Finding impressive wines may not be challenging for the wealthy, but what about when affordability is an issue, as it is for most people? Below are several easy-to-use approaches for finding attractive wines at any price level, followed by a shopping list of impressive wines for $10 to $20.
Finding impressive wines
Go to wine-tastings. They are wonderful opportunities to taste many wines, especially when spitting rather than swallowing.
Ask at wine stores. State the price range, mention wines enjoyed in the past and ask for advice on what to purchase.
Try various grape varietals. High quality can be more affordable with whites such as Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as reds like Grenache, Malbec and Tempranillo. Also consider rosés.
Follow the advice of wine writers. National wine writers may be more renowned, but local wine writers tend to focus on wines more readily available to readers.
Impressive wines for $10 to $20
Gran Passione 2015 red blend “Rosso, Veneto, Italy” ($12): an amazing bargain resembling Amarone with a rich, bold, full-bodied, well-balanced palate and great length.
19 Crimes 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon “South Eastern Australia” ($12): quite a bargain with an impressive nose and strong, well-balanced, fruit-forward flavors.
19 Crimes 2015 red blend “South Eastern Australia” ($12): also very pleasing and a bit lighter than its sibling Cabernet listed above.
Josh 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “California” ($13): core of strong fruit with medium-soft tannins and impressive complexity, refinement and personality.
Dreaming Tree 2015 Sauvignon Blanc “Sonoma County” ($15): deliciously engaging with intriguing complexity that builds and carries throughout a long, satisfying finish.
Trivento 2013 Malbec-Bonarda-Syrah “Amado Sur, Mendoza, Argentina” ($15): impressive across the board with smooth fruit followed by long-persisting complexity.
North by Northwest 2013 red blend “Columbia Valley, Washington” ($15): attractive blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc excels, especially for the price.
Viña Zaco 2014 Tempranillo “Rioja” ($15): impressive all around, with beautiful color, strong fruit and complexity on both nose and palate. Arrives in Arizona soon.
Liberty School 2014 Merlot “Central Coast” ($16): no wimpy Merlot, this has character thanks to impressive strength, fruit, balance, body and medium-soft tannins.
Liberty School 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Paso Robles” ($16): excels with strong fruit, attractive refinement, and notable complexity for the price.
Marqués de Cáceres 2011 “Crianza, Rioja, Spain” ($16): strong personality with palate featuring full-bodied fruit, fine balance, impressive complexity and a long finish.
Wines of Substance 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon “Cs, Washington” ($17): a great bargain whose full-bodied palate features fine fruit, balance, complexity and refinement.
13 Celsius 2015 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough, New Zealand” ($17): big personality with strong palate featuring excellent balance, fruit, refinement and length.
Vietti 2013 “Tre Vigne, Barbera d’Asti, Italy” ($17): uniquely beautiful wine with full-body, strong fruit, and medium-soft tannins combining in a very long finish.
Balletto 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir “Russian River Valley” ($18): very refreshing with a fuller body than many rosés and very good complexity, fruit, refinement and length.
Wente 2015 Chardonnay “Morning Fog, Livermore Valley, San Francisco Bay ($18): strong fruit with light oak and impressive complexity, sophistication and finish.
Kim Crawford 2015 Sauvignon Blanc “Marlborough, New Zealand” ($18): excels with ripe fruit, vibrant acidity, very smooth texture and a lengthy finish.
Hecht & Bannier 2015 Rosé “Côtes de Provence, France” ($18): beautifully refined nose with an impressive palate overflowing with personality that lingers on the finish.
Pike Road 2014 Pinot Noir “Willamette Valley” ($19): beautiful hue, complex nose and a medium-dry palate featuring fruit and surprising complexity for its modest price.
Viña Equía 2009 “Reserva, Rioja, Spain” ($19): fine balance, exceptional fruit, medium-soft tannins, great power and wonderful length. Available only online.
Meiomi 2014 Chardonnay “Monterey, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara Counties” ($20): deep-yellow with fruit-dominated flavors, full body, excellent balance and great length.
Tenshən 2015 white blend “Central Coast” ($20): Rhône-style blend with great personality, beautiful color, delicious fruit, impressive refinement and a long finish.
Z. Alexander Brown 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon “Uncaged, North Coast” ($20): Zac Brown’s wine excels with its complex nose, beautiful fruit, full body and expressive finish.