France may have a great reputation for wine but they certainly have a lot of competition anymore. It's really surprising the quality South American and Spanish wines that are available. Since most people don't look to these regions for the creme de la creme, the prices are very reasonable. The flavors tend to be strong and slightly spicy, although generalizations about a whole region are full of exceptions.
Forbes recently ran an article about Malbec, an exceptional Argentinian varietal. Take a look.
Examiner.com even asked Is Malbec the new Bordeaux? This may be an exaggeration, but South American wine seems to be in the lead in the less-than-$20 price range, at least for me.