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My top 119 recession reds for 20 bucks or less

With the holidays approaching, I hear wine drinkers around me crying: “I like a good quality, big reds but can’t afford it lately…” But not to worry, they are out there! It was the most fun part of my job to surprise friends or my customers (wine store owners and restaurateurs) with a bargain I discovered.

Imagine letting someone taste an exceptional wine without showing them the label or telling them the price up front. How sweet the sale pitch went when the customer was guessing much higher price, based on the taste of the wine, than it really was? Knowing that, I always kept a list of my favorite bargains on my hand. Now I am ready to share it with you!

One of my customers once said: ” I don’t care to taste wines that I pay $ 50.00 for. They better taste good! I like those that cost $ 15 and taste like $ 35!” So I dug into my list of favorites and picked those that fit into limits of ” impressive red, for or under $20″.

These are wines that I personally tasted (some of them several vintages of), wines, that I would put my personal “seal of quality” on, if that’s worth anything. Pick it as a gift for somebody you know that appreciate good bottle, or buy it for yourself. All of these wines are big, impressive reds that will improve with decanting. They just shine and no one needs to know that you didn’t spend a fortune on it!

The secret to find wines like that is either wineries that produce much higher priced wines but not many people know their “lower level wines” (where lower refers to price, not the quality of the fruit). These wines usually don’t get reviewed, yet they come from the same terroire, quality fruit and caring winemaker’s hands.

The other secret is an appellation. Some high quality wines are sourced from more growers, and therefore can’t be DOC (attractive DOC drives the price up).

Yet, if you know the winemaker or winery and trust their selection and judgment, you can’t go wrong with these wines. In some cases I am listing more wines from one producer simply because they are truly worth to try.

I can’t guarantee that all of these wines are available – because some of them sells out as soon as they are released (like Marietta Old Vine Red). Simply because they are too good for the price and insiders already know it.

The same goes to a pricing – I am listing the best known average -it might vary from state to state. But there are definitely plenty of exceptional reds to choose from in my list:

29 wines of California:
$ 10 Laurel Glen Reds, Sonoma
$ 10 Big House Red, California
$ 10 Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (2nd label of Pavilion, garage winery), Paso Robles
$ 13 Dynamite Vineyards Merlot, Mendocino
$ 13 Pavilion Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa (!) – show me another Napa Cab in this price range that taste like that!
$ 13 Marietta Old Vine Red, Sonoma
$ 14 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
$ 14 Liberty School Syrah, Paso Robles
$ 14 Artezin, Mendocino
$ 14 Chalone Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon, Monterey
$ 14 Edna Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, San Luis Obispo
$ 14 Mara Syrage Lot 7 (syrah, merlot), Sonoma
$ 15 Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino
$ 15 Hess Mendocino Syrah, Mendocino
$ 15 Cline Cashmere, Sonoma
$ 15 Cline Mouvedre, Sonoma
$ 15 Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma
$ 15 Edna Valley Syrah,San Luis Obispo
$ 15 Marietta Zinfandel, Sonoma
$ 15 Marietta Pettite Syrah, Sonoma
$ 17 Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma
$ 18 Artesa Elements, Napa/Sonoma/Carneros
$ 19 Marietta Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma
$ 19 Newton Claret, Napa
$ 20 Ferrari Carano Siena, Sonoma, Sonoma
$ 20 Francis Coppola Claret, California
$ 20 Francis Coppola Merlot, California
$ 20 Steltzner Claret, Stags Leap/Napa
$ 20 Trefethen Double T, Napa

9 wines of Argentina:
$ 10 Cabrini Malbec
$ 14 Enrique Foster Ique Malbec
$ 14 Alta Vista Premium Malbec
$ 14 Terra Rosa (Laurel Glen) Malbec Old Vines
$ 18 Cuvelier los Andes Coleccion
$ 19 Bodegas O. Fournier B Crux Blend
$ 19 Clos de los Siete
$ 20 Bodega Colome Estate Malbec
$ 20 Enrique Foster Malbec Reserva

10 wines of Australia:
$ 10 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz /Cabernet
$ 14 Penfolds Thomas Hyland Shiraz
$ 14 Penfolds Thomas Hyland Cabernet Sauvignon
$ 14 Peter Lehmann Shiraz
$ 14 Peter Lehmann GSM (grenache, shiraz, mouvedre)
$ 14 Peter Lehmann Clancy’s (shiraz, cab, merlot)
$ 14 Peter Lehmann Cabernet Sauvignon
$ 14 Turkey Flat “The Turk” (shiraz, cabernet, grenache, mourvèdre)
$ 19 Cape Mentelle Cabernet/Merlot
$ 19 Cape Mentelle Shiraz

10 wines of France:
$ 13 Chateau Pey La Tour Reserve, Bordeaux Superieur
$ 14 Chateau D’Oupia Le Heretiques, Minervois
$ 14 Chateau Serame, Minervois
$ 15 Chateau Cazenove, Bordeaux Superieur
$ 15 Domain De la Solitude Cotes du Rhone, Rhone
$ 18 Chateau Reysson (Cru Bourgeois Superieur)
$ 18 Chateau Langlet, Graves
$ 20 Chateau Diane de Belgrave (2nd wine of Belgrave)
$ 20 Chateau Haut Vigneau, Pessac Leognan
$ 20 Chateau La Croix Bonis (from Phelan Segur), St. Estephe

