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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2006 Kenneth-Crawford Larner Vineyard Grenache***
KennethCrawfordG.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $35 Wandering Dog 9/8/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a subtle nose of red fruit, herbs, smoke, sweet spice and a hint of black pepper. The palate is medium-bodied with bright acidity that took a bit of time in the glass to settle down. Mixed with 12% Syrah, the flavors were of raspberry, black cherry, pepper, minerals and notes of vanilla and tobacco on the finish. There was also a bit of heat as well, but it blew off fairly quickly. Sort of wish we aerated it as it took on more complexity and finesse as the night went on. Not as fruit-forward as I expected at 15.5% abv, which helped give it more elegance than many others from this region. While still going strong, I think it's past its prime. That is if you like your grenaches to be fruit-forward. A wine that I took time to savor as it showed many nuances as the night went on. Pricey but good.

2006 Bodegas San Alejandro Las Rocas Garnacha**
losrocas.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $11 The Wine House 12/1/09
A bright, ruby-colored, medium-bodied wine with savory aromas of ripe red fruit, tobacco and spice. On the palate the wine was a bit tart, even after aeration with the more earthy notes of the tobacco and spice somewhat overwhelming the cherry and raspberry flavors, giving the wine a more French rather than Spanish feel. As the night went on, the flavors balanced out a bit more, but the wine never rounded out like I expected it too at 14.5% abv. I prefer my grenaches to have a little more ripeness, but this is a well-crafted wine for the price, year after year. Might open my 07 bottle sooner to see if aging is a factor in the lack of upfront fruit or just vintage variation.

2006 Bodegas Leceranas Evohé Garnacha "Vinas Viejas"**
evohe.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Aragon, Spain $11 Wine Discount Center 8/15/08
A 100% grenache made from 70-80 year old vines with a very aromatic nose filled with red raspberry, cherry, smoke, earth and white pepper which carry through onto the medium-bodied, somewhat rustic palate. Initally tasted like a lighter-bodied zinfandel with all ripe brambly fruit upfront, but once it opened the spice and earth integrated with the fruit and made the finish a bit longer and more unified. Not your typical Grenache, but a flavorful wine for the price.

2006 Minassian-Young Winery Grenache**
06MYGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $22 @ the Winery 10/5/10
A medium-deep, ruby colored wine with a moderate nose of red berries, cherry and earth with hints of cinnamon and caramel. The palate is medium-bodied and smooth with a lush mouthfeel, flavors of strawberry, cherry, earth, sweet spice and a bit of heat from start to finish. At 15.7% abv, we just waited too long to drink this, as the alcohol was too apparent and is beginning to overwhelm what's left of the fruit. It's a good wine for the price, but would have been much brighter if we had drunk it soon after purchase two years ago. Grenache is a grape best enjoyed in it's youth. Something we are starting to learn the hard way. If you've got any of this wine, drink up.

2006 Sans Liege Grenache**
06SansLiegGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Central Coast, CA $24 @ the Winery 1/19/11
A medium, ruby-garnet colored wine with a subtle nose for a 100% grenache (from the Alta Mesa, Derby Westside and Pipestone Vineyards) with mostly red fruit (strawberry, red cherry, cranberry), earth, herbs, sweet spice and a hint of pepper. The palate was medium-bodied with low acidity and the fruit was more subdued than expected though still ripe. At 15.7% abv, I though it would show some heat, but the wine heald together well with the more savory aspects found on the nose taking center stage with hints of tobacco leaf and vanilla on the medium-length finish. Aged for 22 months in equal parts French and Hungarian oak (17% new), which balances the ripeness of the fruit. While enjoyable, I think it's on its way out and wish I had found it in my cellar last year.

