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90+ point rated wines under $20

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2005 Artazu Artazuri Garnacha**
artazuri.jpg Region Price Tasted Drank
Navarra, Spain $10 @ Dinner 3/22/08
A medium-bodied ruby with bright strawberry and cranberry on the nose, with notes of dusty minerals and white pepper adding interest. Tangy and energetic on the palate, the red fruit flavors are ripe and mixed with spice and pepper on the earthy finish. Well-balanced and elegant for a grenache and an incredible bargain for the quality. One to seek out. Bang for the buck rarely gets better than this.

2005 Beckmen Vineyards Estate Grenache**
Beckmen05EstateGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $24 @ the Winery 2/6/10
A bright, clear, ruby-colored wine with a moderately intense nose of jammy red berries, herbs, earth and a hint of smoke. The palate was medium-bodied and round right out of the bottle with flavors of raspberry, cherry, herbs, chalk and spice on the lingering finish. Made from 100% Purisma Mountain grenache that was barrel aged for 10 months in neutral oak. Though well-crafted and nicely balanced, the fruit, though there, was clearly diminished, which left us underwhelmed. An enjoyable wine for the price that hid it's 15% abv quite well, I just wish I had drunk it a year ago. While certainly not over-the-hill, will not be getting any better. Drink now.

2005 Beckmen Vineyards PMV Grenache**
05BeckPMVGrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $36 @ the Winery 7/27/10
A medium, ruby-colored wine with some bricking around the edges. The nose was fairly subtle, showing red berries, cherry liqueur, hints of herbs and oak. The palate is medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins and acidity making it very smooth and round with a lengthy, oaky finish. The fruit – cherry and raspberry – was more muted than the nose suggested, which allowed the herbal/cedar components to take center stage. Though well-structured (thanks to 20% Syrah) and with no noticeable heat (surprising for a 15.8% wine), I just need more fruit in my grenache to really enjoy it. 05 was a cool year for PMV grenache and it shows in this wine. If you've been holding a bottle, I would drink it sooner rather than later. Before the fruit fades completely.

2005 Betts & Scholl Grenache Chronique***
bettsscholl.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Barossa Valley, Australia $35 Wine Discount Center 8/14/08
A highly aromatic, medium-bodied, ruby-colored wine showing red berries, spice and earth on both the nose and the palate, which is smooth and intense with a creamy lingering finish. The initial burst of ripe red fruit is then united with hints of flowers, vanilla and minerals. It's not overly complex, but it is elegant and well-crafted with a purity of fruit that brings you back to the glass for more.


2005 Domaine André Brunel Grenache Vin de Pays*
8045.jpg Region Price Drank
Vaucluse, France $10 Beverly Hills Cheese Shop 7/13/08
A medium-bodied ruby with a slight nose of red fruit, earth and dust that carries over to the overly acidic and thin palate. The fruit that does come through is mostly red berries (bitter cherry and raspberry) with hints of spice and earth. Was hoping this would soften and round out as the night went on, but it went nowhere from first to last sip. Very one-dimensional. It's clear why 50% of the fruit was declassified from the Cotes-du-Rhone AC to a generic Vin de Pays. Usually love Brunel's wines. Quite a disapointment even at this price.

2005 Cass Vineyards Grenache***
cass05Grenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Paso Robles, CA $28 @ the Winery 10/13/07
A bright ruby wine with vibrant aromatics of ripe strawberries and earthy spices that follow through on the palate with additional notes of vanilla and cedar. Soft tannins and medium acid make this light-bodied wine easy to drink right out of the bottle and the long finish keeps you coming back for more. An elegant, flavorful wine.

Have retasted this wine many times since the initial review. Has lost some of it's bright acidity and fruit and become more full of sweet spicy and earthy flavors. Still intense, delightful and lingering just in a different way. If you like your Grenaches bright and fruity, I'd drink this one soon. Otherwise hold and enjoy. Can't believe we only have a few bottles left. Still going strong as of 9/26/09.