31 wines of Italy:
$ 10 Falesco Vitiano, Umbria
$ 12 Li Veli Salento Rosso “Passamante”, Apulia $ 12 Agricole Vallone Vereto Riserva Salice Salentino DOC, Apulia
$ 12 Boroli Langhe Rosso “Anna”, Piedmont
$ 12 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese, Molise
$ 12 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Rosso (100% Corvina), Veneto
$ 13 Aia Vecchia Lagone (Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc), Tuscany
$ 14 Boroli Dolcetto Madonna “Di Como”, Piedmont
$ 14 Avignonesi Rosso Montepulciano, Tuscany
$ 14 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Cabernet Sauvignon “Torre Merlotti” , Veneto
$ 14 Spadafora Monreale Syrah DOC, Sicily
$ 14 Valentina Cubi Valpolicella Classico Iperico, Veneto
$ 15 Boroli Barbera 4 Fratelli, Piedmont
$ 15 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Stucchi, Tuscany
$ 16 Lamborghini Trescone, Tuscany (and yes, it’s a wine from Lamborghini family – the hot Italian car, remember?)
$ 16 Capezzana Barco Reale, Tuscany
$ 17 Marchese di Gresy Barbera D’Asti, Piedmont
$ 18 Agricole Vallone Flaminio Riserva Brindisi DOC, Apulia
$ 18 Pertinage Barbero D’Alba, Piedmont
$ 18 Remo Farina Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso, Veneto
$ 18 Inama Carmenere “Piu”, Veneto
$ 18 Tenuta Sant’Antonio Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Monte Garbi, Veneto
$ 19 Li Veli Salice Salentino Pezzo Morgana, Apulia
$ 20 Casina Degli Ulivi Barbera Maunbè, Piedmont
$ 20 Marchese di Gresy Dolcetto “Monte Aribaldo”, Piedmont
$ 20 Marchese di Gresy Nebbiolo Martinenga, Piedmont
$ 20 Argentiera Poggio Ai Ginepre Bolgheri DOC (cabernet, merlot, syrah) , Tuscany
$ 20 Principe Corsini Le Corti Chianti Classico, Tuscany
$ 20 Ferragamo – Il Borro Pian de Nova (syrah, sangiovese), Tuscany
$ 20 La Gerla Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany
$ 20 Tolaini Al Passo IGT (sangiovese, merlot), Tuscany
$ 20 Allegrini Pallazo della Torre, Valpolicella

2 wines of South Africa:
$ 15 Glen Carlou Grand Classique (Bordeaux blend)
$ 20 Glen Carlou Syrah Paarl

26 wines of Spain:
$ 8 Garnacha de Fuego (old vines), Calatayud
$ 8 Bodegas Juan Gil Wrongo Dongo, Jumilla
$ 8 Cortijo III, Rioja
$ 10 Finca Casa Castillo Monastrell, Jumilla
$ 10 Bodegas Volver Paso a Paso Tinto, La Mancha
$ 10 Finca Luzon, Bodegas Luzon, Jumilla
$ 12 Torremoron Tinto, Ribera del Duero
$ 12 Vinos Pinol Portal, Terra Alta
$ 13 Borsao Crianza Seleccion, Borja
$ 13 Bodegas Ateca Atteca (old vines), Calatayud
$ 13 Bodegas Magana, Magana Dignus (merlot, cabernet, tempranillo), Navarra
$ 13 Barahonda Nabuko, Yecla
$ 13 Bodegas la Cartuja, Priorat
$ 14 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil Juan Gil, Jumilla
$ 14 Finca Luzon, Altos de Luzon, Jumilla
$ 14 Bodegas Volver, Volver, La Mancha
$ 14 Vinicola del Priorat Onix, Priorat
$ 14 Cellar Can Blau, Can Blau, Montsant
$ 15 Bodegas Vizcarra Ramos, Vizcarra Roble, Ribera del Duero
$ 15 Bodegas Godeval, Godeval, Valdeoras
$ 16 Barahonda Bellum Principo, Yecla
$ 16 Falset Marca Etim Seleccion, Montsant
$ 18 Bodegas Magana, Magana Baron de Magana, Navarra
$ 18 Sierra Cantabria Crianza Unfiltered, Rioja
$ 18 Triton, Tierra de Castilla-Leon
$ 20 Matarredonda Juan Rojo, Toro

2 wines of Uruquay:
$ 12 Bodegas Carrau Tannat Reserva
$ 19 Bodegas Carrau Ysern Tannat

I hope my favorite list of reds under 20 bucks could help you to find your next bargain and impress your friends without braking the bank.Please, let me know how I did!

2 thoughts on “My top 119 recession reds for 20 bucks or less”

  1. Thank you John, I am sure you know where to go for you value wines on your Californian wine trail! Hope it helps to grab some new additions…


  2. Interesting list VeraMost of us arer look for a bargin wine at one time or another.Thanks for sharing recession reds…..John


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