2006 Slipstream Grenache**
SlipstreamGrenache.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
McLaren Vale, Australia $22 Topline Wine 6/10/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a moderate nose of red berries, herbs, earth and sweet spice. The palate is medium-bodied with more intensity than the nose implied with ripe strawberry and raspberry flavors along with bright acidity, notes of herbs and earth and a lingering cherry vanilla finish. Super tight when first opened we decided to aerate, which balanced the acid and brought out more earthy aspects. The grapes come from 70-year-old vines and the wine was aged in neutral French oak for 16 months. While this wine didn't exactly knock our socks off, it went down quickly enough. Don't have a lot of experience with Aussie grenache, but I expected a bit more for the price. (14.5% abv)

2006 Stolpman Vineyards Grenache***
06StolpmanGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $28 @ the Winery 2/2/11
A medium, ruby-colored wine with an intense nose of cherry, strawberry and earth with hints of vanilla, nutmeg and cedar. The palate is medium-bodied and smooth with medium acidity and a lush, lengthy finish. It's very well-balanced, showing lovely integration between the fruit flavors and the more savory aspects. It was aged for 28 months before release giving the wine notes of cedar, leather and sweet spice. Was worried at 15.1% abv I might have waited to long, but this wine shows all the best characteristics of grenache without any of the heat or flabbiness that you'll find in some central coast versions. Savored every drop and wish I had another bottle. We popped and poured and it held strong all night. Would definitely drink it now to enjoy it at its peak.

2006 Tercero Wines Camp 4 Vineyard Grenache**
TerceroGrenCamp42006.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $28 @ the Winery 7/29/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a nose of red berries, herbs and earth with notes of cola and licorice. The palate is medium-bodied and well-balanced with just the right amount of acidity to counter the ripeness of the fruit. The flavors are of raspberry, cherry, earth and a bit of sweet spice on the lingering finish. While not the most complex Grenache I've had from the region, the wines sweet and savory aspects unite in a very pleasurable way. This is ready to go and I wouldn't wait much longer (6 months to a year), as it's currently masking its' 15.3% abv quite well due to the lush fruit (and the addition of 15% Syrah), but that won't last forever. A good first effort from winemaker Larry Tercero.

2006 Vie Winery L'Imaginaire Grenache***
06VieImaginaire.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $40 Red Carpet Wine 4/26/08
A medium-bodied, ruby colored wine with strong aromas of red and black fruit, earth, minerality and spice that follow through on the palate along with smoke and vanilla on the slightly hot and dusty finish. This wine packs a nice flavor punch and holds its' ripness in check with just the right amount of tannin and acidity. Could definitely use another year in the bottle to smooth out, but certainly drinkable in the short term. One to look out for if you can find any.

2006 Vinos Sin-Ley Puerta Bonita G5 Garnacha*
06G5garnacha.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Madrid, Spain $10 Cost Plus Imports 6/19/09
This 100% garnacha was deep purple in color with aromas of overripe brambly fruit with more than a touch of steminess and minerality that fought with the fruit both on the nose and the palate. Would have sworn it was Zinfadel from the first sip, if I didn't know better. It definitely wasn't corked, but the greeness was very distracting. Of course, the wine was so overripe and unbalanced it almost didn't matter. Tasted like more than it's 14.5% abv. Just not enough acidity or secondary characteristics to make this more than drinkable. Have had much better wines from Spain in this price point. Expected more. A few days in the bottle did not help.

NV Chateau de Saint Cosme "Little James' Basket Press"**
littlejames.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Rhone Valley, France $15 Mission Wines 4/13/08
This 100% Grenache wine is blended from various regional vineyards from several different vintages. It's a bright, ruby-color with aromas of red fruits, spice and earth. On the palate the acidity was initially quite high, but soon settled down giving soft berry flavors with notes of pepper, vanilla and sweet spices on the finish. Definitely more rustic and dusty, than Spanish or American versions, but it still delivers great flavor for the price...and without the others oftentimes obvious alcoholic heat.

2005 Adelaida Cellars Glenrose Vineyard Grenache***
adelaidagrenache.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Paso Robles, CA $30 Private Event 6/4/08
A fairly light-bodied grenache with bright red fruit and spice aromas that follow through on the palate with finesse and flavor. The 14% alcohol, relatively low for the region, allows the purity of the fruit to come out. This is a well-balanced wine with great acidity that counters the ripe berry and cherry flavors, as well as the sweet spice and earth. A little restraint goes a long way. Will definitely be searching this one out.

2005 Anglim Winery Grenache***
Anglim05Grenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $24 @ the Winery 1/11/09
A medium, ruby-colored wine with a deep and vibrant nose of red fruit, earth and sweet spice. The palate is lush and smooth with red cherry, ripe plum, earth, smoke and hints of vanilla and cola on the lingering finish. There is a note of heat in the midpalate, but nothing to detract from the overall experience. Elegant and flavorful with a lovely unity of flavors, this wine is ready to drink.

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