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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2008 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha**
Evodia-2007.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $9 Whole Foods 6/9/11
One of my favorite everyday wines of the 07 vintage, I couldn't resist buying this one again. It's 100% grenache from high-altitude vineyards sourced from vines up to 100 years old. While still a good simple sipper this version lacks the depth of flavor and complexity of the previous vintage. The bright nose of red berries, earth and black pepper made me excited, but failed to wow on the palate. There just wasn't enough fruit to balance the savory notes of pepper, herbs and tobacco. At least for me. Was more open with food. Medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity and a fairly short finish, it was just a bit too one note. That being said it's still a great deal and better than many other wines in its price point, just didn't give me the pleasure I was hoping for. Apparently the 09 is more like the 07 so will be getting a few bottles. Drink now. (14% abv)

2008 Cass Vineyards Grenache**
Cassgrenache06.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $32 @ the Winery 3/15/11
A pale, garnet-colored wine with a bright nose of ripe red berries, earth, and sweet spice. The palate is light-medium bodied, smooth and round with low tannins and acid with flavors of strawberry, cherry candy, herbs and hints of cedar and vanilla on the lengthy finish. Though it comes in at 15% abv the heat is still well in check. Aged in French oak, 25% new, which gives it a hint of oak and spice without overpowering the fruit. While certainly lighter in style than most Grenaches coming out of the Central Coast, it still delivers quite a bit of flavor, though not as much as past vintages since this is the first year back after a damaging 2007 frost. A bit more acidity would have knocked it out of the park. Drinking perfectly right now, I don't think I'd hold onto it for more than another year. While not the best QPR, I kept finding myself sneaking more than my fair share. It's actually great with food, especially anything sausage or mushroom based.

2007 Altovinum Evodia Garnacha**
Evodia-2007.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $9 The Wine House 10/11/09
A medium, ruby-purple colored wine with a youthful nose filled with red berries, spice box, earth and hints of vanilla. This 100% grenache is from vines up to 100-years-old grown in high altitude vineyards. The palate is medium-bodied with round fruit flavors of raspberry, strawberry and cherry along with notes of earth and pepper on the lengthy finish. All tank-fermented, the lushness of the fruit and spiceness from the vineyard are allowed to shine through and really deliver a flavor punch. While not an overly complex wine, it is a well-crafted one that truly shows what Spanish grenache is all about. A wine to seek out before it's gone and one you can drink everyday without regret. Eric Solomon, the importer behind this wine, strikes again with another great value. Popped and poured, this wine is ready to go. Even if you can only find it for $12 or more, it's still a Must Buy. (TopLine in Glendale, CA has the best price at $7.) Just had my last bottle (7/8/11). Still drinking very well. Could probably go another 6 months to a year without a problem. Wish I had more.

2007 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha**
trespicos06.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Campo de Borja, Spain $15 Red Carpet Wines 4/27/09
Made from 100% old vine grenache this medium to full-bodied, ruby/purple-colored wine has aromas of ripe berries, leather, vanilla and white pepper. The palate is round and chalky with flavors of strawberry, blackberry and plum with notes of leather, spice and vanilla on the mineral-tinged finish. Not as overtly fruity as the 06 version. This vintage is more savory and not quite fully integrated with the fruit and the secondary notes fighting each other a bit. While certainly enjoyable right now, especially if you like bold, fleshy wines, I've found over the years (since 04) that the Tres Picos needs at least 3 years in the bottle to really come together. Will be waiting until next year to drink my second bottle. A wine that delivers a consistantly delicious experience.

2007 Grey Stack Cellars Grenache***
2007-Dry-Stack-grenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Sonoma, CA $32 @ the Winery 4/2/10
A medium, bright, ruby-colored wine with a deep nose of red fruit, earth, spice and herbs that keeps your nose intrigued. The palate is light-medium-bodied with lovely balance and good acidity. The flavors are layered, showing themselves as the wine opens up to reveal red berries, cherry, plum and garrigue with pepper and a hint of vanilla on the lingering finish. This is the winery's first Grenache and they deliver great finesse and complexity from a grape that usually comes across as an alcoholic fruit bomb. Owner Peter Young was told he couldn't make a great grenache in such a cool climate, but anyone who tastes this wine will beg to differ. Aged for 20 months in both new and neutral oak, this wine is ready to go though another year or two certainly won't hurt. Glad I have another bottle. One of my new favorite wineries. Very Good QPR. (150 cases/14.7% abv)

2007 Bodegas San Alejandro Las Rocas Garnacha**
losrocas.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $11 The Wine House 1/28/10
A pale, bright ruby-colored wine with aromas of ripe red fruit, earth and savory spice that made me want to dive into the glass. Popped and poured, the wine was light/medium-bodied and well-balances with the medium acidity countering the ripeness of the fruit. The flavors were of raspberry, cherry and earth with strong notes of white pepper and cedar on the moderate finish. This version had a better balance of fruity and savory components than the 06 I drank a few months ago (both had 14.5% abv). This is a wine I will continue to buy from year to year, but will be drinking while still young and fresh since there's not really enough complexity to bother aging it and I prefer it more fruity. Great QPR for an everyday wine that shows what Spanish grenache is all about.

