Top 20 under $20
Now for the long awaited list – enjoy! Retail prices may vary by store a tiny bit…print this off and keep with you at all shopping times!
1. $15.50 La Posta Bonarda – an Argentine sizzler, if you prefer BIG reds from Italy or California Zins this one is a must. The flavor of freshly-crushed raspberries is echoed on the palate, along with notes of white pepper, dark chocolate, and a touch of oak.
2. $19.99 Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet – from the Pellegrini Family of Sonoma, this killer cabernet just beat out 2001 Silver Oak Alexander Valley in a blind tasting in North Texas. If you are a BBQ griller or live with one – keep a case of this around!
3. $17.99 Teira Zinfandel – aromas of dark berry fruit on the nose: blueberry, blackberry and cherry. On the palate, the wine leads with round, rich flavors balanced with natural acidity and California Zin structure. What a MOUTHFULL!
4. $16.99 Mapema Tempranillo – no doubt this Argentine red will become your favorite Tempranillo from ANY region. Intense fruit character, with deep color and flavors of ripe black cherries and black raspberries. The wine finishes with captivating hints of cardamom and allspice.
5. $19.99 BenMarco Cabernet - Beautiful deep purple color with perfumed aromas of ripe black cherries and roasted cocoa beans. This wine is full-bodied and incredibly lush for a young Cabernet. It explodes on the palate with red and black fruits, then shows baking spices on its way to a mouthwatering finish. In the Argentine section.
6. $9.99 Loica Carmenère - This is a great representation of Carmenère - a grape that only grows in Chile. This is a voluptuous, full-bodied wine rich with flavors of dark cherries, black-currant, chocolate and cedar. The velvety finish lingers on the palate and is perfect with grilled meats, pasta and cheeses. A crowd favorite always!!!
7. $9.99 Budini Malbec – I’m far from a cat person but love this simple red! Easy drinking fruity Malbec made in Mendoza. Look for the black label and yellow cat! WOOF!
8. $14.50 Crios de Susana Balbo Syrah-Bonarda - A few facts…Syrah is the well-known grape of France’s Rhone Valley and Australia’s Shiraz. Not well-known outside Argentina, Bonarda is surprisingly second only to Malbec in red grape plantings. Its origins are in Italy’s Piedmont region where it represented 30% of all pre-phylloxera plantings. In Mendoza, yields can reach 12 tons per acre (though with little flavor concentration). The key to producing great Bonarda is finding very old vines growing in the warm, sandy soils of eastern Mendoza, then limiting vigor through severe pruning and irrigation techniques. Luckily, Susana’s husband, Pedro, owns and manages such a vineyard.
9. $19.99 Cloverdale Ranch Merlot – another keeper from the Pellegrini Family. Nevermind the Sideways Pinot Noir Phenomenon. One sip of this Merlot will make you a fan for life! The 2002 Merlot is so delicious, but far from being simple tasting, offering chocolate notes along with ripe red fruit and a touch of coffee on the long finish.
10. $14.99 La Posta Malbec – “Berry Pie”, Vibrant red color with aromas of red cherries, raspberries, and blueberries wafting from the glass along with notes of caramel from the oak. On the palate, the fresh berry flavors mingle with spice notes in the finish. This is a medium-bodied and well-structured wine that is incredibly full of life. Goes great with everything from hamburgers and chicken to pasta and mild cheeses.
11. $16.99 Fontaine Rosé - a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (41%), Shiraz (34%) and Merlot (25%) – all grown in the heart of the Yarra Valley in Australia. The palate is filled with elusive flavors of strawberry, raspberry and guava, with a dry, almost savoury finish. Only 56 cases imported to the U.S.
12. $10.99 Crios de Susana Balbo Rosé of Malbec - this one was made for those who think they don’t like “pink” wine. Far from sweet but plenty of ripe and spicy berry in flavor. This is my favorite with King Ranch Casserole!
13. $14.50 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes - not for Chardonnay lovers. Fruity, floral and yet still quite dry, this wine has to be tasted to be believed. Best enjoyed in its youth either by itself, or as a wonderful partner with smoked meats, mild to medium-strong cheeses, and seafood. Keep one in the fridge at all times!
14. $9.99 Loica Sauvignon Blanc - 36-year old vines from "El Semillero" Vineyard (100% Certified Organic by IMO Suiza) vineyard 5 miles from Curicó. Crisp and refreshing with hints of pineapple and honeydew melon.
15. $15.99 Handley Gewürztraminer - Delicately perfumed with rose, orange blossoms, and sun-warmed melon, this wine fills the mouth with flavors of citrus and spice. The 2004 Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer is very versatile at the modern American table, with its many influences from all over the world. Lip-smacking good!!
16. $18.99 Olivet Lane Chardonnay – I still can’t believe this bottle doesn’t cost me at least $50 bucks! This Chardonnay is so elegantly balanced with gorgeous fruit and lightly toasted flavors. A tremendous value from the Pellegrini folks!
17. $18.99 Handley Anderson Valley Chardonnay - This wine starts with a subtle vanilla kiss. It is reminiscent of ripe pears and apples right out of a sunlit orchard, with faint floral accents. With incredible length and nice acidity, the 2002 Estate Chardonnay is lovely with cream soups and complex pasta dishes.
18. $14.99 Pellegrini Unoaked Chardonnay – not very many “unoaked” chardonnays can be found these days. This chard has great citrus notes and a hint of spice on the finish. Perfect with Sunday brunch or kicking back during a fall evening!
19. $19.99 Dominique Portet Sauvignon Blanc – “Class in a Glass”. Portet’s Bordeaux heritage stands out in this beauty of a wine! Elegant and soft in style, sooo good on it’s own or paired with light salads and fish.
20. $19.99 Tozai Voices in the Mist Sake – Never tried a chilled sake? Well, here is the one to start with for sure! The aromas practically jump out of the glass: freshly-cut flowers, anise, pear, and a touch of pleasant earthiness. On the palate, it has solid weight and flavors of pear, fresh white rice, a pastis-like licorice flavor, and a clean finish not often found in nigori sake. Makes you want to come back for another sip.
Most wines (and sake) are available statewide at your favorite wine retailer and fine-wine loving restaurants throughout Texas! Just ask…
Cheers – Ali