Regular readers of my blog know I tend not to gravitate to cheap wines....some would go so far as to call me a "wine snob". I can live with that, it's probably accurate, but I cringe when someone suggests I go out of my way to buy expensive wine. I want GOOD wine. You think I ENJOY spending big bucks on wine? You think I wouldn't love to buy a $9 box of Hochtaler and go to town? Or a case of Apothic? Unfortunately that stuff is crap. Crap with a capital KRAAAAAAAAAAP.
But there are good wines out there at a reasonable price, if you search hard enough. Here are nine of my favorites. I've tried to stick mostly to current or recent vintages so you might actually be able to find some of these in local stores.
Church & State 2012 TreBella Red ($19.99)
The first ever-vintage of this red Meritage and they nailed it right out of the gate. Aromas of black cherry and black currant waft over the nose. Black fruits dominate the palate with just a touch of chocolate on the finish. For a first try, TreBella Red is exceptional. 90.
Columbia Crest Grand Estates 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99)
An absolute steal at this price point. Immediately jumps to the top of my "cheap wines" list. Big red fruits on the nose and palate, with some coffee, chocolate and vanilla as well. Drinks beautifully but not a traditionally Cab Sauv; almost seems like there should be some Merlot and/or Syrah in there, which there isn't. 89.
Pine Ridge 2013 Chenin Blanc/Viognier ($18.99) 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viognier. What a truly unique blend. Notes of melon, lemon and honey on the nose, with some papaya and a hint of grapefruit on the palate. Subtle sweetness and crisp acidity. Lovely, a real bargain at this price. 89.
***This one was $18.99 in Napa; I've recently found it in local stores and it's $26.99, so it is really only on this list on a technicality. Still, even at $27, it's worth the money.
Quails' Gate 2013 Gewurztraminer ($17.99)
I think I've mentioned this before, this wine was "the one" to get me into wine. Subtle notes of rose petals and lychee on the nose. Slight hint of spice on the mid-palate, giving way to a smooth and off-dry finish. 89.
Cedarcreek 2013 Riesling ($17.95)
At only 9.9% alcohol, it's a sure thing you'll want to enjoy two bottles. Maybe three. Slate and fruit on the nose and palate. Citrus joins in on the palate leading to a smooth finish. Beauty. 91.
2011 Quinta Ferreira Viognier ($19.90) Tropical fruits, peach, coconut and a touch of vanilla on the nose and the palate. Pineapple all over the palate as well. Delicately balanced with a finish that is both smooth and spicy. Brilliant. 90.
Renwood 2011 Zinfandel ($17.95)
Excellent complexity on this wine; lots of things going on. Notes of plum and berries, with the jammy feel you often get with Zinfandel, but not overly so. Finishes very smooth and the tannins have softened nicely, this is ready to go right now. Very yummy. 86.
Wolf Blass 2012 Red Label Shiraz/Cabernet ($18.99) The 2011 vintage was recently listed on Natalie McLean's list of the 20 best wines under $20, and I can attest this vintage is just as good. Medium bodied and luscious; berries on the nose and in the glass. The Shiraz adds just a touch of spice to the finish. Pairs great with any big red meat. 87.
Cedarcreek 2010 Cabernet Merlot ($19.95) Cherries and berries galore on the nose and palate. 21% Cabernet Franc brings just a touch of sweetness and mint to the table. Plums shine through on the palate as well. Juicy and terrific. 86.