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Holiday Reds

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Too often, the holiday season can be a budget buster. It's easy to let things get out of hand when the spirit of giving takes hold. And when you're entertaining friends and family, you don't want to look or be cheap. The good news is that when it comes to wine, there are plenty of great bottles priced significantly under $10. This year's lineup of bargain-priced holiday reds is our best ever. You can serve any one of the panel's top picks with complete confidence.

2006 Borsoa, $6.99

This fruit-forward blend of garnache and tempranillo hails from the Campo de Borja region of northeastern Spain. Bright cherry aromas highlight the nose, along with subtle hints of herb and spice. The palate is dominated by fresh red berry flavors that give way to racy bing cherry and a nice hit of acidity to help complement pairing with food. This is a fun and fruity charmer at a bargain-basement price.

2005 Covitoro Cermeno, $8.99

An exceptional buy from the Toro region of Spain, this tempranillo-based wine offers deep aromas of dried fruit backed by light cedar, spice and dark cherry, along with a nice earthiness. The operative words here flavor-wise are silky smooth, with layers of rich berry fruit, creamy mocha and a pleasant touch of cedar. Light tannins come through on the finish, adding body to this appealing red.

2006 Les Heretiques, $7.99

This blend of carignan (70-year-old vines) and syrah from the Languedoc region of France is a big, thick red that coats the glass and caresses the palate. The name marks the 1208 massacre of the Cathars, a Christian sect long persecuted as heretics by the Catholic church. The wine opens with aromas that are light and lively, marked by soft berry and spice. The flavors are an explosion of ripe blackberry fruit with ripe tannins and touches of herb, spice and anise. Another great buy and a perfect pick for the holidays.

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