Erik Neilson on September 29, 2016 0 Comments One of the biggest misconceptions in the wine world is that one needs to spend a veritable fortune in order to move into the tier of “great” wine. It’s often assumed that wines under $20 are unrefined or lacking qualities that are characteristic of truly extraordinary wines, but that is seldom the case. Reasonable, quality wine is more widely available today than ever in the past, and there are countless bottles in the $20 and under range that are not only drinkable, but capable of providing spectacular sensory experiences. On a budget? Here are 10 exceptional wines for under $20 that are perfect for drinking in 2016 and beyond. 1. Folk Machine Parts & Labor Red Blend When searching for great wines under $20, red blends are an excellent place to start. Santa Rosa, CA’s Folk Machine label is a fine example, and the Parts & Labor red blend is the bottle to try. A blend of Syrah, Carignane, Grenache and Barbera, this showcases aromas of spice and subtle raspberry, with top notes of licorice and bubble gum. At first taste, the medium-bodied blend showcases notes of apple, red fruits and a lasting minty finish. For less than $20, it’s difficult to improve upon a blend such as this. 2. Ravines Finger Lakes Dry Riesling (2014 Vintage) Many people don’t realize that the Finger Lakes region is one of the top producers worldwide of Rieslings. The dominant grape in the region, Riesling from this area tends to be on the drier side, and Ravines take on the wine is no exception to the rule. Extremely refreshing, yet full of earthy mineral notes, the wine features a fair bit of acidity and all the citrus flavors that are so characteristic of Riesling. The 2014 vintage is especially noteworthy, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better Riesling at this price point (around $17.99). 3. Alamos Chardonnay Anyone who is familiar with Argentinian whites knows that they can be hit or miss depending upon the circumstances. Alamos Chardonnay dispels any concerns potential buyers may have, as it’s one of the best examples of what is currently coming out of Mendoza. The oak is present, yet delightfully restrained. The fruit? Apples, tangerines, lemons — it’s all there. With a crisp finish and no lingering aftertaste, this is a Chardonnay that would pair perfectly with grilled fish, and it can be found for around $13. 4. Dona Ermelinda Reserva Another red blend, the Dona Ermelinda Reserva is a blend of Castelao (70%), Touriga Nacional (10%), Syrah (10%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (10%). Aged for 12 months in French oak, this Portuguese red showcases flavors that are not particularly well-known outside of the country, thanks in large part to the unique Castelao grape. Dark fruit, spice, prunes and even cherry cola flavors are pronounced, ending in a long, spicy finish. Chewy and earthy, this is another gorgeous red blend for under $20. 5. Burlotto Barbera d’Alba It’s difficult to find a better wine to pair with a bowl of red sauce pasta or pizza than Barbera, and the Burlotto Barbera d’Alba is one of the best examples you’ll find for under $20. While many of today’s Barberas are aged in oak, traditional processes such as that utilized by Burlotto skip the oak and strip away much of the tannic finish modern Barbera has come to be associated with. Brisk and old-world in flavor, Burlotto Barbera d’Alba features lively acidity and fresh flavors of fruit and tomato. At just shy of $20, it’s an excellent value that should not go overlooked. 6. Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir A finely crafted Pinot Noir can elevate food to an entirely new level, not to mention serve as the perfect end of the night sipper on a crisp fall evening. The Montinore Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a biodynamic favorite, and the fact that a Pinot Noir of this quality can be had for less than $20 is astounding in its own right. Featuring deep, earthy flavors that are flanked by herbal, minty notes, it’s one of the more complex examples of Pinot Noir you can expect to come across, and a steal at the price it’s offered. 7. Chehalem INOX Chardonnay Another incredible Chardonnay for under $20, the Chehalem INOX Chardonnay is also from Willamette Valley, OR. While many examples of Chardonnay see a fair amount of oak, Chehalem INOX Chardonnay only makes contact with stainless steel. Hence, the finish ends up being bracing to say the least, showcasing the wine’s tropical fruit flavors and lifting aromatic floral elements straight to the nose. For unoaked Chardonnay, this is a true winner. 8. Inama Vin Soave, Soave Classico Not too many people are entirely familiar with Italian whites, which is really a shame considering how delicious they can be. The Inama Vin Soave, Soave Classico is a great starting point for anyone who is just getting into Italian wine, as it’s just as complex as it is approachable. One sip yields flavors of pear, melon, citrus and almond, which combine with the wine’s lean mouthfeel to create a lemony white with a crisp, firm backbone. 9. La Valentina, Pecorino Another Italian wine, this time from Abruzzo in the south. The area’s rocky hills give this white (which shares its name with a popular cheese) a flint-like minerality that pushes countless fruity notes to the forefront. At merely $16, it’s an excellent bottle for anyone who would like to get to know Abruzzi whites but doesn’t want to spend a fortune. 10. Château La Canorgue Blanc As far as French whites go, there aren’t many that fall under the $20 umbrella and are still characterized by top-tier quality. That being said, the Château La Canorgue Blanc fits the bill perfectly — particularly the 2014 vintage. A beautiful, mild white characteristic of flowery aromatics, the wine is loaded with flavors of pears and spice. While pairable with a wealth of different French dishes, the Château La Canorgue Blanc is drinkable all on its own, and bottles can be acquired for $20 each in most cases.