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90+ point rated wines under $20













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2011 Vinedos y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha Blanco**
11menguanteGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Carinena, Spain $18 Private Event 5/2/12
A pale, straw-yellow colored wine with bright aromas of grapefruit, grass, minerals and green apple. The palate is light-bodied with fresh acidity and good balance. The flavors are intense and mimic the nose with additional notes of peach and melon on the clean and bright finish. While not very complex, the flavors that are present are pleasant and strong. The grapes come from vines that range from 31-100 years of age. The family farms the land biodynamically - menguante mean 'waning moon'. The wine was fermented for 18 days in stainless steel using wild yeast and then aged in the bottle for three months prior to release. A well-crafted wine for the price that shows good varietal characteristics. While not overly memorable, I wished at the time I could have drunk a whole glass. Good QPR.

2010 Vinedos de Ithaca Odysseus Garnacha Blanca**
10OdysseusGBlanc.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Priorat, Spain $13 Private Event 5/16/11
A water white, straw-colored wine with a vibrant nose of green fruit, flowers, minerals and citrus. The palate is medium-bodied with refreshing yet well-balanced acidity and bright flavors of apple, pear, lime and a hint of pineapple and stone on the medium-length, creamy finish. Made from grapes cultivated on vines over 80-years-old, fermented using native yeasts and aged sue Lie for 6 months, giving the wine an elegance lacking in many inexpensive whites. The wine-maker Joseph Puig is a legend in Spain, and this wine shows his talent, delivering great QPR as well as varietal character. Not the most complex Grenache Blanc in the marketplace, but it stands up to its California brethen at a much more affordable price. (14% abv)

2009 AM/FM Grenache Blanc, Saarloos Vineyard***
09AMFMGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $28 @ the Winery 4/11/12
A pale, clear, lemon-yellow colored wine with an intriguing nose of citrus, baked green apple, minerals, ginger and hints of nutmeg and petrol, which thankfully blew off as it warmed and opened up. The palate is light-medium bodied with refreshing acidity, a creamy texture and more complexity than the nose suggests. Flavors are intense with lemon creme, pear, brioche, quince, nutmeg and strong notes of baked apple pie on the lengthy finish. This was the first 100% GB made from the Saarloos vineyard, so winemaker Matthew Kaner, along with Keith Saarloos, experimented a bit with the grapes making three separate wines that were then blended together to produce the final version. One that underwent stainless steel fermentation with no malo-lactic fermentation conversion. For the second, they used 3-year-old, neutral French oak with partial malo-latic fermentation and the third used the same oak but was allowed to undergo full malo-lactic fermentation. The different treatments definitely gives this wine more character and depth than many of its' counterparts. Who knows what the next vintage will bring, but I know I want some. The wine had a highly floral component when we first tried it a year ago, which is now dissipated. I'm beginning to have some experience with this grape and would say that it's best drunk when young, within 2-3 years of the vintage. (50 cases)

2008 Anglim Winery Grenache Blanc, Red Cedar Vineyard***
anglim08GB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ the Winery 6/2/10
A medium, lemon-colored wine with a subtle nose of citrus, green fruit and flowers with a hint of honey. The palate is medium-bodied with bright acidity and yet a nice creamy, lengthy finish. The flavors are mostly ripe green apple, lemon and grapefruit with hints of pear and vanilla. The wine was aged on its lees in neutral French oak for six months, which gives it more weight, and the aforementioned creaminess, which is slightly different than most of the other versions I've tried recently. An elegant and lovely wine that I think will be a happy surprise to most people, especially those who like their white wines on the drier side. (168 cases/14.4% abv)

2008 Epiphany Cellars Grenache Blanc***
epiphanyGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $24 @ the Winery 5/17/10
A pale, straw-colored wine with a bright, aromatic nose filled with notes of flowers, apple, citrus, stone fruit and a touch of honey. It made me want to just jump into the glass. The palate is light-bodied and full of ripe flavors yet has quite a bit of acidity to keep it from being cloying. Refreshingly vibrant and elegant with mostly ripe apple, lime, peach and pineapple flavors along with a touch of minerality on the lengthy finish. The alcohol at 14.1% is fairly low for a Central Coast white. Showed even better as it warmed. Mostly stainless steel aged with 20% aged in neutral oak. Grapes were sourced from the Camp Four Vineyard, which is one to watch out for when purchasing Rhone-style wines, especially this variety. Wish I had a few more bottles. Can only hope the 09 vintage is as good. Great QPR. (601 cases)

2008 Jaffurs Wine Cellars Grenache Blanc***
08JaffursGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $28 @ the Winery 2/20/12
A clear, pale, lemon-colored wine with a lovely, yet light nose of apple, lime, herbs, melon, apricot and a tinge of petrol. The palate is medium-bodied, round and creamy with well-balanced acidity from the first sip to the lengthy finish. Much better warmer this tasted fuller, like a wine with a much higher abv than 13.8%, which trust me is low for the Central Coast. The flavors were of lemon creme, ripe apple, canteloupe, apricot, honey and almond with a streak of mineral sharpness on the finish. I initially thought we had missed the window on this wine, but the second day proofed me wrong, it also gave the petrol notes time to dissipate which made me happy. I guess that note is part of this grapes aging process, much like riesling, so buyer/taster beware if you're not a fan either. Or drink them young. Will be tapping my bottle of 09 sooner rather than later. A lovely example for the price.

