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20 Wines Under $20: Plenty of Variety and Not One Chardonnay

20 Wines Under $20: Plenty of Variety and Not One Chardonnay


Y. Amirault Bourgueil La Coudraye 2015 $19.99

This red, from the Bourgueil region of the Loire Valley, is made with cabernet franc grown organically in soils of clay and sand. It’s juicy and spicy, easy to drink, yet lovely, with clear personality and character. When wine writers talk of the Loire’s great values, they mean wines like this. (Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Penn.)

Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico Retromarcia 2015 $18.99

I often hear Chianti Classico maligned, and I wonder why. Are people jaded by Tuscany? Looking for more trendy Italian reds? Operating on old information? I love Chianti, and I love sangiovese, one of the world’s great grapes. This is not to say Chianti does not have problems, but try a wine like this entry-level Retromarcia, made of 100 percent sangiovese. It’s pure, dry and juicy, without the complexity of a more ambitious Chianti, perhaps, but absolutely delicious. (T. Edward Wines, New York)

Luciano Saetti Lambrusco dell’Emilia Rosso Viola 2016 $18.99

I am a big fan of good, dry Lambrusco, and, as I have said, Luciano Saetti’s are my favorites of all. Year in and year out, Saetti produces brilliant farmhouse Lambrusco, made in the traditional method rather than in an industrialized fashion. Floral, meaty and earthy, the Rosso Viola smells like a platter of salumi, which is not inappropriate, given that it is made of the salomino grape, so named because the grapes look like miniature salami. (Louis/Dressner Selections)

Lectores Vini Conca de Barberà Pomagrana 2016 $17.99

This translucent red is made of the trepat grape, which typically makes pale, airy reds. The Pomagrana, from the Conca de Barberà region in northeastern Spain, is light, herbal and fruity, as in, yes, pomegranates. This refreshing bottle will especially benefit from a light chill. (Selections de la Viña/Fruit of the Vines, Long Island City, N.Y.)

Stein Mosel Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken 2016 $18.99

Sometimes dry German riesling can be so dry it’s practically harsh. This one from Stein is gently dry, with just the barest bit of fruity roundness to give the wine depth and dimension, along with plenty of stony minerality. It is a wine to savor. (Vom Boden, Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Valdesil Valdeorras Montenovo Godello 2016 $16.99

Godello is a grape with a lot of promise. Grown in regions of western Spain like Valdeorras, Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra, just to name a few, godello has the transparent ability to both display its terroir and adapt to a winemaker’s style. In the capable hands of Valdesil, the Montenovo godello is fresh, creamy, herbal and spicy, reminiscent of chardonnay but with a Spanish accent. (Polaner Selections)

Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV $19.99

The crémants of France are an excellent resource for good values in sparkling wine. The wines, which come from pretty much all over France except Champagne, are made using the same technique as Champagne, in which still wine is refermented in the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide and producing bubbles. This rosé is made entirely of pinot noir. It’s dry and refreshing, not complex or deep, but as easygoing as a holiday weekend. (Wilson Daniels, St. Helena, Calif.)

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