rioja, Spain). As to whites, there is a plethora of inexpensive -- under $15 -- German Kabinett rieslings from 2001, 2002 and 2003 that are phenomenal, low-alcohol wines, ideal for summer drinking. Also, 2004 Twin Islands Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand) is a cut above in quality and a cut below in price.
He also defended French wine from the global bad press it has experienced of late:
French wine was -- and still is -- the benchmark for the world, the standard-bearer of excellence to which all others are compared. In fact, the quality of French wines today is much higher than it was when I first started to drink wine.