2008 Katin Grenache Blanc**
08KatinGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $32 @ the Winery 1/7/12
A pale, straw-colored wine with a moderate nose of green apple, lemon, herbs, chalk and a hint of vanilla and petrol. It was certainly not as fresh and fruity as I remembered it being in the tasting room. The mouthfeel was rounder than expected with crisp acidity carrying all the way through to the medium-length finish. The flavors mirrored the nose with addtional notes of green melon and anise. More savory than fruity, this was an interesting and well-crafted wine, but I definitely feel it was past it's prime. Am learning the window on Grenache Blanc is potentially narrower than I thought. Would probably still drink well with a vegetable-centric meal. It's my own fault for waiting 2 years to drink. (13.9% abv)

2008 Las Colinas del Ebro Garnacha Blanca**
lascolinasgblanc.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Terra Alta, Spain $10 The Wine House 6/29/10
A water white, straw-yellow colored wine with a moderate nose of green apple, lemon and minerals with hints of herbs and the ocean. The palate is light-bodied with a brisk acidity that makes it quite refreshing while taking away none of the ripe fruit flavors of melon, apple and pear with notes of lemon and coconut on the medium-length finish. Not a "wow" wine, but a very well-crafted example for the price that showed better with food which focused the fruit and tamed the acidity, delivering a fresh, clean if not overly complex experience. Was better when not too cold and held up well over several days of being open. Have never encountered a Spanish GB before. Given the quality of wines Spain produces at such affordable price points, I hope more winemakers over there jump on this bandwagon. (13% abv)

2008 Topanga Vineyards Celadon Grenache Blanc, Beeswax Vineyard**
08TVCeladonGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Monterey, CA $16 Topline Wine 2/10/11
A water-white, lemon-colored wine with a subtle nose of citrus, green fruit and minerals with hints of petrol and vanilla. The palate is light-medium bodied and elegant, creamy, yet with well-balanced acidity and riper than the nose suggests. The flavors are round and ripe with lime, apple and pear dominating along with notes of minerals, grapefruit and a hint of nutmeg on the medium-length finish. A fairly interesting wine for the money with good finesse and intensity, just not enough depth to jump it to the next level. Shows the great possibility of this varietal and is a nice entry level version for those curious to see what this grape is about. Will be looking for the 09.

2008 Zaca Mesa Winery Estate Grenache Blanc**
08ZacaMesaGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $20 @ the Winery 11/8/11
This wine comes from vines that were planted on the estate in 2005. It was whole-cluster pressed, fermented in French Oak and aged surlie for 10 months. It's bright, clear, lemon colored with a moderate nose of citrus, apple and apricot with hints of petrol and toast. The palate was light-bodied with crisp acidity and fruitier than the nose suggested, though not at all overripe with flavors of lime, melon, apricot, minerals and notes of sweet spice and lemon creme on the finish. Well-crafted and perfectly pleasant though it just didn't have enough complexity for me compared to other versions from this region. Only available in the tasting room. Good QPR. (14.5% abv)

2007 Beckmen Vineyards Grenache Blanc***
Beckmen_LeBec.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Santa Barbara, CA $24 @ the Winery 8/10/10
A pale, lemon-gold colored wine with an aromatic nose of lemon creme, ripe apple, minerals, pear and hints of stone fruit. The palate is medium-bodied with flavors that mirror the nose along with notes of apricot, honeysuckle and almonds on the refreshing and lingering finish. The wine was left on its' lees while being aged for 6 months in neutral French oak barrels, giving it great weight and texture while still being elegant. It's bright and intensely flavored without ever going over the top and tastes extremely lush for an abv of 13.9%. While it still has time, it's ready to go now and I fear aging it too much longer will diminish the fruit and aromatics, which are what make it so delicious. Shows the real potential of this grape in SB. (175 cases)

2007 Curran Grenache Blanc**
curranGB.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $17 Top Line Wine 5/9/10
A pale, straw-colored wine with a moderate nose of citrus, pear, apple, herbs and quite a hit of petrol, which blew off as the wine warmed. The palate is light-medium-bodied with citrus, apple and pear flavors dominating with crisp acidity and a hint of almonds and herbs on the medium finish. Much drier than it's 14.1% abv suggests. I have a feeling I would have liked it more when it was just released and the fruit was more dominant. As it stands this is a well-crafted wine that I would drink sooner rather than later. The winemaker, Kris Curran, is one of the first to bottle this varietal on its' own in the US. Sourced from the Camp Four Vineyard, it's completely different from the 08 Epiphany, though perhaps that wine will taste similarly when it's 3-years-old. A good wine for the price.

2007 Tablas Creek Vineyards Grenache Blanc**
Tablasgrenacheblanc07.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Paso Robles, CA $26 @ the Winery 8/12/10
A pale, lemon-straw colored wine with a moderate nose of citrus, green fruit and minerals with hints of herbs and honey. The palate is medium-bodied, round and lush, more intensely flavored than the nose suggests. The flavors are of green apple, lemon creme and minerals with notes of pear and fennel on the lengthy and refreshing finish. While I enjoyed this wine with food – shrimp, garlic and fennel over saffron risotto – it was just not complex enough to wow me without. Tablas Creek was the first one to plant this varietal and almost all the other plantings come from their stock, so it's very interesting to taste the source and see the regional/vineyard/winemaking differences between this wine and all the other CA versions. Just expected more depth for the price. (14.3% abv)

2006 Beckmen Vineyards Grenache Blanc**
Beckmen_LeBec.jpg Region Price Purchased Date
Santa Barbara, CA $24 @ the Winery 5/8/08
A wine usually used in Rhone wine blends and for a good reason. Beckmen manages to caress some good flavors and aromas from this workhorse grape - mostly citrus and green fruit on both the nose and the palate – it's just not that interesting. This version is well-made with good balance, acidity and a nicely viscous mouthfeel for such a light-bodied wine, but though enjoyable it doesn't make you want to rush back into the glass. A good version though nothing inspiring.




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