Sunday, December 16, 2012

TOP 20 UNDER $20 of 2012!!

This is it!  The post you've all been anxiously waiting for!  My annual list of amazing and AFFORDABLE wines is finally here.

I made the list actually 21 this year, since one of my faves might not yet be available in the U.S.  But we get new imports all the time, and it's reallllly good, so I had to include it.  In 2012, it seems as if Spain and Italy (and Washington State!) were the places to go for value finds.  Also I came across a lot of rosés that were outstanding values.  (If you’re not a big rosé drinker, it’s definitely time to start experimenting!  Do not unfairly judge the PINK.)  And my two TOP PICKS were both from Portugal, where I’ve long tried to steer Wineaux to find amazing wines at great values.  I tasted hundreds of different wines this year, always looking for the best bangs for the buck… and here they are.  There’s a little something for everyone, including some slightly more unusual finds.  You know I like “weird” wines, and some of these really show how enjoyable oddballs can be!  Cheers.


2011 Domaine de Belle Vue Sauvignon Gris, Loire, France $14 – Sauv Gris is a Sauv Blanc cousin from the Loire. Gorgeous balance of round mouthfeel and high citrusy acidity.   Pear and lemongrass on nose, minerally with white peach/tangerine in mouth and a grassy finish.  Clean but warm.  Sounds schitzo but isn't!
It sure LOOKS like a European label, doesn't it?
These guys are a little whimsical.
And cheeky.

2011 Independent Producers Dionysus Vineyard Chardonnay, Washington State $14 - Rich & viscous US Chard with no oak but lots of oomph.  Loads of spice and minerality balance the pear and stone fruit flavors.  Very long finish. >>

2010 La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanca, Viñas del Vero, DO Somontano, Spain $15 - Heady nose of florals and peachy nectar.  Perfectly balanced acidity.  Rich but clean and food friendly.  Loads of fruit and florals.  Yum.

2010 Jed Steele Shooting Star Aligoté, Washington State $16 - Aligoté is the oft-overshadowed second white grape of Burgundy – this one hails from Washington state and is appley/citrusy with a smooooth finish, unusual and verrrry yummy.


2011 Viñaluz Rosado, Bodegas Real, Spain $3 - Yes, three dollars.  Granted, I got it on sale (down from a whopping $7,) but either way, this wine is a stupid-crazy value. Bright, rich, great berry/cherry notes, lip-smacking.

NV Dürnberg Brut Sparkling Rosé, Austria $10 - You know I love sparklers. This is made from the red Zwigelt Austrian grape, and is floral and lightly fruity but dry dry dry.  Great for a party! 

2011 Ontañón Vetiver Rosado DOCa Rioja, Spain $12 - Bright pink.  Earth, minerals and strawberry on the nose.  Chewy fruit, not "too sweet" seeming.  Balanced with herby elements and good acidity.  Very nice.

<< 2011 Heredade do Esporão, Defesa Rosé, Portugal $13 – A lot of depth of flavor.  Minerality, berries, a bit of meatiness…  Just fantastic!  It quenches your thirst and yet you race back to the bottle - so satisfying, I could drink it all day.  TOP PICK.
2011 Wolffer Rosé $15 from Long Island, NY  Pale salmon pink, with underripe strawberry, minerality, salinity.  Very scrumptious for such a light wine.  Good acidity with florals, bitter herbs, minerals, tart cherries.  Dependable and food-friendly. >>


2010 Bodegas Real "Nazares" Tempranillo, Spain $6 – The quality of entry level Tempranillos can be tough to navigate; this one is absolutely yummy – especially at this price!  Crafted in a more youthful style for drinking now, it has soft and round berry salad flavors.

2011 Cantina Vallebelbo Sparkling Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG, Italy $12 - light rose and berries with a SLIGHT sweetness, gorgeous balance of herbs and fruit and freshness.  Party wine, easy quaffer, fun and flirty.  Might not yet be available in the US.  (I’m working on it!)

<< 2011 Edgebaston The Pepper Pot, South Africa $13 – A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache, Tannat, AND Viognier, this inky red is rich and spicy with loads of pepper and dark fruits.  Structured, but smooooth – and, dare I say, sexy?!  Pretty heavy-duty but not overpowering, and a bit unusual.

2009 Cortes de Cima Red, Portugal $15 – Dark fruits, good integrated tannins, rich and full but velvety.  Very nice - this is so huge, it cries out for food!  This blend of Syrah, Aragonez (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouschet is a great value.  TOP PICK.

2007 Martínez Lacuesta Crianza DOCa Rioja, Spain $16 - Spicy!  Smoky, good fruit, meaty with lush ripe cherry.  Good balance of fruit and earthier elements, and a nice finish.  
Sorry about the candle wax - I had this on hand
when the lights went out during Hurricane Sandy.

2010 Montalbera Grignolino d'Asti, Italy $17 - Unusual color, pale orangey/brick-y.  Cherry cola nose, wonderfully strange!  Light but complex flavors of black cherry, some herbs and a bit peppery.  Good acid and yet smooth.  So interesting and unusual - Pinot Noir fans must try! >>

<< 2008 Weinhof Scheu Pinot Noir, Germany $17 – Riesling is the star in Germany, but this Pinot is a lovely find.  Incredibly light seeming but with a strong presence of cherry, earth, pepper and tea rose floral notes.

2011 Conti di Buscareto Lacrima di Morro D'Alba, Italy $18 - Not the Alba in Piedmont, but in Marche.  Dark bright magenta.  Florals - lavender, roses!  Very smooth, super light acidity, hint of supple tannins.  Violets and dark cherries in mouth.  Kind of like a Beaujolais Gamay... but not at all like it too!

2010 Mas des Chimères Oeillade Languedoc, France $19 - A meaty earthiness with dusty spice on the nose, this 100% Grenache has dark berries, minerals, a hint of charcoal, rose, smoked meat and herbs.  Medium-bodied, but spicy richness and long length in the mouth.  Bring on the funk.

The Barbera on this list is on the left.
Alas the Barbera on the right is NOT under $20. 
2010 Qupé Syrah Central Coast, California $19 - Very herbalicious!  Lots of rosemary, light, yet very well-structured.  It's hard to find a “Rhône Ranger” Syrah with this much personality at this price point.

2009 Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne, Italy $19 - CHERRY! Black cherry liqueur, herbs and cola.  Very perfumey in mouth, bright crunchy forward fruit.  Good tart acidity but smooth finish.  Somewhat of a masculine style from vineyards abutting legendary Barolo. >>

Well, Wineaux, there you have it.  Please let me know if you try any of these amazing finds!  And always let me know if you come across some superb under-$20 values yourself... everyone's wallet will thank you.