Top 20 Wines for Under $20: Winter Edition

The Wine Girl

Customers ask me all the time what regions offer the best values in wine. It’s an easy answer: cheap (and delicious) wines are produced all over the planet. Old and New World regions can offer terrific value if you know where to look. A wine sales associate can help navigate the many options.

At Schneider’s we strive to provide interesting wines of impeccable quality at the lowest prices. We look to Old World regions like Italy, France, and Spain that offer diversity from esoteric and indigenous grape varieties. These lesser known wines are often inexpensive yet delicious. California producers usually focus more on the major international varieties like pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and chardonnay, which tend to be more expensive. 

It’s also important to be open to suggestions. If you haven’t heard of the grape or region, that does not mean that it’s sub-par. Hidden gems can offer the best value for your wine budget. Above all, you don’t merely want your wine to be drinkable, you want it to be exciting and wonderful. This requires more time and expertise for the vinification and farming processes, driving the prices up. We invite you to stop by the store and ask a wine expert about the outstanding options in the $20+ range as well.

Here are our selections for the 20 best wines under $20 suitable for winter-weather drinking. They have richness, fullness, and complexity to beat the cold weather outside. Ideal for sipping under a blanket by the fire, these gems will also stand up to hearty winter dishes.

 

Outstanding Whites under $20

1.     Fritz Muller Secco Muller-Thurgau Trocken, Rheinhessenn, Germany ($13.99)

This lightly sparkling wine is the German version of Champagne. Pale straw in color, it offers fruity tones of pear, apple, and grapefruit on the nose and palate. It’s bone dry with an interesting earthy layer of damp leaves and forest floor on the finish.

2.     Pyrgos Prosecco, Veneto, Italy ($19.99)

Quince, pear, tart green apple, and honeysuckle greet the nose. The palate explodes with white flowers and lemon zest. This is a marvelous example of what Prosecco should be. Pair with prosciutto-wrapped melon for a refreshing and delicious treat.

3.     2015 Altos de Cristimil Albarino White Label, Rías Baixas, Spain ($19.99)

Often called Green Spain for its green fields and rocky coasts, Rías Baixas is a beautiful region of Galicia known for producing crisp and delightful Albarino wines. This example shows notes of tropical fruits like pineapple and peach followed by hints of creamy marshmallow and toasted vanilla. The creamy, viscous texture makes it perfect for winter-weather sipping.

4.     2015 Albert Bichot Chablis Domaine Long-Depaquit, Burgundy, France ($19.99)

This outstanding bargain chablis offers citrus and white flower aromas with dry, focused, stony minerality and refreshing salinity. 

5.     2014 Cascina Adelaide Langhe Nascetta di Novello, Piedmont, Italy ($19.99)

This aromatic, crisp, and mineral driven wine is made of 100 percent Nascetta, an ancient variety that almost went extinct. On the nose and palate look for bright tones of grapefruit, white flowers, mango, and honey. A hint of bright citrus lingers on the long finish.

6.     2010 Schloss Schonborn Riesling Estate Kabinett, Rheingau, Germany ($19.99)

Bright and decadent, this kabinett offers luscious notes of pure honey, green apples, ginger, pear, and orange juice. The hint of sweetness on the palate is perfectly balanced by bright acidity.

7.     2014 Cornarea Roero Arneis, Piedmont, Italy ($19.99)

This white Italian grape grows on the hills of Roero in northwest Alba. The Arneis varietal almost became extinct as Barolo producers began focusing only on Nebbiolo. In the 1970s the Vietti family propagated plantings of the grape and saved it from extinction in the region. This lovely full-bodied wine is an expression of the variety’s revival. Look for notes of white flowers, ripe pear, peach, and apricot on the nose and the palate, with rich texture and balanced acidity.

 

Outstanding Reds under $20

8.     2012 Chateau Lamy Corbieres, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($9.99)

This Corbieres is a classic Languedoc red. Robust, earthy and full-bodied, ripe and juicy, it shows off dark fruits like blackberry along with dried herbs, and even a hint of dark chocolate on the finish. It's an ideal accompaniment to hearty dishes like grilled or roasted meats.

