3 Great Bargain Wines For Less Than $20

As many of the world's top wines escalate to dizzying prices, it's important to remember that there is another world below the clouds that gets a lot less press — that of great values.

I am first and foremost a wine drinker. Why? Well, that's simple. For me, wine is just another food group. But, that's not a negative. To the contrary, I love food and I love wine. To me they are interconnected. I have spent my life looking to find the best of both. Of course, I have my favorites — those that represent my taste and my ability to afford them. And, without question, some have escalated dramatically in price over the course of my adult life.

That said, the simple fact is that, in the world of wine, really good wine has probably never been more affordable. There are still many under-the-radar wines that have not yet received the recognition they deserve. You just have to tune up your palate, cast your prejudices aside, and get with the program. Don't be intimidated and trust your taste.

Some have said that today is the worst of times and the best of times. Perhaps that is true. But, in the world of really good wine, I would argue that it is simply the best of times. Why? Because, in the very ancient days, wines were not that good. Today it's a different story. Now the best wines are extraordinary. And, many of the best wines have prices to match. But, many of these same wines are overhyped, overrated, and overpriced. Most of these wines live at the top of the big numbers rating scale — a micro segment that has many gullible followers. Underneath this is a great sea of wine that is terrific and reasonably priced in relation to other top quality foods. These wines are produced in most of the wine growing regions of the world. How can this be, you might ask? The reason is simple. We live in a time where, for most wines, supply exceeds demand.

Here are three new wines that I think represent terrific value and are, for me, a pleasure to drink with the appropriate foods as determined by your personal taste. I have drunk these wines with a wide variety of foods. In fact, I would say that with this trio of wines at your disposal, there is virtually no food that would not match well with at least one of them.

2010 Chariot Gypsy Red Wine California
This wine is made by Jim Neal Wines in Healdsburg, Calif. The 2009 was really nice. The 2010 is even better. The blend is also different, with cabernet and merlot predominant along with a few other varietals. The wine has a deep color and a lovely perfume of plums with floral cedary nuances. The flavors are gorgeous, with supple berry fruit accented by a tinge of green olive and spice. The wine is lush with sweet fruit backed by a bright acidity, which is very harmonious and adds a degree of freshness that is most appealing. This is a gorgeous, sexy wine that is a great value. And, I might add, with a slight chill this would be fabulous with Thanksgiving turkey and would certainly not break the bank. — Highly Recommended. $4.99 2-yellow-stars

2011 Sauvignon Republic Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand
This wine is very consistent and a great buy. The 2011 is particularly juicy, vibrant, and crisp. Pale yellow in color, the wine has a gorgeous grapefruit perfume accented by a faint tinge of herbs. It is lip-smacking good, with juicy grapefruit flavors accented by a faint herbal nuance and a hint of melon and guava. Zesty, fresh, vibrant, and crisp this is simply irresistible and a great bargain. — Outstanding. $6.99 3-yellow-stars

2010 Panilonco Lion Chief Chardonnay Viognier Reserve Colchagua
Panilonco Lion Chief is a great value brand that consistently makes very good wines at very affordable prices. This is a very attractive blend of 80 percent chardonnay and 20 percent viognier. It is light yellow in color and has a lovely floral perfume with hints of citrus and pear. On the palate it is elegant, with subtle floral nuances and hints of citrus, peach, and apricot. This is a delicious wine that is light, but flavorful, and is balanced by a lively crispness on the finish. — Highly Recommended. $3.99 2-yellow-stars

— John Tilson, Underground Wineletter


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