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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2009 Domaine Thomas & Fils Sancerre Clos de la Crele**
09thomasfilssancerre.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Loire Valley, France $23 @ Private Tasting 4/13/11
A pale, straw-colored wine with a highly aromatic nose of flowers, citrus and tropical fruits, hay, minerals and hints of pineapple. The palate was light-bodied with well-balanced, yet refreshing acidity, bright fruit flavors that reflected the nose along with ripe apple and minerals on the lengthy finish. The grapes are grown on limestone soils with a crushed stone top layes from vines that average 35-years-old. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel, which keeps its flavor profile crisp and clean. An intense and elegant wine that needed a smidge more complexity to be 3 stars, but that delivers great QPR and a real sense of place.

2009 Grey Stack Cellars Sauvignon Blanc***
08greystackSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Sonoma, CA $28 @ the Winery 2/18/11
A water-white, lemon-straw colored wine with an intensely aromatic nose of citrus, apple, orange blossom, fresh grass and a hint of pineapple. Could just sit back and smell this wine all day. The palate is light-medium-bodied with bright acidity that perfectly balances the ripe flavors of lemon, lime, apple, grass, minerals, pineapple and pear on lengthy and refreshing finish. Aged for three months in 50% Stainless/50% neutral French Oak. Doesn't have as much depth as the 08 version but still a delicious and elegant version of SB that was just as good with food as without. A wine I will buy year after year because it's hard to find white wines this interesting and well-crafted at any price. Unfined and unfiltered so don't worry if it's a bit cloudy or leaves some deposits in your glass. (13.9% abv)

2009 Guy Saget Sancerre Domaine de la Perriere***
09GuySagetSancerre.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Loire Valley, France $22 @ Private Tasting 4/13/11
A pale, clear, straw-colored wine with an intense bouquet of flowers, citrus, grass, green fruit and minerals. The palate is light-bodied with bright acidity and complex flavors of lemon, lime, ripe apple, grass and minerals on the lindering and refreshing finish. A lovely wine with great finesse and balance that really showcases all the best aspects of Sauvignon Blanc. Grapes for this bottling come from a 90-year-old vineyard. The wine is stainless steel fermented and aged on its lees to add a bit of lushness to the palate. Excellent QPR. Have to get a few bottles of this one.

2009 Patient Cottat Sauvignon Blanc**
09PatientCottatSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Loire Valley, France $12 @ Private Tasting 4/13/11
A pale, lemon-straw colored wine with robust aromas of orange blossom, grass, stone, lime, apple and grapefruit. The palate is light-medium-bodied with medium acidity and a lusher texture than one would expect from a Loire white. The flavors are intense and mirror the nose with the grapefruit and apple taking centerstage and a bit of minerality and peach showing through on the lingering finish. This is a very well-constructed wine for the price and is the entry level version of Sancerre for this label. It's declassified but still comes from the region and is a nice cross between New and Old World styles. Very Good QPR and a bottling I'm going to stock up on. Would make a great aperitif or salad wine. One you could sip by the pool all day long.

2008 Beckmen Vineyards Estate Sauvignon Blanc**
BeckmenSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Santa Barbara, CA $16 @ Winery 4/23/09
A water-white, straw-colored wine with lively aromas of grapefruit, key lime and lemon creme with hints of flowers and grass. The mouthfeel is light-bodied and well-balanced, yet crisp and intense with flavors of green apple, grapefruit, kiwi and grass along with notes of minerals, apricot and lemon on the refreshing finish. While not as deeply flavored and elegant as the winery's Purisma Mountain version, which is $28, this is a very enjoyable and affordable SB that showcases what this varietal is all about. Glad I bought 2 bottles.

2008 Cupcake Vineayrds Sauvignon Blanc*
CupcakeSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Marlborough, New Zealand $10 Cost Plus 2/5/10
A pale, straw-colored wine with moderate aromas of grass, citrus, grapefruit and hints of stone and gooseberry. The palate wass light-bodied with high-acidity that rounded out with food and got slightly more complex as it warmed. The wine was initially intense with flavors of lemon, grapefruit and grass but dies on the midpalate. The finish was quick with notes of green apple and gooseberry. While this certainly tasted like a Marlborough SB, it lacked much depth and follow-thru of its flavors. Not a bad wine for the price, but there are better SBs in this range.

