Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Wine Minx's TOP 20 UNDER $20 for 2017!! (Okay, TOP 30. You deserve it.)

Wineaux, I have heard lamentations from across the globe that there was no 2016 version of this, my most popular post. While most of the time I can reconcile the performing career with the wine career, when gainfully employed on a world tour of a Broadway show, some things do fall through the cracks. Mea culpa. But that only means there are EVEN BETTER finds this year, and I'm rewarding your patience by adding 50% more wines to the list! So without further ado, in no particular order, here are my favorite bangs-for-the-buck from the last 365 days:


2014 Domaine Barmès-Buecher Cremant d'Alsace Brut Nature, Alsace, France
Creamy, intense fruit, exceedingly well-balanced; a truly wonderful sparkler for the price. I could sip on this all day long. ~$19

NV Castellroig Rosato Cava, Spain
Pleasant funk, tasty berries, clean, very nice. (We used it for "Broadway Buzzed" EP 5 and became obsessed with this wine.) Multi-dimensional, elegant and rich. ~$18


2014 Yves Duport Fleur du Chardonnay, Bugey, France
Vibrant nose of straw, earth, lemons, white florals and white pepper. Ginger, pear, honey in the mouth, well-balanced, interesting and yummy! ~$14

2016 Serpens Estate Tokaj Dry, Hungary
A new estate, founded 2015 (so may be tough to find!) Florals, wet concrete, pretty rich in fruit, high acid, minerally, super tasty. Little phenolic bitterness on long, sassy finish. ~$15

2014 Merwida Chardonnay South Africa
Almost neon yellow color. Lemon, straw, and florals on the nose. With an odd but intriguing whiff of coffee grounds (perhaps a S. African typicality?) Butterscotch. Bright and rich at the same time. Long finish. Cheeky. ~$13

2014 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay, CA
Fancy label script and thicker glass announce a higher-end J. Lohr Chard, and this has more floral notes, a softer acidity, great baking spice notes from the oak, and is viscous but not heavy-handed. ~$19

2016 Domaine Jacky Marteau "Lulu" Touraine, France
Kimmeridgian clay soil. Tropical fruit nose, with expected Sauvignon Blanc notes of gooseberry and grass, quite lip-smacking. High, integrated acidity. Sour citrus on finish. Yum. ~$14 

2014 Broadside Wild Ferment Chardonnay, CA
Bruised yellow apple, peach, baking spices, and butter on the nose. Surprisingly fresh and fruity on the palate, with tangerine, lilac, peach, apricot, and honey rounding out the finish. ~$16

2015 Tenuta Rapitala Piano Maltese Bianco, Sicily
I have so rarely met a Sicilian wine I didn't like! This is a blend of indigenous and international varieties. Creamy, floral, Fuji apple, spice. Full-bodied but an easy sipper. Soft acid, long finish. ~$15

2015 Milbrandt Vineyards Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, WA
Spice, yellow flowers, SweeTart candy on the nose. Smooth, butterscotch, some noticeable oak, but integrated. Big, but not overbearing, long finish. ~$14.

Ca Maiol Lugana Molin DOC, Lombardy, Italy
100% Turbiana (Trebbiano.) Great nose of melon, marzipan, peach, shortbread. Super tasty! Flirty and friendly. Good weight, long acidic finish. ~$18

NV Nobilis Vinho Verde, Portugal
Lightly effervescent, lime and pear on the nose, light but refreshing crowd-pleaser, excellent summer quaffer. One of my fave VVs. ~$9

2015 Charles Gonnet Chignin Savoie, France
Spicy lemon and chives on the nose, white pepper, lemon rind, parsley. Good acidity but smooth on the palate, nice balance of weight and flavors; not too heavy, not too light. ~$15

2015 Carol Shelton Wild Thing Chardonnay, Sonoma
Melon, lemon, kumquat, nice spice - delish! Warm, good fruit, balanced acidity. ~$18

2015 Marc Pesnot La Bohème Melon de Bourgogne, France
Natural fermentation lends a bit of funk to the complex nose, with rich florals, lemon peel, and sourdough flavors, and good acidity. Captivating and unusual. ~$19