Retasted again 1/19/11 and almost all the fruit flavors are gone, though the mouthfeel is still wonderful with more earth and spice dominating. A bit of heat is also poking out on the finish. Drink it if you've got it. Now a 2-star wine.

2005 Kaena Santa Ynez Valley Grenache**
05kaenegrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $25 @ the Winery 6/9/09
A medium-colored ruby wine with a big nose filled with ripe red fruits with hints of herbs, spices and a touch of cassis. The palate is super round with no tannins to speak of and good acidity, though not enough to temper the almost overripe cherry and raspberry flavors. The finish was decent with some chalk and herbs to counter the sweetness. Was quite good with our spicy food, but on its own it lacked depth and finesse. Did I enjoy it? Sure, but I was hoping for a bit more complexity and control, considering the grenaches the winemaker Mikael Sigouin makes for Beckmen.

2005 Las Rocas Garnacha**
losrocas.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $11 Wine.com 2/21/08
This wine is an inexpensive example of what Grenache/Garnacha is all about. The bright ruby color and light to medium body belie the fruit-packed flavor of this wine. With imperceptible tannins and just enough acid to keep it from being flabby, it's all about the ripe, spicy cherry and raspberry flavors. A hint of earth adds a bit of complexity to the mix. Another great everyday wine from importer Eric Solomon. No one delivers better wines at value prices than he does.

Other Ratings: Robert Parker: 90

2005 Las Rocas Garnacha Vinas Viejas*
lasrocasvv.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Calatayud, Spain $16 Red Carpet 5/12/08
I'm hoping I had a flawed bottle because this wine did not taste as great as it's reviews claim. Certainly not like a grenache. It wasn't corked but everything about it was muted from the nose to the palate with mostly flavors of dark fruit, earth and oak with a funky smell I just couldn't place. The tannins were bitter and the finish mediocre. I love the $10 version and was expecting something more complex, just not this. Have to say the husband liked it. Did not get better with time.

Other Ratings: Robert Parker: 91

2005 Zeta Garnacha*
zeta_garnacha.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Navarra, Spain $11 Colorado Wine Company 12/19/07
Upfront red berry fruit with a good spice element, soft, ripe tannins to balance with notes of bitter chocolate in the finish. Took awhile to open up and soften it's upfront acidity. Flavorful but not much complexity or weight. I've had better bottles for the price.

2004 Beckmen Vineyards PMV Grenache***
2004_PMV_Syrah.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $36 @ the Winery 1/25/08
Medium ruby colored wine, delivering dark cherry and blueberry aromas on the nose with hints of spice. Initial sips were mostly of acid and alcohol, but once the wine opened up the palate was lush with ripe red fruits and touches of smoke and pepper. The finish was long and left lingering notes of vanilla. Got better as the night went on. Still needs some time to fully integrate. If you just can't wait, decant for an hour first.

2004 Beckmen Vineyards PMV Whole Cluster Grenache**
04BeckmenWCgrenache.jpg Region Price Purchased Drank
Santa Barbara, CA $36 @ the Winery 12/20/09
A medium-ruby, cloudy (it's unfined) wine with a stong nose filled with red fruits, spice and a bit of stemminess that wasn't exactly pleasant. The palate was medium-bodied, ripe and round with bright acidity despite its' age. Flavors were of cherry and strawberry fruit with sweet spice, minerals and green notes. The finish was lingering with pleasant hints of pepper and earth. I wanted to like this wine more than I did, especially for the price. The stemminess dissipated as the night went on and the earthiness took over, yet it just didn't have enough depth to wow me. This was the first year they created a grenache using whole clusters. Hopefully, future efforts will smooth out the issues I had with this wine. The good news is the 15.5% abv wasn't apparent. Only 100 cases were made. Sort of wish I had drunk this earlier as perhaps the green quality would have been less apparent with brighter fruit.

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