9.     2010 Malavieille Permian Rouge, Languedoc-Roussillon, France($9.99)

This wine is made from a combination of the oldest vineyards of the estate: 80-year-old Carignan, Grenache, Oeillade, and Mourvedre vines growing on stony soil. At $10 this is a terrific value. It offers rich flavors of earth, incense, baking spices, and dried herbs. It is also Demeter Certified Biodynamic and organically farmed.

10.  2012 Mas du Colombel Faugeres,Languedoc-Roussillon, France($14.99)

The 2012 Mas du Colombel Faugeres drinks like a $50 bottle. It has intense aromas of ripe red fruit, wonderful length, and smooth tannins. It is elegant and refined with layers of complex dark fruits, earth, and spice.

11.  2012 Pujanza Hado, Laguardia, Spain ($14.99)

Carlos San Pedro, owner of Bodegas y Vinedos Pujanza, is the fourth generation of a family of winemakers in Laguardia. This wine is 100 percent Tempranillo from their own vineyards. It has a rich and lovely nose with hints of blackberries, cloves, and baking spices. Sweet red fruits follow on the palate, with even a hint of white flowers on the long, lingering finish.

12.  2013 Cascina Adelaide Barbera Mie Donne, Piedmont, Italy ($15.99)

This is a wonderful example of young Barbera. It’s bright, juicy with piercing acidity and lovely rich tart cherry and raspberry fruits. These components meld perfectly to create a balanced wine of outstanding value. 

13.  2010 Desclau Bordeaux Superieur, Bordeaux, France ($15.99)

The nose exhibits aromas of ripe black fruits, baking spices, and anise. Firm tannins, good structure, and balance make this wine a steal. Pair with grilled meats and strong cheeses like Manchego and pecorino.

14.  2011 Cascabel Compose Mclaren Vale, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($19.99)

A beautiful ruby red color, offering bright notes of red berries, black currant, and licorice on the nose and palate, and a hint of exotic spices and cedar, this fresh, low-tannin wine is an amazing value that drinks well above its price tag.

15.  2014 Cascina Adelaide Dolcetto Di Diano d'Alba, Piedmont, Italy ($19.99)

Dolcetto is loved for its softness and much lower acidity compared to Barbera. Red cherry, red currant, and violet aromas delight the nose. Soft ripe plums, blackberries, and a touch of eucalyptus and green herbs linger on the finish. Pair with salami and fresh cheeses for a classic Piedmont snack.

16.  2013 Chateau des Coccinelles Cotes du Rhone, France ($19.99)

A wonderful medium-bodied example of Cotes du Rhone with richness and depth, it offers aromas of raspberry and blackberry, soft spices, and toasted oak. This supple wine is a winter staple in my home.

17.  2013 Eagle Glen Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California ($19.99)

It’s not every day that you find a Napa Valley cab with depth and character for under $20! Rich garnet in color, featuring layers of ripe juicy blackberries and plum, with mouth-watering acidity and hints of vanilla and oak on the palate, this wine is one to buy by the case. It offers remarkable length and a complex finish.

18.  2013 Oliver Hill Red Silk Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia ($19.99)

This $20 wine drinks like an expensive high-end bottle of Shiraz, full-bodied and bursting with notes of black plums, ripe blackberries, and spice. There are subtle notes of black pepper and savory spice as well. Youthful and bright, it will pair with wintery dishes like lamb and wild game.

19.  2013 Onix Classic Priorat, Spain ($19.99)

Half garnacha, half carinena, this wine is a harmonious blend featuring notes of juicy dark fruits, licorice, and clove. Another well-priced value, this gem will suit any winter crockpot meal and root vegetables.

20.  2011 Cote Ouest La Clape, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($19.99)

This medium-bodied wine offers aromas of cherry and licorice on the nose and palate. The Grenache in the blend comes through with a hint of menthol, dark chocolate, and juicy red berries.

Visit Elyse Genderson at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill at 300 Massachusetts Ave. NE. For more information visit www.cellar.com.


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