Top 10 Wines Under $20 – The Reverse Wine Snob January 2012 Edition

[Update: Hit the links in the header for the latest Top 10 lists!]

It’s time for the next update of The Reverse Wine Snob Top 10 list! This update features five new wines. The 14 wines (thanks to a 5 way tie for the 10th spot) come from 7 different countries and include 9 reds, 2 whites, 2 rosé wines and 1 sparkling wine. I’ve also included 5 “Honorable Mention” wines that just barely missed Top 10 status. As always this list only includes those wines that are still widely available so be sure to check the full Wine Ranking for all the wines we’ve reviewed. Without further ado, here are my Top 10 wines under $20!


Lip Smackin’ Good

10) TIE 2010 Zonte’s Footstep Scarlet Ladybird Rosé
Amazingly delicious juicy strawberry flavor balanced with a spicy tannic finish – the best of both worlds! Made in Australia from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. A wine you’ll want to tell all your friends about as soon as you try it.

10) TIE 2009 Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Côtes du Rhône Rouge
An extremely drinkable blend of equal parts Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre from Côtes du Rhône, France. Not only is it available for as low as $9 at Costco, drinking this wine will help save the honey bees! One of the easiest civil service projects in which you will ever partake.

The Bee’s Knees

10) TIE 2009 Caligiore Reserve Malbec
This organic wine was the hit of the tasting party where we served it. Dense and meaty with berry, spice, vanilla and strong gripping tannins on the finish that are sure to please even the most serious red wine drinkers. A really big delicious Mendoza Malbec for only $15.

10) TIE 2010 Banfi Centine Rosé Toscana
A scrumptious blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Tuscany, Italy and available for around $10. Impress your friends at your next party with a rare rosé wine from Tuscany — just make sure you buy more than one bottle, you’ll need it.

Beautiful Bubbly

10) TIE Paul Cheneau Lady of Spain Cava Brut
My favorite from the recent Holiday Sparklers series on sparkling wine. Fresh, crisp and a bit creamy, this blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada sells for $10. Melon, banana, citrus and almond are just a few of the delicious flavors you’ll find when you pop the cork on this yummy and affordable sparkler.

9) 2009 Boschendal 1685 Shiraz
You may recognize Boschendal as the South African winery that produced my Chardonnay Showdown winner. It turns out they make quite a nice red wine too. This Shiraz has great structure with a great base of fruit flavor and layers of spice, vanilla, pepper and licorice but the best part is the explosion of spicy pepper on the fruity finish.

Fit For a Jedi

8) 2009 Famiglia Meschini Premium Malbec Syrah
A fabulous blend of 50% Malbec and 50% Syrah from Mendoza, Argentina. Rich and silky with dark berry flavors and a kick of spice at the end. Fantastic and only $10.

7) 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Pousseur Syrah
100% Syrah from California. Available for around $16. An aroma so big and so good it sucks you in like an irresistible force. Obi-Wan Kenobi approved.

6) 2010 Michael David Winery Incognito White
63% Viognier, 21% Chardonnay, 7% Muscat, 5% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Roussanne from California. Citrus, peaches, and honey flavors that last and last. This one was my first Bulk Buy on a white wine.

Get Frisky

5) 2009 Altovinum Calatayud Evodia Garnacha
A 100% Spanish Garnacha that is unbelievably complex at only $6.99. I believe this wine has been top 5 in every one of my top 10 lists. There are other wines on the list with a higher Taste rating but at $7 this wine is a revelation.

4) 2011 Frisk Prickly Riesling
89% Riesling and 11% Muscat Gordo from Australia. Delightfully fizzy, perfectly sweet and available for only $8. Try to stifle the gulping sounds as you quaff this one down.

Perfect with a pizza

3) 2010 Santa Julia [+] Malbec
100% Malbec deliciousness from Mendoza, Argentina. An incredibly long finish of blackberry and chocolate on this fruity and very tasty wine makes it an unbelievable deal at only $8. That means you can buy a case for less than $100! Lovely.

2) 2009 Tudal Family Winery Tractor Shed Red
A blend of Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc from California that can be found for as little as $7. Rich, succulent fruit + smooth well integrated tannins + delicious peppery spice = the number 2 spot on The Reverse Wine Snob Top 10 list.

1) 2008 Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous Les Jours Syrah
Still #1! 100% Syrah from the Central Cost of California. Dark berry flavors balanced with just the right amount of spice and a fantastic finish. A decadently good wine. Buy a case.

Once again, our top rated wine: Pure Lusciousness!

Honorable Mention:
2008 d’Arenberg The Love Grass Shiraz
85% Shiraz, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Viognier and 2% Tempranillo from McLaren Vale, Australia. Big. Fruity. Savory. Smooth. Spicy. Just a delicious blend. Bacon lover approved.

2010 Château Bonnet Entre-Deux-Mers White
50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon, and 10% Muscadelle from France and available for around $10. Drinking it made me crave a Neapolitan pizza. Very easy to drink; in fact, it got better and better with every sip.

2009 Domaine de la Renjarde Massif d’Uchaux Côtes du Rhône Villages
An excellent wine with silky black cherry and plum flavors. 65% Grenache Noir, 17% Syrah, 11% Cinsault, 4% Carignan and 4% Mourvedre from Rhône Valley, France. Available for $15.

2008 Penley Estate Condor Coonawarra Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon
This Australian blend of 80% Shiraz and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon offers rich and juicy blackberry flavors followed by some wonderfully spicy tannins. Fits the cold weather perfectly.

2009 Rosa d’Oro Muscat Canelli
100% Muscat from California. Sweet and smooth with great texture and a tropical fruit finish that just keeps on going.

Click through to the individual wines to find the full reviews including a link withlocal retailers who carry each wine. Cheers!

The top 10 list is subject to change at any time as new wines are reviewed and as vintages become unavailable, but it is typically updated every couple months. The Top 10 lists only include vintages that are currently available for sale (to the best of my knowledge) while the Interactive Wine Ranking includes all wines, including those that may no longer be available but might be in your cellar. Most of the wines on the list were samples received for review purposes, please click through the links to the full reviews for more details.

Other recent editions of the Top 10 Under $20 lists: