The New York Times’ Best Wines Under $20
From the beginning, our philosophy has been simple: buy wines made by small producers, families and artisans that honestly reflect the world’s great terroirs and traditions. The New York Times’ latest list of the 20 best wines under $20 has just been released, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see which bottles made the cut.
The theme of this list aligns decisively with the type of wine we love to drink and sell—those bottles that speak of where they come from and the individuals who crafted them. When a vigneron spends each day amongst the vines or in the cellar, he or she has no choice but to focus on the quality of the wine.
Even with a full cellar, it can be difficult to open a special bottle on an otherwise nondescript day—and this is where a wine from the list below comes into play. While good wines can be found in any price range, there are so many wines in the $15-20 range that meet all of our needs. They are delicious, they are complex, and perhaps most importantly, they are affordable. Once again, Eric Asimov presents us with a diverse and compelling list of wines, most of which we were able to obtain for you.
It is with great pleasure that we offer a selection of the Times’ picks.
As soon as this article is published, the wines will almost immediately disappear from the marketplace. This is your chance to beat the rush!
Oddero, Barbera d’Alba Superiore, 2015 $16.99
Classic, but lifted, Barbera from a family winery in Barolo, dating back to the 18th century. There is ample cherry and blackberry fruit, enlivened by a hit of pepper and fine tannins. For pizza, pasta or antipasti, this is a no-brainer.
Happs, Margaret River Sémillon, 2014 $16.99
Hailing from one of the most remote wine regions in the world, this Sémillon is both fresh and rich, with a golden hue and a luxurious texture. There are notes of citrus, especially mandarin, and dry wildflower honey. A gorgeous wine on its own or with lighter food.
Lambert de Seyssel, Petit Royal de Seyssel Methode Traditionelle, NV $19.99
A remarkably complex sparkling wine from the Savoie, this is made up of two obscure, indigenous grapes: Molette and Altesse. Molette brings acidity and citrusy notes, while Altesse brings complexity and a lovely floral bouquet. Two years aging sur latte ensures toastiness and a long, lingering finish. You don’t need an excuse to pop open a bottle of bubbly when it’s this delicious and this affordable.
Raul Perez, Bierzo Ultreia Saint Jacques Mencía, 2017 $19.99
Mencía is perennially one of our favorite grapes, and Raúl Perez’s, bolstered with a bit of Bastardo (also known as Trousseau) and Garnacha Tintorera (alias Alicante Bouschet) packs a lot of power into one bottle. Perez is one of the finest winemakers working today in Spain, and his entry-level bottlings show true finesse. Bright red berries and cacao dominate here.
Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, Pfalz Wachenheimer Dry Riesling, 2017 $18.99
Riesling grown in the Pfalz, Germany’s warmest region, can yield remarkably aromatic and elegant dry wines. Bürklin-Wolf’s Estate Riesling is dry, yet juicy and redolent with stone fruit and lime leaves. All of their farming is biodynamic, and 2017’s long, warm summer makes for a delicious wine that expertly combines power and grace.
Empire Estate, Finger Lakes Riesling Dry, 2017 $17.99
This little dazzler starts with blossom, peach, and pear on the nose, and the palate is dry as a bone full of minerality, lemon pith, and a cool limeade finish. It’s reminiscent of Rieslings from Australia’s Clare Valley, but with an assertive, kaleidoscopic verve than reminds us of Keller.
La Palazzetta di Flavio, Rosso di Montalcino, 2017 $19.99
This is a gorgeous example of young Sangiovese, grown organically and intended to be drunk young. Its fresh acidity and luminous red fruit make for an all-around delectable wine. It has a lovely floral aroma, with a touch of violets, and buoyant, cheerful fruit.
Sidonio de Sousa, Bairrada Reserva Tinto, 2015 $18.99
Baga is one of a myriad of characterful grapes indigenous to Portugal, and this wine is 100% Baga and tastes sort of like Cabernet Franc meets Trousseau. Spicy, herbaceous, fruity, and fresh. Truly one of the best wines under $20 we’ve ever tasted. Really a knock-out at this price.
Domaine Bru-Baché, Jurançon Sec, 2015 $16.99
Bone dry, with waxy yellow fruit and hints of ginger, this is an elegant and versatile sipper. Gros Manseng produces crisp and complex wines, and thanks to the limestone and clay on which they are grown, wines of intense minerality. Jurançon is perhaps an unknown quantity to many, but one which we all should be acquainted with.
Bonny Doon Vineyard, Clos de Gilroy Monterey County Grenache, 2017 $16.99
Mostly Grenache, enlivened by a little Mourvèdre, this is all dazzling red fruit—raspberries and sour cherry—but there’s plenty of earth and graphite to keep it all grounded and balanced. It is easy-drinking and charming, makes a perfect accompaniment to lighter fare, and is best served with a slight chill, for ultimate refreshment.
Broadside, Paso Robles Margarita Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016 $19.99
This is Classic California Cabernet, with a lighter touch. Grown at 1,000 feet above sea level, with cool winds whipping off of the Pacific Ocean, this wine captures all of the blackcurrant, plum and blackberry notes we expect in Cabernet Sauvignon, with notes of fresh herbs (mint, rosemary) and earth that boost its
Guillaume Clusel, Coteaux du Lyonnais “Traboules”, 2017 $16.99
Unusually for the Northern Rhone, this delightful wine is made from 100% Gamay, and it encapsulates what we love about both the Rhone and Beaujolais—lithe, energetic red fruit, crushed Provençal herbs and just enough structure to make things interesting. This is an all-purpose wine, to drink with food or with nothing at all. Serve slightly below room temperature.
Domaine Filliatreau, Saumur-Champigny, 2017 $18.99
Classic Saumur-Champigny (perhaps the most under-valued AOC of the Loire, even with the influence of Clos Rougeard—baffling!), with ripe cherries, dried herbs and electric minerality. Supple and elegant, this is a wonderful example of vibrant Loire Valley Cabernet Franc from a producer dedicated to biodiversity and sustainability.
Grifalco, Aglianico del Vulture “Gricos”, 2016 $18.99
100% estate-grown fruit from younger vines, this is Aglianico for drinking young. It has all of the spice and grip of Southern Italy’s favorite red grape, made in a fresh and forward style. This is smoky, peppery and plummy, all at once, thanks to the unique volcanic terroir of Vulture.
Château Massereau, Bordeaux Superieur, 2016 $19.99
Massereau is simply one of the best values in the entire Bordeaux region. The viticulture is so diligent and the winemaking so unobtrusive, that you could consider this a natural wine. But the well-delineated flavors, redolent of of dark forest fruits and wild herbs, are as classic as it gets.
L’Umami, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, 2017 $19.99
Truffles and mushrooms galore in this little Willamette bottling. There is some a splash of red cherry, a kiss of oak, and a dash of baking spices in what is a killer value for Pinot Noir from Oregon.
Foxglove (Varner), Zinfandel Paso Robles, 2015 $16.99
Classic Cali Zin from Paso Robles, which is known for big, rich reds with hints of chocolate and spice. Although it’s quite brambly, it’s not jammy or cloying. No, this wine is fresh and dark-fruited, full of plums, blackberries and dark cherry, and it is a fantastic value for a great example of California winemaking heritage.