2008 Grey Stack Cellars Sauvignon Blanc****
08greystackSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Sonoma, CA $28 @ the Winery 1/13/10
A pale, straw-colored wine with an aromatic nose of citrus, gooseberry, hay and apple with hints of peach and melon. The palate is crisp and intense with lovely balance between the ripe fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. The flavors reflect the nose with great depth and a lingering finish of herbs, lime and grass. A classy and elegant wine that delivers true Sauv Blanc flavors with great finesse and unity. Aged for three months in 50% Stainless/50% neutral French Oak, which adds a creamy texture to the wine. It was so interesting, it kept me constantly going back for more. Was equally good cold and at room temperature, a rarity for SBs in my experience. So glad I have another bottle and worth every penny. Buy it if you can find it. (800 cases/13.8% abv)

2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc***
kimcrawfordSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Marlborough, New Zealand $16 BevMo 3/28/09
A pale, straw-colored wine with fragrant aromatics of citrus and stone fruits with notes of minerals and grass. The palate is crisp and vibrant with flavors of lime, green apple, stone fruit, wet stone and hints of grass and tropical fruit on the lingering finish. A complex and well-crafted wine that kept me returning to the glass for more. A pure example of what SB is all about and a consistent winner from vintage to vintage.
(WS: 91/WE:90)

2008 Mantra Wines Sauvignon Blanc***
08MantraSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Sonoma, CA $18 @ the Winery 9/1/10
A pale, straw, colored wine with a bright, aromatic nose of citrus, green fruit, fresh herbs and hints of hay. The palate is light-medium-bodied with crisp acidity, great balance and a lengthy finish filled with grapefruit and grass. The main flavors are intense, yet elegant with mostly green apple, lemon and lime along with some minerality. I was suprised by how much I enjoyed this wine, which stuck a nice balance between fruit and acid and was reminded again how great the QPR is for this varietal. Was lovely with and without food. Wish I had purchased two bottles.

2008 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc***
vavasourSB08.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Marlborough, New Zealand $16 Wine.com 3/3/09
A pale, lemon-green colored wine with a sharp nose of citrus, gooseberry and grass with notes of flint and tropical fruit. The palate is light-medium bodied with intense flavors of lemon, lime, green apple, grass and melon with notes of minerality and apricot on the crisp and clean finish. This is a vibrant wine that's still well-balanced and has a rounder mouthfeel than expected. It is a classic and lovely example of New Zealand SB and well worth the price.

2008 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc**
villamariabin.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Marlborough, New Zealand $15 BevMo 9/22/09
A water-white, straw-colored wine with a bright nose of lemon, grapefruit, grass and hints of gooseberry. The palate is light-bodied and fairly acidic full of flavors of lemon, grass, minerals and green apple with hints of stone fruits as it opens up. Crisp and well-crafted, but a bit one-dimensional. Better the second day – more well-rounded and integrated – so I would give this wine a bit more time in the bottle. Typical of wines from the region, though not an overly memorable one.

2008 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc**
whitehavenSB.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Marlborough, New Zealand $16 Out at Dinner 2/27/09
Water white with lemon-green tones this light-bodied, yet intense wine has a vibrant nose of grass, citrus and gooseberry aromas. The palate was brightly acidic with flavors of lime, gooseberry, hay and green apple with notes of minerality on the brisk finish. This is typical cool climate SB with the grassiness predominating and not much fruit to back it up. It's a little green and tart for my tastes. A wine that definitely needs food.

2007 Concha Y Toro Trio Sauvignon Blanc*
trio.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Casablanca Valley, Chile $18 BevMo 6/18/08
This is a blend of three different vineyards to supposedly provide balance, but this water white, hay-colored wine is like drinking alcoholic Granny Smith apple juice infused with green grass. The acidity and herbaceousness overpower any fruit to be had. As it warms some lemon, lime and apple flavors peek out behind the gooseberry/hay but not enough to fill out the palate. Bracing is the only word that comes to mind. For this price I expected a lot more.

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**** Outstanding | *** Delicious | ** Enjoyable | * Drinkable
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