2007 Vina Alarba Old Vines Garnacha*
07VinaAlarbaG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Aragon, Spain $7 The Wine House 5/25/11
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a bright nose of cherry, black raspberry, earth, spice and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with nicely balanced acidity and the flavors start out strong with a nice mix of ripe red fruit, earth and spice, but the rustic and short finish takes away the burst of initial pleasure. Not a bad wine, just not very complex for one that comes off of 50+ year old vines. Of course, one can't expect all that much at this price point and for under $10 it's a year in/year out good bargain. A good entry point wine for those who want to see what Spanish garnacha is all about. Popped and poured this wine is ready to go. A well-crafted everyday wine. (14% abv)

2007 Vinedos y Bodegas Pablo Menguante Garnacha*
menguante.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Carinena, Spain $10 Topline Wine 6/24/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a moderate nose of red fruit, plum and earth with notes of spice and tobacco. The palate is medium-bodied with fairly high acidity which was toned down once it was aerated. The flavors were of black cherry, plum, earth and spice – nothing definitive but nicely balanced and pleasant. A good, everyday wine that delivered well-rounded flavors for the price and at 13.5% abv won't hurt your head. Doesn't really show the depth once expects from 80-100 year old vines, but it disappeared quickly enough.

2006 Anglim Winery Grenache***
Anglim05Grenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 8/11/09
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a bright nose of cherry, strawberry, earth and sweet spice with notes of cedar as the wine opens. The palate is ripe and round, well-balanced with no noticeable tannins and the right amount of acidity to keep the sweet fruit from being cloying. The finish lingers with notes of vanilla, mocha and cedar. A blend of 5 different Paso vineyards from both the westside and eastside (including Cass, Fralich, Derby, Starr Ranch and Melange Du Rhone) with a smidge of Syrah and Counoise thrown in for backbone and aromatics. Aging in French Oak (20% new) gives the wine a bit more finesse than many others from the region. Coming in at 15.3% abv this is a hearty wine, but the alcohol was never apparent, merely giving the wine a lushness and depth. We popped and poured, though as the night went on the bright sweetness of the fruit settled down and more savory/earthy aspects came forward. For the price, this is a Paso wine not to be missed. Still has quite a few years left, but it's drinking great right now, so why wait. (611 cases)

2006 Artazu Artazuri Garnacha*
artazuri.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Navarra, Spain $12 Red Carpet 1/14/10
A bright, ruby-colored wine with subtle aromas of red fruit, earth and sweet spice. The palate is medium-bodied with well-balanced acidity and flavors of cherry, strawberry, white pepper and cigar wrapper on the fairly short finish. The wine was popped and poured, starting out very ripe and fruity and turning more savory/earthy as the night went on. Not a bad wine, just not as well-crafted or deeply flavored as the 05 or other versions from the region in this price range. (13.5% abv)

2006 Atteca Old Vines Grenache***
atteca.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $18 Red Carpet Wines 11/24/08
A 100% grenache made from 80-120 year old vines with a dark ruby color and a very aromatic nose filled with blueberry, black cherry, vanilla and sweet spice which carry through onto the medium-bodied, well-balanced palate. This is a wine that you can pop and pour filled with ripe fruit and spice that shows how delightful grenache can be. More full-bodied than many of its American counterparts, though still bright with a lovely finish that brings all the flavors together. A great example of the type of quality wines Spain is producing. This would be $10 more if made in the States. Grab it if you can find it.

2006 Barrel 27 "Rock and a Hard Place" Grenache**
barrel27RockHard.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Central Coast, CA $23 Vendome Liquors 10/7/08
A medium ruby-black colored wine with a bright nose of red berries, flowers, cranberry and sweet spice. On the palate, the wine is ripe and supple with smooth tannins and acidity, with raspberry, strawberry and spice flavors with a hint of vanilla on the lingering finish. This is a soft and ripe wine with a juicy midpalate. My husband thought it was too fruity without food, but I thought the oak and spice tempered the ripeness. Not a great deal of complexity, but quality fruit and a powerful structure for their first Grenache bottling. Close to 3 stars.

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