Top 10 Wines Under $20 – The Reverse Wine Snob March 2012 Update

[EDIT: Hit the links in the header for the latest versions of the Top 10 lists!]

It’s time for the next update of The Reverse Wine Snob Top 10 list! This update features 6 new wines and includes 8 reds and 4 whites. (A total of 12 wines thanks to the 3 way tie for the 10th spot.) In addition, we also have a new #1 wine now that the previous favorite, the 2008 Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous Les Jours Syrah is no longer available! 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!


Pinot what?


10) TIE 2009 Napa Cellars Merlot
100% Merlot from Napa Valley. Let the Pinot Noir snobs spend twice as much for a wine half as good while you enjoy this big, rich and fruity gem for $16.

10) TIE 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.

10) TIE 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Pousseur Syrah
100% Syrah from California. Available for around $16. My tasting notes on this one: “Wow, wow, wow, and WOW!” An aroma so big and so good it sucks you in like an irresistible force. Obi-Wan Kenobi approved.

Even Better Than Marlborough?


9) 2010 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc
Refreshing and delicious Sauvignon Blanc from Martinborough, New Zealand. And no, that’s not a typo. Tiny Martinborough accounts for only 1% of New Zealand’s wine production, but what a 1% it is.

8) 2008 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz
100% Shiraz from Barossa, Australia. Delightfully complex and silky smooth with delicious jammy fruit and the signature Shiraz spice. What more can you ask for only 10 bucks?

Eye Opening


7) 2009 Craggy Range Te Kahu Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Proprietary Red
80% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Malbec from New Zealand. This is one of those wines you just can’t stop thinking about after you try it. A revelation, really, that New Zealand offers a whole lot more than Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. I’d put this one even higher on the list if not for the $16 price tag (which is a steal by the way).

6) 2010 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump White McLaren Vale Adelaide Hills
28% Riesling, 27% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Marsanne and 20% Roussanne from McLaren Vale, Australia. An inviting bouquet of citrus zest and tropical fruit. Crisp, fresh and lively flavors of citrus, honey and almond. Just as good if not better than the celebrated Stump Jump Red. A perfect pairing for summer at only $9.

Going, going…


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. The 2009 vintage is just about gone so grab it while you can.

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. Stock up for summer.

Ahh, Argentina…
3) 2010 Santa Julia [+] Plus 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) 2010 Cecchetti Wine Company Redtree Moscato
100% Deliciously sweet Moscato from California. Peach, honey, vanilla and a few bubbles add up to an incredibly refreshing drink, sure to please your sweet tooth. And at only $5, meet your new summer sipper.

And the new #1 wine…
1) 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 1 spot on The Reverse Wine Snob Top 10 list.


The new Reverse Wine Snob #1

Honorable Mention:
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.

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.

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.

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.

Paul Cheneau Lady of Spain Cava Brut
My favorite from the 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.

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: