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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2006 Beckmen Vineyards PMV Grenache***
2006_PMV_Whole_Clust#19C9E2.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $45 @ the Winery 8/25/11
A medium-bodied, clear, ruby-red wine with strong aromatics of bright strawberry, cherry candy, tobacco, pepper and earth, which follow through on the lush, creamy palate with a finish of spice and berries that just lingers and lingers. Though the wine comes in at 15.5% abv there has still been no touch of heat in it for me and I've been drinking it happily for the last 4 years. It has just the right balance of ripe fruit flavors, earth elements and acidity to give the wine great intensity while still being balanced and elegant. I think this is one of the best grenaches to come out of Beckmen so when they blew it out half price a year ago I jumped at the chance. It's complex and vibrant without hitting you over the head with candy flavors and alcohol. It's not cheap, but worth it and was a steal at $24. Am hoarding my final bottle though I know it will have to go soon, before the fruit fades away. Not an imminent danger yet but certainly within 6 months.

2006 Beckmen Vineyards PMV Whole Cluster Grenache***
2006_PMV_Whole_Clust#19C9E2.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $45 @ the Winery 2/21/08
A medium-bodied, ruby red wine with aromatics of bright red fruit, flowers, pepper and earth, which follow through on the palate. An elegant and well-integrated mouthful of ripe, sweet red berries and more spice as it finishes long and lingering. A flavorful, yet delicate wine that shows real finesse, something Grenache is not exactly known for. Despite it's class, it still had a few rough edges. We have a few more bottles so it'll be interesting to see how time affects this wine. Not sure it's worth it's price tag yet, though my glass certainly did empty out quickly. Available Only to Wine Club Members

Re-Tasted 6/2/11: Sort of forgot I still had another bottle of this left and was a bit worried would be on its way out, especially since its abv was 15+%. Lucky for us we hit it just right. Smooth, supple, with a lovely balance of fruit, earth and spice. Nobody does Grenache like Beckmen and this one had great flavor without assaulting the palate like many CA central coast wines do. Still has time, but won't be getting any better.

2006 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha***
trespicos06.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Campo de Borja, Spain $13 Red Carpet Wines 11/31/08
Made from 100% old vine grenache this medium to full-bodied, ruby-colored wine has aromas of ripe berries, garrigue, and sweet spice that jump from the glass. The palate is round and intense with flavors of strawberry, blackberry and plum with notes of leather, spice and vanilla on the long finish. This is an intense and well-crafted wine with enough complexity to compensate for the sweet fruit. A classy red that's a consistent value from year to year and one of my favorite Spanish bottlings. Get it while you can.

2006 Brophy Clark Cellars Grenache**
06brophyclarkgrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Arroyo Grande, CA $19 BevMo 9/18/09
This 100% grenache is a pale, ruby-color with vibrant aromas of red raspberry and strawberry with hints of white pepper, vanilla and smoke that follow through onto the light-medium body palate. The flavors are bright, ripe and clean with medium acidity that makes each sip refreshing. The finish is filled with lots of pepper and hints of earth that linger nicely. Popped and poured this is a well-crafted wine that's a lovely example of the varietal's fruitiness without being heavy or cloying. It spent 14 months in the barrel (some in 40% new oak), which rounds out the mouthfeel and gives the fruit some added depth. At 14.8% abv, the wine shows good balance and no heat. I could have drunk it all night. The husband was less impressed. More feminine in style, the ladies gave it 3 stars, the men 2 stars. Either way a lovely wine for the price, especially for those tired of high-octane bottlings. While it still has time left, there's no real reason to hold. This baby is ready to go. Would buy again. (391 cases)

2006 Cass Vineyards Grenache***
Cassgrenache06.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ the Winery 10/6/08
A pale, ruby-colored wine with a nose of strawberry, earth, sweet spice and a bit of heat. The palate is light-medium bodied with moderate tannins and acid with flavors of strawberry, cherry, herbs and hints of smoke and spice on the smooth and lengthy finish. Though this wine was just released it is ready to go now, though it could age for another year or two. It's structured and elegant and is more than just a fruit bomb. Not as vibrant as the 2005 was at the same age, but just as well-made.

2006 Dark Star Cellars Grenache***
darkstar06grenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $35 @ the Winery 11/12/09
A medium, clear, ruby-colored wine with bright aromatics of red berries, cherries and earth with notes of sweet spice and herbs. The palate was fairly tight upon opening, so I aerated the wine which settled the acidity and rounded out the mouthfeel with flavors of cherry, strawberry jam, earth and vanilla on the lingering finish. There was great depth and balance from front to back that made me instantly want more. Though more light-bodied than most, it delivers pure Grenache flavors without the obvious heat it's 15.6% abv would suggest. The 06 vintage is winemaker Norm Benson's first foray with this Rhone varietal (his main focus is Bordeaux varietals and Zinfandel) and it compares well to many of the others in the region. That being said, while I enjoyed it a lot (and am glad I have another bottle), I think it's a bit overpriced for the public (I paid $25) and the actual bottle while impressive is too big and heavy. It's pretty classy stuff so I'm intrigued to see what happens with future bottlings.

2006 Denner Vineyards Grenache***
06DennerGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $40 @ the Winery 2/19/11
A deep, ruby-colored wine with an intense nose of raspberry, black cherry, strawberry, earth, herbs and notes of sweet spice. The palate is full-bodied with medium-acidity and a round, lush, lengthy finish. While dominated by usual grenache flavors (black cherry, raspberry, cassis), the mouthfeel is made more intense and bright by the addition of 9% Syrah and 9% Counnoise. The wine is not as fruit-forward as the nose suggests, but I'm sure that's only because I waited so long to drink it making the earthy, tobacco, vanilla notes more apparent. This is not a delicate wine, coming in at 15.5% abv, but it was delicious and complex if you like you're wines big and bold. I wouldn't wait much longer to drink this as the finish was taking on a bit of a medicinal quality, though not a notceable amount of heat. Should have cracked it a year ago for maximum pleasure. I haven't been able to get my hands on their Grenache since, so I have no idea how their style has evolved. Have a feeling it's not getting any subtler.

2006 Edward Sellers Winery Grenache***
edwardgrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $25 @ the Winery 5/27/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a nose filled with bright red berries, spice, earth and herbs. The palate is round and ripe with medium acidity, no noticeable tannins and a persistant, lingering, sweet spice finish. The fruit flavors of strawberry, cherry and raspberry are well-integrated with the herb, spice and leather components, making this an intensely complex mouthful. While I didn't taste the heat of its' 15.7% abv, I sure did feel it after a glass. Blended with 6% Syrah, which gives this some structure and weight to counter the upfront Grenache fruitiness. Aged in 100% French oak, 15% new, giving the finish just a hint of vanilla. A powerful wine for the price, showcasing the grape in all its bombastic glory. If you like them big, this is the Grenache for you. (420 cases)

2006 Hacienda Molleda Garnacha**
molledagarnacha.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Carinena, Spain $13 K&L Wines 5/18/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a bright nose of red berries, earth and herbs with hints of pepper and sweet spice. The palate is medium-bodied with noticeable acidity and flavors of raspberry, cherry liquor, garrigue, sweet spice and a bit of dust on the rather short finish. While this wine certainly isn't boring, it's sweet and savory aspects were fighting each other a bit. Shows a bit more restraint and elegance than many competing versions from Spain in the same price point. It's a wine that begs to be drunk with food and one I think we would have liked better if we had it with dinner instead of after. (14% abv)

2006 Hitching Post Alisos Vineyard Grenache**
06HPGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $17 The Wine House 6/30/09
A medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine with aromas of ripe red fruit and sweet spice with notes of herbs and minerals. The palate has nice acidity and balance with flavors of cherry liquor, raspberry and vanilla with hints of cola, pepper and mocha on the slightly hot finish, which is unexpected since the abv is only 14.5%. More known for their amazing Pinots, this is HPs first single bottling of grenache and for the price it's pretty well-crafted stuff. According to the label they only made about 48 cases of it, so grab one if you can. It's fairly representative of what you can expect from this grape from this region. I think it could use a bit more time in the bottle to soften and integrate, but it's certainly tasty now. Would have ranked higher with a better finish and more finesse.

2006 Imagery Estate Winery Grenache**
imagery-06-grenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Sonoma, CA $19 @ the Winery 7/23/09
A medium-ruby colored wine with a bright nose of red fruit, earth and candy with notes of black pepper and smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a ripe fruit entry of strawberry, cherry and plum with notes of sweet spice and pepper on the lengthy but slightly alcoholic, dusty finish. The tannin and acid are well-balanced, but the heat provides the wine with a bit of a stewed quality that took away from my total enjoyment. It got smoother as the night went on with the spice equally as apparent as the fruit, which we really liked. This wine showcases what Grenache is all about and is one of the better wines we tasted at their TR. This is the second/prestige label for winemaker Joe Benziger where he steps away from the usual wines to spotlight unusual/generally unknown varietals. In this case, his efforts are worth the price. (355 cases/14.9% ABV)

2006 Kaena Santa Ynez Valley Grenache**
05kaenegrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 7/26/10
A pale-to-medium, ruby-colored wine with a moderate nose of red fruit, earth, sweet spice and herbs. The palate is medium-bodied, round and ripe with almost no acidity to speak of which allows the heat of the 15.3% abv to really be noticed after the initial burst of strawberry and cherry flavors. It does have some nice secondary aspects of spice, herbs and graham cracker on the medium-length finish, but the heat kind of takes over most of the experience especially if drinking without food. Enjoyable enough for those who like fruity wines (like me), but won't be getting any better. A decent grenache for the price, but lacks the structure and balance of the wineries single vineyard versions.

2006 Kaena Tierra Alta Vineyard Grenache***
06KaenaTAGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $32 @ the Winery 10/23/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with an intense nose of red berries, cherry candy, herbs, earth and sweet spice. The palate is medium-bodied with a lush mouthfell and well-balanced acidity. The flavors are of strawberry, cherry, earth, earth, garrigue and a hint of vanilla and smoke on the lingering finish. It showed a bit of heat with our dinner, but that disappeared when we drank it alone. At 15.5% abv, this is a big wine, but it still has great finesse and depth. It's in a perfect place right now, with great unity of fruit and earth notes. I wouldn't wait much longer as the alcohol will definitely start to take over, as it does with most grenaches. Very good QPR. If you want to see what CA grenache is all about seek out wines from this winemaker, Mikael Sigouin.

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