2016 Beaumont Chenin Blanc W.O Bot River, South Africa
Loving modern S. A. Chenins these days. This one has spice, green herbs, lemon zest, bit of yellow apple warmth. Very light and zingy. Tart lemon. Lite pineapple. Nice spice in mouth. Integrated acidity. Tasty! Great summer sipper. ~$15


2016 Château Barbanau La Girafe Verte Rosé, Provence, France
A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. Very pale onion skin color. Great herbs on nose; tarragon, basil, menthol. Nice fruit, cheeky. ~$18 

2016 Kelby James Russell Rosé, Finger Lakes, NY
Made from Cabernet Franc, so bright red. Nice raspberry expression, with plum, and "spice rack dust," this is super tasty. (Don't turn your nose up at its intensity!) ~$17

2016 Broccardo Langhe Nebbiolo Rosé, Italy
Slightly smoky, tanninc, savory, (a "masculine" rosé,) with notes of Rome apple, cherry cola, overall very pungent and delish. ~$18

2016 Marquis de Goulaine Rosé d'Anjou, Loire, France
Very pale pink, lots of strawberry, scrumptious, herby, fruity, light sipper, very nice. ~$13


2012 Trefethen Double T, Red Blend, CA
Amazing nose of cassis, blackberry liqueur, blueberries, bit of smoke, and cedar. Continues in the mouth with tart, sweet tobacco, lil' green pepper, weighty but tangy. Outrageously pedigreed but quaffable! ~$18

2013 Predator Cabernet Sauvignon, CA
Dark berry fruit nose, rich and very MOCHA-y. Hints of pine and good acidity balances it. Like a dark chocolate/berry pie? Rich, flavorful and lovely. SOOOO much going on for only ~$15.

2015 Grayson Cellars Pinot Noir, CA
Smoky and spicy nose. Tasty! Black cherry, pepper, well-balanced with good acidity and weight, and a lip-smacking finish. ~$15.

2014 Camp Cab Franc, Sonoma, CA
Notes of blueberry, mocha coffee, clove spice, and blackberries. Delish Cab Franc with good, balanced acidity. ~$18.

2013 Vega Montan Mencia Bierzo DO, Spain
After getting acquainted with Mencias a few years ago, I snap them up when I can find them! Nearly opaque bricky-purple but lightened by refreshing acidity. Delicious red and purple fruit tang, velvety finish, violet florals, layer of herbs. Yummers. $15.

2012 Pasquale Pelissero Freisa “La Ferma,” DOC, Langhe, Italy
Nose of wet leaves, florals, dried spices. Super structured, had to double decant! But elegant Old World red, definitely tastes like it costs far more. Like a love child of Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir. ~$15

2015 Calaña Red Blend Jumilla, Spain
Smoky, robust black cherry and blueberry fruit. Nice acidity, little chalky, soft tannins. Great length. Some graphite, dark chocolate, raspberry liqueur. Just yummers. ~$12

2012 Ch. de Jonquieres Cuveé Eole Grande Réserve, France
Opaque purple-ruby. Blue and black fruits. Violets. Velvety and heady. Some smoked meats. Dark and rich fruit but smooooth finish, excellently balanced acidity keeps it from overwhelming. Chalk and lavender on the finish. ~$18

2012 Bairaktaris Monolithos Nemea, Greece
Old vine Agiorgitiko. Cab-like nose, cassis. Wow - black cherry, berry, herbs, baker's chocolate, great character, complex and well-structured. Amazing! ~$16 (If you can't find the '12, there are more recent vintages available.)

2015 Cesari Mara Valpolicella Ripasso DOC, Italy
Sexy nose. Spice, herbs, florals, fresh cherries. Sweet tannins. Delish! Approachable. Yummy. Big but so lovely! Clean and fresh style - not what I expected from a ripasso style. (And as most are $25-40, so this is a steal at) ~$20.  

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Still with me? Great job, Wineaux! I admit that some of these wines will be hard to find, and many aren't even available in all markets. But take this list to your purveyors, and see if they can find something that wets your whistle. And when you do, be sure to comment below with your own finds! 

As always, drink well. Cheers.