How to love wine under $20

As an old pal used to tell me “you know doc, it ain’t easy“. You can’t find a wine deal just based on price. You certainly can’t trust the labels, especially in the US, if they say reserve or special selection. “Oh look! Here’s a reserve Cabernet for $14”! We need help. And we need to help ourselves. Help can be found in a local premium wine store. Not BevMo. Good tequila selection, same-old ordinary wines. Not TJs. Good beer, lousy wines. Of course there are exceptions however time spent buying wine is better spent in a wine shop. And we help ourselves by trying the wines your local wine pro recommends that are from unfamiliar locations. Try a wine with a name you can’t pronounce…like from Europe. Fact is, there are a ton of Italian, Spanish and French wines that meet our call to arms criteria. Visit your local wine shop. Make friends with a smart-ass clerk who knows his shit. Here are some examples.
2006 Domaine de Cassagnole Cotes de Gascogne Vin de Pays $8: “You want a value in wine, try this one” said wine-sales-guy extraordinaire Steve at Woodland Hills Wine Co. If you are going to try out this <$20 wine campaign then you have to have a reliable wine maven. Find one and you will spend far more time enjoying gems than tossing out rocks.
And how do I love thee my leetle under-$20 nugget? Pepe Le Pew 2 As I open the bottle I think about everything that is great about this “find”. It’s not only under $20 it is under $10. That little smile passes quickly. Now I appreciate how thrifty is the “foil cap” choice. It isn’t foil at all. It is the flimsiest of plastic. Love that!! My foil cutter burns through it like a magnesium fire. The cork is, of course, composite. Anything else would be out of balance, pretentious, dumb. Out she comes. And the wine? What do you want for $8? Tastes like French sauvignon blanc. We’re not talking pussy foosy or Sancerre. This is Cotes de Gascogne where Charles Neal searches for gems like this. Thank you Charles. Thank you Steve. Serve cold.
2006 Verget de Sud Syrah Rosé ~$15: Southwest France wine. Orange-red color. Mineral tart flavors, refreshing, simple. From North Berkeley Wines.
2006 Verget de Sud Rosé de Cabernet Sauvignon ~$15: Interesting enough to try just because it is a cab. Darker red color within the rose palette. Bone dry to the point that the fruit is buried. Not so refreshing. North Berkeley pick. Sometimes they miss. Their slugging percentage is still close to .800.

2005 Clautiere Rosé de Grenache and Counoise ~$15:
Remarkable bright orange color that looked a lot like transmission fluid. The wine is interesting for Paso. Not overripe. Bright acids. Even lean. Refreshing. Wine club shipment.

2006 Mattes Sabran Corbières Rosé “Duc de Narbonne” ~$10:
Excellent Southwest France rose. Everything I like in this category. Sort of lean, simple, balanced, refreshing in the warm SoCal summer evening with pals. Woodland HIlls Wine.
Last note – these wines were tasted at a dokkerm dining & wining party. Other wines were presented that are described in the previous entry. However, a current favorite – at ~$15 – the 2005 l’Uvaggio Vermentino w-colombi.jpg was opened and it was quickly quaffed. Big with with the ladies and men in touch with their vermentino side.
Note that the image is not of the Vermentino which features a new style simple and clean label. However, I do want to endorse his Mendocino Arneis because it is the right wine for summer for all the right reasons….including…Italian white wine grape grown in colder region, fresh bright flavors quite similar to Arneis one might buy in the Piedmont region of Italy, lots of acid to balance the fruit makes for the perfect summer meal combo. Great stuff. Now I wish I had some.

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